Wednesday, January 06, 2010

My Short Story in Chennai Book Fair book

I was browsing in the Chennai book fair when I noticed a book prominently displayed with an attractive cover. It was called "Vaanavil Koottam" (Group of Rainbows). I had seen this book name earlier (at least an year back) in my email. On a hunch, I picked up the book and turned and the inner cover had my name! It is an anthology of short stories and the second short story is "Garvam" (Pride). By A.R.Ramiah (that is me).
Here are a few pictures of the book and display.

This story was written along with others 5 years back when I was in the US. I had lots of time in my hand and wrote a series.
Then I sent it to Kalki magazine (I had won a short story competition many years back in Kalki and hence liked them). They said it was too long.
So I just kept it for a couple of years. In 2006 I published it in Thinnai, the online magazine.
A couple of months later I got an email from someone who said they wanted to publish it and asked for my address. I was worried for some reason and did not provide my address. It seems they went ahead and published it anyway.
I talked to the publisher. I was actually not upset - it made me happy to see (after such a long time) my story in print. He said they had to get approval from 37 writers (including Sujatha and Jeyamohan). I felt sorry for him.

I somehow feel more motivated now. I have not been able to complete a single good short story since I came back. I have not felt good about the ones I wrote recently. But this is motivating.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Airtel Super Singer Junior 2009 Update - I

(Updated Below with Priyanka's wild card performance)

I am following this show as much as possible on Vijay TV.
Initially I was disappointed in the kids' performances - except for Alka Ajith who seemed like a prodigy. But it is obvious the training is helping a lot. The remaining kids now (except for Monisha and Srikanth) are very talented and capable singers.
The poor boys, particularly older ones are at a disadvantage - their voices are ready to break and sound awkward. The girls, of course, do not have this problem. Many of them sound ready for play back singing right now. I liked Sowmya, Priyanka and SreeNisha (Amazing voice). I liked Oviya for her command and versatility.
The question is Alka. Somehow I thought she was unbeatable in the beginning, and judges (particularly Chitra) obviously love her. But I have begun to not like her singing as much. Her performance in the "Playback first song" round held this week was not good and her song selection is generally mediocre. I think she is being spot selected because of past performances and not so much for her current performances. I still would like to listen to her sing "Udhaya Udhaya".
The orchestra is atrocious - Vijay TV has completely messed up their role in providing a good experience. They sound like the orchestra played in kinder garten fancy dress competitions.
I am also annoyed about them bringing Srikanth into the contest - he is too young and seems to be there as a show piece for people to consider cute. I feel sorry for him - his parents should have waited before bringing him into a singing circuit. And the misery is being prolonged by passing him on in every round. It is an embarassment.
Ignoring "winning" the prize, I think all of these singers (except for Monisha and Srikanth) are good.
Right now, my favorites are (the contest will probably be not won by these kids):
Roshan - he is very sincere and a great singer. His voice will break later, but his performances (such as Poove Sempoove, Raathiriyil Poothirukkum, Pon Maane) have been superlative.
Bala Sarangan - this kid has improved a lot over the past few rounds.
Sree Prasanna - this kid will likely be eliminated; his pitching still breaks, voice is not perfect and because of that he is not confident. BUT, he has something - his nuances are very, very appealing. He shines in certain renderings. I thought his "Jab Deep Jale Aana" was very, very good in certain places - particularly for his age.
Vishnu Charan - this kid chooses very different songs; he sang "Pitchai Paathiram" from "Naan Kadavul"; "Vasantha Mullai" and this week he chose "Unakkaena Pirandhen" from "Kaadhal". He has no classical training but good musical sense.
Of all the kids, I enjoy listening to Roshan, Sree Prasanna, Vishnu Charan and Sree Nisha the most.
Let us see how they fare.
Here is a video of Alka, Vishnu Charan and Roshan singing "Poo Vaasam" from "Anbe Sivam". Three different versions and all good:

Update I:
The below (Maraindhirundhe Paarkum, Priyanka, 3rd week of May, Starts at 1 minute into the video) is one of the best EVER live performances I have heard. This girl's voice is just amazing. She can directly go into playback singing. I have already heard the song ten times in the space of a day.