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Mdeii life

Life, Film & other stuff

Updated: 2018-04-21T15:14:14.237+05:30


Tamil Cinema Flasafy


There is a general fear among sound mixers in Tamil cinema that the dialogue track might not be intelligible unless it is significantly louder than anything else. This means subtlety and any sort of voice dynamic acting suffers.

I have a feeling that it is not just the lack of standards in theatre audio that is the problem.

Tamil cinema works this way:
Most people are averse to any kind of innovation be it technical or aesthetic.
Most films do not succeed.

Consequently a film's failure is attributed to that innovation and then is promptly killed. If on the other hand a film succeeds then that innovation becomes fashionable enough to become the new dogma.

If a very subtly mixed track happens to feature in a hit film... my future is made.

Privacy, innovation, the credit crunch, and free-speech, via Hirschman


Chandrachoodan has has speculated that the clamour for privacy stifles innovation in web companies.In many respects I agree with him that as a voluntary subscriber of a service, one does tacitly agree to the potential risks that come with an innovative product. What if they steal my credit card number? What if they know how large my penis is? Well, bulk ordering condoms online does have such risks attached, but it is so much more convenient no? And who ever asked these people to buy those houses?Yet, there are certain things in his argument that don't cut it for me; and C being the nice chap he is had a brisk chat with me this morning so that I could clarify my arguments and write this here.His primary case is for hitherto undiscovered and gloriously beneficial uses of mined data. Now come on, what if there is conclusive proof that those whose visits to the Savita Bhabhi website consistently lasts more than 7.5 minutes everyday have erectile dysfunction? A strategically placed advertisement could save many relationships.Granted, mindless activism stifles innovation in the name of keeping the best interests of the consumer in mind. But dear Chandru comes up with an equally audacious Orwellian claim to highlight his point: "information about you is essential to safeguard you". For being respectable proud Capitalists, we tend to be extremely vary of any and every Commie trick. Unfortunatement!The market is self correcting, the market is perfect, and the market is good... and that is where we fuck up. For all this to be true, one needs to do two things: have a defined idea of what 'the market' is, and believe that optimum solutions are best solutions. i.e. make a value judgement (always positive in case of Capitalists and negative if your persuasion is Commie) of the 'market product'.In my continually evolving understanding, neither does the 'market' exist with finite definition, nor is it wise to call it 'good' (or bad). Any high-school nerd who reads Shaiva siddhantha via popular quantum mechanics will tell you that what we desire to understand just is... neither wave not particle. Well, the market is a process, an emergent process, and like the Shiva lingam... just is!So to attribute values to the outcome of a market process is dubious, more dubious is to assume positive externalities and enforce our limited understanding of the Market/Shivam to define and conserve it.As a result we believe that "information about you is essential to safeguard you". Why not? We did tell that guy who saw his bank taking up them securitized mortgages, "What on earth you complainin' about, you risk-averse commie nitwit? Don't you know this is the Market? If we sell a duff product, it is rejected. Plus look at what the credit agencies are saying?"Albert O Hirschman spoke about ‘exit’ and ‘voice’. Basically, as a consumer when you have the option to exit you do. When you have the option to voice, likewise. When exiting is difficult you voice, and when voicing is difficult you bloody well try and exit.In politics we call ‘voice’ free-speech. And that is because not all nations have open borders that somehow glorious market competition and consumer ‘exit’ will ensure freedom and justice. Unqualified free-speech is essential in the absence/limits of exit (or entry) options.Therefore, dissent is very much part of that emergent market process. If we think that dissent kills innovation, we must also remember that if there is money to be made of an innovative product, at-least the next bloody inventor will tailor his product to minimise consumer resistance or opposition. Therefore you have innovation as well as safeguards. And products evolve until we get extremely interesting things such as securitized mortgages. This belated, and therefore harder market correction is going to make that innovative product just that bit better.So it is not just wonky incentives, and copy-cat mentality that perpetuates stupid and risky products or web services. I[...]

