Saturday, December 12, 2009

State Of The Art

[ This post is written in the light of the domino effect of  the proposed Andhra Pradesh split. ]

It’s 2012. The earth doesn’t seem to be ending any soon. Sameer is watching KBC which is being hosted by Abhishek Bachchan. On the hot seat is Rita. Abhishek is asking her the next question:

Which is the largest state of India?

A. Bhowanipur
B. Khairatabad
C. C V Raman Nagar
D. Goa

Rita, after a lot of considerations, says – D. Goa. Abhishek Bachchan asks if he could lock that answer. Rita confirms. Just then, Abhishek breaks for commercial ads.

First Commercial Ad: It shows a mother worried about her child’s poor memory. He couldn’t answer the only question in the Geography test – Name the states of India. The teacher then recommends drinking GarLicks, a malt drink. After drinking it, the memory of the boy improved. On the first day itself he could answer question like – name the neighboring states of T-Nagar, which was in Chennai once upon a time. And after drinking the health drink for 100 days, he could remember the names of 50% of the states.

Sameer thinks that the time allocated to ads is unreasonably high. He uses this time to send reminder STD texts to his classmates for the inter-state cricket match they will have on the next day in their school compound after the class. Thankfully, all mobile phone operators have made the STD and local rates equal for both voice call and SMS.

Sameer, then, turns to his computer and reads a blog on Mundane Journey on the increase in the percentage of GDP spent on the government employees and ministers in the last three years. Just then he heard noise on the National Highway passing adjacent to his house. There were two groups of people fighting for the ownership of the water from the tube-well which supposedly fell at the boarder of the two newly formed states.

Sameer’s father asks him about the noise on the road. Sameer tells him the story. His father, who was once the Durga Puja committee president and now the chief minister of the state, gets worried and goes down to look into the matter.

Sameer’s attention is drawn to the television set again.

Next Commercial ad: The ad is of a product called Slays. It’s is a special snack which can be had during fasts. The catch line of the product is – Slays. So that you can become CM without pain.

KBC resumes. Abhishek welcomes the audience back. He recapitulates the question and the answer Rita gave. The background music adds to the suspense. He, then, says:

Sahi Jawab!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Is Democracy The Best Policy?

[The below article is open to interpretations. You  may also find this article analogous to the Indian democracy. You may also want to read Jawahar Lal Nehru's speech: Tryst With Destiny]

Once upon a time a large group of children used to stay together in a house. Most of them were too young.  They were of such age when the parents decide what is good or bad for them – what they should eat, what they should read, what they should do.  One fine day, at the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, the children awoke and found that all their care-takers have left them alone. They decided to form a managing body to manage the activities and the house. Quite a few children wanted to manage the house. Who wouldn’t like to boss around the house? This created a kind of chaos and the children concluded on a convenient solution – to ‘elect’ the managing body. The idea was that whoever gets the maximum vote gets to be the Big Boss and he can choose his own team to manage the house. So far, so good.

Right from the dawn started the (almost) unending quest to win votes. Everyone tried to please the others.  Most of them got involved in other activities – like watching movies and playing cricket. They got tired of managing the house long before they actually started managing. Only a handful of them remained in the race to get votes.

Those in the race started trying all kinds of things to get votes.  Some promised personal television sets, while some promised increase in pocket money if/when they get to be the boss. Some offered aerated drinks to the others to ‘bribe’ them to vote for them.  Some tried partitioning the group depending on the hero they liked – so there was a pro-SRK group, there was a pro-Aamir group and there was a pro-UdayChopra group. The member s of these groups were great fans of their respective heroes to the extent that they worshiped them.  However, there was a group which was pro-allHeroes – the members of this group were free to worship any hero they wanted to.

The D-day came. The children went to vote.  Harry, being an SRK devotee, voted for proSRK group.  Ron, being an Aamir devotee, voted for proAamir group. Longbottom, who liked watching television a lot, voted for the person who promised TV. Draco by voting for the person who gave him aerated drinks paid it back. Hermoine, who was busy mugging ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars’, thought it’s waste of time to vote and didn’t vote at all.

If on one of these criteria a manager is selected, you can only imagine what the condition of the house would be. Even after periodic repeatation of this process – the house was in total chaos. Fuelled by the vote-seekers, the proSRK, the proAamir and the proUdayChopra groups kept fighting among each othet for no real reason whatsoever. No proper management was provided: perhaps because that was never part of the agenda - perhaps, because the ‘voters’ never really asked for it.

On the other hand, the same pre-condition prevailed in another house. The difference, however, was that most inmates of the house were educated adults. This house also followed the same process for management as the children’s house (described above). They brought to the table the issues that really concern them and their progress. The inmates of this house, after some time, had better quality of life, made good progress in their fields and were staying peacefully with each other. The same process, when applied to two different contexts gives completely different results.

The question remains - Is democracy the best policy?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

If I were a baby again

[Disclaimer – All characters in this article are fictitious and bear no resemblance to any person living or dead. Any similarity with anything living or dead is purely coincidental. The ‘I’ in the article DOESN'T  refer to me. It refers to a fictitious character]

Reaching my late 30s, I was going through what typically men in this age go through. I wondered why the college going girl in my neighboring flat address me as uncle. I wondered why the dark ‘clouds’ which once eclipsed my shiny moon-head are slowly uncovering the it – emitting moonlight (so bright that when I stand close to a wall my moonlight projected on the wall makes a kind of halo over my head) even on a new moon night.I wondered why I start breathing heavily when I climb up to my flat (2B as opposed to 13B where Madhavan lived) after screaming at the security guard for not getting the lift repaired.

But then, I was not a typical man.

I watched the King Khan endorsing Fair and Handsome. I knew that Santoor soap lets your skin understand your age out. I had heard of knothole potions. I had seen Rekha. I had seen Hrithik in Koi Mil Gaya. I saw hope. I didn’t want to suffer more. So, I searched the Internet to find if there is something available which can bring my old days back when I was not ‘old’. The 300th link pointed me to a research scientist who claimed to have a medicine to reduce age. His name was Bhagawan Khushi.

Bhagwan Khushi, was temporally 86 years old but biologically looked like a 20 year old person. I explained him my problem and asked him to give me a potion to reduce my age. I agreed to transfer to his name my 2BHK flat – the only property I had. However, I would still need to pay its EMI.
I wrote an email to my wife saying what I was planning to do. Then, I drank Bhagwan Khusi’s potion and, alas, I became four years old!

And what an experience I was going to have!

When I saw myself in the mirror I was pleasantly surprised seeing the black dense forest on my head. My college-going-neighbor Priyanka, while coming from college, dropped by to collect money for flood relief. She couldn’t recognize me. She lightly pinched my cheek and kissed me. I couldn’t believe it. The uncle-calling girl, actually, kissed me! While going, she delicately ran her fingers through my hair and bid me ‘tata’.

Wow! It was fun being a baby again.

I played that whole evening - ran around the house. Took a used syringe and filled water in it. In the bathroom, I scared the lizards off by aiming a jet of water from the syringe at them. I made the bathroom completely wet and jumped on the accumulated water. In the dinner, I made boat out of vertically cut ‘patal/parwal’ and let it float in a pond of daal enclosed by a wall of rice.

The next day, my wife took me to a children’s carnival. And for the first time I enjoyed myself without alcohol! I mingled with other kids of different communities, religions and castes. I played with them without conspiring against any other kids. I didn’t worry if the children of Uncle Sam were happy with me. I treated them as equals. I was fearless. I didn’t care if there was a bomb planted at the site. Neither did I plant a bomb. There was a bag full of gold moving at almost lightening speed. I didn’t care to run after it. I didn’t care if I had enough money for my food after 10 years. I didn’t show partiality towards kids of my state. I also didn’t bribe the organizers to get me the cheat code of the game. I played with all the kids. I was just enjoying myself.

I was free. I was myself.

The carnival got over. And for the first time I had a deep sleep – that too without Larpose. The next morning my wife took me to a school where she had arranged an admission interview for me. The interviewer showed me pictures of weird flowers and asked me their names. She then asked me to sing some nursery rhymes.

I, somehow, got admission. And that marked the end of happy days.

Immediately I joined 3 tuitions. I joined swimming class followed by singing class. I did homework till late evenings. It became a pain to carry the 5 kg bag to school. Surprise tests became nightmares.

I, then, yearned to become older soon – so that I could come out of this mess.

[I don’t know if he went back to 30 years life again. All we know is that he was not satisfied neither when he was a 30 years nor when he was a baby. Every age comes with its challenges which seems too huge for that age. If he were a baby again, he would have wanted to be an adult. He would have been as happy as or as sad as he is now. Of course, the complexities in his life would have decrease – something which he experienced in the Carnival.

