Wednesday, December 05, 2012

In my heart....

Patatopam - My father uses this word a lot. The closest English translation would be ostentatious. Here's one song that's so un-patatopam . All it has is a few violins, a guitar and an accordion in the end and of course a beautiful melody . The MTV version of Nenjukkulle  has been playing on loop for days now. She is my constant companion on the long distance runs I'm on these days.

The best part about the song is its voice - Shakthisree Gopalan. It's so rare to come across female voices that are not falsetto. Almost 99% of the female singers around sing in a voice which is not their speaking voice. I kinda cringe when I listen to mookkala paadara voices. Shakthi's voice is so pure and simple and that makes this song ultra special. And you know what? This song , though sounds simple , is going to be tough for the reality show contestants to sing. It's because of Shakthi's voice that is so unique.

The CD version of the song released as a single across Tamizh Radio stations all over the world. Have been listening to it non-stop since  yesterday. In this version, I do miss the accordion that was thru and thru in the unplugged version (and a bit of Ann Marie's violin ) but A R Rahman's humming in the middle in the new version more than makes up for it.

Can't wait for the release of the CD sometime this month.

Here's the video of unplugged version. Will post the CD version of the track once Sony music South uploads it on you tube. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bead work

Saw some of the beaded craft items at someone's Golu. 

The Sofa set...

Animals, Tulasi maadam, tray ...

Wanted to check if any of you reading this post knows how to make these. Would love to learn how to make them.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Golu 2012

Travelling 4 hours to and fro office, had all the enthu and patience for a full-on Golu, for a few years. When the commute became 1/2 hour, the patience level also shrunk with the increase in work hours. The Golu took a temporary VRS for three years and this year I had decided to revive it, taking out all the Golu bommais that were shifted to the attic when we shifted homes in 2009.

Mine is usually a 'general golu' nothing theme based here. 

This is how my Golu looks this year. (warning - lengthy post, you will need a lot of porumai that I didn't have while writing this one)

We've been using the metal padi for some time now. Apart from the time it takes to set up, it ends up spoiling the flooring and it is impossible to escape the sharp edges' creating a scar on your skin. Decided to go for the much publicized plastic golu padi which took about 1 1/2 hours for two people to set up. Like always woke up last minute to realize the plastic golu padis were sold out at the outlet near our place. Managed to get this from another outlet at the last minute. 

Added two cardboard boxes covered with silver paper for the sixth padi and another box covered with veshti as the last one.

First - Welcome Padi

Has two dolls with Deepam and a stand alone Lord Shiva's attendant with a Thulasi maadam 

Second padi - one half of the padi has a Sashtiabdapoorthy with two people seeking the blessings of the couple with other relatives and friends around.

The other half of the second padi has a Kalyanam with the wedding ceremony ...

and Sikkal Shanmugasundaram and Balaiyya as Nadaswara Party. AVM Rajan is missing and so is Tillana Moganambal.

Third padi

It has wooden kitchen set from Sawantwadi in Maharashtra which we had picked up in '06 and a Chettiar couple selling fruits from Sawantwadi

Meet Daisy Irani, an old doll which was bought in Pondicherry in one of the shops that sells old Golu bommais. There is a charm in old bommais that are not made any longer. This particular one wears a 'gown' and check out her retro hairstyle like we see in old movies.

Fourth padi

Uzhaikkum karangal

Ladies on the ural, arivaalmanai, ural and the men where one is a goldsmith I think.

Two new dolls that were bought this time - the Kaaval Devadais (left) & School Master (right)- a bommai that serves as a reminder of the 11 padi Golu in Madras at home. School Master used to be a part of the grand golu in Madras every year.

 Lakshmi and Saraswathi seen here are also the latest additions to this year. With them is a Pillayar temple

Also on the fourth padi , are the Iru Kodugal couple, Gemini Ganesan and Sowcar Janaki. He he.. Now I've to add another lady (Jayanthi) and we'll have a 'Punnagai Mannan poovizhi kannan' scene in our Golu.

Fifth padi

Nayanmars here on the left side of the padi, Nayanmars there on the right side, a Marappachi couple and the Kalasam.

Sixth padi

The Kamalagassan padi. Two Dasavatharams - one Mann Bommai set & the other from Kondappalli

Seventh padi

Pillayar, Murugan, two Lakshmi idols - one tall that I had bought from Pondicherry, Saraswathi, Ramar
set, Krishnar and Dance papa (left extreme). This again is an old bommai bought from Pondicherry.

