WOODY ALLEN – ACCLAIMED ACTOR-WRITER-DIRECTOR
He once didn’t show up to receive his Oscar because it clashed with his scheduled clarinet gig in the Manhattan Landmark hotel.
Famous Woody Allen Quotes
“I had a terrible education. I attended a school for emotionally disturbed teachers.”
“In my next life I want to live backwards. Start out dead and finish off as an orgasm.”
“Basically my wife was immature. I’d be at home in my bath and she’d come in and sink my boats.”
“More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly”
“In my next life I want to be reborn as Warren Beatty’s fingertips.”
“Sex between 3 people is interesting – Between 5 – fantastic”
“Life is generally meaningless but sex raises some pretty interesting questions.”
“Sex without love is a meaningless experience. But as meaningless experiences go its one of the best.”
Rainy day read
Special Thanks to Smt. Namagiri Sunderam for preserving critical archives with critical inputs.
She values my classmates more than I do !
VIJAI a k a SOTTAI – THE MAN AND HIS MUSINGS
Vijai’s commandments for attending job interviews which he personally passed on to me from Mount (sic) Prabhadevi overlooking the Bandra sea face.
“First, get yourself a lot of smashing clothes.”
“Second, rid yourself of your ‘daadi’ ” (typical Vijai , No diplomacy here – cuts straight to the bone)
“Third, change your spectacles to something interesting” (ditto)
“Fourth, Make sure you know the latest topics”
“Fifth, Squeeze and ooze with confidence”
(now the punchline) “Sixth, Screw the interviewer through and through !” (????)
His post script was interesting – “I may run away with Madhuri “Toothy” Dixit or join Thackeray’s tigers.
After touring the length and breadth of India , courtesy Union Carbide’s management trainee program, he’d put on quite a bit of flesh on his previously bony frame (Sehwag’s admonition rang in my ear “Doodh Shoodh piya karo”) and he’d acquired a thick North Indian accent which usually happens in such times interspersed with multiple “matlabs” between each sentence.
I harked back to school days but my RAM didn’t contain any data of my first meeting with this scrawny youth. Like a twig, he looked as if he would break any minute. His eyes reminded me of the pistachio nuts which were hard to peel since the shell covered the inner fruit almost entirely – 2 slits as it were. He had more than his fair share of hair which made his nickname (Sottai) even more puzzling. His person looked too blanched which some mamis would describe as (“Checkachchavaynnu irukkaandi !!”) and devoid of even a single red blood corpuscle – the ghost who walks.
He seemed to have fitted in seamlessly into the jigsaw puzzle of my teen years and still keeps me wondering how the connect happened since we didn’t seem to have any common interests.
Somehow the class with its fair share of immigrants from outside VM arranged itself. Vasu was on my left and Vijai brought up the right angle of the triangle by sitting on the bench in front of the one where Vasu and I sat but he was perennially turning back since he always had something to yak about to Vasu and me.
To this day I still don’t know who sat on my right since Vijai commanded my attention.
As opposed to a touch-me-not he was a light-me-not, someone who hated the spotlight being on him except when he was celebrating the achievements of his mates – whether it was a concert, a movie release or a running event. He didn’t run from the limelight, he deftly stepped aside and never allowed it to fall on him in the first place.
There was an air about him that life held no surprises and nothing was worth going gaga over – including lady gaga. In his book obsession was anathema. I started to wonder if he was passionate about ANYTHING.
Reminded me of Lance Klusener’s reaction to losing to Australia in the World Cup. “The sky didn’t fall , did it ?”
But he never ceased to surprise.
Just when I thought if he ever moved a limb in athletic action, I was astonished to find him joining enthusiastically in the tennis ball football matches which used to take place during the lunch break.
In his attempt to tackle his quary, he kept kicking relentlessly at the guy’s feet long after the ball had been passed to someone else.
I confess that in our initial interactions, on more than one occasion I’d severely underestimated the range of his interests and knowledge.
