Independence Rock- A taste of Avial  

Posted by Praveen in , , , ,

"61 years ago, we won our independence. 23 years ago, we won our right to rock"

Armed with this tagline, Independence rock was expected to blow us off our feet. Me and my friends attended the Bangalore leg of the annual fest which was held this year at the mecca of Bangalore rock-Palace grounds. Our main aim was to watch 'avial', our very own malayali rock band who were headlining the fest. We reached there right on time at 6 and suprisingly a rock show got off at the scheduled time for the first time. The first part of the fest consisted of 4 bands who battled it out for a place to represent the zone in the mega finals. To tell the truth, only 2 bands impressed me and the other 2 bands were not much to write home about. 'Heretic', with their brand of nu-metal impressed one and all with their raw energy. Their originals and the slipknot cover were superb. But, the bad sound system which are the nemesis of any band that opens a rock fest came to haunt them too. Still they held fort. Guitarist Abhijeet was calm and composed and delivered some killer riffs. LOved the vocalist too, especially the way he interacted with the audience. Next came in 'Inner sanctum', the local band and they to put up a decent performance. Forgot the names of their original stuff. Moshpits were seen coming alive here and there. All the bands and the compere made it a point to bash the government for the retrograde step of banning nightlife after 11. There were lots of F-words flying around and at one point the whole audience screamed F off to the Government.

The next band was the gospel rock band 'White Noiz' and they were a big disappointment. The way the vocalist was jumping seemed comical. Some of their antics reminded me of the prayer meetings of protestants. This spare time we used up in roaming around the stalls setup there. Next came up 'Rainbow bridge', the band from Chennai. They were a lot experimental and that exactly was the reason for their downfall. They had an extra vocalist who dabbled in some carnatic based stuff. But the problem was it didn't seem to fit in. There was some artificiality that could be found in their songs. But, in the end they won the prize and the ticket to play in the finals which left us disappointed. Still wondering who judged the competition. Now, it was time for the serious action as the pro bands were to come on stage soon. We missed out the first band 'synapse' as we left to fill up our crying stomachs. Still, we managed to catch one song and it sounded great. The 2nd band on the pro menu was 'Karma 6', a band promoted by Bollywood music composer Sandeep Chowta. They concentrated on playing covers of Coldplay, Foo fighters, Arctic monkeys etc. Their covers were all neatly done. The comparative sonftness of the songs ensured some female support also. They played one of their original hindi songs too. But, I just couldn't understand the idea of playing covers in a festival like this, which is said to promote original Indian rock. Hope, next year the organisers will look into this before deciding on the pro bands to headline the fests.

AVIAL times

So, it was time for the highlight of the evening,'Avial', to take centrestage. They took a long time to set up which didn't go down well with part of the impatient audience. The time consumed is justified considering the mammoth kit that drummer Mithun was using and also the time for setting up the computer which was used to make up for the absence of the DJ's turntables. Vocalist Tony was clad in a Kerala style 'mundu'. They launched into their performance with 'Aaranda'. The vocals were not heard loud enough but that was made up with the audience singing along most of the lyrics. Lots of non-malayalis were heard singing the songs with immense difficulty and with a heavy accent. Next came 'chekele', describing the plight of a poor farmer and his wife. The 'Thakathaara thakathimithaara' line took the audience into a trance. Guitarist Rex was in full form and dazzled everyone with his easy solo playing. Bassist Naresh Kamat was style personified and had quite a lot of the female population drooling over him. But that didn't seem to affect his playing as he delivered the punching lines with machine precision. Mithun was slamming his way to glory behind the drums. The next song on the list was 'aadu Paambe' and quite a few in the audience were trying some snaky steps. Vocalist Tony was doing lots of antics on stage which sometimes seemed out of place and over the top. He could've done well by avoiding some of the feminine gestures which he displayed on stage yesterday. Coming to the song, the guitar work was especially good in this song.

Next up was their first ever song, the evergreen 'Nada Nada' which has seen quite a metamorphosis over the years. From the old days of' Jigsaw Puzzle' to the old 'Aviyal' and now the album version, this song still has not lost its sheen. But, the original vocalist Anand was sorely missed in this song. His raw exhorting cry of 'Nada Nada' is hard to match. Still, vocalist Tony managed to salvage pride as he did well in all parts except the 'Nada Nada' line. 'Arikuruka' came in next and the crowd were headbanging hard. There was some moshing happening out there. 5 years back, anyone would've laughed at the idea of moshing to a malayalam song. But not anymore. After this song, they bid us goodbye only to comeback and play the rain song 'Karukara'. The female vocalist's part was streaming from the computer and Tony did well with the male part. The dream like guitaring added to the soothing effect of this song. By this time, our throats had gone completely off with some serious non stop screaming and singing along. They again bid goodbye only to come back again for one last song 'Ettam Pattu', which Tony described as having no special meaning at all. After this song, the show ended once and for all and only the song 'Njan Aara' was left to be played from their album. We gave our original CDs to be autographed by each member of the band. After some small photo sessions and small talk with the band, we started our journey back home. The clock was inching close to 12 by then.
me and Rex chettan
PS-The 20Km bike ride after 12 through the almost vacant roads was exhilarating. Been a long time since I got a chance to speed on the city roads(Blame the traffic). Though the cold wind did sometimes trouble me.
PPS-Waiting for october 17, when def leppard plays live in Bangalore

