Friday, March 17, 2006


Give up learning, and put an end to your troubles.
Is there a difference between yes and no?
Is there a difference between good and evil?
Must I fear what others fear?
What nonsence!
Other people are contented, enjoying the sacrificial feast of the ox.
In spring some go to the park, and climb the terrace, but I alone am drifting not knowing where I am.
Like a new-born babe before it learns to smile, I am alone, without a place to go.
Others have more than they need, but I alone have nothing.
I am a fool.
Oh, yes!
I am confused.
Other men are clear and bright, but I alone am dim and weak.
Other men are sharp and clever, but I alone am dull and stupid.
Oh, I drift like the waves of the sea.
Without direction, like the restless wind.
Everyone else is busy, but I alone am aimless and depressed.
I am different.
I am nourished by the great mother.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

raga of the day----kanakAngi

Aarohana:S R1 G1 M1 P D1 N1 S
Avarohana:S N1 D1 P M1 G1 R1 S

Kanakangaka---Koteeswara Iyer
Sri hapustrayanamosthuthe----Balamurali krishna
Dasarathapala----Pallavi Sesha Iyer


Give up sainthood, renounce wisdom, and it will be a hundred times better for everyone.
Give up kindness, renounce morality, and men will rediscover filial piety and love.
Give up ingenuity, renounce profit, and bandits and thieves will disappear.
These three are outward forms alone;
they are not sufficient in themselves.
It is more important to see the simplicity, to realise one's true nature, to cast off selfishness and temper desire.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Q & A with K.Balachander.

Q) When Kannada filmmakers like Girish Kasaravalli and Malayalam Directors like Adoor Gopala Krishnan are making films with a conviction and seriousness towards film as an art form, why is it that most Tamil film makers, who are not less talented, are making films using a middle path to the so called safe formula of 'not too commercial not too serious and artistic? What is your opinion about this being a director who followed the same path?

A) The answer for such a long question is actually very simple. It’s like that and if I have to add anything, unfortunately, it’s like that. But honestly I am quite happy that I am considered as one among those who took this middle path instead of being an extremist.

Q) Many of your films deal with the social issues, especially, of women. These issue-based films, in the view of the producer, are a huge risk to make as they usually turn out to be failures at the box office. What is your opinion of these producers who put in money to make more money?

A) For those producers who are afraid to take risks they will always find filmmakers who are ready to make commercial formula films. When such films are enjoyable to the viewers it will never be a problem for anybody; everyone is safe, the producer, the director and the viewer except for one thing that is the art itself.

Q) How can one become a filmmaker like you?

A) Whatever I am today is because I worked with 100% conviction all through my life. So, if you are aspiring to be like me I suggest you to deal with art, especially filmmaking, with 100% sincerity, hard work and conviction.

Q) Some shots from your award winning film "Thaneer Thaneer" are similar to the shots from Akira Kurasawa's Ikiru and Godard's Breathless. Is it a possibility that while making Thaneer Thaneer these two film makers and the mentioned films, in particular, would have had an influence on your creative process? Or was it just a coincidence?

A) I have surely watched the films mentioned but I am not really sure if I watched these films prior to the making of "Thaneer Thaneer". I have always been a fond admirer of Akira Kurasawa and his films. If you are accusing (smiles) me of copying the shots from the films of Akira Kurasawa, the master of the art, I say, I am honored that my films carry a reflection of the art of one of the greatest filmmakers of the world.

Q) A scene in Thaneer Thaneer shows two illiterates carrying a newspaper to a man who can read. In this scene the actors’ placement is such that the literate person is seen sitting on an elevated position (on top of a hut) while the two illiterates stand below the hut. While shooting this scene, was that your intention to portray symbolically that a person who is literate will stand above the rest of his illiterate community? Or, like it happens many a times is it a figment of imagination aroused out of the mind of a serious viewer out of an admiration towards the director as an artist?

A) First of all, I feel elated that there are viewers who watch films with such sincerity and I feel so happy that after 26 years of making this film there are unnoticed details that are brought to my notice. As a director I really had no intention to portray that symbolism but today I feel that the symbolism is right and just. It might have been the idea of the cinematographer or some other member of the crew. I am happy that such fine detail of the film is pointed out now.

