The one where i don my true-mallu-movie-buff cap

There was an era in malayalam cinema when everything lal-ettan touched turned gold! It began around the time I was five and grew with the lot of us until we were eighteen or so. I am sure many would agree with me if i say that the 90s were the golden era for awesome malayalam movies. I haven’t seen the likes happen recently, even with the advent of crush-worthy talented youngster like prithvi looming to churn hits.

I am not here to analyse what went wrong with the mallu movie industry; although in all clear perception, it is falling prey to the kollywood slide of item numbers and unwarranted heroics in a pesudo-modern setting, which to an average malayalam movie lover is blasphemy. Isn’t that why mallus have turned to tamil movies when they want a dose of dappankoothu, mindless heroics with punch dialogues which they prefer not to tarnish the sublime settings of our own? I have digressed….

It is no secret that it is difficult to comprehend the motif and depth of a ‘good’ mallu movie for a non-mallu. I talk from experience, since I have a mighty tough time, even with subtitles to make N “understand” the mind-blowing mallu comedy. And just because it serves the sect of esteemed audience, mallu movies are shunned by the outer-world as ‘not-worth-the-penny’ or time. So let it be, I say. Why thrive to change the ethos of a people, just because others are doing it? Why churn crass, bawdy comedy interspersed with plot-less shots in the gulf to look modern? why not stick to entertaining mallu-landers with stories of our own?

So all the aping and trying to make commercial farcical cinema of recent times, had me stuck to the old-times ones. It is true that like a saving grace of the dying language in our household, I hold on to larger-than-life lalettan roles and mammoty’s conscious ones to hold malayalam closer than ever before. For i am not sure what motivation I have to teach my unborn child malayalam, other than the fact that I am a fan and is dearer to me than the language i speak at home. So it is bound to die with me and my strew of mallu movies and songs! ( How dramatically tongue-in-cheek!! 😀 ) Well! I digressed again!!…..

So finally coming back to where I wanted to put my money with this post – I watched pranchiyettan and the saint, mammooty’s new movie. I had a shot of de javu, loving the comedy and light feel of the movie I haven’t felt since killukam. Mammoty is truly peaking at 60 with such a gamut of roles he has done lately and this one is another feather to his hat for comedy which all these years had been lal-ettan’s niche! The loveable pranchiyettan character, so wonderfully depicted in all his shortcomings and wonders, quipping in trisshur malyalam simply stole the show!

Oh! so the mallu movie buff in me is looking up expectantly, for more showers of good movies like pranchi. Oh! jolly good I say. Sometimes movies, only the ones you grow up to tell a tale or understand the profoundness make the best ones! I bet pranchi will be watched, re-watched and loved for years to come! So there i go again… basking, smiling, laughing with mirth, being what a mallu-movie-buff truly means!

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Music is the answer

I used to own a brown paper covered music book, that had the renderings for a novice carnatic music-learner. And a brown shruti-petti too electronically tuned for my music lessons. And then there were practice sessions with music sir, taalam types, raagams, tyagaraja ulsavams, singing for the sundal during navatrathri and attempts at music competitions ; a different life may be; now that i reminisce. The last time I sang was four years back on a contrasting hot day in the month of november in Boston, for a small diwali gathering. I had unearthed a bhajan I had picked up in school and decided to rake the tune. And since my vocal chords had forgotten to croon, until recently when 100+ minute drives leave – just me and my breathing for company. I sing aloud to break humdrum.

I began by dumping every song we downloaded or owned into the player, followed by audio books (the cell by stephen king caught me unaware on the drive and since I have said no to audio books!), and finally settling with ARR, sudha raghunathan, unni krishnan, yesudas and chitra. I almost always start the ride with MS’s hanuman chalisa that totally reminds me of SVCE on sundry early mornings and then move on to a lot of classical and carnatic renderings. I am, for having not continued my music lessons beyond varnam, have little clue about the particulars of a raagam et all, but have sung along, loving the aalaaps and breathless eees and aaas and moving backwards in time, as I drive forward.

