Every year a few hundred thousand or maybe more Indians wake up early to watch TV on one particular day; there is also a very good possibility that a few hundred of them might live tweet their actions in the coming hours, and I was among those who longed to that till some days back. It is not that I have attained enlightenment over the fact that the Academy Awards do not serve any purpose, but it is just that a sudden torrent of resentment and disinterest about the whole thing that flowed into me.

I watch movies; I read about them, feel happy about upcoming ones and worry over how things went bad and about issues I have no control over. They are not an entertainment or a welcome distraction as it is put these days, to me. Movies are part of my life, more than I would like to admit. But then shouldn’t I be up Monday morning with the rest of all?


The Academy Awards is a big scale reproduction of a school painting contest. A school painting contest is held on important occasions such as Children’s day/Independence Day/Republic Day where the kids are asked to draw on topics such as My Pet/My house/Chacha Nehru/Chacha Chaudhary etc and is judged by an art teacher or any designated person. In a way a school painting competition is slightly fair when compared to the Academy Awards simply because it (The Academy) gives out the naked man with the sword and reel to those which it feels fit and there is not even a topic.

So when there is no particular parameter on which these different movies are judged, I am unable to think how these movies are chosen. Continuing with my previous example let us say that a child has a dog for his pet while a girl sketches a pigeon what would you choose and how would decide the quality of the drawing.

Ok, I know that relating the Academy Awards to a School competition might be belittling it; but how will you rate between George Clooney in the Descendants and Brad Pitt in Money Ball. Both are essentially two different films and individual performances will heavily depend on the subject matter and the capacity of the actor. The latter factor has guaranteed their nomination, but by choosing Clooney over Pitt (or vice versa) wouldn’t we be implying that a film on a dysfunctional family is a better film than a story about an underdog baseball team?

Or maybe there is a group of cinematic geniuses who can conjure up a complex mathematical formula to rate the frown of Clooney and compare that with the frown/sigh (or whatever) of Pitt.

So in the end, I believe it is a question of personal tastes and choices of the five thousand odd voters of the academy and this stand of my mine holds good for any awards or film festival. In the end it is a matter of choice and everybody want their favorite to win.

That brings me to a more important question. Should movies be rated, should they allotted marks out of hundred in a chalk like font like the Ananda Vikatan does every week? Is it necessary to rate a movie in order to differentiate it from the bad ones? Shouldn’t the choice options be ‘like’ and ‘don’t like’ rather than adjectives like ‘on par with the masters’ and ‘modern classic. Even these are in a way personal opinions projected on a scale equal to the 70mm screen on which these movies are shown. They maybe cumulative, but they are not ultimate.

There is no doubt; the awards are a welcome boost to all those involved in the film and the prospects of the film doing even better can only increase after an Academy Award. But are we really watching the Best Film of the year or the Best Film according to them?

As I sit here, going through endless predictions and promotions I can only feel that the Oscars are more about the celebration of television programming than the celebration of films.


Watch films.

Not Awards.

<yes yes, I’ll read about the results later online>








<DIRECTIONS: Three friends named Alfred Hitchcock, Jimmy Stewart and Ramabhadran walk into a restaurant which is just  about to be closed, few waiters are seen smoking and watching entertainment news while one was yelling at his wife as to how bad his life can ever be. Ramabhadran takes note of that particular waiter’s language. The three friends have just finished watching a spy thriller and all three of them had different views on the same. They take the middle table because it is the only one available. A Chinese flower vase with fake flowers is placed at the centre of the table.>

Narrator<arrange for Amitabh Bachchan to narrate, otherwise Kamal Haasan, do not even think about Gautham Menon. Please!>

Narrator: It was ten minutes to eleven, when the three friends sit down for dinner. Only nature, or if you believe in God would have brought these three people to forge this friendship.

< zoom at their faces as the narrator speaks a few lines on them>

Alfred Hitchcock, Hitch to his friends was a topper right from school. He does not like the number two and has made number one his own, topping classes, divisions,districts,cities,states and countries. He even orders first. His interests apart from coming first include paintings and foreign food. He will eventually become The President of the United States just because the aircraft is called Air Force One.

Jimmy Stewart, Jimmy to all was a topper in school, he then asked himself,” what’s the point?” and later was happy to come second. His other interests include quizzing and cycling. He currently heads a bio recycling company and dreams of taking pictures of penguins and tagging his friends on facebook. He will never become the president of the United States.

Ramabhadran, nothing to friends was never a topper in school. Till the 12th standard he thought topper was an energy drink. He currently sits on the obituary desk of once popular ladies magazine. He does not have other interests because the death rate is too high and most of the time is spent writing obituaries.

