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:
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:
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:
It was pitch dark at 4.30am, when 18-year-old Nakshatra stepped out of her medical college hostel in Pondicherry. Within a few minutes, she boarded a bus to Chennai. She was on her way to visit her grandparents, who stayed in a beach-house on East Coast Road, just outside Chennai.

Nakshatra always got excited at the thought of spending time with her grandparents. Though she loved both of them, she was closer to her grandfather, Mugilan, than to her grandmother, Lakshmi.  Till she joined college, Nakshatra stayed with her mom, Daamini, in T.Nagar.  Living with a single mom meant she got some fatherly love only during weekends, when they visited her grandparents.

Nakshatra had special love for the beach house too. Mugilan, who was an avid Douglas Adams fan, had named the house ‘The Bhateu’, which stood for ‘Beach House At The End of the Universe'. Though she had no clue who Douglas Adams was, Mugilan’s wife had accepted the name only because it sounded like the Batu caves in Malaysia, which houses the world famous Murugan temple!

The Bhateu was just a small villa, but it stood on a huge 6-acre ground. Nakshatra’s great-grandfather had bought 10 acres of land for a throwaway price, several decades back. Mugilan had sold off four of those ten acres, to manage the expenses of constructing his dream house, 22 years back and for Daamini’s wedding, the next year.

Mugilan had designed it to be the perfect place for them to stay after his retirement, making sure it suited well for his interests (astronomy, reading and birding) and his wife’s (gardening, reading and spirituality). The terrace housed his homemade 10-inch reflector telescope. A mini library inside the house had a computer and more than a thousand books. There was a cosy prayer cum meditation hall for his wife. A small kitchen garden, a flower garden and a lotus pond covered a small portion of the open land, while the beach and a scrub forest (home to many birds and small animals), formed the rest of the area.

Sitting alone on the bus, Nakshatra’s thoughts wandered off to the times she spent with her grandfather at The Bhateu. Mugilan was knowledgeable in several fields of science. If Nakshatra wasn’t staring at the stars in Mugilan’s company, she would be listening to his lectures on science – if it were electronics one day, it would be quantum physics or life sciences or evolution the next. It was because of Mugilan that Nakshatra developed such a deep interest in science. Though she lived with her CA mom, Nakshatra was “allergic” to anything related to accounts and finance.

Her train of thoughts wandered around several childhood memories and she started reliving one particular evening, when she had upset her grandfather immensely. She could remember it so vividly. It was a rainy day in 2003. She was munching hot bajji and listening to Mugilan talk about NASA’s Voyager space missions and the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence program. The interesting discussion came to an abrupt end, as Mugilan stopped speaking suddenly. She saw his face lose colour. Daamini, who was in the drawing room too, rushed towards them. Mugilan got up and slowly walked towards the easy chair in his room.

Daamini looked really angry, and told her off. Nakshatra had no clue of what just happened. Nakshatra, just 9 years old at that time, could not understand why her innocuous little question had created such an impact. She had just asked him, “There’s a boy in my class believes aliens and UFOs are real. Complete nonsense, I told him. What do you think, thatha?”

She didn’t dare to ask her mom for explanations that day. Or, for the next few years. She didn’t even want to ask her grandfather, who encouraged her to ask questions and answered all of them. Not until her 18th birthday, did Daamini talk about it. However, she didn’t get into details. She kept it quite short.

“Nakshatra, listen. I know you have been curious about thatha’s UFO connection. Yes, there was a UFO sighting in Chennai. It was more than 20 years back. Several people saw it. Newspapers reported it too. However, the police and the government convinced everyone that it was not any alien ship. Everyone, except thatha. He stood firm. He pushed it too far, ended up in jail and lost his job. Now don’t ask anything more about this. All of us have forgotten about it.”
This part-knowledge made had her even more curious. She’d gone off to college and hadn’t met her grandfather after that. Should she ask him directly? Her grandfather answered all her questions and cleared all her doubts. Will it become uncomfortable like the last time, when she talked to him about UFOs? With these confused thoughts in her mind, she got down from the bus and walked towards The Bhateu.