As Gertrude Stein puts it – A ROSE IS A ROSE IS A ROSE 

PS: Bhagawan and Dev, and Khushi and Anand are almost synonymous]

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ghajini Revisted

There are certain movies which are so good that you would like to watch them multiple times. However, there are certain movies which are on the other side of the spectrum. You find them so bad, so ridiculous that you want to watch it again and again. For me, Ghajini falls in that category. I must have seen Ghajini about 10 times and every time I find something different – something strange that I hadn’t noticed in my previous views. Maybe, it’s my bad gauging power. Maybe, just as some people get a new depth, a new meaning, a new interpretation each time they read Bhagwat Gita, I find newer thing each time I watch Ghajini. [Click here for my review of the movie]

In my last iteration I figured that the end background music of Ghajini has been picked up from the signature music of the good old Dooradarshan. Check it out for yourself.

Go to 7:09. I know it's a torture. You may let the buffering to happen and then directly go to 7:09

Now, compare that with the Doordarshan signature music below:

So, it's not that only the Anu Maliks and the Pritams get inspiration from other sources. Looking at this, somehow i feel that just 7 notes (saat sur) are not enough. How much can one innovate with just seven notes!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

50 Not Out

A few questions for you.

1. How many stars does the US flag have?
2. How many chapters are there in Genesis in the Old Testament?
3. Which is the smallest number that can be sum of 2 square numbers in 2 ways
4. How many names were listed in the first telephone book, (a 1-page list of subscribers), published by the New Haven District Telephone Company, New Haven, Connecticut, in February 21, 1878 ?
5. How many points do you earn if you hit the bull's eye in a game of darts?
6. Leaving this post that you are reading, how many posts have i written on this blog?

The answer to the above questions is 50.

With the last post, i turn 50 posts old. It has been a little less than 2 years since i started blogging on this blog. Before i used to blog on conflicting-anonymity which i deleted because i didn't like the name and because only 7 people knew i blogged on it! It really feels good to have completed 50 posts - something i never thought i would.

It all started as a curiosity to explore what then was a buzzword - 'blog'. I didn't, personally, know anyone who blogged. I found the media flooded with articles on 'blogs'. So, i thought of exploring blogs. It was in the winter of 2007 that i started the blog conflicting-anonymity. I don't really know why i named it 'conflicting-anonymity'. Perhaps, i thought i would write about conflicts. Perhaps, i thought people wanted to be anonymous on the web. Perhaps, i couldn't think of a better name. Perhaps, i didn't take it seriously.

But once i found how blogs work, i stopped writing. Then, this very interesting incident happened with me. And i thought i should write on it. This is when i started Mundane Journey - my second blog. When i started, i didn't know what i would write on. So, i thought of having a name which would be generic enough to cover all future posts. I decided on 'life' - as anything and everything is related to life - even movies like Ghajini are. But i couldn't get 'life' and those 'common' names. It was then i released that i am very late into it. Anyway, the name Mundane Journey struck me and was available. As you must have realized - i wasn't aware of the 'random-thoughts' series of blog-names.

A lot of people have asked me that thought your posts are pretty interesting and lively why do you have such a dull/depressing name. I tell them that the answer is precisely what you said. We keep complaining that life is pretty mundane and there is nothing much interesting. On the other hand, we have these amazing things happening around us - TV's being distributed, Rakhi getting engaged, the whole nation taking CAT, political turmoils, Slumdog winning Oscar, Delhi-6 not doing well despite being an amazing movie, etc. There are tons of happenings happening around us. And, still, we call life - mundane. So, the title was basically to say that what we call Mundane Journey is not necessarily Mundane.

So, there i am. 50 posts. A lot of comments - flattering and candid. But it hasn't been a rosy journey. Google doesn't seem to like me. My Adsense requests keep getting rejected. On the official forum no one has any clue why it got rejected. It went to such an extent the one of the coordinators said that Google's Adsense policy are random! Again, Google didn't bother to give me a page rank. My page rank just recently became 0 [It was N/A till then!]. Bing is worse. It has not even indexed me! [The above is true as of 10/27/09 21:00 pm IST]. I'll keep tweaking to make sure Google is satisfied.

It's been long since i wrote on my personal experiences. I had a lot of things to write about - mine moving to Bangalore, mine starting Vriddhi - our social initiative, some thefts, etc. But i thought there are too many 'i-had-Kopi-Luak-coffee-today' blogs. And i don't particularly find them interesting. So, i have stuck to general topics which a larger section of readers would be interested in - not just my mother. However, i thought on my completion of 50 posts, i should write my experience with Mundane Journey.

And hence the torturous article :)


Friday, October 23, 2009

Your Pet Peeves

[This is a follow-up post to My Pet Peeves. I know this was long due, but i was waiting for some more comments before posting them]

vigneshjvn: You might also mention the replacement of every punctuation mark with an ellipsis. Part of the SMS-ese lingo. It runs thus, "m gr8...hw bt u...." Sad pligh

I share this pet peeve. It makes sense to write lyk dis in SMS as you save characters, but why ryt it dat way in email or IM or in a formal piece?

Krishna: Also people use Ki instead of 'that'.

Krishna ji - A lot of other people also told me ki 'ki' is commonly (mis)used work mostly among the Hindi speaking people.

Lavanya: "Seriously" - as a substitute for 'yes, of course' or rather any exclamation.

My pet peeves (from the rest of the world,including me)
a) "like" : used as a filler word, after every two words uttered!
b) "na,re,ya"
c) "No problem" : for the reasons you suggested. Unfortunately, I picked this up overtime .

Imagine Lavanya taking a job interview!

Lavanya: Tell me something about yourself.
Interviewee: Seriously! OK. Myself Intrvwie. I have one father like i have one mother. I like to sing songs. And that also only David Dhawan movies'. Like. I also like to put make up and wear new dresses.
Lavanya: Do you know C?
Interviewee: ya. Seriously. all programs start with 'void main()' na.
Lavanya: [Gosh, this girl doesn't even know the signature of main()] Anyway, tell me - what is a static variable?
Interviewee: Na re. There is nothing like a static variable. Like see. It's simple. Either something is static or it is variable. Like, it can either change (variable) or remain the same (static). ya. there is nothing like a static variable
Lavanya: [Completely pissed off] Thank You. We'll inform you whether you are selected through email
Interviewee: No problem.

Lalit Vashishta: This was fulltu fun to read. yr writing is fundu re. total tp.
'You know' this is the typical style all have picked up you know. cum on yaar, you are taking this too far, na.

deicider: We are waiting for you,cum here immediately"."Come" has been replaced by "cum"

Alpesh: By the way, apart from "re" ther's another one that i use quite often this days and it's "common yar"

This perhaps is because, people think the four lettered word, like a few other four lettered words, is offensive. They prefer the more politically correct and socially accepted three lettered word, you know? This is common yaar!


Friday, October 16, 2009

MJ-LOTD: Hush a Bye Baby

Wondering what all things your computer can do? Look at the below video:

A simple shell script which opens and closes the CD drive tray is used to rock the baby! Add a smooth lullaby to your media player for more effect.

BTW, from almost a year now, i am using Ubuntu (used above). And I must say - 'I am loving it'. Its User Interface is awesome. And the best part is - it is virus proof. I would recommend it to anyone who is fed up of formatting his/her computer due to virus attacks.

Source - Amit Agarwal

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tri-Dev: Movies Mirror Society

Movies, like other art-forms, mirror the society. We’ve had movies like Do Bigha Zameen which mirrors the famine ridden and zamindars dominated Bengal of the early 1950s, A Wednesday, which depicts the terror ridden common man of the 2000s and his fantasies. The plot of these Bollywood movies mirrored the then society. This is one way to get a glimpse of the society the movie is depicting.

The treatment and the acceptance of a movie also throw light on the society. So, essentially, there are two variables - a. the supply side variable, which is the plot of the movie and b. the demand side variable, which is the treatment of the plot. I recently caught up with Bimal Roy’s Devdas. Having seen Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas and Anurag Kashyap’s DevD, I could see the difference in the way the films were treated. I take the example of the three portrayals of Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Devdas to describe how the treatment of the film mirrors the society. Here, the basic plot, more or less, remaining the same, we can see the way the portrayals of Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Devdas vary with the audiences they are targeted to.

Devdas, the novel, was based in the early 1900s. Devdas, the son of a rich zamindar, was sent to Calcutta to study. In Bimal Roy’s version, which was released in 1955, Dilip Kumar was also sent to Calcutta. In 1950s, perhaps, studying in Calcutta was a ‘big’ thing which only the privileged few could afford. However, in the 2000s, when the city had long become Kolkata, studying there would no longer be considered by the audience as ‘privilege’. So, both Shahrukh Khan and Abhay Deol are sent to England. In the story, sending Devdas off to a distant land to study is used to hint at the financial and social differences between Paro’s and Devdas’ family. Obviously, going to England would underline the difference to an audience of the 2000s than going to Kolkata (or Calcutta) which would have satisfied an audience of the 1950s.