Fundae putting and news roundup


Q: What do we usually say when we sign off?Ans: TataQ: What does Mork say when he signs off?Ans: Nano Nano!See, we are getting somewhere on this already. But wait, not yet done.Q: What does Mork mean in Rhyming Slang?Ans: WindyQ: What is name of the wind god?Ans: VaayuStay with me... this is taking us somewhere proper.Q: What is the name of Vaayu's son?Ans: HanumanSo there! That is Tata already telling Maruti, "Who's your daddy? I'm your daddy!"Q: But who is the real father of Maruti?Ans: Sanjay GandhiWhich makes Varun Gandhi the half-brother of Hanuman, (who headed the "Ram Sena"). See... now that explains why Varun hates muslims. But hang on, there is more.Q: Who else might be violating the model code of conduct, and why?Ans: Tata, by releasing Nano (linkthanks Ravikiran)Q: What else got Tata'd and Nano Nano'd out of India this week?Ans: IPLObjection milaad! எதிர் தரப்பு வக்கீல் சம்பந்தம் இல்லாத கேள்விகளை எழுப்பி சாட்சியை குழப்புகிறார். IPLக்கும் Model Codeக்கும் என்ன சம்பந்தம்?சம்பந்தம் இருக்கு yuvar aaner!Objection overruled. You may proceed!Q: Who heads the IPL?Ans: ModiQ: What is common between hating muslims, Tata Nano, and the name of the IPL boss?Ans: ModiWait a minute, that is cleverly avoiding first names...Q: Would anything that points to a Modi success be construed as violating the model code?Ans: MaybeBut that is a different Modi...Q: Where is the IPL being moved to?Ans: South AfricaQ: Who got Tata'd and Nano Nano'd out of South Africa this week?Ans: The Dalai LamaQ: Who else got Tata's and Nano Nano'd in South Africa in 1893?Ans: GandhiQ: Who did not do Tata or Nano Nano to Dalai Lama in 1959?Ans: NehruQ: What is the Nehru family called now?Ans: GandhiQ: What is common between Modi and Gandhi?Ans: There are two different Modis, and there were two different Gandhis, but all four are Gujjew namesQ: Talking about names, what is the Nano being called?Ans: The people's car among other thingsQ: Who else called what else the people's car?Ans: (Answer hidden due to violation of Godwin's law)Q: Who else hates the Dalai Lama?Ans: The people's republicQ: The Nano was originally supposed to be manufactured in?Ans: The people's state of West BengalQ: What is the state of the people of West Bengal?Ans: Pathetic (among other Ps)Q: Does West Bengal have an IPL team?Ans: The Kolkata Knight RidersQ: Do the Gujjews have an IPL team?Ans: The Baroda Bombers... no, they do not existHmm, I see a pattern here. Having an IPL team means not having a car factory...Q: Who co-owns the Kolkata Knight Riders?Ans: ChawlaQ: What is the name of the election commissioner?Ans: ChawlaQ: Who likes Chawla as election commissioner?Ans: The people's daily of ChennaiQ: Which other Tam has a spat with the IPL?Ans: ChidambaramQ: Which other comedian is as irritating as Chidambaram?Ans: Robin WilliamsQ: Is Chawla a Gujjew name?Ans: No, it is a Punjew nameQ: Do the Muslims hate the Jews?Ans: MaybeQ: Which Indian leader is compared to the most famous Jew hater of them all?Ans: Boderline Godwin's law violation, but ModiBut wait, if Modi hates Muslims, and Hitler hated Jews, and Muslims hate Jews, does Modi hate Hitler?It gets more complicated... If China hates the Dalai Lama and West Bengal loves China, but West Bengal lost Nano to Modi, and Hitler hated the Communists... do the the Communists hate Robin Williams?If N Ram loves Chawla, but hates the Dalai Lama, do the Kolkata Knight Riders love South Africa?If Chidambaram hates Modi, and Modi moves IPL, and Tata moves Nano factory, do the Punjews love Gandhi?If there are two Modis, two Gandhis and two Chawlas, does this explain the name of Varun's book of poems?As you can see, everything is connected... and as you ponder the profundity... it is time for me to say tata, nano nano!Tags: News, Fundae[...]

On why only pompous gits might read The Hindu


On the front page of today's Hindu is this classic headline:

"Order allowing plea challenging appointment of Ananth stayed" (link)

Now, unless you are Humphrey Appleby intent on throwing your interlocutor entirely out of the loop of understanding by unnecessarily, and by implication utterly callously employing a complicated syntax, thereby effacing your possibly deductible bias, while simultaneously projecting an air of informed formality and rigorous neutrality, obfuscating clarity by employing a redundant turn of phrase, and entirely out of the necessity of not creating unwanted non-negatives proving you are a pompous git, why would you write a headline such as that?

