Friday 5 October 2012

English Vinglish

I rarely watch Hindi movies. Rarer still do I come back appreciating them.

English Vinglish is worth it, even a bleary-eyed 6 am review.

After just about making it across town to the PVR at Oberoi Mall, Goregaon, was amazed to see that most of the invitees were on time, with thousands of eager fans, waiting to glimpse their favourite stars, and of course the star of the film. 

As if one needed a reminder, large billboards of Sridevi in a saree against the New York skyline, looking lost, stared back at us all the way.

The selling point for this film till the opening has been Sridevi's comeback. For people like me, who aren't a big Sridevi fan, it wasn't the most exciting news. But to contrast, my cousin in the US, much younger than me, and surprisingly a huge fan, (after all she had missed the superstar Sridevi days), has been waiting for this with great anticipation.

After the movie got over, I too can be counted as one of the fans. For her fantastic performance. Also for being perfectly cast in the lead role.














(Picture courtesy: 123telegu.com)

The pre-hype had already got the basics of the plot out - Indian woman in New York who doesn't know the language, has to pick it up double quick with the help of a motley bunch of fellow non-English speakers. I wouldn't blame you for thinking, "Hey, it must be a 'Mind Your Language' equivalent, I've seen that."

Well it is much more than that.

Gauri Shinde the award winning short film director and ad film maker is someone we were familiar with. We knew her passion and the dedication to the craft. Her ability to put the story across with minimum fuss.

What was a revelation was Gauri Shinde the script writer.

English Vinglish is a tight script. Its sweet without being cloying. It holds a mirror where it has to, and at other moments shows the way. The single mindedness of the story and lack of familiar Bollywood distractions of supporting comedians, songs (there are a couple, but in appropriate places), arch villains and hammy side kicks, is what makes the story click.

It is humorous, even in the 'familiar' classroom scenes, it is poignant, well-shot, without making New York a tourism board sponsored promotional video. One could sense the director's familiarity with the city, it was obvious she didn't need much help from location scouts. 

The casting is bang-on. The two kids are a revelation. Especially the younger one. He could be our version of Dakota Fanning. The elder sister was good too, but given that she has age and much more worldly experience on her side to draw upon, I would judge the sibling's performance higher. But that's just nitpicking. The teacher and the co-students are good too. And they make the film lighter. The rest of the family does really well to make this slightly-more-than-a-month-in-the-life-of Mrs Godbole in Pune/New York shine in a warm familial glow.

A couple of surprises in terms of guest appearances. On hindsight, one of them is an obvious one, given that R Balki's produced the movie.

There is a nice balance to the struggle of restricting English dialogue in an English language setting for a largely Hindi audience in a mainstream Hindi movie. After all, it is a Bollywood movie, for everyone, including the person who has painted 'Ladis' and 'Gends' at the convenience near Byculla, which I happened to pass by in the morning. So the grammar lessons are few and far between, language is used to convey mood and feelings, not necessarily the exact content, and dialogue only when it's absolutely necessary.

The cowering, lost woman transforms into a confident and self-aware person. That too without stretching the limits of believability. She doesn't suddenly become an orator in the newly learnt language. She doesn't lose her shyness either.

Special mention here of Sridevi, she allows the director to lead her and doesn't overpower the narrative, with a held back, controlled performance. She could have tried to do a lot more, considering this was 'her' film, after like a zillion years.

That is where the film hits you. It's real. You can easily identify with it. And is therefore that much more enjoyable.

I don't have stars to dole out. Just hugs for the entire team, because, like many others know, it's not easy to make a good film. That too your first one, and at the same time having the guts to relaunch someone's career after many years.

Excellent Vexellent.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

3-D Creator - Push Button Play God

Even though the article uses the word 'printer', I thought 'creator' or 'modeler' might be more appropriate for the way it functions  - M

A 3-D printer, which has nothing to do with paper printers, creates an object by stacking one layer of material — typically plastic or metal — on top of another, much the same way a pastry chef makes baklava with sheets of phyllo dough.

The technology has been radically transformed from its origins as a tool used by manufacturers and designers to build prototypes.
Kevin Moloney for The New York Times
Charles Overy, founder of LGM, with a model of a resort in Vail, Colo. “We used to take two months to build $100,000 models,” he said, adding that now they cost about $2,000.

A California start-up is even working on building houses. Its printer, which would fit on a tractor-trailer, would use patterns delivered by computer, squirt out layers of special concrete and build entire walls that could be connected to form the basis of a house.

It is manufacturing with a mouse click instead of hammers, nails and, well, workers. Advocates of the technology say that by doing away with manual labor, 3-D printing could revamp the economics of manufacturing and revive American industry as creativity and ingenuity replace labor costs as the main concern around a variety of goods.

“There is nothing to be gained by going overseas except for higher shipping charges,” Mr. Summit said.

A wealth of design software programs, from free applications to the more sophisticated offerings of companies including Alibre and Autodesk, allows a person to concoct a product at home, then send the design to a company like Shapeways, which will print it and mail it back.

“We are enabling a class of ordinary people to take their ideas and turn those into physical, real products,” said J. Paul Grayson, Alibre’s chief executive. Mr. Grayson said his customers had designed parts for antique cars, yo-yos and even pieces for DNA analysis machines.

“We have a lot of individuals going from personal to commercial,” Mr. Grayson said.
Manufacturers and designers have used 3-D printing technology for years, experimenting on the spot rather than sending off designs to be built elsewhere, usually in Asia, and then waiting for a model to return. Boeing, for example, might use the technique to make and test air-duct shapes before committing to a final design.

Depending on the type of job at hand, a typical 3-D printer can cost from $10,000 to more than $100,000. Stratasys and 3D Systems are among the industry leaders. And MakerBot Industries sells a hobbyist kit for under $1,000.

But as 3-D printing machines have improved and fallen in cost along with the materials used to make products, new businesses have cropped up. Freedom of Creation, based in Amsterdam, designs and prints exotic furniture and other fixtures for hotels and restaurants. It also makes iPhone cases for Apple, eye cream bottles for L’Oreal and jewelry and handbags for sale on its Web site.
Various designers have turned to the company for clothing that interlaces plastic to create form-hugging blouses, while others have requested spiky coverings for lights that look as if they could be the offspring of a sea urchin and a lamp shade.

“The aim was always to bring this to consumers instead of keeping it a secret at NASA and big manufacturers,” said Janne Kyttanen, 36, who founded Freedom of Creation about 10 years ago. “Everyone thought I was a lunatic when we started.”

His company can take risks with “out there” designs since it doesn’t need to print an object until it is ordered, Mr. Kyttanen said. Ikea can worry about mass appeal.