Iyal, Isai, Nadagam

A separate Golu unit for music and dance with three padis.

KARAGATTAKKARAN - starring Ramarajan, Kanaga, Goundamani and Senthil.


VILLUPPATTUKARAN (wasn't there a movie like that with "Rare Raja" songs?) - once again Ramarajan , in Yellow shirt.


The Pillayars along with the Rabbit, Lion, Bear, Tiger and Elephant are having a good time

And there's more...

The Strikers

Kenyan Tea Party - the big five enjoying a tea / kudi party

CHANDRALEKHA  & the famous drum dance

Also read the previous year's posts.

Monday, August 27, 2012

ADra sakka! ADra mokka! - 5

There is something wonderful about advertising films. PR, my friend and I have had very similar backgrounds coming to Mumbai from South working as assistant directors in our initial years and moving to a different medium in the last five years.

Every time we meet up, we invariably end up discussing the same thing again and again..which is about how we miss the assistant directorgiri running around for costumes, spending hours at Prithvi Theatre looking for the right faces for ads, our respective Hitler bosses, the peanuts we received as salary and the best and worst of advertisement films on air.

Last week when she was home, we discussed this particular ad for a long time. Foot candles is, according to me the best ad film production house in the country. And Vinyl Matthew who directs all their Cadbury Dairy milk ads is a fantastic director and gets the best out of his actors.

This particular ad for Cadbury Dairy milk too is on their umbrella idea of 'Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye' . The ad encourages you to have a sweet , in this case Cadbury Dairy milk to celebrate the start of a new relationship. The TVC (Television Commercial) starts with the younger sister entering the room where her older sister is busy pouring tea / coffee into the cups. We figure out the younger sister has just been 'Ponnu paathufyed' when she (younger sis) imitates the bit where she had to seek the blessings of the elders. There is this weird phoren accent she puts while doing so. Her elder sister asks how she liked Siddharth, the boy. The younger one isn't impressed and starts imitating the boy's accent, his clothes and so on. Akka patiently listens to her sister and hands over a piece of Cadbury Dairy milk and concludes that her sister is ok with the alliance and  asks "You like him, right?" The younger sister blushes having been 'caught' by her akka. Younger one has more to add about Sid. "Oh Sid, eh!" the elder one teases and the TVC concludes with the younger one giving her sister a very embarrassed "Stop it will you?" look when the older sister asks about 'Sid' again.

The age difference between the sisters is about 7-8 years and just right for the Akka to immediately read her  thangai's mind. Not sure if a 2-3 year's age gap between them would have made this TVC believable. 
Telugu / Tamizh actor Swathi (of Subramaniapuram) is lovely as the younger sister. My guess is that the director would've cast her after seeing her in this song where her eyes speak a lot. The older sister is a familiar face in the ad circuit. I'm unable to place her now. Will update this post as soon as I get to know.

The best part about the TVC is that till the older sister asks the younger sister "You like him, right!" and you see the younger one's expressions there is not a hint to us, the viewer that the younger one has fallen for the guy. The director could've made it very obvious to us with getting the younger one to blush when she talks about Siddharth or getting the older sister to respond with an over the top "Pakad gaye na?" expression. Even we are caught by the surprise when the younger one kinda admits she likes the guy. You go back and see the ad to catch the older sister's expression at 0:10 when the younger one talks about Siddharth. Check it out

You don't need lavish sets, Akela crane shots, peppy jingle etc to make things work. This ad is set in a part of a room and my guess is that this must've been shot in two days. The sisters' costumes are lovely and both of them look very pretty. This, according to me is the best in the Cadbury Dairy milk series with its simplicity, direction and casting. The ad has been directed by Vinyl Mathew and Tassaduq Hussain is the Director of Photography.

Malarum Ninaivugal

There are certain commercials that are remembered for a particular moment / expression of the actors. These are most often not pre-planned , in the sense not mentioned in the storyboard. You go with the flow, direct the commercial and when it goes on air becomes a hit when people talk about that particular moment. Like this particular TVC. It is your regular toothpaste commercial. But people still remember it for the youngest kid saying "Off-White" . A bunch of kids were cast for this and it was on the sets that one decided to get the tiny one to say "Off-White".

