Friday, October 27, 2006


'Sarvakalashala' (1987) : It is the best campus movie in malaylam though people who like campus movies like 'Classmates', 'Niram', etc may not like this movie. But in my opinion 'Sarvakalashala' is a movie that works more at an emotional level and the characters remain with you forever. Venu nagavally was the director, screenplay and dialogue writer of this movie. Mohanlal is the protagonist who is known as lalettan in the college. He has lot of money but does not have any relatives, so he keeps on taking degrees in the college so that he can stay forever in college. Though he has a big house he prefers staying in a cottage. Nedumudi venu is a drunkard who stays along with Lal. There are other character like Adoor bhasi as college principal, innocent as physical director of college, Jagathi Sreekumar who is a Malayalam literature professor and hostel warden. Sukumaran and Seema are lectureres who are in their midddle age and who wants to get married but are afraid because they think what the sudents of college might think.
The film starts with the welcome of new students to the college. As the credit of the movie rolls the director introduces the two main protagonist of the movie :The college and Mohanlal. The camera shows the wide shots of the college and in the background a old man's voice (represents the college) asks whether the new students have taken admission for whch Mohanlal's voice answers "yes muthacha (Grandfather)" and then the old man voice asks if there are any film poster stuck on the college compund wall and Lal's voice answers "No muthacha", then it asks "are the holidays for hindu, muslim and christians festival been made"and lal's voice replies "that has been taken care by the Government and has been equally distributed".The story revolves around Mohanlal's life, his lonesome life, the girl whom he had loved and wanted to marry comes back to the college as a teacher and she is now a widow. Mohanlal's childhood friend and friends sister comes to the college.
The interaction of lal's character with other's is what it makes interesting. some of the memorable scenes (as per me ) are :
1) It is vaccation time and the nobody is there in the college, Lal walks through the corridors alone and looks at the empty classroom and the corridors. He then comes and sits beside the police constable at duty.
2) Mohanlal goes to his girlfriend Gayathri's house along with lecturer jagathy to ask her father if he can marry Gayathri. The father does not agree and the close-up view of Mohanlal's face is enough to convey the feelings.
3) Nedumudi venu was brilliant as the drunkard and his recitation of jeevathalam is brilliant.
Check out this recitation at this link

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Salgirah mubarak ho....

22nd October.....On this day, Last year I said bye to a care-free bachelorhood and said hello to married life. I still recall the day. A Malayalee wedding at a auditorium near the famous Kottarakara Ganapathy temple With hordes of relatives. Some friends. Priests & photographers and videographers !

That was a day filled with memorable moments caused by many : From anxious parents. To a more anxious brand new in-laws. Gossip from all relatives who had nothing better to do. Lots of colourful dresses. The temple priest and relatives, who kept asking me & my wife to be, to do as many acrobatics on the stage within whatever little breathing spaces was available because the stage was occupied by many relatives, photographers, videographers and childrens.

The smell of rose petal and jasmine garlands, my typical malayalee wedding dress, around 1500 invitees in front of the stage sitting as if to watch the first day first show. Two videographers and photographers who made me and my wife stand in different styles and facial expression, many guests whom I have never seen coming to me and wishing me, all these Seems like yesterday ! For a day and a half, I was a star!

Myself and my wife discussed it all today. The past & the present. And had a good laugh ! Life goes on. As they say, anniversaries are like drinks, after you’ve had one too many, you lose count of it. Today was the first sip.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Around 5 years back I watched a stage programme in Asianet channel where a young boy maybe 20 yrs old, wearing a jeans and a kurta was performing with Violin. He played the song 'Snehitane.. snehitane...' from the movie Alaipayuthe on violin and believe me I liked the instrumental that he played more than the original song. I could not note down the name of that young boy at that time. Again after a few months I saw him perfoming in another stage programme, a sort of fusion music with drums, tabla, mrindagam. I started getting addicted to his style and his music. I came to know that his name is Balabhaskar. I was used to hearing only carnatic music on violin but it was the first time I was hearing film music played so beautifully on violin.

He composed music for more than a dozen albums and music scores of some movies like `Mangalyapallakku,' `Kannadikkadavathu', `Moksham'. Among his numerous albums, `Ninakkay' and `Adyamay' have been huge hits. He made a album 'Mazhayilaro,' which is based on the theme of rain.

His Band consists of seven artists : There's Nirmal Xavier, the drummer, Prakash Ulliyur on the keyboard, Jossy John on the base guitar, Mahesh Mani on the tabla, Sudhir playing the ghatam, and Prakash Krishnan who is the lead guitarist.

