Watching “Vettai” was a good way to kick start this years Kollywood entertainment line up. The story of a mousy cop who takes a 360 degree turn to become a lion has been done many times in the past, but the screenplay of “Vettai” has a fresh take on this concept. The story of 2 brothers – one, a mouse and the other, a lion (I mean their personalities) and their hunt for two of the most feared gangsters in Tuticorin while findng the time to romance and jest around keeps viewers entertained through out the movie. Keeping in tune with M2M’s straight forward style of talking about movies here is a dose of why you should and shouldn’t watch “Vettai” (For all you non-Tamil speaking folks, “Vettai” translated in Tamil means “Hunt”
Reasons to Watch Vettai
Madhavan – Charming as ever! He may not quite look like the chocolate boy of the past but only an actor like him can make the role of a mousy personality charming! Also it takes a lot of courage and security for a senior actor of his caliber to tackle a role that is not as heroic as heroes of tamil cinema are intended to be. Hats off to Maddy!
Arya – This actor has come a long way. Here is an actor that looks good and can also act. He pulls of the personality of the courageous younger brother perfectly while taking care of comedy and romance. He breezes through the action sequences and gets the full attention of viewers as he delivers savvy dialogues with the villains.
The chemistry between Madhavan and Arya – The viewer can easily imagine that these two could be brothers in real life (barring the super hero stuff of course)
Heroines Sameera Reddy and Amala Paul – They manage to look smart and their roles are not as dumb as is common with the roles of leading ladies in hero oriented movies. They make their entrance singing a song about the kind of man they want to marry and it was amusing to note that their list of demands is pretty similar to the ones that girls make these days!!
There is actually a story!! It may not be the most original or the most exciting or very obvious but its there…..
The absence of a comedy actor! The humor is beautifully interlaced with the rest of the story and the actors themselves take care of this aspect of this movie! It was definitely refreshing to note the absence of a Santhanam, Vadivelu or Vivek with separate tracks of their own!
The villain – Bollywood actor Ashuthosh Rana does a great job as he makes a splash on Tamil screens as the bad guy. He has great screen presence and pulls of the role of an urbane rural bad guy to the T! Looks like South Indian cinema has found another baddie from the North!!
The supporting cast of the movie is pretty good.
The songs were easy on the ears and choreographed well, though I couldn’t recall any of the songs once outside the theatre…
The action sequences were stylishly choreographed and balanced throughout the movie and absence of gore made these scenes more digestible. The last 15 minutes were a drag but this can be looked over!
Reasons not to watch Vettai
You don’t like any of the main actors.
You don’t like the influences of other cop movies while you are watching a cop movie! I thought some scenes were inspired by the Vikram starrer “Saamy”
You don’t like super hero stunts!! But then what Indian masala potboiler is made without this aspect??
You like “item numbers” in the films you watch – this is blissfully absent in this movie!
You are the type that watches serious cinema
Verdict: It’s worth the watch if you love total entertainers! Full marks for “paisa vasool” !!
Located in the back yard of an old T.Nagar home converted to a restaurant, dining at the “The Pasta Bar” is probably similar to how suburban Italians dine at their favorite café’s. Contrary to its name, the place has more on its menu than just pastas 🙂 The menu is a jamboree of pastas, pizzas, dishes from the grill, Italian sandwiches, coffees, smoothies and deserts
From a very colorful and interesting menu loaded with interesting tidbits about Italy, we decided to start with the “Pomodoro e Basilico Zuppa” / Tomato Basil Soup and Cheese garlic bread! Though not an ardent soup lover at restaurants, I have to say the medley of real tomato puree cooked with sautéed onions, basil and other spices has made me want to declare this as the most authentic tomato soup I have ever tasted! We teamed this up with some Cheese garlic bread – warm toasted bread topped with melted mozzarella finished off with some oregano sprinkle! The combination was a winner!
We settled for the “Crepes con Ricotta e Spinaci” – crepes filled with a mixture of sautéed spinach, seasoned ricotta and cheddar cheese baked in cheese sauce with some jalapenos thrown in (per request) and the Pizza Diavolo which was a concoction of bell peppers, roasted vegetables, onions, chilli, tomato, olives, basil and mozzarella on a thin crust.