So it is over the last few months that I seemed to realise the void created by lackluster music in our electronic media filled lives. My memories race to power cut evenings in the little street I grew up. My cousin Jo, is the most amazing singer I have known ( As a kid, I used to often hide her paatu book, when she would close her eyes to render a beautiful aalap). So with Jo and Pillus around, the power cuts and buzzing of mosquitoes on sultry summer nights would transform into anthakshari followed by singing mukesh and kishore kumar numbers, all scintillating into a brilliant musical night! Did you just ask yourself, when was the last time you played anthakshari? Yes! thats precisely the music-void I am talking about left by easy access to songs strewn on the web and our own players and pods playing it for us!

It is like, we no longer sing to kindle the music that filled our lives for all the years since we started to hear melody. On a grueling six-hour journey from NYC to Boston, five of us to keep the driver and the passengers sane, took to utilizing our data phones to contention! With 5 i-phones, we began searching for the songs we love and playing one after the other from youtube like a jukebox on a linklist. The songs ranged from 70s to 90s and across various languages; that is the closest I have gotten in recent times to a musical episode! And then of course some fast numbers on my ipod that help me run and the new-found old love for carnatic music on the drive.

Well, I sure hope to convert this party I have had with self, singing out loud as I drive alone. I want to throw an antakshari party without any music system blaring in the background, just so everyone remembers that they were willing to sing and remember lyrics and have a good time. Someday I hope I can separate humans from head-nodding-nanos, at least for a little while. Lets start with wine and end the night with many a croon, hums and drums! You are all invited! 🙂

Waiting for the want to want a child

There have been so many times in the past few months, I had lifted my pen to scribble a few undertones on the above motif only to crumple, trash and crash. It either seemed too personal or too extreme like Liz in Eat Pray Love. Not that I have conquered the emotions or here to share news, far from it; just another attempt at happy diplomacy and hopefully I don’t hurt in the bargain!

I have been on a baby shower, baby birthday galore in the last year. My close friend from back home is a mother of an adorable two-year old and I had marveled at her courage back then, when I was still struggling to fit into marriage (not that I am an expert now). Followed by a lull, suddenly the world around me mushrooming with babies, couples talking of planning; pre-natal preps, post-natal preps, natal preps, a few self-proclaimed love-To-Be-Singles and other who-wants-a-baby-when-you-got-a-career-and-a-LIFE! Let me stop before my head spins into my bare arms.

Keeping aside my views on all the above, for I have none, since it is none of my business anyway and I fit nowhere at the moment, let me digress to a baby shower party. We, a bunch of us, had thrown a babyshower yesterday for a very dear couple, to welcome the first miracle in our close circle of friends. The day had unwound on awesome food (of course!), lots of games interspersed with baby-shower games to embarrass the couple and a final cake and customary awards for the proud to-be-mom and dad.

Amidst all the fun and a reassurance I have often felt from admiring women who all-enduringly grow larger with life, conversations, not surprisingly, steered to why a baby, when a baby.. et all. And someone decided to drive this point home – You are never really ready to have a baby ever! You simply take a plunge just the way you plunge into marriage when you are not ready for it either! How subtly said and amiable on print, isn’t it? Simply put, if you are to wait for the want to want a child to dawn upon you, you may end up waiting forever! Daunting and relieving at the same time!

So where does that leave many a women like me, who don’t believe in walking down the altar alone and haven’t started their waiting or haven’t even thought about it? Well! That’s not true, I am thinking about it now, amn’t I? Oh well! So many eons ago, I had quipped about marriage being “a propagation of species”… well! My opinion sure has changed for I have survived 1900 days in one without getting into too much trouble (I hope!  🙂 ).  So that is about marriage. What about the next commitment you ask? The one as big as committing to dyeing your hair fiery purple for life!?! Frightening to the bones as it seems at the moment, much so by, the fact that, the two best parents in the world had a tough time handling a tyrant of an incorrigible child like me, what would my unborn child be like? And suddenly the jeer of “how can the world handle another of you?” doesn’t seem so funny anymore. All this keeping aside the “weighing as much as your hubby”, “never losing the baby fat”, “ticking biological clock”, “locked down for life” expletives the super-slim-soccer-moms and feminists throw at you.

So, during my impending trip home, when I will be showered with questions on why not and hope for soon, I am going to redden with ignominy of the situation and the inner-person who fears it all will only gloat further. Or may be.. just may be like the one terrified petrified and stupefied of heights  decides to go for bungee jumping, I may sport a Ron moment from deathly hallows of breaking down your fears and go for the kill. Someday…I say… for now its just the want to wait for the want to want in sight!