Unfortunately after it went on air, it had to be pulled out after some time 'coz the lead model Ruby Bhatia had already done a Closeup TVC and had er.. "forgotten" to inform the agency, client & the production company about it. The Closeup guys put their commercial too on air at the same time. So Ruby at one point was on air endorsing both Colgate and Closeup. The Colgate ad had to be shot with another model after some time.

Did I mention the brownies made by the "Off-White" kid's mom were awesome? I was an assistant director on this TVC (in '99) and the kid and mother would visit our production house often with brownies... Malarum Ninaivugal!

Check out the ad.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Tiger Tiger burning Bright

Our friends wonder as to why we end up at Tiger reserves of Madhya Pradesh (Kanha, Pench, Bandhavgarh ) every year while for the same money a ‘normal’ holiday would possibly have been a nice 'resorty'place in Singapore, Dubai, Kerala etc.

The answer is quite simple …. Nothing quite engages and enthralls you quite like the sight of the Royal Bengal Tiger . Having spent a lot of our time on African Safaris and having been up close and personal  with lions , leopards and Cheetahs , the Tiger , however many times we see it makes us sit  like start struck teenagers in front of their rock star idol !

The entire fascination of listening to the jungle alarm calls , chasing pug marks and then finally observing a well camouflaged ear or limb making way for the entire picture as the tiger rolls out of his slumber and onto the open …. That moment is worth every sun burnt hour spent in the scorching Indian Summer.

No camera and no expert cinematographer can quite capture   the goose bumps , the elevated heart rate , the wide eyed staring , the whispered oohs and aahs , the 'I will miss the action if I blink' feeling which one encounters with the Royal Bengal Tiger . The absolute disdain with which he looks at you , the one look that humbles you and exposes you to the human frailness stays with you for ever .

Once you have seen the tiger and captured a nice close up on your camera to show off to your friends , you don’t need to go to a wildlife park again right ? One couldn’t be more wrong . Our different visits and even different days with the same tiger have exposed to us amazingly varied  examples of tiger behavior.

The big male speading fear while patrolling his territory to lolling around in the grass and looking like a tubby cat ….his cubs approaching him fearfully while he rests and then discovering he is a loving father after all …The mother allowing her cubs to pull her whiskers, jump all of her and then disciplining them with one stern call …. cubs playing , mock fighting , running up and down rocks and then resting out of breath and jumping in the water pool to cool down and the as the heat of the day becomes intolerable.

Being regaled by stories from guides on their varied experiences, tiger encounters , territorial fights …. To meeting noisy and impatient tourists who expect the tiger to be posing and doing what they want for that perfect shot ! All that is what makes us go back year after year after year and every year and every visit and every new day is a new experience !

As an Indian , one is obviously proud of the fact that the largest populations of wild tigers is India. Sure we could do more and we must to protect our wildlife . But we must also spread awareness that the tiger population is thriving well , albeit in small pockets and foreign tourists should be vary of unscrupulous travel agents getting them to visit stating that the wild tigers will disappear in 5 years from the Indian jungle …nothing is farther from the truth.

We chanced upon a documentary during one of our recent visits and for us the big learning was that we still have sufficient Indian Jungles left to house 10,000 tigers .Like the worldwide steps to protect the Elephant and ban ivory trade , we need concerted efforts worldwide to stop trading in tiger parts for Chinese traditional medicine .

We clearly need to do more than ‘like’ the Save the Tiger page on FB. Do visit this website , read 'The Truth about tigers' and watch the documentary to get a new perspective on tigers.

(This is a guest post by my husband. Pics - Mr. & Mrs. Blogeswari)

Friday, June 08, 2012


With music playing out 24*7 home when running/ cycling/ swimming/ tweeting/ eating, have been listening to pretty much one set of songs for sometime now. Hence, I try and change the playlist frequently to avoid monotony.

Back in college and school, during culturals, there was a particular set of songs on high frequency renditions. Every second school or college band / individual going up on stage would end up singing the same song and the audience would "Boooo" as soon as the singing started. Not many people realize a hit song need not necessarily (even if it is sung well) win them prizes. Don't know what exactly works but the judges always look for the "Yo" moment in the song has when sung live on stage. It could be in the lyrics, a humming or even an instrumental bit.

In  Oruvan Oruvan mudalaaLi from Muthu. The "Yo" moment of the song is SPB singing "Hayhayhay hay" the "Tattadadattada Tadadatt toing" starts.

In yet another favourite song of mine, it is the lyrics. Watch at 0:29-0:37

Here are some of the songs I have grown up singing / listening to during school and college culturals.


(not linking the original video which is TERRIBLE)

This was an anthem of sorts for the professional college bands of Madras in the 80s and 90s competing in Mardigras (now Saarang at IIT Madras). I guess this song was most sought after because it gave an equal opportunity to the singer (especially during "ore veenai" with ore da feel), the percussionists, the keyboardists to showcase their talent.


Our Economics teacher in school was also in-charge of training the music choir. She would teach and train our band for the various cultural events. Apparently while she was in school/ college she'd play the Veenai for this song when her band sang the same on stage. She promptly passed on all that she learnt to us. Still remember listening to this song again and again on a,cassette trying to learn it in a day. And this was not an easy number though the tune is fairly simple. Listen to the song. In both the first and second stanzas, you have a humming going in the background when the main singing (Sillena melliyaSindanai Ambugal) happens in the foreground. Quite difficult to concentrate on stage and sing your bit since there are a set of others parallely singing the humming. Wouldn't say we always won the first place, but we were placed second or third whenever we sang this. When I moved to college and participated in Antakshri, once our team given the letter 'Ta'. Started singing this song . Usually in Antakshari the host stops you after 30 seconds or so. But this time he let me sing the entire bit (to check if I was able to complete the song) and I managed to do so ,with thunderous applause. Do listen to the Tamizh version but not before watching the #gvlt version here. I personally think it sounds better in Telugu but I wonder why Illayaraja did away with my favorite background humming bit during the stanzas. The videos are so typically Bharathiraja with the background dancers in white clothes. Really pity them)


Not exaggerating, but every second girl (out of the 100+) that went up on stage in the screening before the finals in the inter-departmental culturals sang this song. The judges were fatigued at the end of 3 hours. And this was not even a song to sing for a solo competition.


This song is extremely close to my heart. This is the song that got me, a two month old fresher  become a celebrity overnight, in college. During the inter-departmental culturals my Senior in college (AM) asked me to learn this song and I thought it was going to be a group rendition. Was in for a shock when she mentioned I was going to sing the male bits of Yesudoss and she the female portion. Was so not confident because I had never sung solo except in the bathroom, till then. Was always a Gumbaloada Govinda wherein most of the times (esp. when one had to go high pitch) I'd just vaaya asachufy. Even while practising I was very sure it was going to be an #epicfail moment on stage.

On the day of the interdepartmental culturals competing with 16 other teams on August 27th, I was tense.. very very tense. It was a sensuous number and we had ore da build up when AM started with her "ssss..aaaa" and all that with the drum beats ably assisting her.  She started with "Maasi maasam aalana ponnu maaman Unakku taane.." and I entered trembling with my mike singing "Poovodu aaaa.. taen-aada.. ". And boy! there was a super duper applause. We ended up singing it in all inter collegiate culturals and winning prizes. Might sound pompous but post this started the trend of female singers with a katta koral like mine singing the male bits in inter-college and school culturals.


A beautiful composition by the one and only #God. Super special to me . This was a hit song within our college premises when we sang during the inter-departmental culturals. The team that won the inter-departmental got to represent college at the inter-collegiate competitions. That year (and every year :-)) we won the inter-departmentals and we were at an inter-collegiate Women's Christian College's culturals singing this. And guess who the judge was? The man himself - ARR! We had the guts (timir!) to sing it for Him, infront of Him. We were super thrilled when He awarded us the second prize. The "Yo" moment of the song is when Hariharan comes back to say "Tamizha Tamizha ...Kangal Kalangade"


I see a lot of teams singing this on television shows. Some of them do a brilliant job of it. Don't remember the show but it was on Sun tv and this team did a fantastic version of this song. One of my favorites and an apt song for competitions especially for the female singer. The "Yo" moment is the grand finale with both the Jadis and female singer singing simultaneously. 


I'm categorizing these two under the 'India tolaikkatchigalil 100 murayaga' category. God knows how many many many times we would've practised these songs in college. When we didn't have time to learn a new song for college culturals, we would end up singing this. Not just us, the college juniors were forced to learn these when our band was asked to 'coach' them.


Had Rahman heard us, he would've cried... buckets. In all our enthuness, we took up this song and messed it up big time.


Every girl eyeing the first prize in culturals, would sing this in school....

 10... competing against the one who'd sing this one


Infact, a friend of ours in the band was so good at Toongada Vizhigal that every time when she'd practise and sing the "Aaaaa" bit at the end of the stanza, we would say "inga applause varum". This, when sung well was a sure-shot winner during Culturals.

These days every time I listen to a new Tamizh song, I analyse its 'Culturalability' meaning if it can be sung by a band/ individual in school/ college culturals and help them win prizes. Not all songs that are hits are 'culturalable'. In the recent hits, I think this one, when sung well can win the singer laurels.


12. One song which I never thought was 'culturalable' was making the rounds on the internet as a 'Culturals song' sometime ago. Ending this post with a wonderful choir rendition of an (almost) solo number. Love their singing. Enjoy ! 


Sunday, April 29, 2012

N.T.Rama Rao gaaru Prasadaumm

Lakshmi, our cook is one of my rare finds in Mumbai. Lakshmi hails from the land of NTR, Jr.NTR, Aavakkai and cooks awesome food especially South Indian for our ‘varanda’ tongues suffering from the boring bland roti-dal.

Most Cook Akkas will never learn to make new cuisine (Rasam, Sambar, Koottu, Pasta, Pulao types) and even if they do know how to won’t admit they know for fear of being asked to make them. They are quite content making the same thing. The best part about Lakshmi is that they makes stuff on her own without being asked to. Her kuzhanda manasu   is one of the other reasons we are quite ok with her bunking 5-6 days a month unannounced. The other day she had made this awesome Gongura chutney, on her own. Had tweeted a picture of the chutney and a couple of people wanted to know the recipe. So here we are.

Ingredients for Gongura Chutney
  1. Puliccha Keerai { Tamil  }/ Ambadi (bhaji) in Hindi  / Sorrel leaves { English } – 2 bunches
  2. Tomatoes    - 2
  3. Red chillies – 7 numbers
  4. Garlic           - 1 small pod
  5. Jeera             - 2 big spoons
  6. Urad dal/Ulutham parupu – One small spoon
  7. Chana dal / Kadalai parupu – One small spoon
  8. Kadugu / Rai – One small spoon
  9. Kadipatta / Karuveppillai – a few leaves
  10. Asafoetida - a pinch
  11. Salt to taste            
  12. Gingelly Oil / Nallennai
Gongura chutney is very easy to make and you will be done before the end of the 2nd commercial break of a movie on “Indiya tollaikaatchigaLil mudalll Muraiyaaga…”.

As you are all set to watch a movie on TV, when the movie starts, as the credits roll watching TV....
  • Wash and Remove the leaves of Pulicha keerai / Ambadi
  • Cut tomatoes into medium sized pieces
During the 1st commercial break
  • Put a little bit of oil  and fry the tomatoes and the Greens for 5 minutes
  •  Let this cool
  • In the same kadai, fry 5 red chillies .Let this cool
Come back to watch the movie. When the 2nd commercial break starts
  • Put the red chillies, add salt, jeera (without frying) and garlic (without frying) in the mixie and blend    these.
  •  To this, add the tomato and greens and blend it to a paste
By this time the movie must have started again. If it hasn’t , good. You can do the taalichal/ tadka. Else increase the volume on TV so that you don't miss out on the action and come back to the kitchen.

  •      Fry Kadugu (Rai), Kadalai paruppu ( Chana dal) , ULutham paruppu (Urad dal), Jeera , 2 red chillies, Karuvepilai (Kadipatta), Asafoetida and pour it on the Gongura chutney. 
  •       Your super duper chutney is ready!

Now go back and watch the movie. Don’t forget to carry a plate of hot rice, with ghee poured all over. Add a big spoonful of your Gongura chutney and eat with your hand. Do watch the movie while eating. There’s no better way to enjoy a movie than this. (It is boring to eat dinner sitting on a dining table with/without company)

Don’t forget to look at your expression in the mirror while you have the first kai of Gongura chutney saadam and that's most likely to be like this......bliss!

Now tell me, isn’t Gongura chutney truly the Prasadam (as Golts put it “Prasadauummnn”) of NTR?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


You know what's kadi-er than attending a wedding ceremony ? The thought of attending a series of functions that follow a wedding in the coming months - seemandham, valaikaappu (both, forms of Godhbharai) punyavajanam (naming ceremony of a baby), Ayush homam (baby's first birthday), then baby no.2's naming ceremony, birthdays and so on.

Here's a little secret that even husband does not know (Now he will when he reads this post). Was a happy independent professional for almost 7 years doing some vetti freelance work. That also meant representing the family (that is the spouse and I ) for all functions of the extended family on week days. Spouse was travelling a lot on work and to his luck all these mega boring functions would happen only on week days. Since I was a 'freelancer' and could decide when I wanted to work, I had to be there at Vashi, Thane and other parts of the world that required a minimum two hours of travel for these 'functions' sitting there putting one smile waiting for the food to be served. And unfortunately as Tamizh culture demands, in these smaller functions, the ladies always eat after the first pandhi & second pandhi are over when maamas, extended mamaas and neighborhood thathas eat for a minimum 1 hour. What a bore to wait for your turn and what a bore-est to help people serve when you are bleddy hungry yourself! 

Anyway, that's when I decided to take up something full time. No jokes. Really was tired of going for the 'functions'. And a full-time job in media meant giving the best excuse possible - "Recording on Sunday" "Shoot on Saturday" and so on. And since the extended family even now has no clue on what I do at work (neither do I), it became semma easy for me to bunk.

The mega bore function and the mother of all Kadis  is the wedding. Given a chance, the husb would happily bunk off . But ha ha vidhi vilayadifyes always and the Seniorest citizen of his family would call him a dozen times reminding re-reminding, putting letter and couriering invite for the function. Bwahahaha! Thankfully food is never a problem at these marriage functions. You sit off in the first pandhi itself. The aruvai bit is sitting around doing polite conversation with people on the same old topic of What I do (in life), the weather in Bombay, questions on Madhavan's next film (who is bothered?) and so on till the Taali is kattufyed. A couple of wedding ceremonies happened on week days and I was thrilled! Bunking was never a problem. But people are getting smarter and smarter. A couple just like us in the family I guess also started giving similar excuses bunking these wedding functions. So, the Seniorest Citizen mama took a stand and ended up fixing wedding dates on Sundays. Baah! That means putting full attendance for Saturday and Sunday. And it is increasingly becoming difficult to give those "working on both days" excuse for me.

Met a Delhi-based friend recently and he too has this problem of attending weddings of extended family and friends. But pal is super smart. According to him, whoever pressurizes him to attend a wedding, he announces his "policy" to them, the policy being he never attends weddings. Recently his wife travelled from Delhi to Gwalior for a wedding. He did travel with her but didn't go for the wedding. Opted to stay at the hotel, do some good bit of site seeing at Gwalior and drove her back to Delhi. 

Think it's a fantastic idea to make a list of policies for one self and publish online. My draft (work in progress) reads

-> Won't attend Weddings, Valakappus, Seemandhams, Gruhapraveshams, Ayush homams of ex..tended families.
-> Will avoid picnics / trips / movie outings where friends insist on bringing their mothers, school-time friends, twitter pals and kids.
-> Won't wait for the first and second pandhi to be over at functions (if at all I attend) and then have food
-> Will put #onetightslap to all those asking questions on "Starting a family" 


1. Kadi - Aruvai, Blade, Bore to the power of 100
2. Vashi, Thane - 'Oragadam' of Bombay
3. Vidhi Vilayadifies - Fate plays game
4. Taali - The one the wife worships everyday taking His blessings. No, not huspand.. It is the Mangalsutra
5. Seniorest Mama- The one who says "Enna late-a?" when you attend a Vashi based function at 7.30 am on a Sunday.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Samayal Sodappal

Somehow, cooking has never interested me. May be because it needs a lot of patience, waiting at the stove, kinding, keLaring and before all that cutting the damn vegetables, which takes forever.

The one person I cannot live without in my life is my cook. Given a chance I'd play the 'cook' version of 'ManamagaLe marumagaLe vaa vaa' every morning and evening when she comes.  The highest point of my day is when I see Akka reporting to duty. The Cook Akka is an indispensable part of my life because of my hatred towards this thing called samayal.

There are a lot of blogs around us that have simple, complicated, super confusing recipes with wonderful pictures. I guess that that person, that that interest. All I can do is put clap on the super duper cooking blogs. 