After having tasted pasta with the usual white and red sauces the crepe that was baked with just the right amount of white sauce was a welcome change. It was served with a slice of steamed and seasoned carrot, cauliflower, broccoli, mashed potato and toasted bread to boot!! The crepe was polished off in no time and the spinach made me feel lest guilty 🙂
And the pizza…..ah…. that was good. There are no better words to describe this tasty, veggie goodness!
I loved the ambiance of the restaurant with subtle lightening with sketches from the scenes of Venice and other Italian cities on the wall which appealed to the art lover in me. From where we sat, I also had a direct view of their espresso machine and as the sounds of preparing hot espressos and steamed cappuccinos accompanied my thoughts and conversations, it was the perfect night out at a great place in the city!
The restaurant also has an outdoor seating, complete with a tree right in the midst of the tables! As I mentioned at the beginning of the post this was probably the back yard of an old charming home. The indoor seating is situated at a slightly higher lever compared to the outdoor seating, giving it an illusion of cafes that could be situated along the banks of the Venetian canals. The staff were friendly, the service was good and we were even offered a tour of the kitchen that we respectfully declined due to time constraints. Most importantly the prices didn’t burn a hole in our wallets! A meal for two with a soup, appetizer and 2 main courses will probably cost around Rs.600!
As of date the restaurant has branches at Burkit road, T.Nagr and Alsa mall, Egmore! They expect to open few more branches, including one at OMR by the end of the first quarter of 2012. They also do takeout and deliver is most areas of Chennai.
M2M recommended for anyone looking for good Italian dining experience without the sky high prices. For more details check them out at http://www.thepastabarveneto.com/ (Yes!! they actually have a good website!!)
M2M introduces you to some of our pretty winged friends in the city!! This thoroughly researched, interesting and informative post on some of the birds found in Chennai is brought to you by our guest blogger Ramesh. Ramesh who has recently moved back to Chennai is an avid reader, photographer and blogger who blogs at Engram’s Random Rambling – Thanks Ramesh!!!
Warning– Long Post ahead.
All photographs on this post are owned by Ramesh. Please contact him on his blog in case you would like to use them.
There are over 130 species of birds in Chennai region and can be seen in pockets of spaces like the IIT campus, Guindy National Park, Theosophical Society Gardens and Adyar Estuary. This photo post is basically about the birds that I have seen in the vicinity of my house at Perungudi in mornings chirping and tweeting. Being a suburb this place is uncluttered unlike the city ,with independent houses and quite few empty plots filled up with dense bushes and it attracts quite a few species of birds, in addition the usual crows, mynas and sparrows there has been few birds I saw for the first time here. Here are the photographs of those birds taken by me. Bird description- Courtesy Wikipedia.
The Common Hawk-Cuckoo (Hierococcyx varius), popularly known as the Brain fever bird, is a medium sized Cuckoo resident in South Asia It bears a close resemblance to the Shikara a sparrow hawk, even in its style of flying and landing on a perch. The resemblance to hawks gives this group the generic name of hawk-cuckoo and like many other cuckoos these are brood parasites laying their eggs in nests of babblers. During their breeding season in summer males produce loud, repetitive three note calls that are well-rendered as brain-fever, the second note being longer and higher pitched. These notes rise to a crescendo before ending abruptly and repeat after a few minutes, the calling may go on through the day, well after dusk and before dawn.
The Common Hawk-Cuckoo is a medium to large sized cuckoo, about the size of a pigeon (ca. 34 cm). The plumage is ashy grey above; whitish below, cross-barred with brown. The tail is broadly barred. The sexes are alike. They have a distinctive yellow eye ring. Sub adults have the breast streaked, similar to the immature Shikara, and there are large brown chevron marks on the belly.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainfever_Bird – cite_note-pcr-3 At first glance they can be mistaken for a hawk. When flying they use a flap and glide style that resembles that of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sparrowhawk sparrow hawk and flying upwards and landing on a perch they shake their tails from side to side. Many small and birds and squirrels raise alarm just as they would in the presence of a hawk. The sexes are alike but males tend to be larger. During summer months, before the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsoon monsoons, the males are easily detected by their repeated calls but can be difficult to spot. The call is a loud screaming three-note call, repeated 5 or 6 times, rising in crescendo and ending abruptly. It is heard throughout the day and frequently during moonlit nights.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainfever_Bird – cite_note-ali-daniel-6The calls of females are a series of grating notes.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainfever_Bird – cite_note-hbk-4 Common Hawk-Cuckoos feed mainly on insects and are specialized feeders that can handle hairy. Caterpillar guts often containing toxins and like many cuckoos they remove the guts by pressing the caterpillar and rubbing it on a branch before swallowing it. The hairs are swallowed with the caterpillar and are separated in the stomach and regurgitated as a pellet.
The White-throated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) also known as the White-breasted Kingfisher or Smyrna Kingfisher, is a tree kingfisher widely distributed in Eurasia from Bulgaria, Turkey, east through South Asia to the Philippines. This http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingfisherkingfisher is a resident over much of its range, although some populations may make short distance movements. It can often be found well away from water where it feeds on a wide range of prey that includes small reptiles, amphibians, crabs, small rodents and even birds.
During the breeding season they call loudly in the mornings from prominent perches including the tops of buildings in urban areas or on wires. This is a large kingfisher, 28 cm in length. The adult has a bright blue back, wings and tail. Its head, shoulders, flanks and lower belly are chestnut, and the throat and breast are white. The large bill and legs are bright red. The flight of the White-throated Kingfisher is rapid and direct, the short rounded wings whirring. In flight, large white patches are visible on the blue and black wings. Sexes are similar, but juveniles are a duller version of the adult.
Like other bee-eaters, this species is a richly colored, slender bird. It is about 9 inches (16–18 cm) long with about 2 inches made up by the elongated central tail-feathers. The sexes are not visually distinguishable. The entire plumage is bright green and tinged with blue especially on the chin and throat. The crown and upper back are tinged with golden rufous. The flight feathers are rufous washed with green and tipped with blackish. A fine black line runs in front of and behind the eye. The iris is crimson and the bill is black while the legs are dark grey. The feet are weak with the three toes joined at the base. Southeast Asian birds have rufous crown and face, and green under parts, whereas Arabian beludschicus has a green crown, blue face and bluish under parts. The wings are green and the beak is black. The elongated tail feathers are absent in juveniles. Sexes are alike. The call is a nasal trill tree-tree-tree-tree, usually given in flight.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Bee-eater – cite_note-whistler-2
The Eurasian Golden Oriole or simply Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) is the only member of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oriole Oriole family of passerine birds breeding in northern hemisphere temperate regions. It is a summer migrant in Europe and western Asia and spends the winter season in the central and southern http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africa Africa. Golden orioles have an extremely large range with large populations that are apparently stable. The male is striking in the typical oriole black and yellow plumage, but the female is a drabber green bird.
Orioles are shy, and even the male is remarkably difficult to see in the dappled yellow and green leaves of the canopy. In flight they look somewhat like a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrush_%28bird%29 thrush, strong and direct with some shallow dips over longer distances. They feed on insects and fruit. They build neat nests in tree forks and lay 3-6 eggs. Their call is a screech like a Jay, but the song is a beautiful fluting weela-wee-ooo or or-iii-ole, unmistakable once heard.
In addition to the above I did see Black Drongo and a honey bird but could not take a decent photograph of them. Also because of fish in the rain water stagnated in open plots we do get to see some egrets and drake flying in but I was unable to photograph them due to dense bushes.
January is not just the time for margazhi and kutcheri’s in Madras. It is also not just about the balmy weather and inviting sun ( about the only time its inviting in Madras), but it’s the place where the Tennis season kicks off each year. Well its one of the places, but for tennis fans in Madras, the Chennai Open is special.
It is the one chance each year to watch high quality men’s tennis, apart from the occasional Davis Cup tie of course.
It seems like yesterday when it all began. The Goldflake open, as it was known, began modestly enough, in 1997. Over the years though, the tournament has grown in stature and witnessed many star players from Richard Krajicek, to Boris Becker to Carlos Moya to even the great Rafael Nadal.
Madras can be referred to as the ‘tennis capital’ of India, if such a thing ever existed. It has produced players who have gone on to represent the country to great glory such as the Krishnans and the Amritrajs. Leander Paes, though originally from Kolkata, is a product of the Britannia Amritraj Tennis Academy in Chennai and has had an illustrious career dotted with several achievements. India’s current number 1 singles player Somdev Devvarman also hails from Chennai.
It is no surprise then, that despite sponsorship issues, the tournament has remained here, after just one year in New Delhi in 1996. The Chennai open has played host to many great players, and while not as well established as other tournaments such as Doha and Brisbane, it has its own band of loyal players such as Tipsarevic, Wawrinka and Cilic who keep coming back. Carlos Moya considered the Chennai open crowd akin to his home crowd, such was the vociferous support he used to receive and for the 2 years that Rafa played here, youngsters went completely crazy over their idol!
Right now the Chennai Open has a small tournament feel to it, which it rightly is. However, one hopes that the tournament stays in Madras in the future. This tournament is definitely one of the bright spots on the Madras event calendar.
Why should you watch the Chennai Open?
Star Gazing : While the Chennai Open may not always attract the best players, fans will almost always get to see some really great players. Philippousis, Canas, Moya, Rafa, Cilic, Srichappan, Berdych and Tipsarevic are some of the games top players who have played and continue to play in Chennai.
Lucky Charm: Those who do well at the Chennai open, usually end up having great careers or great years at the very least. How do we say this? Ok hows this for some evidence. Thomas Johannsen, won the Australian Open after playing at the Chennai Open. Paradon Srichhapan went on to break the top 10 after he played here. Tipsarevic who is Chennai open regular had a banner year last year and broke into the top 10! Rafa Nadal won Wimbledon by beating Roger Federer in what most experts claim to be the greatest match of all time, after…..? yes,that’s correct, he did participate in the Chennai open for 2 straight years before this happened ( exaggeration?.. umm maybe, but facts cannot be disputed ). Our very own Somdev Devvarman had his breakthrough year in 2009, after reaching the finals of the Chennai Open ( the atmosphere that day was electric by the way, Somi could do no wrong!). Finally, but most importantly, it all ‘began here’ for the Indian Express. The train left the Chennai station in 1999 and went on to become one of the legendary doubles pairings in tennis. Break up they may, but when they are on, they can shake up the doubles world!
Cheap Tickets: C’mon, where are you going to get tickets to a quality sporting event for 150 bucks? That’s a bargain, whichever way you look at it. M2M can vouch for viewing pleasure even from the top most stand, and if it isn’t so crowded, you can always sneak your way to a better seat.
Great Food: Yes, it’s true. The snacks here are excellent! The organizers have got this down pat!
Crowd Meter: The Madras crowd is universally well known to be knowledgeable and erudite, not just in tennis, but even for other sports. Who can forget the standing ovation given to the Pakistani cricket team after they won a nailbiter against the Indians in 1999? The tennis crowd is no different. Excited, cheerful, loud and yet well behaved- yes we rock!! We know our tennis, we know our backhands like the back of our hand and we will support both the players equally. It is no wonder that the players who come back, cite the crowd in particular.
Kancheevaram Central: Kancheevaram?? Yes you read that correctly. Our tennis stars get nothing less than a kancheevaram shawl along with their trophy. Next they may serve the filter coffee during the presentation ceremony, but what the heck! M2M thinks this rocks the cool meter and the players look bemused yet pleasantly surprised as they pose for the shutterbugs with the shawl and trophy! Expect an impromptu kutcheri someday!
Sightings: All the glitterati worth their salt usually show up during the last few days of the tourney and if you ever wanted to see that elusive Kollywood star or a certain great chess player, who also happens to hail from here, then this where you need to go!
