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Showing posts from March, 2013

Django Unchained- Film review

Went and watched this film by Quentin Tarantino in a theatre. With it raining Himmatwalas all over, it was tough to find one running anything decent. But it was worth the running around-metaphorically.

It is a powerhouse of a movie, with the director and the lead actors really making it a great lesson in movie-making. Leonardo Di Caprio appears after the interval, and still makes an impact. Can't imagine a Bollywood hero accepting such a role. The two lead actors-hard to say who is supporting, are fabulous, and one won an Oscar too.

Against a background of slavery, one man's quest to find his enslaved wife with the help of a bounty hunter, is well-told. It is gripping all the way. Though there is blood-shed, it is integral to the story. Reminded me of a lot of Western/Cowboy movies of the 70s or thereabouts. Franco Nero, one of the yesteryear 'cowboys' also has a small role here.

The anti-slavery statement is LOUD and clear. America as we know it, is only a hundred ye…

Phokat ka (Free) Advice

Giving advice is not considered a vice, apparently, or it would not be so rampant- under assumptions of the moral code. But there are so many experts giving you so much of gratuitous advice, that it forces me to enter the agonising agony uncle space, and list out some great pieces of it. If you go to pieces after you read it, well, that's your problem.

On How to handle Summers
Drink lots of water.
Make a crown of onions and place it on your head.

On How to handle Pimples
Don't eat oily stuff

On How to Reduce Weight
1. Eat only carbs
2. Eat only proteins
3. Eat moderately 6 times a day
4. Gorge to your heart's content.
Take your pick.

On Investing
Think of the long term goals. (This must have been the reason the dinosaurs got wiped out.)

On Selecting a Mate to get married to
You should look for compatibility (ha, ha..can't resist that)

On Divorce
Get a good lawyer who knows how to get a fat alimony (if you are the wife)

On Coping with Loss
Eat lots of vada pav- it'…

Choumohalla Palace Hyderabad

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Self-explanatory. This was the abode of some of the Nizams.

Repairing Cars and More

Here is a nice sexist joke that I read somewhere. Somehow, the best jokes are either sexist, or with some (or a lot of) innuendo. Not entirely my fault. But anyway, here goes.

A car repair person from the garage calls the husband to inform him that their car is ready for pick-up. The husband tells him, "My wife has gone to the bathroom to "make herself beautiful". As soon as she is out of there, we'll come and get the car."

The guy from the garage says, "Will that be today?"

While on sexist jokes, this one is a quote from Oscar Wilde.

Men's faces are like an autobiography. Women's are like a work of fiction.

Allaying Fears

I am always intrigued by the jargon used by our journalist fraternity. 25 feared killed in landslide. Disaster strikes Maryland. Town heaves sigh of relief as tornado passes it by. Government allays fears about the H1N1 epidemic.

These are a small sample of headlines going about the 'newsy' rooms and on to the printed pages. What if they got really daring, and started to become bold (if not beautiful) and report what they truly felt, minus the jargon? We might see something like these reports-

He claimed a lot of things, but the audience knew it was hocus-pocus.

The news reporters in the press conference were clueless, and ill-prepared to ask intelligent questions, including this reporter.

The speech did not make any sense, but the audience clapped anyway.

There was no news to report on our beat, so we made up some.

The same old parade- looked more like a charade.

The roads had the same number of potholes as yesterday. So we did not bother to go out today.

It rained incessantl…

View from a Window

I took a train journey after quite a while. And I had a window seat, that we used to covet when kids. Peeping out of your train window seat was one of the greatest pleasures of kid life, perhaps. The transitioning to adult life makes you forget sometimes, the small pleasures and aim for big ones. Like buying a large-screen TV.

Anyway, getting back to the present journey. What I like about train journeys is the fact that you can stretch a leg- or two. Without the passengers in front or back getting annoyed with you as in a plane, I mean. Because they are all free to do the same, without intruding into your space. There's also a relaxed air about how long you want to argue about change with your chaiwala. I saw a 4-5 minute back and forth happening about the price of chai AND the non-existence of small change. What entertainment. And both parties were quite cool about it too.

