Sunday, November 9, 2014

Interstellar... truly spectacular in some aspects


I still remember the first time I saw Nolan's Interstellar trailer. It was more of a teaser. Almost a year ago. I was so excited. Finally after watching the movie, its very satisfying.

I have to state what might be an unpopular opinion: this movie is going to appeal more for folks who are into space, space travel, and theories of space, however crazy they may sound ( crazy is relative btw :)  ) . I am talking things like 4th dimension and beyond, event horizon of the black hole, a stable wormhole, time travel and general theory of relativity. All of this plays a huge role in the movie, but the most important thing that drives the movie and provides a meaning for it is: love, an emotion that is far more theoretical than some mentioned above.

If you are a fan of Nolan as I am, you know he and his brother Jonathan tackle subjects that are tough to understand with lot of emotion. Be it electricity and magic in The Prestige, a dream within a dream in Inception and finally fifth dimension and travelling inside a black hole in Interstellar, its the emotional component that is going to have everyone gripped to their seat. The emotion of leaving a loved one, the emotion of losing someone, the emotion of failure, and finally the emotion of betrayal. The story is clearly weaved through these emotions and is given a life by Hans Zimmer's unforgettable music.

As you might already know, the movie is about finding an alternate home for human civilization. Earth is dying, or atleast for humans its becoming a nightmarish place to live. The reason for this deterioration is not explained and rightly so as it won't change the plot or create a different perspective for the viewers. What happens next are a series of events involving Cooper ( Matthew Mcconaughey ) and his daughter Murphy. What seems like a ghost, turns out to be a gravitational anomaly which is not explained further, atleast not yet. The significance of these events becomes clear during the climax scenes. These events leads to Cooper leading a very secretive mission to find another planet.

Enter wormhole

A "stable" wormhole. Wormholes are highly theoretical but is believed by many scientists to exist. But a wormhole is a naturally occurring phenomenon, which means there is no guarantee that a wormhole might reappear the same place it appeared last time. But in this movie, there is something called a "stable" wormhole, a path built by "aliens" to help humans travel to another galaxy to find a suitable planet. These nameless and faceless aliens are believed to be helping humans knowing the plight on Earth. Thats it. No more aliens. The movie doesn't go further into these species who are helping the humans, well atleast not yet. By now, you might have figured out a trend that lot of subtle things and not so subtle things are answered in the last 30 mins of the movie.

2 hours of visual beauty

The first 30 minutes of the movie tries to establish the issues on Earth and how people are dealing with it and the emotional components such as Cooper leaving his kids to go on a long mission with no guarantee of coming back to see them ever again. But once the mission starts, the real reason for watching this movie in IMAX kicks in. Nolan has successfully exceeded his previous accomplishment. The journey to Saturn ( What a beautiful planet ), then the wormhole and finally the other side of the wormhole, a completely different galaxy millions of light years away and home to a black hole and 3 supposedly habitable planets. Their mission, find the planet that is most suitable for sustaining life and return to our solar system.

The soap opera

An easy enough task you might ask. This is where the movie turns into a soap opera. A grand soap opera I might add with Hans Zimmer magic, a bit too much in some places. A lot of emotional drama takes place once they start exploring the planets. I do agree that the drama is hard to avoid, esp. when the astronauts realize that one of the planets is too close to the black hole and an hour on the planet is equal to 7 years in normal time scale. As you guessed it, things don't go according to plan. A lot of arguments, the emotion of love being defined and how it is not bound by space or time and finally a fist fight on a icy planet with a surprise guest ( who remained uncredited to maintain the surprise ). All this combined with too much music makes the movie hard to enjoy. Esp. the overbearing music. I wish the music had served just as a background to help the viewer move along with the movie. But the music is so loud, its very hard to understand crucial dialogues. This being said, there are some amazing visual experiences during this section of the movie that makes IMAX worth it. But I am definitely buying the DVD and watching the movie again with closed captions turned on.

