During any conversation about birds, very often, I am asked, what I think of mobile phone radiations affecting  sparrows. I tell them, I don't believe in that theory. I've never believed in that theory. I have my reasons for that, which I'll talk about.

But, before that, let me tell you what I think is the biggest reason for the dwindling sparrow population:
lack of nesting space.

For centuries, sparrows have been living with humans. Knowingly or unknowingly, humans have supported sparrows. The thatched/tiled houses which gave sparrows places to build their nest, have given way to box type concrete houses. Even in older concrete houses, there were small provisions which could support sparrow nests. But, houses these days are just boxes! With this change, we've driven them out of our lives.

Now, coming back to the reasons why I don't subscribe to the mobile radiation theory:

  • Sparrows are found in abundance in places where they have nesting spaces inside human houses, despite the locations being busy areas with lots of mobile phone towers. Go to North Madras where you have old buildings - Parrys, Mint, Armenian street etc, - which are so busy with many mobile towers - you will find sparrows thriving there. Some of the streets around Commercial Street and KR Market in Bangalore, the busiest shopping areas of Bangalore, support several Sparrows. There are many old houses and buildings in this area which have suitable nesting sites for sparrows.
  • In 2012, Sparrows were reintroduced in several suburbs of Chennai. Nest boxes were supplied free of cost to the houses in these areas. And, sparrow population started increasing there, despite mobile phones towers.
  • Birds which are as small as sparrows or even smaller - say, Ashy Prinias, White Cheeked Barbets, Coppersmith Barbets, Sunbirds etc - are found in abundance in cities. So, mobile phone radiation affects only sparrows and not other birds? I don't think so. Barbets make holes in trees to build their nests. Sunbirds build protected basket type nests, hanging from tree branches. These species probably don't need our support to survive, but the sparrows do.
  • In areas where sparrows are found, it is not uncommon to find sparrows perching on cellphone towers.
Even scientists are divided on the mobile phone theory, which hasn't been proved at all. The media glorified that theory, it became popular and everyone now thinks mobile phones are killing the sparrows.

"Recent studies in institutions across the world have contradicted reports of radiation from cell phones and their towers damaging the eggs of sparrows, and thereby contributing to their reducing numbers." - Arunn Narasimhan, Associate professor, IIT Madras.

It is not beyond us to bring back the sparrows. Blaming mobile phone radiation for missing sparrows and not doing anything is the biggest blow we can deal to a friendly species which depends solely on us for survival.

What can we do?
  • If you can spot sparrows in your locality, you can place nest boxes in your homes for the sparrows to nest. Nest boxes are available for sale from Nature Forever. Or, you can even make one on your own
  •  Place bird feeders and bird baths in your garden/terrace/balcony, which will help not just sparrows, but other birds too. Summers can be too taxing for the birds. Placing bird baths with water can be the biggest help you can do for birds, during summer.
  • If you haven't spotted sparrows in your location in a while, get in touch with organisations like (Enviroment Foundation of India, for example) which specialise in sparrows restoration and reintroduction.
Let us stop blaming mobile phone towers based on an unproven theory, and do something useful to support the species which depend on us for survival.

By Aravind on Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 8:29 AM Post Categories: ,

Imagine a regime where the rulers/dictators control everything you do. They decide what is good, what is bad based on what they like and what they don’t, and force it down people’s throats. Your preferences don’t matter. People are irritated by them. If anyone points out flaws, they’re attacked. If this reminds you of Taliban, think again. What if I tell you such a group exists right here, in Tamilnadu? Everything I’ve said above holds good for this group, except that they don’t have the power and control. Thankfully, most of their activities are restricted to the social media.

This is the group who call themselves “Music Mafia”. They are supposed to be hard core fans of Illayaraja. That’s how they would like to be identified. You’d expect them to spread the joy of their idol’s music. But, that’s usually not what they do. Their prime focus is on talking ill about other composers’ works. Music is supposed to be a positive aspect – it has to ring in positive thoughts. However, this mafia hardly does anything other than spreading negativity. For this reason, I don’t think it’s right to call them a “music” group. They’re nothing but a group of social media extremists. What a befitting name they've chosen for themselves.

Before we go further, let me clarify one thing – I am a big fan of AR Rahman. You may wonder of any bias – but as you read through, you’ll realise that I’m stating  just plain facts and not my opinions (which may be biased)! The recent sentiment from people (on twitter) who are not fans of any particular composer, reflects this group’s atrocity, which is increasing each day.

The “mafia” discredits any music other than Illayaraja’s. While their anger was usually restricted to AR Rahman, the “mafia” has now started writing off any other composer with even a little hint of success.

