Friday, November 27, 2015

Thoongavanam (2016)

We are die-hard Kamal fans and were waiting fervently for the release of the much awaited Kamal Haasan starrer Thoongavanam, a replica of the French version Sleepless Nights. I had just got back from my trip to the beautiful Heritage town, Thalassery in Kerala. The rains had lashed the city and I was worried this might ruin our movie plans. Luck was on our side and the evening plans went smoothly without a hitch. Over a bag of pop-corn, cold coffee, bhel puri and Bombay sev puri, we walked in with great satisfaction to watch our idol in action.

Diwakar, (Kamal Haasan) is an undercover cop from the Narcotics Bureau who is out to get one of his own men Mani (Yuhi Sethu) red handed, who he knows is involved in a drug racket. All hell breaks loose when Mani shoots  a guy during a drug transaction and leaves a trail. Enters Mallika (the boring, aging Trisha) as the Forensics Expert in a formal costume who opens the Pandora's box. Mani tries hard to persuade his partner Diwakar, to make a bargain with the scary owl eyed drug lord, played by Prakash Raj (Vittal Rao), owner of the nightclub Insomniac, to whom the drug bag belongs and incurs his wrath.  Vittal kidnaps Diwakar's son Vasu (the very cute talented Aman Abdullah) until his bag is returned. While his son is put through a little Chinese torture, Diwakar goes to the club and hides the bag in the men's toilet. Mallika notices the bag and quietly moves the bag to the ladies section. All hell breaks loose from here. Diwakar while trying to get his son in one piece realises the bag is gone and a chase in the club ensues.

Kamal shines in his performance. His experience, passion, and life he breathes in his character is impressive. At 60, the actor brings such a class act to his role and the editing with close-ups to the smaller details of this character adds enormous value.  As usual, he finds a pretty lass to lip-lock with on the pretext of escaping from the evil men in chase. Aman who plays his son does a fantastic job for a first timer. He is cute, endearing and an understanding son who wants his father's affection as much as he admires him.

Trisha cannot act by nature. She is meant to be a beautiful photogenic prop. Along with age and lack of talent, putting her in a plum role in this movie was simply unimaginable. In one close-up fight sequence with Kamal, she looks like she is laughing when she should be in a lot of pain. Yuhi was disappointing. Sampath did not have much to do and Prakash Raj was plain boring doing his usual villainous role. With an actor like Kamal at the helm, unless all the supporting cast bring in a certain level of performance, the film can slow you down.

The movie is considered a box-office flop but as movie goers who enjoy good interesting storyline, this one did not disappoint us. It moved at a decent pace and we just could not get enough of our man - not to mention he has given his voice for the sound track and just killed it with his performance!

It was thoongavanam, sleepless nights for the three of us after that movie night!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Lunch at Jonah's Bistro

What a lovely place to catch up with friends and dear ones

I was blissfully unaware of this cosy little find until my friend suggested it for our luncheon during the Saraswati puja holiday. Situated above Sri Krishna sweets in Besant Nagar, Jonah's has a nice ambiance and cosy feel when you step in to their restaurant.

I was pleasantly surprised. Seating is limited and I am a sucker for table seating by the window, however, we could not find one that fit our bill. However, I found a place under the air-conditioning and natural lighting and settled there like a comfortable kitten.

I was in a mood to be pampered and allowed by host to take the lead. We both kicked-off the warm enjoyable afternoon with cheese stuffed mushrooms, which were succulent and done to perfection. Plating was lovely. Service lead by Captain Anido was good.

I was thirsty having driven to Nungambakam and lost my way and drove all over Chennai before I managed to make it back into my known territory. The Bistro does not serve alcohol though wine would have been nice.  So I settled for a Lime-mint cooler while he had a virgin Pomegranate Mojito. Eventually over a sip of each other's drinks, we decided to swap it.
For the mains, I wanted a light bite while he wanted a proper lunch; so while he ordered a well-done steak, I got the paneer korozott, which was cottage cheese roast with honey-chili glaze served on ice-berg lettuce. The sauce was fantastic albeit the paneer and steak was a tad chewy. I tasted a huge spoonful of mash from his plate. It was lovely and so were the shallots in red wine reduction. We had a to give the dessert a miss unfortunately. We were told it had to be brought in from Pondicherry! Now that would have been a really long wait. Pricing was alright and the bill was an INR 1170.

Overall lunch was memorable. Both the company and the food were worth every bite and minute.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Calvin's CLoud

Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering.

- Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

The Rains are Back

Brings me back fond memories of the song by BJ Thomas, Raindrops are Falling on my Head, which Nothings Plenty introduced me to long time back and it has stayed with me ever since. It rains through the night incessantly. I listen to the sound of the rainwater hitting my window sill with a force. I guess the rains missed us too. The summer has been long, extended and unbearable.

The rains usher in romance, beauty amidst the gloomy dark skies, the cool breeze blowing over you - all you want to do is just snuggle under the warmth of the blanket and read Rain in the Mountains by Ruskin Bond, swooning over his poetry, listening to the strums of the guitar in the background. Indulgence.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Calvin's CLoud

Where words are restrained, the eyes often talk a great deal.
Samuel Richardson

Monday, August 03, 2015

An Invite to Tirupati

It is quite unimaginable how out of 365 days, we find it difficult to plan a trip to a world famous Vaishnavite shrine just three hours away. It has been my plan to visit Tirupati, the hill temple, atleast once every month, but I realised even making a trip once in a year is a bit of challenge. Most spiritualists say while you must have the will to persevere, it is only on the Divine's bidding can you ever make a visit.

The trip to Tirupati happened out of the blue. My aunt called and mentioned her family was making the one-day trip over the weekend and they had seats for two more. So we jumped in. It is usually believed that when you return from Tirupati, your life also experiences a turning point. We saw Lord Venkateshwara dressed in such beautiful jewellery and adorned with flowers that the sight still sits fresh in my mind's eye.

The temple authorities have been trying to optimise the visiting process for sometime now. You have to make your booking online and visit the temple for the allotted time slot. It was all fairly well organised. We had darshan in 1.5 hours where it usually takes a minimum of three hours or more. As you edge closer towards the deity, the sense of emotion is heightened. You are allowed a fleeting minute to see Him, while some quietly snuck in money to volunteers for a few extra minutes.  From there, we drove back down the hill to visit His wife, Sri Padmavathi Ammavari, and experienced such bliss sitting in her presence, of course we took the INR 200 Kumkum seva ticket to sit close to the deity. 

The language and lack of discipline is a huge problem in most places in India. Tirupati is no exception. There is lot of corruption, language barriers and absolute lack of civic sense or respect for fellow devotees that will get to you eventually. It is surprising that the Temple authorities who had done such a fine job organising the pilgrims in a single file decided to open it up into one deluge at the main temple entrance, bringing utter chaos and frenzy. It is still not late to put their thinking to good use. Keep the single file all the way out. You can do away with volunteers and corruption. 

Temples make a lot of money by cashing in on crowds and the spiritual fervour advertising special darshan, special offerings and so on; but while they retain some of the money, most can be put to good use for temple maintenance and offering real service to the devotees. Bringing in elephants to bless devotes while made to stand for long hours  in chains should be banned. Priests asking for money from devotees for giving holy water should be reported as much as devotees slipping in money to volunteers asking for favours.

Ironic that the very place we go to for healing the soul is a treasure trove of everything one should not be. When do we rise above this?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Calvin's CLoud

If a man achieves victory over this body, who in the world can exercise power over him? He who rules himself rules over the whole world.
Vinoba Bhave