\m/otherjane- The homecoming  

Posted by Praveen in , , , , , ,

They Came...They rocked...and they conquered... That would aptly sum up Motherjane's sojourn in Trivandrum. Titled 'The coming home' tour, this was really a coming home for the band after having conquered more than 100 venues all over India and being featured in numerous international radio stations and compilation albums. Its a little known fact that their first album 'Insane biography' have sold out. Now with the second album 'Maqtub' ready for release, the band is at the threshold of even greater success. Even before the 2nd album released, everybody knows all of its songs by heart. And that was evident from the crowd singing many of the lyrics alongwith them yesterday..

So..Here is a brief description of the day. The day started with me and Raja going to Hotel Maurya, where Motherjane was staying. After meeting them all, we went with them for the soundcheck at Nishagandhi in the afternoon. Sooraj chettan satyed back nursing his sore throat. John Chettan had already gone there. A glance at the stage had all of us laughing. It had a broken bullock cart, many small pots[like folk dance set] and some raised platforms made of cardboard at the back. Motherjane's great sound engineer Fali got to work. After tweaking it all around, the band started the soundcheck. We got a sample of what to expect when they played 'broken', 'chasing the sun' etc. They kept on doing it until it all sounded perfect. After the soundcheck, me, Nikhil and Raja returned to the hotel with them. Baiju chettan enlightened us with some great tips and some interesting anecdotes. Deepu chettan was his usual self cracking some really intolerable jokes that made everyone burst into uncontrollable laughter. Sooraj Chettan was radiating positive energy all around although he was suffering from some throat problems. The band had a private meeting behind closed door before leaving for the show. Once they came out, we posed for some snaps with them.

Raja n me with John chettan

Me, Nikki n raja with Mother

And, now it was time for the real show. We reached Nishagandhi around 7pm. The crowd was only starting to build up. Maybe beacuse of lack of ads in newspapers and banners at the venue gate, the crowd was not as big as expected. Anyway, I was really happy when I got my prized possession, the Motherjane t-shirt. I saw some of my non-rock friends among the crowd. They all became Motherjane fans recently after the wide coverage in rosebowl. The screen which was set up in front of the stage was constantly playing the motherjane rockumentary produced by rosebowl. At around 7 30, the band appeared on stage sending the crowd into a frenzy. They all rushed to the front. If not for the wooden barriers, they wud've stormed onto the stage. Sooraj chettan started the show in a thoroughly professional manner with some pep talk and then bursting straight on to 'Disillusion'.

Baiju Chettan on the lead was the cynosure of all eyes. The crowd was chanting 'baiju, baiju' everytime he started one of his legendary leads. John chettan with his brown tinted goatee was not giving any respite for the hapless drums as he pounded on it mercilessly. 'Mindstreet', in the new version with heavy eastern influences was a favourite with the crowds. Not to forget, the now cult classic 'Broken' from the new album. One quality which i found with this song is that everyone who heard this loved this song[including those who never listens to rock, even my mom]. Clyde chettan, though not at all talkative off the stage, was attitude personified on stage with his bass doing all the talking. Deepu chettan with his infectious smile, provided the rhythm support and also was singing all the songs along with sooraj chettan. Sooraj Chettan carried the show wonderfully well and no one there would believe that this man was nursing a sore throat all day. He punctuated the introduction of each song with some wonderful anecdotes. The one I loved the most was about 'Walk on'. A foreign guy having cancer used to listen to this song everyday because this inspired him. After his death, his brother wrote a letter to the band thanking them for giving his brother hope while he was alive.

'Maya', the song about a girl of big dreams, who ends up as a prostitute also struck a vibrant chord with the audience. My other favorites were 'Chasing the sun', 'Questions' and 'soul corporations'. The innovative 'shh..listen' had the audience hissing 'shhh' all the time. The band also belted out 'prison chains', 'blood in the apple'[about 9/11] and 'karmic steps'. But the ones i missed the most were their 2 short songs... 'An Ode to life' parts 1 and 2 from the 1st and 2nd albums respectively. Both the songs consists of only just 4 lines each. But the story behind the songs were amazing[saw that in the rockumentary]. 'An Ode to life' is about losing loved ones to death and it was written after the death of sooraj chettan's mother. 'An ode to life 2' is about new life. This was written after the birth of his son. These songs are an example of how much you can convey in an one minute song. As soon as the last song ended, I held out my hand at Baiju chettan asking for his guitar pick and he promptly obliged. Now, that is a souvenior for life.
sooraj chettan n baiju chettan

