Life is a Boon

Fun-filled, traumatic, joyous, troublesome, boring, cruel, pleasing, satisfying, challenging, tempting, misleading - yes Life is full of 'em - that is why life is so very SPECIAL - and yet the thrill is in "living" life! And all the accompanying ordeals are the frills attached with the thrills.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Am back...

... but where did I go in the first place? I was definitely sticking around all the time - just that I did not make any post. I guess just like the many many things, the euphoria with blogs also faded with time like how the craze with Orkut shifted to FaceBook, then came the blogosphere, to be taken over by tweets. I am suprised and wonder how certain bloggers still have the zeal to make regular posts. Hats off to them... and interestingly, all or atleast most of these bloggers seem to be totally 'uninfluenced' by the comments or hits they get.

As I was scanning through my old posts and comments, it kindled quite a many nice nostalgic moments where I realised I had made quite a few good blogger friends - whom I have not even met or know how they look. The only connection was through our blog posts. Nice!

And maybe many of posts should have been more concise and brief. Okay... hope I stick to my old trend of making atleast one post per month! and hope I get to meet my old blogger friends again...


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Western formals - my foot!

Somehow I can never come to terms in equating the western formals as being the formal dress worldover! Blame it on imperialism or our general affinity to anything western, the western formals also caught up thus! I feel like a total clown with the blazers, tie et al. I never understand the purpose behind wearing a tie - I mean, what purpose does it serve? Its insane having a piece of cloth dangling around your neck for no reason and the pains one has to undergo to get the perfect "samosa" knot! And for the kind of tropical weather most of our Indian states experience, it makes us all the more foolish to adhere to such a dress code in the name of formality! I think its more important to be dressed nealty and dressed for the occasion. Also its vital one is able to appreciate and accept one's own region's dressing and that of others too which is also reflection of a culture and heritage the dress may hold! Any takers?

Monday, December 22, 2008


I don't remember when the "mega serial" or the nedunthodar buzz word caught up but it sure has caused havoc - hasn't it? Maybe it was during the DD days of Ramayana and Mahabharatha, which were considered India's first soaps - oh no - wait a minute! I think we had Hum Log and Buniyaadh much before that - didn't we?. Sadly, the soap operas have set a bad trend. I was (again) reminiscing those good old DD days when a serial had to strictly stick to a 13-week schedule. Though some had their own histronics and depicting scenes with no, they were still much much better than the mega serials of today. I could even probably watch a re-run of those serials with pleasure. Infact, Sun TV, during its heydays, when its telecast time was between 6.30 and 9.30 pm did just that - re-telecast old DD serials and that did help increase their viewership. (ofcourse other reason being it was the first alternative to DD). Back then, unlike soaps, the 13-week serials were relayed on a particular day of the week. So one had to wait, rather impatiently, for one whole week and there were no silly "re-cap" bits. And interestingly no ad breaks. All ads were shown *before* the start of the serial.

The first Tamil serial I remember was that of S.Ve.Shekhar's - Vanna Kolangal. Wow! I would love to watch it again and again. The husband duo of Kutty Padmini and S.Ve.Shekhar was an instant hit. A similar venture of S.Ve.Shekhar came up later called Thevai oru maapillai with Arundhathi as his pair. Infact the title song had the same tune as Vanna Kolangal. This was aired, I think, in the 8.30 to 9 am slot or 9 am to 8.30 am slot.

The first major serial to draw attention was Idhu oru manithanin kadhai mainly for two reasons; first, it was based on writer Sivasankari's novel and two, it had popular cine actor - Raghuvaran donning the protagonist's role. Raghuvaran gained immensely out of the serial, many pitied him while some related to the story. It was about a man addicted to alcohol and kicking his habit through a rehab, getting re-addicted and finally doing away with alcohol again forever.

Another big hit serial was the one which had Sharath Babu and Y.G.Mahendran in the star cast named Doctor Narendhiranin Vinodha vazhakku (remember this anyone?). Sharath is a medical practioner accused of murdering his patients and Y.G.Mahendran plays his defense lawyer. The story is also based on a novel by Sujatha with interesting and gripping twists.

