Review- Audio release function of Manmadan Ambu

The Movie

It was a dream come true, for my mother that is. She is fond of all of his films and ranks close to Sivaji Ganesan who was the hero from her times. So when Singapore hosted the music release to Kamalhaasan’s latest movie, Manmadanambu, it was a boon sanctioned. I got tickets to take ma live her dream. She is someone who will watch the reruns of these shows on television, long after they are done. For once she wanted to be at the scene of the happening, to experience the ambience and the grandeur and of course see in flesh and blood the man that she loves to watch performing in the movies. I suspect that the fact that Kamal is a Brahmin also contributed to her devotion to the man. She will argue that of course.

Max Pavilion turned out to be a huge outdoorsy hall within Singapore Expo that could seat up to 10,000 people. The aircon in the pavilion was superlative and despite the 9000 odd people that evening, continued to chill us to our bones. The seats were large and comfortably cushioned, there was enough leg room and the rows were spaced out.

The program was to start at 7 that evening. We were there in time and could survey the scene and take in the ambience and settle down well before that time. However, the program didn’t start as scheduled. I was reminded that even though it was Singapore, it involved over 9000 Indians plus the crew, so the delay in start time should have been anticipated. The pre show time at the pavilion was primarily filled with some visuals of the sponsors and co sponsors of the event with little music. The show finally kick started at 7.30.

No, I am not going to take you through the details of what happened in the four hours that evening but will highlight what we liked or disliked about the evening.

Like!

The male compere- Gopinath of the Neeya Naana fame. His voice modulation deserved a standing ovation and he knew how to throw his voice without actually shouting into the mike. His sense of humour was intact and he used it well to elicit responses from the audience. He is a celebrity in his own right and many of us including my ma, were keen to see him live too!

The male participants from the show Airtel SuperSingers Junior. I won’t quite agree with the sentiment that all mothers in India want their babies to be performers  like these guys, but these children were gifted. There were three boys under 15 who could sing melodies from Kamal’s old movies and they sang well.

The winning participants of Jodi No.1 – Sheer entertainment. They took to the stage like a fish in water and danced to the peppy numbers when introducing the guests of the day and filled in down time when the others were being invited on stage.

The Guests – KS Ravikumar was humble and made a no nonsense short speech thanking his team and everyone involved with the film making. Udhayanidhi Stalin was decent and was accompanied by his pretty wife and son. Maddy was gushing and at his charming best, Trisha looks prettier in person. Kamal was looking dapper in a black Indian suit.

Dislike!

The female compere – Divya Darshini – Someone ought to tell her that she has a loud voice. Even when people hinted at it ( KS Ravikumar and Gopinath mentioned it to her on stage) she discounted the feedback as  a joke and continued at her loudest best as a result of which I came out of the show with a  splitting headache . She called ten women from the crowd to accompany her to bring Maddy on stage with bouquets. She ran ahead of them and brought him on stage and said coyly into the mike, that many of the women wanted to hug Maddy but since they did not get a chance, she would, on behalf of them and she did. Gopinath said something apt to cut her down to size.  She was gushing at Gowthami who was seated in the front row, hoping to win points with Kamal too.

The girls from Airtel Supersingers – Agreed they are a gifted lot with fantastic support from their families and music teachers who trained them to sing, but do they have to pretend to be miniature actresses? And what is it with women and mikes? The girls chose songs that made them look older than their ages and they contributed to the headache as well. I would never want any child to compete with such pressures.

Andrea- the singer – Divya Darshini and the Junior Supersingers had stiff competition from another woman who sang the OST of the movie. The only part of the lyric that was clear was the first line- Who is the hero? (which pretty much sounded like Whoozhuhhero). The men in the crowd didn’t seem to mind Andrea much since she looked hot in her shiny brown knee length one piece dress and walked about the stage with a mike, seductively.

Suchi – the singer – Just when I thought the loudness quotient could not get any worse, on to the stage stepped the famous Mirchi Suchi. Though the song was a peppy number from the new movie, I am not exaggerating the fact that Suchi too, has a loud voice.

DSP- The stale acronym is taken by none else than the music director of the movie, DeviSree Prasad. The man stomped up the stage like Michael Jackson in All I want to tell you is, they don’t really care about us, except that he was not accompanied by the black drummers. He gave the loud voiced women a run for their money. He almost lost his voice at one point when in his inimitable style called the singer Andrea on stage to belt out the OST.

Apart from these charges, the show was conducted well. The icing on the cake was when KamalHaasan sang a song from the movie that he wrote lyrics for and also recited a kavidhai in Tamil from the movie along with Trisha who matched his tamil fluency without stutter.

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My brush with miracles.

I saw them sitting at a table of a busy restaurant their backs facing me. What drew my attention to them was their conversation. It was a little girl about 8 years old and a middle aged man. The man was animatedly in conversation with this little girl. I could see him smiling and engaging her in talk, as she ate her dosa. There were several others who threw a sideways glance at this odd pair and went about their business of ordering or collecting food at the take away counter. It was not my turn yet and I was in no big hurry. I had this incredible urge to pull up a chair at the same table as the man and the little girl and join them in the conversation they had submersed into.