The train also was in a relaxed frame of mind, putting all thoughts of competitiveness out of your mind for …

Mir Osman Ali Khan

He was one of the Nizams of Hyderabad. He was responsible for a lot of good things. Osmania University being one of the biggest in education. He was the seventh in the line of Nizams. Before him too, many predecessors did a lot of good. But this one was probably one of the best. The buildings housing the university in Hyderabad are majestic, and resemble the palaces that many kings around the world had. Our engineering college in the campus was also a part of that stupendous set of architectural wonders.

This guy also set up Singareni Collieries, a coal-mining company later taken over by the Indian government. This company is where my parents spent most of their working life. It is spread across towns like Yellandu, Kothagudem, Ramagundam and Bellampalli in Andhra Pradesh.

How do I know all this? Happened to visit the Choumohalla Palace where one of the Nizams lived. It is close to Charminar in Hyderabad, and is a nice example of palatial yet simple, elegant living. Huge courtyards an…

The Bucket List- Film Review

I saw the remake in Hindi (Dasvidaniya) before the original. That was good. This is superb!

A captivating idea, scripted and presented wonderfully by two of the finest Hollywood actors. Their on-screen chemistry is magical, and presents a live 'school of acting' for wannabe actors. Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, are the actors. The dialogue is crackling.

The things they give each other, a few weeks before they are about to die, are intangible, and invaluable. As they say in services marketing, it's the experience of being together, living together, traveling together, and learning about themselves, compressed into a small time frame, under compelling circumstances.

What would I do if I find myself in similar circumstances? Frankly, I don't know, but I am certainly inspired by what these two do on their last days on the planet. Of course, zipping around the Kenya-Agra-Hong Kong route is an option, but that is not the point. Maybe one of the points is to discover the…

Jo Baat Tujhme Hai

This one is inspired by an episode of Raina Beet Jaaye hosted by Roop Kumar Rathod on TV that I was watching. It is on Sony Mix from 9 to 10 p.m. for those interested in such things. This episode was on some Hindi/Urdu lyricists (these are likable cysts). I got re-introduced to some wonderful work by various lyricists and poets who wrote for films. Many, alas, are not alive. Their work is.

Taj Mahal is an ancient movie, that had some great songs. Example- Jo baat tujhme hai, teri tasveer mein nahin. I think Pradeep Kumar and Bina Rai were in it. Music was by Roshan, the father of both Rakesh and Rajesh Roshan. The songs? By Sahir Ludhianvi.

Raatkali ek khwab mein aayi, from Buddha Mil Gaya, was written by Majrooh Sultanpuri. He wrote from the days of K.L. Saigal (pre-historic) to Shah Rukh Khan's (historic?) time. Teesri Manzil (O haseena zulfon wali) , Yaadon ki Baaraat (Chura liya hai tumne) and Mere Jeevan Sathi (O mere dil ke chain) are some of his creations.

Jab chali thandi…

Conversations with Storehouse of Compassion

That's of course a person with whom conversations could be lost in translation. Because he is from a Southern state and not from the heartland (did not say badlands). So a conversation with him could go like this, or any which way...

Heartland Hero- So SoC, what are your plans for today?

Storehouse of Compassion- I am doing a pullout.

HH- From where? Iraq? Afghanistan? But you aren't even there!

SoC- No, no, those I leave for Obama and Cameron..small fry. I am after the biggest democracy in the world..big fry!

HH- Did not know you were so fond of fish fry..I will bring you some next time. But what makes you wanna pull out?

SoC- Bahut din se vella hoon ..kuch kiya nahi, yeh dikhane ka waqt aagaya hai ki hum bhi maujood hain...

HH- Wah, SoC sahab, aap ghazab ki Hindi bol lete ho...aap Pradhan mantri kyon nahi ho jaate?

SoC- Ab umr kahan rahi kuch hone ki? Sirf apne manoranjan ke liye pullouts karta rehta hoon, bus..

HH- Achcha, understood. This is a media conspiracy to increase …

Preposterous Stuff

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I am recycling an old one, for the sheer joy of looking at the comments. Enjoy!
Pre and Post I thought I would prepone this post. But that is wrong. I mean, the English, according to the Queen. The one floating on a barge with a disreputable sardar. So I postponed the post. That sounds right, somehow, so here it is.

There was a post-monsoon shower yesterday. How do I know that it was post-monsoon? Because experts said that the one last week was pre-monsoon. How do they know? I don't know, but experts being experts, they are always right- like the boss, or the wife. Facts of life, like the birds and bees. And taxes, whose 'dead'line is fast approaching. I have another silly doubt about tax returns. Even if you are not getting any money back, are you still filing a 'return' ? Your Majesty, your views on this, if you be pleased.