Thought, why not talk about things that I am good at? Like Samayalil Sodappuvadu eppadi? It is not that I get to cook very often (Thank God!). Even the smallest of 'tadka' / 'taalichal' annoys me since the Urad dal / Ulutham paruppu always turns black. Eyyuck! Yesterday was Holi-p-pandigai and the evening cook bunked and the morning cook refused to come in the evening may be 'coz she wanted to put one number Bhaang and relax.

It was too late when we realized the evening cook had ditched us. Was too tired to eat out and both husband and I aren't great fans of Pizzas. There aren't decent restaurants around that deliver good food. The local departmental store too failed to deliver a loaf of bread ("Holi" it seems. Deei! Niruthunga da!) . The husband made maggi which I was told was terrible and hence I didn't want to taste it. Decided to sleep off after a glass of milk. No that was not helping. Semma pasi happened at 10 pm and I decided to make the world famous MTR Readymade Upma. Simple you may think. Not for me. Here you go.

Samayal Sodappal - Recipe for Upma from MTR Breakfast mix packet

Step 1 - Take the MTR breakfast mix packet . Mine was one kasangina packet stuffed inside a big dubba squeezed amidst a million other ready to mix packets.

Step 2- Ignore all the stupid instructions in the packet of cutting onions-u, boiling peas-u, mannangatti and terupuzhudi. In my opinion, ready made means ready made. You put in water, it should apdiye come like Upma. What's the use of promoting these are ready to eat etc when you end up wasting your precious energy cutting veggies?

Step 3 - Boil water (sorry no picture) in a kadai, add a spoon of oil or ghee.

Step 4- Put this MTR breakfast mix in water. Mix well. 

Step 5 - Try and eat. If you are a believer of your own work - a person of self confidence - an epitome of self righteousness etc. you will eat .. eat atleast half of what you have made, with a great smile and a sense of pride and contentment on your face.

Step 6 - This is what it looks like when you chuck most of what you have made after all the build-up of pride, self righteousness, epitome, contentment etc.... THE REMAINS IN THE DAMN SINK!

I hope I don't get to update more on this 'Samayal Sodappal' series since that would mean both cooks mattam pottufying which will be doomsday for me. But yes, if you my dear readers encourage me by liking this post, posting on fb, RT-ing on twitter etc, I may look at a you tube channel exclusively for Samayal Sodappal and you never know, I just may get spotted by some producer, actor and could be offered (ahem!) to write and direct a movie that'll obviously be titled 'Samayalil Sodappuvadu Eppadi?' Help pannunga please!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Met A R Rahman!

It was a dream come true. Never thought I'd meet A R Rahman again, chat with him, take his autograph (yet again) on the Rockstar CD and click two lovely pictures!

Classic Incantations - The Babelsberg Film Orchestra is in India performing A R Rahman's background scores as part of the year of 'Germany in India'. "Let's make it happen!" was Rahman's one-liner sent to Dr.Marla Stukenberg (Director, Max mueller Bhavan) when she discussed the idea of the project with him, two years ago. In this five city tour, Germany's oldest film orchestra from Babelsberg are playing Rahman's famous and popular compositions arranged by the London-based conductor, orchestrator Matt Dunkley.

As media partners we were assured of an interview with Rahman and other dignitaries part of the project during the press conference in Mumbai. Honestly, I wasn't sure. There were more than 20 different crews from the electronic and print media but my colleague and I thought we'd wait and see if we could manage an interview with Rahman, when we reached the press conference on the 19th of January 2012.

The press conference started with a ten minute piece the orchestra and K M Music conservatory choir performed. What an experience! Watch it here . Here is a picture from the press preview performance.

The best part about the press conference were the strict instructions from the organizers that questions were to be only on the project and not anything else (read- Bollywood etc). But media being media had to , just HAD to ask Rahman about the Hosanna controversy . Thankfully, the organizers stepped in and requested the members of the press to avoid such questions.

(Pic above - Rahman at the press conference)

We had our questions ready for the one-on-one but still I wanted to ask Rahman a question on the project and my colleague encouraged me to since I was a little hesitant. Went ahead, introduced myself and asked Him about the pieces they were going to play at the concert and what made them choose the 15 pieces considering Rahman has composed for more than 100 films. Was super thrilled when both Rahman and Matt Dunkley answered the question.

