My Top -5 – Underrated Tamil Films On The Theme Of Love Failure.


My Top -5 – Underrated Tamil Films On The Theme Of Love Failure.

Inspired by blogger Sylvianism’s post on top romance films of Tamil cinema, I wanted to write my own list. Here are a few gems which might not have made the mainstream blockbuster lists but still work in an understated way.

  • Paneer Pushpangal- this being the season of paneer, how could I resist starting off this post without paneer? Released in 1981 this was P.Vasu’s first directorial- much before china thambi and chandramukhi. The title paneer pusphangal refers to lotus flowers but the hidden meaning of the title is the early morning dew on the lotus flowers which evaporates with the full dawn as a metaphor for first love which disappears with the onslaught of reality. The story which deals with the budding of love in school kids of a boarding school in Ooty and is full of hilarious takes on hostel life in boarding schools and still resonates with those who have spent some part of their lives away from home eating terrible hostel food and pining for attention/affection even when surrounded all around by friends. The romance is such a natural expression of kids in that terrible teen years when your heart yearns for affection and gets a crush on whoever shows even the tiniest bit of affection. The lead actor suresh and his group of friends capture the slice of life of teen years in a poignant way. Not to forget the sketch of the wise and understanding teacher played, rather underplayed by pratap pothen in his trademark style. And true to style the movie ends in love failure as so often happens in real life. The songs are especial highlights of the movie- who can forget kodaikala katraey? Definitely this is one movie for the discerning types.

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  • Ninaivellam Nithya – again, an 80’s era film with love as the main theme and all the characters revolving around it. This again ends in a tragedy but is all the more sweeter for it as the entire movie seems geared up to play out the almost impossible happy ending when it comes to a pairing between two widely divergent individuals status wise. The hero is a rich kid, the heroine is a tribal and not only do they have the temerity to fall in love but they end up eloping and dying in the climax. A very young karthick and viji a debutante would have lived the roles of the star crossed lovers. Every casting choice was perfect and natural and the highlight of the movie are the songs which still make one get goosebumps. You can even consider this the breakout movie of singer SPB as the songs Pannivilum malarvanam and neethane endhan pon vasandham (yes, the original of the movie with the same title by Gautham menon) are still being played in many impromptu jam sessions and karaoke nights.

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  • Kadhal Kondein- I am partial to selvaraghhavan romances- I have no hesitation in accepting it. I thought long and hard about 7-g rainbow colony- another doomed romance with haunting songs before picking this one simply because with 7-g selva had perfected his craft and knew all the ways to tug at heartstrings but this one was raw romance with nary a thought of the box office acceptability. Danush burst on to the scene with this movie and gave us a glimpse of what he could do if left unfettered and in proper hands but sadly the image trap has consumed the actor in danush in recent times. The theme of unrequited love might be the same but the way that selva builds up danush’s character as the innocent friend who is used as a go-between of two lovers who naturally gets tempted and falls in love himself and the way that the heroine is the most matured character of all and handles the inappropriate love with parts compassion and parts exasperation makes beautiful watching. You can’t beat selvaraghavan when it comes to showing love from a feminine point of view.

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  • Parthiban Kanavu – this is a little gem for those who missed out when it was first released. The lead actor srikanth is in love with a woman but marries her lookalike who is totally opposite to his expectations. Rather than being disappointed, depressed or ending up in divorce the hero starts appreciating the new woman in his life. For a movie about post marital love it’s surprisingly subtle about the way in which the wife’s character starts growing up in her husband’s affection and ends up gaining his love even after he meets his original lover. Sneha literally owns this film in a dual role with both women affecting the hero in different ways. The movie which starts off with the love failure ends up showing marital success as the hero is mature enough to realize that what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts.

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  • Ullam Ketkumey – a movie about a group of friends all of whom have love failures? I see you shaking your head and saying no way José. But this movie is not just about love, it’s about friendship, it’s about ambition, it’s about making clear headed choices in life and about redemption after love failure. There are a lot of romances in the movie- arya’s, poojas, shyams, laila’s- everyone ends up falling for one another as so often happens in close knit college buddies groups. But the movie doesn’t stop with the usual romance scenes or love failure songs. It shows life beyond love failure when people have the guts to pick themselves up and go onto succeed in other spheres of life even when romance has failed them. The scene where pooja walks into aryas room on the eve of his wedding and the scene where shyam at last realizes Laila’s love after being oblivious to it throughout the entire movie are quite heart tugging. The songs are just so and so, but the story more than makes up for the music.

