Friday, December 16, 2011

Permanent Vacation

It was another typical Monday.  Rows of cubicles were filled with sounds of feverish typing on the keyboards.  It was a busy day at the office and there was lots of work to be done.  Everyone was working hard.  Everyone… except Charumathi.  She was busy whining as usual... about the traffic, about the weather, about 'all the work' she has to do, about just about everything.

Her managers, Venkat and Santosh, were fuming, trying hard to keep their cool.  Even the usually calm Venkat was visibly upset.

"We’ve got a real problem here, Venkat.  We have to do something!"

"We will, we will.  Calm down." said Venkat, trying hard to console Santosh.

"When?  This has been going on for too long already.  She spends all day complaining, gets other people to do her work for her, and then complains that she has too much to do.  This is getting to be too much!"

"I know, I know.  We’ll come up with something. (short pause) Tell you what, let’s set up a meeting with her next week, and we’ll get to the bottom of this, ok?"

"Alright, fine" said Santosh begrudgingly.   No one hated "Charu the Complainer" the more than he did.  He despised her carelessness, her incompetence, her indifferent arrogance, pretty much everything about her.  He’s not one to be impressed with just a pretty face.  He labored on the rest of the week, fixated on the meeting to come, when could he finally Charumathi have it! 

The following Monday arrived and it was business as usual.  But something was different.  There was an eerie silence in the office.  There were no sounds of complaints screeching mercilessly through the air.  Finding this development rather strange, Venkat and Santosh instinctively headed straight to Charumathi’s cubicle, only to find her missing.  They searched for her all around the office and inquired everyone about her whereabouts but no one had seen or heard from her.  Both Venkat and Santosh were totally perplexed.  Finally they went to the HR office and spoke to the representative there.  The representative gave them the shock of their professional lives!

"Miss Charumathi has left the company."

"What?!?!" said Santosh and Venkat almost simultaneously.  Both were totally exasperated.

"Yes, here are her papers.  She turned them in last week."

How could she just leave without saying a word?!?!, they both were saying to themselves.  But they carried on with business as usual, chalking up this unfortunate event to be a blessing in disguise.  If nothing else, they wouldn't have to put up with
Charumathi's constant whining.

The next Monday rolled forward.  As Venkat and Santosh began the weekday, they both got an even bigger shock than before.  Charumathi was back at her desk! Santosh went directly there, looking totally confused. I must be hallucinating, he was thinking.

"What are you doing here?!?!"

"What does it look like?  I’m working, of course" said Charumathi arrogantly.

"I can see that. But why?"

"Because it’s my job"

"Since when?!?!  We all thought you left the company already!"

"I didn’t leave.  I just went on vacation for one week."


"Yes" said Charumathi, looking at Santosh like he was an incompetent fool.

"If you were going on vacation, don’t you think you should inform someone beforehand?!" asked Santosh. He was totally pissed off and exasperated by her attitude.

"I did.  I turned in my AVR form two weeks ago to HR."

Santosh just couldn't believe that she didn't inform her teammates or him or Venkat beforehand.  He was about to go off on Charumathi, but suddenly held back.  It was at that moment that he realized what had happened.  He dashed straight to Venkat’s office.  As the two men chatted, loud roars of laughter came from them both, which lasted several minutes.  After they regained their composure, they headed for Charumathi’s cubicle.

"Charu, you need to know something.  The ‘VR’ in AVR doesn’t stand for ‘vacation request’" said Venkat, barely able to control his laughter.

"It doesn’t?!" asked Charumathi, clearly looking worried.

"Nope.  Take a closer look" said Santosh, also grinning.  He showed her the form she filled out and pointed to the bottom of the page.

