A penny for your thoughts

As I arrived in Canada, there were a lot of new things I noticed. One of them was the “pennies”, pennies lying around in gas stations, subways .etc. People even used it to balance an uneven table. Being new to the system I felt guilty doing that myself. If I dropped a penny I would pick it up, somehow it did not feel right to me. Since then I have been thinking about the impact of penny and its role in the economy. Is it really worth anything at all? And imagined what if all the pennies that were stacked up in our homes, were brought out. So I started reading about it and found some interesting things.

People have been using pennies for anything other than making payments. I found a long list of things to with your pennies- 83 things you can do with your pennies. I personally don’t use pennies mostly. If I had to make a payment 1. 11 cents, I would rather pay it as a dollar and a quarter. Later I came to know that the federal Government has officially stopped minting cents and has declared pennies as worthless. Officially the penny will be mostly removed from the Canadian economy. However, the transactions involving pennies will soon be rounded off to nearest 5 cent.

Why?

  •  It cost 1.6 cents to make a penny. (Now that doesn’t make sense)
  • It cost Royal Canadian Mint $ 11 million a year
  • Considering the wages in Canada, people could earn a penny every 2 seconds. (So fiddling for a penny while at the cash counter makes no sense, you would probably be earning more in that time period)
  • Pennies are not accepted at any vending machines. (I can’t grab a coke with pennies, now this makes pennies nonexistent)

According to a study, “Canadians could be hoarding several billion pennies”.

So what do you do with them? The options are

  • Free them by donating to charity
  • Continue to treat them like always
  • Payback what you owe as pennies to the person you hate (this happened with my roommates)
  • Be man enough to do something like this -A Man used 62000 pennies to make his final mortgage payment

 

(The information above is just my opinion, I am not an expert)

Billa 2 -A Plain and straight movie review


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Billa 2 is one of the most awaited films of the year, a prequel following a successful remake of Rajinikanth’s Billa.

Billa 2 is the story of the rise of David Billa an underworld don. Well that is probably obvious from the promo so what does Billa have to offer? Billa 2 is an example of an interesting plot unfolding plain straight before you. The movie never moves you to the edge of the seat nor does it put you to sleep. It starts and end in the most predictable way possible.

On the other side the movie has well choreographed action sequences, commendable cinematography and background score. What I liked about the movie was it took its own time to unfold the story of The rise of Billa. From the petty crimes to the weapon deals, what makes him the most wanted by the Interpol. The dialogues in the movie are well written. The performance of most of the cast are below par and topping that is Parvathy omanakuttan. Her character was poorly sketched and awfully performed.

The songs are unwanted, you will get sick of baddies consuming alcohol to talk deals in clubs with women dancing around. The songs are a let down. Billa 2 is a kind of movie which you will not hate neither will you like it.

Billa 2 – A bland prequel to one of the coolest franchise in Tamil cinema.

(This review is intentionally as engaging as the movie)

People Like Us – Soundtrack Review

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Rahman has done a few Hollywood films, but to me this is one of his best. Not because the music was varied or path breaking but because it did what it has to do. A film like People like us deserved a warm soothing soundtrack that does not distract the audience from the feel of the movie. Rahman just delivers that. It is probably the first true Hollywood soundtrack for Rahman. (Slumdog Millionaire was based in India, 127 Hours was pretty much non existent)

The soundtrack makes you feel rather than listen. Its like  the score was tailor made as a typically American drama, However Rahman makes sure that his touch was felt. Especially in the whistling and trampoline sounds. Probably Rahman has done a cue to cue soundtrack it is evident in the crab cracking scene.

The theme and the song Dotted Line by Liz Phair is the tune that will be lingering with you for a long time. The music is melacholic and ensures that you have a lump in the throat as you listen to the end credits aka Dotted Line by Liz Phair. Prorbaly thats what the Alex, Rahman and Liz Phair meant to do. It works big time.

People Like Us – A.R. Rahman
New York To L.A. – A.R. Rahman
Dad’s Studio – A.R. Rahman
Dad’s Shaving Kit – A.R. Rahman
Following Frankie – A.R. Rahman
Frankie’s Burning Desire – A.R. Rahman
Beat The Living – A.R. Rahman
Welcome To People – A.R. Rahman
Mom – A.R. Rahman
Tacos – A.R. Rahman
Discount Prom Dress – A.R. Rahman
Airport Adventures – Michael ‘Nomad’ Ripoll
Six Rules – A.R. Rahman
Breakfast for Mom / Just Be People – A.R. Rahman
Crab Drumming / Finding Sam – A.R. Rahman
I Am Your Brother – A.R. Rahman
Family Pictures – A.R. Rahman
Dotted Line – Liz Phair

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My first symphony

I had the chance of attending the TSO (Toronto Symphony Orchestra) Late night concert featuring Shostakovich:  Symphony No. 11, “The Year 1905”. I  always wanted to experience a live symphony orchestra and have  always found it fascinating. When I expressed my desire to my friends I often find a (what’s so great about it) look. So when it came to talking about this kind of music I did not have many people to share.

