Aan Paavam | Contrasting use of background score

Aan Paavam is one of my all time favorite movies. It’s one of the greatest entertaining film with a very simple narrative. This is the debut for Pandiarajan as an actor and I didn’t realize for a very long time that he was the director too (his second film after Kanni Rasi).

Apart from the many comic scenes (brilliant Janakaraj, VK Ramaswamy and Kollangudi Karuppayee ) for which I keep going back to this movie, there is yet another main reason. Yes, the background score of Ilayaraja for this movie.

While this movie is appreciated for all the entertainment it provides, Ilayaraja provided a great background score for this movie (and of course the famous Kaadhal Kasukkudhayya song).

Here’s the specific score that has stayed with me ever since I heard it for the first time when I was around 15/16 years (when I saw the movie for the first time).

The Situation

Pandiyan and Seetha like each other as part of the “Pon Paakum episode“. However, the broker says Pandiyan is not the “Mapillai” he had recommended to Seetha’s father and there is a mix up. Despite Pandiyan’s attempt to meet Seetha and convince her, Seetha says she will marry only the person her parents choose. Pandiyan gives an ultimatum – “I will wait at the riverside tomorrow morning. If you don’t come to meet me, I will not bother you anymore”

Overnight Seetha’s parents talk that they also like Pandiyan and Seetha’s father will meet Pandiyan’s father next day to proceed with the wedding.

The next 5 minutes or so is an absolute masterpiece to watch. Its a great screenplay and Ilayaraja elevates it to a different level altogether.

I have broken it down into 4 parts. And these 4 parts have distinct emotions to it. Ilayaraja uses just two compositions for these 4 parts. The best part is, both the compositions are used in a contrasting way to convey exactly opposite emotions.

Part 1 – The feeling of love

After Seetha’s parents agree to talk to Pandiyan’s parents, Seetha fondly recollects the encounters with Pandiyan. Her love for Pandiyan is expressed through simple shots. She is enjoying the night anticipating her meetig with Pandiyan the next day at the riverside. She even has a “Marudhani” in her feet 🙂

Ilayaraja brings out a brilliant composition with just a flute, a bass guitar and a beat. Here you go:

Part 2 – The Joyous Passage of Time

The scene transitions into a joyous passage of time. The overnight wait and Seetha happily getting ready in the morning.

A “Veena” is all that Ilayaraja needed to compose a score for this:

Part 3 – The Painful Wait

Just as Seetha was about to step out of her house to go to the riverside, her mother forces Seetha to help her out. Seetha is frustrated. Pandiyan has arrived at the riverside.

Ilayarja uses the same composition that he used for the previous scene. With just one addition – the sound of a clock ticking. And it just works well for the painful wait that Seetha and Pandiyan are going through.

Part 4 – The Final Joy and Sorrow

Seetha finally gets relieved. She is running like crazy so that she meets Pandiyan on time. Just as Seetha arrives at the spot, Pandiyan is walking away in the distance.

As Seetha finds out Pandiyan walking away, Ilayaraja uses the same composition that was used in Part 1 to convey the sadness.

In Part 1, the composition was made up of flute and it conveyed the love and the happiness that Seetha felt (anticipating her meeting the next day). In Part 4, the same composition is now made up of voilins and it conveys the sadness and the sorrow of the situation.

Bonus: The Magical Timing

If you didn’t notice in the above clip, just watch again at 0:30 seconds. That’s when the audience is revealed that Pandiyan has actually left. The camera pans from right to left. The score exactly changes at that moment of camera panning from right to left 🙂

Ilayaraja would have composed the entire score in one go. Would have recorded it continously. No computers to edit the timing through software.

Here’s the entire clip in full. Watch it in its full glory to feel the magic again. 3 minutes of absolute bliss.

Vada Chennai

As the end credits rolled over and I started walking down the stairs to exit the theatre, I had a “wierd” feeling. I wanted to probably stay for a few more mins till the credits completed to “consume” the movie completely. But at the same time I felt there was something missing in the movie that wanted me to start walking out. When I reflect after a day now, I think I would probably say this: Vada Chennai is a tipping point for Tamil Cinema and would even go one step further and say “Tamil Cinema has arrived”.

I had always felt bad that I was not old enough when directors like Mani Ratnam and Balu Mahendra were young enough making movies like Anjali, Nayagan, Moondram Pirai that fundamentally changed the movie landscape back in late 80s and early 90s. I missed seeing those movies in theatre (I was just old enough to watch Mowgli in DD :)) and I still imagine what it would have been to be immersed in those movies for 3 hours in a theatre. With Vada Chennai, I now have a sense of satisfaction that I am witnessing that fundamental change again. And I can imagine 30 years from now, someone is going to say “How I wish I was in the times when Vada Chennai and Vetrimaran was happening”.