Charumathi looked at it nonchalantly at first, but then noticed a crucial detail she had previously missed.  The words she dreaded stared back at her:  Application for Voluntary Retirement!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Corporte World Lingo

The Corporate world is full of jargon, artificial-sounding buzzwords and inane catch-phrases, often rolled into one. As an IT Software developer who’s been in the industry for many years, I have been the recipient of many of these.  They say one thing but it means something totally different. I can’t help but roll my eyes every time I hear them.  Some of these may sound familiar -- check it out:

What they say: I need someone who can hit the ground running.
What it really means: It really means "I’m totally screwed. I desperately need someone to bail my sorry ass out of trouble." No one can hit the ground running -- you need time to at least assess what race you're in and who else is running.

What they say: Do you have the bandwidth?
What it really means: "You seem like your brain is fried. Can you pull yourself together to do this for me?"

What they say: Let's hit a home run.
What it really means: "I'm desperate to look good. It's the only thing that'll save me." (closely related to "hit the ground running").

What they say: You and I are not on the same page.
What it really means: "Get on my page. Your page is messed up."

What they say: Let's run the numbers and see how they look.
What it really means: "I know they look bad on first blush. But the true use of Excel is to keep changing the formulas until you find a format that makes the numbers look good."

What they say: My plate is full
What it really means: "Help I'm drowning with work" or "I would kill rather kill myself than to work on your project."

What they say: Let's close the loop
What it really means: "Let me make sure I'm not going to get into trouble for this one."

What they say: Let's touch base next week.
What it really means: "I don't want to talk to you now," or "You are on a short leash and you need to report back to me."

What they say: Keep this on your radar
What it really means: "This will come back to bite you...or me. So keep an eye on it."

What they say: Push the needle.
What it really means: "Take things to the next level"

What they sayLet’s Leverage what we can for this project.
What it really means: Lets recycle previous work as much as possible.

What they say: We always follows the best practices in the industry.
What it really means: We always do it how everyone else is doing it.

What they say: We truly believe that Project X will add value to the organization.
What it really means: We’re trying to come up with as many reasons as possible to justify our program's existence.

What they say: We believe our product will impact bottom line in a positive way
What it really means: Our program is going to make money for the company.

If you’re an IT coolie... oops, sorry I meant IT Software professional... like me, you’ve surely heard most (or all) of these.  If you have any more good ones like this, pass it on to me.... if you have the bandwidth! ;-)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Double Fault -- Part IV

After the physically and mentally exhausting match of the previous day, Vijay was looking a lot better at the awards ceremony, though understandably nowhere near 100%. Vijay and Miguel both entered the court upon much anticipation. Both players were heartily congratulated for their efforts.  There they both stood on Centre Court... one with an incredible defeat, and one with an amazing victory.

Finally, as Vijay held up the winner's trophy, all his emotions that he had held back for so long had finally poured out uncontrollably in the form of tears.  The floodgates of emotions were now open, and as the crowd cheered on loudly, there was hardly a dry eye in the stadium and no one was sitting down.  Vijay's friends were also all teary-eyed.  They knew the significance of this moment.  Vijay Rajagopalan had finally broken out of his winless slump, cleared all expectations and most of all, closed the book on Nisha for good! 

Through the course of one match, everyone got to see a young tennis player throw up…and grow up.  You never get to see that in one ticket!

A few days later, Roshni called Vijay over to tell him 'some important news'.  The two met at Marina Beach. 

“Vijay, I have something important to tell you”, says Roshni.

“Yeah, I know”, says Vijay with a knowing smile.

Roshni was shocked. “You do?  How?!”


Their eyes met… for a long time ..and the rest …is history!

Double Fault -- Part III

December was the only real "off-season" tennis players get, and he used that time to prepare hard for the Chennai Open, which he wanted to win very badly.  It would mean a lot to him to start off the year on a good note, but more importantly it would unload all the mental pressure of last year.

Vijay's opponent was Miguel Costa, a clay-court 'grinder' who likes to play long, drawn-out points to wear his opponent down.  Vijay had the power and shot-making, but Miguel had the relentless defense to negate Vijay's offense.  No free points from Miguel, Vijay had to earn them.