It was about 7.30 AM when she entered The Bhateu. She felt restless. She didn’t know what, but she knew something’s wrong. She walked in to find her mom and grandmom in tears. They’d just discovered that Mugilan had passed away in his sleep. Nakshatra broke down like she had never done. Mugilan was the closest person to her in her 18 years. She couldn’t believe he wasn’t with her anymore.

Within no time, Nakshatra’s aunts, uncles, cousins and several other relatives started coming in. Nakshatra wanted some peace and quiet. She just wanted to be alone. She went into the library room, not to read, but just to be alone. She just wanted to sit there and not do anything. But, one thought kept haunting her - her grandfather, a man of science, couldn’t have stood firm on his theory if he didn’t have proof. What did he know?

The more she wanted to keep her mind blank, the deeper her thoughts wandered. “If he was indeed right about the UFO, he had died carrying a lot of burden in his heart. For a man who breathed science, it would have really hurt him to be discredited by a bunch of morons who understood nothing of it. Just like how Copernicus or Galileo or Giordano Bruno would have felt when the Church discredited their work. Centuries later, as other scientists showed concrete proofs, Church had to admit that these great scientists were right. But, who will find proof to clear up my grandfather’s name, if he was right? It has to be me. I was the closest to him”, she thought.

Nakshatra, being an UFO-skeptic, didn’t want to believe anything till she found proofs. She tried to summarise what she already knew. She hardly knew anything, other than the fact that it had happened more than 20 years ago. Though not very hopeful that she’d get anything useful from the Internet, she walked to the computer table, moved the mouse and brought the monitor to life.

She searched for half an hour, with no luck.  Then she found this entry in a long list of “UFO sightings”.

Chennai, Tamilnadu
Mass sighting of large, silent, low-flying black triangles. Similar to the Belgian UFO wave. Dismissed as sightings of Planet Venus/Shooting Stars. Mystery still unresolved.

This could this be it. The time-period and location matched. She couldn’t find any other entry pertaining to Chennai, during that time period. After searching for several more minutes, she gave up hope of finding anything else on the web.

Where else could she find more info? Asking her family at this time would be inappropriate. She knew Mugilan was not in the habit of writing diaries. She started going through draws in the library. There were several old books, a few files and lots of old documents, all covered a thick layer of dust, accumulated over many years. She browsed through the old pile without finding anything. She almost gave up, when an old envelope with “Confidential” written on it, caught her attention. She immediately checked the date – 23/06/1990 – just a week after the sighting. Her heart started beating faster. Could this be it?

She suddenly felt the room to be stuffy. Long time spent in the small room and the excitement of the letter made her suffocate. She needed fresh air. She stormed out of the house clutching the envelope tightly in her hands. She felt better with the cool evening sea breeze gently brushing against her face. As she came out, she saw a group of workers digging up a grave, for the funeral that was to take place that evening. As Mugilan loved the beach house, the family decided to bury him in The Bhateu premises.

She opened the envelope. It was from the sub-editor of a popular weekly, and a good friend of Mugilan.
Dear Mugilan,

My apologies, first. Your UFO interview isn’t getting published. I tried my best, but the editor doesn’t want to clear it, as there is pressure from the Government and the Police. All this is between you and me. 
My sincere advice, as your friend – Forget about the UFO. You have no idea of who you are up against.

PS: I’ve attached the final edit of your interview. Just as a keepsake. Do not publish it anywhere.


She hastily opened the attached sheets and skimmed through to the part she was looking for.
Mugilan: I was returning home after spending a night overseeing the construction work of my beach house, near the VGP resorts. It was around 4.50am. I had barely reached the main road, when I saw a huge triangular object with lots of lights, in the Eastern sky.
Nakshatra’s concentration was disrupted by a sudden ruckus the workers were creating. She just couldn’t focus. She walked away from that noise and continued reading.
It was losing height quite rapidly. It looked otherworldly. According to me, it’s a UFO, which crash landed. I couldn’t see where it crashed, but judging by the distance, I think it fell into the Bay of Bengal. I wish the government commissions a search operation.