Anyway, back to the pre and post business. Can you just 'pre' something like you post something? I will leave you to think about this,…

Rajesh Roshan's Music

Some super music came from this soft-spoken man who was overshadowed by his 1970s contemporaries for the most part. Some of his great songs were-

1. Dil kya kare from Julie

2. Uthe sab ke kadam..Baton baton mein, and Thoda hai thode ki..Khatta Meetha

3. Ek raasta hai zindagi- Kala Patthar

4. Nazrana bheja kisi ne pyar ka- Des Pardes

5. Mujhe choo rahi hain , teri garm saansein..

6. Dilruba, aa meri baahon mein aa...Yehi hai zindagi (1977)

7. Choo kar mere man ko - Yaarana

8. Lehron ki tarah yaadein.

9. Ek pal ka jeena, in Hrithik's debut film.

10. Ghar se nikalte hi, kuch door chalte hi, raste mein hai uska ghar..

Melodious!

Air Asia in India

There seem to be reasonable chances now that Air Asia will fly-into India, that is. Why it should cause any consternation among certain quarters is beyond me. I think Air Deccan was the best thing to have happened to an Indian consumer in a long time. It made flying so affordable that a large chunk of their customers were first time flyers.

With the exit of Kingfisher, we are reaching a stage where a monopolistic cartel seems to be running the skies, which is bad news for customers. Someone like Air Asia can revitalise the sector from a consumer's viewpoint.

Whether they make a profit or not would depend on their business model and practices. That should not be our concern, since Air India is still flying with taxpayer's subsidy. What we must keep in mind is the benefit to large numbers of customers who would be able to fly when they need to.

Similar anti-consumer activism was seen when FDI in retail was being debated. I am quite certain if the consumer knew what Wal-Mart could…

An Intelligent Conversation

On TV, this might sound like an oxymoron, if not an impossibility. But I actually saw an intelligent conversation. It may be as rare as a dhoomketu (comet), but I think it is worth mentioning that it can happen.

This was an interview with Harsh Mander, ex-bureaucrat who has written a book called Ash in the Belly, and talks intelligently. That's saying a lot. He expressed his views to Paranjoy Guha-Thakurta, the interviewer, about hunger in India, and the double-faced behaviour of the middle class towards the poor. Also the government's changing role from being a champion of the poor to something altogether different (according to him).

It was interesting, and he talked of the Berlin wall collapse in 1989, Babri Masjid demolition and 9/11 as defining moments which changed our perceptions about the poor and the need to give them dignity. The poor work quite hard, but we treat them as cheating, stealing, unwashed masses, and don't think about them in the developmental or aggr…

Blog Analytics

Some interesting weekly stats for my blog- Pageviews by country. I am impressed!

India 73 United States 43 Germany 40 Thailand 21 Ukraine 21 United Kingdom 13 France 7 Canada 5 Bulgaria 3 Denmark 2



Ghaziabad Convocation 2013

The Ghaziabad convocation went off nicely and smoothly last evening. Mr. Adi Godrej minced no words when he said we have been floundering as an economy for the last couple of years, but improved in the last couple of months. His advice to young graduating students was simple. Dream big AND work hard. We usually forget the second part, conveniently. He also said your vocation should be a vacation- to be enjoyed! Good way to put it.

Considering that over 700 students from both Ghaziabad and Hyderabad (first batch) graduated, it was a short ceremony. And the ambience was festive, the weather quite pleasant (a minor miracle in Delhi-could be the doing of the new Pope).

On the whole, a nice ceremony. The food was exceptionally good, with the hot on-site tandoori rotis and hot gulabjamuns adding a dimension of yumminess not always visible in these mass offerings.


My Batchmates

Entries from my year-book of IIM Bangalore, 1982-84 batch.


