Monday, June 30, 2008

A feast for the eyes and the senses!

Opportune enough to be in town when Raja and Radha Reddy were performing at the SSVT in DC, I got to enjoy a wonderful performance. The auditorium seems to have updated(?) their sound system. As a result, there was some faulty wiring which caused us to wait outside until 6:30 (when it was scheduled). And then, to see that the first three rows were papered out. There was a 20 minute delay while they were getting the lights and sounds ready. When they closed the curtain, I thought that was also part of the testing phase. Thankfully, it was time for the show to start.

After a lengthy introduction, they started with maha ganapathi. I usually watch out for 2 things - good abhinaya and strong araimandi. Both seemed to be absent. I guess age has something to do with it. The second one was a tarana in eka tala by Pt. Ravishankar. Awesome composition. The dancing duo warmed up a little and it was enjoyable. They had added this piece in fill-in while their girls were getting ready, as they had just landed.

The next one, inarguably the best piece, was by Raja-Radha's daughter, Yamini. What amazing flexibility! Her Shiva tandavam was exceptional, her abhinaya for the navarasas, her footwork, her poses and especially her balance in holding those poses. I was impressed by how rigid her upper body was, when she went down in muzhumandi and back to araimandi. My younger girl declared her 'awesome' and decided she wants to do such poses when she 'growed' up.

Next was Bhavana's turn. But before that, the wiring went kaput and they had to change the sound system. Through all that, Bhavana stayed a pro and didn't move a muscle. While the other girl had showed her prowess in tandava, this one showed her prowess in laya. Oothukadu's composition on kalinga nardhanam was beautifully handled by her.

The finale was by Raja & Radha Reddy. The first half was the ras leela of Krishan and Radha, while the second was Krishna's gitopadesha to Arjuna. The duo were in their elements here. Except that Radha seemed to find the tai-ha-tai-hi sections a little too fast and her hands were below shoulder level. But they didn't seem to hinder the audience's enjoyment.

Usually, when a dancer's child performs, there is a more than normal critical eye watching for faults. The two girls seem to have surpassed their parents. Of course, they still have a way to go, but they are very much on the right track.

The live orchestra added the needed support. Nattuvangam was by Kausalya Reddy and was commendable.

On a tangent, Kausalya is Radha's siser and Raja's second wife. Bhavana is her daughter while Yamini is Radha's. But they seemed quite a team on stage. That in itself is something.

Of course, that has nothing to do with the fact that they put up a wonderful and amazing show.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Favorite literary characters

Altoid has tagged me and since this is a favorite topic of mine, I am going to be prompt at responding. I am sure I share a few of these at least, with fellow readers. While thinking about this, I remembered writing about it some time back. Good to know my memory is somewhat intact.

I had listed these then.
Scarlett O'Hara - of Gone with the Wind. A definition for optimism. The never say die woman, not perfect, but possessing a lot of strength.

Tracy Whitney - (If Tomorrow comes) Another one for strength, courage and smarts.

Howard Roark
- (Fountainhead) Believed in his convictions.

Wooster and Bingo Little - (PGW creations) funny dudes

Dumbledore - (Harry Potter series) Basically, the likeable old guy. The grandfather figure. I still like him, inspite of the shades of grey in the last book.

Samwise Gamgee - (Lord of the Rings) loyal like Hanuman :-)

Elizabeth Bennett - (Pride and Prejudice) No pretense in the land of pretensions

Atticus Finch - (To kill a mocking bird)Good samaritan and a good father

Sirius Black - (Harry Potter series) the underdog, unlucky fella, true friend

Hercule Poirot - (Agatha Christie creation) for his grey cells

I have to add Ron Weasley to this list. Also, Draupadi as Chitra DB portrayed in palace of illusions. Then, there is Birbal from the ACK days, Cleopatra (a book I read long ago of the same name I think), Vandiyadevan (Ponniyin Selvan), inspector Sartaj Singh (Sacred Games), and many, many more. I know, only ten for the tag, but seriously, it is hard to limit to 10.

I will pass on the honors to Rads.

Monday, June 16, 2008

And the let down - The Ten

I had a lot of anticipation for Friday night, eager to see the ten on the big screen. The show, supposed to start at 7:45, started close to an hour late adding to the already long haul. Touted to be kind of a pathbreaker in make-up and special effects, it was a let down in those departments. I loved the chola period piece - although the movie failed to establish the connection between the past and present, except to show the statue resurfacing. A bit of a stretch there.

The violence that started in that first part didn't reduce in severity and that was a big drawback for the movie. Rather than adding to the movie, it took away. Does Kamal seem to prefer showing more than necessary violence in recent movies? It is not always needed. Thankfully my younger girl slept through it whereas my older one hid behind her fingers whenever it got gruesome. On hindsight, I would have preferred to have not taken them.

The make-up, oh the make-up. Enough has been said about the shoddy job done on the 'American' roles and the 'paati'. He did go through a lot of trouble to do it, but he needs to know when to draw the line. He could have had an international cast and the end result would have been much, much better. The Japanese role was slightly better.

The one that really took the cake was the telugu one. Balaram Naidu got the theater in splits. His face said it all, when a guy introduces himself as Narasimha Rao. His wig for the scientist role looked too artificial. Paati's role had some laughs too, but the make-up spoilt it. Poovaragan was good - the make-up, the accent and the walk. Some of the characters were well-etched. I would really love to see a spin off on Balaram Naidu, great potential there. Some of the characters seemed to have been added on, just to show what he could do with a bit of make-up.

Asin had a good role, suited her, though a little dumb at times. A huge cast, some of them showing up for hardly a minute or so, made it kind of hard to keep track of everything. Mallika Sherawat got a small role (considering the length of the movie). Tamil song in a las vegas strip(?) club. Gruesome end. If he could have, may be he would have done Asin's role too. When I said that to my s-i-l, her remark was that, it would have been 'asingam' instead of asin. A PJ, I know.

The climax was laughable w.r.t. special effects. Couldn't they do a better job of showing the tsunami? Looks like they ran out of money when it came to that. But the places where they show two (or more) Kamals fighting looked good. At times, you forget that some of these characters are done by the same person.

There was his usual debate about the existence of God. Why did they have the moorthy on stage when he gives his final speech? Considering his beliefs, the fact that he did the Nambi role with so much conviction and aplomb shows how good an actor he is.

Having said all that, the movie was entertaining, if you could forget the two major glitches (Makeup and special effects).