Interviewer: The official take on this is that, the public saw planet Venus and mistook it for a UFO. What do you have to say?

Mugilan: It’s a common explanation used all over the world, to rubbish of UFO sightings. That’s nonsense. I’m an amateur astronomer. I observe Venus everyday. There’s no way that was Venus. It was as big as a bus. I know it was a UFO. I will try to find proof to substantiate my claim.

As she finished reading, she wasn’t sure how she was feeling. The interview had answered a few questions, but had raised a lot more. She was surprised and excited to know that the UFO had crash-landed somewhere close to ‘The Bhateu’. If it did crash into the sea, how did Mugilan think he could find proof? Did he find anything? Was he arrested before that, and he gave up?

As she was pondering over these questions, her mom asked her to join in for a few rituals, which were to be performed before the funeral. Later, Nakshatra joined the other male members for the burial, despite strong opposition from her mother and grandmother. As people started leaving the grave after the burial, she just stood there, in tears.

Barely anyone heard her farewell to her grandfather, in front of the grave. “Thatha, there was so much knowledge you gave me. But, there’s so much I do not yet know, I wish I’d asked you. I really want to solve this mystery and clear up your name. I don’t know where I’d find more clues, but I will do it for you, Thatha.”

Little did she realize how close she was to the secret. She was also not aware that she had just walked away from the truth, while she was reading the interview, earlier that evening. Had she stood there, she’d have learnt what the workers were excited about.

“There’s some metallic object, poking from the side. I haven’t seen anything like this. Don’t know what it is”, a worker had shouted. This had caused lots of excitement among the workers and they’d gathered around to have a look at the strange object that was jutting out through the mud. But, their boss had chided them for wasting time, asking them to cover that up that trash and finish the work quickly.

The UFO, or at least a part of it, had fallen right in their land, and had been covered up all these years. The secret was still lying there. Mugilan had carried the secret with him, to the grave. Literally.

PS: Today being World UFO Day, I dedicate this story to all those people who have gone through great miseries, due to governments rubbishing UFO sightings. These people have lived their entire lives with a 'liar' label on them, unable to prove their claim.
By Aravind on Monday, July 02, 2012 at 8:57 AM Post Categories:
Yesterday, I attended a lovely live concert of Javed Ali at Music Academy, as a part of Times of India's Chennai Festival. To be very honest, I didn't expect much from the show. I love his voice and a few of his songs are my favs. Having been to a few ARR concerts, I've loved his rendition of Sufi songs with Rahman. However, I wasn't sure how he would pull off a solo concert. But, how I underestimated him. He was just brilliant yesterday!
Before Javed Ali came on to the stage, a singer named Manisha sang a couple of popular songs - Amit Trivedi's Iqtaara (Wake up Sid) and Yeh Mera Dil (Don). She was really good.

Then, Javed entered the stage and started off with the melodious Jashn-e-Bahara and Tu Meri Dost Hai (from Yuvvraaj - an interesting choice of song - Tu muskura was Javed's song in the album, Tu Meri Dost was originally sung by Benny Dayal and ARR), before rocking with a superb performance of Ishaqzaade and Tum Se Hi (Jab We Met).

As the audience kept shouting song requests, he kept patiently replying that he'd surely sing the requested songs. "Yeh gaana main nahin gaaoon toh aap log mujhe yahaan se jaane na deejjiye", he kept saying. ("If I don't sing that song, please don't let me leave this place.")

Then came the much awaited Sufi section. He removed his shoes and covered his head with a white cloth, mentioning how devoted and pious ARR would be when singing these songs and how he loved singing these sufi devotional songs with ARR. He sang Kun Faya Kun, followed by Arziyaan. He said they recorded Arziyaan in 3 parts - first part in Mumbai, second part in Chennai. And the third part, they recorded 6 months later! ARR had asked him to modulate his voice a bit and sing the "maula maula" portions with a heavy voice. He demonstrated the two versions - in his normal voice (how he first sang to Rahman)  and in his heavy voice (based on Rahman's suggestion - this is the version which is there in the CDs). There was such a huge difference. This was brilliant.