In the Chattopadhyay’s and Roy’s depiction, Paro’s family ‘silently’ decided to get her married to someone richer than Devdas. In the 50s, perhaps, it was not acceptable for the ‘lower class’ to go overtly against the zamindars. But to the audience of 2002, it made sense that Kirron Kher openly and loudly announce in the big gathering that she would get Paro married to a richer family. However, for the 2009 DevD, the multiplex audience wanted Paro’s faithfulness to be an issue rather than her financial condition.

Year 2000 saw a major change in the tastes of the audience with the outburst of saas-bahu saga – Kyunki Saas bhi kabhi Bahu Thi being a major contributor. The 2002 Devdas saw Devdas’ sister-in-law ‘brainwashing’ his mother against Paro. [Now, this may sound similar to Manthara and Kaikai episode in Ramayana – I would, however, attribute this sequence in the 2002 Devdas to the saas-bahu effect. And also, I never claimed that the saas bahu saga is original. Did I?] 1955 audience being unaware of the 5 generations of ’ Kyunki’ did not demand such a sequence. A class difference was enough for them. However, 2009 DevD did away with the saas-bahu thing – showing the decline in its ‘demand’. The hearsay about Paro’s faithfulness was enough.

The portrayal of the courtesan, Chandramukhi, was also different. In Roy’s, Chandramukhi never got a chance to ‘enter’ the mainstream. In Bhansali’s, Chandramukhi gets to dance with Paro during Durga Puja and she gets to speak about her profession, her helplessness and her exploitations by ‘zamindars of good families’ amidst a big gathering of ‘respectable people’. Kashyap’s Chanda [Chandramukhi, being too long for a 2009 audience] studies in ‘mainstream’ college. So, while 1955’s Chandramukhi didn’t have a voice, 2002’s Chandramukhu was vocal and 2009’s didn’t bother – she was part of the mainstream anyway.

There are other differences which are common across the board between movies made in different times – like costumes, dialogues, songs, etc. I admit that quite a lot of how a movie is presented depends on the director. Bimal Roy didn’t deviate much from the original novel. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has this huge expansive (and expensive) canvas. Anurag Kashyap has his realistic and crude strokes. Despite the difference in styles, we can clearly see the impact of the eras in which the films were made.

MJ-LOTD: Party, eh?

If you want to attend a party you are not invited to, the below link would be helpful.

Matthew's Party

In case you are planning to host a party and want to inform your neighbours about the possible increase in decibel level, do make it 'sober' so the David Thorne in them is not too excited to mess your party.

BTW, David Thorne, the writer of the above website, is an amazing humorist. I browsed the entire website and found real humour there - something which wouldn't command you to laugh but would compel you. This one, on debt recovery, is also amazing

Saturday, October 3, 2009

MJ-LOTD: Waheeda Rehman and the Snake Dance

To quote from Wiki - Dance (from French danser, perhaps from Frankish) is a sport and art form that generally refers to movement of the body, usually rhythmic and to music, used as a form of expression, social interaction or presented in a spiritual or performance setting.

Seeing at a lot of dance sequence in contemporary bollywood movies, if feel that dance has become more about costumes and uncalled-for body parts movements than about expressions. The 'expression' part in dance is lost. Recently, i watched Guide and came across this not-so-popular dance sequence by Waheeda Rehman:

Now this is what i call expression! In the movie, Waheeda Rehman is crazy about dancing. She get married to a person who thinks dancing is not something a wife of a 'decent family' should do. Waheeda Rehman and her husband are on a trip to a village. Waheeda Rehman asks the guide to take her to a place where snake charmers perform the snake dance while her husband goes on his errand. While in the snake charmers' place, she couldn't control herself from indulging into her passion. Her gestures and her movements expresses the above story - through dance. Each and every beat in the song is utilized to the fullest to express the emotions. Amazing. I think this is one of the best dance sequences in Bollywood.

Friday, October 2, 2009

MJ-LOTD: Toilet Paper Wedding Gowns

From paper cups to paper bags. Paper seems to be the 'in' thing. It is so much in vogue that there are wedding gowns being made out of toilet paper! Isn't that amazing? You can use it in case you get an 'unscheduled' nature's call. After the marriage, you can fold and cut parts of it to make it your reception gown. And when you get bored wearing it, you can use it for what it was 'originally' made for. Now, that is what i call creativity! Just beware of one thing - rain and champagne pops. You surely wouldn't want to look like Eve!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hindi Hai Hum?

Kapil Sibal with his basket of reforms, whether good or not, has done one great thing. It has brought education back into the public debate. Though his proposed educational reforms were released a few months back, the discussion on We the People yesterday brought to forth different perspectives on the 'three language formula' proposed by Kapil Sibal. He has urged the state boards to follow the three language formula with the vernacular-Hindi-English subjects at the school level.

This has instigated the age old debate - the one that was started in the 1930s. The two viewpoints are - the Hindi speaking states in India think that Hindi should be the langua franca. While the non-Hindi speaking states (especially Tamil Nadu) do not agree to that point. The first such conflict was seen in 1937-38 when the Congress Government of Madras Presidency under Rajagopalachari tried to make Hindi a compulsory subject in schools. Anit-Hindi imposition protests, finally, led to withdrawal of compulsory teaching of Hindi in 1940

Take two. After the independence, in 1950, Hindi was chosen as the national language of India by constituent Assembly. But, again, because of the protests of the non-Hindi speaking states, the resolution was deferred for 15 years.

Take three. In 1965, protests from the DMK and other regional parties, led Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then Prime Minister, to give up the agenda of making Hindi as THE national language. [source]

Take four. It's Kapil Sibal now - who is, in a way, trying to reiterate 1938, 1959 and 1965. So, essentially, what Sibal is proposing is nothing new. We have seen this many times in the history. One of the arguments against Sibal's proposal is that why should only the South learn Hindi? Why shouldn't the North learn a South Indian language? Hindi is just another regional language just as Tamil, Telugu, or Bengali is. The 'hindiwalas' argue that since the majority of the population in India speak Hindi, the others should also learn the language.

While being jingoistic about the language, we are forgetting the purpose of having a language: to communicate our thoughts and ideas. Sure, there are very strong cultural connotations to it, but the basic function remains the same - to communicate.

Our school followed three language formula - even before Kapil sabil proposed it. So, I studied English and Hindi till class XII and Bengali for two years - VII and VIII. Despite two years of formal education in Bengali, i was not very fluent in it. This is because, apart from the 45 mins class, i never felt the necessity to communicate in Bengali. In Kolkata, one doesn't need to know Bengali. But, when i joined the university, there was suddenly a need to learn Bengali as most people around, especially the 'babus' spoke Bengali. And that was it. I picked up the language in the first few months itself. The point i am trying to make is that what i couldn't learn in two years, i learned in a few months because there was a necessity. Of course, my two years of formal education made it easy.

When I was in Hyderabad, where again, one doesn't need to know Telugu, I picked up a few words of Telugu. This was because of my social initiative, Vriddhi. We go to schools of the under-privileged and conduct various workshops. Now, these children do not know Hindi or English well. They know only Telugu. So, i learned a few frequently used words to get by. Again, the point i am trying to make is that i learned Telugu (though just to get by) to help me in my social initiative (Vriddhi).

The resident 'Hindiwalas' don't feel the need for learning a South Indian language and south Indians don't feel the need to learning Hindi. However, both feel the need of learning English. This is strange because, English was brought to us by the Britishers who made India their colony and were not particularly liked by the Indians. Nevertheless, we still learn English. This is because of the immense opportunity it brings in. We forget about our past experiences with the British and learn English. So, clearly, it's more about demand and supply than about culture. If there is a demand for a particular language, one would definitely learn it.

For the non-Hindi speaking states, it make sense to adopt the three language formula. There is no harm to learn one more language. And, if given a choice to select the third language, Hindi would have been the obvious answer as Hindi would empower a person from a non-Hindi speaking state to connect to more people than any other language would. Pranab Mukherjee said that he cannot become the Prime Minister because he cannot speak Hindi. Also, his broken Hindi, perhaps caused a rift between him and Laloo.

Having said that, which language should a 'hindiwala' learn? If i were in a position to influence, i would propose the following:

Map a Hindi speaking state to a non-Hindi speaking state. The mapping, of course, would not to one-to-one. Now, these states should help each other in various aspects - like in trade, education, governance, etc. It's like the 'buddy program' in various universities. The Hindi speaking state, then learns the language of the buddy non-Hindi speaking state. This will boost cultural exchange, trade and travel between the states - which in turn would aid in development of India.