LGM, based in Minturn, Colo., uses a 3-D printing machine to create models of buildings and resorts for architectural firms.

Full and unedited article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/technology/14print.html?src=me&ref=general

Monday 13 September 2010

Heidi's Story

The 2008 financial implosion/meltdown/collapse: an interesting way of putting it -

Here is an easy understandable explanation of the cause of the recession in the form of story.

Heidi is the proprietor of a bar in Detroit . She realizes that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can no longer afford to patronize her bar.

To solve this problem, she comes up with a new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later. She keeps track of the drinks consumed in a ledger (thereby granting the customers loans).

Word gets around about Heidi's "drink now, pay later" marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Heidi's bar. Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in Detroit.

By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands, Heidi gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most consumed beverages. Consequently, Heidi's gross sales volume increases massively.

A young and dynamic Vice President at the local bank recognizes that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets, and increases Heidi's borrowing limit. He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral.

At the bank's corporate headquarters, expert traders transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS. These securities are then bundled and traded on international security markets.

Naive investors don't really understand that the securities being sold to them as AAA secured bonds are really the debts of unemployed alcoholics. Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb, and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation's leading brokerage houses.

One day, even though the bond prices are still climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Heidi's bar. He so informs Heidi. Heidi then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons. But being unemployed alcoholics, they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Since Heidi cannot fulfill her loan obligations, she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and her eleven employees lose their jobs.

Overnight, DRINKBONDS, ALKIBONDS and PUKEBONDS drop in price by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the bank's liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community.

Suppliers of Heidi's bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms' pension funds in the various BOND securities. They find they are now faced with not only having to write off her bad debt but also with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds. Her wine supplier claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations. Her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers.

Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses, and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multi-billion dollar, no-strings attached cash infusion from their cronies in the Federal Government. The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who have never been in Heidi's bar.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Random Thought Luck

Copywriters and Art Directors should also form unions. We also need a one stay strike to protest against higher workloads and lower quality of briefs. I suspect the only good thing that would come out of that would be the Union posters, if we were given a free hand.

Lokmanya BG Tilak had the biggest activation/on-ground idea before marketers racked their brains trying to form communities around brands or Harley came up with Harley Owners Group. Mr. Tilak's idea will be visible on the streets of Maharashtra in a 100 year old festival celebrated by throngs venerating the elephant headed god Ganpati.

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Living in Mumbai

In Mumbai, when you buy a house, you buy into the location and not the surroundings.

Friday 7 May 2010

Art As Investment

Art, when it does come up for auction is very rare. And the most expensive ones are works of European masters because among other things, even the well-known auction houses are Eurocentric in their outlook and located in London or New York.
The ten pieces below are the top 10 most expensive works of art since 1990. There may be other works of art that might be better, but they may not have come up for public auction.
The only thing to keep in mind is that this is never going to pay you back quickly. Most of these paintings are over 100 years old.
They are arranged in descending order of big bucks paid out for them, with the Picasso below going for a world record of Rupees 475 crore. A few of these and we could wipe out hunger for ever.

1. Pablo Picasso - Nude, Green leaves and Bust, $106.4 million, sold in 2010


















2. Alberto Giacometti - Walking Man I, $104.3 million, sold in 2010


















3. Pablo Picasso - Boy with a Pipe, $104.2 million


















4. Pablo Picasso - Dora Maar with Cat, $95.2 million, sold in 2006


















5. Gustav Klimt - Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, $87.9 million, sold in 2006


















6. Francis Bacon - Triptych, $86.2 million, sold in 2008









7. Vincent Van Gogh - Portrait of Dr. Gachet, $82.5 million, sold in 1990


















8. Auguste Renoir - Au Moulin de la Galette, $78.1 million, sold in 1990














9. Peter Paul Rubens - Massacre of the Innocents, $76.7 million, sold in 2002













10. Mark Rothko - White Center, $72.8 million, sold in 2007

Monday 19 April 2010

One Rank One Pension

There is a lot of confusion regarding the One Rank One Pension, previous Pay Commission anomalies and restoration of pension to original level of 70% for all ranks for retired officers of the three Indian Armed Forces - Army, Air Force and Navy.
A lot of state owned banks apparently don't have the knowledge and the wherewithal to understand, process and update the Government of India orders and claims of tens of thousands of retired officers and their widows, to whom the pension is an important way to subside in various parts of India and even the world.
A group of officers have been selflessly and tirelessly working towards this by providing help and information to their fellow officers and co-ordinating between the far-flung men and the concerned banks.
See image attached for details.

Kashmir

A representative from India began: 'Before beginning my speech I want to tell you something about Rishi Kashyap of Kashmir, after whom Kashmir is named. 


When he struck a rock and it brought forth water, he thought, 'What a good opportunity to have a bath.'

He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water.
When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished. A Pakistani had stolen them.'

The Pakistani representative jumped up furiously and shouted, 'What are you talking about? The Pakistanis weren't even there then.'

The Indian representative smiled and said, 'And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech.

Friday 5 February 2010

Fear, Happiness And God

People have often suggested 'amazing', 'this is the baap of movie A or movie X' horror movies to me for a long time. I have politely declined and have tried to explain to them that I can't willingly trouble myself so much. It's a thrill that I haven't quite gotten addicted to. I'd rather stay a creepy arm's length away.

I feel that the fear you experience, stays with you longer than it should. It eventually gets buried deep within only to resurface at an (in)opportune time. Like the times when you are alone at home. Underground car parks after office hours. While working alone at night. I have heard of people packing up and leaving in spite of the advertising deadlines because they couldn't stay back and finish the job alone in office.

Happiness is a great emotion. Altogether fleeting. Unlike fear or sadness, it doesn't stay with you, at least as much as they do. Nothing new to say, but moments of happiness are mere punctuation marks in an otherwise staid, sad, unhappy, fearful existence, depending on the person and the circumstances.

Sadness is an emotion with a longer existence. It takes events, mental effort and circumstances to go away.

So if the fear of the spirits, possession and the occult is a constructed and continuing myth, it is the second most powerful sustained myth other than the concept of a physical manifestation of God.

Herein lies the duality that I live with.

I dislike horror because I feel it is an unnatural, artificial emotion that is propagated and sustained by various people (like shamans) and organizations (like film makers and studios) either for power and/or for profit.

If a human being is isolated and never introduced to the supernatural concepts, I doubt the possibility of such fear ever crossing his or her mind. If we check the isolated communities in Northern Andamans and Nicobar Islands or Polynesia would they have a 'devil' or 'evil' equivalent? I don't know.