S. RAVIKUMAR (JACKET RAVI / IAS / IN TOTO)
He was thrilled at the bureaucratic prospect of being nicknamed I.A.S. until he was given the full form-it stands for "Invisible After Sunset". He claims his moustache has never been shaved ever since conception. So we are not in a position to comment on what lies behind it.
NARAYAN L. KULKARNI (KULKS/ DE FACTO/IPSO FACTO)
Affectionately called Kulks, a friend, philosopher & spiritual guide of that man Ambade. He would mysteriously disappear evenings, days and weeks. An immaculately dressed and highly qualified engineer, political thinker, de-facto intellectual- makes his presence felt in GBMs (General Body Meetings of all students). Believes the Indian Social System will undergo a revolution through communism, socialism, democracy, dictatorship or the ipso facto current one.
HIMANSHU MANGLIK (MANDRAKE/ RIGOR MORTIS/ CORPORATE MAN)
He was the original Pied Piper. Wherever he w…

Americanisms and Britishisms

Right now we have an American and a Brit on campus doing various things. So I was reminded of an old joke. A Brit and an American were taking a walk. The Brit looked around him, and as is the habit of his countrymen, wanting to make conversation, said, "Spring in the air."

To which the surprised American replied, "Why should I?"

Not sure what an Indian would have done in a similar situation. He might have brought a small spring coil and thrown it up in the air, maybe?

Anyway, there is funny communication that happens all the time. Another classic that I remember from my experience is the play on the word 'bus' and 'boss' thanks to some friends from Orissa and Kerala, where they mix up these two words with hilarious consequences.

The Bengali propensity to pronounce a 'v' as a 'b' leads to amusing exchanges if one is not used to it. We had a sentence in school that made fun of this Bengali trait. You have to say, "Venkatramana, V…

I Want to be Accredited

We at IMT are going through the process of accreditation by AACSB, a premier agency which does that for B schools. This one is for the Ghaziabad campus. And what it does is it forces you to look at all your goals, processes, and outcomes, and also what you do about them.

But my quest is for an accreditation for myself. I think that is a quest for self-discovery. Boring, universal questions like Who am I and What am I Doing on the planet are passe. But What am I, or what should I do for the rest of my time here, and how, can be rather interesting questions to answer. So can I get some volunteers to accredit me? Maybe for a small fee, like a night out with a drink and a movie? Or a barter, that I will do unto them what they will do unto me.

I need answers to just a few Qs.

What am I doing well? Not well?

How do I bring in continuous improvement and Total Quality Management to my life? (the Japs did it in Toyota, I know, but I am talking more important stiuff than a mere automobile here)…

Plays by Mahesh Dattani

Happened to see one yesterday, which was called "Where did I Leave my Purdah?". Earlier, I had read one of his plays called Dance Like a Man. I remember liking that, though the details of it are now hazy.

This one was a powerhouse performance at Nagpur, which by her admission at the end, was Lillete Dubey's first time in the city. Well, I consider myself lucky to have seen her without having to go to Mumbai (I assume she lives there). A great artiste, she did well to direct it marvelously too. Her ability to use different parts of the stage to show flashbacks or a different time period (flash forward) was amazing, and there were actually three stages in one, with different levels, and lighting going on and off to create an 'active' part. Important, because there was no interval. It was a continuous 85 minutes of high-voltage drama with not one moment of boredom.

My way of celebrating Women's Day, maybe. Soni Razdan, whom I liked in the couple of movies she di…

Behno aur bhaiyon..

If Ameen Sayani were to be a convocation compere, how would it sound?

Behno aur bhaiyon,

IMT Nagpur ke Deekshant samaroh mein aapka swagat hai. Is saal IMT ki MBA Program ki saalana  seedhi par sabse pehle pesh karenge Arti ko. Yeh hain  paaydaan number do sau par, hamare shikshak gan aur APO ki ranking ke aadhaar par.

Paidaan number ekso ninnyanave  par hain Akanksha..jinki mehnat rang lai aur unhe is makaam par pahunchaya. Inke mata pita bhi yahan maujood hain apni beti ki aakanshaon ko poora hote dekhne ke liye.
-----

Aage dekhiye Akshar ko, jinhone management ki padhaai ka ek bhi akshar nahin chhoda padhe bagair, ..yeh hain paydaan number pachaas par.

Yeh hain Akash, jinhe unke kuch saathi 'professor' bhi bulane lage the, kyunki inke mizaj kuch professoron jaise hi hua karte the..

Dus number ki paaydaan par hain Archana, jinhone sirf Kotler jaise kitabon ki archana kee thee, aur bahut kaamyaab rahi apni koshishon mein..bahut bahut badhai aapko Archanaji.

Do number par hai…

Anopheles Comes Back- Episode 6

This is my friend, the female mosquito who bites. She staged a comeback, buzzing into my room the other night after a long time. She asked me what I was up to.