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The Other contenders –

Although there were many other contenders for the top 5 love failure movies, I didn’t want to go with the usual suspects like vinnaiy thandi varuvaya and premam which you would be hard pressed to find anyone in tamilnadu who has not watched or has an opinion on. Rather I wanted to showcase a few which no one would have seen or heard off before as my recommendations to watch. I give thanks to my friend sylvian Patrick for the blog prompt for this post and also to raj tv channel which by repeated telecast of all these movies has made me appreciate and become a fan of these little know gems. There is life after love and there is always another love failure movie to watch on Raj TV. Happy Valentine ’s Day folks.

Healthcare 2017- Ditch Robots And Bring Back The Doctors


Healthcare 2017- Ditch Robots And Bring Back The Doctors

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After yet another fruitful year of practicing what I preach, I thought it’s time to put up a post on my pet peeve, again. The said peeve being, the practice of medicine is slowly being changed into a robotic occupation, where a doctor is given a set of instructions and told to follow them to a “t”. But unfortunately the human body doesn’t not cooperate with this by the book approach as every individual is unique by himself and every disease affects a person differently. Given a set temple and asked to follow the protocols given is the surest way to prolong disease till the patient is deceased. And that’s the reason why I always take evidence based medicine with a pinch of salt.

Evidence based medicine to give its due, works in a fairly efficient way, in a limited spectrum. But given its limitations it is inefficient at best and dangerous at its worst. And why, I will explain now. For those not familiar with evidence based medicine- it’s a set of treatment protocols (usually developed in western countries) which says after checking these protocols this is the best treatment for this disease and hence, everyone worldwide needs to follow these protocols whenever/wherever they see this same disease.

The problems with this approach are manifold. Let me just discuss the top two. Firstly most if not all of these protocols were developed for simple diseases and straightforward diagnostics/treatment procedures. If you have any complicated disease requiring multiple procedures, you just cannot follow any protocol template, you have to diagnose and treat case by case using all your years of experience and intuition and hope for the best. Which in turn defeats the very purpose of evidence based medicine. You need best evidence protocols for the most difficult cases because these are the ones which test you to the limits and are prone to end up with the death of the patient and the doctor being blamed for inadequate/insufficient treatment. Where others who have the luxury of time, weeks and months to study the symptoms will second guess the decisions you make in seconds by the patient’s bedside as the patient lies gasping for air and fighting death minute by minute. What’s the evidence say? Did you follow the treatment protocol? These questions are very easy to ask in hindsight but doesn’t help at the moment when most required.

The second major disadvantage with this protocol based approach for treatment is that the template developed most often uses a particular procedure using a particular piece of equipment which study in turn is sponsored by that particular equipment manufacturer. You can’t blame them – for most of these studies are really expensive and require large scale funding which governments never do and hence the researchers raise money from private players who naturally have a vested interest in promoting their products. So even if there is a better or more simpler or more low cost way available to treat that particular disease it will never be accepted as mainstream – because no one does research on it and no one publishes it and no one by which I mean no respectable medical board or journal accepts it- which results in the low cost or simpler alternative having the status only of quack medicine. While the costlier company sponsored study gets accepted in prestigious journals and then becomes the accepted standard of care worldwide merely because there is no other alternative to it. This grant of legitimacy to costly treatments in the absence of alternatives is the primary reason that doctors from developing countries hate evidence based medicine. It’s all very well to recommend protocols followed in Boston or the Massachusetts general hospital but not everyone is lucky to be practicing in Boston or Massachusetts. What about somebody practicing in Nigeria? Or Nellore? With no access to the level of diagnostic or treatment machinery as given in the protocol as per evidence based medicine? Is it fair to punish that doctor for treating that patient but not following the best established practice protocol? Whose fault is that and how can you apportion the blame?

This craze of getting more and more evidence based protocols also has the side effect of developing and insisting on more and more tests, more than 90% of which are unnecessary- like treadmill test, stress test, angiogram, CT slice- 64/128/216 machines – all of them being developed just to rule out any cardiac disease and your doctor has to prescribe these unnecessary tests every time you go for a simple muscle sprain or gastric distress and indigestion or any other condition which does not involve the heart. But because the best evidence based medicine protocol says you have to rule out heart disease in all cases, everyone gets to do a CT scan at the highest possible resolution beyond 64, beyond 128 beyond 216 slices- even if you are a healthy person with absolutely no evidence of any heart disease. But because the protocol formed in San Francisco or New York or London says so- you have to get that CT scan, every time you over eat samosas and have gas. If this wasn’t a waste of resources and such a tragedy it would be such an inside joke, but I can’t laugh at it now. And neither should the poor unfortunate patients who end up paying for all that waste of time.