When it comes to God and such like, I agree that most religions are, again, a way to control masses through another type of fear. The fear of heavenly wrath. So be good, do good, commit no sin.
So having being born into a religion, I accept it, I celebrate it but there isn't a fervent, 'blind' belief that one might be expected to have. Still, somewhere deep inside is a faith in a force of nature, Gaia like concept of integrated, interconnected creation, which could again have been because of the books that I have read.

It is still another milder, benign fear. Almost like Mother/Father/Androgynous/Big Brother Nature is watching. Which is why we do good. No one wants to be hauled up and dragged over the coals.

Which is also why criminals/mad people are Godless. They don't fear the supreme force because they realise probably that there might be none. Or simply because the Supreme Force or Being(s) are too busy with more important things than worry about a lie, a theft, or something more serious. And if they get caught, it's not like what goes around, comes around. It's more like the law of averages literally catches up with them.

Sunday 24 January 2010

Minority Community

Granted that the Muslims in India are just 13% of the population (160.9 million per 2009 estimate according to two sources: CIA Factbook and India Census 2009). But if you look at the figure, how can anyone (or any longer) call them a minority community? Call them vilified, oppressed, ignored or whatever else. But minority they are not. They are the size of an average country by themselves.
Parsis, Jews, Jains and so on can be the new, true minority communities.


Monday 7 December 2009

Rude Food. Literally.

Had to meet a friend from out of town. So we decided on a convenient place that we could meet and catch up for an hour or so. 10.30 was the appointed time. We reach (wife and I). Friend is running a bit late. So to while away time I order a Cappuccino of the Illy variety. They serve it with lots of foam (fine with that) and a sprinkle of cinnamon (uh huh). After a sip I discover that it's not even lukewarm under the protective frothy cover. So in no time I have gulped it down, and then I almost choke on a big Sweet Lime seed in my coffee.

The friend shows up around 11pm. Wife and the new guest order coffee too. The waiter has hovered around a couple of times and asked if we would order main course. We say no.
As soon as the two coffees arrive my friend orders a Tiramisu.
The manager arrives with it and say, "Will you be placing your order for main course? The kitchen will be closing in some time."
We say, no food thank you. Just the dessert will do.
Manager, "This is not a coffee shop and we don't encourage ordering just coffee and dessert."

While it may be true of any hotel or restaurant to encourage people to come and eat a full board, I have never heard of anyone actually say it in so many words. What was also amazing was that it was Saturday night. Juhu. The area packed to the gills, with Gills, Shahs and Senguptas. Parking was a fight. Almost. But this restaurant was half empty. It was also empty of kids, as per the management policy. Apparently kids are not allowed unless they are well behaved zombies who follow strict orders.
So we weren't unnecessarily occupying a table during peak time.

Think about the Baristas. Five star coffee shops. While they come, wish you the time of the day, place a menu in front of you, they don't ever insist that you order anything. Forget main course.

Our friend knows the restaurant owner well. That made us shut up and try ignore the manager's rude behaviour. Instead, we seethe between spoonfuls of the world's best Tiramisu. Do try it out. As also the other equally amazing things on the menu. It is authentic Italian food made under the personal supervision of a finicky septuagenarian Italian man.


Thank god, there aren't more fine dining restaurants of the Don Giovanni kind. Supposedly in the hospitality business ha ha.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Paa


I had read about the brilliant prosthetic make up, seen the pictures and also got a little freaked out at the sight of it in the promos. Well, that is me.

But as the film opened and Auro made his entry, the visual comfort increased till, later and towards the end, the bald head with blue veins didn't matter as much as what was happening in the story.

Like Cheeni Kum, Paa is also well written, funny in parts (where after the initial guffaws, the humour stays with you longer than the usual slapstick delivered say in a 'All the Best' or Govinda No. 1 movie) and the performances are outstanding.

Amitabh Bachchan is Auro the 12 year old kid with progeria, Vidya Balan is Vidya, a Cambridge returned Gynecologist and Abhishek Bachchan is Amol Arte the young and dynamic MP from Lucknow or thereabouts. Paresh Rawal has less histrionics this time and is pretty good with what he gets, but that is expected from an actor of his calibre and there is Auro's best friend from school, Vishnu, (played by Prateek) imp sized with round black spectacles, who brings out the loudest laughs and practically steals the show in a scene.

When you think about it, the little boy is acting with Amitabh Bachchan and that is enough to send shivers down the spines of experienced TV anchors, forget grown up actors. I guess the boy, not burdened by the thought of acting with the legend called Amitabh Bachchan, is a complete natural while interacting with the character called Auro. Huge credit to the team that made the look and the character so seamless and independent of the Amitabh persona. And ultimately that is what works so well, where like I mentioned earlier, I forgot about the bizarre look and focussed on the unfolding story.

To get back, the colours are a treat, Cambridge University looks amazing, so does the other visual treat, Vidya Balan. Amol and the camera are equally adept at romancing her.

Briefly the plot is thus (spoilers ahead): Amol and Vidya bump into each other and sparks fly. Soon, she discovers that she is pregnant. Amol asks her to abort as he suggests they focus on their studies and the eventual individual careers. They split. Cut to 12 years later in India. Amol is the dashing MP that everyone loves. He believes in engineering social change through transparent governance. There are political and social messages galore throughout the film, taking on political stereotypes, corruption, builders, media, the works. Meanwhile, Vidya has decided to keep the baby and is now a successful doctor in a local hospital, but the two have never met.

Then the Auro story really begins. Amol happens to judge a Vision of the Future/21st Century India (something like that) competition in the prestigious school in town. That's where Amol (Paa, in case you haven't figured it out by now) and we first encounter Auro, the funny, intelligent and aged student who sees life through his 72 year old eyes.

Amol the MP and Auro the big-little boy become friends. While he is battling his political nemesis, the busy MP finds time for the child he is growing fond of. Interacting with such a special case who is precocious, knowledge hungry and wizened at the same time can be exasperating and yet there is a certain cuteness too. Abhishek has struck the right note while portraying a busy MP giving his precious time to bond with Auro. Fondness and exasperation in fine balance.

I don't want to let on to more of the story. Suffice to say that it is definitely worth a watch. Everyone has done a great job, the cast, the technical crew, special mention of the art direction, the music is soulful and syncs with the film brilliantly. If at all I have to nitpick, a couple of small blemishes. The Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi, has a bedside telephone with Sahara Star labelled on it. Vidya's 2008 Honda Accord morphs into the 2004 Accord in between. Auro the twelve year old child's finger has something that suspiciously looks like a voting mark. I may be wrong.
But all this is really trivial compared to emotional roller-coaster that the film is. Hugely enjoyable.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

What Security?



I was participating in a Canon photo competition last Sunday for a lark, and of course for the all-expenses-paid trip to Japan which they had dangled enticingly.