Towards the middle of first half, I felt I was completely lost. The narrative was non-linear and I was wondering where all these are going and if I came to another “hyped” movie. It was in the second half I realized what Vetrimaran was doing – he was laying out a vast landscape in front of us and beautifully connected everything in the second half. That’s when you feel that there was not even a single shot that existed in the movie without a reason. That’s when you pause for a moment and you are not able to digest how he would have written all of these and what would have gone through in his mind. And suddenly the respect for this writer just goes up manyfolds. He is different, a great thinker and a great writer and is slowly changing the landscape of Tamil cinema.

Another reason why I feel that we are witnessing a tipping point in Tamil cinema is because of the “A” certificate for the film. Unlike every other Tamil cinema which looks for a “U/UA” certificate for producer’s tax benefits and attracting famil audience, here’s a movie which is for the Adults (I would rather say “grown ups”). Hats off for the production house (Dhanush in this case) for not comprimising on this one – this movie will not have certain type of audience and the producer/director is OK with it and its a big deal today.

Beyond the producer/director, I have huge respect for the censor board on this one. You typically get a U/A for uttering a “cuss” word (which also gets muted) or showing a murder scene with blood/body blurred. However in Vada Chennai, the opening scene itself had enough explicit blood (and I think I saw skin too) that indicated that this movie is definitely “A”. And then you hear the characters frequently using a cuss word that refers to mother. It’s when the female lead uses the same cuss word (I think it’s the first or second word she utters in the movie) you settle down and accept the fact that this movie is going to be a different experience altogether. Btw, the audience (including me) went crazy when she said that word 🙂 And just to be clear, I am not celebrating citation of cuss words in mainstream cinema just for the sake of it. But what was more satisfying was that here’s a movie which did not compromise anything.

Dhanush: Let me admit this. When I he did movies like “Sullan”, I was like “Here’s an example of what industry background can do. If you have money, you can back anybody and make them a star”. But as he did movies like Kadhal Kondaen, Pudhupettai and later Mayakkam Enna, there were signs about his potential. But I was thinking it as more like the “Selvaraghavan” effect. With Aadukalam and commercial ones like VIP, it really showed up that this guy has some genuine talent as an actor. And Vada Chennai, really brings that talent out. There are many scenes where he has pulled off effortlessly. Specifically, the scene where Kishore’s wife and Samuthrakani’s wife (Andrea) have a conversation in a family function about revealing the identity of the person (Dhanush) who stabbed Kishore. Dhanush is in the backdrop and figures what’s actually going on around him. He has no dialogue and just silently emotes. That was just enough. I would watch that scene many times over; what a true performance that was.

It isn’t that I don’t have complaints about this movie. One of my major complaints is about the length. I felt the movie “rushed” things. With a running length of close to 3 hours, it still wasn’t enough to consume the movie. For example, there were so many characters introduced in the jail episode that you didn’t have time to put all of them in your mind. Similarly in the second half when things are explained by Andrea, it was rushed (with pretty bad dubbing too). I wish this movie had another 30-45 minutes of runtime (Vetrimaran says it was originally shot for 5.5hours!) like GodFather. I am sure Vetrimaran would have loved too but had to remain within the constraints of theatres (they need to run 4 shows with breaks and all). May be in near distant future, someone will break this too.

I and my friend are great fans of Martin Scorcese and Tarantino movies and the collaboration he had with Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Leonardo Di Caprio. We had always discussed how Scorcese and De Niro would have collaborated, what it would have been between them, how it would have been in the sets. Well, I didnt live in those times, but I think they changed Hollywood movies forever. I think Vetrimaran + Dhanush + Kishore combination is doing something very similar for Tamil movies now. Something tells me that this is a beginning of a different era where movies that are “raw”, that doesn’t even have one wasted scene, that does full justification for the script are going to be made. We are going to respect the writers more than the actors. And sense will prevail in the movies. And personally, I am going to go back to theatres more 🙂

Ennullae…Ennullae… | Valli

Well, I am not a fan of this particular movie even though it had Superstar in it (who wrote the script and screenplay). I remember the hype around the movie as it was written and produced by Superstar, Latha Rajinikanth had sung in the movie (and guess she composed a song as well). It bombed in the box office!! But it had one beautiful song composed by Ilayaraja. “Ennullae Ennullae” is such a beautiful song and an emotional one sung by Swarnalatha (How I wish she had sung more and lived longer!!). While the song captivated me the very first time I had listened to it back in the 90s, I got even more addicted to it very recently due to the composition of the interludes.