Yesterday my friend Mukesh (a person who has an excellent taste for malayalam music and has a good collection) gave me a CD of one of Balabhasker's stage show. The excellent fusion music, the jugalbandi between the violin, tabla and drums, guitar was excellent. I liked the way bhaskar played the 'thumbi vaa....' song on violin and in between he switches the tune into the Roja title song. The 'uyire uyire' (from Bombay) song and the title song of the movie Akale were also excellent. One more interesting thing about this band is that they involve the audience participation between the jugalbandi. You can know more about this group here.

"IF EVER you are weary of music, rain and love, you are fed up with life," says Balabhaskar, "There is intrinsic rhythm and sruthi in everything and the onus is on the composer to position them in a certain fashion. It takes a large heart to locate beauty in everything,"

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The 160 Seconds at Traffic Signal

It’s very funny how the world works. Sometimes, a single event that happens in your everyday life makes you realize that there is a big difference between 'observing' and 'looking'.

Last week I was returning from my office to homeat around 8.30pm. I was driving my bike through the heavy traffic that was flowing like stream of water flowing through narrow lanes and getting connected with another stream at different traffic junctions. I felt like a drop of water in that stream that is trying to get through whatever space is available. I reached the Trinity circle traffic junction which is at the end of MG Road, near Taj Residency Hotel. The traffic Signal just went red and the countdown on electronic traffic signal started from 160.
While waiting , I noticed this little boy across the road. He looked energetic, in his rather over-sized clothes, the brownish coloured shirt was torn at places and as the sirt was over-sized it was reaching till his knees. He was playing happily with some of his friends across the road. Suddenly a car came on adjacent road and stopped for the signal to be cleared. The boy went near to the car window and then suddenly his happy expression changed. It became desperate, like picture of the poor hungry urchin on the road. The transformation was suden from a playing boy to a homeless, orphan, forced to the streets, in an age when he should have been in school and he played his part well. As the light turned green again, the car went off and the boy was back to his old world with a smile and started playing with the other boys, clutching the loose change in his hand, waiting for the next traffic light, next transformation.
As I watched this drama I realized that what I felt for this kid was not sympathy. It was a strange kind of respect. This child, hardly aged six , had already learnt to live, he had learnt that important lesson in life that most of us don’t. That this world allows the survival, only of the fittest. He has learnt that in order to live in this unfair world he has to act. This unfair world has put him in past and he needs to be faster.
Most of us- the so called “privileged kids”- are expected to be good at dealing with challenges of life. We are told and trained by our parents, relatives and teachers what to expect from the 'real world' and we are sent to good school, colleges, institutes etc to get trained in howto face life/world and when finally the time for facing the world comes most of us get knocked off. But no one trained these kids, they were infact born into this 'real world'. They know it very well and deal with it everyday, every minute and each second and they do survive. No one applauds or give awards to these brave fighters. But they keep fighting and survive because there is no alternative. They live their lives, from one stop at the intersection to another.
The countdown at the traffic signal became Zero and the signal turned green. I started my bike and was on my way to home and once again I looked back and saw the boy standing near the next car with his next transformation. Amazing that though I used to look at these boys daily, on that particular day at that particular moment I was observing 'Life' rather than 'Looking'.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Watched the malayalam movie "Classmates". Almost all media reports that this movie is the hit among this year's Onam relases. Many of my friends told me that this is a very nostalgic campus movie. Anyway myself along with my wife went to watch this movie. My opinion after watching this movie is that this could have been the best malayalam movie based on a campus story to date. But the film just falls short of becomming a masterpiece.
The story is about a group of students in the chemistry batch of 1991 in a campus that has active and violent student politics. The movie begins with a college reunion of this batch after 15 years. All them have changed and on that reunion night, a incident takes place (I dont want to reveal the suspense). The movie then cuts back 15 years earlier in the campus and we come to know the story of this individuals. There is a typical kerala college, lovers, loveletters, strikes, election, friendly and unfriendly teachers, hostel etc.
The main drawback of this movie is that it does not work at an emotional level. The film does not have the same emotional effect as that of the old campus classic "Sarvakalasala". The best thing I liked in this movie was Indrajit in the role of "Pious", he has done a wonderful and faultless job. Balachandramenon, kavya and prithviraj was a total miscast. Towards the end the new actress Radhika who acted the role of a muslim character "Rasia" is commendable. The song "ente khalbile" is okay and Rajiv ravi's camerawork is excellent.
Director LalJose could have done better if could have handled this excellent screenplay with more care. (I feel that he could have told the narrative in a Roshomon style). The film is not structured properly and some of the scenes look forcibly incorporated and the love scenes looks very much outdated fashion. But this movie is far better than the recently released campus stories Nammal, Swapnakoodu, Niram but does not match the level of Bharathan classic Chamaram, Venu Nagavally’s Sukhamo Devi and Sarvakalasala.

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