(Pic above- Rahman at the press conference)

As soon as the press conference was over, I climbed up on stage ran behind Rahman not (just) for the one-on-one interview, but for a photograph. His trusted aide Swamidurai recognized me from a project I was a part of where Rahman played a key role . "Epdi irukkenga? Enga irukkenga?" he asked. Felt sooooo good! The organizers asked me to step aside and get into the press room for the one on one but Swamidurai called me aside when I mentioned I wanted a picture with Rahman. I sneaked in and thanks to Swamidurai, managed to click a picture with Rahman. When I wasn't sure if the picture had come out well, Rahman told Swami to click another one. My jaws dropped.. literally!

(Pic above - Rahman & I (minus 'I'))

After the picture, I hesitantly reminded Rahman about the project we had worked together way back in 1997. He gave one vague look and said "Yes I do ( from the old project and old company) and I was wondering why you mentioned a different company's name when you introduced yourself at the press conference". Jaw dropped again! Quickly took out the Rockstar CD, mentioned the songs and got his autograph. Blabbered everything I wanted to about his songs being my suprabatham to Rockstar songs to his music to.... blah blah blah ...Had to pinch myself again and again!

Post the personal interview which my colleague recorded, it was time to say tata bye bye. With the organizers around, Rahman asked my colleague and I "you are coming for the concert tomorrow right?" . We said "No Sir, no passes available.. konjam recommend pannunga". He looked up , smiled and I gave a paavam look at our client, the organizer and pleaded to give me a pass. She assured that she'd try but wasn't sure.

We thanked Rahman and left. The following day and thanks to our client and the group manager of the sales team in my office, managed two passes at the very last moment for the concert. Couldn't believe I was going to watch the concert after all the futile attempts to get passes calling Max mueller Bhavan, fb requests to Lapp India the sponsors , smsing friends etc.

It was concert time. The Mumbai concert started with the Warriors of Heaven & Earth suite. Lagaan, The Rising, Passage followed. Goose bumps when the Orchestra played 'Tamizha Tamizha' a tune very close to my heart. Navin Iyer joined the Orchestra for the Roja themes.

After full-on applause suddenly someone walked up on stage. It was Rahman himself who was greeted with non-stop applause for more than a minute. The crowd just wouldn't stop. He then played the final climax fight clip from Robot and then left it to the Orchestra and the choir ("Arima Arima") who played live for the same clip. Awesome it was!

127 hours and Lord of Rings followed before the short interval break.

(pic above - from the concert)

The concert resumed with the lovely 'Bombay' theme. Up next was an important piece. Wonder if any other composer would have ever agreed to include another composer's piece in his concert. And this is why Rahman, in my opinion is different from all the other composers, not just with his music but as a person too. The next piece was a 'Tribute to Indian composers'. It started with his father R K Shekhar's piece, followed by M S Vishwanathan's Malarndum Malarada, Illayaraja's Sendoorappoove, Salil Chowdhry, Laxmikant Pyarelal (Hero), S D Burman, Jatin Lalit's Pehla Nasha, Shankar Ehsaan Loy's Kal Ho Naa Ho (there were a few more Hindi ones). And Shankar Mahadevan was sitting as part of the audience and imagine how wonderful it must've felt for him. Watch it here .

And for him to include a fellow composer who once mentioned something on the lines of "Piano play pandravan ellam composer illai" IS something else only! As someone on twitter mentioned his mantra to choose love over hatred.Hats off to you Rahman!

And this Suite (Indian composers) ended with Rahman's compositions including "Oruvan Oruvan mudalaaLi" Missed the Madras crowd I say!

Elizabeth and my most favorite, Bose themes followed. Post the Meenaxi Suite was the much awaited Slumdog millionaire suite. Asad Ali Khan, the sitarist joined the Orchestra with the man himself A R Rahman playing the piano. Goose bumps I say !

Many thanks to the KMM choir, Babelsberg film orchestra, Soloists Kavita Baliga, Asad Ali Khan,Arun H.K, Navin Iyer, Deepiga ,Matt Dunkley and ofcourse Rahman for a magical experience yesterday.

It has been an extremely overwhelming, joyful two days. Can't quite describe the entire feeling you know. Rahman is God to me. Given a chance I'd keep his photo in the poojai room. More on the craze about Rahman and music later on another post.

Just want to thank Rahman again and again for this awesome experience. Thank you ARR!