Interlude 1

As a bunch of violins start, there is a gentle play of either a Cello or a Double Bass in the background. And around 11 seconds when the violins in the foreground starts peaking, the background starts getting filled with those taps of Cello/Double Bass. The flute joins them. And around 28 seconds all of the come together. The Cello/Double Bass give a wonderful finish to the composition. Yet another brilliant composition. The best part is, these compositions were done in the the digital/stereo era and we are now able to hear the nuances of the composition very well (unlike the ones he composed in 70s and 80s which were recorded in mono)

Interlude 2

This one is as good as the first one. The pattern is just awesome – a few violins start and as they hit towards the end of their portion, the Cello/Double Bass further extends by playing like a quick “Sine Wave”. A long Sine Wave by the violins followed by a short Sine Wave by the Cello/Double Bass 🙂 This gets repeated twice. Around 12 seconds, as the violins hit the peak, the gentle taps on the Cello/Double Bass happen just like Interlude 1. A Trumpet/Shehnai type vocal instrument joins to give a perfect finish to the composition.

To me, both the above compositions are definitely in the levels of “Symphony Orchestra” that gets immensely appreciated. These feel divine when you listen and can be composed by someone who is completely at peace inside. These compositions had originated in his mind, he has translated them as notes and given to individuals who just played their part. And for him this song would have been “just another song composed on yet another day”

ps: There is actually a pretty lengthy prelude in the song itself which is mainly composed of the traditional Kerala “Chenda Melam”

pps: Both the interludes end with a female chorus. Despite multiple listens, I somehow didn’t like both the chorus. I feel it lowers the overall quality of the entire composition (like a Dhrishti). Of course, he is the master and the genius and he would have every reason to have that. Just that I didnt like it. I included in the first one above (so that you can listen and form your opinion :)) and deliberately removed in the second

Here’s the full song if you are interested in listening:

pps2: What a lame picturization for the song (try watching it in Youtube). And how such a genius composition gets lost in a crappy movie like Valli!!


Third World War

Remote village pond down south TamilNadu

The Third World War will not be fought for countries gaining supremacy over each other. It will not be fought with guns and weapons of mass destruction and bio chemicals. It will be fought with drought and food scarcity. And the war will not start because of top military admirals and leaders’ decisions and will not be fought with drones and tanks. It will be fought on the streets and by normal people.

Above is a picture of a remote village pond down south TamilNadu near by native village. This picture is after two months of south west monsoon (if it had set on time). The monsoon is delayed and water that is distributed for irrigation has not begun. Mettur Dam is the primary water storage for irrigation down south and normally the water is released from Mettur by first week of June. It would take a month and by around middle of July water would have reached these villages. The dam hasn’t been opened yet and not even a single drop has reached these villages. The entire cauvery river is dry across all the districts.

There is acute power shortages in the state – we cant run the motors to pump water from the ground. And even if we manage to pump the water, the water is salty after years of prawn and other farming. Plus the Tsunami that mixed a lot of sea water with the ground water. There are no rains in TamilNadu till October anyways and this time there are no rains in Kerala and Karnataka for us to receive water in the Cauvery. We will have cars and houses and loans. We will just not have enough food to feed our people. And this is a situation of a place where our ancestors cultivated thrice in an year.

And why will we even change ourselves? There are campaigns shouting to leave the planet earth for the next generation. I wonder if we will even have enough for ourselves.

All we need is a change…

By now, the entire nation knows about Anna Hazare and there seems to be huge huge following for him. I went to Marina beach yesterday and there were about 2000 people near light house supporting Anna. I was definitely amazed to see such a huge crowd of normal ordinary people of this country. I saw people from all walks of the life, middle class aunties, oldies and lots and lots of youngsters – people who are probably in to the first or second year of college.

And there seems to some difference of opinion amongst different set of people:
1. People like Nandan Nilekani and Arundhati Roy seems to be okay with the “right for protesting” but definitely not OK with a single man dictating what the government should do

2. The opposition (if at all we can call it one) seems to be on the same line – “we are against the way the government handled the situation” but they don’t speak if they support or disagree with the bill

3. The government – it seems that it is completely indifferent to what is happening in the country. It definitely handled the situation badly but doesn’t seem to be thinking about breaking the impasse

4. And the public – almost everybody is with Anna. Frustrated, having lost hope with this country, they desperately need a change and are willing to support anyone who is willing to make that change happen.