A funny serial to come up later was "Dinesh-Ganesh" starring Delhi Ganesh and Kathaadi Ramamurthy. Sulakshana plays Delhi Ganesh's wife. Though the serial takes off as a hilarious one, later, probably to match a movie, the serial had few thriller elements too. A movie on similar lines was produced with Sivakumar, Cho, Jeevitha in the lead (don't remember the movie name though).

Though I hardly remember anything of Solladi Sivasakthi which was telecast every Thursday, one thing which is still vivid is the title song rendered by none other than Chithra!

One serial had so much speculation even before it was named or anything about its cast, story-line was known. But people were looking forward to it so much. Even as school kids, the talk of this 'to-be' serial was doing the rounds, the only reason being its director. For a while then, speculation was abuzz that K.Balachander would direct a T.V. serial and since DD was the only medium for serials, there was no second guesses as to where the serial would feature (unlike today!). The serial was Rayil Sneham. This serial was like a rennaissance for DD serials. It had extensive outdoor shoots capturing the beauty of Pollachi in a very picturesque location and it almost brought the 'flow' of a movie into a serial. Importantly, it had wonderful music by L.Narasimhan and also songs sung by leading playback singers Yesudas and Chithra. The title song was by KJY and a beautiful number (still popular on Youtube) - Indha veenaikku theriyaadhu, a soulful melody was rendered by Chithra and another version by KJY. The story would seem to be in bit and pieces and the suspense element was maintained till the very end. Its almost like connecting jigsaw puzzles - wonderfully taken. I think KB paved way for other successful directors/actors to venture into television. This featured every Thursday (or was it Wednesday?) between 7.30 and 8 pm. After about many years of watching this on TV, I picked up a video cassette (yes, a cassette) from a Video cassettes rental shop to watch it again mainly for the Indha veenaikku theriyaadhu song!

Another big serial which took everyone by storm was Penn. The colourful star cast was one of its top factors for success. The serial had Revathy, Shobana, Bhanu Priya, Radhika, Geetha, Amala, Suhasini - all lined up for one story per episode. Suhasini donned the director's cap (probably for the first time). She later said in an interview that Vasanth was to direct all episodes with Suhasini playing the main role in each episode (it was one story every week). But later due to marriage and pregnancy, she said the plans changed. Infact the last episode had Suhasini herself in the lead with Parthiban playing her husband. The story-line, acting, star cast was so crisp and fresh.

En Iniya Endhira was another serial which went on to become very popular. The main star value here was the fact that the serial was based on Sujatha's novel with the same name. It takes us to a future world dominated by machines (I am now curious to know what is the year which Sujatha mentions in that novel! Its probably one of the years now!!).

There was another Sunday 8.30 am serial Neela Mala which had ThalaiVaasal Vijay and a little Neena playing one of the two lead child characters (the other character is also a well known person today I think - was it Swarnamalya?). Vaazhvin Vaasal, a very novel serial with rational thoughts on widow re-marriage had Srividhya playing a lead role with Poovilangu Mohan, Kuyili, Gautham (Major Sundarrajan's son) playing supporting yet well-etched roles.

Another serial making a big impact amongst the viewers was Ivalaa en manaivi on Wednesdays (or Thursdays?). I felt the serial was bit of a drab - with not much of a crispy flow. The serial had Idhayam Nallennai Chithra, Sharat Babu and Nizhalgal Ravi. The ending, however, was quite interesting but tested my patience!

Then there was this serial with Revathy in it, who acted as a blind girl. It was a thriller. A famous character name in the serial which I still remember was "Mr.D'souza" (don't know why I still remember this name!).

Cho had his series on Sundays - the best being Saraswathi Sabatham, a scathing mockery of movies depicting larger than life heroes. And also there was a series depicting Panchathanthra tales or something similar of 5 stupid students of a gurukulam. One episode which I vividly remember was how the 5 of them would carry a needle pierced on a log (supposed to be "sharing the work"!). Each episode seemed so insane.