After this, came songs from Golmaal and Tum Mile. The audience kept requesting him to sing Kilimanjaro, Kajra Re and Nagada. He moved on, promising to sing those songs.

Before starting Guzaarish (Ghajini), he mentioned that they recorded 8 different mukhdas for this song, all with different lyrics, before the final version. What we hear in the CD is the 9th one. He even sang a couple of those "discarded" mukhdas. I was surprised he even remembered those lyrics.

Then, he followed it with Kilimanjaro. Manisha joined him for this song. Both of them sang very well, but Manisha's pronunciation was bad. (She apologised for her bad pronunciation, after the song). Javed Ali's tamil pronunciation was very good, almost perfect. He didn't even need to look at the lyrics sheet. After one tamil song, requests poured in for more Tamil songs. He sang just a couple of lines from Siragugal Vandhu (Sarvam).

After a few more popular numbers like Bin tere sanam and Kajra Re, he announced that the next song would be Nagada and he would close the show with that. But, the audience wanted more. They asked for Ghazals. Javed Ali's first love being Ghazal, he couldn't refuse. He said he'd sing just a couple of lines due to paucity of time, but ended up singing Ghazals for more than 10 mins, singing songs of Mehdi Hassan and Jagjit Singh. He closed this Ghazal session with his guru Ustaad Ghulam Ali saab's song. (I learnt yesterday that Javed's name ws Javed Hussain and he changed it to Javed Ali, as a mark of respect to his guru Ghulam Ali).

Post the Ghazal session, he sang Nagaada as promised and closed the lovely concert thanking the audience, promising to come back to Chennai soon.

By Aravind on Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 10:07 AM Post Categories:
Tamil film comedian Mayilsamy and Lakshman (of "Lakshman Shruthi" Orchestra fame) came up with this full length comedy audio cassette named Sirippo Sirippu in Late '80s. While browsing through my old cassettes, I came across this gem. I have converted this to MP3 and shared here for everyone's enjoyment :)

Download Links:


By Aravind on Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 8:26 AM Post Categories: ,
There's acute power shortage in Tamilnadu, and the number of hours of load-shedding keeps increasing by the day! Apart from the usual announced power-cuts, which may range from 2 hours to 8 hours per day, we are now getting used to several hours of unannounced power cuts.

Our area yesterday was affected by an unannounced power-cut last night. There was a sudden power cut at around 6.15 pm last night. Feeling bored, I picked up my camera and started experimenting shooting in candle light and then the candle flame itself :)
But, being summer, it was getting hot making it impossible to stay indoors. There was no indication that power would resume anytime soon. Moved to terrace and started clicking constellations.

My new Canon 50mm prime lens was really useful for shooting the stars, owing to the large aperture. Spent close to 4 hours on the terrace shooting various constellations and also Jupiter and Venus. The light pollution played spoilt sport as many of the lower magnitude stars weren't clearly visible.

Here are a few pics (all pics shot with focal length of 50 mm and aperture f/1.8)
Orion (The hunter). The star in the top right is Betelgeuse. I was surprised that the reddish colour of the star is visible in the photo.

Jupiter (left) and Venus (right) were next to each other. Glorious sight!

Canis Major. The bright star is Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. That's supposed to be the eye of the dog.

Ursa Major. You can even see the twin (Alcar) of the 2nd star in the tail (Mizar). (please click the pic to see the larger version)
By Aravind on Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 7:39 AM Post Categories: ,

Was planning to do something special for ARR's birthday this year. And this idea cropped up a few weeks back - an orchestral version of Vellai Pookkal.

So, here it is - My tribute to Rahman sir on his birthday:

If this doesn't work, here's the direct soundcloud link:
If that doesn't work either, mail me or post a comment.
By Aravind on Friday, January 06, 2012 at 6:49 PM Post Categories: , ,