The Archives

Inaccurate Advertising ("Raghavan" and "Shankardada Zindabad")

Wednesday · 29 Aug 07 · 03:17 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

I don't know how it is in other countries, but ever since I can remember, movie ads in the newspapers here often carry descriptions that are wildly inaccurate.  Take the following one for example —

Kamal Haasan in Raghavan

That is an advertisement for the upcoming release Raghavan, starring Kamal Haasan and Jyothika.  I was actually pleasantly surprised when I saw this, because this is a Telugu dubbed version of the 2006 Tamil film Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu.  It is directed by Gautham Menon (who made 2003's Kaakha Kaakha, which he remade in Telugu as Gharshana a year later), and is a very good movie.  However, the thing that caught my attention about this ad was the line just above the image — "Different Type of Sensational Entertainment for Entire Family".  I agree with "different", "sensational" and "entertainment", but "entire family"?  Sure, if your family consists largely of older people, that's accurate, but otherwise no way is this a family movie!

Considering that it is about Kamal Haasan's character, police officer Raghavan, hunting down two psychotic serial killers (played by Daniel Balaji and Saleem Baig) who rape women and later mutilate their bodies, it's definitely intended for mature viewers only (the DVD cover carries a "15" certificate).  I remember when the movie came out in Chennai, people I knew told me that it was gory and violent.  Of course, having watched it I think that is a bit of an exaggeration, as the level of gore and violence is no more than that found in a typical Hollywood thriller (in fact, I appreciated the way certain scenes were shot — they got the point across without actually showing much that would be considered objectionable).

Anyway, if you haven't seen the movie I would highly recommend it, as it is a very well-shot and gripping police story, certainly one of the best thrillers I've seen in Tamil.  In fact, I never got to see this in a theatre (I only watched on DVD), so if possible I will definitely try and watch the dubbed version.  It opens this Friday.  By the way, there are apparently Telugu versions of the songs (songs are by Harris Jayaraj, and they are all good) on the soundtrack as well, here is the link to listen to them at

Shankardada Zindabad

One more interesting ad is the above one, for the movie Shankardada Zindabad, which is again, a Telugu remake of last year's Lage Raho Munnabhai.  I have seen the latter movie (though not the former one).  I don't think it matters though, because I'm pretty sure that it would be quite difficult to find a "Hilarious Romantic Comedy Thriller"!

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Two from Evil Dead II!

Monday · 27 Aug 07 · 11:54 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Art

I added two drawings to the site last night (actually, early this morning).  Both of these are drawings based on the cult classic horror/comedy Evil Dead II.

Two Evil Dead II Drawings — by Karthik Abhiram

The first one is an old drawing (nine years ago, done 19-Sep-98!) that I did from a newspaper ad, and the second one is a newer drawing done this month.  In an earlier post, I had posted the "unprocessed" version of that drawing, now I've posted the completed picture.  To avoid confusion between the two, the second one is called "The Master Cylinder Tribute" drawing!  Do have a look at both and please post your comments!

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An Alien in Hyderabad!

Thursday · 23 Aug 07 · 04:36 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

There's a restaurant called My Café Latte in Madhapur, Hyderabad, which I pass on the way to work everyday.  This is a place decorated in the style of a movie theatre, and the most eye-catching thing about it (for me atleast) is something that is perched on top of the building —

An Alien on top of Café Latte, Hyderabad

Yes, that is a model of a Xenomorph (Alien) from the Alien movie quadrilogy!  I've been meaning to take a picture of this ever since I saw it about a month back, and managed to get one yesterday.  I've not actually been inside this place but I'm determined to go there some time, just for the fact that they have an Alien on top of their building!  Here's a closeup if you're not able to make out the creature clearly (everybody say with me now in their best Lance Henriksen voice, "it's a magnificent specimen!") —

An Alien on top of My Café Latte, Hyderabad

Yes, they mostly come at night.  Mostly.  I've been a big fan of the Alien series since the mid-90s, first saw the trilogy on TV — Ridley Scott's Alien is an undisputed classic, so is James Cameron's Aliens (at the time, STAR Movies showed the Director's Cut version), and the underrated Alien³ introduced me to the films of David Fincher.  Alien: Resurrection (generally considered the weakest of the series) was an enjoyable movie too.  A few years later (2004) was when the big crossover movie happened (Paul W S Anderson's AVP: Alien vs Predator), and that was a bit of a disappointment, but still provided some exciting battles between the title creatures (looking forward to AVP2!).

I've also read some of the comics (Aliens vs Predator vs The Terminator!) and though I have not read the Resurrection adaptation, I would like to do so now, as it has artwork by Eduardo Risso (an artist I came to admire after reading Batman: Broken City).

When AVP was about to come out, I did a lot of reading on this stuff and got to know a whole lot of background information about Swiss Surrealist H R Giger (who designed the Alien), both fictional universes, and the comics and movies.

Anyway, all that talk aside, I thought this was something cool to show off.  Now I must go to this place sometime, and see if they have any other interesting decorations inside.  Come to think of it, the model outside actually looks quite creepy.  What if that thing comes to life?  In that case, I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit.  It's the only way to be sure...

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Recent Drawings, and Art-Related Links

Thursday · 16 Aug 07 · 03:36 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Art

Yesterday (15 Aug) was a day off from work, and I spent it relaxing at home.  I was looking at art-related stuff mostly, and therefore have some links for you to check out.  I also got a couple of my own drawings scanned (but haven't processed them fully), and have put up some preview images of those, in this post.

There are several "speed drawing" videos up on YouTube, which show timelapsed footage of someone drawing a picture — this is captured with a video camera and sped up if it is traditional art, and it is screencaptured if it is digital art.  Two videos in particular caught my attention yesterday, and these are by a person called Moha.  Both these are done in Photoshop and they are very photorealistic —

  • Jigsaw — A speed painting of actor Tobin Bell as the main villain in the Saw movies!  This is an awesome rendering of an image from the Saw III publicity.
  • Kate from "Lost" — I haven't watched any episodes of the TV series, but all the same, this is a great painting of actress Evangeline Lilly.  Be warned though, that the video features some mild nudity towards the end.

I also spent quite a bit of time on a few websites, including those featuring the art of two great artists, Drew Struzan and Travis Charest.  More details below —

  • Drew Struzan is an artist I have written about before (this post and this post from my older blog, the images are not working there though).  He has painted more than a hundred movie posters since the 1970s and his art is stunning (not just the likenesses that he captures, even his composition is great).  The Official Drew Struzan Page has a portfolio of his work.  Under the Movie Posters section, check out the Blade Runner poster, this artwork is going to be used for the upcoming Special Edition DVDs.  The poster he did for Pan's Labyrinth is amazing too, a very different concept is used.  Don't miss the sketches at the site, where there is work done with colour pencils on grey paper.  It's simply beautiful.  The Drew Struzan Movie Poster Page has images of most of the posters he has painted.
  • Travis Charest is a Canadian-born artist who has worked in comics for several years.  I haven't read any comics with art by him, only seen his work on the net.  I love his detailed art style ahd rendering, and the effects he uses on costumes and clothes in his painted work (which I read are largely achieved through airbrushing).  To get an idea of what I'm talking about, have a look at his work on The Official Unofficial Travis Charest Art Gallery and Charest's MSN Group.  At the latter link, you can also check out episodes of his comic Spacegirl.
  • Crazy 4 Cult was an art show recently organised by writer-director Kevin Smith, which featured art based on Cult Movies.  A large selection of the art is available at the Crazy 4 Cult Gallery, and all are great!

Now for some of my work...  Over the last couple of weeks I've done two drawings, which I scanned yesterday.  I am yet to process these (that is, adjust them in Photoshop and possibly colour them), which I will do if I have time today.  Still, you can have a look at small versions below —

Doom - Blazing Gunz — Art by Karthik Abhiram

A Doom-inspired picture, called "Dark Marine" or "Blazing Gunz".  I was thinking of using this as a title screen or poster for one of my levels.  I guess it wouldn't fit a more serious level though.  Done on notebook paper, I need to remove the blue lines and possibly colour the piece.

Evil Dead II Poster — Art by Karthik Abhiram

Ah, the poster from the cult classic Evil Dead II!  This one was done in pencil on the cover of a notebook.  I need to darken the whole thing and maybe colour it.

28 Weeks Later — Art by Karthik Abhiram

28 Weeks Later was a great movie, and this drawing is a very quick one I did (couldn't have taken more than a few minutes — hence, I won't be adding this to my Art Gallery).  Again, notebook with colour pencil.  This is taken from the US poster for the movie and features actress Rose Byrne.  By the way, all three of the above drawings were done while in office.

I recently watched some (and re-watched other) movies — Rush Hour 3 (nothing very original, but a lot of fun), Sunshine (again, not entirely original, but awesome), Hot Fuzz (great), Vettaiyaadu Villaiyaadu (watched the DVD version of this, awesome, liked it more than when I saw it the first time).  I was thinking of doing a drawing based on Gautam Menon's movies Kaakha Kaakha and Vettaiyaadu Villaiyaadu actually, let us see if it happens sometime.

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The Hazard Variation by Karthik Abhiram — Released!

Sunday · 12 Aug 07 · 01:11 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Doom

Man, I was getting pretty tired of going to work on weekends in the recent past!  I couldn't do anything interesting because of this, so when there was nothing planned for this weekend at work, I seized the opportunity.  Now I bring you, the release of a level for The Ultimate Doom, called The Hazard Variation!

The Hazard Variation — for The Ultimate Doom by Karthik Abhiram [Titlepic]

This would have been E4M1 of the now-abandoned project The Ninth Gate, and is actually the second map I made for that slot.  You see, when we started the project in 2001, I made an E4M1, but later on we decided to scrap that map because it was way too primitive (to put things in context, I made that map after finishing Chaos Punch).  So in 2003, I did a new level, and that is the one that is being released now, as The Hazard Variation.  I'm very happy with this level, I hope you have fun playing it too.

The Hazard Variation — for The Ultimate Doom by Karthik Abhiram

Well, what are you waiting for?  Go here see more information and screenshots on The Hazard Variation, download the map, and tell me what you think!

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The Outer Darkness by Varun Abhiram, and other Doom news!

Thursday · 2 Aug 07 · 03:21 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Doom

A couple of posts back, I mentioned some important news about Doom, which is worth repeating here: the completed maps from The Ninth Gate are going to be released individually... well, wait, that's not exactly right, as one of them is out already!

The Ninth Gate was an intended replacement for all nine levels for Episode 4 of The Ultimate Doom, with maps contributed by Pablo Dictter, Tobias Münch, Damian Lee, myself and my brother, and testing by Joel Murdoch.  The project was started in early 2001, but remained incomplete.  8 out of 9 levels were finished, but then due to everyone being busy with "real life", it was obvious that the project was never going to be finished.  Therefore, it was decided to release the completed levels individually, rather than let the work we did go to waste.  So, these levels are going to finally see the light of day.

Varun's contribution to the project was the seventh level, E4M7, then titled "The Gate to Hell".  He started making the level in 2001 and completed it sometime in 2003, and there were tweaks done to it after that as well.  This also happens to be the first map from the project that is being released now, and it has an all-new, Lovecraftian-sounding title, The Outer Darkness!

The Outer Darkness — by Varun Abhiram — for The Ultimate Doom

It's a little difficult for me to be completely objective about this map, as I've seen it being created from scratch till its present, completed state.  Still, it is a great level for several reasons —

  • The visual design is absolutely professional, a consistent, moody atmosphere throughout, with a high level of detail and great architecture.  There are some key moments in the level which are intended to grab the player's attention and make them go "wow", and it's amazing that he did all this with a rather primitive editor, DoomCAD.
  • Gameplay is tough, but fair.  The level itself is quite straightforward and there are no confusions.  This is one aspect of the level that he has refined quite a bit (early on, the lava in the map used to hurt, and there was a different route which you followed to complete the level).
  • The overall attention to detail, architecture and polishing that was done has been an inspiration to me.  Varun takes time and has not released a large number of maps, but every one of his releases is a quality work, and that's something I admire (I was checking out his first release, The Anomaly Part II yesterday, and it still holds up well).

Well, enough talk, the following page is where you will be able to see more pictures from the level, and actually download it: The Outer Darkness!

Let's not forget that I contributed maps to The Ninth Gate too, and I actually have three of them that I will be releasing over time.

The Ninth Gate [N4M1] — by Karthik Abhiram — for The Ultimate Doom

The Ninth Gate [E4M3] — by Karthik Abhiram — for The Ultimate Doom

I made a map for the E4M1 slot in 2001, but then that was way too dated and didn't match up to the quality of the rest, so in 2003 I made a new E4M1, and I am very proud of that one (first screenshot above).  Then, I also did the intended E4M3 in the project which was created from 2002-03 (second screenshot above).  This one is a considerably larger map and it needs a bit of refinement before it can be released.  For the discarded E4M1, I thought I would add a bit of detail and all to it, and then release it, along with the unaltered, original version as an "extra".  Now if I could only get a few days off from work to do all this...

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The Author

Karthik Abhiram

27-year old Taurean (birthday 15-May-82), Assistant Manager - HR at Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in Hyderabad, India.  Previously, did Post Graduate Diploma in Management from T A Pai Management Institute (2003-05) and before that, Computer Science Engineering from Sree Nidhi Institute of Science and Technology (1999-2003).

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