Q) Today, if one would like to watch Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali or Gurudutt's Pyaasa or for that matter any good Indian film form the past all we get is a poor quality CD or DVD with no subtitles, tarnished image and poor quality sound. That’s true with your films too. Don’t you think that it’s your responsibility as a filmmaker to restore and preserve the films from the past?

A) I totally agree with that point and the concern towards preserving the masterpieces from the past. But sadly the state of affairs of our film industry is very bad. Somebody has to do something about it.

Q) In concern with the previous question, don't you think that it’s your responsibility as a filmmaker to restore and preserve the films that you made as a director and producer? If so what are you doing towards it?

A) I am seriously concerned with the fact that the films from the past are to be restored and preserved for the future generations. But sadly I am just a part of the system. My film "Thaneer Thaneer", sadly' has no existing copy of the negative of the film. The producers who made this film are no more and it makes things even more difficult and impossible. But I am working towards it and I want to stress on the point that it’s high time that everyone in the film industry realized the importance of preserving the films.

Q) Why is it that most of your films deal with the issues of women?

A) May be because I love woman. I like woman and their issues.

Q) You have stated in many interviews that you consider Puttanna Kanagal (Kannada filmmaker), thought younger than you, as your guru in filmmaking. What is it that you learnt from him?
A) Age has got nothing to do with learning. You can learn from anybody and everybody. I liked and admired Puttana Kanagal, because, at the time when many of our filmmakers lacked the vision of filmmaking in terms of visuals he was the one who insisted on films being visual than oral. Apart from that his ability to churn out the human emotions from his actors was one of his kind.

Q) Your film, "Thaneer Thaneer" deals with the same issue, "State against her own people", like the recent film "Rang De Basanti". In both the films the general public or the so-called masses resort to violence in the end and the state fights against her own people. Even after 25 years of your film and almost 60 years of Indian independence do you think that there is no other alternative than taking up gun as a means of liberation?

A) If there were an alternative, people would have come up with that alternative. As there is no other suggestion, for me, history will repeat itself and people will always fight against state or, to be more specific, against the irresponsibility of the state and its measures.

Q) What was the influence of Russian films on you?

A) Quite honestly I haven't watched more than 2 or 3 Russian films.

Q) Long back you were seen in a role different than you are. You were seen in the role of an actor. Why is it that you haven't explored that facet of your life as an actor?
A) I have been an actor from the time I remember. As a director I act out and perform every role from my films. Yes I haven't shown myself on screen much, except from very few roles. I have acted in a minor but a significant role in my forth-coming Tamil film due to be released on April 14th. I hope you will enjoy watching me on screen as much as you enjoyed me behind the screen.

Q) After making waves with your TV serials people thought that you stopped making films. Now you are seen again concentrating on filmmaking. What made you shift back to filmmaking?

A) For me, both film and TV are visual mediums to portray and depict my thoughts and ideas. But my career as TV serial maker made me realize that my thought process is narrowing down. This realization made me to come back into films. I wish to make films with the same conviction.

Q) Of all the films you made what is your favorite film?

A) This is the most common question put to me. This was and is a very difficult question to answer. But I personally feel that "Punnagai", a Tamil film with Gemini Ganeshan and Nagesh in it, is one of the best films I ever made. In that film, I was really able to voice out my opinion and I was able to say something through that film. Sadly, that film did not farewell at the box office and I was not surprised because when I made Thaneer Thaneer I never expected it to be a commercial success. The film "Thaneer Thaneer" which dealt with acute water problems of a drought-ridden village of Tamilnadu was released on the Diwali day of 1981 and that day Tamilnadu witnessed one of a severe rainfall of those days. The distributors of that film were very much disturbed with the rain and of course the fate of the film. But as I believed that one-day's rain of cats and dogs was not the ultimate truth and the truth was far more than that unexpected rain. The people of Tamilnadu were able and ready to perceive and understand the same truth. That was the same reason, I believe, that made this so called art film a major commercial success.