However, I have always been tracking the events conducted at by the TSO. With Luminato 6, there were a lot of events conducted at special prices and some great events for free! . And the late night performance featuring Shostakovich: Symphony No. 11, “The Year 1905” was a part of it.

The performance took place at Roy Thompson Hall. When I booked my tickets there were two options to choose from,’select your seats’ or ‘Choose best available seat’ I usually won’t do that , but I chose ‘Choose best available seat’. And guess what I really got the best seat in the main floor right in the center of the hall close enough to the stage.

After a brief wait, the performance started right away without any talk. The initial movement was frankly quite below my expectations, then the second and the third movement was melancholic and gradually building up to the finale.  The Finale was something that I never expected it reached unimaginable highs. The victorious sounds thundered the hall and then it all faded slowly to the end. The music was able to kindle a variety of imagery. The music maintained a note-to-note tension that never dipped, preventing any sense of being draggy. Subtitled “The Year 1905,” the symphony depicts the massacre of protesters by the czarist forces, an event that contributed to the revolution that later swept Russia. This piece was so powerful and bombastic that it portrayed the horror that happened and  that which is was about to happen. However to be frank I was quite skeptical about the start, but cannot help stop expressing my appreciation for the finale.

So I came across this quote once. And now it all made sense.

 “Each human life is like a new symphony heard for the first time. It can’t be understood or fully appreciated until after the final cadence.”




Another interesting thing I saw was one person from the stage would sit there all along and would seldom walk up  to clash the cymbals. The clash of cymbals  reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much. The clash of the cymbals was so loud then realized how it was used in the plot of the movie.  Only Hitchcock has a talent to make a beautiful orchestra feel haunted. According to me, it one of the best examples of the power of cinema. Below is the video of the climax sequence featuring the London Philharmonic Society at Albert Hall featuring in The Man who knew too much. The sequences are breathtaking!

(Notes: Info on Shostakovich:Symphony No. 11, “The Year 1905”; Below is the YouTube video link of live performance of the same piece of music to get a feel of it.)

2011 – A Year of Musical starvation

You may already know what I mean, if you are feeling it. Or may be it’s early but eventually you will feel it soon. Yes, 2011 – 1 full year,12 months, 52 weeks,365 days, 8720 hours and 525 948.7 minutes without AR Rahman ‘s music.

We all know that AR Rahman’s has been through a lot in the past three years. He possibly won every music award on the planet. He requires a lot of rest, may be another lifetime to cherish each moment. As Rahman puts it, two Oscars are more than enough for a lifetime.

So, Rahman pressed the pause button and decided to take a year off. Which is very good for him and definitely has come at the right time. However, poor ARR fans are starving.

It’s like one of the lines from his songs, ” nimmishangal ovunrum varushangalaagum, nee ennai neengi chendralae  ”  ( a minute seems like a year when you are not with me). Over the year we have had many musical treats from Rahman every now and then, but 2011 is hard times for Rahman fans.

Just like me, I know every Rahman fan has a song attached to their feelings.

They have their own code book, so they can relate each song to their own emotions.

Peace- Vellai pookal
Patriotism – Kappal yeri poyachu
Happiness-  Endrendrum punnagai
Separation- Azhage sugama
First love- Athankara munbea va
Marriage- Mangalyam
Loneliness – Newyork nagaram
Motivation – Vetrikodi kattu
Sleep- Thendrale thendrale
The list is endless, every Rahman fan  starts and ends a day with a Rahman song.  It’s hard without it, however this period has given way for me to relish the older songs of Rahman.

Again a lyric from Rahman ‘s song, “poi ondru sol kanne en jeevan vaalum” (atleast lie so that I live) someone at least lie that a Rahman album is going to release so we could sustain this wait.

Some say that Rahman’s music grows onto you, it’s more than that it drowns you.

Enough is Enough, I can’t think of another year without Rahman’s music. So no more breaks Rahman, we are starving..Get up and treat us

And then came Rockstar 2011!

Vaanam – Sky is the Limit

If good movies are movies which elevate the audience, then Vaanam is a gem. It inspires, elevates and still entertains (an unusual combination)

Cloud nine movies’ Vaanam is fresh and engaging and what makes Vaanam stand out is the screenplay. One other major plus of Vaanam is it has a right balance between experimentation and commercial viability.


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There have always been good movies which had a good message and were acclaimed critically but bombed at the box office. (Anbe Sivam is the best example). Vaanam has broken the boundaries. Babel, 21 grams may have been an inspiration for Vaanam but it is neatly packaged for the Indian audience, it holds good with a crisp story line, and engaging characters. 

As you watch this film you are absorbed and involved, sometimes deeply moved. You keep wondering, where the story leads but it all escalates to a touching tale of forgiveness and understanding. You get goose bumps in some of the later scenes in the movie.

Krish has proved that he is capable of delivering such meaningful and engaging movies, which can be catered to the length and breath of audiences.

Yes, some audiences were frustrated about the narrative, but this is just the beginning and they will get used to it. And the good news is Vaanam will make way for more such movies in the future. Kudos to the team of Vaanam for a meaningful movie. I think movies like Vaanam are healthy for the industry, as they entertain and still do not compromise on the script.