We got an hour and a half per topic to run from Atria Mall to click pictures and get back to upload them at the Canon Center. The three briefs were - Stand Out, On The Job and Freedom. While roaming around Peddar Road, Babulnath Temple, Mahalaxmi Race Course and Worli Sea Face, I used to park my car somewhere and walk a bit around on foot trying to capture a picture that fit the brief. They had given us Canon T-shirts to wear and a huge badge to identify us as participants.

Almost everywhere, the security guards let me wander around and even saluted me!
Made me think about them, the fear that they have about anything and anyone looking even slightly officious. I don't think they could read Canon, but I suspect they could visually identify the Canon logo and let me through. I even drove to the stables at Mahalaxmi without any hitch, saluted by 2 guards on the way. At Gold's Gym opposite Haji Ali, it was the same case.

Scary that anyone can take advantage of these poor guys fear and desire not to upset a potentially powerful person just to safeguard their jobs!

Friday 23 October 2009

Hippo Vs Aliva Vs Cracker Classic Lite Vs 5 Grain


A comparison between some new snack foods that have cropped up, all in the baked, not fried category and a few old favorites.
All of them flag off the Zero Cholesterol and Zero Trans Fat prominently. Some say made with wheat and dal instead of flour (maida). Some have 5 grains in them. Some have minuscule amounts of honey and other good things that they are irrelevant in the health claim.

So, do the just-launched snacks Hippo (Parle Agro) and Aliva (Frito Lay) score over a comparatively new 5 Grain Nutri Choice (Britannia) or the Cream Cracker (now known as Cracker Classic Lite Nutri Choice) (Britannia) or are they all just marketing hype? To me any thing that is packaged and has flavouring and emulsifying agents and a load of maida has to be unhealthy. Nothing can beat food made at home. So while I buy all of the above brands and more, the final nutri choice is up to us whether we choose to become hippos or stay alive in a cracking healthy way.
              
NOTES:
The 4 packs were of different sizes. So I have reduced the nutritional information to a common 10 gms. Also Hippo is a toasted bread snack and not a biscuit as the others clearly are. 1 kcal is just one Calorie. But the reason for all of them being here is because we are being sold these as a healthy alternative in our busy life.
While I was looking for pictures to add, I stumbled upon Nita's site. If you have read so far, I assume you care about what you eat, so please check out what she has to say about these claims.

Click on the image below, it's a hand-drawn table with the nutritional information compiled from the above packs.

Thursday 15 October 2009

Displaced... And Dazed

I was born in Bombay. My first few nappy changes brought along a heady rush of smells, sights and sounds as my parents took connecting trains and planes, shifting across the length and breadth of India bag, baggage, two bawling kids and 42 wooden boxes in tow.
 

Pathankot, Chandigarh, Kanpur, Silchar (in Assam), Poona, New Delhi, Bareilly, Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune and so on. 29 houses in 31 years to be precise. And a bunch of muddled and not so muddled memories.
 

Of numerous housekeepers. One really nice gardener. One nutty nanny in Silchar who insisted on feeding us milk and rice with sugar on top. Moving from large bungalows with picturesque gardens to shared accommodation in Air Force transit camps. From cramped whitewashed flats to large apartments overlooking the Arabian Sea. Memories of gardens winning first prize every year to Assamese Bashas made out of bamboo and nothing else. Ones that gave up their roofs to the gale-force winds in the North Eastern monsoons. And if not the roof blowing off, springing leaks that only large plastic sheets stretched under them could aim the leakage towards strategically placed buckets and pans.


There was a time I remember, when the monthly ration the peak-capped boffins in New Delhi sent, was a planeload of tinned biscuits and that is all the whole Air Force station had to eat that week.

Our extensive Poona garden with numerous fruit trees to swing and climb, from Mango and Guava, to Banana and Sugarcane. And the shock to discover that our happy playground was home to a huge brown snake. The long cycle rides in the cantonment roads chasing each other, playing catch and cook. The chance encounter with a girl after school, while waiting for our dads to pick us up, who was the only one ever to have made me go weak in the knees, all at the rather young age of ten. And later, becoming friends with her, knowing fully well it was never meant to be. Picking 'Ber' and dipping them in little packets of salt, carried just for such encounters on our secret short cuts in the Aravali hills. Roller skating from Subroto Park to Dhaula Kuan and back, racing trucks on the national highway. Hurried Table Tennis in the lunch break. Playing cricket every day, even during exam time and paying the penalty for it. The rod, I remember, was not spared.


When two boxes full of books collected, no treasured, over the years, had no place in a small house in Bangalore and were sent for storage in HAL. And after a year when we moved to our official house, to discover all that was left of them were little bits of paper chewed up by rats in a hungry frenzy. Or sheer frustration.

Or later in college, experiencing a culture shock of civilian kids and their completely different lifestyles and upbringing. The biggest being the perceived lax morals, having grown up in the city versus being closeted in insulated cantonments far away. An example of that being when I got my driving license, the regular way, paying the 45 rupee fee, while my classmates boasted how they didn’t even have to make a trip to the RTO office. They got theirs in hand by paying a princely sum of Rs. 300 to a tout.

The irritating times trying to convince traffic cops that the reason my scooter, car and bike had alien license plates was because my father had a transferable job and CHU 4844 was a 25-year-old Chandigarh legacy my father refused to give up, even when the papers were lost. Or hiding the fact that CKA 2432 was deregistered in Bangalore and then never re-registered, ever again. And UTF 9 was an IPS officer's car and getting salutes from cops was an embarrassment to be savored in secretive glee behind its dark tinted windows.
 

When I joined advertising in 1996, the mad world actually helped stabilize my life. In fact, Mumbai has now been my home for the longest period of time. After moving three more times, I moved to a place right across the road from the hospital I was born in (Dr. Pai's, Matunga) almost like a fitting end to the journey so far. And a poetic way to begin at the beginning.
 

To put things in perspective, I have one friend from school, a handful from college, no neighbours or neighbourhood friends and a whole lot of agency friends. Or rather, friends who happen to be in advertising.
 

I am glad with what I have.

- This started off life as a small rejoinder to a friend's article that was published in http://dsplaced.com/?p=324. It just became so humongous that I had to cut-paste it here and just leave a link there :)

Thursday 8 October 2009

Vuclip: More News

Vuclip’s redesigned web and wapsites make it easier than ever for users to search for and watch any Internet video on their mobile phones by adding social networking and other functionality to drive the discovery of new video content. In addition to having any video delivered to their phones whenever they want, users can now create playlists, receive alerts about new videos and share their favorite videos with friends.