I finally happened to see ‘The Guns of Navarone’ after its umpteenth run in Madras and was oohing and aahing about it the next day. I wondered if I was wasting my breath as on one occasion I was stumped when talking about Spielberg’s E.T, one of the members of the Vidya Mandir bus group comprising assorted classes from class 6 to class 12 in all seriousness asked if I was talking about a spear (Eettee). That episode left me suitably chastened.
Vijai was carelessly dismissive. “The book is far better by a wide margin”, he began. That stopped me in my tracks. This guy actually reads something other than the text book and Ananda Vikatan ! He continued, “There are these very interesting Greek characters in the book, Louki and Panais, especially Panais , who betrays the team. They’ve turned them into female characters in the movie. Chummaa masala for titillation da“.
I sensed a tremor – Carl Foreman and Gregory Peck were turning in their graves. I silently applauded since I hadn’t read ANY Alistair Maclean let alone this particular book.
This was my first year in a new school and for the large part of two terms, I was tongue tied and overwhelmed by my new surroundings. But thanks to my upscale Besantnagar snobbery, I was given to bursts of pomposity and Vijai pounced on those moments by taking me down lightning fast from my perch , similar to Vitalstatistix suddenly discovering the ground had disappeared from under his feet by his unreliable shield bearers.
I guess that was his way of protecting me from becoming the object of ridicule and possibly a less flattering nickname.
My atrocious tamil resulted in umpteen howlers which to my good fortune were uttered only within his hearing but on one occasion it was even too much for him and he went into convulsions of laughter.
He didn’t stop there – he started buttonholing anyone who went past with “Dei ivan yenna sonnaan theriyumaa ? ….” and then repeated my gaffe. Everyone walked past without even acknowledging his presence or rather they walked THROUGH him just like they walked through Patrick Swayze in that lovely film with Demi Moore and the pottery scene.
I thanked my lucky stars that my initial assessment was right – GHOSTS don’t have Red Blood Corpuscles.
He has a dry, understated, cleverly concealed sense of humour and his calm demeanour and jovial description of the goings on around him used to keep us in splits.
I regret that I’m unable to remember 99.99% of his wisecracks since it was like watching an SVe Sekar drama. You laughed so much because the jokes came fast and relentless but when you came out of the theatre you didn’t recall what is it you were laughing about.
He once referred to his tormentor TT Sanjay as “our, husky blasé Denham” after the
character in the lesson from the book ‘To Sir With Love’ by E.R Braithewaite.
On another occasion, after watching a torture scene the previous night from one of those British India films, I again said something pompous like “The movie shows what trials our forefathers went through”
His reaction was swift and merciless “
“Yeah, we had many fathers….FOUR fathers”
I remember Vijai regaling us with his kadee jokes. He used to deliver atleast a few during the course of the day and gradually it reached a point where it became an obsession – something very unlike him.
The piece de resistance was when the normally unflappable Vasu begged him for a “Kadee holiday”, but Vijai actually took out a piece of paper on which he had made notes of the kadees he planned to narrate that day, in a gesture of regal dismissal waved all our objections aside and declared “Naan innikki yennoada kadee quota solliyay theeruvayn”.
Thank God Whatsapp wasn’t around then !
More on TT the tormentor. “He beat me up in my early days in VM near the Jungle Gym in the primary section” he reminisced.
“Now I dread the day TT steps into our reunion and singles me out in the Concrete Jungle Gym !”
Commenting favourably on one of my better timings in a running event, he quipped “Great going da…… The only RUN I get around to doing is TEMPLE RUN !”
More recently, after the damage wrought by the rains in Tamilnadu, he referred to Chennai as the Water Scare – City (sic).
The years after school didn’t seem to have diminished his casual air of wonderment, acceptance and humour.
Neither the tough years when the finance company he worked in was going down the tubes or his getting a rank in the CA final despite never overwhelming anyone with his intellect in school.
We kept in touch sporadically but never met again after completing the CA course until the 25th year reunion of our batch in the year 2011.