So the best thing that you and I can hope for is that the government gets into the act and funds medical research in a big way so that individual researchers do not have to go begging bowl in hand to equipment companies who in turn dictate the treatments to be researched and published. And secondly the realization that data mining and rigid protocol’s don’t work for human beings. There is ample space in medicine for hard won experience and intuition based on it. Or otherwise we will continue to take angiograms for every patient who comes to the hospital with an acidity problem and advocate cardiac by-pass surgeries based on minuscule blockages seen in every minor blood vessel, whether they want to or not get a major heart surgery done. Why? Because the evidence says so, and you want to get the best possible treatment at international level don’t you?

I hope national governments realize the immense damage being caused to local healthcare managements by these artificially imposed from abroad protocols and either help in developing local protocols for local people or at least stop penalizing doctors for using years and years of experience to treat patients instead of following Boston rules. Support doctors not robots.

Part 2 of The 20/80 Principle- Sex In The City


Part 2 of The 20/80 Principle- Sex In The City

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As I said in my last post, the vocal minority of 20% drowns out the rest of the silent majority and in turn the ever sniffing dogs of the yellow media pick up these so called social media influencers rabid and contrarian views and highlight them as the views of the common man everywhere. Case in point- sex. Now I agree that sex sells and the more you write about sex the more eyeball catching it is. But why not write the truth about sex? Won’t that sell too? Why just the sensational stuff which makes a mockery of the real thing is the question on my mind when it comes to the biased media reporting on sex which strives to make us all look like sex crazy maniacs with nothing else on our minds 24/7. This kind of crap reporting on sex has the side effect of making many gullible people to believe in these lies and half truths which the media propagates and disperse them to others as gospel truth and worse to practice it in their everyday life. Case in point- a friend of mine who ogles at every passing female and her body parts- legs, buttocks cleavage it matters not. When I questioned him whether he really felt a necessity to lust after every single random female who passes us, he gave me a honest to god explanation on how it was necessary to keep in touch with your sexual side by craving for sex all the time otherwise, and I am quoting directly here, if you are too good a person and don’t lust after sex, how will you satisfy your wife after marriage?. And this is precisely the point I am trying to make here.

This insistence by the mainstream yellow media for the past several years that Indian wives (leave alone house wives) are not satisfied in sex by their husbands but are indeed looking to have affairs and orgasms with other men is the very raison d’être of this post.  Indian women or just women in general are not such sex starved persons as depicted by the media. Women don’t choose to have affairs just to orgasm- there are lots of other factors involved when a woman chooses to cheat on her lawfully wedded spouse.  And this constant sniping at male’s confidence in the guise of how will you satisfy your wife after marriage, leads to more questions than answers in the average male mind and is directly responsible for licentiousness behaviors like ogling, catcalling or even rape just so a man learns how to satisfy a woman, any woman, even if she is a total stranger and is not willing to indulge in intercourse with him. This constant sniping at fragile male ego’s, this undermining of male confidence has only resulted in longer queues in divorce courts. It has not taught the male that women need more than multiple orgasms and night long intercourse to be satisfied with marriage.

Satisfying a woman via sex is just an urban myth, something like buying your wife or girlfriend diamonds to apologize or whisking away to bali islands if your forgot her birthday. All these are the works of marketing gurus and creative minds at ad agencies who are trying to hard sell sex to the more mundane minded average Indian male or female partner. Collateral damage to these “profit alone” minded marketing geniuses are the irreversible damage to society and marriages caused by the gullible believing that their wives are indeed sex craved and need to be satisfied constantly and so let’s start learning on the streets with other women- any random woman in a vulnerable place to be exploited .

So to come back to my original premise, the title of this post- just as all men are not rapists, likewise all women are not sex crazy nymphos  as made out in posts by prominent social media experts and picked and highlighted by mainstream media as indicative of women’s mindset. If you talk to a regular average woman, as I have done repeatedly, they are more worried about more mundane things like work, peer pressure, office politics, compensation packages, misunderstanding with family members etc. They seek more supportive spouses who would help them achieve more at work than look for husbands who can “satisfy” them in intercourse. Sex is secondary to everyday life concerns in total contrast to what the vocal minority bleat about on media.

So let’s totally disregard these keyboard warriors who constantly seem to set the agenda for everyone else and give due credence to the real aam admi or aurat who may not air their views on sex in public but know what they want and know what’s important and what’s not for a happy married life in the real world. Sexual deprivation is overrated and is only media overkill. Everyone is getting enough sex even if they don’t talk about it or even think about it. The only ones deprived are the depraved and there is no solution for them except to snatch away their keyboards and smart phones and ask them to look at the real world all around them. And to shut the hell up and not speak for everyone else.