The first set was tight, but with a couple of good returns and a few big serves, Vijay wins the tiebreaker 7-6 (7-4).  But as the second set wore on, Miguel started to play more aggressive, impose his game more and started to get Vijay into those long, drawn-out rallies. 

Halfway through the second set, Nisha made her way into the stands.  She had bought a last minute ticket to see the match.  She was feeling remorseful for being so insensitive to Vijay.  She was all caught up in her joyful feeling of being engaged to a bigshot guy and didn't give enough thought to how she had hurt Vijay.  As luck would have it, the guy turned out to be a womanizing gigolo.  She was now totally ready to root for Vijay wholeheartedly.  Vijay's friends noticed her from the friends' box but gave her the cold shoulder.  Nisha would cheer on loudly throughout the match, but at this point it was too late to make any difference!  She was way up in the back rows and the enthusiastic Chennai crowd drowned her cheers.

The match was tight all the way, with neither man giving in an inch.  At 5-6, Vijay started to suddenly feel fatigued.  His stomach was bothering him.  He hadn't hydrated himself or ate properly that day, plus he was feeling rather tense.  At this point, his Thalassemia began to catch up with him. From this point, he was just going on sheer will!   He managed to hold and force a fifth set tiebreaker. This was it, it was make or break time… and both players knew it.  The match was almost 4 hours long, and Vijay’s only saving grace was the cool night air.

Vijay was fatigued badly, so he decided to shorten the points and play more aggressively.  I’m just gonna go for it, he said to himself. At this point, he was simply trying to survive the match, not really win it.  He was a wounded animal fighting back with a racquet and a ball.

The tiebreaker started with Miguel serving the first point.

0-0.  Vijay puts a good return in play and after a few penetrating shots, rips a vicious crosscourt forehand. 

1-0 Vijay. As Vijay serves a short second serve, Miguel rips a great return followed by a forehand winner down the line.

Then the unthinkable happens! Vijay suddenly feels nauseous, and starts to throw up on the court.  As he staggered, he leaned against the backboard, trying hard to gain his balance.  He was badly dehydrated and exhausted. As Miguel waits patiently, the crowd gasps nervously.  They wanted this win for their hero as badly as he did.  Vijay slowly gathers himself, wipes the excess vomit off his face as though it was nothing, and gets ready to serve.

1-1. Vijay serves a better first serve and hits a very aggressive backhand down the line, which throws off Miguel.  Miguel gets to the ball, but ends up hitting it long. 

The nervous crowd heaves a huge sigh of relief and let out a huge standing ovation!  They willed their hero through every point, cheering his name loudly and with immense gusto. 

And so the match would go back and forth, both Vijay and Miguel fighting for every point.  Between points, Vijay would hobble from one side of the court to the other like an old man.  He was only 23, but he was feeling like he was 53.  He fed off the crowd’s applause, using their emotions to gather enough fumes to play the next point. He was using them like a crutch, as he was barely able to move on his own. 

Each point felt like an entire set, and Vijay was going on pure adrenaline.  Miguel, on the other hand, was still fresh and ready to play for hours.  Both men wanted this win badly.  The guts were spilling on the court, both literally and figuratively!

6-6.  Miguel suddenly plays even more aggressively by hitting a big serve of his own, which forces a weak reply from Vijay.  Miguel puts away the easy shot for a winner.

Things seemed all but over.  One more point and Miguel Costa is the winner.

7-6 Miguel.  Vijay throws a changeup serve high to Miguel's backhand.  Miguel returns the ball short.  Vijay pounces on Miguel's weak return and sneaks into the net behind the shot.  Miguel sees this out of the corner of his eye and smartly plays a low backhand slice.  Vijay bends really low and picks the volley off  (almost off the floor!) crosscourt.  Miguel flicks the forehand crosscourt and hits a tremendous passing shot.. but Vijay throws everything in his being to lunge for the ball and glance it off his racquet for a clutch winner to save match point!!

