Thursday, September 24, 2009 1 reflections

Collecting of diamonds begins!

In the midst of a childhood marred with the notoriously popular prospect of an unclear identity, I was no stranger to being the odd man out. It was in those trying times of absolute boredom that I found a friend in Amar Chitra Katha(ACK),among a dozen others, mind you. There was something in the language and presentation that ACK had that just seemed like magic. It was as if they could make the most boring story in history the most exciting one with their use of images and dialogs! The language, the texture, the narration, the color scheme – everything became a part of my being. A part of what would eventually trigger the writing bug in me and push me into the wonderful universe of reading. In that critical juncture of my adolescence, ACK’s presence played a Herculean role. While the parents in India are quite known for their ‘stop reading comics and pick up Advanced Calculus!’ taunts, I must thank my parents for giving up on me as I lay in bed during several lazy afternoons surrounded with piles of half open Tinkle, Diamond and ACK comics. I am convinced they were sure I would end up being a home body who would be at their economic mercy for good! I do not exaggerate. I was a serious ACK addict back then.

But then who has ever been in a middle class household in India and escaped the cruel hands of reality? As I somehow managed to forget all about these wonderful gems from my past and move on, the need to bring them back into my life only grew stronger. It was as if every line, every shade, every tree that had ever been drawn on those pages had managed to shape me into the person I am today. Hence – it had to return!

And it did! I am now the proud owner of ACK’s first ever animated DVD collection of their original comics! What is so amazing about it is that videos have not altered the look and feel of the books in any way! The artists behind ACK’s productions have my serious respects as these are the men and women who have changed so many lives without even knowing it! And for that, I thank them wholeheartedly.

Given below is a snap of my first ounces in what will definitely be a prized collection from this point forward. I intend to buy every DVD ACK releases in the future! Here is wishing ACK all the best for the future and hoping that they will continue adding to my rare diamond collection that has now begun!


Also find here some amazing previews of these DVDs. Go ahead! If you are a fan too then order them TODAY!

Sunday, September 20, 2009 0 reflections

Dasara/Navaratri Kannada E-Cards!

Dear reader, has updated its 'Dasara Kannada E-Cards' section with 4 new animated cards this year! Send across that special wish to that special someone this navaratri season with cards from

Click on the previews below to check out the collection!

Saturday, September 12, 2009 0 reflections

Welcome to Paley Ramayanam!

What does the late American jazz great Annette Hanshaw have to do with one of India’s premiere mythological pillar – Ramayana? The answer to this question is the animated feature I came across called ‘Sita sings the Blues’ by American artist/cartoonist/animator Nina Paley. Had it not been for my curiosity to read a little more about King Ravana just to ensure I knew more than my wife about him, I would have never come across this masterpiece of a creation. So in a way I’d like to thank my love for being that subtle cause. Smiles.

‘Sita sings the Blues’ is an independent animated movie that re-tells the Ramayana using mainly 2D animation and some immensely refreshing screenplay. The premise unfolds in three parallel tracks – one, with an American couple living in San Francisco with the husband getting a project in Trivandrum in India; two, three Indians (yes yes, actual Indians!) voicing three shadow like caricatures bickering and debating about the events that Ramayana is popular for and a third, sort of, platonic/musical track is the animation piece where Sita breaks into one of Hanshaw’s classics every time a relevant situation presents itself. Like ‘Daddy wont you please come home’ when she is abducted by Ravana or ‘Who’s that knockin’ when Rama arrives at Ravana’s door with his 'vaanar-sena' to rescue her. The moments and the way these songs lend themselves to the scenes are absolutely brilliant.

What also becomes obvious is how unassuming and non-philosophical the whole thing is. Even the dialog between the caricatures in Ramayana is so simple and regular, that one can’t help but giggle when the evil Kaikeyi says to Rama on his banishment – ‘Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out!’ Is that not what she really would have felt like saying anyway? This is seriously funny stuff.

What also gets your attention quickly is the absolutely gorgeous artwork. Be it the drawings that are set to a very ‘Rajasthan painting’ like motif or the 2D animated waist wiggle that Sita gets into whenever she thinks of her beloved Rama and voices out classics from Hanshaw’s collection. There is also one brilliant piece just after intermission (and may I add, that was the best intermission I have ever seen in an animated piece!) by Todd Michaelsen called ‘Sita’s Fire’ are plain awesome. The way these various types of art pieces blend into one another with such finesse without taking away from the main plot is an effort that can only be described as – genius.