"We are going to have our Convocation soon," I said.
"What's a Convocation?" she wanted to know more.

" It's neither a con, nor a vocation, but a special event where our graduating students are given their diplomas and medals, and there are a few speeches."
"Who gives these speeches?" Anopheles asked.
"Well, the invited Chief Guest, and our Chairman", and sheepishly added, " I do too."

"Why is humankind into speeches so much?" she asked.
"Why, don't you have speeches?" I was curious.
"I haven't heard many, except from this fellow FULL MARX that I told you about. The revolutionary whose ideas died a quick death. But that was a long time ago."

" Speeches can transform people," I argued. "Look at what Martin Lu…

Doctor Jokes

Some doctor-patient jokes from a recently acquired book called Two Nuns in a Bath.

A man went to the doctor and said, " Doctor, I keep having visions of the future."
"When did these start?"
" Next Thursday."

A man told the doctor, " I've got AIDS, Syphilis, Herpes and Gonorrhea."
"Ah," said the doctor "You are what we call an incurable romantic."

Why did the doctor carry out blood tests on the secretarial candidates?
So that he could eliminate type-Os.

A man went to the doctor and said: "Doctor, I think I am a moth."
Doctor: "You think you are a  moth? Well, instead of coming to me, why didn't you go to a psychiatrist?"
The man said, "Your light was on."


Lyrical Titles

There seems to be a race to give longer and longer titles to the TV staple- soaps and family dramas- on Indian TV. At this rate, someone may decide to compete for the Guinness Book with the longest title ever for a TV soap. Sample some of these-a delightful mix of the real and fictitious-

Yeh rishta kya kehlata hai

Bade acchhe lagte hain

Kya ghar lautegi meri banno?

Ek hazaaron mein meri behna hai

Pyaar ka dard hai meetha meetha pyara pyara

I can suggest a few more that will follow this trend of copying from lyrics of older films-

Ghunghru ki tarah bajta hi raha hoon main...

Yeh kya hua, kaise hua, kab hua, kyun hua, jab hua...etc..

Hum jab honge saath saal ke aur tum hogi pachpan ki, bolo preet nibhaogi na tab bhi apne bachpan ki...

Hamare siwa tumhare aur kitne deewane hain?

Gum hai kisike pyaar mein dil subah shaam

Tere ghar ke saamne ek ghar banaunga

Aapko pehle bhi kahin dekha hai

Paon chhoo lene do phoolon ko inaayat hogi

You get the drift (this is not a title)...



Book Review- Housefull

This is a book edited by Ziya Us Salam and is a collection of essays about Hindi films and film-makers mostly from the 'golden era' of the fifties to the seventies. Full of nuggets that might be interesting to film buffs like me. I will give you an example from the essay on Mughal-e-Azam.

Asif's (the director's) second wife Nigar Sultana played Bahar in the film. The role was initially conceived for Sitara Devi, the Kathak dancer, who happened to be Asif's first wife..Nargis was the original heroine of the film, and 10 reels were shot with her. She was replaced with Madhubala because Raj Kapoor did not want Nargis to play opposite the new hero Dilip Kumar(yes, he was replacing Chandra Mohan, who passed away).

Anyway, the narrative, starting from Bimal Roy, V. Shantaram ( he founded Prabhat and then, Rajkamal Kalamandir) and Guru Dutt's films, goes on to those of Navketan, and Shakti Samanta and Yash/B.R. Chopra. Then there are essays by people like Vijay Lokap…

Women I Admire

Note: This is a re-run, to celebrate the 30,000 readership of this blog. This was one among the top ten read blog posts. I could add a few more women to the list, particularly colleagues and students, but will refrain from doing so, for reasons mentioned in the post. 

There are several, despite my usual take-offs on the 'better half' of our species (which is due to genetic wiring, and not my fault). Let me try and list a few, with reasons completely my own -defensible or not- for admiring them. I am sticking to those in public life, to prevent a 'tu tu main main' (you you, me, me in Hindi, or a dogfight in plain English) among women who are in close proximity for either excluding them, or including some others- wonder how the kings with 100 wives managed the politics. Anyway, here goes.

Nandita Das gets vote number one, for sounding real. That may not seem like a big deal, but most people in public life look fake to a degree, and she is the closest I find to being a real…