your crusader Praveen

Pick this flick 4-Stranger than fiction  

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Do you live by the clock? Do u set alarms even for your 10 minute coffee break? Then, pick this flick and be prepared to be shocked. 'Stranger than fiction' is a 2006 film directed by Marc Forster and starring Will Ferrel in the lead role. But the real star of the film is the sreenplay written by Zach Helm.

Harold Crick(Will Ferrel) is obsessed with numbers. He can't keep himself from counting. He counts even the number of brush strokes he makes in the morning. And naturally, he lives by the clock. One day, suddenly he starts to hear an unknown voice. Its a lady's voice narrating events in his life in realtime, and that too accurately and cleverly. He goes crazy trying to find the origin of this voice. One day, while walking through the road, his watch stops working. Then he hears the narrator uttering the following words-"Little did he know, that this simple, seemingly innocuous act, would result in his imminent death." Thats when the film takes off.

Fearing that he will die soon, he starts to enjoy his life. He rekindles his passion of playing the guitar and falls in love with a baker. Parallely, we get to see the story of a writer Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson) who's experiencing writer's block. A speciality of her novels are that she kills off her heroes in the climax right when everything seems to go right in their life. But, with her current novel, she's confused on how to kill off her main protagonist Harold Crick. Does that name ring a bell? Yeah, he's our movie's hero. Am not telling anything more about the story as it may spoil the experience of watching it.

The name of the movie attracted me to it. And I was amazed to see such ingenuity in a film. This movie is a perfect example of the term "original screenplay". First 10 minutes is a laugh riot with scenes of Harold's obsession with numbers. Then we get to see the intelligent side of the writer as he delves deep into the mind of the character. The narration and the visuals make you think. Will Ferrel plays the role o utmost perfection. His dialogue with the professor(played by Dustin Hoffman) to findout the mysterious narrator is interesting. Another brilliant scene is the one in which the phone in Kay's room rings as soon as she finishes writing "The phone rang". Let the phone ring. Go watch this film.

I'll leave you with this opening narration by Kay-
"Kay Eiffel: [narrating] This is a story about a man named Harold Crick and his wristwatch. Harold Crick was a man of infinite numbers, endless calculations, and remarkably few words. And his wristwatch said even less. Every weekday, for twelve years, Harold would brush each of his thirty-two teeth seventy-six times. Thirty-eight times back and forth, thirty-eight times up and down. Every weekday, for twelve years, Harold would tie his tie in a single Windsor knot instead of the double, thereby saving up to forty-three seconds. His wristwatch thought the single Windsor made his neck look fat, but said nothing. "[courtesy-IMDB]

your crusader Praveen

For those who are proud of India  

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One song, four stories. Thats Rabbi Shergill's new song "Jinhe Naaz hai" for you. Saw this song in TV last week and I was immediately hooked. Yesterday, got a forward containing the song along with the lyrics. It tells the stories of four Indians who were subject to gross injustice. These were four cases which created a lot of controversies during the time they came out.

The song starts with story of Bilqis Yakoob Rasool. During the Gujarat riots, this 19 year old girl's family of 14 was murdered, which included her little daughter also. If this wasn't enough she was gangraped. After such a gruesome torture, she didn't just resign to her fate and suicide. She decided to fight them in court and that paid off recently when some of the culprits including a policeman were convicted and given a double life sentence. Still, it won't be consolation enough for the trauma she underwent.

Next is the story of Satyendra Dubey who was project director of the National Highway Authority of India. His death at the hands of the corruption kings in Bihar shows the ugly side of Indian beaurocracy. This IIT Kanpur product was the first man from his village to study at an IIT. From the start of his career itself, he was known to fight corruption. He was appointed as the assistant project manager for a part of the Golden quadrilateral project. He fired corrupt engineers and once even ordered to rebuild a part of under-quality road. This incident alone shows how commited he was to the development of the country. Seeing the widespread corruption in the upper echelons of the organisation, he shot a letter directly to the PM of India. The only thing that happened as a result of this was that he was transferred to Gaya in Bihar, where he was eventually shot dead. The murder was made to look as an attempted robbery in court. The devious minds that worked behind this crime are still sitting comfortably in their couch.