The person who they focus most of their energy on, is AR Rahman – sometimes I even wonder if they think about AR Rahman even more than hardcore Rahman fans. The “mafia” just can’t talk about IR’s greatness without belittling AR Rahman. No surprises here, as Raja himself is so bitter when it comes to AR Rahman – being his ardent “devotees”, the mafia would obviously toe his line on this. But, while Raja grabs any opportunity to take digs at AR Rahman, this group keeps creating opportunities to talk ill of ARR – as I said earlier, spreading negativity is their forte!

They meet to celebrate Raja’s music, and they end up dissing ARR. They write blog posts about that big meet up, they end up insulting ARR in that too! They write reviews of Raja’s background score, but they take a dig at ARR. There was a Raja concert recently in London where the music of Raja’s Megha was released. One would expect them to rave about the album and the concert. But, what do these people do? They find old interviews of AR Rahman and tweet silly comments about it. Shows their priority, right? I mean, when they have a new album and a concert to tweet about, why else would they ignore all that and read old interviews of a person who they hate?

They question the “lack of nativity” in Kadal’s music, but when someone talks about the wah-wah pedals and electric guitars in Karagaatakkaran songs/BGMs or the chorus singing “baby baby” with techno beats, electronic pads and synth arpeggios in the period film, Ponnar Shankar (I’m not making this up, there really is a “baby baby” chorus in Ponnar Shankar!), they either change the topic or they hurl abuses. Why would they care about decency, when they stoop this low anyway?

They have been doing this for over 20 years now – but, this seems to have worsened in recent times. I wonder how other composers like Deva and Vidyasagar weren’t targeted. Deva was most prolific in the 90s, wasn’t he? And, Vidyasagar had a good run in late 90s-early 2000s. Probably because Raja had decent successes during that period? Towards the end of 90s, though, their insecurity increased. And now, their insecurity seems to be at a peak. Their “arch-rival” AR scaling new heights, young new composers doing really well, coupled with Raja’s failures seems to get on their nerves! They even target 3-film old Anirudh these days. On twitter, there were so many jibes at Anirudh after the recent news about him recording with the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra!

I do not follow any of these mafia people, as my timeline would be filled with nothing but negative tweets and hate speech. I end up seeing some of these tweets once in a while, when retweeted. Sometimes, I honestly feel sorry for the state they are in. But, this is not going to stop – On Monday (7th Oct), a single from Kochadaiyaan is going to release. Be prepared for a slew of hate tweets from the mafia, while I will happily enjoy the new song, having muted the hate tweets!

For now, I leave you with this - Let real peace spread throughout the world. Let’s throw the negativity out!

By Aravind on Saturday, October 05, 2013 at 7:08 PM

As Mani mentioned in the interviews, Kadal is is a 'good vs evil' film.

The good man, Sam (Aravindswamy) and Satan, Bergmans (Arjun) are brothers in a Seminary, with Bergmans having joined the Seminary to feed himself and his poor family and Sam, to serve the Lord. Bergmans is thrown out from the Seminary, as Sam reports to his superiors that Bergmans has broken the oath of Celibacy. Thus begins the 'good vs evil' fight which forms the crux of the film.

Several years later, Sam, now a catholic Father, comes to a village, where he mentors Thomas, an orphaned kid who grows up to be a handsome young fisherman. The good vs evil fight restarts, this time with Thomas joining in. Meanwhile, Thomas is smitten by Beatrice, a nurse. Questions like where does Thomas and Bea fit in this fight, do they get together, how does good triumph evil are answered as the second half of the film unties all the knots.

Mani Ratnam and Jayamohan have woven a beautiful script, which keeps you interested till the end. The efforts taken by them to bring in the nativity of a fishing village is so evident. At the end of the film, you feel like you've visited the village and lived there.

Arjun as the unapologetic satan and Aravindswamy as the oh-so-pure Father and Thomas' mentor, have played their parts well, though Arjun reminds us of Pugazhendhi from Mudhalvan, especially during the climax. Gautham Karthik looks promising and is convincing in his role as Thomas. Thulasi Nair is apt as the emotionally immature, childlike Beatrice.

The album, one of Rahman's best in the last 5 years, is already a big hit, with people eagerly waiting for each song in the theater. AR Rahman has worked equally hard for the background score too, with each cue fitting perfectly to the mood. I already can not wait to get my hands on the voice-less BGM tracks.

Rajeev Menon proves why he is among the best cinematographers here. The vibrant sea, the pristine beach, the church look so beautiful. The highlight is the climax scene in on the boat, with the boat tossing and turning due to the storm. Hats off, Rajeev Menon!