Indian are comfortable with plurality. And this plurality, if not replaced by narrow jingoism, can help in making India not only a more developed country but also a model of others to learn from.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dil Bole Hadippa: After-thoughts

Dil Bole Hadippa is a quintessential mass masala movie. It has all the ingredients required to cook a Yash Raj mass masala movie. I am using the template from Tarla Dalal's website to review the movie.

Name of the dish:
In our school, When reviewing a story/play, we were advised to write about the title at the end. This was because title is supposed to give out the overall idea and ethos of the story/play. So, once other elements of the stroy/play are reviewed we evaluate how good the title is in representing the story and the elements making the story. But i am violating that protocol and describing the title first (following Tarla Dalal). The name of this dish is very generic and any resemblance to the plot of the movie can be considered as purely coincidental. It however induces curiosity in the viewer as what the movie could be to have such a title - Dil Bole Hadippa (My heart goes hurrah). The curiosity, however, doesn't end with the movie. Looks like Yash Raj has bought a lot of 'such' titles in discount and is now using those randomly - Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (can be used for most Yash Raj love stories), Ta Ra Rum Pum, Tashan and Salaam Namaste. Dil Bole Hadippa, looks like to be from the same pool and could have been used for any of the above movies.

Cooking Time: Doesn't matter. It depends heavily on the availability of the actors.

Preparation Time: The time required to teach Rani how to act out cricket shots.

1. famous actors - Rani, Shahid, Anupam Kher and Dalip Tahil
2. Average bollywood masala music and dances - both are not really required.
3. Some fairy tale kind of a plot. [Sometimes i wonder, how useful would these yash raj movies be to the grandmas!]
4. Some very fashionable costumes

That's it. With the above four ingredients can make you heart go hurrah - at least, so is the claim

Bring a beautiful Indian village girl and an NRI guy together. Make them dislike each other initially. Make sure that the father of the guy likes the girl and thinks that she would be 'ideal' for his son. Now, add a dollop of, what the movies claim, 'indian values' in the girl. Now, add a tumbler full of dreams into the girl. And in the end make sure her dreams come true.

Garnish the dish with some India-Pakistan 'aman', come-back-to-india, eternity of marriage and gender equality messages.

That's it. You are ready with Dil Bole Hadippa.

Well, if you couldn't get any relation between the above and what is shown in the trailers, you are correct. For the sake of completeness i would mention it.

The movie is actually of only about 20 mins. How long is a purely detective movie if you get to know who the culprit is in the very beginning? The movie opens with Indian Tigers losing the India-Pakistan 'Aman Cup' for the 8th time in a row. Indian Tigers owner', Anupam Kher is desperate to win it the next time. His son (Shahid Kapoor) is shown to be an ace cricketer staying in London with his 'separated-from-Anupam-Kher mother (Poonam Dhillon). And Veera (Rani Mukherjee) is the best batsman (both right handed and left handed) in the village. That's it. It doesn't take one to write in Mundane Journey to fit the pieces together. The movie exactly does what you think it should do. And in the same precise detail you thought it would do. It even injured Veera's right hand so that she can prove her claim that she is both a right handed and a left handed batsman.

The one good thing about this movie is the performance of all the actors, especially Rani. She proved how seasoned an actor she is by playing the role of Veer (male) and Veera (female) brilliantly.

The movie, essentially, banks on two of the three things India is passionate about - Cricket and Pakistan (third being bollywood itself). The plot, however, is very old.

Dil Bole Hadippa is not a multiplex movie. So, be austere and don't waste your hard earned money on this movie in a multiplex, especially when you have recession in the US and drought in India. If you have time, you may watch it at a single screen theater that is at walkable distance from your house.

Think of environment before driving to the theater.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Kaminey: After-thoughts

If the ‘funda’ in Kaminey is to be logically extended, the quite a lot of ‘desi’ Gujaratis are lisps (totle). One of the first few and one of the last few monologues in the movie is ‘main fa ko fa kehta hoon’. In the movie Charlie (Fahid Kapoor) pronounces ‘sa’ as ‘fa’. Now, if this disorder is said to be ‘totlapa’, then the ‘disorder’ of pronouncing ‘sa’ as ‘ha’ should also be claimed as ‘totlapa’. Imagine a conversation between two persons with the disorder (the mehona flavoured – ‘H’ versioned)

A: Hi, kem chhe? [Hi, how are you?]
B: Bas, jhalha chhe! [ enjoying!]
A: Kaminey joi? [Did you see Kaminey?]
B: Na nathi joi. Kevi chhe? [No, haven’t heen. How ih it?]
A: ekdam firt claah chhe [Abholutely, firth clahh]
B: Em? Pelo Moonden Jhurni waro kehto to ke Hahid e haari akhon kari chhe [is it? That Moonden Jhurni fellow was haying that the ekhon (action) of hahid was good]
A: Haa – bahu hweet lagtoto [Yes, he looked really hweet]
B: Tu paachhi mari jode halis kale? [Would you again go with me for the movie tomorrow?]
A: Horry ho. Mare kale mol ma hopping karva javanu chhe. [Horry, tomorrow I have to go to a mol for hopping.
B: Thik chhe – hoon koi bija ne laijaih. Mari agar be free paahih hata. [Ok. I’ll take someone else. I had two free paaheh]
A: Oh – mare kale javanu canhel thai gayu. Ho halis tari jode. [Oh – My tomorrow’s plan got canhelled. I’ll join you]

Anyway, getting back to the movie – Charlie was ‘totla’ and Guddu (S..SS..Shh..ahid Kapoor) was a ‘hakla’, one who stammers. The plot of the movie is nothing out of the box. Everyone in the movie is ‘kamina’. There are about 5 ‘kaminey’ groups and the story connects and brings them together. Finally, in the tussle for power and in the quest for outdoing each other, all the kaminey kill each other. Only Fahid Kapoor, S..SS…Shh..ahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra lived through the story. The subplot which shows how the twin brothers got separated was very loose. An ordinary railway employee’s school going son having Rs 3000 and Charlie making it to 5000 by gambling on a roadside stall leave you wondering why at all it was added. Otherwise, the plot was just okay.

Shahid Kapoor is said to have ‘internalized’ Shahrukh Khan’s way of acting. The character of Guddu, who not only stammers but is also a ‘sweet-boy,’ makes Shahid more vulnerable to ‘internalize’ SRK’s acting. Priyanka Chopra did a good job. She seems to suit such de-glam’d characters more than ultra-glan ones (like that of a super-model in Fashion ). Amol Gupte did great job. He had the charisma that the character demanded. Bhope Bhau (the character played by Amol Gupte) is shown to be a local politician whose party is against non-Marathis. However, when he is offered huge amount by Guddu, a non-Marathi, he becomes pro non-Marathi and says that he would change to a party which is not against non-Marathis. The way his character turned 180 degrees makes us think whether the politicians really think about people – Or, is it for some personal benefit they play with the life of the commoners?

The songs are average. The background score during car chase and fights reminds you of the 80’s movies. The dialogues seem to be forcefully made ‘strong’. These dialogues reminds you of the 80’s and 90’s movies.

Paifa banana ke do raafte hai – ek fort cut aur dufra chhota fort cut

The lyrics are good. The hand held camera effect used in a few scenes was un-called for and makes the scene difficult to see. The movies pace is pretty good – with a few ‘slow’ moments. Overall, it if a ‘timepass’ movie and can be feen one time.
Remember, Charlie fa ko fa kehta hai?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hash Include

Hash Include

Inclusion seems to be the new buzzword. From financial inclusion (as mentioned by the Indian President Pratibha Patil on the eve of Independence Day) and sexual inclusion (by the amendment of section 377 of IPC) to inclusion (at least, by being a witness on national television) into the process of selecting a groom. Not to forget the evergreen first line of a C program.

However, this word was more popularly used in the context of education. It refers to a state where children with and without disabilities study together. As on everything else, there are people who support the notion and there are people who do not. While, as on everything else, most people don't really care. I am not going to discuss whether or not 'educational inclusion' should be practiced. The reason is that apart from the obvious cases we don't know who falls and who doesn't fall under 'retarded' category.

Though, in theory, we may be able to classify people in terms of those with and without disabilities, the fact remains (and as hinted by Pauli's exclusion principle) that every child is unique with his own learning curve. So, while the know-all work out whom to include in which category and fight for what level of 'inclusion' is optimal, there is one thing we can do without much controversy.