The story of Shanmughan Manjunath, which comes next in the song is similar to this. He was an IIM Lucknow graduate. The marketing manager for IOC lost his life to the fight against selling of adulterated fuel in petrol pumps. He ordered two petrol pumps in Lakhimpur Kheri, Lucknow to close down for selling adulterated fuel. When, after a brief period, the pumps started to run again, he conducted raids to these places. And on one such raid, he was shot dead by the petrol pump owner and his accomplices. Contrary to usual practice, this case saw swift action as all the accused were sentenced within 16 months of the crime. Instances like this are which keeps the little that we have in the justice system of this country, alive.

The last story which the song tells is that Of Ms.Navleen Kumar. This social activist worked for the land rights of tribals in Nallasopara, near Mumbai. The builders and land mafia of that area had amassed all the land from the tribals and been doing construction activities. Navleen fought against this and pursued cases against the local mafia. She came into social activism after she her husband was murdered by the land mafia. She was threatened with dire consequences if she continued her fight, once even at gunpoint. Still, she never bowed her head to them. But, One fine morning, on June 19 2002, she was stabbed to death on the terrace of her house. I don't know anything about the progress of this case. Hope it was not swept under the carpet like her husband's.

So, that is Rabbi's song 'Jinhe Naaz Hai' for you. The song is not about the lyrics alone. The strains of 'Jana Gana Mana' played on guitar that comes in between the song is sure to give you goosebumps. From 'Bulla ki Jaana' to this song, Rabbi has grown from a normal musician to the level of a musical activist. The two lines that repeat after every story - "Jinhe naaz hai hind par vo kahan theJinhe naaz hai vo kahan hain"[Where were those who are proud of IndiaWhere are those who are proud]-is a call to each one of us. Its not often that you get to see such lyrics in Indian music. Each of the four individuals mentioned in this song tried to make a difference to the soceity. And they laid down their life for a cause. Its good that we are remembering them atleast through this song. Thanks to Rabbi.

PS-Going home today. So advanced Independence day wishes to all.
your crusader Praveen

Message in a bottle  

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This happened some years back(I guess, its been almost 5 years). And this is the first time am revealing it to anyone. I had this weird idea which I titled "Message in a bottle". It was inspired from a movie I saw at that time. I wrote a message in a piece of paper. It went something like this-"To whoever is reading this,This paper comes to you from a place called Trivandrum, which you can locate as one of the bottom most areas of India in the world map. This paper carries no lucky charm. Nor would it liberate from all your sins. This is just a message of peace." And then I proceeded to write the english translation of the lyrics of A.R.Rahman's "Vellai Pookkal" from "Kannathil Muthamittaal", which I got from somebody. Then I added-"Please add your message of peace, your name and country and put it in the bottle. Then throw it into the ocean.From Praveen, India"

I tightly bound this piece of paper in a plastic cover and fixed it thoroughly using cellotapes. Then I put it in a tight bottle and wrote "the message" on the side of the bottle, using a marker. I went alone to the Valiyathura pier(kadal paalam) in Trivandrum and proceeded to the end point. Some people were standing there. I slowly took the bottle and threw it far away into the sea. Then I stood there for sometime watching it dancing over the waves. Thankfully for me, it was travelling to the horizon rather than towards the shore. After somedays, I completely forgot about this.

Today, after a long time, it somehow came to my mind. Now I wonder, where it might have reached, who might have read it and who might have added to it. Or did it end up at the same shore on the same day itself. One can never know. I would consider myself the luckiest person alive if someday I get the bottle back. Now am thinking of doing it again and add my e-mail address to the message so that those who get it can mail me and tell me what they added.

Pick this flick 3- Camera buff(amator)  

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'Camera buff' is a polish film directed by renowned auteur Krzysztof Kieslowski. I guess this film will be of immense interest to all shutterbugs out here. The film chronicles the changes that occur in the life of Filip Mosz(Jerzy Stuhr) after he buys an 8mm camera. His only intention while buying the camera was to film his new born baby. He finds immense pleasure in capturing every movement of her's.

The story changes when the communist party leader of that area asks him to film a conference of the party. He lets his creativity run wild as he converts the meeting into a complete film. The way he films a pigeon in between the meeting is fabulous. He also films secret negotiations that happens behind the scenes of the conference. The leader is not happy with these unwanted additions and asks him to remove it. Filip submits the film at a film festival and wins accolades there. A film critic Anna Wlodarcz takes interest in him and promotes him a lot. At the same time, his daughter and wife takes a back seat and this severely affects his family life.

The film has many poignant moments. He films a day in the life of a dwarf factory worker. His uneventful life suddenly seems colourful when seen through the film. There's another scene where he films his friend riding a vehicle for the 1st time and his happy mother looking from a window. Later, after his mother dies, his friend sees the film and gets emotional. In the final scene, he turns on the camera on himself. This climax is also a powerful commentary on people who get obsessed with what they do and forgets themselves as well as their family.

The film discusses about so many things in so little time. Right from freedom of expression to nuances of film making to family problems, Kieslowski does it all here in one film.

your crusader praveen