The Times of India on the other hand, spares our brains the gymnastics and says:
"HC backs Ananth as IIT-Madras head"


Can you think of other great headlines that can now be Hindufied? Here are a few. Add more in the comments.

Kurukshetra, 7th May 1040BC
Krishna clarifies stand on claims of his not referring to battle elephant while denying his lack of ignorance on the non-demise of Teacher's son

Jerusalem, 4th April 32
Pontius Pilate quashes rumours of his possible support to the alleged non-existence of the Judaen People's Front (J)

New Delhi, 30th January 1948
Paternal Parent of the Nation allegedly assaulted by possible man wielding projectile weapon resulting in no-uncertain termination of living functions of the former

Washinton DC, 20th July 1969
American President denies reports of him as not announcing possible lunar contact by humans

Benicio del காளை


One of the charms of Indian politics is in observing the string of dead people one is allowed to invoke in posters and campaigns. I remember watching on TV a chap who put up posters for Velupillai Prabhakaran's birthday (fateful day that was). Interestingly enough, that birthday boy poster had pictures of EVR Periyar and Ambedkar in it!! I suppose anything goes in Tamil Nadu.

A few days later I happened to be in southern AP (colloquially, an extension of northern Madras) and not to be outdone, Chiranjeevi had inducted Mother Teresa into his pantheon of duotone thumbnail mugs.

But recently, what had me cracking up was this:


Meandering thoughts roughly guided by UCSD, Ibn Battuta, and others


The University of California at San Diego runs this absolutely fascinating course called Making of the Modern World. Apart from a very interesting interdisciplinary (literature, history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, political science, and the fine arts) approach to understanding the world and its history, it boasts of some utterly engrossing lectures by Prof. Matthew Herbst.I first got to know of this when JK wrote about and linked to the MMW4 (fall semester) lectures that were being podcast. I promptly subscribed to the feed and was immediately hooked. Of course me being a slightly clumsy git, forgot to heed JK's warning, and only managed to get lectures 1 through 9 (plus 19 courtesy iTunes automation) before the podcast was killed and all its traces Stalinized. If anyone is reading this at all, I would be happy if you could help me get hold of the rest of the lectures. Thanks in advance.The early lectures of MMW4 that I have listened to now have kindled my interest in the 13th century Islamic world. I now want to go to Morocco and follow Ibn Battuta's travels. Would even love to go take that course at Eleanor Roosevelt College if I could (Alas I need to earn my booah no?). Have been advised by the lovely Adrianna that I should go to Turkey at least. Though I think learning Arabic and smoking up with some Sufis might only be a remote possibility.The other great history podcast I listen to is a vestige of my Radio 4 listening days in Bristol, In Our Time with Melvin Bragg. It is through this wonderful programme that I first got a deeper glance at the contributions of the medieval Islamic world. Heck, no Avicenna and Averroes, then no Thomas Aquinas, which means no Latin or Enlish Aristotle nor Plato, down to no Karl Popper even. So much so for western civilization Dr Pandey rightly calls it names! (OK that is a simplistic version of probable events, but you get the implications).Recently I have been putting some gyan on the Satin mailing list about fractals and religion and state and law and ideas and Jefferson and Iannaccone. Once I clarify my thoughts I might even blog it, but I now have a better understanding of the 13th century Islamic world. Contrast it with how things are today, and it is sad indeed how history has turned out to be.Meandering further on that thought, I recently finished reading William Dalrymple's The Last Mughal. The first thing that book taught me was a gentle questioning of Edward Said's critique of Orientalism, in the spirit I first encountered in Trautmann's Aryans and British India. Yet, the most important thing I took from Dalrymple's brilliant book was its Burkean warning about learning from history. And talking about books and history, Chapati Mystery has put together a mouth-watering list.Now, trying to cleverly reconnect my bibliophilic detour back to Prof Herbst's lecture, here is an interesting book he refers to: Before European Hegemony by Janet L. Abu-Lughod. (psst, dont be put off by words like subaltern and hegemony, yes it gets quite irritating after undergrad in places like Loyola or DU, but an open mind is always good). For someone like me who likes to dabble in economics, trade, politics, and their history, this book should be a very good place to spend some time in....(the curious punctuation above points to a general drought of any more clever ways of connecting the next random series of thoughts to the ones before)Interestingly, today's lazy afternoon TV watching yielded via Dan Cruickshank the knowledge of a Hindu Temple in Azerbaijan. Wikipedia says that:QuoteInscriptions in the temple in Sanskrit (in Nagari Devanagari script) and Punjabi (in Gurmukhi script) identify the sanctity as a place of Hindu and Sikh worship. These inscriptions date from Samvat 1725 to Samvat 1873, which though unambiguous references to the Hindu calendar, cannot be precisely dated since there is more than one Samvat calendar. Samvat 1725 could thus be ei[...]