A few serials came up in the 10-10.30 pm slot on DD-2 (often called "second channel" but available only in Chennai and its suburbs). Of them one was a comedy serial by S.Ve.Shekhar. I think, as far as my memory goes, this was the first time Madan Bob was introduced on TV as an actor. Brinda Das (the vamp on Aanandham) played S.Ve.Shekhar better-half! Another one was a serial with Kaveri (or popularly known as Mrs.Dhanam Bose for the Metti Oli fans).

A very interesting programme called Kaalathai Vendravargal featured in this slot. A celebrity of the past adorned each episode. Speaking of this reminds me of another music related programme on MSV every Tuesday at 7 pm (rather 7.05 pm just after Seithi surukkam) on DD-1. An interesting anatomy related programme was Ucchi mudhal paadham varai. Another series was based on wild life. I was in 7th standard then. Our Biology teacher made us watch the show and would ask us questions based on the show the following day.

DD-2 had many interesting English or German serials like the Didi's comedy show, The Invisible man and one more, a German detective serial - Derrick.

Then there was Adada Manohar and another one with Y.G.Mahendran and Ramya Krishnan (its called Thirumathy or something...). The serial supposedly had an interesting ending with the viewers left to their own imaginations on the finale.

Writing about these serials reminds me of a comment I read in Aval Vikatan site. A reader had mentioned "Today, we are so restless that we can't stand a single ad and switch channels right away but we are the same people who patiently waited for the only Oliyum Oliyum programme for a week!". How true!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Trrrrring... Trrrring...

The penetration of mobiles into the nook and corner of the country amazes me no doubt. People get jittery, anxious, restless if they leave their mobile phones behind. Today, as I was reading this post, being the usual self I am, went into a nostalgic walk yet again down memory lane to recaptulate about the black, heavy telephone.

A pista green phone was the cynosure of our visitors' eyes back in mid 80s. We had got it from our abroad return. Back then, it was looked upon as a very 'advanced' phone - the only reasons being that it was a coloured one and had a key pad instead of the circular dial. Discussions would crop up as to how having such a phone would invite levying of an extra fee from the Telephones Department and so we had it covered with a cloth most of the time (how silly!).

Ofcourse the regular phone was the heavy black phone with a jarring trrrring trrrring ringing sound (ringing 'tone' would not apply or was not in vogue then). [Digression: During one of the "Pattimandrams" chaired by Dindigul I.Leoni many years back, he took a dig at the song "Telephone mani pol siripaL ivaLaa" (from the movie 'Indian') leaving it to the imagination of the audience as it how it would sound if a girl were to laugh which sounds like trrrrringggg trrrringgg. Obviously, what Vairamuthu would've had in mind then while penning the lyrics, was the sound of the new phones which somewhat relates to loud giggling]

A person had to be extra careful not drop the receiver onto his/her foot lest it should break - the foot I mean! And there was no tone dialing (or speed dialing). Each swirl of a number had a taka-taka-tak... echoing effect and no... there was no 'redial' option either on such dials. One just had to meticously keep rotating the dial, thereby testing not just the patience but the strength of the index finger as well!

Once, when I visited relatives in Cuddalore, I was amazed to see that the phones there did not even have the dial. Becoming desperately curious, I wanted to know how it worked. Well, simple... you just had to pick up the phone, a person on the other end would ask for a number and you would be connected! But again, no guarantee that the person-on-the-other-end would answer you right away. I seldom felt comfortable talking through such connections as I felt, without an iota of doubt, that my conversation was being tapped. Cuddalore had just 3 digit phone numbers in that 'era'.