The fundamental problem today is that people have lost confidence and trust in this government. And when I say government it is not about Congress. Why I say this is because, yesterday at Marina, I saw a small group of girls shouting “We want change in power”. It is not about changing this government and getting a new one. If that happens all we gonna have is a new government which is going to be UPA or NDA – and there seems to be a prediction that if election comes, UPA will win again. With a change in government, nothing is going to change in our day-to-day lives. We are going to get the same treatment from the policemen, ration shops, government offices and a dont-care-attitude from the fellow citizens. Traffic signals are going to be broken, roads are going to be bad, poor will not get access to proper healthcare, food and will sleep in roads – nothing will change. What every Indian (in India and abroad) wants is a change in our daily lives – things that we interact on a daily basis. Things that will make our life better. We want a complete overhaul of the system that we are in. And I believe that’s the reason everybody is inherently in the roads.

What Nandan Nilekani said in his interview is that through technology and automation these basic interactions of the general public needs to be cleaned up – made transparent, accountable and efficient. And he said that bringing Lokpal will only create another independent committee like Prevention of Corruption Act, CAG, etc… And here are few more views from different parties involved:

1. Government
From a government’s angle (I’m not talking about Congress here), I think it is actually a larger problem. For example, Team Anna were demanding for a public place to conduct the fast. And they wanted it indefinitely. Huge crowd may actually come in and the government definitely needs to think from security angle. The first thing that happened after Ramlila Maidan was chosen as the venue was that, right in the morning, we saw policemen, sniffer dogs and massive equipments sweeping the grounds. Being a country with not-so-friendly-neighbors and an equal amount of enemies within, the government will have to worry from security angle. What if a RDX blows up on the venue (Delhi being national capital too)? We will blame the government again. Secondly, we have the parliament where representatives from different parts of the country are functioning. As Nandan pointed out, there are definitely good people out there. And some serious business does take place. I do not know the ratio of good to bad politicians there, but I know people like Jaiprakash Narayan are sitting out there. And the Standing Committee seems to be very good where it healthy debates happen. And these are people representing different sections of the society – the tribal, Muslim, Dalit, Urban, Rural, etc…and the bill needs to be debated from all angles because it is going to affect the entire functioning of our country

2. Alternative theories
There is also another round of views about the people who are behind Anna. If you look at the kind of people who are behind Anna, most of them are from Urban living. That’s how it started at least and now it is spreading to the towns as well. The movement has spread through the media and Internet. And people in the Cities and Towns are the ones who have access to these – especially Social Media. Now, we cannot enact a law obliging the demands of certain section of the country. And that too due to mass following. I am not for this – but for example, tomorrow, India being a Hindu dominant country, what if some other person starts an “Anti-Muslim” movement and there is a mass following to it. I mean, people are not that stupid but it theoretically it is possible – the government is probably thinking about this too? And this thinking is probably beneficial for the larger benefit of the people. Or probably this is how government is run – you cannot decide Just Like That.

3. Political Parties
None of the political parties seem to be “actually” supporting the Lokpal bill. All parties are actually raising their voice against the way the government handled the situation. Nobody is mentioning that they are OK with “these these points in Anna’s version” and not OK with “these these points in Govt’s version”. I have read both the versions of the bill and what Anna’s version is trying to create is something like a parallel government. There is going to be a central Lokpal which will look at larger problems like 2G scam, black money, etc…and every state will have Lokayukta and similar setups at district, panchayat levels. Now this is actually parallel governance. No where in the world this is present and it may be dangerous also. Let’s not debate that. But the political parties – they are not going to be OK with having a parallel government.

And this is my take considering all these:

Yes, this whole movement may be started by the Urban population. And probably it will spread slowly to other places in the country. But Urban population are the ones who have seen things outside the country. They have been exposed to how proper governance happens in other developed countries. The rural population and the poor have in-numerous problems that they cannot even think about all these. When people are worried about next day meal they will not think about all these. So there is nothing wrong in the movement being started by the Urban population. It is for larger benefit of the entire country.

And the views that things needs to be changed at grass root level – like fundamentally people are corrupt and we need to change that. Yes definitely people are corrupt. I download pirated music and somebody doesn’t obey traffic rules and somebody else doesn’t pay taxes properly. People are definitely corrupt. Now here is where the definition of corruption needs to be made clear. Corruption in my opinion is altering a way of working/decision for the benefit of a single person or a group. When such alteration takes place, it results in a deviation from doing things the way it needs to be done which either results in sub standard service or no service. Now, coming back to the point of people being fundamentally corrupt. I download pirated music because – either i don’t respect or value the service that I get or I cannot afford to buy one. And there are no proper laws to check it. Now, last week I bought an app for replacing the stock keyboard in my Android. Now, that cost me Rs.200. But I bought it because, I used it before and I found it to be helping me and making my life easier. And it was affordable to me. So I bought it. Now I pay taxes properly. In fact, I declare my Savings Account interest and pay even Self Assessed Tax. Why do I do this? Is it because I want to contribute to the growth of the country? No, it is because there is a law and I can later by scrutinized. Now this is fear – fear brought in by enforcing laws.