And so that was the story of Motherjane conquering their home territory after a long journey out of the state. An analysis of what endears them so much to everyone, we can find many reasons. The strong eastern influence in baiju chettan's guitaring, the underlying melody in all of their songs, the thought provoking lyrics or the innovative progressive stuff, the reasons are just too many. But the thing I find most remarkable about them is that they were able to pull in some people who have been known rock haters. I salute them for that single achievement more than any awards or recognition won abroad.

PS- After writing this post, I happened to read today's Indian express and found that the opening line of this post matched word to word with an article on motherjane that appeared in it. It read , ''They come, they rock and they conquer''. And mine went, ''They Came...They rocked...and they conquered''... Needless to say, I was astonished at the similarity. Maybe a case of great music bringing the same thoughts in two different minds. ..

For more concert pics, checkout my online album

your crusader, Praveen

60 years young  

Posted by Praveen in , , , , ,

Happy 60th birthday to my motherland... This is gonna be another post on movies. But a different one at that. This is a tribute to the men who guard our borders, men who fight for people they don't even know, men who love their country more than their family and men whom we all forget. Yesterday, I happened to watch the Hindi movie '1971' about Indian soldiers held as POW s in Pakistan after the 1971 war. Most people won't even have heard about this beautiful movie. Though I've seen the ads some months back, me too never thought this would be so good until my friend Nandan recommended this to me.

After the 1971 Indo Pak war, India handed over all the Pakistani POW s to that country. But Pakistan didn't reciprocate the gesture as it secretly detained 60 odd Indian soldiers. They even duped the red cross into believing that there were no Indian soldiers left in Pakistani prisons. They hid the men in some secret locations close to the border. They were made to believe that they'll be released soon. But some men among them got the plot and decide to escape from the place. The movie follows their escape bid and ends in a very sad and realistic climax. The camera work is splendid, capturing vividly the heaven on earth, Kashmir, in all its splendour. Manoj Bajpai dazzles with some superb acting. The supporting cast is also equally good. The climax will surely leave you misty eyed. And to think that 60 odd men spend the better half of their life in prison unknown to the people of their motherland is really sad.

Only their relatives remember these war heroes now. The government seems to have not even heard about them. 2 days back, there was this news that a 1971 war veteran threatened to suicide on august 15th, 2007 as a protest against the government for ignoring him and not giving him the benefits which are due to him. This is a sad state of affairs since soldiers are the ones whom the whole country owes a lot. And by not giving them what they deserve, the government is showing disrespect to the country itself. They brave bad weather, bullets and so many unfavourable conditions just because they love their motherland. And what do they get in return... apathy from the part of the government and forgetfulness from the self centred Indian citizen.

Its time to change it all. The Indian soldiers should be given pride of place in the society and the benefits that are due to them should be cleared at the earliest. On this independence day, lets salute those forgotten heroes, if not for whom, we may not be walking so freely as now.

Checkout the great Jana Gana Mana Video initiative by A.R.Rahman featuring India's greatest artists. Its shot at the world's highest battlefield, Siachen. As always, when it comes to Indian patriotic music, this maestro is the last word....

Jana Gana Mana by A.R.Rahman and other famous Indian artists

Take a look at my old post on how meaningless Independence day celebrations have become..

also see this video..a foreigner singing jana gana mana

with salutes to the great Indian soldiers,
your crusader Praveen

The Drug Trilogy  

Posted by Praveen in , , ,

Last 3 days been a trip. A drug induced trip of unimaginable highs and the final fall from the top. In these 3 days, I tried my hand at every imaginable drug in the universe, from cannabis to cocaine to heroin. I thought like any other addict, I had my own share of hallucinations and illusions. Ok, now don't get me wrong. I haven't yet broken the vow of my life..I.e. to never touch any drug or alcohol. And after this trip, am sure I'll never break that vow in my lifetime. The 3 day trip am referring to are the 3 movies that I watched in the last 3 days. 'Trainspotting', 'blow' and 'Requiem for a dream'. All these movies deals with drugs, drug peddling, addiction, drug mafia, withdrawal syndromes and the ultimate tragedies of this social evil.