The relationship between them is cordial but not inclusive.

It is only moments later that Ramabhadran realizes that it is a high-end restaurant which steals extra money by levying multiple taxes like waiter’s daughter’s education fund tax. Ramabhadran realizes this only after seeing the menu card. The Menu card shaped like a chariot had been specifically designed by a Brazilian architect.

Hitch knows this architect very well, in fact he has dined with him during his last trip to Rio Di janerio where he had gone to conduct a school quiz on contemporary architecture and medieval paintings. So Hitch begins speaking about him.

Hitch: he is an amazing fellow; he has this abstract quality, the texture Oh wonderful.

<Narrator: while Jimmy is able to appreciate the opinion, Ramabhadran was trying to understand what abstract meant. When he gets the chance to view the menu card he is disappointed that none of the food items he knows is on the list>

Hitch: One Pasta alla Norma! <He says with gusto>

Jimmy: Oh! So you like Italian too. It is my favourite, let’s see what else they have<signals to the waiter>

<Jimmy later goes through a lot of names with the waiter and then arrives at what seems like a nice collection of local swear words to Ramabhadran>

Ramabhadran<to himself, quietly>: why didn’t I even look at the name boards before entering.

Hitch<in a more serious tone, something akin to that of an explaining principal> The Pasta Alla Norma was invented in the famed kitchens of Sicily and takes its name from an Opera, you know?

Jimmy: Oh, I know opera. You really require a higher frame of mind to appreciate them, I never get to here good Opera here in Madras.


<Ramabhadran looks at both of them, although he did not know what an Opera was, judging from the conversation that just ended he decided that it was something he could never understand. He was also under social pressure because he had not ordered anything>

Hitch<to Ramabhadran>: why don’t you try the Macaroni salad.

<Hitch said like ‘sa-laad’ and not ‘salud’ as how Ramabhadran knew it>

<Ramabhadran smiled politely and continued to look into the unfathomable menu card, he knew about salads to some extent; it was what prescribed to old men who could not control their diet and additionally he had attended a DIY fruit salad class in his fifth standard and it had tasted quite sweet. But he did not want to have any such thing, in two more minutes he would hit upon an idea>


<Hitch and Jimmy are discussing a small painting on the opposite wall, if not for their over indulgence on the project they would have realised that the painting was done as summer project by the three year old son of the restaurant’s owner. The son was now five and still continued to pursue the arts>

Hitch: Picasso, definitely!<he says with utmost confidence, so much so that if Picasso had been there, he would have been proud>

Jimmy: Are you sure?

<Makes an irritated face at Hitch> Just look at those curves on the edge, too scratchy and look<points a brown patch in the center> Look, so uncharacteristic of him.>

<Hitch looks closely, all along he had taken Jimmy to be not so knowledgeable and was sure Ramabhadran didn’t know a thing, he realised that it would be better to play it say>

Hitch: Hmmm, Jimmy I see your point but it could have been from a very early period. You know he was very productive.

<just at the moment an idea strikes Ramabhadran, zoom to show bright smiling face>

Ramabhadran: Waiter! Waiter!<calls with a sense of urgency>

Waiter<silently sneering>: yes sir, I see that you have made up your mind.

Ramabhadran: One La Dose Vita please and that will be all.

Waiter: Sir<alarmed> could you please repeat that?

Ramabhadran:<irritated> La Dose Vita!!! Now don’t tell me you don’t have them.

Waiter: But sir…

Ramabhadran: Kindly checks with your kitchens please, do not waste my time.

<waiter walks away slowly, something unbelievable had just happened. Meanwhile Hitch and Jimmy suspend their discussion on Picasso to see what was really happening>

Hitch: What did you just order?

Ramabhadran: How many times do I have to say it, La Dose Vita. Now don’t tell me you haven’t had it.

Hitch: Oh of course I have, I lived six months in Italy if you remember. My employers said that I could speak Latin as good as the classical masters. Of course I have tasted La Dose Vita, nice taste you have.

<Jimmy had no option but to agree, but he had bought Hitch’s reply to about 80% and was already happy that he was able to impress Hitch on the Picasso discussion>

Jimmy: yes yes, very fine selection indeed. It is so full that you would not need anything more to eat.

Ramabhadran<to some relief>: Exactly why i ordered it, even the most basic of Italian restaurants should have it.

<Waiter returns at exactly the same moment>

Waiter: Sorry sir, we do not have La…umm the dish u ordered.