APJ Abdul Kalam’s says that let’s start by teaching the kids to be good citizens so that at least next generation will be good and not corrupt. And Nandan’s view is also on the same line – instead of changing the people he is trying to change the last mile of the system that people access. This is definitely good. This is what will probably scale on the longer run. This is basically starting from ground up. But I beg to differ here. There needs to be fear amongst everybody (all walks of the life) that if someone does something wrong (against the law) then there is going to severe punishments. And this needs to start at the top level. We cannot have people like Raja, Hasan Ali, Deve Gowda, Yedurappa, Jagan Mohan Reddy walking freely in the country. The law should be made good enough to give faster punishments to people like this. Why start at this level? Why not from the traffic signals? Because if there is a law to first check the ministers – he is going to fear the system and act properly. He will ask questions to his ministry – then to his officers – then to the executives – to the people at the bottom of the chain. Now that way at every level things needs to be checked. Making people change is definitely not going to work – because of the fundamental nature of human being. Even in developed countries, people when intoxicated they run over pedestrians. If there is no one on the road, you may get mugged. Somebody might come in to the convenience store and ask for the money. If you don’t give it you may get shot. This is in developed countries. So basically we human beings, given a chance would like to go over the law and do what we feel like doing – our mind is still fundamentally animal. But under normal conditions, when we are in a society, the fear of getting punished is what keeps us under control. And that needs to be brought in. Through laws. Through tougher laws. A whole generation needs to be toughly punished to bring that fear in people. And this can start only from the top.

You cannot say that “I cannot sack Raja due to coalition dharma”. Now how mean is that?When the entire nation is debating and agitating about this bill, Sonia Gandhi leaves to US for some medical treatment. Okay, she is not occupying any government office. But as a leader of a political party and how influential she is in the country, she doesn’t believe in the country’s healthcare and flies off to the US. Because she can afford it. The power and money that can get her anything in this world. Cut through few years back, Vajpayee needed a knee replacement surgery and it got done in our own AIMS, Delhi. Now as a leader, you need to demonstrate to people of this country. People want a change right now and have no more patience.

All we ask is better roads, portable water, good shelter, affordable healthcare. To make our lives better. Nothing more than that.

Google Plus

Though I gave a new look to the blog about 4 months back, I never took time to post anything after that 🙂 Sister’s marriage and work took all my time. Almost. So here is another attempt to write something consistently in coming days/months. Let’s see how much I keep it going 🙂

Last week ended with a lot of talk about Google Plus and this isn’t a review about Google Plus. Rather, I was totally amazed at how Google worked out this entire strategy. It started with a month or so when Google announced its plan to support only the latest browser. And over the course of last two weeks it started rolling out changes to the search page with a new toolbar in the top. Then Gmail got changed with a similar toolbar. In fact Gmail had few more noticeable changes such as the always docked menu, people widget on the sides, etc…I personally didn’t realize that Google was up to something. In fact even TechCrunch or GigaOM didn’t talk about any rumors.

But now, when Google Plus was rolled and if you connect all the dots, it all starts to make sense. Now after the roll out, you will see an unified top bar with the Plus widget on the top right. So if you have many Google products opened as tabs, you are more likely to share content using the toolbar. And behind the scenes, it is unimaginable on how Google rolled out such a massive change across so many of its products – with no down time and hiccups. When users were still using their products. When data was getting stored in their servers. Unimaginable. At work, we often discuss and try to arrive at such change management/deployment practices for smaller applications. But given Google’s scale, I just cannot imagine what kind of systems they have built internally.

And aptly named Google Plus, is not about a social networking product aimed at Facebook. I guess it is the next version of Google as a company. Google as how it deals with information. If you look at how Google operated before Plus – it was a company aimed at organizing world’s information. It built products that enabled us search for what we wanted. And the products let user out of their sites as soon as possible. Like you don’t stay on Google search results page but you click and get out of there as fast as possible. And it was only Google’s algorithms that determined what results we got and what information we got access to.

With Plus, it is a fundamental change in Google’s approach towards how their products work and behave. In Plus, Google has built a product where they want users to spend more and more time. They have got nice animated UI which adds few more milliseconds for every request – I heard through an inside information that a 256ms response time code gets rejected. The response time needs to be lesser than that 🙂 The search page looks neat and Gmail has got a makeover and looks like for the first time Larry Page approved of all these changes that increases response time.