I started the journey with 'Train spotting' about a group of friends who are heroin addicts. A pacy well conceived film on their life which revolves around drugs, their attempts to clean up their life, then going back to their old habit and atlast the main character's final act of coming clean and choosing 'life', as he puts it. Ewan McGregor as Mark Renton puts up a great performance and also doubles up as the narrator in the film. To fully enjoy this film, you have to tolerate a really disgusting toilet scene at the start. I almost puked on the screen when i saw that. Then another disturbing scene is that of the death of a baby. Robert Carlyle as Begbie demands your attention. This is the man who blew us away with his portrayal of the great dictator in 'Hitler-the rise of evil'. 'Train spotting' was a great start to the drug movie fest.

Next in line was 'Blow', the real story of the drug smuggler George Jung. Johnny Depp gives it his best shot as the central character. The film chronicles Jung's rise from a simple village to one of the biggest drug dealers in America. He starts by selling Cannabis, gets rich but get busted soon. In jail, his room mate tells him about cocaine and the great opportunities that are awaiting him. So, after he gets out he goes to Colombia and starts off a roller coaster ride of smuggling drugs all over America. At one time, more than 85 percent of drugs that came to America came through Jung's hands. But his friends double cross him and his family life is affected. He ends up in jail and his wife divorces him taking custody of their only child. He gets out again and gets ready for one last job before he settles down with his daughter. But he's again double crossed and he fails to keep the promise with his daughter. Now, the real George Jung is serving a sentence in jail and will be released only in 2015. His daughter visited him in jail one year after this movie was released. Ray Liotta portrays George's loving father who tries to bring his son into the right path and delivers a great performance. At last George realises that all this dabbling in drug trafficking was not worth it. The final words from the movie are really well written and well delivered,
''So in the end, was it worth it? Jesus Christ. How irreparably changed my life has become. It's always the last day of summer and I've been left out in the cold with no door to get back in. I'll grant you I've had more than my share of poignant moments. Life passes most people by while they're making grand plans for it. Throughout my lifetime, I've left pieces of my heart here and there. And now, there's almost not enough to stay alive. But I force a smile, knowing that my ambition far exceeded my talent. There are no more white horses or pretty ladies at my door.''

Its an irony that the film's director Ted Demme died some years later because of cocaine addiction.

The final film in my drug trilogy can be called perhaps the most disturbing and effective of the lot. Accompanied by a rousing soundtrack, 'Requiem for a dream' is an all out attack on your senses. If you are a drug addict, you should see this, because you would never again touch or smell that thing in your life again. If you are not a drug addict, this is for you too, because this film would keep you away from the temptation to try out for atleast one time. The film is a commentary on the drug culture that has gripped the youth. Its also about people's addition to reality television. The models who take 'diet pills' to look slimmer also should see this. Ellen Burstyn as the old TV addicted Sara delivers one of the best acting performances I've ever seen in my life. Her love for her son and her obsession to appear on celebrity TV will keep u glued. She begins to take 'diet pills' to fit into a skin tight red dress she wore as a young lady. This takes a toll on her health and she begin to get hallucinations of the worst kind. Her son, Harry played by Jared Leto and his girlfriend Marion played by Jennifer Connelly are heroin addicts. Harry even forces Marion to sleep with another man to get money to buy more drugs. The makeup man deserves special mention for aptly capturing the physical changes in each character as their dependence on drugs increases. We are also teated to some imaginative cinematography. The film is depressing to the core. But this is a true depiction of how one's life could get damaged because of addiction. And kudos to the director Darren Aronofsky for not providing a positive ending. The horrific fate of Harry, Sara and Marion will serve as a deterrent for the wild youth of the world.

Checkout one of the songs that I wrote against drug addiction. This also happens to be one of our band's new original songs.

And do checkout the article by George on the rock stars who ruined their life as a result of drug addiction.

yours addictedly, crusader Praveen

Media Matters  

Posted by Praveen in , , , , ,

These days the Indian media is making it a point to go overboard with issues that are of no concern to the common man. If the national media is obsessed with bollywood and the celebrities, the media down here in Kerala is over focussed on the political battles, that too within the same party. They find it hard to include issues that are of social relevance in their prime time news. Yes, its all a matter of ratings. And its all a matter of money too.