H Shridhar RIP


Not a great thing to hear on your birthday. One of the first calls I received delivered the news that the man I look up to as a role model passed away.

Malfunctioning Technology, serendipity, and nostalgia


My bloglines feedreader has started playing truant. Yet again. It suddenly threw up the last 200 posts from almost every blog on the list, then it has now done something crazier, bringing up 200 posts from 2004 and 2005.

Now that is something. Errant technology arbitrarily showing glimpses from the past, bringing back memories.

The tsunami blog was abuzz with activity, BBC news spoke of fans being in the wrong queues for the latest Star Wars film. The BBC's now closed Discovering Music podcast briefly was on again. Complete irony happened when bloglines also threw up a Boing Boing post from Nov 2004 about badly behaved RSS readers.

I was completely moved when it showed that Lalita Mukherjea's blog had new unread posts for me. Best of all was that the old Maanga came back alive, including a post from Sep 13 2006, which TON had personally addressed to me. I know you are reading this. I love you TON, and miss your writing!

Ancient History of Test Cricket


Dr Pandey writes about the Ancient History of Test Cricket in his family blog.

What I learnt from Obama


Actually what Toyota first taught, Obama has reaffirmed. A campaign and a product which understands and exploits current circumstances can destroy all myths about what a country will or will not accept and make popular. Now I'm even more confident of breaking into the American movie market. Hollywood is too caught up its complexities anyway.

Viva La Vida Reading



Frankly all I know about Frida Kahlo is what Sharanya told me when she swapped my freaky fizzy drink for a shot of ginger ale. But I was already sold because Salma Hayek played her in the movie.

Venue: Madras War Cemetery, Nandambakkam, Chennai
Sunday, 6th July 2008 at 10 AM

chandrachoodan(at)gmail(dot)com (98844 67463)

A Crisis of Faith


Having convinced myself that everything has an explanation, I find myself in the unenviable position of both going through a lot of trouble, and being unable to explain it in any rational way.

Worse: Having convinced myself that since everything has an explanation, anything can be sorted out, was something I shouldn't have erroneously believed in!

Sometimes I suppose things are not just beyond your control, but beyond understanding, and that is when you should not try to 'fix it'!

Woe, and a quest for reasonable explanations


Miracles don't happen, accepted. But what about coincidences, regression to the mean, blind luck, or generally positive randomness? You know, the stuff that makes people believe in miracles. What if they don't seem to be working as well? If things just happen to be one steep descent into the darkness, you think there is something really screwy and sinister, and this tends to make you believe in sabotage and conspiracies.

Now in my coldly moral scheme of things, imagined persecution and miracles both occupy roughly the same place. But somehow social reinforcement and a general optimism places miracles at a higher pedestal with a sincere incentive to believe in it.

That leaves me in a bit of trouble doesn't it? You would call that the optimists curse.

The relentless string of flops, disappointments, shocks, and hurdles would then have to be understood as being part of an even larger randomness, and that I have not given it sufficient time or space to even out. Or maybe, and it is quite possible, this rough patch (if it ever ends) is actually a long overdue 'correction' for all the 'miracles' that have happened before.

So, being a recipient of good fortune in the past comes back to bite as well. Shit!

One way is to not look at the 'fruits of labour' at all, and transform the optimism miracle-belief into a total surrender to its will. Vaishnavism is so damn tempting, just that it would involve Iyengars!

The other option would be to abandon optimism, and endure the great levelling with a Hobbesian resignation. I might be getting it wrong here, but I have a strong suspicion that this quasi-essentialist argument would combine with some amount of reasonable self-pity to drive me to eventually clamor for theothernilu's proposed Bastard Quota. That is way too off my taste, even in the worst of times.

For a self-proclaimed optimist, I do seem to be able to only divine rather nasty options for myself. Could just be the sign of the times. Or probably I just need to go get a life!

PS: Now wait! I might be getting the entire premise wrong. What if there is no 'great levelling'? What if the randomness is not Gaussian, yet not chaotically so, but exhibits a stable Paretian trend? Hmm... I think I need to think about that. Maybe optimism is not that bad after all. Now how do I go about measuring these things?