But then ‘Sita sings the Blues’ is more than just eye catchy drawings, a narrative that holds you in place and a much contemporary way to retell the epic with the most unlikely Jazz legend for the songs! It is about demystifying the way Ramayana has been told for so many centuries in our country. We have Rama as a brave warrior who, despite being a just King and a righteous man, falls short of being the perfect husband and father. In ‘Sita sings…’ not only is he portrayed as extremely human and intensely flawed, but even the ‘God’ factor is finally skinned out which, I thought, was such a refreshing thing to do. For so many decades there have been murders, riots, rapes and looting in India using Rama’s name as the only rationale. It was definitely about time someone gave that a bottom line and presented a much more mature, albeit said in a kindergarten level intellectual sequence, and realistic way to see and use the teachings from this epic. Something that actually helps the American woman in the parallel story track to do once she gets her hands on the Ramayana. What also makes you reflect on your own knowledge of the story is how Ravana, the villain of the piece, is hinted at being the actual good guy in the story! A thought that had never occurred to me. Sure, he abducted Sita against her will but hey, was that not all he had done to wrong Rama? He didn’t touch her person. He didn’t force himself on her in Lanka. Heck, he didn’t even make Herculean attempts to find Rama and finish him off. A thought that throws more light on Ravana’s much ignored and definitely much clichéd personality in our modern history.

I strongly urge everyone to see this beautiful masterpiece of a movie not just to appreciate the artistic value it so boldly embodies but to also understand the subtleties with which it tells us how to get our priorities straight without being preachy.

The only 'drawback', if I really had to pick, would be the slightly feminist seeming climax. Maybe it is just me but again, maybe it was a tongue in cheek ploy at looking at how Hindu mythologies have always worked. I am unsure. But somehow I felt it could have been choreographed in a less assertive manner.

Nevertheless, this now is officially in my ‘all time favorites’ list!


Download the DVD for free here! Or watch it on YouTube!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009 2 reflections


The folks from the Kommune (regional state/county) replaced the name plate outside the apartment today. Given as to how there is so much significance being attached to today's date - 09/09/09 - I thought it was only fair to document this event with a little photographic spice and poetic salt.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009 2 reflections

Why did Rai become Raaj?

The first random emotion that blurted out of me when I read the news piece was an intense wave of uncontrollable guffaw. After I had recovered from this bizarre bout of seemingly unprecedented laughter riot, I began seeing the reasons behind it. The premise was simple – one more round of National awards had been handed out for cinema. Good. Being the kind of person who doesn’t think much of the Filmfare or other sorts of cliché coveted regalia, I do attach a great deal of respect to the National awards since I want to believe there still exists some ounce of genuine acknowledgement of equally honest performances in this channel. Nevertheless, what had me roaring in laughter this time around was the fact that Prakash Raaj (previously known as Prakash Rai in the Kannada tele-circuits back when entertainment was still decent) had bagged the prestigious best actor award for ‘Kanchivaram’ – a Priyadarshan feature. Notwithstanding the obvious interest this movie will now receive from commoners like me who won’t even sniff a rose unless told it contains mystical powers, something obvious made me hysterical. Prakash and many more like him are basically from Karnataka. But the hilarious irony is that they are being honored today for their contributions and finesse in non Kannada movies! Could there be a better slap on the mediocre covered chutzpah that pledges its allegiance to painfully stereotypical and over hyped ‘superstars’ of Kannada movie industry? I guess not! Not only did our esteemed state not utilize this wonderful performer’s extremely talented self, but they have the gall to sit around and ban other language cinemas from being released in their neighborhood! Gosh!

The ridiculousness of this affair doesn’t end there. Day in day out Kannada cinema keeps churning out only 3 major kinds of movies – boy meets girl love stories with rains and umbrellas thrown in for good measure, ‘macchu’ (a long sickle like weapon) based senseless action sagas where blood is spilled around like water and village based melodrama where it is almost mandatory that the hero be an underdog and the villain have an evil glare. Oh wait! There is that oh so ignored type too – remakes! Heck, we are terrible at even that since most remakes these days are falling flat on their face.

What aches me about all this is the historical vein that Kannada cinema had once upon a time. Having grown up on a strong diet of Kanagal, Nag, Phani Ramachandra and Nagabharana, the state of today’s Kannada movies is purely pathetic. I was recently reading an admittedly shoddy review of ‘Raj – the Showman’ where the author goes on to say this is a blockbuster! The premise then unfolds that the leading girl, an actress in the movie mind you, has an issue saying ‘I Love You’ on camera! I couldn’t help giggling in pain since a girl who has no issues dropping her clothes for a song overseas seemingly has a problem mouthing words that teens today throw around like cigarette smoke! Where has the brain for such a ‘wonderful plotline’ come from? That person has my respect!

With things looking this medieval and almost every movie assuming the status of a bad Mithun da starrer, people like Prakash have rightfully held up their palms and submitted their final respects to this industry that has nothing more to offer except borrowed tales and copied plots. I patiently wait for the day all this mediocrity is burnt out alive and some fresh stories with a mature and creative mind behind finally makes it way to the national arena.

Until then, well done Prakash! Stay cool, mate.

Friday, September 04, 2009 0 reflections

Something else...something more...