Tennis: and Finally, the tennis. This is really all the reason you should ever need to go for this tournament. What it may lack in stars, it certainly makes up in intensity. Quality tennis, and good quality tennis is what you get served on a consistent basis. Young talented Indians, who otherwise struggle to break the surface in the highly competitive tennis world, due to sponsorship issues, get their much deserved break here. India’s got talent ladies and gentlemen! We don’t have the will to nurture these youngsters though! Come to the Chennai open to watch young stars like Yuki and Somdev, as well as golden seniors like Paes, Bhupati and Bopanna!
Are you still not convinced to go for the Chennai Open? ?? You’ve got to be kidding me!!! Well M2M may not be as persuasive, but we have an expert who knows a thing or two about tennis and Chennai and the Chennai open and we asked him what he thinks about the Chennai Open. Read on…
Sashankh Kale is one of themost ardent tennis fans in the city and an extremely knowledgeable one at that. M2M picked his brain on the past, present and future of the Chennai Open. Here’s what he thinks:
M2M: Since how long have you been attending the Chennai open?
Sashankh : I went to the tournament for the first time in 2006. Since then I have been going every year. Going on the first day has become a ritual.
M2M: What are some of your fondest memories at the Chennai open?
Sashankh: The year I saw Rafa reach the final. Watching Leander and Mahesh play Bopanna and Aisam in the final last year was also fun.
M2M: Name one player that you would like to see participate at the Chennai Open and why?
Sashankh: Roger Federer because he is one of the greatest mens players of all time. He is a phenomenal shotmaker and has the most elegant game. If not Roger, at least Del Potro or Tsonga would be fine. Both of them play a very explosive brand of tennis, which would be a treat to watch.
M2M: What is the Best aspect about the Chennai Open?
Sashankh: It has a very compact, efficient feel to it and it is quite well organized. The food is great too!
M2M: What would you like to see improve in the coming years?
Sashankh: Perhaps an increase in the prize money will bring in more highly-ranked players.
M2M: Given that the fate of the open is always under scanner due to sponsorship issues, erratic attendance and the inability to always pull in ‘big names’, what can be done to change this scenario for the better and make the Chennai open more popular among fans and players?
Sashankh:Except on the final day, it appears like there are a lot of empty seats in the stadium. Doling out less tickets to the sponsors and making more available through online booking or at the counters might be helpful to fill those seats. Perhaps there can be tennis clinics for youngsters where they can interact with the top players. Some contests where fans can win tickets for the matches too would be a good idea.
M2M: If you were made marketing director at the Chennai Open, what would you change or introduce?
Sashankh: Try roping in Coke or Pepsi as one of the sponsors. Those guys have a good deal of marketing budget. So why not tap into that? Try getting popular film-stars and cricketers to promote this event. Increasing the prize money from the present 450,000$ to say 600,000$ or 750,000$ would be good. This would move it to perhaps tier-3 status and would attract more high-ranked players. This is necessary since it is held at the same time as the tournament in Qatar.
Fascinating thoughts!! One wonders if the sponsors may read this someday. The possibilities are endless!!!
So, there you have it Chennaiwasi’s, and oh yes, this is where you need to be if you want to see Wawrinka beat a certain Roger…. Vasselin that is!! M2M hopes to see the love and support for this wonderful tournament growing. We don’t want to mess with a good thing, do we?
M2M started off the new year on a quest to attain Moksha at one of the states many quaint temples popular for its powerful God! We had the opportunity to visit the “Malai Mandala Perumal” temple also known as the “Giri Varadar” temple. The small, quaint and beautiful temple from the 16th century is located a few kilometers ahead of Kalpakkam [Chennai’s atomic research center]. In the past the temple was actually situated on a hill and was surrounded by water (hence the name “Giri Varadhar” – Giri in tamil translated to Hill) but with passage of time is now on land. If you observe carefully you can still find the slight slope of the temple grounds.