I guess the Facebook’s threat of having almost every internet user hooked into their site and creating and consuming information had a major impact at the top brass in Google. Google happened to realize that the way internet is being used by people is changing – there is a people aspect to it. People are no longer searching for information. They are discovering information. The internet is becoming more like a real world. I know information that I get to know through my friends, family, co-workers in the real world. I am more likely to buy a product that my friends and family and co-workers recommend. The same goes with watching a video to looking at an advt in TV. That’s how the internet is becoming too. And that’s where Google was becoming irrelevant. And Facebook looked like a major threat to it.

I think Google figured this out and took a real world approach to re-inventing itself. From Circles in Google Plus to “+1” in search results, the whole lot of changes reflect this. The “+1” near every search result is really cool. If I hit on that and it gets published in my stream, my friends are more likely to check those links. Now this is gonna push the Ad rates really high. Now switch to “Sparks” where Google sends you information/videos/pictures in your Google Plus stream. Here’s where Google takes an algorithmic approach to suggest you content based on your interest (Google already knows everything about us:) ). So in effect your Google Plus stream is both your social graph content (content that your friends and family share) and interest graph content (what Google’s algo decide). And imagine you “+1” the interest graph feeds – Google makes huge revenue there as well.

I think Google has taken a very very long term approach towards this. It has looked at how the web and internet is going to be in 3-5 years down the line and is building products / taking strategy for that long haul. The way they have pushed the web with HTML5, Google Chrome, Android, SPDY Protocol, etc…I guess no one understands the internet business better. Of course Facebook still has a whopping 750M users and there are rumors that Facebook might launch Skype based video chat. And Facebook will be quick enough to clean up and introduce many things. Guess its sleepless nights for the folks at Microsoft.

Edit – and after posting this blog post, I happened to notice that there is a “+1” at the end of the post 🙂

New look…

Came across a Bing search widget for blogs and websites. It’s a nice widget that can be easily added to any website or blog. You can get it here. Once it’s added, a nice search box gets added to your website/blog and viewers of your website can search the website. The search result is non-intrusive and appears in a nice pop up. You see the box on the right hand side of this blog. Since few weeks, I have started getting a feeling that Google is becoming the web’s Microsoft by trying to be a monopoly here – especially after the stupid drama it played against Bing. Hence I decided to add this Bing widget and let Bing also index my blog more (not that I create massive content here:)).

So, when I added this widget to the old layout, it became messy and I decided to change the layout of the blog. That’s when I was really impressed with the way blogger works. I just had opened Blogger in Firefox and my blog as an anonymous user in Chrome. As I choose a layout and start making modifications, re-arranging widgets, changing the color and things like that, I just keep refreshing in Chrome and I could see the changes in real time. I am pretty sure that blogger is running Google’s cloud and I am sure they will have replicated data to serve content faster to all users. With that kind of architecture and enabling on the fly changes to the blog’s layout – I was really impressed. Definitely a nice product and same with the way the widgets work too. It was pretty easy to add that Bing search widget – even a novice, non-techie user can do that.

Anyways, I set to try something and ended up changing the blog’s layout. So I hope to write more here…

Why Facebook?

Been discussing about Facebook lately with many people and there is a lot of action on the internet as well in terms of how powerful it is and how it is transforming the web and the way we use the web.

I was originally using Orkut and before Facebook there were plenty of social networking websites such as MySpace, Hi5, Orkut, etc…I used to wonder why there is such a big deal about Facebook that everybody is talking about. After all it is a casual website where people mostly share photos and post things like “My cat ran away”, “Don’t feel like getting out of bed. Lol”, etc…In fact I read an article where one Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist called Facebook as nothing but a photo sharing website. And yeah, now there is a movie about Facebook and a book released. And one Russian investor bought 1% stake for $330 millions valuing Facebook at $30+ B. And that is about 1/3 of what Ford or GM is valued today (they are more than 100yrs old) in about 10yrs since it was built in a dorm. And yeah, the CEO is 28 years old and it has 500M users. Dot.

I was really very curious as to how such a simple service can be massively hit and why so many people love using it. When you really look at how users interact with Facebook, probably you get a hint why Facebook really matters and there are reasons why people spend like 40B minutes a month in Facebook (as claimed by FB engineering).

When I post a comment on one of my friends’ post, FB tells in my wall post that “I commented on his post” and it appears on others’ wall as “Raghu posted on that person’s post”. Similarly, if you look all around the way the posts, comments, photos, likes, videos appear in the feed you will notice things like “You and Amit like this post”, “Kumar shared a video”, “You and 330,000 people like Starbucks”. Even though it is just a way of letting the information display on a page, I think this is the whole deal about it. It gives a whole human feeling/touch in terms of saying “I like this”, “He said this”, etc…Now that’s how we interact with people and things in real world.