Let me explain. The process of children education has two end-points - the producers (teachers) who are the sources of knowledge and the consumers (children) who take in the knowledge. Of course, there is self learning and self exploration. But for children, it works the best if the source of knowledge is another person. So, instead of having all teacher-for-the-normals teaching to 'normal' schools, we should have some 'special teachers' also in the 'normal' schools.

There are cases where children who need special teachers are sent to 'normal' schools - probably, because they are not thought of as 'special'. These children, obviously (and by definition), don't do well in the school and are deemed 'slow learners'. This makes the matter worse. One way to address this is to have special teachers in all 'normal' schools. These teachers would help in identifying students with special needs. They would also make other teachers - who put a lot of unnecessary and virtual pressure (reminds you of your boss?) on the students - sensitive to the fact the every child is unique.

This is what i thought of when i (again) watched Taare Zameen Par. We need people to identify and deal with children with special needs. We need 'inclusion' among teachers. I am sure this is not something which will arouse a lot of debates. Nether would the serial-topper's mother be worried about her child slowing down in study because some of his classmates have special needs. This is one area where we not only lack inclusion but also lack debate on it.

Do share your views on the concept of inclusion applied to teachers.

Monday, August 10, 2009


My friend and I were discussing politics the other day. We were discussing the difference among Congress (I), Congress and Indian National Congress and among CPI, CPI(M) and CPM. Just then i asked him: If Congress(I) were founded by Steve Jobs, what would it be called. He was stunned. What the hell was i asking. He never bothered to even think why the hell was i asking that.

He had no clue (Good for me). So, i replied:


And he was like - "Awww.."

He smirked at me - Don't tell this to the Presidency/JU Arts girls. They will bury you. I said they can't do that. If they come to do that, I'll tell them:

"Don't Bury, Be Happy"

Now, don't give me that look. I know it was bad. But couldn't help sharing it. [You would understand this if you know Bengali]

BTW, i am still awaiting your pet-peeves. The idea is that I'll collate them up for the larger group of readers. Do key in your pet-peeves here


Friday, August 7, 2009

Guest Blog Post: Alice In Wonderland - The Review

[Hey Guys!

I am a bit busy with my work these days to write something. So, you have a guest blog post from Tejaswy!

Prashant ]

This was one of the first books I read in my life and the one of which I have least memory of. After having a chat with my friend Raj, who happens to love reading books that are not related to engineering or academics, I realized that I should get back to reading and what better way to get back to reading than read the first book I ever read and of which I have no memory of.


Alice in wonderland is a story of, as you all know, a girl who follows a talking white rabbit into a rabbit hole, and hence enters a wonderland where nothing makes sense to her 7 year old brain but she is still able to make sense of a lot of things that would normally not makes sense to grownups!

Did that sentence make sense?

For example

Drinking magic potions to grow small
Eating cakes to grow big
Sneezing babies turning into pigs
A mysteriously grinning and vanishing cat
Stopping and modifying time
And a Queen who’s answer to all the problems is “Chopping of heads”

The Story

Alice is depicted to be a typical English mem, who is polite, courteous and sometimes a bit too mature for her age. She is in a boring tea party with her elder sister when she spots a white rabbit who seems to be in a hurry to meet the Queen of Hearts. She follows him to a rabbit hole where she discovers she is too big for the door. She drinks a potion which reduces her size to the level of the door but only to realize that the keys were on top of the table. She eats a mushroom to grow big but apparently she eats too much of it and outgrows the room itself! After a lot of mixing and stirring she finally manages to get through the door to see the most beautiful garden ever.

There she meets a caterpillar, who is smoking a hookah (Talk about smoking being dangerous to health) who guides her to a “Mad”tea party where a Hatter and a Hare are having a tea party and they somehow manage to get Alice involved with her. She is challenged to a game of riddles with the Mad Hatter and the Hare with no clear evidence of who is making sense and who is not. After spending some time with them Alice loses her temper and storms out of the tea party calling the tea party “The stupidest tea party ever.” She keeps meeting Cheshire, the disappearing, grinning cat, who helps Alice out in bits and pieces and seems to be the only friend she has in the Wonderland

Soon after this she meets the Queen of the Wonderland who is incidentally the Queen of Hearts in a pack of cards, and all her guards are pack of cards.

Her favorite line happens to be

“Off with the head”
“Don’t be nervous, or I’ll have you executed”
“Give your evidence” said the Queen, or “I’ll have you executed”
“You are a poor Speaker, off with his head”

After losing a game of croquet with the queen , Alice is put on trail and the witness happens to be the hatter , a hare and the sleepy mouse. Alice eventually losses the case and is to be executed.

But in the nick of time she wakes up.

You have to think like a 7 year old when you are reading this book. You have to forget the fact that some things are impossible. It is a wonderful and a magical book (not that the book does magic itself but you get the idea).I think everyone should read the original book at least once in his/her life time and please be sure to read it to your kids.

Implications of Alice in Wonderland in today’s world

The story has become a metaphor in today’s world. It is used to describe one’s imagination/Imaginary world where not everything is perfect. It has been taken up by the medical community as a Syndrome termed as “Alice in Wonderland syndrome”

In the movie Matrix, Neo is asked to wake up by Trinity and asked to follow the white rabbit. Check the video here.

And here is when Morpheus offers the choice between the Red pill and the Blue pill and tell his about the Matrix wonderland. Check the video here.

In the movie The Resident Evil the protagonist is named Alice and the Antagonist Character, the Macro Computer, is named as The Red Queen.

Not to mention Tim Burtons latest movie called Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Depp playing as the Mad hatter. Check the trailer here



[Tejaswy blogs at
About him: (in his own words) One of God’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.]

Monday, July 27, 2009

MJ-LOTD: Zakhm

This weekend i caught up with 'Zakhm'- a movie which was in my to-watch list. And what a movie it was! Amazing. It was made at a time when Mahesh Bhatt was still making movies sans Emraan Hashmi and sans the skin show. The story is amazing. The movie holds your attention from the starting till the end. Moving back and forth in time,the story reveals itself in small installments. The acting of all the actors was apt. The music (by M M Kreem) is very unconventional though it used the conventional singers like Kumar Sanu and Alka Yagnik. I had heard (and liked) 'Tum aaye toh aaya mujhe yaad' before. But song, 'Hum yahaa', is very good as well. The lyrics of all songs are very contextual and helps in taking the story forward.

MJ-LOTD is the mellifluous song, hum yahaan, composed by M M Kreem. M M Kreem, i guess, is one of the most under-rated music directors in the Bollywood. Probably, because he doesn't do too many 'main-stream' movie.

Friday, July 24, 2009

MJ-LOTD: Rakhi Ka Swayamvar - Hazaaron Mein Ek

A lot has been blogged about Rakhi, the host and the contenders. Has anyone even gotten a chance to look at the 'others'?

Imagine, if the potential groom's friends 'bhi hazaaron mein ek ho' [Translation: one in thousands]. To give you an idea, the two friends are 'unique' in 24038!

Refer to this video

Go to time around 1:10. And follow the sequence:

Rakhi: I want to ask you a question. But, before that, put your hand on your heart.
[The friends put their hands on the left side of their chest]
Rakhi: Don't put your hands on the microphone, put it on your heart
[and gestures them to put the hand on the other side]

Bingo. Rakhi has an eye. Now, i am not referring to her vigorous flapping of false eyelashes. What i mean is that she had some divine intervention and found that her suitor's friends were 'Dextrocardians'. So, she being what she is, caught the crime and asked 'the friends' to put their hands on their "heart" which, as hinted by her fingers, is on the right side!

If you are wondering, how are the cute friends unique in thousands (24038), refer to Wiki link on dextrocardia. As per Wiki, Dextrocardia is believed to occur in approximately 1 in 12,019 people.

If the friends of the groom are 'hazaaron mein ek' then wonder how the groom would be? And more so, how the bride would be?


My Pet Peeves

Everyone has his/her pet peeves - something which is not unacceptable but something which, kind of, annoys him. Here are a few of my pet peeves

Anyways. This really sounds i-also-English kinds. Have we ever read, in any of our text books, the word 'anyways'? The correct word, anyway, is 'anyway' – and surprisingly, everyone knows it – even those who use 'anyways' in every other sentence they speak. But still they use it - perhaps, to sound 'cool'. You think it's just 'no-problems' to use it?

Sarvanan: You know, radio was invented by Marconi
Swetha: No re. Radio was not invented by Marconi. It was invented by Tesla
Sarvanan: I told you na that I referred to Wiki and Wiki cannot be wrong re.
Swetha: Is it? I'll need your help in Googling, Sarvanan
Sarvanan: err...
Swetha: Will you help me na!