“Users want to consume everything from first-run branded content to user-generated content but the mobile video viewing experience has been far too frustrating for it to become an everyday consumer activity,” said Nickhil Jakatdar, CEO of Vuclip. “Vuclip solves this problem by delivering video to mobile phones the way people want it, when they want it, wherever they are.”

The current growth and adoption rates for mobile video usage have been hampered by technological fragmentation in the marketplace as well as limited available content. Handsets have different screen sizes, media players and browsers. Network Infrastructure varies among carriers. The availability of mobile video content is often limited by pre-encoding and storage issues.

Vuclip addresses these fragmentation and content issues by allowing users to search for any Internet video, transcoding that video on the fly and optimizing it for each handset to ensure the best video viewing experience possible – all in real time. Vuclip works on more than 2000 handsets in 130 countries around the globe.

IT Calling

Got a letter from the IT Department, Government of India. My returns had been randomly selected by the computer for scrutiny under the CAAS system.

The Parel, Mumbai office of the IT Commissioner was a godown. The 3rd floor, where I was to meet the case officer was a mess. Piled with personal and corporate income tax returns on the floor, on racks nine feet high, on desks, on every available space, a hundred bound together with white strings. All dusty and dirty.

The Income Tax Officers and lesser mortals sweating it out in that dust-mote paradise with ancient fans whirring overhead. They don't even have a desktop yet. It is one of the 'demands' made by the labour union on a large, red lettered poster stuck in the landing.

The commissioner, there were many for each ward/zone, had a cabin with a comfortable air-conditioner and the works. But still it was a dumpy office. Certainly can imagine the vengeance they must be generating in their minds to go after cases of the rich and untaxed just by walking into that hell-hole everyday.

The above was the government not providing them facilites like air-conditioning, computers and filing systems and furniture.

But what about cleaning, dusting and sweeping the premises? The inside of the office had large pillars, and on each of them, four feet high, were countless blood-red pan and gutka stains spat out with gay abandon. Wall corners inside the office were doubling up as spittoons. The toilet was stinking. Plastic chairs for visitors dirty and broken. The water cooler was so dirty that touching it was a risk.

Do these people hate what they do so much that they couldn't care?

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Typhoon Journeys 8000 Miles Non-Stop



The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has deployed four Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 combat aircraft to the Falkland Islands/Malvinas for air defence duties.
The aircraft, which departed from their homebase at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire on 12 September, were accompanied by aerial refuelling tanker aircraft for their 8,000-mile journey to the South Atlantic island chain.
The Typhoons will spend a period of time conducting joint operations with the incumbent Panavia Tornado F.3s to ensure a smooth transition from one type to the other. The F.3s will return to the UK aboard chartered Antonov An-124 transport aircraft.
The Typhoons, drawn from 3 Squadron (which provides the southern portion of the UK's Quick Reaction Alert [QRA] cover) will be assigned to 1435 Flight at Mount Pleasant airfield for the purpose of deterring any incursions from Argentina, which lays claim to the islands.
- Jane's

Tuesday 29 September 2009

When Will You Have Money?

In the twenties, you either couldn't care, or didn't have enough. Investment. Savings. Putting something aside. All these were for someone else. Definitely someone older. The reasons being:
1. Not now.
2. I'll start saving/investing later.
3. I don't have money now.
4. You earn so much more than me, that's why you can think about all this.
5. Some other stuff that you thought of, because the above were all my excuses.

As I came into the thirties, I realised that, oh yeah, I wasn't going to get any pension. Therefore I had to provide for myself, by making money work for me, and not work for money.

So what about savings? Being brand conscious meant that savings were barely matching the minimum required to keep my savings bank account active. And keeping up with the Joshis meant that I had to have all that and more.

The PF contribution from my salary, for the first few years didn't amount to much as the base salary was so low.

It is only recently that I have realised that the oft repeated mantra - start early - is so important.
And what does it take? Rs 2000 for a simple SIP with a mutual fund. 6 years will give you a savings of at least Rs 144000, or more, assuming the fund performs.

Or a few thousand rupees in shares. All it takes is a an investment every month on a few shares and then forgetting about it as you keep on building your portfolio. No one keeps track of the daily ups and downs of the sensex as one might think. It doesn't make sense either. Every six months or a quarter is all that is required. But study the market you must.

And what do you invest in? Initially, till you have extra money to play with, and till your confidence grows, start with defensive stocks. And later, when you can, cyclical stocks. Defensive stocks won't be star performers on the bourses, but they won't play roller coaster with your heart beat. They will give steady dividends and grow steadily too. Cyclical stocks will be the stars who add to your profit booking.

And should you have a heart attack because you invested your life's saving in the markets and saw the market plunge? No. Go out and buy the A-list stocks for cheap.
The market plunges for a day, a month, or a few months, but sooner or later the markets are sure to bounce back and grow. After all, the richest man in the world is not an entrepreneur, dotcom owner or a member of the European royalty. Just someone who started early, in his teens, and invested wisely, and rode all the ups and downs of the markets with aplomb.

This part of your investments should be about 5% of your wealth. And of the 5%, you can split it into safe stocks and slightly risky stocks. So by an off chance, something seriously goes wrong, you still have your 95% safe.

I suppose everything going bust is a rare event. Like in 2008. Property valuations bottoming out are hard to digest if you are a speculator in the market, but if you are worried that the house that you are currently occupying has halved in value, forget it. It is notional value anyway. That value is of no use to you. So is the wealth on paper with your shares. Till you decide to sell it, the shares are just something to objectively look at and for your chartered accountant to remind you of at the end of the year tax returns.

So what next?

Pay off all your loans, ideally by the time you are 55. Hopefully you have invested in property, gold, PPF, Bonds, Fixed Deposits and 6 month's expenses worth of savings in your account. Calculate the number of years till you reach 55. Figure out your 5% that you can spare in a year to be invested in shares and mutual funds. Read up on the best performing funds and the SENSEX / NIFTY 50 and A-List stocks that you can invest in. Ignore all thoughts of becoming suddenly, stupendously rich on a penny stock that someone gave you a hot tip about.

Open a Demat account and a trading account linked to your savings bank account. And start today.

With Rs 2000 to 5000 as a monthly investment in shares, it is not longer about 'I will do it when I have money', but rather, 'I will invest now SO THAT I have money' at a later date.
 

Friday 25 September 2009

HDFC Securities - Shares As An SIP

HDFC Securities has launched something called Do It Yourself SIP. The difference being that instead of buying mutual funds in a systematic investment plan, you can buy shares on the 7th of the month worth a minimum of Rs 5,000, as an SIP.
The second good thing is that instead of buying shares via mutual funds and earning dividend through them, where they get to keep some of the earnings, you buy shares directly on your own name. And keep the dividend earned, which is tax free.
Now, there isn't an entry load on buying mutual funds, but there is an exit load. Here with HDFC Securities you buy shares, and there isn't any load, except a small yearly charge.
Plus, you can choose which shares to buy, or use the advice from HDFC Securities to decide.
The only clarity I haven't got is, after you sign some papers with HDFC Securities, is there a possibility to not buy anything in a month, say when the Sensex or Nifty are breaching dizzying heights?