An upheal task was to book a trunk call and you would have to thank God if you were lucky enough to have your call placed within a few hours. The process started with calling the trunk booking number, mentioning the place and the phone number, then the person gives you a tracking number. Then you wait, wait, wait! Lets say you book a trunk request at 9 pm, you might get a call by 11 pm - pretty impressive huh? And you thought the other person was talking from a well? No! its a trunk call remember? No wonder the oldies bellow with all their energies when it comes to talking over a phone. Once you are done with the call, you get another call 'confirming' that the call is indeed over. And you probably thought you just spoke for a minute and you get a whooping 80 Rs. entry in the following month's telephone bill! I think there were different classes as well - ordinary and urgent. Urgent was 3 times the cost of ordinary.

There was a day when we had booked a trunk request and since the message was already conveyed, we did not want a huge trunk call bill, so had the receiver put away to avoid getting the trunk call request through!

But the biggest advantage was there was no pulse metering - atleast for local calls. So a minute or an hour of talking all costed the same. Imagine when once owing to my absence from school, I had my friend dictate History notes over phone.

So people who still think India hasn't made great strides in anything.... THINK AGAIN!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

'Showy' Schools

There are loads of writeups already floating around about the huge short-comings of educational institutions especially with respect to schools. I have also made a post touching upon teachers' attitude in handling students here. Though capitation fee may be on top of the misfortunes, what I would like to highlight upon here is the filtering of students based on their learning prowess.

Schools, as far as I know, are institutions to impart knowledge and discipline. Period! But the situation today shatters the very basic morale of running a school. Capitation fee, in a way, maybe justified quoting reason that a school needs money to run. Thats fine if the school is able to balance students who can afford to pay capitation fees and students who cannot. But what is worse is - in a pursuit to keep up its name and fame - most schools resort to handpicking the so called 'bright' students and mercilessly rejecting or dropping out those who do not fall into their desired category.

The ads race which follow soon after the 10th/12th public exam results are also means to attract the new batch of students. "100% pass results" was the norm initially, now adding to these phrases are more glamourous captions like "100% pass for 10 successive years", "100% pass with all first class", "100% with all distinction".

Its a common theory that people's IQ levels are not the same. Infact some grasp things much faster than others. But given the right guidance even the not-so-quick graspers can catch up with the rest - ofcourse with some extra time and effort. Infact, in order not to discourage the so called not-so-quick-learners, the phrase "dull students" has been replaced with "slow learners".
The amount of discouragement such students are subject to is a known story but how worse can it get when that happens in a school! - the very institution where s/he can hope to see some light.

Students who have been associated with a school right from Kinder Garten are dropped post 10th standard or 9th standard owing to their poor performance or just because the school authorities feel they might not fit into their "desired category" and their continuance could jeopardise their so called "remarkable" results.

So what if a school does not achieve 100% results? So what if a school has more slow learners? Wouldn't the worthiness of a school be evident when they are able to pull through such students? Imagine the mental turmoil of the parents who can't even imagine getting admission for the wards just because schools shy away from such students just to safeguard their pride.
Even worse is interviewing a probable L.K.G candidate? How funnier can it get?

A few years back, I remember an interview on TV with the principal of a leading State Board school in Chennai when the school bagged quite a few top ranks in the state. She said "Right from the beginning of 11th standard, we identify the bright students and give them special coaching". I was taken aback. Shouldn't this be done more importantly for the slow learners? Or perhaps were all the so called slow learners dropped post 10th exams?

No point in blaming the schools entirely. What is that the parents look for? If the schools are able to achieve results at any cost - even if it means pressurising their own wards - its fine. What we look for is only the end result!

Time and again, people have been voicing concerns over the educational system especially its grading methodology which negatively segregates students. I am sure there is a way out. Lets hope it happens soon.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Home is where the heart is!

Hurray!!! After being away from India for a little over a year on a work assignment, I am returning back to India next weekend. This has been my longest stint away from home ever since we came back for good from a foreign country about 24 years ago!!

The feeling is obviously BLISS but ofcourse the added frills would be drawing comparisons between the facilities here and the lack of them in India. But hey what the heck? there are many many things that India offers which you cant find them anywhere else!!