After that miraculous save on match point, Vijay is all but spent.  He doesn't look like he has enough strength to stand up, let alone play another point all the way through!  A thousand things run through his mind. Should he quit? Should he go for broke?  If he doesn't win today, how long before he can win again and lift the emotional bag of bricks off his shoulders?!?!

7-7. Vijay hits a weak first serve that misses badly.  He takes his time and then out of nowhere hits a 2nd serve ace, stunning everyone, including himself!!  The crowd gives a standing ovation!

8-7 (Match point Vijay).  Miguel, still stunned from the previous ace, serves a fault.  He gathers himself to serve again, and all of a sudden, in a rare moment of fragility in an otherwise perfect match …serves a double fault!

9-7 (Game-set-match Vijay Rajagopalan).  Both the crowd and the players were absolutely stunned!  Vijay and Miguel slowly make their way to the net and embrace each other in congratulatory respect. 

Vijay is quickly whisked off the court for treatment for medical attention.  As each player left the court, the crowd gave each one a separate standing ovation for their tremendous effort.  Everyone was physically and emotionally spent!

Double Fault -- Part II

They met and chatted several times through the course of the following year.  After a while, Nisha's chattiness started to rub off on Vijay.  Around her, he started opening up more and more.  She always found it strange that it was easier for Vijay to strike a spectacular forehand winner than it is to strike up a conversation.  He was amazed at how long she could talk -- even his longest matches don't compare to his conversations with her!

They chatted about many things, and often nothing at all.  He was starting to become quite smitten with her, but didn't really know it.  This feeling was very scary, very foreign to a detached guy like him but part of him liked it.  She, on the other hand, liked him as just a friend.  Over time, they became very good friends.  But as their friendship grew, Vijay’s tennis performance declined.  He didn’t train as hard as before, and his form on the court was starting to slip.  He was too happy…. too satisfied… not hungry enough to win like before.  He was starting to lose more.

One day, they decided to meet for dinner at a favorite restaurant. Each of them had a “big news” to share with each other.  They meet up at their usual restaurant and exchanged some normal pleasantries.  Finally the defining moment came.

"Vijay, I have something exciting to share with you." said Nisha, with a big smile and full of excitement.

"Great!  I have something to tell you too!" said Vijay in anticipation. 

"You'll never guess what I'm about to tell you!"

"I think I have an idea", he said with a twinkle in his eye.

 "I doubt it.  But anyway, tell me your news."

After much hesitation, he finally forced out the words. "I like you, Nisha.  I really like you a lot!"

He had done it!  He had finally worked up the nerve to tell her.  This was the first time he had told a girl he liked her and wasn’t really sure what to expect.  But he felt like a big weight was taken off his shoulders as he heaved a big sigh of relief.

"Oh, that’s nice!" she said nonchalantly, almost indifferently.  She reacted like it was just some insignificant thing she heard on the news the other day. 

There was a long, uncomfortable pause.  Vijay was totally confused.  He didn’t expect this.  He was hoping to get a bigger reaction for such a big news.  This was such a slap in the face!  But he finally regained his composure.

"Ummm….. so what were you going to tell me?" he said hesitantly, almost at a loss for words..

"I'm getting married.  My parents fixed me up with this really cool guy.  He has his own business and he’s from a well-to-do family.  I got confirmed last week! Isn’t that great?!?!"

Vijay's jaws dropped to the floor.  He could say nothing. "Great”, he said half-heartedly, barely able to mouth the words.

"You don't sound like you're happy for me." said Nisha, unable to comprehend his pain.

"Happy?  Of course I'm happy!  I'm thrilled!! I'm totally thrilled that you just threw my love in the trash and then happily off marrying someone else!  HOORAY!"  he said, his voice full of bitter sarcasm. 

"What the hell is your problem?!  Who asked you to get carried away with your feelings, anyway?"

 Vijay’s blood was boiling now.  He was exasperated. He felt betrayed, backstabbed. "I didn't do it on purpose.  I didn't even realize it till much later.  You act like I committed a crime!"