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Personal Finance Ideas


It is a good thing if you can distribute your investments among the various asset classes. Liquid Cash, Equity, Land and Property, Gold, Debt and so on. In your 20s and 30s, you can put aside up to 50% of your money to invest in property, as it appreciates over the long term. Up to 30% in equities and mutual funds, to reap the high returns they promise over the long term. 10% in long-term bonds and debentures will yield a fixed return over a period of time. Liquidity is as important, so about 5% in gold, fixed deposits and 5% in cash. And as you grow older, the ratio of long term investments should come down and liquid instruments and channels should go up.

It is necessary to plan your life and safeguard against risks too. So therefore you have to take care of pure risks through insurance as well as use insurance to generate wealth.

Now-a-days, the top Mutual Funds list out their portfolio - stocks that the funds themselves have invested in. It could be a great indicator of what top fund managers prefer to put all our money into, including a peek at the total holding, percentage across sectors, returns from each sector and so on.

And if we compare 3-4 consistently performing 5 star rated funds with their overall returns (45% - 50%) over five years, it is easy to see which Equity stocks have commonly contributed to the returns.

Though this is no way saying that you should replace your Mutual Fund investments with Equity, as we are not professionals, the list of stocks that the MFs hold is a great answer to the eternal question: "What should I buy, without taking a big risk." Here apart from the Nifty 50s and the BSE Sensex stocks, you are sure to find a few surprises.

Piqued by F1 'Decisions'

Somebody tell me the logic why F1 drivers are let off every time, as if they are not privy to the goings on in a small, highly charged group like an F1 team in the race paddocks.

Michael Schumacher (as much as I love that man), did everything to win his 7 World Championships, including deliberately crashing his machine and got off with barely a frown. We have the 2007 Mercedes Vs Ferrari spying scandal. Here purportedly, only the race engineers were involved. Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso happily cooperated and were absolved of any knowledge. And Mercedes was fined $100 million.

And now this.

Renault's Flavio Briatore and his Director of Engineering Pat Symonds co-opt (if that is the term) Nelson Piquet Jr. the son of a former F1 champion by the same name. The rookie is not performing too well, as the second to double World Champion Fernando Alonso.

Supposedly under pressure that he might lose his seat, he agrees to the devious plan. He crashes his Renault F1 machine on turn 13 of lap 17, a pre-decided location, his foot on the accelerator, as opposed to the high performance carbon fibre brakes. What that does is, after the horrific crash, young Nelson runs across the track, rather dangerously, as the safety car gets out, towards the pits, having perfectly executed the plan.



Smartly enough, the location chosen to crash the car did not have access to tractors and hydraulics to pull the crashed machine out of the race track quickly enough. This allowed Fernando Alonso to pull into the pits for a quick stop to refuel, et al. With this 'revised' one stop strategy, he goes on to win the 2008 Singapore GP.

So Nelson waited for ten months for his conscience to gnaw at his good heart? Or was the reality that without having scored a point in 2009, his seat was in serious jeopardy, yet again. So he, with his father's nod, and back end support with friend Bernie and Max, spilled the beans. If by chance, he had done decently enough as a second to Fernando Alonso, we would never have known.


As lead driver, and double World Champion, Fernando didn't know the race strategy? As a race driver, wasn't he as desperate to win as his manager and team principal? Or was he fed a race strategy right from qualifying to race day that had him carry low fuel, right tires, just enough to last till the crash was scheduled, and never questioned how a 2 or 3 stop strategy was going to help him win the race?

I guess, in the economic times of today, FIA can't afford to fine Renault a similar or more fine, and watch another constructor team walk away from the championship.

How many more scandals are never going to see the light of day? As many as the number of competing teams, I suppose.

Sunday 13 September 2009

Matryoshka Gets A Makeover

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Vogue Russia, Aliona Doletskaya decided to honor the famous Russian Matryoshka. They took the traditional wooden doll shape and turned it into a carved female body.

Standing 50cm tall, these beauties doesn’t confirm to the perfect 90×60x90 model proportions.

Commissioned to some of the world’s greatest designers to create tailor-made and exclusive outfits, the best Russian craftmen have hand-painted and dressed the dolls according to the designers sketches. Installation, sculpture, object of art, you can call it however you wish.

If you have 5000 Euros…you’ll have the opportunity to buy one of these babies for your living room.

The article and the rest of the 30 are here: http://www.gugazine.com/2009/08/31-stylized-matryoshka-dolls-by-vogue/

Hail Obama!

U.S. National Debt: From 1789 through 2008 = $10.7 trillion. Obama's plan adds $9.3 trillion more!

22.08.09: Oops! They just found another $2 trillion of red ink! This means that Obama will generate more U.S. debt in 10 years than the other 43 presidents did in 220 years!

U.S. 2009 GDP = $14.2 Trillion
Obama's 1st Budget = $3.55 Trillion ( 25% of GDP)

US 2010 Proposed Budget: Requests $100 million in budget cuts and proposes to spend $3.69 trillion!

Courtesy: www.commonsensejunction.com and www.factreal.wordpress.com

Friday 11 September 2009

Ukraine's (Definitely) Got Talent

Kseniya Simonova makes sand-doodling an eye-popping art form.
Here she tells the story of the Jewish holocaust, the 1945 liberation and how 2 lovers are finally reunited. All with a backlit screen, a bit of sand and her fingers.

http://ping.fm/VDnnq

Thursday 10 September 2009

Iraq Withdrawal




The US is to move 31 million items from Iraq as the 2011 deadline nears. In the inventory are 100,000 vehicles, some bound for Afghanistan.

BUFF

The venerable B-52 Stratofortress, or Big Ugly Fat Fella (BUFF), with 55 years of operational service, has 30 years of airframe life left!

A few movies with the big daddy of bombers:
Bombers B-52 (1957),
A Gathering of Eagles (1963),
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
(1964),
and By Dawn's Early Light (1990).

Monday 17 August 2009

Hulla

Two levels humour. Seven floors. Fourteen society members. And one nutty watchman. A film that is as refreshingly candid as well as courageous to take on a subject many would deem trivial.

With a cast full of familiar faces from Indian television as well as Bollywood, except the unknown mad-as-a-hatter night watchman (who changes his age as conveniently as he changes his tune to get some sympathy), perform their parts to perfection in a film that explores the travails of a tired, misunderstood and sleepless man because of a shrill whistle that is supposed to scare away thieves, only manages to make his sleep disappear, night after night.