Climax and Conclusion

Most of subtle and not so subtle questions are answered during the climax which makes up the last 30 minutes of the movie. Who are these aliens, what is the real role of Cooper's daughter, is the ghost or gravitational anomaly really an anomaly, all these are answered. Yet you will come out of the movie with more questions, esp. if you are a space buff.
There are so many things to appreciate about this movie. Imagining at this grand scale for a movie and the courage to follow through with impeccable execution are in itself amazing. But the visual stunts, some really good acting and a climax that leaves you with more questions than answers, which is typical of Nolan's movies, makes this movie worth the watch. I am now a bigger fan of the Nolan brothers for their original stories and impeccable screenplay. The sound mixing needs to be checked in the future but I am definitely listening to this movie's soundtrack for sure. Overall, one of the best movies with original sci-fi story to come in a long time. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hunger Games... Makes you feel for the characters

What a thrill ride!!! This book is one of the best Dystopia novel I have read. 

Before I start, I should establish my book cred. I am a die-hard Tinkle fan. Forever have been and will be for long long time. I came into novel reading scene pretty late. My first novel was The Da Vinci Code. I was urged to read this book after I saw news about some people in India protesting against the book. I borrowed it from a library the next day and was a goner. Right from the start I was glued. The following day, seeing the lights on at 4 am, my Mom came into my room and immediately went "How many times will you read that Tinkle book?". Getting angry, I sssshed her and went back to the book. My biggest (dis)advantage is I get really emotional while reading a book and sometimes assume one of the characters and follow the book from that character's perspective. Obviously with The Da Vinci Code I was Robert Langdon. Next day, after I finished reading the book, I asked my parents "Who is GOD really?", you know me being Langdon and all. They stared at me like no frigging tomorrow and I sat there expecting laser rays from their eyes. Fortunately that didn't happen. 

In short, I am a mystery and thriller junkie. Love a good mystery novel that reads easy and gets right to business. (You might be asking, "You could have said this without the big story". But that story made you smile didn't it ? Cmon.. accept it.. )

Hunger Games falls right into this genre. A dystopian mystery narrated by Katniss Everdeen, the main character. The book is about a dysfunctional society's biggest event: Hunger Games. To keep it short (and avoid any spoilers), the event is like Gladiator's combat games instead with children between the ages of 12-18 years old and they are called Tributes. I know many of you might be thinking that the book could contain gory details about the game. The author has done a brilliant job in staying away from most of the gory details. 

The book's backdrop is set in the future but I have to warn you this is not a Sci-Fi book. Unlike some of the Dystopia novel I have read, like 1984 and Foundation, this book focuses mainly on Katniss, her anger towards the Government and the Games, her relationship with other children at home and at the Games. This book is fast paced. The author doesn't waste any time from introduction to the Games. The book also does a brilliant job in providing vivid details about the surroundings and the relationships between various characters.

Overall this book is a must read for anyone who likes a good mystery or want to know how our crazy World might end up becoming 100 or 200 years from now (if we take all the wrong steps)

For Tamil readers, this book is how we would dream every single vijay (forgetting the gender for the sake of analogy) movie to be: Love for her sister, 'subtle' heroism, real life fights. 

If you are still not able to make up your mind, check out the trailer. The movie is scheduled to release next year:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Curd (Yogurt) Rice and some great Tamil cinema scenes

Have you ever tried the combination? Let me tell you, its awesome. I don't know what happened today but I desperately wanted to watch some great scenes that I could recollect during my lunch which was of course curd rice and mango pickle.

Here are the scenes that I had in my playlist:
1. Anbe Sivam: This is my favorite movie of all times all *wood combined. A lot can be learned by watching this movie and it can easily be overwhelming. This scene esp. delivers the messages very beautifully:

2. Thevar Magan - A film that was nominated by India to Oscars for Best Foreign Language film needs no introduction. Selecting Shivaji Ganesan was the best decision made for this film. This movie can easily be compared to films like GodFather. But none have such a gripping scene like this one (my personal opinion).