The 20-80 Principle – When Trolls Bray Loudly To Drown Out the Rest…


The 20-80 Principle – When Trolls Bray Loudly To Drown Out the Rest…

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Recently I had a resounding argument with a couple of friends on internet trolls and social media warriors. One of the most intriguing points we discussed was on the vocal 20% idiots who monopolize social media space 24/7 and drown out the rest of the voices and thereby get the undeserved tag of social media influencers. These morons with their disproportionate reach on social media due to their shrill volubility and idiotic arguments are often mistaken for representing the silent majority who prefer to keep their opinions to themselves, partly to avoid being trolled by these idiots and partly because they are too busy with their real lives to spend much time arguing on social media platforms. The first issue we debated in depth was the almost unanimous support to the demonetization debacle by social media warriors and specifically the software groupies.

One of the most oft repeated clichés of these keyboard warriors is that demonetization is a disruptive event and disruptions are good in general. Well as a common man let me tell you that I agree with you that disruptions are good in shaking up moribund societies, but those disruptions are meant to happen over decades and centuries, not in 50 days. Disruption, whole scale disruption in the short scale, happens when a foreign invader, say Timur the Turk, invades our country and builds a pyramid of skulls of our people, or a large scale tsunami wipes out entire coastal communities and changes our very shorelines. Those are the ones which classify as disruptive events in the short term which bring change willy-nilly to society. And they are always called as disasters when viewed with the long term focus of history.

Human lives and human society is not a software product which exceeds its lifetime and needs to be disrupted with a new product. These are lives we are talking about not lines on a computer. The biggest example to me of how our society has failed in regulating engineering colleges mushrooming everywhere resulting in substandard graduates with hollow degrees and no independent thinking capacity is the level of support software engineers have shown to demonetization merely because of the word “digital” added to it. So as I said in the beginning the braying of the idiotic 20% is drowning out the voices of the sane rest. This post too, I anticipate will attract the ire and venom of the vocal minority and time on their hands trolls.

But as history repeatedly shows when the good cease to speak the evil runs rampant. And hence I decided to raise my voice against all these online trolls, to stand up and be counted when it matters. And just to clarify who a troll is? If you speak against me, you are a troll, if you disagree with this post, you are a troll, if you criticize or comment against this post, you are a troll, if you debate any of my contentions or conclusions, you are a troll, if you think I am wasting your time writing this post and making you read this, just think for a moment about our troops standing on the ice cold borders of Pakistan facing terrorists and then tell me whether your time is more important that theirs and whether just reading this post is a bigger sacrifice than our suffering troops on the border. I rest my case.

The Bold King, The Wise Minister And The Evil Citizens – Short fiction


The Bold King, The Wise Minister And The Evil Citizens.

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The king was bored, truly bored. He had, ever since he had clawed his bloody way over to the throne subduing all internal opposition and dissent had true peace for once as he had also subdued almost all the neighboring countries under his rule. Just sheer gossip that he was amassing an army to invade often forced the neighboring countries to surrender immediately and offer up tribute to stave off the invasion. For they knew all about him and his barbarian ways and knew they could expect no pity from this man who had risen up from the dregs of society by his sheer bloodthirsty ways to become a warlord who ruled over all the lands with fear as his main weapon, lands which had once despised his kind but forced to now kowtow to him. And like all uneducated barbarians who rose to be kings by the power of their bloodthirsty swords this king too depended on the advice of a learned minister to take care of the day to day ruling of the empire the details of which bored him immensely. As long as the palace coffers were full and as long as there were enemies who could be beheaded, hung or burned alive the king did not bother to think about anything else. The minister, the kings right hand man as it were, was like all educated men forced to serve barbarian’s to survive, secretly hated and despised the king for his bloodthirsty attitude and was merely waiting for the chance which one day, the minister often assured himself, the barbarians idiocy would offer him on a platter, a chance to destroy and replace the king on the throne where the educated minister was sure he could perform better. And his chance came that day.

The king as we said was bored, and being bored wanted to be amused. He called his minister and asked “tell me minister is the country happy? Are the people happy?” to which the crafty minister replied “of course your kingship, the country is happy and the people, they are very happy”. The king frowned for of course this was not the answer he had expected to hear so he asked the minister “but why?”. The minister hesitated a moment to ponder whether this was a trick question before answering “well, because the nation is at peace, we have no enemies. The people are all prosperous and rich and that makes them happy”. The king thought this over and asked in a puzzled tone “the people are rich? The people of this country?” and the minister began to fear the tone of the king in the conversation and hurriedly said “yes your kingship, we have conquered all the surrounding lands and there is peace and prosperity everywhere. At last all our people are free to work hard, make money and grow rich”. The king went on to ask “but what about taxes? Don’t they pay taxes? How can they be rich then?” the minister now understanding the way the kings mind was working went on to say “of course your kingship the people are paying all the taxes we have thought up. But what to do, these people, these peasants, are hardworking, sincere and very industrious. The more we tax them and take away their money the more these people work day and night to save money”. But the king was still not satisfied “but how can they be rich? That means that we are not taxing enough if they have money enough to be rich even after paying taxes”.

The crafty minister smiled at this and said “but your kingship, you forget one thing, these cunning peasants never tell us how much they earn in truth for us to tax properly. It’s all about parallel economy and black money with those beggars. They never tell the truth of their incomes and earnings to our sincere soldiers who go for tax collections daily. If a potter sells ten pots a day he pays tax on nine pots only and saves the money he makes on the last pot for the day he falls ill and cannot make a single pot. Similarly that old woman who sells idlis for a living says she had sold fifty idlis a day when in fact she sells sixty, hoping to save that money for a rainy day when she cannot stand in the rains and sell any idlis because the customers avoid coming out in the rains. These people are all cheats your kingship, they are selfish and avaricious and they lie boldly to the hard working tax collectors about how much they have saved for calamities like rainy days or sickness or any family emergencies. Almost all these peasants and farmers have stacks of coins-one annas and two annas- tied up in old bed sheets under their beds. That’s how rich they are.”

The king was incensed on hearing this “they are rich, are they? How dare they be rich? How can they be rich in a country where I rule? Don’t they know that I despise money? I never had any money yet I became king through my talents. I want to punish them – punish them all severely minister. Shall we hang them all in the market place for hoarding black money?” The minister at last had the chance he had been waiting years for, the chance to get rid of this barbarian king once and for all. In a slow whisper he went on to say “I have a better idea my king. These people with their one anna and two anna coins think they are rich. Even if you hang them they will die happy thinking that they die rich. The only way to properly punish them is to make them poor. Make them beggars again. Show them that even hard work and industry is not enough to make someone rich in our country. Show them that if they are born poor they can only die poor and never better themselves. Make them despair of ever improving their lives” The king was pleased with this advice as it was what he believed in wholeheartedly “How? How? Tell me minister, how to make the whole country poor, so I can be the only rich man in this country?” The minister with a significant look at the king said “my lord, people think they are rich because they have money in their hands- so break their confidence on money itself. Just declare that all money today onwards is worthless and you can beggar the whole country in minutes. Then you and only you will be a rich man my king, while everyone else will be left holding worthless pieces of metals, those beggars.”

And the king who did not have the benefit of a proper education and never learned the concept of thinking things through which is the benefit of a proper education, by a single decree declared all money worthless and beggared his nation and people at one stroke. And the aftermath of this act was filled with tragedy and pathos and many deaths which is a tale to be told on another day.

KALI KALAM- When Kali Plays Havoc -A Short Play.


KALI KALAM- When Kali Plays Havoc -A Short Play.

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Act 1- At A Betrothal Function

Act 1- Scene 1

Mr.Ramanujam’s house- 7Pm in the evening. There are lots of guests seated about and loud conversations going on between them.

Mr.Kumar : I say Mr. Ramanujam this engagement function you have arranged today was even grander than what we expected. All we were looking for was a simple ceremony for a small group of relatives.

Mr.Ramanujam: Oh don’t say like that Kumar sir, or should I call you sambandhi sir now that the engagement is over? Anyway we are all pleased to have such an alliance like yours for our daughter and we just coudnt help not informing all our relatives of our good fortune. Otherwise they might not even talk to us in the future.

(Loud chorus of voices saying; yes, yes, that’s true, we wouldn’t have, this is the right thing)

Mr.Kumar: Well let me not be the reason for such a rift among close relatives. We are simple people Mr.Ramanujam and we believe that simple ceremonies are better when it comes to important things like the future of our children together rather than being ostentatious and inviting envy. That’s the only reason why I asked you to arrange a small betrothal ceremony at your house rather than hold it in some fancy hotel in a gaudy way.

Mr.Ramanujam: I appreciate that sentiment wholeheartedly sambandhi sir. You have proved yourself a genuine person by even refusing any dowry or any other expectations. The least we could do from the girls’ side is to celebrate this marriage in a way it will never be forgotten by our families. Our children definitely deserve that for agreeing to an arranged marriage in this day and age when everywhere we look young people are doing all sorts of low hand things in the name relationships- love, living together and all that sort of trash. I don’t know where this world is going to end up if such things persist in the name of modernity- kali kalam, kali kalam.

Mr.Kumar: Very true sambandhi. Very true. That is why the city was almost drowned in the floods last year. Even Lord Varuna couldn’t bear the things these modern day girls are doing in the name of feminism, women’s rights etc. I wonder how the parents of these girls are able to face their neighbors. In our days the entire locality would have boycotted the family if a girl had behaved like they do now. But let’s leave that aside. We are fortunate to have found such a girl like yours and such a family like yours in this day and age- a pure unspoilt, fully traditional girl who listens to her parents and marries their choice. We are truly blessed to have such a girl come to us as a daughter-in-law. We should visit Tirumala soon and offer our worship to Lord Venkateswara for bringing our two families together like this- as soon as we print the first invitation to lay at the lords’ lotus feet. What say you sambandhi?

Mr.Ramanujam: Very good sambandhi, very good, all credit to the Good Lord Of The Seven Hills who helped bring our two families closer. But one small request from our side.

Mr.Kumar (still in a jolly mood): Of course sambandhi. Do you even need to ask like this? What is it?

Mr.Ramanujam: It’s just that ….ummmph…now that the engagement is over…my daughter feels that woudnt it be better to have the wedding after a few months gap? Just to let the young people get to know each other better? Rather than rushing into it?

(The first sounds of jarring disquiet appear on the faces of both happy parties)

Mr.Kumar: but, but how long can we postpone the wedding after the engagement? Won’t people talk? It doesn’t seem proper for traditional families like us to keep pushing off the wedding date. Besides what need is there for the two to get to know each other at this late stage? Didn’t they already talk when we came to see the girl last week?

Mr.Ramanujam: But that was only for a few minutes, my daughter feels. She wants to get to know your sons likes and dislikes better to enable her to be a better wife to your son from day one. That’s the only reason she wants a little time between the betrothal and the wedding.

Mr.Kumar:  : Oh we are a traditional family but we are not such a strict family like that. Your daughter need not worry about something like that. Let her take her own time to adjust to our family –we won’t mind. Besides she has got the rest of her life to learn about our sons likes and dislikes hasn’t she? Why should we postpone the wedding for such a trivial reason?.

Mr.Ramanujam: I am truly truly sorry to say this Sambandhi. But my daughter insists that we hold the wedding after at least six months. That would help her get prepared for the wedding in the proper frame of mind and to know your son better.

Mr.Kumar: hmmmph…I say Mr.Ramanujam, it would have been better to have told us this condition of your daughters before the engagement ceremony got over. Now we are left with no choice but to fall in with you.

Mr.Ramanujam: But nothing’s changed sambandhi, nothing changes, just that we need some more time to conduct the wedding in a grand manner. We are still very happy to have an alliance with such a traditional family like yours and such a wel respected one too.

Mr.Kumar: I don’t know Mr. Ramanujam we somehow feel this is the wrong decision on your part. We should guide our children when they make mistakes and not encourage them. Look at my son here- he will tie the mangalasutra whenever wherever I direct him to. Girls should not be allowed their whims and fancies and to dictate terms like this when it comes to auspicious events like weddings. But what to do at this late stage. We are helpless. Come – all of you (to his assembled friends and relatives) it’s time to leave, we have intruded on their hospitality too much.

(And as the grooms family leaves in a huff- the varied crowd behind – especially the two old grandmothers on either side murmur softly: bad decision, bad decision, nothing good is going to come out of this, postponing the wedding to a girls whims, we never got to know each other before we married aren’t we still living together?….(the noise fades slowly in the background.)

Act 2 –Later That Night.

ACT 2- Scene 1 – at Mr. Kumars house.

Mr.Kumars Son – The Bridegroom Ashwin Kumar- I think this is a blessing in disguise appa. This gives us time to study the girl too. In fact we can wait and see whether she really resigns her job as she promised to do when we went to see her. I really don’t think an Ad Agency is a decent place for a decent lady to work. But as her father said it was just a hobby for time pass she was working I let it go. Let me use this time to get to know her well and we can take a final call later.

ACT 2- Scene 2 – at Mr. Ramanujans house

Mr.Ramanujans Daughter –The Bride Arundathi Ramanujam : Thank god that you stood by your word daddy. I was afraid you might give in easily. Now that we have postponed the marriage let me talk to that boy and then see if he really is like what he said he was during the girl seeing ceremony. Lets keep the marriage as late as we can- that gives me more time to decide once and for all whether he will fit me or not.

(Again we hear the voices in the background – The Respective Grandmothers murmuring: dont know where this is going to end up but we suspect something bad. Dear God please put some sense into these people and make them fix the marriage immediately.)

Act 3 – Six Months Later.

ACT 3 – Scene 1 – At Mr. Kumars House.

Mr.Kumar – I cant believe it. Never thought they would do this. To ask us to postpone the marriage at this late stage when everything is ready, all our relatives invited and all the invitations mailed. It would be better to stop it once and for all then to keep postponing it to satisfy their whims and fancies.

Mr.Kumars Son – The Bridegroom Ashwin Kumar: i told you so dad, right from the beginning. I always knew that the excuse that girl used – to want to get to know me- was a complete pretext to do something like this. I suspect she planned this right from the beginning. Thats why she asked for time. Now that she has got what she planned for, she wants to keep us permanently on hold till she finsihes her project in the USA and comes back next year. Or if something goes wrong there she can hurry back here and pretend nothing ever happened. Do they take us for fools? To keep waiting eternally for that girl? As if there are no ther girls around?

Mr.Kumar : Yes, yes, they must think we are fools to wait around for another year for that girl to come back from her project. Let me talk to Mr.Ramanujam one last time and we will decide once and for all.

Mr.Kumars Son – The Bridegroom Ashwin Kumar:  Yes dad, talk to him and tell me what you decide. As if there are no other girls around willing to marry me. You tell me dad and i will get a dozen girls willing to marry me tomorrow. In fact there is one girl who works on my team, who is of our own caste but different gothra, everything. Mum has already seen her and likes her. You just tell me what those people say and we will decide once and  for all.

ACT 3 – Scene 2 – at Mr. Ramanujans house

Mr.Ramanujam: But what will our people say at our calling off the wedding at this late stage? Why coudnt you have told us earlier?

Mr.Ramanujans Daughter –The Bride Arundathi Ramanujam:  But i did tell you daddy and you woudnt hear me. You are always listening to that old foggy- grandmother who keeps predicting dire things if i dont marry immediately. I told you this was my ambition- to go on atleast one project abroad. When every dog and donkey in my company can go on an offsite project why cant i?  Let me finish the project and come back and marry someone. In fact i can even find good people from our caste their itself. So many of our people are working there and they will all be broad-minded too. In fact even in my team which is going with me there are so many saadhu paiyans who wont cross a line i draw instead of arguing with me like the maapillai you fixed for me. Good riddance to him and his family. Let him marry a village girl who stays home and cooks for him.

Mr.Ramanujam:  I cant take it that lightly. I am worried about what people will talk about us? You would have gone to America but we have to answer everyone from the apartment watchman to the vegetable seller as to why the wedding was stopped at this late stage.

 Mr.Ramanujans daughter –the bride Arundathi Ramanujam:  Oh Daddy, you can always lay the blame on that boy. Tell everyone that we found out his character was bad and he had connections with his female co-workers. That way we can keep the moral high ground and no one will blame us. They will beleive anything of boys nowadays.

(Again we hear the voices in the background – the respective grandmothers murmuring: this is what we warned against when we told to hold the wedding immediately after the engagement. Listen to us- listen to our voice of experience- we knew something like this will happen when two people are not definitely committed to each other but are left free to explore other options. Unless there is a sense of finality which the thali around the throat brings and people have that sense that their life is finished once and for all with the wedding- they will always think about other people. But once married they would have adjusted to anything, anyhow and probably lived and celebrated their Shastibhoorthi- the 60th wedding together. All kali kalam, kali kalam- who listens to old and wise people nowadays? Its all youngsters choices and family tragedies – and full regards to Kali.)

– The End-

 

 

What the Dickens


   bleak-house

Having recently watched the entire season 1 of Dickensian, the TV series from BBC1, which over the course of twenty half hourly episodes spans the entire spectrum of Charles dickens books giving a prelude to each and every one of dickens immortal characters and their motivations for behaving as they do in the books, I embarked on the next logical step for every diehard dickens fan. To re-read the entire oeuvre, every single one of dickens books again. And not only that but this time I wanted to do it in the proper chronological order in which they were written/published by the author -from his first book Sketches by Boz which he published under a pseudonym to his last and uncompleted novel- Mystery of Edwin Drood halfway through writing which Charles dickens died suddenly. I decided to make a proper job of it and have spent the last one month finishing up the dickens collection and here are a few stray thoughts on re-reading dickens after a lapse of so many years.

To begin with (to my surprise) I found that some of my old favourites like pickwick papers and nickolas nickelby though favourites still, are no longer capable of gripping my attention like a few others which I once deemed to be too morbid or morose in the past. The antics of the pickwickians and the incorrigible sam weller still raises a few laughs when I re-read the books but now the entire gang seem like one of the old familial  whatsaap groups you drop in from time to time just to check who’s still in there but otherwise leave well alone despite the notifications. The ones which I enjoyed now include bleak house, great expectations, oliver twist and mystery of Edwin drood.