Raj (Sushant Singh), a stock broker by day and his wife Abha (Kartika) move to a new place (from the looks of it, seemed like Oshiwara, but I'm digressing) and apart from handling the barbs from his ever-unsatisfied, acerbic father-in-law at their weekly dinner-dos ever so politely, life couldn't be better. He is a star at his broking firm. The wife is successful too. DINKS with a Santro to boot. Actually without a boot. Couldn't resist that.

Hell begins as soon as night falls. Shrill whistles, a scared-as-a-cat Watchman and an uncompromising building Secretary, Mr Janardhan (Rajat Kapoor) ensure that night after night Raj can't get a wink logged on to his name. And every day, when logging on to his stock terminal, he starts feeling the effects of the forced insomnia.

Soon enough, Raj goes from bleary eyed to teary eyed.

His wife refuses to believe that a whistle or a stick could be keeping him away, after all, she is not a light sleeper. And to add to that are the sharply created characters staying in the building who add to the Hulla. Their home decor, mannerisms, accents and dialogues written to perfection. Haven't we met them all, sometime, somewhere?

The day is full of barbs, PJs and funny repartees, guaranteed to evince a guffaw from everyone. The night time is full of underplayed dark humour. Guaranteed to evince a wry smile at the frustrating situation that Raj finds himself in.

I saw this on DVD, unfortunately, when it could have been more enjoyable in a theater. But so it is.

Friday 14 August 2009

TED India



Mysore, India, 4-7 November 2009. Even if they deigned to let me in, unfortunately, all sold out.

23.09.09: Oh well, there are a few places, but where do I get the dough?

Les Paul R.I.P.



Lester William Polsfuss, was born on June 9, 1915, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, USA. In the 1930s he began experimenting with guitar amplification, and by 1941 he had built what was probably the first solid-body electric guitar.


More info here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/14/arts/music/14paul.html?em

Human Resources

When it is called 'Human Resources' why shouldn't I be suspicious? If we call it something else, would it be any different?
It's like Ministry of War called Ministry of Defence after the World War. Same thing, but with less aggressive posturing.
What would be a better name that stands up to the intentions, or is all the posturing that they are actually about caring for the people who work in an organization a front for the obvious?
Is the HR department caught in a bind, since they are employed by the employer to make the organization's resource happy?
So can the HR function be outsourced to make it truly impartial and be a balance between the employer and the employee? Is that a business opportunity?

Thursday 13 August 2009

Vuclip


If YouTube is for your desktop, vuclip (www.vuclip.com) is for your phone! Watch and share videos on your phone. With Vuclip.com you can search for, play, and share user-generated video from popular Internet sites on your mobile phone.

And as Naiyer says: "Interestingly enough, one can register and set one’s preference on news and entertainment videos and sms alerts.If set to on, VUClip sends SMS to your phone daily or weekly whenever the new videos from your preferred news sites comes live. Further,the video search has been pretty simplified and improved. Now you can search videos from a particular website and watch or stream it directly via VUClip. Pretty neat and concise, particularly on mobile. And yes, as you might already know, it supports the major video formats with no device-based bias to resolution."

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Do Schools Kill Creativity?

TED Talks rocks. Specially 'Do Schools Kill Creativity'

Bob Geldof

www.viddler.com/explore/petterjensen/videos/1/

Thursday 6 August 2009

Vote For...

Instead of a political party or an ideology, why can't we vote for the person best for the job? Where have I heard it before?

Monday 3 August 2009

Public Shyness

Why are people shy of publicizing their blogs? Isn't it an oxymoron so to speak? You write in a public space, and then you really don't want to go hammer and tongs after letting all and sundry know that you do.
I confess, I am one of them.

Saturday 1 August 2009

Love Aaj Kal

As you settle down in your seat you get this unsettling feeling: is your money going down the drain, yet again? Well let's just say that the 1st 10-15 mins are spent showing Meera (Deepika) and Jai (Saif) smile hug smile hug poke touch dance kiss kiss hug make out in rapid succession - all this in lieu of showing a meaningful relationship. Point made that Love Aaj is vacuous.
Cut to a moment of realization that they are now 'boyfriend and girlfriend'.
Enters Sardar paaji cafe-deli owner with a heart as large as he is. A man and restaurateur of fine taste who drives a Jaguar but has this habit of prying and sorting out modern loveless relationships of convenience - the 'friends with benefits' types.
Saif plays the younger Sardarji too back in the 60s through multiple narrative flasbacks. We figure that the two men are quite similar and the older one tries to then teach the younger one that love is life. And that Love Kal was cleaner, simpler and truer.
Meera leaves for Delhi to follow her career path and so does Jai after amicably and logically breaking up over a Break Up Party.
A year and respective new partners later Jai and Meera meet again only to realize how much ever they may deny it, they still miss each other. What follows is the Bollywood drama that manages to tie up loose ends and shrug off inconvenient girlfriends and the only-in-Bollywood sane, understanding and all-sacrificing husbands very conveniently removed as the 14-16 reels spool to a close.
Well, at least for me, Rishi Kapoor and his story made it bearable, played well by Saif. The sweet girl Harleen Kaur (played by unnamed, secret girl) does her coy, shy and wide-eyed simpering really well. The art direction in the flashbacks, showing Kolkata (Calcutta?) and Delhi is really well done. And of course, Deepika Padukone, who makes watching inane, hashed plots somewhat worthwhile.

Monday 15 June 2009

Star Trek - Redux

Ah, loved it. Boldly went with only 18 people in Regal, Colaba one Sunday afternoon and came back very happy:)
Snazzy effects. Nice ships and a decent enough story. A few worm holes in the space-time continuum but I'm not complaining much.
It takes us back in time to when Capt James T Kirk is really young, rebellious and hot headed, and then fate, ego and a cute girl make a man out of him, as well as the captain of the most advanced spaceship earth has launched. He meets the young Spock, who is fighting and escaping his own devils. And the two don't really hit it off as we have come to know. The starkly different personalities giving way to each other out of mutual respect is the part of the story that will follow. Right now in this time, they are at loggerheads and through a time continuum twist and a crazy Romulan warlord the old Spock (Leonard Nimoy) makes an appearance to sort things out.
So that the USS Enterprise can boldly go where no one has gone before.

Mirror, mirror...