True to form, he was one of the least boisterous during the proceedings when some of us were going ballistic including yours pompous truly.
After the lunch at Savera hotel we were to go – all classmates together – to the resort at MGM to spend a night of revelry and renewal.
But I skipped the resort part.
When he got wind of this, he came around with one of those rare looks of agitation.
‘You’re not coming to the resort ? !!” he asked in a sharp, shocked whisper. Those slit eyes bored into me for an instant . The look of being hurt at my betrayal was too intense. Then after a pause which seemed like an eternity, he suddenly swiveled around without a word and stomped off.
That was the last time I ever saw him……………
(To be Concluded)
One of my happiest days in recent times !
From a recent news item (enclosed), it is learnt that Tom Hanks officiated at a secret wedding of actress Allison Williams. We also learn that he is a former Divinity student and would be interested to do more of this if the fee is right – buttresses the argument for having extra sources of income.
This sent the imagination on a familiar tangent.
How would he have gone about doing it ? and how would other Hollywood luminaries have done the same thing ?
Take a look !
Tom Hanks Newspaper Clip
Cartoon (please Click on the Image to view better)
Click on the buttons / areas circled in red to zoom – in Google Chrome
(This is not an original Archie gag – This is an “Original” drawn by this writer )
Archie Andrews –An Obituary
For my generation which grew up when the phrase “disposable income” didn’t exist, paradise definitely existed on earth and it existed in a small town called Riverdale in the good ol’ U.S. of A , the land of milk and honey, where in addition to getting a weekly spending allowance from parents for odd jobs like mowing the lawn and washing the car (a real car – not the unwieldy Ambassador or Fiat from Slobsville), this could be splurged on entertaining outings with friends at the Drive-in Cinema or the bowling alley or hanging out at Pop Tate’s Choklitt Shoppe guzzling exotic items such as hamburgers washed down with ice cream soda (whatever the hell it was – it looked a damned sight more glamorous than the local Panneer Soda).
So it was with some consternation that I read the headline “Archie to die while fighting to save Riverdale High from a gunman”.
The ads showed Archie succumbing to gun shot wounds in the arms of his beloved Betty and Veronica.
I couldn’t for the life of me fathom why the creators would want to do this to us and bump off Archie thereby tearing away a part of our growing up years.
Many of us binged on Archie comics. In addition to wholesome Archie, ‘girl next door’ Betty who pines for Archie, glamorous Veronica – the belle of Riverdale High who never wears the same dress twice, we loved Jughead of the perennially closed eyes and voracious appetite, chuckled over his dread of Big Ethel, laughed uncontrollably at the antics of Big Moose and the depth of his (duh) “dumbness” and his possessiveness of his gal Midge and drooled over the summer editions of the Betty, Veronica capers, shook our heads in wonderment at Reggie Mantle’s narcissism (“have you got one of those cards which says “you are the Only One I Love?”. “Good – I’’ll take twenty of them) and egghead Dilton Doiley.
In today’s complex world of the internet and living in a virtual world, probably Archie had become an anachronism. But then if Sherlock Holmes could bridge the digital divide and become immensely popular in his modern avatar, why not Archie Andrews ?
Archie could probably relocate to India and China and regale a huge smartphone wielding young population and their identification with American pop culture with his travails. Why would they want to destroy an American institution ? After all Archie is right up there with Coca Cola and moms apple pie.
To be fair to the Archie story boardists, they’ve tried to keep the stories relevant to the changes in society. But Archie with his wide eyed innocence and sense of wonder which we found so endearing may be out of sync with today’s kids who seem to have an air that life holds no surprises – “Its written here that Google is working on operating Google Glass solely through thought vibrations so that you can click a photo and even post it on facebook !!” This would elicit a half-bored half-annoyed response “You mean its not been invented yet ?” (Aargh – give me break)
Whatever the Ifs and Buts, Archie is No More – R.I.P Carrot Top (Sob – Sob)
25 YEARS OF MICHAEL MADANA KAMA RAJAN : A CELEBRATION
(Contd. From Part II)
The Wizard of “Oh”s
This was only the second Crazy Mohan collaboration with Kamalahasan (the first one being Apoorva Sagodharargal), and arguably the best.