Few years ago, we used to maintain an address book online where we used to have the email ids of people. Now Facebook is our address book. And people in our friends list are real people. We used to have Yahoo IM friends like cooldude007, sweetgirl92. But in Facebook our contacts have a real identity. They are our college friends, co-workers, relatives, etc…And Facebook gives us a platform where we can interact with them easily. Now that was something missed out in Orkut, MySpace and a bunch of other Social Networking websites. They probably never got Social right.

And to realize the true power of Facebook and how it is transforming businesses, Honda India has a Facebook page where its customers regularly post complaints and Honda’s representatives respond mostly within a day. Now that’s a traditional manufacturing company being so active in Facebook. I read somewhere that a massive Colombian people revolution against the Guerillas started as a single Facebook page created by someone who was utterly angry against the Guerillas.

And Facebook can probably give a very tough life to Google too. Google today is probably the single company that has access to all the data that is getting created on the web. They make their money through the advertisements that they place on the web by crunching all these data created in the web. Google’s vision itself is about organizing information on the web. But the question is, what if all the information that is getting created in the web is created inside Facebook and Google has no access to it? For example, if you look at the companies that Google has bought in the past, like Blogger, Youtube, etc…these are products where internet users were creating data and Google wants all the data that is created on the web. What if people are creating Facebook Pages instead of blogging…Video links being posted in Facebook instead of Youtube. Facebook already has massive amount of organized data. Google invests so much amount of time in figuring out who created what kind of data, who is looking at what pages, etc…But Facebook already knows “Raghu likes this Page”, “Aamir likes Sachin Tendulkar”. It already has access to organized information and that is probably a big deal. These days, your competitor need not always be from your own domain. Microsoft would have never thought that Google will be its competitor and Sony wouldn’t have even imagined about Apple (iPod). Probably the same thing might happen for Google as well (Facebook).

And as a software developer, I am really amazed at the scale Facebook is operating and how their systems are built. I am already a fan of the “Facebook Engineering” page in Facebook. I am amazed at even imagining the kind of social graph that Facebook will be storing in their servers and how it will go through those graphs to tell me one small information like “You may also know Sunil” based on the “n” degree of connection in my social graph. And if I am a fan of “Sachin Tendular” page and there is a post on Sachin’s latest six in the Nagpur test, probably I and 330,000 other people would have “liked” the post. If it visit that page again and when Facebook says “You and 330,000 others like this” that is actually massive operation behind the scene at run time. Cannot imagine the data storage and caching that Facebook has built.

I am really amazed at how Facebook is actually transforming our lives and the social, political, economical impact that it can have in the future. And this is something that will be interesting to watch out as more and more people stay always connected.

Killing time cost effectively…

1. Go and drop off your vehicle at a friend’s place in T.Nagar
2. Start walking towards the Mambalam railway station (through some crowded Ranganathan streets)
3. If you are a person who always has that extra space in your stomach to send something inside, you can send in some dosas and coffee on the way (20 mins killed and probably couple of minutes of your life too)
4. Reach Mambalam station and get a ticket to Park Station – this would cover almost half of the EMU (local train) route
5. Skip one train and catch the next one (20 extra mins killed)
6. Meanwhile you can check your weight in the weighing machine. Quietly ignore the number being shown on the card and start reading the “well-wishing” message on the back of the card
7. Get in to the train
8. On the way discuss on what’s to be done after reaching Park Station
9. Come up with the wonderful plan of getting MRTS ticket for Park to Velachery (That’s the complete route of MRTS)
10. Reach Park Station – by this time you would have killed another 20 – 25 mins
11. Try to figure out where this MRTS station in Park Town is – get info from nearby shops
12. Reach Park Town Station and get a ticket to Velachery
13. Wonderfully kill another 45 mins – the train goes through the heart of the city – Mylapore, City Centre, Mount Road (near the new Secretariat building), etc
14. Get down at Velachery and walk slowly towards the bus stop – on the way you may grab couple of Mirinda bottles
15. Reach the bus stop and leave couple of buses – reasons may vary from “too much crowd”, “don’t like the yellow color painting” to anything under the roof
16. Catch a bus to T.Nagar
17. In another 40 minutes types you would have reached T.Nagar back

Total distance covered – 40+ KMS
Total cost – 16 Rupees
Cost per KM – less than 50 paise

You can easily kill 3hours and if you get more creative can spend half a day like this. You can reach Central station and go till Ambattur side or may be Chengalpet. And once you reach there or on the way you can think of connecting routes and the next plan.

