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Showing posts with the label Arts

Song Review - Bismillah

Posted by Rajan Manickavasagam
January 5th, 2014

Rating: 5 out of 5
Bismillah. This Arabic word has many meanings, the most common being "In The Name of God". It is typically intoned before starting anything new. Almost all chapters in the Quran start with this word. If we remove the religious context, it is about creation of life, celebration of peace and love without the ego of self. 

Bismillah is a song in the sufi style by Kailash Kher and Munawar Masoom. The rustic voice of Kailash blends brilliantly with the powerful Munawar. Munawar is popular for singing poems of sufi poets like Rumi and Khusro. He impresses the most as he brings to bear his ghazal and sufi style of singing. Munawar gives a great start to the song with his deep baritone voice. Kailash joins him into the song and provides a great middle and ending with his clear voice. The acoustics add to the song's atmospherics.

The simple lyrics are by Irfan Siddiqui. The brothers, Salim and Sulaiman Merchant have…

Song Review - Chasing The Sun

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Posted by Rajan Manickavasagam
July 17th, 2013

Rating: 5 out of 5
The album 'The Blessed Unrest' by Sara Bareilles has just been released. It contains a superb collection of songs imbibing pop, soul and jazz musical styles. The outstanding song in the album is 'Chasing The Sun'. I would recommend this song and even the entire album to anyone.

The song is sung from the vantage point of the cemetery in Queens. The photograph aptly captures the essence of the song. We spend our lives chasing our moment in the sun. Everyone is keen to see the skyscrapers in the city but there are over 3 million tiny skyscrapers in the cemetery too. There are songs in the past that eulogised the hustle and bustle of New York, like - 'New York Minute' (Don Henley), 'New York, New York' (Frank Sinatra'). This song captures New York in a more reflective mood.
Sara's voice is strong and sharp throughout the song. The background score is dominated by the piano. There is a …

Song Review - Power of Love

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Posted by Rajan Manickavasagam
December 29th, 2012


Rating: 5 out of 5
Usually, covers of old songs pale in comparison to the original. The recent rendition of 'Power of Love' (originally by Frankie Goes to Hollywood) by Gabrielle Aplin goes against the convention and how! Gabrielle is a young and upcoming singer from Wiltshire, UK. She has been famous on Youtube with covers of other songs.
The song is a haunting ballad with the strong vocals accompanied by the piano. Her voice is controlled, smooth and restrained. Throughout the song you expect her to break free with the vocals, but the restraint remains to the end, making the song stand out.
This song was also used by the UK retailer John Lewis in their Christmas TV advertisement, with telling effect. It also captured the no. 1 spot in the UK charts and has been in the top 10 for a couple of months now.

Hope we get to hear more from Gabrielle in future. Meanwhile, listen to the song from the link below.



Sitcom Review - Yes Minister (1980)

Posted by Rajan
April 10th, 2011


Yes Minister
Rating: 5 out of 5
Politics, intelligent and comedy. Often there are not words you would use in the same sentence, at least not in a positive manner. Yes Minister, is a very intelligent comedy about politics. What makes Yes Minister classic is that, the episodes and circumstances are timeless which I am sure are played about in the corridors of power even today.

Yes Minister was originally written as a book by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn. Later it was converted into a TV series. The TV series is true to the book in every way without any deviation or dilution. If you are an avid book reader, go for the book. For those who enjoy watching, the TV series is brilliant because of the hilarious portrayal by Paul Eddington (the bumbling and naive minister - Jim Hacker), Nigel Hawthorne (the arrogant and cunning permanent under secretary - Sir Humphrey) and Derek Fowlds (the well meaning private secretary - Bernard, caught in the crossfire between t…

Going back in time

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In Bangalore, there is something different now, more than just the malls and movies. Adding to this list of pedantic attractions is a refreshing new entrant - modern art. The National Gallery of Modern Art located at Palace Road, is an oasis of old world charm.

The gallery is located in a renovated old house - Manekyavelu Mansion. It was started a couple of years ago. The gallery is part of the Department of Culture, Govt. of India. The Bangalore branch joins it's older siblings in Delhi and Bombay.




NGMA, Bangalore
At my wife's prodding, we visited this place this weekend. The gallery is extremely well maintained and very sparse. They have a good range of visiting and permanent exhibitions. Hopefully, there are more such museums created. After all, there is no dearth of culture and history in India.

If you ever visit Bangalore, try and visit this gallery. There is a cafe too, if you are in the mood for some tea and snacks. It is located in the heart of the city and worth a cou…

Song Review - Saajnaa Saajnaa (2010)

Posted by Rajan
March 3rd, 2011

Saajnaa Saajnaa Rating: 5 out of 5
In recent times, fancy lyrics and modern music have dictated the direction of soundtrack in Indian movies, especially the songs. Every now and then, you get to hear melodious tunes. One of the most lilting songs from recent times has been Saajnaa from the movie Lamhaa. The movie is based on the the trauma faced by people of Kashmir starring Sanjay Dutt, Bipasha Basu and Kunal Kapoor.