Ramabhadran<bursting out like an Italian volcano>: What! I cannot take this embarrassment, an Italian restaurant which does not even have the most basic of choices…..

<Ramabhadran continues on his rant, while the waiter interrupts intermittently by saying sorry>

Ramabhadran: I’ll have nothing of this, I refuse to eat at such a place.

<Walks out furiously, but not quickly so that everybody looks at him. Hitch and Jimmy have no other option but to look at each other’s faces and complete their dinner>

<Setting changes, it is an empty parking lot and its darkness is dispelled by the small blinking light coming from Ramabhadran’s mobile phone>

Ramabhadran: Amma!Do you have any leftover dosa maavu from today morning?, I couldn’t eat dinner here.

Amma: Yes yes, come home son.

<Ramabhadran walks slowly out of the building into the night, he walks slowly because he is afraid dogs might chase him. Scene ends>


<’the end’ flashes like this: THE END>










To read this series from the start , visit here


Extract from “The Book of the Unexplained”.


The old man was the first to be ‘corrupted’; it was an experiment the visitors were willing to attempt. It failed, the corruption however was easy. The visitors had knowledge of the fact that man could be easily corrupted. Maybe they took that saying a little too literally and they never tried it on the female of the species. That was too large an error.


E.L.Somu was at his usual corner at ‘The Honest Bookseller Co’ a not so fitting name to a shop which now predominantly dealt with watch service and paper plate sales. The books had receded to the other end of the shop, then end which had an undusted corner which could accommodate an antique stool on which rested the mind and body of pulp writer E.L.Somu.

Maran was late for the unofficial appointment; he was only late because it was unofficial. For an officer who was working in 21st century Madras, Maran was moderately honest but he still had those guilty gulps when he looked at his vintage BSA A7, it was one of the many reasons he never shows it around as much as he should. Nights, he spent thinking whether he should give it away to some charity, but only her beauty prevented him from doing it, also it was cool for a detective to own a vintage vehicle and he had known many heroes who had such beauties. She, now rested in his backyard silent, but clean.

Through the glass panes of the bookshop, he located his brother the writer  flipping through pages and having the familiar expression, that everything in other books had been stolen from his brain. Maran chuckled, technically they were not brothers. They did not share any parent, but had grown up in the same household. Their back-story would have made an interesting premise to a Tamil movie, but nobody was interested in making interesting movies anymore.

The same balding man still operated the door, but this time he had lost one or two of his front teeth, the man saluted Maran in the same bad way and smiled in a manner which would narrate his poverty to even the most uncaring of observers. Maran smiled back in the same way and quietly enquiring about the man’s school going daughter while he passed the dirt accumulated shelves of stuff nobody has ever wanted to buy for the past many years.

There sat Somu with his eyes fixed into whatever he was reading, pierced the black and white as it were subatomic particles, he then looked up at his brother. They did not exchange pleasantries.

“A man once gave me good career advice, never write books into chapters while you are at it, in the end just put the interesting bits in the last page; so that you don’t need to bother much about content”

“I assume you never followed that advice” said Maran while leaning on to look what book his brother was reading. It was about the small savings scheme for farmers brought out by the government in the seventies.

“I tried, I really did but sometime through the whole painful exercise I thought I was being out of character! Somu never follows advice, Somu just writes. Just puts word to paper”

“I’m sure the Gyanpith committee would look into that angle as well” Maran chided. They both laughed, only Somu did it with half concealed contempt.

“If some common man gets a call from his brother, he fears. He is afraid if his brother might ask him for extra money, tell tales about the house rent being paid or a whore’s fee left unsettled, but Detective Inspector Maran does not fear, he responds immediately by coming. That is some sort of honor”

“I know you don’t need money, at least not now and you know that I can’t afford to lend you any. Now what is it, this time?”


“Aliens, Maran aliens! They must be here somewhere or they must be as intelligent as they are shown in those Hollywood films I used to see from time to time” Somu began on his drawn out rant while Maran sighed. Sensing his brother’s minute irritation he decided to slow down and said.

“Stop it will you, already half of this state think and I’m mad. Not that I am complaining, sources tell me that it is only because of the supposed madness my books sell. So you are the only channel to which I can address my problems with some amount of seriousness, so listen”

“Umm…simply because your problems aren’t what normal people have, that should tell you about finding solutions to those. Why don’t you tell your wife?”

“She is too young”

“She is thirty, which is twenty years away from young!”

“Maran, if only you would get married you would understand”

“A good detective never gets married” Maran said as he pulled out another stool and with palms on his dusty black pants.

“That’s not even your line” Somu smiled.