"You know, if you were a real friend, you would be happy for me!"

Vijay snapped back "If you were a real friend, you would actually understand how I really feel.  But I guess that's too much to ask from an ice princess like you!"

"Oh, quit feeling sorry for yourself and grow up!"

"Quit being such a bitch!"

Vijay stormed out of the restaurant and never spoke to Nisha after that.  This was the last thing he needed.  He already had a lot of pressure, both self-imposed and from his fans, to win.  This "love" crap only made things worse.  After all, love means nothing in tennis!

The days following the fight with Nisha were absolute torture! Everything became harder, from the moment he woke up to the moment he went to sleep.  Unlike most people, Vijay wasn't the type to talk, cry or scream out his problems.  He thought of everything in terms of wins and losses.  His only way of getting through his problems was to simply push harder and win, whether it was his father passing away or a love failure.  The highs from the wins would cancel out any of the lows.  This is just another loss to recover from, he kept saying to himself.

He would train harder and longer, drank more fluids, exercised more, did everything possible to try to win but it did little to help.  He would overdo his workouts and end up injuring himself more.  He never got past the Quarterfinals in any of the tournaments he entered. He was a step slower when reacting or running for the ball.  It felt as though he had weights attached to his arms and legs. He would tire more, become thirsty more, his muscles were tighter, and being anemic didn't help matters any.  The mere thought or mention of Nisha would get the usually stoic Vijay on edge.  He didn't want to hear her name, see her face, hear her voice or have anything to do with her!  They hadn't spoken a word since the day of the fight, and it may be just as well.  Everyone, especially Vijay, knew he had to move on. 

Vijay needed help, and he knew it!  So he had a long heart-to-heart with his trainer and coach. He channeled all his negative emotions into his workouts and slowly got himself back into shape. He wasn’t the type to back down or wallow in self-pity, so he kept at it.  He was starting to become like his old self, and he liked it!  The hunger, the drive, the single-minded determination… it was all starting to come back. 

But his true test… his ultimate test… was still yet to come!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Double Fault -- Part I

Vijay Rajagopalan was an aspiring tennis player on the ATP Tour.   He was just 23 years old, but "23" is a seasoned veteran in tennis years.  He had beaten several Top 10 players in the past year and won a few tournaments too.  He was also the only Indian male singles player to have won a tournament in India  -- the Chennai Open.  Plus he was also a Tamilian, so he was definitely a local hero in his hometown of Chennai.  He travels all around the world, plays at all the different tournaments, and makes enough in prize money to cover his travel expenses and equipment and would still have a decent amount left over for himself.

Yep, life was definitely good.  Still, Vijay made a lot of sacrifices to get to where he is.  While his friends went into the traditional fields like engineering and medicine, he took the less travelled road of professional sports.  He trains hard daily, practices rigorously and works hard on his fitness. No hanging out with friends, no parties, no distractions from his ultimate goal '”to be among the greatest tennis players of all time”!  It was a tall order, but he was willing to do it since it was his one great passion in life.  Vijay means victory, and that's really all he cares about.  He had a good all-court game with no real weaknesses, and plenty of power to boot.  His only real limitation was that he had Thalassemia Minor, a form of anemia that causes the excessive fatigue and thirst in the patient.  This meant that he had to finish off his points, his matches and his opponents more quickly to avoid dehydration and exhaustion.

Vijay had always been a shy, quiet and somewhat detached introvert since he was young, and having a tennis player's solitary life didn't do much to make him any more social.  He had a small group of friends since childhood ' Anand, Ravi, Sundar, Balu, Ramya and Roshni.  They were his best friends and pretty much his only friends.  Among them, Anand was his best friend.  Roshni had a crush on Vijay for a while but never anyone else except Anand.