[Link to who-invented-radio dispute]

Sa re ga ma pa dha ni may be music to my ears but 're' and 'na' are definitely not. There is also the English-version of it. 'Na' maps to 'no'. “I told you no that the pani puri is not hyginic. Now see. You fell ill no

No problem – This phrase may have become famous after Suzuki Samurai's ad. But this is something which people use so often when they don't intend to use it. “No problem” is not a replacement for “you are welcome”. While filing a complaint with a service provider, I got, kind of, annoyed when the customer service executive returned a 'no problem' for my 'thank you' . Does she mean it's not a problem for her to take my complaint? She should be, rather, sorry. I am sure she didn't mean the 'no-problem' in the literal sense and gave it as an obvious return for a 'thank you'.

'Only' is being used to mean 'hi' in Hindi – Like, 'maine hi use kaha jane ki liye' translates to 'i only asked her to go'. Now don't laugh after reading it twice. If you go back from 'i only asked her to go' to Hind you land up at 'maine use jane ki liye hi kaha' which is completely different from the original sentence!

Exclamation mark. This has become a subsitute for other punctuation marks like full stop and question mark. Unnecessary use of '!' doesn't make the writing more exclamatory. Neither does it shows that the writer is 'exclaiming'. Personally, it annoys me. I wish the word processors removed those unnecessary exclamation marks. Or the email solutions mark those emails with a dollop of exclamation marks as spam. BTW, even the smileys don't mean you are smiling. It's very annoying when you get something like - “You are fired! :)

Another pet peeve of mine in my childhood days was the use of 'Teacher's Day' instead of 'Teachers' Day'. It was a different feeling altogether to see beautifully designed and decorated charts wishing 'Happy Teacher's Day'.

It's not that i am some language expert or that i don't make errors. I am sure i do. And you can find a host of them in this blog. But i guess everyone has a right to 'have' pet peeves :)

Do share your pet peeves with us and also if i happen to be using any of yours in my posts.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

MJ-LOTD: Best Actor 2009

Fashion seems to be a milestone in Priyanka Chopra's career. Why not? After all the awards she won!

In this clip from the movie Fashion - go to time around 9:00 minutes.

Observe that even before Janet completes her flattery, flowery "You were fabulous" - our best actor jumps up - "really!"

This is called knowing what other person wants to say. I wouldn't call it bad timing. I'd call it prediction. Meghna Mathur (played by Priyanka) seemed to be just waiting for Janet to complete 'Fabulous' so that she can say "Really!"

Check out my review of 'Fashion' in case you haven't


Monday, July 20, 2009

MJ-LOTD: The Rajanikanths

It's not that only Rajanikanth can do it. The Papaji is no less. Check papaji in action here.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

MJ-LOTD: Can you 'Beat It'?

Those frequenting blogs would have known him. But for those who don't - let me take the honor of introducing Dr. K. Chaudhry as 'The Unbeatable'. Check out the Hindi version of Michael Jackson's Beat-It in Dr. K. Chaudhry's voice at


Why did people so religiously watched Super Hit Mukabala? Why did people feel nostalgic when a reference to Chitrahar is made? Why is Archana Puran Singh still known as the lady who hosted Lux Kya Scene Hai? Why is Philips Top 10 still remembered? Despite having tens of Gbs of music in your music player, why do you still tune in to FM while driving back home?

The answer to the above question is “unexpectedness”. In all the above programmes, the songs or the scenes which were to come next were unexpected. Not only that, they were ,supposedly, hand picked. I am starting a similar thing on Mundane Journey: MJ-LOTD

Mundane Journey Link of the Day (MJ-LOTD) – would be one link which i would recommend to my readers. It could be a song, a scene, a gag, a news article or anything on the Internet. It would be the most interesting or 'touchy' thing i stumble upon on the Net that day. However, it may not be everyday as there are days i don't get a chance to browse the web or on the weekends when i just don't want to see the computer screen.

I must acknowledge Sagar for this. Everyday, he shares a link to a different song on his Gtalk status. He call it 'Aaj Ka Gana'. I really liked the 'long-lost' songs he shared. So, i thought it would be useful to my other readers as well. I just extended it to scenes, new articles, etc.

I would also be tweeting a lot more often from now on. I'll share the MJ-LOTD on twitter as well. However, I'd be sharing a lot of other unorganized thoughts (and of course, links). To join me on twitter click here.

As always, do let me know your views on MJ-LOTD.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Loss Booking

People who have tried their hands at the share market would know what booking loss is. It's basically part and parcel of optimal use of resources – money in this case. When the price of the share you purchased is going down and you sense that it may go further down and not going to go up in the timeframe you selected, it's best to sell it and book losses because there may be another stock which could be going up. It's best to release your resources from that 'losing' stock and put it on the 'gaining' stock. So, though you have encountered losses, you have saved yourself from bigger losses and given yourself a chance to make profits by investing the resources in a gaining scrip.

You must be wondering why am i talking about share market as what i mentioned is pure common sense and that i am no trade guru. This share market anecdote applies well to various activities we do in our lives. One example from the medical field which comes to mind is that of amputation. To prevent 'poison' from spreading to other parts of the body, we cut the affected part. It doesn't mean that we don't like/love the part we are cutting and that we don't feel the pain in cutting the leg that we pampered so delicately. It means that we are ready to trade it off for a larger benefit of our body.

Problems. This is one word every human being can associate with. A lot of people say that we should address problems heads on and that we should take them as challenges and resolve them. According to me this is partially true. Sometimes, the resources required to solve a problem may be huge and the gain by solving the problem may not be enough – in that case, an easier workaround and using the resources to serve better purposes may be better than trying to solve the problem completely. It's like you exit form the problem by booking losses and invest that money into some other scrip.

A lot of 'intelligent' people have this ego problem - “how is it that i can't solve this problem”? This is really grave. Haven't you seen it screw up that very important board/competitive exam? The time (resource) ran out while you were busy solving a 5 marks problem and in turn left 50 marks unanswered. Don't you 'pass' (or guess the answer to) the question in the rapid fire round in a quiz competition?

The trick is to estimate the effort required to solve a problem and whether it is worth putting in that effort. For this principle to work, the goal you are working toward should be clear – else the “worth” of the effort may not be correctly estimated. It's best not to honor our ego, book losses and come out and do something worth the time.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Kambakkht Ishq: After-thoughts

I am not going to talk about how bad Kambakkht Ishq is. I am not going to talk about how loose the plot is. I am not going to talk about the senseless songs which pops in without any reason or season like eunuchs in sleeper class bogies of Indian Railways. I am also not going to talk about the just-for-the-heck-of-it 'item fight' (analogous to item song) sequence done by the great Sylvester Stallone. I am not going to talk about any such things. These are characteristics of most so-called main stream commercial cinema. And also, these are highlighted by most reviewers (and I am not going to play Anu Malik, Pritam or a software engineer here) . I would bring to forth things that make this film truly different.

This film gives us a new way to get people to shut up. You must have wished to shut your ever-complaining spouse when you forget to get that special ingredient while coming from office. Or you forget to make sure that his suit is pressed before that very important meeting. You also would have wished to shut your boss up when s/he gives some illogical reasons for not giving you that hike/promotion/leave/onsite-offer which you think you deserve. Kambakkht Ishq shows you a way. When Kareena (Bebo) was shouting at Akshay on the 'characteristics' of men, Akshay shut her mouth, literally, with his. So, now you know what to do when you want to shut Rakhi Sawant up!
Well, if you think this is cheap and rickshaw-wala standard, I'd leave that to you.

Kambakkht Ishq, also, shows us a new way to make an otherwise short dress look hotter. If you want to look hot, bend down by 37 degress. Make sure the camera is focused at those parts of the body which wouldn't have been otherwise visible had you not bent down and give a shake your garment the way you would do an almost-full-container so that it (the container) can have room for more flour. And do it just before you want to look hot. The effect may be lost after some time. Reminds you of some B grade movie? Well, if you think this is cheap and rickshaw-wala standard, I'd leave that to you.

This movie also helps us in cost cutting. A metal watch with alarm is 'left' into Akhshay's belly when Bebo operates him. Even then, Akshay doesn't have any 'side effects'. The next time you get a cut through some metallic object, don't rush for an antiseptic or tetanus injection. Chill. Nothing will happen. Just as nothing happened to Akshay. If you find this illogical, I'd leave it to you.

There are movies which are good and there are movies which are bad. There are good movies which you may not like and there are bad movies which you may like. Kambakkht Ishq falls into none of these category. If you feel the treatment of the illogical subject illustrated with very ordinary acting and intermixed with uncalled-for songs was cheap and rickshaw-wala standard, I'd leave that to you. It's your prerogative.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New York - A Review

New York, the first big release after the IPL and the T20 World Cup and the rift between the multiplex owners and the producers, elicits mixed reactions.