No one would have forgotten the extent to which the media suffocated us with news on Ash- Abhi marriage. The speculations which started months back reached its climax when the national news channels made the marriage a week long festival. For days on end, all the channels were showing the closed gates of ash's and abhi's palatial buildings. And then after the mariage, we were given a daily dosage of their temple visits, honeymoon and what not. Recently, there was the Haneef mohammed episode which went on like a soap opera for weeks. It was as if he had saved India from a national disaster or he did something heroic. And now its the Sanjay Dutt saga. Am a fan of his and is sad at the verdict he got but I just can't tolerate these kind of media madness. A common feature of all this is that we are bombarded with tons and tons of irrelevant details on the subject. Also they keep on repeating this same thing for days, with only a change in the name of the program. Am just wondering whom are they barking for.. For Whom are they wasting their precious journalistic saliva.. The national media's cameras have a visibility range only till the borders of the metro cities. They prefer to close their eyes to the ordinary man's plight. Instead they would show how sivaji rescued India or where exactly did Cristiano ronaldo kiss Bipasha basu.

For example, just tune into headlines today, owned by the great India today group, at 9pm everyday. This is the time most of the people are back home after a hectic day of work and switch on the tv to keep abreast with the day's happenings. And what do they get to see.. Pure celebrity news. The channel has devoted the prime time slot to special reports on the latest release or trivial details on celebrities. So, we had Paris Hilton's jail days, a serial actor's sexual escapades, Ash's horoscope, Harry Potter madness, Rakhi Savant's latest s'expose', Shakira's shaking hips and many more page 3 stuff, everything except serious news. The 4th estate is doing a commendable job indeed.

The scenario is a little different down here in Kerala, or it may appear so from the surface. You can never see any celebrity news in the channels. Here the channels are more focussed on the political battles, and that too mostly within the same party. During the UDF regime, we had the shameless father-son-daughter trio of Karunakaran-Murali-Padmaja playing all kind of dirty tricks against the A.K.Antony and Oomen Chandy. Then there was this comic circus of them joining NCP and now the occasional ''Going back to congress is not a crime'' dialogues from Mr. Karunakaran. But, wonder where the retarded daughter of his, Padmaja is hiding now. She's not been seen in the media for more than an year now. Now, its the time for the communist party and its ugly infights to take centrestage. One of the few sane persons left in that party, our CM VS Achuthanandan is being targeted by Mr.Mafia Pinarayi Vijayan and his goonda accomplices. The latest in this murky game is the interview with the tainted bussiness man Faris Aboobaker in the party channel, Kairali TV.

I had high regard for the Kairali TV MD John Brittas till yesterday. He used to handle the raging discussions on the channel impartially and with impeccable coolness. But he spoiled all the respect I had for him with this interview. It was clear that the interview was scripted cleverly at the behest of Pinarayi Vijayan to make some baseless allegations against VS Achuthanandan. The arrogance with which Faris talked was notable. There was also a stupid bishop[More on the other stupid bishops in the next post] to support him. He dint spare Mathrubhoomi, one of the best newspapers here, either. 'Mathrubhoomi' was the paper which came up with the damaging reports on the unholy nexus between the communist leaders and some dirty businessmen. And from that day on, the communist leaders are up in arms against the newspaper. And now they are using their own channel to tarnish the newspaper's and their own leader VS's image. John Brittas says that Kairali did only what any normal media would do and also that the whole interview was not at all a drama. But, having seen it all, i beg to disagree. Its no secret that VS is now the communist party's greatest enemy having taken a strong stand at Munnar and in various recent issues concerning the party. Now, the channel has also become a pawn at the hands of this goonda leaders in their battle against the old man.

The other channels like asianet also waste precious time discussing on issues such as these. But compared to the national channels, they are making an effort to go beyond the cool confines of the city and bring to the fore the sufferings of the poor. The channels have also taken a strong stand in various issues affecting the soceity. Still, as instruments to bring about a change, they also have to go a long way...

Waiting for a day when celebrity escapades are no more prime time news on the channels...

your crusader Praveen