3. Thalapathi - Rajini, Mammooty, Arvind Swamy, Illayaraja and Mani Ratnam. Those names will paint a picture of the movie itself. This scene has magic of all five of them:

4. Thillu Mullu - Even though a remake, this movie was a brilliant comedy movie esp. Rajini's dialog delivery was awesome. And who can forget the famous interview scene by 'Thengai' Srinivasan. In the current modern times, this scene deserves a 'ROTFL' label. :)

5. Panchathanthiram - A deadly combination to make you laugh from start to end. Actors from 4 different states and dialog by Kamal and you've got yourself a brilliant comedy film.

That is folks. My lunch was over and these are the few scenes I could remember (and youtube had them). Hope you enjoyed them!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My all time fav TED videos

TED is one of those things that will change the way you look at things. If you have not heard about it already, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. It provides a platform for anyone to express their ideas, work, experience, etc. you name it. The end goal is to provide a different perspective for the audience and also to make them more educated about the subject. TED recently started a India version and so far its doing really well. They had some really good speakers. Just couple of months after its initiation, I got introduced to Parikrma Humanity Foundation and Honey Bee network. I was also happy to know that many organizations are out there constantly trying to improve living conditions in India.

Here are some of my all time favorite TED talks:
1. Hans Roslings - Insight on poverty.
- This guy will blow your mind. Period!!!

2. Sir Ken Robinson - Does School kill creativity?
- Brilliant speaker and excellent ideas. This is very much required in India.

3. Sir Ken Robinson - Bring on the learning revolution
- His follow up talk after four years

4. Vilayanur Ramachandran - A journey to the center of your mind
- A brilliant neurologist and funny speaker. I saw a show on Discovery about Ramachandran long time back

5. Harsha Bhogle - The rise of Cricket, the rise of India
- A superb commentator and equally superb speaker

6. Shukla Bose - Teaching one child at a time
- One of the founders of Parikrma Humanity Foundation

7. Anil Gupta - India's hidden hotbeds of invention
- Very enthusiastic speaker who talks about invention in rural areas in India

These are some of the talks I have really enjoyed watching and have watched it multiple times. There are hundreds of other talks which you will find interesting. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mafia - "nan villager villager villager"

"Nan Police.. and I inquired about Sreevatsa and he is a Mafia" blurts Pavan. Silence prevails in the room....

If you don't know the rules of Mafia game, here is a quick intro:

Its a character game with two main roles: Mafia and Villager. The goal here is obvious. Mafia should get rid of the villager and vice versa. Ithu nama chinna vayasula police robber vilayatu illa. This game is all about talking and convincing people. In a game of say 9 people, 2-3 people will play mafia and others are villagers. No one knows the roles of others except for Mafia themselves who know the other mafias. There is usually a moderator (thala vali vela.. you will know later) who controls the game. Here is how it goes:

Moderator will ask everyone to close their eyes (bayangara sappa makkal nu nenakathinga..). The he/she will ask mafia to open their eyes. At this point mafias decide (using their eyes.. if you make noise you are in trouble) to get rid of the villager. They will tell the moderator their choice. Then moderator will ask Police to open their eyes. At this point, police can point at anyone and ask the moderator the role of that person. Then doctor opens his/her eyes. They will point at a person to save their life. If mafia had chosen to kill that person, then they just got saved by the doctor. Now the moderator will ask everyone to open their eyes. If someone was killed (and the doctor didnt save) then the moderator will announce who was killed and that person is out of the game. The moderator does not reveal the role of the person. Once everyone opens their eyes, they scramble to identify who the mafia is and make a decision to kill that person. As before the role is not revealed again.