Bleak house which as the name suggests is every bit as bleak a story can be, absolutely captivated me when I re-read it this past month. The fictitious legal story of jarndyce vs jarndyce, the great case of the chancery courts has very eerie similarity to what we see and read every day in Indian courts and justice system. The way that cases are postponed indefinitely till the parties to the case conveniently die off and the court costs swallow up the entire property, the way the lawyers on both sides collude to keep dragging the case till the unfortunate litigants are forced to regret to their graves the day they stepped into court expecting justice in a mistaken belief of the majesty of law and fair play – everything seems to have been written just for Indian courts and legal system.

 The book “bleak house” left me wondering if our Indian judiciary is right now where the British courts where 300 years ago- an uncaring, money squeezing enterprise capable of driving everyone- both litigants and witnesses to despair with the never ending process of offering justice. In a span of nearly two centuries after the book was first published the British seem to have improved their justice system to such an extent that British law has turned into a more responsible version of itself now. But although we Indians inherited that same legal code and the same system of judiciary we did not, to our eternal misfortune, inherit the same system of accountability for the processes of law which the British have instilled in their justice system. I guess it will take another 300 more years (at least?) till Indian courts become accountable to the common public and cases will be decided when the litigants are still alive to hear the news of the judgments. Till then every day you can see another travesty of a jarndyce vs jarndyce in Indian law.

The next book I really loved this time was great expectations which when I was younger I never really appreciated to the extent I do now. Although the book is filled with despicable characters none of whom can claim the least amount of sympathy from us the readers, the book is a very fine example of the folly of people who are always maneuvering to gain the smallest bit of advantage in their personal lives by often missing the big picture entirely in their micro management. If we look around ourselves we can see a lot of typical characters from great expectations in real life every single day. All those ass kissers, boot lickers, revengeful persons who spend all their life plotting to gains some minuscule bit of advantage over someone else- every single character in great expectations sounds true to life and sitting just beside you in the next cubicle at work. And now that I am older and wiser and been through enough heartbreaks I can appreciate miss Havisham’s character more clearly although I cannot countenance any sympathy for her because in my view she deserves what she got for being who she is- a haughty, imperious egoistic feminist who falls for the worst possible fraud. Great expectations is the definitive lesson to every single girl who friend zones nice guys for not agreeing with their feminazi views. If any man wholeheartedly agrees with the femi-nazis there is no doubt he is a compeyson in the making who kisses ass just to screw her out of her money later on. Nice guys don’t always win is the take home message from great expectations.

The other book I liked when I reread it this time around were the mystery of Edwin drood- dickens only attempt at writing a detective novel and the only one which he left unfinished, which in a way is the perfect ending for the book. For although we can suspect every one and the uncle character is steadfastly built up to be the evil villain the book reflects the real life conundrum that sometimes perfect crimes can never be exposed and villains do get away with them. In my view as a lifelong dickens fan I believe that Edwin drood should be left well alone as it is without being finished by someone else as is often proposed by amateur dickens societies. The mystery of Edwin drood should remain a mystery till the end as maybe dickens planned?

I also could look on and sympathize a whole lot with dickens complex characters who require a certain maturity to understand them. I can now confidently say that I understand better ralph nickelby’s (the evil uncle from Nicholas nickelby) motivations perfectly well. Here was a man, a self made man who had worked hard to get where he was suddenly in the twilight of his life thrust upon with fawning relatives left behind by a man careless enough to have children but with no thought to provide for them except to believe his rich brother (the brother who started life at the same footing as him) would provide for just because he doesn’t have a family to call his own and all his money has to go somewhere and where else except to the wastrel brothers brood of kids who grow up thinking themselves entitled to it. No wonder ralph nickelby is bitter at his dead brother and his groping relatives.

Similar is the case with Fagin. Here was a man who took in runaways and wastrels and street kids and gave them a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. In return he made use of them to rob rich people of frivolities life pocket handkerchiefs. is he such a villain then? When the entire society has turned a blind eye to homeless kids and strays who live on the streets, this man takes them in and makes us of them. Just like the government does in its workhouses. I don’t see that Fagin is such a great villain as he is made out in the later adaptations on TV and film. Remember if he was such a bad man who harassed his kid the dodger for one, a genuine badass himself, wouldn’t have stuck around and defended Fagin as he did for so long. There is equal parts good and bad in characters like Fagin. It takes a long time and many re-readings to understand his point of view. And there lies dickens genius. To make you look at old familiar characters in a new light every time you re-read the same book.

I hope I haven’t been boring you with this doctoral dissertation level analysis of dickens novels. If you too are a fan of dickens or even if you have just read one or two of his novels write in to me in the comments section and we wil have a ball discussing our views.