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We feed crows every morning, and every time I have set up to take pictures of them eating hot rice like good brahmin ancestors, they never turned up. Too smart to be seen on camera I suppose.



Priya Venkatesan has become the latest, and best ever to have scuttled another Mrs Pandey draft post. In fact she has absolutely rattled the poor old woman.

Chennai Super Kings are alright, but so far my favourite player has been Piyush Chawla.

I have been out in the sun (briefly) and it is not as hot as it could be. The evenings are splendid.

In three years time when the global film industry goes through another lull, I have an idea that could potentially rake in millions (no, not just betting on it to go through the said slump). BTW for those of you still interested, some of the latest FICCI figures for the Indian E&M industry do not add up, or are terrible typos, or both.

Since I am not into substance abuse, please tell me how else I could give my wit and spirit a 'shot-in-the-arm' that would last a few weeks at-least. I badly need it. Please do not suggest a holiday as I cannot immediately afford one. So whatever you suggest should be feasible within my current work schedule. Thanks.



Once in a while there comes along an interesting project brought to you by some very talented people. Here you can find a set of recordings I made of the very talented Sharanya Manivannan reading from her forthcoming book Witchcraft.

Flickr Pro


I've finally decided to pay for something that's an online service. I've gone Pro on Flickr. Check out my pictures here. Having invested in a யானை of a camera, might as well get the அங்குசம்!

Oh! One of the advantages of working where I do is the facility to get pictures of things such as this.


Seemingly innocuous, retro cool even, but certainly, utterly, even meaninglessly fetishistic... a little piece of Tamil movie history. If interested I could actually get you a list of songs recorded on this machine, from the engineers who did most of the recordings.

RIP Minghella


The one time I met 'Ant' was when I blagged my way into his masterclass at the Watershed at Brief Encounters 2005. He was scripting Breaking and Entering then. I greatly admire his work on The English Patient and Cold Mountain. Minghella was a close collaborator of my favourite movie geek Walter Murch.

The book I'm currently reading, Charles Koppelman's Behind the Seen is a fascinating look at how Murch worked on Cold Mountain, and provides lots of insights into Anthony Minghella's workings as well. Was also lining up a viewing of Breaking and Entering, DVD courtesy a dear cousin. I shall now read the rest of the book and watch the movie, with a little bit of regret.



In the absence of technology other than standard definition, static, normal-speed television cameras, when the field umpires refer things like small edges and LBWs to the third, then they are almost never given out.

Constructive Editing


David Bordwell writes this very enlightening piece about the history and the practice of constructive editing, and aptly titles it “What happens between shots happens between your ears”. Well worth a read.

What are the Pakistanis on?


I know little about self-reported happiness research, but this observation by Dani Rodrik is quite interesting and amusing.

Now what are the Pakistani's on? Bollywood again?

Comic book artists


Not quite Goscinny & Uderzo yet, but Mihir and I are getting there. This piece at Mihir's excellent illustration blog is the result of a little workshop we attended with French artist François Dermaut. The story was something that came up at the event, and the two of us decided to team up to storyboard and illustrate it.

The picture at The Hindu's website has Mihir talking to Dermaut, and in the far right corner standing behind Mihir, you can see me (actually only the piece of chart I was holding) in my very last public appearance sporting long hair.



I do find the name a little boring, but that's an entirely different story.

What gets my goat is all these car-owning rich people who seem to be having ‘nightmares’ about all those irresponsible poor people who are suddenly now set to pollute the environment and clog up our streets.

I've come to demand an apology


Uh what for?

I don't appreciate being called a bastard!

Fair enough!
(turns around to rest of team)
Which one of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?

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Now that's an idea for Brad Hogg!

The Battle of Hoth, papercraft style


This New Year, (for whatever a change of date matters) I decided to finish last-year's unfinished business before resolving to take up anything new.

My papercraft AT-AT had been lying unfinished for a while now. Today, I decided to spend some quality time cutting and scoring and folding and pasting some limbs onto this baby.


For the full album including a picture of my own crumpled-t-shirted-in-messy-room-holidayness, visit my Facebook album Papercraft AT-AT.

Or if you drop in at my place, you can find me making funny ‘pew! pew! pew!’ laser sounds while manually articulating little paper gun-turrets.

You can find instructions and downloadable PDFs here. Yeah Yeah, the Japaneesu againu!