East or West, atleast to me - India is the Best!!

Friday, August 10, 2007

It's an ad ad world!

I remember when my friend who was pursuing his MBA talked about advertising. He gave an intersting point about the ads which seem quite lousy. His theory, or probably the general advertising theory was that, for ads to click they have to be extremely impressive or extremely lousy. As I was thinking about this yesterday, I traversed back in time to the days of black and white ads. Advertisements ever remain a child's first favourite on TV. And most of the old day ads, by today's standards, would have been dissmissed as being too lousy but still they did strike a chord with the viewers/listeners.

One of the early ads making a good reach to the viewers was the old Horlicks ad. It was a bit long but a very normal one and that too in B&W with different people in all age groups, from all walks of life, talking a line about Horlicks. There was a sports person, a person dressed as Ravana, a granny saying "Enga ammavum adhe koduppa" and the last line where a kid with a spoon in hand remarks "Kudikka vendam, appadiye saapiduven". This punch line, even to this day, remains a widely remembered ad line. I think much later came the Ujaala ad. There were even jokes and "just a minute" series with the Ujaala slogan : "Neeyum Ujaalavukku maaritiyaa?".

The Nirma song was like the ads' anthem. Everyone could sing it and everyone had their own parodies - one of the most popular one being "Washing Powder Nirma, Adupula vegudhu kurma!". Needless to say that even then there were countless rumours about the ad models then - though they did not get much attention at the models of today. It is often said that the girl in a frock swirling to the tune of the Nirma ad song was actually the daughter of the person who owned Nirma and that it was in her name that he started the company and that she died soon after she featured in the ad. The same is attributed to "Liril" soap ad models. The ad, inspite of its popularity, was supposedly a jinx for the models. Whoever would figure on it would since be deceased. Well it was obviously untrue!

Of the local ads, Idhayam nallennai's gained much popularity because of its ad line "Idhellam pombalainga samachaaram, poi idhayam nallenai vaangittu vaanga-na vaangittu vaangalen" and it also helped actress Chithra (often dubbed as "Nallennai" Chithra) gain some level of prominence. "Excuse me, neenga endha college?"... "College-a? naan-a?" as the model finishes this line, a kid comes running towards her shouting "Mummy....". This ad (was it Santoor or Rexona?) was also a fodder for many many parodies and "Excuse me, neenga endha college" almost became an expression for people looking younger beyond their age!!

One of my favourites then was the "Gold Spot" ad, more so because Gold Spot was my only choice for cool drink during those days. For a while Gold Spot also had Archie Comic characters behind the bottle crowns. The ad song went something like this "She is crazy about hitting an ace as crazy as he is about........... as crazy as crazy as we are about Gold Spot, the Zing thing, Gold Spot". And then Rasna! All the little girls who featured in the ads were so cute (infact one of them was the heroine opposite Prashanth in the Tamil movie 'London'). Though Rasna had just Orange flavour initially, it introduced "Mango Ripe" and the new ad became my instant favourite ("Endha samayam endha naalum Rasna Mango Ripe naaley").