My only big grouse with this film is the way in which the songs were used in the film. Lakshmi Manchu once tweeted (https://twitter.com/LakshmiManchu/status/270745822809968641) that Nenjukkulle was picturised on her, but for some reason the song has been removed. The song is now played in the background for Gautham-Thulasi. Chithtirai Nila was used in bits and pieces three times in the film and Anbin Vaasale was pushed to end credits. However, the use of Magudi when Gautam turns 'evil' is just perfect. The most brilliant part of the song and the usage in the film is the 'devil' telling him in her seductive voice that once he has embraced 'her', he'll not be able to redeem himself and he'll dance as per her tunes (naan magudi daa, nee paambu).

Kadal is not a typical Mani Ratnam film. He has ventured in to new territory - in to a zone he is not comfortable with - has come out with flying colours. Kadal is a must watch. I'd rate Kadal 4 out of 5. It's one of the best tamil films in recent times (PS: I haven't watched Vishwaroopam yet).

By Aravind on Sunday, February 03, 2013 at 2:25 PM Post Categories: ,

There are two versions of the Nenjukkulla from Kadal - one is the unplugged version (from MTV Unplugged show) and the other is the CD version.

I've mixed these two into one track, incorporating my favourite portions from both the tracks. For parts where I liked both the versions, I've used one version in left channel and one in the right channel. You'll probably notice it only if you use headphones and/or listen very carefully!

Composed by AR Rahman.
Lyrics: Vairamuthu
Singer: Shaktishree Gopalan. 

If the embedded player doesn't work, use this link: http://i.mixcloud.com/CBxazM

By Aravind on Friday, December 07, 2012 at 12:30 AM Post Categories: , , ,

My short story "Butterfly Effect" was published in Spark Magazine.

"A discussion at an interview Rajani conducts has her questioning her approach to life, which she passes on to her young son. A M Aravind pens a story which begins with the mother observing her son walk on someone’s footprints on the shore."

Read the story here: http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=4984

By Aravind on Wednesday, December 05, 2012 at 11:30 PM Post Categories:

Lyrics of the song Nenjukkulle, penned by Vairamuthu.
Film: Kadal
Director: Mani Ratnam
Music: AR Rahman

By Aravind on Sunday, November 04, 2012 at 7:42 PM Post Categories: ,

Ashok Prakash Pal was a class-8 student, who studied in a small school in a village in coastal Maharashtra. He was the son of a wealthy landlord, who had recently become a very powerful. 

Being the son of the most powerful man of the village, Ashok got a lot of respect in school and he enjoyed it and often misused it. He created an image that he was the coolest kid around and that it was fun hanging out with him. Several of his schoolmates fell for it. Soon, he had a big group of students accompanying him wherever he went. The only thing missing was an official "Ashok fan club". Even when Ashok cracked the oldest joke on the planet, the kids around him laughed as though it was the funniest thing they'd heard. He had created such an image that anything he said and did was "cool".

All that partly changed, when a bright kid named Sampark Singh joined the school. He was friendly. He was genuinely talented, hard-working and had an awesome sense of humour. Slowly, many of the kids who were once behind Ashok, started feeling that Sampark was way "cooler" than Ashok. Sampark's clout increased rapidly. Barring Ashok's closest "fans", everyone else agreed on who the cool-guy of the school was! Sam, as they called him fondly, became the toast of the school.

One day, their science teacher asked them to do a project on the flora and fauna of their village and their surrounding villages. Sam thoroughly enjoyed working on it. He travelled around the village and to the neighboring villages collecting leaf specimens, taking notes of animals and birds he'd seen. He got back to the library to identify the species that he'd seen and noted down. He also helped out many of his friends who were stuck. 

By this time, Ashok, too, was in good terms with Sam. Both of them spent a lot of time at the library, exchanged notes and even worked together. Sam shared a few leaf and flower specimens which Ashok had missed. Sam suggested the books they should refer to, for project ideas. He even shared his copy of the book. Finally, they all completed and submitted their projects. The next day morning, the science teacher called Sam to the staff room.

She said, "Sampark, Ashok came and met me yesterday evening. He complained to me that you had copied several ideas from report. I went though the reports, and I found several portions of your report similar to Ashoks'". Sam couldn't believe what he was hearing. He was in tears. "But, miss, that could be because we used same reference books. I even helped Ashok out, with some parts of the project", he said.

"No excuses. You should feel ashamed of yourself, Sampark. You are disqualified from the contest", she said sternly.

SamSingh was so frustrated with himself that the evil AP.Pal had taken him for a ride. "Life's not fair", he muttered, as he left the room in tears.

PS: This story is not connected in anyway to any smartphone makers. Any similarity is purely coincidental :P :P

By Aravind on Friday, August 31, 2012 at 3:15 PM Post Categories: