Pos. Driver Team
1 Felipe Massa Ferrari
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
3 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari
4 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber
5 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes
6 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber
7 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari
8 Timo Glock Toyota
9 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota
10 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota
11 Jarno Trulli Toyota
12 Jenson Button Honda
13 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
14 David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault
15 Fernando Alonso Renault
16 Nelsinho Piquet Renault
17 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari
18 Rubens Barrichello Honda
19 Adrian Sutil Force India-Ferrari
20 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Ferrari
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Felipe Massa looks to be planning a repeat of his Valencia performance after he took a comfortable pole position for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday evening.

The Brazilian upped the ante after McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen had set the fastest times, lapping his F2008 in 1m 44.801s. With Hamilton next on 1m 45.465s ahead of Raikkonen on 1m 45.617s, it is probably safe to assume that Massa is running to a lighter fuel strategy.

McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen split the two BMW Saubers on his final run, his 1m 45.873s leaving him between Robert Kubica (1m 45.779s) and Nick Heidfeld (1m 45.964s).

Monza winner Sebastian Vettel was the only Red Bull-backed runner to make the top 10 this time, taking his Toro Rosso to seventh on 1m 46.244s ahead of Toyota’s Timo Glock (1m 46.328s) and the Williams duo of Nico Rosberg (1m 46.611s) and Kazuki Nakajima (a top 10 first timer with 1m 47.547s).

Q2 weeded out Toyota’s Jarno Trulli (1m 45.038s), Honda’s Jenson Button (1m 45.133s), Red Bull’s Mark Webber and David Coulthard (1m 45.212s and 1m 45.298s respectively), and the unfortunate Fernando Alonso, whose Renault quit on him with fuel supply problems in Turn 18 during his out lap.

Renault’s Nelson Piquet lost out to Coulthard’s final effort in Q1, the Brazilian’s 1m 46.037s leaving him 16th in the line-up. Sebastien Bourdais didn’t get it together either, failing to push his Toro Rosso beyond 1m 46.389s. Rubens Barrichello’s weekend didn’t get any better for Honda, with 1m 46.583s for 18th.

The two Force Indias were at the back. Adrian Sutil lapped in 1m 46.940s, but Giancarlo Fisichella did nothing to endear himself to his mechanics, who had worked flat out to get him running near the end of the session following his earlier practice shunt, only for him to put his repaired VJM01 off into the barriers in Turn 3.

Paul Newman, a Hollywood legend and American icon beloved for his piercing blue eyes and roguish charm, has died after losing his fight with cancer, his family said Saturday. He was 83.

Newman, whose health had been the subject of intense speculation ever since photographs of him looking frail and gaunt appeared in the press in June, passed away on Friday, a spokeswoman said.

A devastatingly handsome leading man who appeared in scores of Hollywood classics, Newman’s death relegated the US presidential election and Wall Street’s financial meltdown to second place in news bulletins Saturday.

“Our father was a rare symbol of selfless humility, the last to acknowledge what he was doing was special,” Newman’s daughters said in a statement.

“Intensely private, he quietly succeeded beyond measure in impacting the lives of so many with his generosity.”

Tributes began flowing in from around the globe, with friends, co-stars and celebrities hailing an “exemplary life.”

Robert Redford , Newman’s friend and co-star in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “The Sting,” led the emotional outpouring.

“There is a point where feelings go beyond words,” the 72-year-old said in a statement. “I have lost a real friend. My life — and this country — is better for his being in it.”

Flowers were placed on Newman’s star on Hollywood’s ‘Walk of Fame’ as the Motion Picture Association of America hailed an “extraordinary career .”

Heart-throb George Clooney said simply: “He set the bar too high for the rest of us. Not just actors, but all of us.” Newman played youthful rebels, charming rogues, golden-hearted drunks and amoral opportunists in a career that encompassed more than 50 movies.

He was one of the most popular and consistently bankable Hollywood stars in the second half of the 20th century.

Newman was also a philanthropist, a health food mogul — he once quipped that his salad dressing was making more money than his movies — an auto racing enthusiast and a leftist political activist.

Newman won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1987, late in his career, for his role as a pool shark named “Fast Eddie” in Martin Scorsese’s “The Color of Money,” co-starring Tom Cruise. Many critics at the time said he was really being awarded the Oscar belatedly for his original performance of the same smarmy character in the 1961 movie “The Hustler.”

Born Paul Leonard Newman on January 26, 1925 in Shaker Heights, Ohio into a comfortable middle-class family — his father ran a successful sporting goods chain — Newman acted in school plays as a youth.

He joined the navy in World War II wanting to be a pilot, but tests showed that he was color blind. Instead he served as a rear-seat radioman and tail gunner aboard Avenger torpedo bombers in the Pacific theater.

Newman’s film career almost ended with his first movie — he considered his performance in the sword-and-sandal 1954 drama “The Chalice” so mediocre he paid for a page-size ad in a Hollywood trade publication to apologize.

Newman redeemed himself in his next movie, “Somebody Up There Likes Me” (1956), a portrayal of boxer Rocky Graziano, and by 1958 was nominated for an Oscar with a smouldering performance in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” starring alongside Elizabeth Taylor.

Hit movies rolled on from there, including “Exodus” (1960), “The Hustler” (1961), “Hud” (1963), “Cool Hand Luke” (1967), “The Towering Inferno” (1974) and “Slap Shot” (1977).

A committed liberal, Newman openly campaigned for several Democratic Party candidates — which got him onto Republican president Richard Nixon’s famous list of enemies in the 1970s, something he described as “the highest single honor I’ve ever received.”

Later Newman film roles include “Fort Apache, the Bronx” (1981), “The Verdict” (1982), “Nobody’s Fool” (1994), “The Road to Perdition” (2002), and as the voice of a vintage Hudson in the animated “Cars” (2006).

Newman had six children, three from an early marriage that ended in divorce and three with actress Joanne Woodward, whom he married in 1958. He had five daughters and one son, Scott, who died of a drug overdose in 1978.

Had he ever been tempted to stray during his long marriage? “Why fool around with hamburger when you have steak at home?” he told an interviewer.

Newman became interested in auto racing while filming the movie “Winning” in 1968, and quickly became a race car enthusiast. Over the years he won four Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) championships and competed in the famous Le Mans 24 Hour race.

Newman retired from movie acting in 2007, at the age of 82.

“You start to lose your memory, you start to lose your confidence, you start to lose your invention. So I think that’s pretty much a closed book for me,” Newman told ABC News in an interview, referring to his acting career.

The Indo-US nuclear deal has moved into the last lap clearing a major hurdle when the House of Representatives approved a legislation on it that will now go to the Senate, before the two countries can implement the civil nuclear agreement.

After a lot of drama and suspense, the House passed the Bill on an unusual extra day of sitting on Saturday with bi-partisan support but a considerable number of Democrats were still opposed to it.

The Berman Bill H R 7081, named after Howard Berman, a Democrat strongly opposed to the deal on non-proliferation grounds and who converted only a couple of days ago, was adopted with 298 voting for and 117 against. One lawmaker merely voted present.

The deal just needs the backing of the Senate which may vote next week on the issue. But the Senate vote appears to be a formality given the fact that an identical Bill has already been approved by its Foreign Relations Committee earlier this week.

Though a Congressional consent eluded the deal when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W Bush when they met on Thursday, the House approval came hours before the Prime Minister left the US shores winding up his five-day visit on his way to France.

Once the Senate gives its nod, the nuclear agreement between the two countries will be ready for signing between External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is slated to visit New Delhi on October 3.

The Administration is keen on signing the deal before the end of the term of Bush who had entered into the agreement with Singh more than three years ago that will end three decades of nuclear apartheid against India.

Welcome move

National Security Advisor M K Narayanan welcomed the adoption of the deal by the House, saying it was a matter of great satisfaction. He expressed the hope that the Bill would get cleared in the Senate sooner than later rather than wait for the next session.

Hailing the House action, Indian Ambassador to US Ronen Sen said it would now be the last lap of a historic step for both the countries. The deal enjoyed bi-partisan support and was good for both India and the US.

South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson, one of the strongest supporters of the legislation and the agreement, hailed the vote saying it moved the US one step forward in strengthening the partnership with people of India.

Despite the US Congress being busy in the midst of clearance of a package for the financial institutions gone bankrupt, the House met unusually on a Saturday for conducting business.

The vote on the nuclear Bill was suspended on Friday after another opponent Ed Markey demanded a recorded vote instead of a voice vote after the debate was completed.

Berman had originally introduced a Bill that was slightly different from the measure approved by the Senate Committee and adoption of it would have delayed implementation of the nuclear deal.

Berman was talked to by Rice after which he withdrew his original Bill and introduced a legislation identical to the Senate Committee that ensured its quick passage.

Joe Wilson said he was grateful for the work of President Bush, Prime Minister Singh and Rice for their steadfast support in seeing this agreement implemented.

Earlier, the House completed a lively debate that saw Markey putting up a stiff opposition to the deal with India. However in the Senate, an anonymous lawmaker put a “hold” on consideration of the bill which must be lifted before the agreement is brought to the Senate floor or approved by a unanimous consent agreement.

The latest hiccup in the Senate is actually a counter to the attempt of the leadership to “hotline” the Senate Bill through unanimous consent without debate and vote.

The schedule of the Senate is still fluid but it is meeting on Sunday and re-convening on Wednesday after taking a break on Monday and Tuesday on account of Jewish holidays.

vaaranam ayiram songs review

September 27, 2008

Adiyae Kolludhe—
Vocals: Krish, Benny Dayal, Shruti Haasan
Lyrics: Thaamarai

Some heavy guitar stuff here to begin with and heavy rhythms to go along with it too. Clearly targeting Pop and Heavy Metal fans. Both the male singers use a slightly rasping voice. Shruti is a welcome find. Her voice sounds slightly nasal. Could do with a little honing. The song surprisingly speaks of soft sentiments contrary to the music!

Nenjukkul Peythidum—
Vocals: Hariharan, Devan, V.Prasanna
Lyrics: Thaamarai

The guitar works magic in this song. Seems to be patterned on country music, the kind you hear from John Denver and others. The initial notes go ’sa ri ga pa gaa sa;ri paa—‘ all soft and flowy and the lyrics smoothly tag along. And when Hariharan’s rich voice combines with all this, the charm is all the more noticeable. Seems set on the Natabairavi scale. The way the keys ,humming and the guitar combine is soothing

Yaethi Yaethi—
Vocals: Benny Dayal, Naresh Iyer, Solar Sai
Lyrics: Na.Muthukumar

It is based on middle eastern rhythms but the song is totally pettai stuff and full of boyish bravado, so to speak! Set to Karaharapriya scale, the song has drums, guitar and some whistling sounds built attractively into it. Not original, but fun. And fun too, to see Muthukumar come out with such stuff!

Mun Dhinam—
Vocals: Narash Iyer and Prashanthini
Lyrics: Thaamarai

Again a soft number like ‘Nenjukkul’ but pitched on a higher scale. With the result that sometimes the male voice croons and the lady’s voice sounds shrill. Looks like Harikamboji scale and apart from the delightful guitar, we have two lovely sax interludes the first which goes ‘ma ni nii pa, ma ni nii pa’ and the second ‘pa dha ni saa rii—‘.Soft lyrics that sing of love asserting itself.

O Shanti Shanti—
Vocals: Clinton, SPB.Charan
Lyrics: Thaamarai

Yet another soft number where you have the refrain’ O Shanti Shanti’ repeating from song two with slightly altered lyrics and pace. Is there a visual continuation here? A small trumpet-like interlude breaks the monotony in this song. Well sung too.

Ava Enna—
Vocals: Karthik, V.Prasanna
Lyrics: Thaamarai

This song truly reflects what Harris is capable of.. A very interestingly conceived song with slight sruti variations that add charm to the whole piece. Karthik is faultless in rendering. The lines ‘onnukkulle onna en nenjukkulle ninna’ that carry the notes ‘ma pa maa ga maa pa, dha ni pa dha ni dha pa ma ma’ are very attractive. And the guitar, sitar, thavil and native drums combine so beautifully after the first minute. Tender sprinkles of guitar and santoor, sometimes drums and ghatam need to be savoured here. Though we have some Anandabairavi shades, the raga scale seems to be Harikamboji. Interesting!

Anal Mele—
Vocals: Sudha Raghunathan
Lyrics: Thaamarai

An exceptionally well composed song on the Natabairavi scale. And rendered with perfection by Sudha Raghunathan. We have some nice sitar and violin pieces woven into the song. Especially in the first interlude where the sitar goes ‘ga saa sa ga saa sa’ very melodiously. Some interesting swara patterns repeat through the song, which reveal the raga to be what it is and not Sindubairavi as it sometimes appears (you do recall Nenjinile Nenjinile’ from Rahman). Could stay on the charts easily for some time for its plaintiveness.

Kadhalil Vizhundhen Review

September 27, 2008

After all the Nakka Mukka hype, it is time for Kadhalil Vizhundhen, the movie to stand up on its merits and be counted. It is a movie full of debutants, made by the youth for the youth. The title itself indicates a theme that rides on romance, the trailers have shown that there is a fair share of action and drama and one need not elaborate more on the popularity of the music, a commercial mix. But it is not the commercial mixes but the neat presentation that makes a movie do well in theaters.

The theme of Kadhalil Vizhundhen is not something very novel, but the director has taken care that things do not get boring at any point of time. At the outset, the movie is the regular boy meets girl, love blossoms, three duets, villain enters, fights, drama and a climax fare, but the sequence of events and the characters make the movie interesting to watch. The hero, Nakul, is one with a disturbed past, a childhood that was marred by the loss of one parent and the callousness of another; he has to work hard to get himself an education. His passion for fast bikes is what makes him fall (literally) in love with heroine, Sunaina. The sequences of events that lead to the blossom of romance are highly cinematic but undeniably enjoyable. As expected, the romance which is separated by a wide socio-economic gulf does not find acceptance. Then, there seems to be more to the opposition than just social status and other regular factors. Is there some conspiracy afoot with larger and more sinister goals? The answer to all these questions awaits you in theaters.

The director has maintained a consistent tempo from start to finish, with some scenes making a definite impact like the one where the police inspector, played by Sampath gets the rough end of the stick from Nakul and also the scene where a rather petrified Livingston too faces the same treatment – the scene evokes amusement. Heroine Sunaina has done what is required of her. But the stand out performance is by Nakul, actress Devayani’s younger brother. At first one may find it difficult to believe that this is the same boy who rolled about with his plump body in Boys. Five years down the line, the transformation is extraordinary. He has tried his hand in Telugu in the interim, you hear. Here, he looks perfect hero material, be it in the songs, fights or scenes; the hard work shows as he delivers an energetic performance. This guy has definitely got a future in Tamil cinema. The surprise packet in the cast is Saimira Venkat who makes a one scene cameo which makes us wonder whether he can start a career as an actor.

Technically, Kadhalil Vizhundhen rises above the standards that we generally see for a debutant venture. Camera and editing have done a world of good to the movie. But the single largest factor here seems to be Vijay Antony who has simply turned it on with his musical score. Apart from the foot-thumping Nakka Mukka, Thozhiya En Kadhaliya and Un Thailamudi make a good impact, hats off and keep up the great work.

Overall, Kadhalil Vizhundhen is a movie that deals with a regular theme in a refreshing manner. Debutant director G.V. Prasad has understood perfectly the requirements of the script. He has taken quite a few cinematic liberties but has handled all of them well which keep boredom or ridicule well at bay. Great work for a debutant. Kadhalil Vizhundhen has introduced to Tamil cinema a talented director and a young hero who has all that it takes to go the distance.

At the box office there is no doubt about the target audience, the youth of all classes. They are most likely to enjoy this one to the fullest, especially the love struck ones. With the marketing led by Sun TV, the movie stands great chances of making it big at the box office.

sakkarakatti movie review

September 26, 2008

Shantanoo Bagyaraj’s debut film ‘Sakarakatti’ comes across as a lackluster film with a screenplay that fails to impress right through. Though the young actor seems bubbly, his efforts have been wasted with contrived dialogues and clichéd sequences.

A. R. Rahman’s brilliance is in abundance both with the songs and the background score, but debutant director Kalaprabhu has miserably failed to match the refreshing standards set by the talented musician. Visualization of the songs has been worked out well but then does not go with the mood of the film. Art direction in the song sequences has to be lauded. Recreation of the Van Helsing set and certain other similar endeavors have come out well. Computer Generated Imagery that features in the song sequences has come good. Soundarya Rajinikanth’s Ocher Studios’ involvement in the film is commendable. There are no villains in the film and the director has struggled to keep the conflict element going.

There is however one song ‘Taxi….Taxi’ that stands out. Youthful vigor, catchy tunes and a mood that personifies joy has come out brilliantly. Shantanoo is at ease in the song with some good dancing complimenting the rest of the dancers that include hip-swaying damsels.

Dimple-cheeked Shantanoo seems to be inspired tremendously by Shahrukh Khan as many of his expressions especially in the beginning of the film reveal. Unfortunately for the debutant whose father is considered one the greatest screenwriters in South Indian cinema, his introductory film hovers around aimlessly without any semblance of a screenplay.

Ishita proves to be a debutante who has nothing much to do except to burst out emotionally and of course smile sweetly at the protagonist. Audiences would probably remember her for mouthing the words ‘cho chweet’ which she does a number of times. Vedhika on the other hand, has handled herself in a more professional manner as the sometimes jealous no-way-out one-side lover.

Yuvaraj (Shantanoo) is a lad who grows up in the company of four friends with a penchant for mischief and an adventurous attitude. Just before he is to join college, he sees a girl named Deepali (Ishita) stranded on the road thanks to a malfunctioning car and a helpless driver. Yuvaraj finds himself in awe of her beauty and one of the most clichéd incidents happens. She walks into the same classroom as our hero is in and there is love in the air.

In comes another girl Reema (Vedhika) who happens to be Yuvaraj’s cousin (aunt’s daughter). She too joins the same college. Reema falls for her cousin and continues to be helplessly in love even after she gets to know about Yuvaraj’s and Deeplai’s love affair.

Yet another clichéd incident happens. Reema gives a red rose to our hero which is seen by Deepali. The girl runs away with a broken heart. The hero explains things and the affair brightens up once again. After a while Reema slips, thanks to a door mat. Yuvaraj holds her in a bid to break her fall. This again is seen by Deepali and another emotional outburst happens. The love affair is plagued by an assuming Deepali and a group of friends who want to bring the young lovers together.

Yuvaraj caught between the assuming Deepali and his true feeling of love decides to end the relationship which he voices to his heart’s desire. Confusion reigns until his friends conjure up an idea which would necessitate all the three people involved to come together in a ‘birthday party’. One more twist happens which produces some emotional dialogues. Do the lovers come together again or does Reema’s pure-love succeed?

On the whole, the film rubs on as an inexperienced attempt. Shantanoo however if directed well could go places.