Read more about K Balachander here . The Balachander Story


When the great Tao is forgotten, kindness and morality arise.
When wisdom and intelligence are born, the great pretence begins.
When there is no peace within the family, filial piety and devotion arise.
When the country is confused and in chaos, loyal ministers appear.

raga of the day----bilahari

Aarohanam: S R 2 G3 P D2 S
Avarohanam: S N3 D2 P M1 G3 R2 S

Dorakuna Ituvamti Seva---Tyagaraja
Inta Kanna---Tyagaraja
Kanbadeppodu---Ambuja Krishna
Saranu Janakana----Purandara Dasa
Vanthathuvum Ponathuvum----Oothukkadu Venkatasubbier

Maximum City-Bombay lost & found.

This book by Suketu Mehta is gripping and makes a compulsive read. This non fictional account of the author's love affair with the city of Mumbai is travel writing at its best.

There will soon be more people living in the city of Bombay than on the continent of Australia. Urbs Prima in Indis reads the plaque outside the Gateway of India. It is also the Urbs Prima in Mundis, at least in one area, the first test of the vitality of a city: the number of people living in it. With 14 million people, Bombay is the biggest city on the planet of a race of city dwellers. Bombay is the future of urban civilization on the planet. God help us.

I left Bombay in 1977 and came back twenty-one years later, when it had grown up to become Mumbai. Twenty-one years: enough time for a human being to be born, get an education, be eligible to drink, get married, drive, vote, go to war, and kill a man. In all that time, I hadn’t lost my accent. I speak like a Bombay boy; it is how I am identified in Kanpur and Kansas. “Where’re you from?” Searching for an answer—in Paris, in London, in Manhattan—I always fall back on “Bombay.” Somewhere, buried beneath the wreck of its current condition—one of urban catastrophe—is the city that has a tight claim on my heart, a beautiful city by the sea, an island-state of hope in a very old country. I went back to look for that city with a simple question: Can you go home again? In the looking, I found the cities within me.

I am a city boy. I was born in a city in extremis, Calcutta. Then I moved to Bombay and lived there nine years. Then to New York, eight years in Jackson Heights. A year, on and off, in Paris. Five years in the East Village. Scattered over time, another year or so in London. The only exceptions were three years in Iowa City, not a city at all, and a couple more in New Brunswick, New Jersey, college towns that prepared me for a return to the city. My two sons were born in a great city, New York. I live in cities by choice, and I’m pretty sure I will die in a city. I don’t know what to do in the country, though I like it well enough on weekends.

I come from a family of mercantile wanderers. My paternal grandfather left rural Gujarat for Calcutta in the salad days of the century, to join his brother in the jewelry business. When my grandfather’s brother first ventured into international territory, to Japan, in the 1930s, he had to come back and bow in apology before the caste elders, turban in his hands. But his nephews—my father and my uncle—kept moving, first to Bombay and then across the black water to Antwerp and New York, to add to what was given to them. My maternal grandfather left Gujarat for Kenya as a young man, and he now lives in London. My mother was born in Nairobi, went to college in Bombay, and now lives in New York. In my family, picking up and going to another country to live was never a matter for intense deliberation. You went where your business took you.

Once, with my grandfather, I went back to our ancestral house in Maudha, which used to be a village in Gujarat but is now a town. Sitting in the courtyard of the old house with its massive timbers, my grandfather began introducing us to the new owners, a family of Sarafs, Gujarati moneylenders, for whom Maudha was the big city. “And this is my son-in-law, who lives in Nigeria.”

“Nigeria,” said the Saraf, nodding.

“And this is my grandson, who is from New York.”

“New York,” the Saraf repeated, still nodding.

“And this is my granddaughter-in-law, who is from London.”


“Now they both live in Paris.”

“Paris,” the Saraf dutifully recited. If at this point my grandfather had said he lived on the moon, the Saraf would, without batting an eyelid, have kept nodding and repeated, “Moon.” Our dispersal was so extreme that it bordered on the farcical. But here we were, visiting the house where my grandfather grew up, still together as a family. Family was the elastic that pulled us back together, no matter how far we wandered.

* * *

It was the muqabla, the commercial competition, that had forced my father to leave Calcutta. It was the way jewels were bought and sold in my grandfather’s business. A group of sellers would assemble at the buyer’s office with the broker at an appointed time. Then the negotiations would begin. The price was not said aloud but was indicated by the number of fingers held up under a loose corner of the seller’s dhoti, which would be grasped by the buyer. Part of the muqabla was loud abuse of the buyer. “Have you gone mad? Do you expect me to sell at these prices?” In a display of extreme frustration, the seller would storm out of the office, shouting loudly all the time. But he would be careful to forget his umbrella. Ten minutes later he would be back, to pick up the umbrella. By this time the buyer might have reconsidered and they might come to a conclusion, at which point the broker would say, “Then shake hands!” and there would be smiles all around. It was because of this little piece of theater that my father decided to leave the jewelry business in Calcutta. He could not stand the shouting and the abuse; he was an educated man.

My father’s brother had gone to Bombay in 1966, against the will of my grandfather, who saw no reason why he should leave. But my uncle was a young man, and the twilight in Calcutta had begun. In Bombay, he went into the diamond business. Three years later, my parents were passing through Bombay, after my little sister was born in Ahmadabad. My uncle, recently married, suggested to his brother, “Why don’t you stay?” So we did, four adults and two children, one a newborn, in a one-room flat, with guests always coming and going. We lived as a “joint family,” sharing the flat and the expenses, and the space expanded to fit us. How can 14 million people fit onto one island? As we did in that apartment off Teen Batti.

My father and my uncle found their niche in the diamond business. We moved to a two-bedroom flat above a palace by the sea, Dariya Mahal. The palace belonged to the Maharao of Kutch. A family of Marwari industrialists bought the palace and its grounds; they chopped down the trees on the land, cleared the antiques out of the palace, and put in schoolchildren. Around the palace they built a complex of three buildings: Dariya Mahal 1 and 2, twenty-story buildings that look like open ledgers, and Dariya Mahal 3, where I grew up, the squat, stolid, twelve-story stepchild.

My uncle and my father made regular business trips to Antwerp and America. When my father asked what he could bring back from America for me, I asked him for a scratch-and-sniff T-shirt, which I’d read about in some American magazine. He came back bringing a giant bag of marshmallows. I ate as many as I could of the huge white cottony things, and tried to make sense of the texture, before my aunt appropriated them. After one of those trips, according to my uncle, my father had an epiphany while shaving, as often happens when you’re facing yourself in a mirror without actively looking. He decided to move to America. Not for its freedom or its way of life; he moved there to make more money.

Each person’s life is dominated by a central event, which shapes and distorts everything that comes after it and, in retrospect, everything that came before. For me, it was going to live in America at the age of fourteen. It’s a difficult age at which to change countries. You haven’t quite finished growing up where you were and you’re never well in your skin in the one you’re moving to. I had absolutely no idea about the country America; I had never been there. I was certainly not of a later generation of my cousins, such as Sameer, who at the age of sixteen, stepped into JFK Airport fresh off the plane from Bombay wearing a Mets baseball cap and with half an American accent already in place. I traveled, in twenty-four hours, between childhood and adulthood, between innocence and knowledge, between predestination and chaos.

Everything that has happened since, every minute and monstrous act—the way I use a fork, the way I make love, my choice of a profession and a wife—has been shaped by that central event, that fulcrum of time.

There was a stack of Reader’s Digests in the back room of my grandfather’s Calcutta house, dark, hot, womblike. There, in my summers, I had read true-life adventures, spy stories of the dastardly Communists, and jokes the whole family could enjoy about the antics of children and servicemen. It was my introduction to America. Imagine my surprise when I got there. I was lucky, though I didn’t know it then, that of all the possible cities my father could have moved us to, he chose New York. “It’s just like Bombay.” Thus is New York explained to people in India.

In the first year after I got to America I sent for its previously inaccessible treasures, the merchandise advertised on the inside covers of the comic books. I ordered, for my friends in Bombay, the joy buzzer, the floating ghost, the hovercraft, and X-ray goggles. A brown box came in the mail. I looked at it for a few moments before opening it; here was what we had been denied all these years. Then the junk came spilling out. The floating ghost was a white plastic garbage-bin liner with a stick threaded through the top; you were supposed to hang it up and wave it around to scare people. The X-ray goggles were a pair of plastic glasses, like the 3-D glasses given out in science-fiction theaters, with a rough drawing of a skeleton on both lenses. The hovercraft was a sort of red fan, attached to a motor; when you turned it on, it really did rise over a flat surface. The joy buzzer was a small steel device that could be worn on the inside of the palm like a ring; you wound it up and when you shook the victim’s hand a knob was pressed and the device vibrated sharply. I looked at the mess spread out on the floor. I had been had before in Bombay; I knew the feeling well.

Nonetheless, I sent the package to my Bombay friends, with a letter suggesting possible uses for the gags; the ghost, for instance, could be lowered on a string to flap outside the balconies of the lower floors, possibly scaring small children in the dark.

I knew my gifts would be welcome. Whatever their quality, they were “imported” and therefore to be treasured. In our house in Bombay, there used to be a showcase in the living room. It displayed imported objects from Europe and America, the spoils of my uncle’s business trips: Matchbox cars, miniature bottles of spirits, a cylinder of long matches from London shaped like a Beefeater with a furry black hat as the top, a little model of the Eiffel Tower. There were toys, also, for the children—a battery-powered Apollo 11 rocket, a police cruiser with a blue revolving light, a doll that could drink and wet her diaper—which were almost never taken out for us. The kids in the building would assemble around the showcase and look up at the toys inside—toys we weren’t allowed to touch for fear of breaking them.

In America, too, we had a showcase in our house. In it were kept souvenirs from India: a pair of grandparent dolls, Dada dressed in a dhoti, Dadi in a cotton sari; a marble statue of Ganesh; a wooden mask of Hanuman; a little model of the Taj Mahal with a light that glowed from within; a bharata natyam dancer whose head moved sideways on her neck; and a bronze clock shaped like the official map of India with all of Kashmir reclaimed from the Pakistanis and the Chinese. When the new baby was born he wasn’t allowed to open the showcase and play with these objects. They were too fragile; he would hurt himself. He spent his time splayed against the glass door of the showcase, staring at his heritage, like a wasp at a window.

When I moved to New York, I missed Bombay like an organ of my body. I thought that when I left Bombay I had escaped from the worst school in the world. I was wrong. The all-boys Catholic school I went to in Queens was worse. It was in a working-class white enclave that was steadily being encroached upon by immigrants from darker countries. I was one of the first minorities to enroll, a representative of all they were trying to hold out against. Soon after I got there, a boy with curly red hair and freckles came up to my lunch table and announced, “Lincoln should never have freed the slaves.” The teachers called me a pagan. My school yearbook photo shows me looking at the camera with the caption, “It’s so strong I can even skip a day,” referring to an advertising slogan for a brand of antiperspirant. This was how the school saw me: as a stinking heathen, emitting the foul odors of my native cooking. On the day I graduated, I walked outside the barbed-wire-topped gates, put my lips to the pavement, and kissed the ground in gratitude.

In Jackson Heights we reapproximated Bombay, my best friend Ashish and I. Ashish had also been moved from Bombay to Queens, at the age of fifteen. The happiest afternoons of that time were when we went to see Hindi movies at the Eagle Theater. With one letter changed, it had formerly been the Earle Theater, a porn house. The same screen that had been filled with monstrous penises pullulating in mutant vaginas was now displaying mythologicals of the blue-skinned god Krishna; in these films not a breast, not even a kiss was shown. Maybe it was being purified. But I still scanned the seats carefully before sitting down on them.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Aavide Shyamala....

Continuously discontinuous

1 0

Raga of the day----Sama

Aarohanam: S R21 P D2 S
Avarohanam: S D2 P M1 G3 R2 S

Manasa Sancharare---Sadashiva Brahmendra
Annapoorne---Muthuswami Dikshitar
Guruguaya Bhaktanugrahaya---Muthuswami Dikshitar

Lets salute the freewayblogger.

to know more.


Separately together


The very highest is barely known by men.
Then comes that which they know and love, then that which is feared, then that which is despised.
He who does not trust enough will not be trusted.
When actions are performed without unnecessary speech, people say, "We did it!"

Their First Photo Together