One day, during his so-called "off-season" in December, Anand introduced Vijay to Nisha, daughter of a wealthy businessman.  They struck up quite a friendship.  She was quite the opposite of Vijay ' he was an introvert, she was a total extrovert; he was relatively quiet, she was a nonstop chatterbox; she would take a hundred words to convey one thing whereas he would convey a hundred things with just a few words; she was the life of the party, he was just a wallflower.  Yep, they were total polar opposites.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Utimate Warrior!

My tough times in life still continue, but I recently have found a new role model for getting through this rough period. He's perhaps the toughest guy on the ATP tour, and perhaps the toughest tennis player that ever lived -- Rafael "Rafa" Nadal.  

There are athletes who are nice and humble but lack competitive fire. Then there are athletes who are feisty intimidating competitors but are extremely hyper-competitive jerks even after the game is over due to their inability to harness their fiery intensity properly.  Then, there's the third kind, a rare breed of competitor who can be either of the two types at will without being an asshole.

Rafael Nadal is that third type of competitor.  He's the ultimate warrior on the court, a cold, ruthless baseliner with an unshakable conviction. His mental and physical capabilities allow him to play each point with all-out intensity. For him, the fight to succeed in every battle is more important than the result itself. It's what drives him, a motivation evident in every point of the five-set triumph over Roger Federer that made him the first Spaniard to win the 2009 Australian Open. But it is that same quality that may also explain Nadal's uneasiness about the torture he is inflicting on Federer, a man he respects more than any other for his own remarkable achievements. It is often said that a boxer enjoys more the bout than the aftermath if he has knocked his opponent unconscious to the floor. As Federer wept from the painful loss, Nadal hugged his disconsolate rival as they trudged from the net and again at the post-match ceremony because he felt uncomfortable reducing a tennis legend like Federer to tears.

It is probably this astounding quality that I admire most about Rafa.... and also the one quality that stupefies me the most about him. On the one hand, he is the most ruthless competitor; on the other hand, he's so full of compassion for the loser that he feels the need to embrace him to make him feel better. How can one guy be both extremes?!?!

Ironic thing is that Nadal won fair and square; he has nothing to feel bad about! What amazes me  about Rafa is that he's mentally and physically the toughest tennis beast that ever lived... and still one of the nicest, most humble guys around! The amount of rigorous physical training he goes through (5 hours a day, YIKES!!!) and the amount of mental toughness and resolve he has is almost unimaginable! Most people twice his age don't have either his toughness or maturity.  But perhaps Nadal's most admirable quality is his uncanny ability to harness his competitive fire -- he can be your best friend off the court and instantly morph into your worst enemy on the court.  Extremely generous one minute, totally ruthless the next!

I truly believe that the key to getting over my tough times is to train myself to be as tough mentally and physically as possible. Of course, it's hard to savor such a crappy life (as opposed to a tennis match), but at this point, I'm not worried about that now. I'll just fight my hardest to succeed in this battle of never-ending stress and not really worry about the end result. It will be hard… really hard, but I think I'll be a lot better off for it in the long run.  Perhaps one day, like Rafa, I will also love the battle more than the actual victory.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ram’s Chronicles

Gawd, what a rough 14 years it’s been in the damn forest!  No maids, no cooks, no servants, no conveniences of any kind… Shit, I feel worse than Robinson Crusoe!  Actually, this whole thing’s Dad’s fault… he’s too much of a pussy to stand up to my step-mom so he just promises her anything and everything she asks for.  And my stepmom, what a selfish, gold-digging bitch she is!  She’s even willing to risk Dad dying to make sure Barath gets to be king.  I should’ve told that bitch off, but no-o-o-o-o, I just had to be a goody two-shoes like my old man.  Like father, like son I guess.  But in a way, I almost didn’t mind going – it’s almost worth it to not have to put up with K’s constant bitching!

Luckily I was royalty so I had lots of connections so it wasn’t all bad at first.  And Laks was there to help out, which is cool & all….. but damn, he’s always there!  I mean, come on dude, I’m a newly married guy….I need alone-time with my woman!  Now don’t get me wrong, I feel sorry for the guy & all….. his woman ditched him while mine’s still with me, but sometimes it gets to be too much!  I tried to drop him hints subtly but that hotheaded dumbass only gets all mad about it.  That kid’s got some major anger issues.