Though not a Divya Desam the Gods of this templeare considered to be extremely powerful. The temple is considered as an Abhimana Sthalam / Prarthanai Sthalam and is a place where devotees can fulfill promises to made to other Gods / temples such as Lord Srinivasa at Tirupathi, Guruvayoor etc.,
It was beautiful drive down ECR and past Mahabalipuram to get to Kalpakkam. We took the right at the old Sadras Dutch fort complete with cannons and brick walls and went straight from there. We drove through the narrow streets filled chock-o-block with the stores of a small town, markets, people, dogs, goats and more. We reached the charming temple at about 4:00PM and welcomed by the shrine of Hanuman located just outside the temple. The entrance to the temple is flanked by a sit out looked upon by Lord Ganesha.
Considering that we were amongst the first to enter the temple, the doors were literally opened to us! An interesting historical fact – the doors were constructed and fitted in 1603 and are 408 yrs old! There are no special “Vaikunda Ekadasi” celebrations at this temple as walking though these doors on any day is equivalent of the “Sorga Vaasal”[Gateway to Heaven]
The temple is the abode of Lord Vishnu in various forms:
Standing / Nindraan – This one is that of Lord Srinivasastanding at the main santum sanctorum. He is accompanied by Sridevi and Boodevi. More interesting features of this God are that:
The Sanku or Conch is at a higher level compared to the Chakra or Disc
One foot of the Lors is forward while the other foot remains slightly behind
Sridevi is taller than Bhoomidevi
Sitting / Irundaan – This one is that of LordLakshmi Narayana with the Goddess sitting on his lap. Legend has it that this was once his temple but he made way for Lord Srinivasa who appeared by himself (Swayambu) What this means is that the sculpture of Lord Srinivasa are not man made but appeared by itself with the advent of time.
Lying Down / Kidanthaan – This one is that of LordRanganatha carved out of a piece of stone
Another feature unique to this temple is that “Yoga Narasimha” can be found above the Dwarapalakas instead of the usual Goddess Lakshmi.
The temple is very popular for its Lord Garuda who is surrounded by 8 snakes. The head of the Garuda aligns directly with the foot of Lord Srinivasa. Praying to this Lord Garuda by lighting a ghee lamp is supposed to relieve those born with the naga sarpa dosham in their horoscopes.
The temple also has small shrines for a beautiful Shree Vishnu Durgai also known as Goddess Maya, Perundevi Thaayar and Goddess Andal
The temple was patronized by Vijayendra Chozha and then by the rules of the Vijayanagara dynasty and has been mentioned in many historical reports of the time. Also the giant bell that used to be present at this temple can now be found at a museum in China!! The first of the Azhvaars, Bhoothath Azhvaar, is said to have stayed here and is seen in a Gnana Mudra Posture. The temple was also visited by Lord Raghavendra who performed poojas here.
Fear not if you are unable to visit a temple for Vaikunta Ekadai or unable to full fill promised to made to other Gods; just visit the Malamandala Perumal Kovil and pay your respects to Giri Varadhar !
Note: Since M2M did not want to disturb the peace at the temple by taking photos inside it, you will notice that we don’t have any pictures of the God’s or Goddesses. However there are pictures available on the internet for interested readers.
Nope! We ain’t humming the song from 3 idiots nor talking about its Tamil version “Nanban”! M2M wanted to share with you an interesting scene, straight from the streets of Chennai…Mufflers and scarves (??) not withstanding, we Chennaites now need bonfires to stay warm during the month of “Marghazi”!! It’s kinda surprising to think that you need to keep warm in a city that has “barely there” winters! Thanks to global warming! These two guys seemed contented warming themselves in front of their bonfire out side a cozy cafe! Seriously it takes all types to make up this city and M2M was sorely tempted to sit with them, get warm and sing a few songs to ring in the new Year! Do Be Do Be Do Be rum paa rum…….
We’d like to leave yo with a few wise words from the bonfire man:
To Do Is To Be
To Be Is To Do
Do Be Do Be Do
If you don’t have a clue, please check out the guy’s T-shirt 🙂
Happy 2012 folks!!
Note: The picture quality is just average as M2M was not prepared to take a nigh photo!