Would I have interrupted any other conversation between two people, you wonder. No. I wouldn’t. This couple was special. They were odd. The man was Indian. The girl was African. A native of Africa with the typical color of skin and hair texture. As I looked closer, I realized that the girl was special. Even though she was around eight, she was eating like a toddler. The dosa was cut into several smaller pieces like you would serve a toddler who was just learning to chew on solid food, there was food spilt on the floor and her nose was leaking. The man didn’t seem to notice. Or even if he had, it did not seem to bother him or his flow of thoughts as he continued his conversation. I saw that the girl had fewer fingers on both her hands and they were malformed. It looked like the man had to repeat everything he was saying, slowly, for the girl to understand and respond.All this while, I was standing behind them, making my observations and drawing conclusions.

I imagined that this was a man who was spending his Saturday afternoon with a child who needed some company. He probably was someone who volunteered for an NGO that worked with children of a lesser God and was spending his Saturday doing something meaningful. That thought warmed my heart. I decided not to stand there, furtively stealing glances at the backs of the two of them and decided that I had to confront the man and find out.

I waited for them to pause in their conversation and I stepped right up to the man and asked him if I could sit next to him. He obliged with a smile. I took that up as invitation of a conversation starter and asked him how he knew the girl. “She is my daughter” he said proudly. If you have ever wished that you could take back something that you said and hoped for another chance to say something right, you will appreciate how I felt just then. I had to make up for my gaffe and so I quickly said something like oh- I-would- have- never- known. I found out that he had adopted her from Africa when he and his wife lived there. I introduced myself and asked the girl her name. The father had to reword the question slowly and in a language that comes easily to you and me. Tamil! I am sure my jaw dropped four inches closer to the table when the girl replied to that question, with pieces of dosa flying about as she said her name. As I found out, the girl was five when they claimed her as their daughter and she was eight now. The dad was keeping her company while his mother and wife went shopping at a store near by. Anything else he said was a haze since my heart was pounding hard and I was fighting to keep my emotions in check.

My token number was blinking on the counter and I got up to pick my take away masala tea not before I quickly dug into my wallet for a calling card that I offered to the man and said that I would love to know more.

Scat scammers!

Five thirty in the morning is an unusual time to be checking mails, even for me. Ever since I have acquired an iPad , it seems the most natural thing to do even before my first cup of coffee.  So there I was signing in, expecting to find 15 emails, 13 of which would be forwards, one from my bank telling me of the wonderful opportunities to invest and one other from a random photo site offering some discounted photo book. I was right. Added to that list was another. Imagine my surprise when I saw the name of my Jipmer- educated- successful- pediatric- specialist- from-the- US- niece flashing in my inbox.

Naturally that email scored over the rest and I was inclined to click open and hungrily read the content of the email , especially since the subject sounded like an ominous harbinger of bad news. ( My horrible experience)

The only bell that rang in my almost awake brain ( remember I hadn’t had my first cup yet) was that of panic. This is what the mail said –

I’m writing this with tears in my eyes, sorry I did not inform you about our trip. We actually made a quick travel to Spain and unfortunately attacked and mugged at gun point on the way to our hotel, all cash, credit card and cell phone were taken away from us but luckily we still have our passport with us.

We`ve been to the embassy and the Police here but they’re not helping issues at all and our return flight leaves anytime from now but we`re having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let us leave until we settle the bills.

Am freaked out at the moment and need help.

Now, it is not every day that you get such mails in your Inbox from nieces in the US. Naturally, my now alert brain was assimilating this information along with my heart, mind and soul. Was I the only relative that my niece had in the proximity of Spain? I could see I was marked a BCC, so I assumed that she had written to a bunch of others asking them too. She had a brother in the US, wasn’t the US closer to Spain than Singapore ? Will he have reached out already being 5000 odd kilometers closer than I was to Spain?

My first impulse was to hit the reply button and ask her if it was really her that was writing. I am a cynic by exposure to such mails from people unknown to me who seem to find my email from some place on the web and send me details of the number of millions that I have won on some freakish lottery! But this was not someone unknown. It was my niece! My second oldest aunt’s first daughters’ first child! (Saying it like that makes it sound almost like an unknown person now)

My second impulse was to show my husband the mail. He was already eying me suspiciously about what I was busy reading in the wee hours of the morning. He gallantly suggested that I immediately write to her and get a phone contact so that we could call her. The moment he said phone, I decided to wait till it was breaking dawn at Bangalore where my cousin lives. I called her to check if she knew of this unhappy incident with her daughter.  I didn’t get that far into the conversation.  The moment I identified myself on phone she said

“ It is a spam mail ”

My cousin was up from 12 midnight receiving calls from all the people that had mysteriously been marked the email in question. She said that the only good thing from this unfortunate incident was that, judging from the calls received, she was now convinced that there were several people in the World that really cared about her daughter!

Author’s note – Even though I may have written about this on a light note, the idea behind making this into a blog post was to create an awareness of such spam mails that have been making its rounds. Such mails are very unsettling and a waste of time. I googled and found out that this email specifically has been making its rounds since April 2010. And such emails written with the intent of conning and extortion are classified as 419 scams (That is easy to remember. One less than 420 which is fraud)