The plot of the movie is pretty fresh. It takes a fresh look at the impact of 9/11 on innocent citizens. The world dynamics irreversibly changed after 9/11. The movie depicts innocent people like Sam (John Abraham) becoming victims of the FBI's suspicion. It brings to forth the irony that in an endeavor to curb terrorists, the US is unknowingly creating new ones - the ones which has its origins linked to the 9/11. [I had referred to something similar in my post Live to die]The sub-plot of the victimized Muslim employee who was helped by Maya (Katrina Kaif), a human rights activist is very poignant. It shows the emotional reaction to the torture. Sam, on the contrary, gives an aggressive and a well thought of response to the torment. The theme of the movie – 9/11 ke side effects - is very novel for a bollywood movie. Aditya Chopra, the writer of the movies, deserves full points.

The NYSU part was a bit boring – it was like a conventional big budget movie. But the movie started gaining pace once we found that Sam was suspected to be a terrorist. The movie, then, went Don-way. The FBI appoints Omar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) as an undercover agent to gather evidence against Sam. The RDB style ending was good. Sam and his wife, Maya (Katrina Kaif) are killed by the federal forces even though Sam throws the bomb trigger and surrenders.

Despite having a very strong plot, the movie lacks in keeping up the pace. At times it was just getting too boring. The director, probably, wanted to show that the 'normal' American, NYSU life Sam was leading and how Omar became friends with Maya and Sam. Also, after the disclosure of the fact that Sam was a terrorist, the pace broke down again. Things become too predictable until the end is reached which is pretty unpredictable by the standards of the the series of predictable events preceding it.

The songs are good. It gels well with the movie. They are broken into smaller fragments and are timed such that they appear like background scores and aid the flow of the plot. The songs do not reduce the pace of the movie – the movie is self equipped with sub-plots to do this (slowing of pace).

John, Neil and Katrina did a decent job. Irrfan was playing in his home ground and so was obviously brilliant. Remember him in A Mighty Heart and Slumdog Millionaire?

The best part about the movie was the neutrality in tone it maintained through out. It was very easy for a movie on such sensitive issues to go on either sides. The movie admitted the mistake done in accusing innocent people, however it doesn't encourage the extremist path taken by those impacted. The movie, like any Yash-Raj movie, is very politically correct.

All in all, the movie has a good plot but not so good portrayal of the plot.

Monday, June 22, 2009

CAT – A National Pastime

As a person grows (in age), his desires, craze and hobbies change. Running in the field, playing chain-chain, playing 'pakda pakdi' – basically any simple game which is physically demanding - would attract a primary school student. As he grows up, he take up games like cricket, basket ball and TT. When he enters the college, his hobby becomes grabbing the best girl around. And this continues until he reaches the pre-final year where he takes up a new pastime called CAT. Similar sequence holds for females – from dolls to singing/dancing to boys to CAT. The pastime for most graduates in their mid twenties is CAT.

CAT is interesting. But reasons why people want to take CAT are much more interesting. Bapi wants to take CAT because his mother's kitty party friend's son Bappa is taking it. Sanjay is taking it because his cousin is an MBA and supposedly minting money. Sarvanan is taking CAT because he doesn't know how to play (and hence is not interested in) cricket. Priyanka is taking CAT because her boyfriend is taking it, while Amit wants to take CAT because he doesn't have a girl friend!

Yeah, that is correct. A lot of people are taking CAT because they have nothing else to do. Taking CAT obliges you to be at CITE or any other such place. Haven't heard of CITE? CITE stands for Career Launcher, IMS, T.I.M.E., Erudite. Now, CITE give a great competition to CCDs, Baristas, Aqua Javas and the likes.

People who have 'partners' - hang out at/outside CITE, go to CITE together, come back together, “discuss” the solution of x-3 = 0 together and attend classes together. Not only this, they can go to each others house and study together. This is a really innovative way to get parents' approval. Imagine that your girl friend comes to your place and you go to hers frequently – and that you both are able to impress each others parents! Wouldn't that be great? Isn't it a more realistic and toned down version of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge? For people who are single (and who hate paying hefty stag cover charges) can find that someone special in the class. Now, as mentioned in Dil To Pagal Hai, that someone somewhere is made for you - if they (CATers) don't find anyone that rings a bell in their hearts in a batch, then they can shift batches until they find someone. In case they don't find anyone in any batch, they look out for the staff. They are also good.

Does any of the coffee shops offer these facilities? CITE may be more expensive than the coffee shops but they don't have the 'cool' factor that is associated with the CITE. C'mon, isn't it cool for the mom to tell her friend that her child cannot make it to the french poodle's birthday bash because she has to go to CITE? Can she say the same thing if her daughter is going to CCD or Barista?

As per Miss Lucy – 'adat agar waqt pe na badali jaye toh zaroorat banjati hai' [If you don't know who miss Lucy is you should revisit DDLJ]. This translates to – if habits are not change in time, then they become necessities. So, after going through the rigorous 1.5 yrs course, at CITE a lot of students get 'used to' it. Now, after getting astronomical ranks, they decide that they should give it another shot and enroll for CITE again! They may change from X to Y where X and Y are elements of CITE and X!= Y. They try and try. Year after year. Changing from X to Y. This goes on till he/she gets married. The marriage, however, could be with either one of the 'friends' found in one of the iterations at CITE or, in worst case , a family found one.

Mahatma Gandhi said that the process or journey is more important than the end results. Looks like a lot of people have taken this really seriously. They seems to be enjoying the process of “preparation” of CAT. CAT seems to have become the national pastime you indulge in after your college and before your marriage.

Disclaimer: There is a section of students who know what to do in life and how MBA can help them to achieve that goal. To those, CITE can be really helpful in getting them crack the CAT and hence get an MBA and reach their goal. The above is for those who don't fall in that section.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Nothing Fishy

Having stayed in Kolkata for about a couple of decades, I am asked by a lot friends/colleagues - 'why do Bengalis like fish (to the extent of being a fish outside water in case they don't get to eat fish) so much?' More often than not, it's the third question they ask me when i lunch with a new 'friend'.

BTW, a lot of bengalis (humorously) say that fish is vegetarian! A few people, (irrespective of their degree of Bong-connection) however, are not sure if it's vegetarian, non-vegetarian or semi-vegetarian! [see this].

Anyway, getting back to the question at hand: I could just give the 'new friends' the obvious/clichéd environmental/availability/historical reasons [I am not going to say that in detail here]. George Bernard Shaw gave me another reason for Bengalis' love towards fish. The reason being - the word, currently spelled as ef-eye-es-eych and pronounced as 'fish', can be spelled as 'ghoti'!

[As per Wiki] Ghoti is a constructed example used to illustrate irregularities in English spelling. It is a respelling of the word fish, and like fish is pronounced /ˈfɪʃ/. It has,
gh, pronounced [f] as in tough;
o, pronounced [ɪ] as in women; and
ti, pronounced [ʃ] as in nation.

[Again, quoting from Wiki], The Ghotis are the people of western Bengal, who have a culture, traditions, and cuisine distinct from their Bangal counterparts of Bengal.

However, a section of the society believes that the first reference to fish being spelled as jee-eych-oh-ti-eye (ghoti) was seen before Shaw [Link]

In any case, i have got yet another answer to the third question a 'new' friend generally asks - though it is just half an answer.

Looking for a way to spell 'fish' as Bee-ay-en-jee-ay-el to complete my answer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Ad Sense

There are two schools of thoughts. One school believes that sad, poignant themes touch people's heart more than happy, frivolous themes while the other school believes just the converse. Then, there are is a 'third front' - which the former two schools consider 'crap' - who don't fall into either of the categories. Their purpose is to make purposeless products (like Ghajini). I won't be talking about these 'third persons'. Sigh. I'll be talking about the former two schools.

The results of the election of the largest democracy is out. And people have given a clear mandate after a really long time. While there are myriad reasons for the winner's victory and runners-up's loss, let's look at the advertizements of the Congress and the BJP.

The advertisements of the Congress were very optimistic. Despite the turmoils which happened almost throughout the last year – inflation, terrorism and recession – the ads wore a positive outlook . Aam Admi ke badhte kadam – reiterated the pro- 'aam admi' stand of congress. Everyone in the advertisement is shown happy. Communal harmony is highlighted with the holi and rakshabandhan.
Congress have another very sell-able thing – their history and legacy. This heritage ad displays the achievements India made under the early Congress – Independence, compilation of the Constitution, Shastri's Jai-jawan-jai-kisan revolution, nationalization of banks. This heritage ad portrays more recent achievements of Congress – telecom/IT revolution under Rajiv Gandhi, Indo-US Nuclear deal, NREGA and Chandrayan under Manmohan Singh/Sonia Gandhi. The Jai Ho ad resonated the sense of achievement of winning Oscars along with the happiness brought in by the schemes of Congress. All other ads like those on – chandrayan, electricity and Rajasthan had a positive/happy feel to them.