The song is about a love so close yet apart due to circumstances. This particular song is sung by Mika Singh and Chinmayi. Normally, Mika is associated with more boisterous pop and movie songs in Hindi and his native Punjabi. Here he sings completely out of character with a lot of melancholy. The lyrics are very elegant. Chinmayi gives a very controlled performance, a good foil to Mika's honest rendition. And finally, the music. At times, it feels as if the instruments too are singing along side the singers.

In the same movie, there is …

Movie Review - Megamind (2010)

Posted by Rajan
March 2nd, 2011

Megamind Rating: 3 out of 5
Megamind is one of the latest animated releases from Dreamworks Animation. As far animated movies go by, this is a very mature and intelligent movie. The animated movies have a come a long way from the time of Beauty & Beast, Alladin and Lion King.
The initial animated movies depended on an existing story or fable. The newer set of movies like Toy Story, Despicable Me and Incredibles have an independent plot of their own. The script and direction in these movies are as important as in the regular movies. These movies are as much for kids as they are for adults.

The story is about an orphan, Megamind (Will Ferrel) from space who lands up in a jail. The company he grows up with inevitably moves him to the wrong side of the law. On the other hand, there is another orphan, Metro Man (Brad Pitt) who lands into a rich house. As they grow up, both of them becomes arch enemies fighting over Metro City. Eventually, Megamind kills M…

Movie Review - Roman Holiday (1953)

This movie was recently show in TV. With so many (useless) programmes vying for my attention, it was not easy for me to settle down for this movie. I had originally watched it when I was a kid during the "VCR" era.
The movie is directed by William Wyler, considered to be one of the greatest American directors of all time. He has directed more than 70 movies spanning his career. Watching his various movies is like a "master class" in the art of direction and cinematography.

Roman Holiday is one of the iconic movies of all time. The star of the movie undoubtedly being Audrey Hepburn. She deservedly picked up the Oscar for this role. Gregory Peck adds the required gravitas and charm to the movie.
The story is set in post war Rome. Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) is frustrated with the restrictions placed on her by the royal courtiers. The opening scenes with her hook you in, where she plays from demure to bored to angry with equal ease and she slips from one emotion t…

Movie Review - Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009)

Posted by Rajan
February 18th, 2011


Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recently, we visited a friend of our's for dinner. They happen to have a very energetic dalmatian. During the course of the evening they were narrating the story of this movie - Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009). Being pet owners, they were naturally very moved by this movie.

It is based on the true story of a dog in Japan, which does not give up looking for it's master even after his death. It is the true story of undying loyalty of a dog. Often people say that man is superior to all other animals in this world. Sometimes, an animal can humble or inspire the best in us. The original is a Japanese movie called Hachi-ko (1987). The same story was remade in English as Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009).
This is one of the movies where the story is central. Irrespective of whether it is true or not, it tugs at your heart. Parker Wilson (Richard Gere) is a professor who comes across a puppy. He brings i…

Movie Review - Love and Other Drugs (2010)

Anne Hathaway has for long been seen as a promising star and actress. In my opinion, till date, her career has been a bit insipid. The most notable of her movies being films like - Princess Diaries and Devil Wears Prada.

In Love and Other Drugs, she gears up to play her first major path breaking role. She plays a strong, free spirited, foul mouthed and impulsive woman suffering from Parkinson's disease.


The movie is about a young woman Maggie Murdock (Anne Hathaway) suffering from early stages of Parkinson's. She gets to know Jamie Randall (Jake Gyllenhaal), an ambitious medical salesman. Maggie is a woman who knows that her healthy days are numbered and Jamie thinks only about his sales numbers. This is where the script takes you on a journey and shows how two unlikely people come together and start caring for each other. As the movie progresses, there are plenty of hilarious moments but tempered with reality. The story draws a fine line between portraying the seriousness of…

Movie Review - Nine (2009)

Nine was a recent movie (musical) aired on Sony Pix. It is about the creative and personal journey of a movie director.
The movie is set in Italy with a once successful director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) now struggling to make his next movie. As he tries to overcome his issues, he looks back at his life through the various women he has come across.

An ensemble cast plays the various women starting from his mother (Sophia Loren), friend (Judi Dench), wife (Marion Cotillard), admirer (Kate Hudson), mistress (Penelope Cruz), muse (Nicole Kidman) and childhood crush (Fergie).
Daniel Day-Lewis plays a stellar role as he fluctuates from frustrated to charming. He in fact came out of his retirement to act in this role. Each of the actresses too essays their roles brilliantly as per the script. The other highlight of the movie is the musical pieces set for each of the women. Each musical piece is a song and dance and it explores the relationship that Daniel Day-Lewis has with them. Th…