You end up with a happy feeling of going around the city and the best part of “no-dent-in-your-pocket”


…means “beloved” in malayalam and is a song in Vinnai Thandi Varuvaya. When VTV audio was released, I wasn’t really impressed with it immediately. But as the saying goes, you really got to listen to ARR songs again and again and it will fill you and elevate you completely.

This Aaromalae is another masterpiece from ARR. The song starts with a slow guitar and has a deep base in it. The wonderful part I liked is that the song depicts some kind of sadness and happiness alternatively. A deep cry of soul for the sadness and on the other side the person undergoes immense happiness for some kind of achievement – that’s what I could make out from the song. The song mixes Indian classical music and Rock towards the end. The song which starts with the slow guitar transforms towards heavy guitar in the end.

More reference to the song at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaromale and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/arrahmanfans/message/129768/

And I haven’t seen the film yet and will not be seeing it in all probability, but I guess this song appears when Simbhu gets a director chance from a producer and at the same time Trisha must have ditched him – and he must be traveling. A wild guess having known the crux of the movie.

Here is the lyrics with translation – takes me immediately to the beautiful world of Kerala

Mamalayaeri Varum Thennal (O Breeze, blowing through the mountains)
Puthu Manavalan Thennal (O Breeze, decked up like a bridegroom)
Palli Medayae Thottu Thalodi Kurushil Thozhuthu Varumbol (Coming after worshiping the cross at the altar)
Varavelpinu Malayalakkara Manasammatham Choriyum (The Land of Kerala would grant permission for welcoming it)
Aaromale…, Aaromale…, Aaromale…, Aaromale… (O Beloved… O Beloved… O Beloved… O Beloved…)

Swasthi Swasthi Su Muhurtham (On this very auspicious occasion)
Sumangali Bhava Manavatti (O Bride! May you be blessed with a long wedded life)
Swasthi Swasthi Su Muhurtham (On this very auspicious occasion)
Sumangali Bhava Manavatti (O Bride! May you be blessed with a long wedded life)
Shyama Rathri Than Aramanayil (In the inner sanctum of the dark evening…)
Maari Nilkayo Tharakame (O star! Why are you so reserved?)
Pulari Manjile Kathiroliyaay (Like a ray of light in the morning mist)
Akale Nilkayo Penmaname (Are you standing afar… my lady?)
Chanju Nilkuma Chillayil Nee, Chila Chilambiyo Poonkuyile (O Cuckoo! Did you shake the bent branch of the tree?)
Manchirathile, Malaroliye Thediyethiyo Poonthennal (Did the wind of fragrance come in search of the flames in the mud lamps?)

Swasthi Swasthi Su Muhurtham (On this very auspicious occasion)
Sumangali Bhava Manavatti (O Bride! May you be blessed with a long wedded life)

Aaromalae… Aaromalae… (O Beloved… O Beloved…)

Kadalinu Karayodiniyum Padan Sneham Undo? (Does the sea still brim with love to serenade the shore?)
Mezhukuthurikalayi Urukan Iniyum Pranayam Manasil Undo? (Is there still love in the heart to melt like candle wax?)

Aaromale…, Aaromale…, Aaromale… (O Beloved… O Beloved…O Beloved… O Beloved…)

Aaromale… Ohh… Ho ! (O Beloved…)

Swasthi Swasthi Su Muhurtham (On this very auspicious occasion)
Sumangali Bhava Manavatti (O Bride! May you be blessed with a long wedded life)

Swasthi Swasthi Su Muhurtham (On this very auspicious occasion)
Sumangali Bhava Manavatti (O Bride! May you be blessed with a long wedded life)

Shyama Rathri Than Aramanayil (In the inner sanctum of the dark evening…)
Maari Nilkayo Tharakame (O star! Why are you so reserved?)
Pulari Manjile Kathiroliyaay (Like a ray of light in the morning mist)
Akale Nilkayo Penmaname (Are you standing afar… my lady?)
Chanju Nilkuma Chillayil Nee, Chila Chilambiyo Poonkuyile (O Cuckoo! Did you shake the bent branch of the tree?)
Manchirathile, Malaroliye Thediyethiyo Poonthennal (Did the wind of fragrance come in search of the flames in the mud lamps?)

Swasthi Swasthi Su Muhurtham (On this very auspicious occasion)
Sumangali Bhava Manavatti (O Bride! May you be blessed with a long wedded life)
Swasthi Swasthi Su Muhurtham (On this very auspicious occasion)
Sumangali Bhava Manavatti (O Bride! May you be blessed with a long wedded life)

Aaromale… Aaromale… (O beloved… O beloved)

Oh ho…