... "Machi... Sreevatsa va potu thaliralan da..". At this point I am trying to come up with something as I am the next one to talk. Everyone stops talking and the moderator asks me to talk. Ennakula oru politician irukanu ennaku romba nala oru nambikai... so eduthu vutan... I just realized that during our last Mafia gaming session Pavan was caught red handed trying to masquerade as Police. At that time I was the Police. In this game it was totally opposite. Don't you love ironies... 

"Dae pesu da..." shouts Moderator. "Ungala ellarum pathi nan romba bayangarama yosichirunthan... ippadi sappaya game valayadaringa.. cha.." as I said, edhuthu vittutan... "Dae.. peter a niruthitu matter ku vada" nama Gokul mariyathaya sonnaru.. "Thala.. TR mathiri pesaringa"... "Dae..." moracharu Gokul... "seri seri.. Couple of weeks back mafia game la Pavan police nu solli vasama matunathu nama ellarukum theriyum. Appadi therinchum sonnthama yosikama.. pavan solrathalam kekaringale.. kevalama game vilayadaringa" adichu thaki pesunan. Everyone started thinking. I was thinking to myself "pudhichomillai pudhichomillai pudhichomillai"..

Intha Mafia game a pathi sela pala vishayangala na solla virumbaran (read in parthiban's voice)

1. Ellarum periya avan avanuku raghavan instincts irukiramathiri viladuvanga. For example.. "nan enna nanekuran na.. sreevatsa romba silent a irukan.. so avan mafia a irupano nu oru doubt varuthu.." . Athuku nan kudutha bathil... "dae mani kalaila 3 mani achu da... enna enthuruchu dance a pannasolra."

2. Game starting la pesa arampicha odane.. "nan villager villager villager" nu adhuchu solluvanunga. Example: Sreeram. Nan ippo narrate pannitu irukara game la avuruthan moderator. Intha mathiri atkala than mothala note pannanum.

3. Moderator oda job romba kashtam.. After a while into the game.. avan avan bayangaramana theory la solluvan.. so tharu mara argument nadakum.. Moderator kuttatha samalikaruthu kulla usurae poirum..

And what you are thinking is absolutely true... nanum the above stated points la pannirukan :)

Our moderator came into the picture again and asked Vamsee to talk next. The best thing was Vamsee was the other Mafia :) . He being a very good guy wanted to save me. So he told everyone that he is The Police (avan manasula "We are the untouchables".. kakha kakha padam oditu irunthucha nu theriyala.. entha dhairiyathula sonna nu theriyala) and that he inquired about me and sathiya pramanama nan villager nu sonna. Intha time la nan Goundamani dialogue onnu sollika asapadaren: "adrasaka adrasaka adrasaka". Very interesting part. Nama Sreeram was moderating this game and he was in for a very tough ride after this.

If you have played mafia before, you know by now that this move made by our Vamsee could go either ways. If they believe him then I am safe and Pavan is gone. If not, then myself and Vamsee are gone'o gone and the game is over. Now all we had to do was convince everyone that Pavan was the mole. In a crowd filled with Mafia experts this was tough. We tried our level best and after the first round of talks only one person was supporting us. En manasula appove "kathi sutatha da.. kai vittha da" pattu oditu irunthuchu.

Makkale.. nan romba hype kudhuthu ungala noga adika virumbala. Kadaisi varaikum ennaium and Vamsee ya nambave ille. So tharu mara potu thaltaninga. We lost the game.

We played two more games and to my luck I played mafia all three times. We lost two and was able to win one.

The last session of Mafia was the best game we have had in a long time. If you get a chance to play Mafia, don't miss it.

Ithudan vidai perukiren. nandri vanakkam..

- Sreevatsa (Direction, production, dialogue, screenplay)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Twitter - more than microblogging

Hello Folks. Looong time since I have blogged and read one. Feeling lazy more often :). Anyway, I am blogging again and wanted to write about the new (from fame perspective) socializing service, Twitter.