What do you do when the baggage handlers decide to slack off? We were stuck at International arrivals for 2 and a half hours hoping to see a glimpse of the people we were waiting for.
A steady trickle of people only makes you observe them closely, there is nothing else to do. Losing the match was bad enough, so was the sweaty, muggy weather.
Indians of all shapes and sizes are coming out pushing heavy carts with extra large suitcases. The accents were foreign, the body types still very much Indian and the fashion obsessively and compulsively, the latest.
Clingy tops paired with reed thin jeans, no care whatsoever about big bums and now-revealed bow legs. Striped collared T-shirts hiding rotund paunches with medium-long shorts showing off skinny legs. Why? Aren't there mirrors around when they shop?

Friday 22 May 2009

Spammmmm

If I had a split personality, this would be perfect!
Got spam from 'me' inviting me to dinner.

Thursday 7 May 2009

Nitrogen



Got tires filled with Nitrogen. It's living up to its promise of better ride and lower heat build-up.
There goes free air. Marketing geniuses have found a way to earn money on 'gas'. Rs 100 for 3 months checking of air/nitrogen.

Further to more than 2 months of Nitrogen checking, I searched online for reactions and experiences and encountered this interesting report:
http://blogs.consumerreports.org/cars/2007/10/nitrogen-tires-.html

Time Sheets

Can anyone publish the CM's weekly timesheets?
I want them in my Monday morning newspaper.

Monday 16 February 2009

Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!

Kamao to zero. Churao to hero. Abhay Deol belts out an easy, restrained performance as Lucky, a teenage rebellious sardar who grows up, inexplicably, into a clean shaven young man with a languid smile and an easy-going demeanor, with an ever-increasing penchant for thievery.

As the film progresses, the small time stuff, ok he starts with a Mercedes, no two of them; becomes an addiction to con, flick, steal his way to becoming infamous and talked about, as the mystery thief who flits from city to city across India, making away with booty of all kinds. 2 dogs, hundreds of music systems, DVDs, TVs, cash, jewellery and a musical greeting card later, he is caught, only to escape again.

Paresh Rawal plays a triple role. Neetu Chandra is the fiesty girlfriend who has moral issues but eventually falls for his charming ways and accepts him as a benefactor/boyfriend/husband(?). Kind of like Charles Sobhraj, legendary smooth operator I thought. And Lucky has a side-kick who is in and out conveniently. Archana Puran Singh is superb in her brief time on screen.

The flow of the film is almost like A Few Years In The Life Of Lucky kind of movie. Very real dialogues. Subtle, suppressed and layered humour. Almost a 'Delhi peoples' Bunty and Babloo, what with the male sidekick. Watch it. It's different.

Monday 9 February 2009

Bitings Anyone?

Drove up to Daman last weekend. It seems that the snakes jokes have had an effect on the Gujarati populace. At all the restaurants, the hotel that we were staying in and even a beer bar that we stopped at for a break, no not for beer, thank you, were all asking us one thing - bitings sir? French fries, Peanuts masala, Cheese-pineapple, Boiled Chana and so on, now all qualify as Bitings.
Bram Stoker's creation must be out of a job by now.

Saturday 7 February 2009

RaveD er DevD

The film is in four parts. There's a Pre, Paro, Chanda and then, of course, Dev D.
All's well till the Pre and Paro. During Chanda, I looked around to see if anyone was really into this. And then, what was the need to put in the MMS scandal and the BMW hit and run case?
In the wild rave of a fantasy ride version of good ol' Devdas, with sex, drugs, booze and a bit of faux Elvis Rock and Roll thrown in for good measure, where did these two things come in?
All in all, a commendable effort to dream of and put together a film like this. The five stars and 4 stars are a bit too much. Maybe all the aiyyashi left the reviewers with a long-lasting heady feeling. Like a few of us were left with a headache.
But for a few who have taken these comments to figure that I disliked it, well I feel it is a must-watch because of the way it is made. It just might be that it joins the list of films that have become milestones in Indian movie making and we just might see other filmakers let loose with their own wild ones.

Tuesday 3 February 2009

This One Takes The Cake

When professional cakes go horribly, hilariously wrong.

http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/

Monday 2 February 2009

More iWoes

Just gave the iPhone for a look-over. Vodafone tells me there is no one in Mumbai to do that. It will have to be sent to Bengaluru. 15 days.
- Well, the screen goes blank (imagine that on a full touch screen!).
- It hangs randomly.
- The battery of course is not happening. To change the battery you change the phone. The Happy to Help guys had no clue that there is an additional battery pack available on the Apple Store
Wondering what to do - use it, sell it or crack it and use it.

11.02.2009
Got the iPhone back. Replaced and shiny and brand new!
The sarson ka saga continues...

03.08.2009
Called up Vodafone helpline.
I say, 'I pay Rs.35,500 for a 16Gb handset ($699 +). Plus I commit a minimum of Rs.9,600 a year for the iData Plan. How come I get the Edge/GPRS service for just half the time? Do I get money back for the deficient service?'
Sir, we are happy to help, but last week there was an outage, so now it is working fine.
I say, 'I am not talking about last week, but since August 2008.'
Sir, thanks for the patience for keeping you on hold for a long time, but my service engineer says just reset Network Settings on your phone an it will work fine.
I say, 'Thanks.'

Saturday 31 January 2009

Luck By Chance

An insider's view of the industry. Helped doubly by the fact that both Zoya and Farhan have observed the 'fictional' characters of the cast play out their parts for so many years, live. The casting is impeccable, well, because the stars are either playing themselves or clones of real life colleagues, or have been casted to fit the existing perception of their personas and confirm a few legends. So the multi star cast can't really go wrong nor can they let themselves down in the histrionics department. I liked the film. The way it stayed focused to the core story of the struggle to make it. What I was wondering for the brief few minutes when I thought the film loses its grip and lets your mind wander is that is this movie a fusion between commercial cinema and a well made Bollywood docu-drama?
Farhan is cool, Konkona is her usual efficient self. The non-star friends have done a good job too. The industry, I call it that because there are so many stars in important, brief, guest, smile and wave, special appearances that the 'special thanks to' practically covers everyone and then some, has played its part well.

Thursday 29 January 2009

Karachi to Jai Shri Krishna

This was in the news. All signs were being made to change to reflect 'Indianness'. So poor Karachi Sweets was threatened and the owner decided to call it Jai Shri Krishna Sweets. By that logic, you can't have any Sindhi friends. And while you are at it, never ever eat again at the various Taj Group, ITC hotel restaurants called Peshawari, Baluchi or the Bukhara. Change New Delhi's Lahori Gate to Laxman Gate or something. Of course, no Multani mitti for the Shive Sainik's wife. No Peshawari or Afghani Kebabs. Sikandari Raan. Qandahari whatever. Utter nonsense.

Wednesday 28 January 2009

The Right Address

Mastercard address: Global Corporate Headquarters, 2000 Purchase Street, Purchase, NY 10577 USA. Fitting.