Friday, November 10, 2006

World's First Live 'Science Experiments Concert' a Big Success.

by Anand Ramachandran, with a nod to Samar Bagchi and Partha Ghosh

It was a concert like no other –a huge crowd at Kolkata's renowned Salt Lake stadium thoroughly enjoyed the first ever live 'Science Experiments Concert', where assorted scientists, professors, lab assistants and students performed a series of dull experiments, recorded their observations, and collected lab fees.

The show, titled 'Aim, Apparatus, Procedure', was the first in a planned series of concerts where performers from subjects such as Applied Physics, Chemistry, Pure Math, Microbiology, Agriculture, Meteorology and Geology will enthrall nationwide audiences by carefully observing controlled environments, gathering empirical evidence to prove random theories,and cooking-up fake data to compensate for faulty apparatus.


A scientist, in front of wildly cheering fans, performs a simple chemistry experiment, and writes down his observations.

The concert began with a performance by Dr.M.S.Swaminathan, who got the crowd on their feet when he peered through a microscope and scribbled furiously into a notebook. He followed up by figuring out a couple of formulations for increasing the potency of potash-based fertilisers, before ending his act with a complex experiment that involved the use of some beakers with coloured liquids, a round-bottomed flask, and numerous large files.

Dr.Sheela Shankar followed up with a scintillating display of mental math as she wrestled with the daunting task of finding the next mersenne prime number, to chants of 'Mn = 2n − 1, Mn = 2n − 1' from a vociferous audience . She also treated the crowd to an impromptu lecture that proved beyond
doubt that eating large quantities of lady's finger (okra to friends)would dramatically improve mathematical ability in humans.

The highlight of the evening was when Prof. B.K.Shinde, after delighting the cheering crowd with the popular 'Pile of Plates' experiment combined with a hi-tech laser show, performed a thrilling stage dive to demonstrate the effects of gravity.


Members of the enthusiastic crowd raise their hands for a chance to give the answer to a challenging maths conundrum that would have stumped Salman Khan. (not in picture).

“I've always maintained that our scientists and academicians offer tremendous entertainment value. Here's proof.”, said scientist-president Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam. He also expressed the hope that the organisers would next time take special efforts to involve thousands of disinterested schoolchildren in the event - so that security and logistics could pose more of a nightmare.

“This is great – science is being finally being recognised as a performing art.”, said A.V.Balasubramanian, a keen advocate of science since his school days. “Of course, it is”, he countered when faced with scepticism from others at the gathering. “ You perform experiments. You perform tests. Even in science exams, performance is what really counts, isn't it?”, he asked, winning the argument with practiced ease.

This has given fresh impetus to the age-old debate of “Science - Art or Science?”, throwing up a whole new set of arguments.

“If science is an art, then Kenny G's music is jazz!” said Jai Shankar Iyer, sworn man of science and jazz, but not necessarily in that order.

“Heavy metal. Hard rock. Lots of chemicals. Performers with weird hairstyles. This is just like any regular concert! ”, said Bipin Das, wearing a T-shirt that said 'PLUTONIUM. THORIUM. BISMUTH' in large, blood-soaked letters.

“This is against our culture! We are against all western concepts like sex, drugs, art, and science! ” screamed a Shiv Sena member, making a quick exit before anyone could ask him for further explanations.

However, most of the feedback the event has generated has been very positive.

“I think it's a good way to get young people interested in Science” said noted science lover Abitha Anand, taking time off from her meeting with wildlife photographer S.U.Saravanakumar. “It's certainly more entertaining than 'Quest'. What a blade THAT was!”, agreed Saravanakumar, himself a qualified biologist, while admitting that he always supported the “Bose Team” against the “Einstein Team”.

“This science stuff is really cooooool! I wonder why I've never heard of it's before!”, cooed an excited Priyanka Chopra. When asked why she liked science, she replied “ Because . . y'know, it's like, so cooool! Y'know – it's. . .um . . very . . well, it's cooool!”, and giggled as if she had said something funny, let alone coherent.

Organisers are also relieved that the event passed off peacefully – without any disturbances involving shocked professors, angry cops or Rakhi Sawant.

The success of 'Aim, Apparatus,Procedure' has, as usual, spawned of a number of similar entertainment ideas, including live telecasts of company audits, ramp walks featuring IAS officers, and a reality show based on the daily life of vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Vijay to Focus Only On Meaningless Roles

by Anand Ramachandran, who is a friend of a close friend of Vijay Saar.

Tamil film actor Vijay has expressed his desire to work only with directors who can offer him truly meaningless, shallow and generic roles.

“Some actors don't mind doing only exciting and challenging films day after day, dealing with countless intelligent scripts, demanding directors, and discerning audiences. But I've never really been interested in that sort of thing.”, he said, confirming something the public has known for years. “ I much prefer picking and choosing my roles – hereafter I will consider only those with the highest levels of idiocy, truly contrived situations, moronic dialogues and overall worthlessness.”, he blabbered, before finally giving his mind a well-deserved (and much needed) rest.


Tamil film star Vijay clearly demonstrates why he is different from more 'serious' performers like Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, who seem delighted that he is quite unlike them.

Sources close to the actor have revealed that Vijay was frustrated with audiences who were increasingly only interested in watching films with skillful acting, engaging screenplays, good music, and dialogues written by fully-functional adults. “He's upset with the way things are going. He's concerned that a few years from now, nobody will be interested in watching films with precious little substance and no lasting value.”, said G.Senthil, a close personal friend and regular dinner companion.

“It's time we took more initiative to promote the kind of empty-headed, retarded drivel that we all really believe in. We understand that audiences may have a need for quality films, but we must draw a line somewhere! , said Vijay's father and noted director-producer S.A.Chandrasekhar. “Take that, Maddy!”, he growled, punching the air with his fist.

The announcement has led to mixed reactions among the film industry, critics and fans.

“He has taken the right decision. Every actor should concentrate on what his skills are best suited to. I wish I had such professional integrity and courage to refrain from needless experimentation”, said an unusually candid Kamal Haasan (Grand to friends), carelessly admitting to one of his several flaws (minus-points to friends).

“Although I do wish that he would move his lips just a bit more. It's eerie the way he speaks - like a ventriloquist who doesn't throw his voice.”, he added, before leaving to sign a brand new project in which he plays an evil wizard, a one-legged used car salesman, and a dark brown suitcase.

“Well, to each his own. I'm the sort who prefers more cerebral roles which give me a chance to show my acting ability”, said biker-actor Ajith, sending those present into howls of helpless laughter. “What? Whaaaat?”, he asked, taking off his helmet to get a better view of the gathering.

“Huh? Ewr . . who, me?”, offered Prashanth, mildly disoriented that anyone bothered to ask him for an opinion.

Vijay fans are delighted with the news. “Thank God! Now we don't have to see our Vijay Saar in blade, slow-moving films in which he is an embarrasing misfit – like Rajnikanth in 'Shri Raghavendra'.”, said lifelong fan Vishal Thyagarajan (no relation to Prashanth). Interestingly, hardcore film critics are pleased for the exact same reason.

“Let's just hope that he doesn't enter politics. Or for that matter, wildlife”, said wildlife photographer S.U.Saravanakumar, shuddering at the thought of Vijay, dressed in a wine-red suit, performing quick dance moves in the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve.

Silambarasan (Simbhu to friends, if any) was not available for comment, as he had reportedly gone to Barista, in the vain hope of bolstering his coolness factor by pretending to strum that silly guitar, and periodically looking around to see if anyone notices.