Crazy Mohan had tried the Paalakkaad angle earlier in his dramas and had a grip of the vernacular which was useful in developing the sequence but nothing full blown had been attempted before in Tamil cinema.
How do you use a dialect of Tamil which does not originate in Tamilnadu, which is not familiar to most Tamilians, which has never been done before and still make a fist of it ? On hindsight it may not seem so but the makers were taking an enormous gamble.
This was the fulcrum of the comedy and there was nothing meaty enough to fall back on if this misfired.
Kameswaran’s first encounter with Thiruppura Sundari (Urvasi) resembles a friendly tennis match with a the protagonists volleying “Ohh”s to each other in this lovely paalakkaad repartee which flows over you like gentle waves in peaks and troughs with a few quick passing shots (“Aaiiii !!”s) inbetween ending in the pun of the century. “ Hmmm ……Graamamum Cukku….Neengalum Cook-ku” in an obvious reference to Kameswaran’s profession.
PAALAKKAAD MEETS HOLLYWOOD
And there was the ubiquitous suffix “aakkum” which was top of the charts after the movie’s release.
Just when you think there is a temporary drought of Paalakkaad jokes, you have Kameswaran remonstrating to Shalini (Khushboo) in response to her urging (“Take me !” ) :
“Nee yenna batchanamaa eduththukarthukku ??!!
Well, not everyone was pleased. My relatives with the thick Perumbavur accent wondered what the fuss was all about.
Like Ilayaraja’s music in Agni Natchathram, ‘Mykale’’s dialogue seemed to have been written in an inspired moment. It seemed as if all the script writer had to do was get out the way because the deluge of jokes was so strong. Masters of comedy swear that they sit glumly through the funniest comic sequences trying to make it funnier but I suspect this one must have been an exception. Even during the falling house climax sequence, looks like Crazy couldn’t resist one for the road “naan vegetarian oliyo balamillai”
Catch my point ?
The movie capitalized big time on Kamalahasan’s post Nayakan shaven moustache-less look with Apoorva Sagodharargal, and now MMKR. He had made a huge comeback after being down in the dumps with a Hindi misadventure and sans his moustache he looked urbane and less rooted, ready to move fast, in sync with the changing tastes of the audience.
For younger viewers, this may seem incomprehensible but the moustache was an integral part of the Kamal persona in the eighties. When the initial rushes of Nayakan were out, believe it or not there was a mixed reaction to his new look. Some reacted as if the actor had grown a wart in the face.
MMKR also confirmed the appetite for full length comedies which was followed up with ‘Sathi Leelavathi’.
The one liners have lasted so long probably because they worked in different contexts and even after 25 years !
Sample this :
A buddy lets fly a superlative phrase which takes his friend unawares and he responds with admiration : “Idhellaam apdee varudhu illay ?“
Link Raju’s reaction to Madan’s casual turn of phrase “Adhu yennamo ingleesla sonniyay ? soakkaa sonnay yaa. Idhellaam apdee varudhu illay ?
A subordinate goes back to his boss the morning with thousand doubts after receiving explicit instructions on how a certain job is to be done.
The irritated boss responds with exasperation. “Naan enna thelunguliyaa sonnayn ?”
Link to the scene at the wedding hall, one of Paalakkaad Mani iyer’s assistants informs him ‘Yelai poattaachchu”. Varudhukutty immediately repeats “Mama yelai poattaachchaam” Mani Iyer snaps at him “Avan yenna Thelungulliyaa sonnaan ?”
An anxious person seeking advice from a specialist, asks a technical question. Pat comes the disclaimer “Yenakku Beemboy Beemboy theriyum. Gangubai Chakkubai theriyaadhu.”