And speaking of Sita… boy what a complainer she is!  It’s not like I forced her to come, she came on her own, so she really has no right to complain.  I try to play a good husband and be nice and pretend to like her crappy cooking & all.  Heck, I even ran after a golden deer like an idiot to score points with her…. only to realize later it was a decoy set up by that jealous bastard Ravan. He was always jealous that I got the girl, but man, this is low, even for that freak! Ohhh, he’s gonna have some major hell to pay!

So I decide to launch a secret attack of my own.  I figured Ravan would be expecting a frontal attack from me so I planned a stealthy approach to sneak off with Sita.  The sneak attack thing worked beautifully on Sugriv’s big bully brother, so why not, right?!?!  I had it so well planned too, but that Sita… that bitch… she ruined the whole friggin' thing!  She’s like “If you’re a real man, come and get me yourself!”.  Gawd, she couldn’t have picked a worse time to throw a tantrum!!  She’s obviously still holding a grudge for all those years in the forest.  This just goes to show that you can never trust women!  She’s really too much sometimes… I should exile her to the forest myself, just to get even.

Why did I ever get married at such a young age?!?!  I should’ve played the field a lot more.  I could’ve scored with so many more chicks.  Heck, if my potbellied old man could do it, I could certainly do it with my bod, right?!?!  But no-o-o-o-o-o, I just had to be Mister goody two-shoes! And why the hell did I do this whole Ekapatni Vrata thing?!?!  I must’ve been smoking some major weed!

This whole damn avatar blows chunks.  I’m tired of being a goody-goody, next time I’m gonna come back as a womanizing cowherd and just attack anything and everything with breasts!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ezham Arivu (The Seventh Sense) : A movie review

Ezham Arivu (The Seventh Sense) stars Surya and Shruti Haasan as the leading hero and heroine.  This is by far AR Murugadoss’ most ambitious film.  It’s a good movie overall, but unfortunately not his best.  He’s probably bitten off more than he can chew by trying to tie the modern day with the past with a somewhat silly plot.

Surya plays two roles, one as Bodhi Dharma, the Pallava Prince from centuries ago and the other as a circus hand named Aravind.  The first thirty minutes of the film is gripping as Surya is a delight to watch as the Buddhist monk.  He plays the role and the does the martial arts to perfection. Unfortunately, after the initial 30 minutes, the film is never quite as good. 

After the initial scenes, Surya as Aravind (the circus hand) tends to be a bit mundane. Shruti Haasan is excellent in a nice, meaty role as a bright young scientist named Subha Srinivasan.  She acts well (guess her father’s genes are paying off) and also does her own dubbing when speaking Tamil.  What’s refreshing to see is that Shruti is portrayed a very capable young woman, not a helpless heroine waiting for a hero to rescue her.  At many times, she even overshadows Surya.  What is a bit of a letdown is the scene where Surya finds out about her deception.  Not only does she not feel bad about lying to Surya but she also tramples on his heart in the process!  That makes her character seem like a bitch, so it’s hard to like her completely.  What’s also somewhat unbelievable is that Surya forgives her all too easily.

Johnny Tri Nguyen does well as the cold, ruthless villain who uses hypnosis to kill off his enemies.  The way he pursues Shruti is reminiscent of the way Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator relentlessly pursued Sarah Connor.  Johnny’s a tough villain, no doubt, but the problem is that he’s the only villain!  After a while, his mannerisms and killing methods get boring and repetitive. The final scenes also tend to drag a bit, but the ending was well done.

Overall, this is a decent effort by Muruagdoss and the message it sends about preserving and learning from the  past is a good one.  The movie also makes an important point about how we should view our Siddhars as scientists, rather than deities.  The excecution could have been a little better, but overall a good watch.