Couple of months back when I started using Twitter, I was so impressed that I recommended the service to one of my friends. I would regret for doing this in 2 minutes, because this is what he said when we were chatting:

"read on the net
Twitter is an incomprehensible, pathetic tool used by self-centered, insecure individuals that believe the world actually cared about their every move :P".
The first thing that came to my mind was how much I liked smileys (very sarcastic or :P).

The next thing I thought was that could have been the only website on earth to have said that about Twitter. But then I saw this video. Most of you would have seen this video by now:

This video was just one perspective of the social service. The first time I used this service I was instantly impressed. My perspective was it was more of "Leave the crap out" social service. Twitter does one thing best and that is to allow users to post 140 bytes of information each time.

More than microblogging, it was becoming a potential tool for something else: Real Time Search. Twitter understood this at a very early stage. A quick FYI: Evan Williams is the CEO of Twitter. He was the one behind Blogger, the tool I am using to write this blog. They concentrated on improving search and now its greatly improved and readily available for all users on their home page. Anything new happening around the world can be first seen or heard on Twitter. After using it for around 3 months I have found lot of things faster than others. Some examples:
1. Google wave
2. Bumptop
3. Linkin park's "New Divide"
4. Nadal out of French Open
5. How many people are excited about Palm Pre
All these are trending topics on Twitter. No other website had the power like this ever before. It also acts as a broadcasting tool. Many celebrities, large firms, reporters, news channels post latest updates via Twitter.

Some time back Gtalk introduced "Share what you listen" by allowing users to share the name of the song they were listening. It was obvious what Google came up with using that information: Top Songs list called Music Trends. Now just expand it from "Music" to "Everything". One word: "Awesome".

Take a look at the Usage section in Wikipedia and decide for yourself.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

What else to blog

Hello everyone. Its been quite sometime since I have blogged. I have started to appreciate the greatness of weekends. I have turned into one of those guys waiting for friday evenings. Well it does not happen all the time but some weeks I just can't wait for weekends to come. So when weekend does come I just don't want to do anything. You know what I am saying right. I just want to listen to some music, sleep and eat. NY weather also has been helping in this matter for quite some time now :) . So the only thing useful and interesting I can do, sitting on my bed, is blog. But whenever I go to>New Post->Blinking cursor I can't think of anything to share and after sometime I get bored by the blinking cursor.

I am not a economist to blog about the economy and curse Wall Street. If I do write about it, the only thing the readers will take away from it is me crying out loud 'Save the goddamn economy'.
I am not a traveler to blog about beauty of nature and post pictures of all the places I have been.
I am not a writer to blog about 'How to write a good blog'.
Well then I ask myself 'Who am I?". That's when I start to feel hungry and eat some maggi (noodles). Don't start judging :) . I am not who you think I am. I am something. I will let you know soon..

Did you guys know that there is a website out there that helps you in coming up with ideas to blog? The website is The website name might be a little suspicious. But its legit guys. When you sign up for it, they send you an email every week with a one liner for you to come up with something to write. The last thing I got in my email was this:

What's the worst way you've ever dumped or been dumped by someone?

Breakups are never easy. How did you or your significant other make it even worse?

The next thing I did was I immediately got myself unsubscribed from the service and starting playing super mario on my PC.

There are two solutions:
1. I start writing short stories as gilmananda.
2. I always wanted to write about my school days and college days, showing a ray of hope to all those day scholars out there that they can have equal or more fun than hostelers.

The problem with the second solution is its too hard to express some of the funny experiences in writing. You will have maximum fun only if its visually expressed. But I am trying my level best to start writing about it.

So I hope you guys will also start blogging more often because that's the only thing that keeps me going during weekends... (big pause)..... well super mario too...(big pause)... sleeping too..(big pause)... movies too. Alright... blogging is ONE OF THE THINGS that keeps me going on weekends...

Until next time see you all and have a great weekend.