On the other hand, the ads by BJP were more about the problems India is facing. The bhay ho ad, which is a parody of Congress' Jai Ho, highlights the unemployment, terrorism and inflation during Congress' reign. The Vijay-Sankalp ad is a very matured symbolic ad which not only hints at the aforementioned problems during congress' reign but also highlights that a strong leader (like L. K. Advani) can solve the problems. The ad in (almost) black and white with strong voice makes it a 'serious' ad as opposed to the fun and happy ads of Congress. The hai-koi ad had a similar though a bit lighter tone. This 'nider-neta', again, sells L. K. Advani as a 'mazboot neta' while attributing unemployment as unfortunate – something which shouldn't have been there while this nidar-neta ad hints at the terrorism.

Now, what's wrong with ad-fights? Cola/soft drink companies have been doing it on Indian Media – Be it 'Do the Dew (of Mountain Dew)'' Vs 'i wanna do (of Sprite)' Or 'Pepsi for young!' Vs 'sweet drink for kids (of Thums Up)'. Even the techies doesn't remain far behind – remember the Mac Vs PC ads? So, it may seem that there is nothing wrong with ad fights. My guess is - it's about Indian psyche. Indians don't like bad-mouthing about others. Now don't give me that look – don't point me to the the umpteen saas-bahu soaps or company/college 'gossips'.

So what we see is that the message in Congress' ad was 'all was great under it's rule' – India has reached great heights under it and it should be select to continue the progress. It doesn't really mention about BJP or the Third Front (Third Front – what's is that, now?) except in this 'one' where it hints at BJP very subtly. BJP, however, highlighted the shortcomings of Congress – its alleged puppet PM. It, kind of, attributes the unemployment, inflation and terrorism – which are global problems – to a weak Congress. This probably didn't strike a chord with people. People seems to be more interested into what you can do as opposed to what wrong other has done. The cheerful tone of the Congress' ad brought in smile to the gloomed faces.

This reminds me of India Shining campaign by the BJP in the last Lok Sabha elections. It was in the same line on which the Congress' ad this time is. BJP portrayed that India is shining, the sensex is surging and there's no miseries anywhere – just like what Congress portrayed. But, BJP's ad didn't work while Congress' did! The content of the ad is as important as the timing, the target audience and the way the ad reaches the target audience. The mood of the audience is also very important. If there is gloom around, the happy-toned ad may do better than the bare-truth.

Well, i know it's all over. And, hopefully, for five years we will not have any Lok Sabha Election. It's not that i am saying i-always-knew-BJP-was-going-to-lose-because-of-their-not-so-happy-ad. I am trying to reason out what could have caused the loss of BJP. There are several other, perhaps, more important reasons to it. Pramod Mahajan could be one. Even, Sam Pitroda, Kanishka Singh, etc could be another. Nevertheless, this post just looks at the whole thing from a different perspective. If these ads were to compete in an ad competition, probably Vijay Sankalp would have won the critics' heart. The fact however remains that BJP lost. As they say - future remains unknown. The predictions, at the end of the day, are just predictions.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Imagining India - Book Review

Nandan Nilekani's Imagining India starts where our history text books end. The book analyses not only the social, political and economic condition of India but also probes into the inter-relation of these with respect to both time and space. The fact that Imagining India is written by an engineer (and a software engineer at that) is evident from the style and tone in which it is written. Like a software, the book is divided into modules - each module having its own aim which aligns to the goal of the book as a whole. The book not only enunciates the challenges India is facing, but also proposes logical solutions to them. The book is divided into four parts

The first part describes the commonly accepted notions. Once considered a liability, the high population, is the biggest asset of India. The high GDP growth rate of India is due partly to the abundant human resource of India. Also, the knowledge of English language has been the single most effective tool for the upward mobility of the Indian youth. The irony is, still there are political parties who are shunning away from the English language! He also highlights the change in attitude towards businesses. The journey from the Bombay Plan to globalization through license raj is described from not only economic but also from social and political perspective. He also acknowledges the supposed shortcomings of democracy but considers it as the best form of government for a country as diverse as India. Democracy, according to him, may slow progress, but the progress it makes is robust.

The second part of the book looks into ideas that have arrived. No one today questions the importance of education. He appreciates the initiatives, such as the SSA, taken by state and central governments at this front but believes that much more needs to be done. He also delves into the benefits of developments in infrastructure, urbanization and market reforms.

In the third part of the book he talks about the ideas that are not widely accepted. Here, he talks about the equation between the state and the central government starting from when India got freedom. He also looks into the ingredients which went in creating millions of jobs and what needs to be done to create more jobs for the jobless Indians. In the end he highlights the evolution of universities and institutions of higher education and their role in the progress of the nation

The fourth part is the most interesting part. Here, he gives innovative solutions to a lot of problems which are not currently high up in our priority list but are, nevertheless, very crucial to the sustained development of India. He proposes the introduction of one ID for each citizen. Currently, we have a lot of cards and numbers – PAN, driving license, ration card, etc. He proposes that we make a central database of all these. This will ease tracking and reduce corruption to a great extent. If a central ID is used, then instead of distributing “free rice” to poor through s separate porous supply chain, vouchers can be distributed using the central ID tied to a bank account which can be redeemed at a normal general store. He also highlights the need of social security. According to him, for sustainable social security and pension scheme, participation of the individual is a must and the cost should be shared by both the government and the individual. He also talks about the need of better health care facility. This can be achieved by making the benefits of private health sector available to the poor by distributing vouchers. Currently, only the government hospitals are subsidized. And since the poor have no other option, they have to, but, go to the substandard hospitals. The use of vouchers and centralized unique ID will help in addressing the problem. Lastly, he addresses a major problem the world is facing – energy and environment. He mentions about monetizing carbon footprints so that businesses having more carbon footprints pay more than those having less. This would give incentive for businesses to invest in greener and inexhaustible sources of energy.

This is, in short, what the 531-page book has in store. Actually, i have just strung the names of the chapters together into paragraphs! The book is a huge repository of information.

I was wondering what prompted Nilekani to write this book. Does he want to enter politics? I think, only time can tell us that. But given his views, I would rather want people like him joining politics than goons having criminal charges. From his book we can see that despite being the CEO of one of the largest IT companies, he is so much in touch with the reality – with the problems the common Indian face.

This book is a must read for anyone who wants to know about the evolution of various problems India is facing and about various ways of solving them, The book is very informative and draws references the way a technical paper does. The book’s USP is the logically developed innovative ideas to resolve age long problems. It’s a must need for the coffee-table debater at office cafeteria and for anyone who wants to be a ‘know all'.

- Cheers!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Shoe to a no shoo-in?

What is common among George W Bush, Wen Jiabao, P Chidambaram and Manmohan Singh?

They were all thrown shoe at. But, no shoe could hit any of them.

That's an innovative way to protest! RDB popularized the candle march. But the most 'in' way to protest looks like hurling the shoes. BTW, even Delhi-6 subtly indicated at mirror march but who has the patience?

The non-violent protests popularized by Gandhi seemed to most effective one. But it looks like the global warming is making people impatient and they are just looking for an outlet for venting the steam out rather than channelizing the steam in proper direction to get the problem resolved. Wondering what has global warming to do with this? Don't think - these days it's the safest and trendiest to attribute any mishaps to Global Warming!

Or is this a different way of giving up and hanging one's boots up?

- Think...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


[Read between the lines - that is, refer to the links - to get the subtle political humor in the post!]

Samay bitane ke liye karna hai kuchh kaam,
Shuru karo Antakshari leke Uncle Sam ka naam

Ma -
Manmohan a bade jhoothe, Manmohan a bade jhoothe,
Haar ke haar nahi maane, Haar ke haar nahi maane [Video]

Na -
Nafrat ki duniya ko chhod ke
Pyar ki duniya mein
Khush rehna mere yaar

Rabba mere rabba rabba
Rabba mere rabba
Is pyaar ko main kya naam doon [Video]

Dum maaro Dum, mit jaye gum
Bolo subha shaam, hare krishna hare raam. [Video]

Mera kuchh samaan
tumhare paas pada hai

Hum se tum dosti karlo
Yeh hasin galalati karlo [Video]

Ladkiyon se na milon tum
ladkiya toh hai balayen
Subha shaam mat karo tum
Ladki Ladki Ladki Ladki [Audio]

Kuchh to log kahenge
Logon ka kaam hai kehana [Video]

Nahi Nahi abhi nahi
Abhi karo intezar [Video]

Ra - ...

[If you can think of any *such* songs just key them in in the comments section]

- Cheers!

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