A guy infatuated with a new female entrant in the office chats her up and then discreetly enquires “Shalini Sivaraman-naaa…….Indha Sivaramanungradhu ?”…….(waits for her to elaborate)
Female replies “ Appa !”
(Sigh of relief from the office Don Juan: “HABBBBAAAA !”).
The nuances of each character such as Raju regretting that he couldn’t raise the money to pay back the Pathani shylock with ‘Andha 25a yeppadiyaavudhu eduththudalaamnnu paarthaa….KADAISEE leg-la poiduchchu saar !” or Madan, the England returned MBA always unsure of himself and diffident when uttering slightly complicated Tamil words such as ‘Aalmaaraattam’ and then his mild irritation when learning that Raju was not criticizing his pronunciation of ‘Aalmaaraattam’ but actually referring to his (Madan’s) oft used phrase “Catch My Point”.
The side characters are so well etched such as Michael’s father played by Santhana Bharathi , Thiruppu’s Thiruttu Paatti, Varudhu kutty, Avinaaashi, and the list goes on. In some great films, there are memorable side characters who support the protagonist. In the best case scenario you’d have 3or 4 but FIFTEEN ???!!!
Some of the most memorable lines are uttered by characters with barely 0.85 seconds of screen time . like the duo coming out angrily out of the wedding hall in scene 2 “I mean what I mean…But they cant be so mean !” which is the knock out punch to an elaborate sequence involving a fish which has found its way into the sambhar by accident.
MMKR was released on Deepavali. It takes me back to the days when I was struggling to complete CA Inter. That was my first attempt and I failed. But luckily my family was so busy shifting house that I didn’t get much flak at home. My whole batch had passed except my friend Shyam (yet again, name changed BUT NOT ON REQUEST) and I.
It was the sweltering summer of ’91 and Michael was already through its first run in the Udhayam theatre and was now making the rounds of the B theatres such as Nataraj, Thyagaraja, Jayanthi, etc.
Everyday after dinner Shyam would motor down to my house on his scooter and we’d do some joint study interspersed by breaks to watch some TV or listen to songs on our cassette collection. Then around midnight we’d step out for a walk from my flat at Gandhinagar 2nd Main Road to Adyar junction, LB Road at midnight for a cup of tea at the tea kadai – (yes in those days you still had tea kadais on LB road before Real estate prices made them unviable). Along the way, he’d catch a poster of MMKR stuck near the bus stand and exclaim “Dei ! Machee MYKALE Daa !!!” (you will recall MMKR was always referred to among the faithful as Mykale (sic) ). With great effort I had to restrain him “Dei Irudaa ! Exam mudiyattum Apram paakkalaam” (Wait , let the exam get over then we can see it again). Yes, we did get through the exam and sure enough watched it again.
Each time we saw it we savoured different facets of it.
If you’re still curious, the snatch of dialogue which Srinivasan found (Part I of this article) after 20 years was by Michael s father (played by Santhana Bharathi). Its in the final Act when Michael and his father land up at Madan’s bungalow for the grand finale to steal the money from Madan’s safe. Santhanabharathi grabs a rifle from the various show pieces displayed in the huge living room and an irritated Michael comes down hard on him. “Indha gunna vechchu estatela Panneeya sudalaamnnu paarthaa…. vida maattayngraan” (Michael’s father grumbles and mutters under his breath).
Come to think of it – I take back my words that the movie doesn’t contain “sentiment”.
An innocuous , throwaway line in the movie made me sentimental.
When Shalini and her father (Venneer Aadai Moorthy) are in a dilemma as to how to get to Bangalore from Madras (Moorthy’s thought process “Vaygamaa Woadinaalum Moonu naal edukkum”), Raju (now in Madan’s garb) is delighted to come to the rescue and offers “Vaanga Naan azhaishindu poarayn – Foreign car la poirkkeengla ? A.C irukkum”.
Even in 1990 only foreign cars had airconditioning. These days can you think of a car without A.C ? it would be worse than travelling in a bullock cart.
CATCH MY POINT ?