The "Sunrise" coffee ad with its elegant signature tune and the cute picturisation with Suchitra Krishnamurthy in it was an instant hit. I think the soft music and a simple video did the trick. The Amrutanjan ad's slogan which goes like "Gaayab, hoy to, Poye poche, poyindhe, Chalegoche, It's gone... menmaiyaana suhamaana vegamaana nivarani, Amrutanjan Pain Balm meedum thandhidumae... ungalin punnagaiyai!" is something people recon with even today. The AVT premium Tea with its "Kaeteengala, kaeteengala..." had the interesting "Aaapapapapapa..." from Gautami (rather the voice that dubbed for her). We as kids then tried imitating that "aaapapappapa..." but with little success. None realised the male model in Leo Coffee would go on to become a popular hero - Arvind Swamy! Infact another ad of his - no, not the Cinthol ad - in which he goes to buy a Solidaire TV along with his on-screen wife Geetha. That was also a short and nice one. Speaking of Solidaire TV, I remember the old ad where a baby cries on watching a lion growling on TV, then the channel switches to cartoon and the baby is in all smiles. Finally the song end with a dance troupe dancing to the song "We want, we want true colours, we want we want clear sound, we know what we want, we want Solidaire... SO LI DA IRE...". Dynanora was another TV which also got lost down the line. Arun icecream also improved immensely on its video ads. They had a series of clippings showcasing all their flavours with the background song "I can see you... Arun icecream, I think I will lose my self-control... you make me lose, lose my self-control". It ends with a kid holding an ice candy stick and shivering with smiles - really cute!! In terms of visuals, "Regaul sottu neelam" made a similar mark; "Sottu neelam thoi, Regaul sottu neelam thoi... enna venmaiyo... aahaaa enna venmaiyo...". I think the ad received more popularity ever since it came to be known that the video was shot by ace cameraman P.C.Sreeram. This was followed later by another similar ad featuring Kushboo, who runs with a torch in hand and with the song "Endrum maara venmai idhu, Regaul venmai maaraadhu...".

"Thalai vali? jaladosham? mukkadaippu? aama pa aama..." was another famous ad line. Infact during late 80's there was a group which released a cassette called "Sirippo sirippu" where they mocked almost everything which was popular then - DD, popular ads, Kripanandha Variyar, Senthil-Goundamani-Janakaraj combo and this ad also had featured in that.

I used to love the voices behind the radio ads, Radio being "Chennai Vaanoli Nilayam - Vividh Bharathiyin Varthaga Oliparappu"! and had wildly imagined how the faces behind the voices would be. In all these years I could come across only one such person and that too on the Tuesday 7.30 pm DD drama. When he spoke his dialogue it immediately struck me that he was the voice behind the many ads on radio but no, it did not match the face which I had imagined ;-) I used to wonder then and even now if the time for ads overly surpassed the time alloted for songs on AIR! and I used to love the signature bell sound (ting tong) preceeding each ad. The typical radio ads with the bell sound would also remind me of my daily hussle-bussle mornings when I start to school. The "All India Radio" was always the morning background score at home - day after day! And who can forget the evergreen "Gopal palpodi"? ("Vennira parkalukku Gopal palpodi, thaechu paarunga Gopal palpodi, kaettu vaangunga Go paal pal podi!!") Surprisingly they did not change the song even when it was shown on TV for a short while (ofcourse, I dont see it anymore on TV these days). Then came the Archana Sweets ad "Inime late-a vandha Archana Sweets oda dhaan varanum". That ad line was later changed when Archana opened a couple of branches in Madras. And another good old ad was the "Roja paakku" ad. I could just go on and on, then ofcourse the "stores" ads like Saravana Stores, "Rathna Stores, Siva Complex, Pondy Bazaar", Vasanth and Co., Maniyammaal Texties, Sharada Stores (ending with "Chennai-2, Trichy-2"). The other typical radio ads being "Zandu Balm, Zandu Balm valigalai neekum balm...", Kalyanai covering, Nizam pakku.

In between, there also used to relay audio trailers for movies. Infact during nights, about one hour was allotted for such ads (under "Vilambaradharar vazhangum nigazchi"). That was a time when we could listen to new songs or atleast get a sample of it only thru' such forums. Doordarshan would not screen new songs. And we would eagerly have our ears glued to get jig-saw bits of the story, dialogues and songs. It would be interesting the way the "build-up" is generated in the ads with echoing effects, glaring sounds et al. And if one would stay awake (which generally doesnt happen because of restrictions at home owing to school the next day) so late to know about a film, it would his turn to brag about it the next day in the classroom.

I know many ads then did not have a catchy ad line, nor famous models or actors featuring in them, nor trendy sets or graphics but still they made an impact - for whatever reasons - and they still remain fresh - possibly because they did not have all those features which ads of today have and just humming old tunes of the ads or reciting ad lines would unfurl loads of memories - wouldn't they?