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Showing posts from October, 2015

Rudhramadevi- Film Review

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This is a film about the Kakatiya Queen Rudramadevi who ruled in present-day Warangal. It was a rule that brought about prosperity and welfare for the most part. She was anointed as Rudra Dev and brought up as a prince, because a female was not acceptable as a ruler those days. She proved herself more than equal to the task, and managed to outwit her opponents within and outside with the help of a crafty Prime Minister, a la Chanakya.

The movie was ineresting to me as I grew up in Telangana/Andhra Pradesh, and Warangal is a place I visited many times. The arch from there also constitutes the logo of Vignana Jyothi Institute of Management where I worked for a few years.

From a historical viewpoint, it is worth a watch to find out how some of the kingdoms functioned, and understand why the foreign invaders had it easy to conquer/plunder India at various times, particularly in the North. The Queen refers to the infighting among Indian kings towards the end of the film. The actress Anus…

Aviation and Tourism

There is a draft aviation policy at last. It is around 10 years too late, but never mind.

Is it so tough to see that easy aviation makes for a lot of benefits in spinoff mode? Ancillary industries grow. But the biggest boost is to another big industry-tourism. Compared with some other countries in Asia, India's tourism industry is minuscule. Compared to its potential, given the amazing things we have in India, it is even worse. Even domestic tourists are scared to go where no tourist has gone before. Mostly due to lack of access by road or rail. I have discovered many destinations only because I happened to live nearby. Hampi is one, Jog Falls another. Both are magnificient, and should be on everyone's bucket list. What if it was a short flight away from Bangalore, reasonably priced? I will bet that thousands more would visit both.

I can cite many more examples. Lonar crater (formed after a meteorite hit) in Buldana district of Maharashtra. Almost the entire North-east, Bheda…

Naming Dons

The recent arrest of one of them gave me ideas. As you know, that (me having ideas) can be dangerous, and you are right. I ended up coining names for future Dons.

Tees Maar Khan

Bhagta Kachhua

Chaakuwala Chintoo

Peekay Pinto

Gadbad Ghotala

Daaga

Jay Kay

Kaalia

Patli Chhuri

Behosh Bablu

Khamosh Shatru

Yeda Lambu

Khara Shambhu

and the eternal Bollywood favourite, Shaakaal (would a mother think of such a name? I wonder)




Netless in Nagpur

I was in Nagpur for a weekend, and I could not access the net, as my friend and I both do not like the net on our phones. Good to be away from it for a while, too. The peace of mind you have is worth it. Luckily, the voice calls were also minimal, and we focussed on meeting friends, visiting old haunts and playing Golf. Reminded of the classic ad for Thums Up, which had the tagline Food, Friends and Thums Up.

The city of Nagpur is one of the most clean and civilised places I have lived in. Bangalore has better weather, but it is a well-kept secret that Nagpur also has good weather for about 10 months, except the summer months. It also has excellent connectivity by rail and road, and decent air connectivity. It is also going to get a Metro, and already has an IIM.

Anyway, meeting old colleagues at IMT Nagpur was a highlight of the trip, apart from the Golf at the Air Force Golf Club. It is a friendly 9-hole Course, that is moderately challenging. The Kodaikanal one was much tougher, f…

Cricketers in a Word or Two

Sunil Gavaskar- Stolid
Wadekar- World-beater
GR Vishvanath-Silken touch
Sachin- OMG!
Sehwag-Nonchalant
Saurav-Heart-on-his-sleeve
VVS Laxman-Smooth
Azhar- Glanciator
Solkar- Acrobat
Prasanna- Off-the-cuff magic
Chandrasekhar- Armed to the leg
Kumble-Smiling assassin 
Kapil- Leader by example
Dravid- Gentleman cricketer
Zaheer- Swinger
Srinath- Idli power
Sandhu-A googly for Greenidge (started the downfall of Windiestowards the World Cup)




How to Confuse an American

It is easy.

Spell 'colour' with a u.

Use 'spring' as a verb.

Pronounce park as we do in India. They would wonder why you are asking them to bark.

Do some quick arithmetic without a calculator.

Speak a language other than American English. Even Queen's English will do.

Add milk to your coffee.

Be knowledgable about world affairs.

Display knowledge of five countries not situated between Canada and Mexico.

Returns and Ink on Your Face

All the current events have me in a tizzy.

In this era of ball point pens, where do you find ink to blacken faces with? Is it a ploy of the ink manufacturers to increase their sales?

With respect for authors returning their hard-won awards, you can only return it once. Where does that leave you once the next earth-shaking event happens?

Putin bombs the hell out of some terrorists who have been ruling some parts of the world. Is he trying to showcase what hell looks like?

Is the Bihar election worth winning? I mean, can anyone actually govern it even if he wins?

Where are Radhe Maa, Indrani, and all other attention grabbers of last week? Can we bring them back?

Will he, won't he? This is not about Salman Khan's marriage. But about Dhoni resigning from the team, and becoming a commentator.




The Many Sounds of Kishore Kumar

He was a mimic from his childhood, and used to perform for guests as a kid. Therefore, it is not surprising that he seemed to possess as many voices as his screen heroes for whom he sang.

He was serious and respectable for Sanjeev Kumar in Aandhi, Romantic and soft for Rajesh Khanna in Kati Patang and macho for Amitabh Bachchan in Laawaris. The songs I am referring to are Tere bina zindagi se koi shikwa nahin from Aandhi, Pyar diwana hota hai from Kati Patang and Apni to jaise taise from Laawaris. Of course, he was also boisterous for Sanjeev in O Manchali kahan chali, and serious for Rajesh Khanna in Aap ki Kasam (Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hain jo makaam), and playful for Amitabh in Amar Akbar Anthony (My name is Anthony Gonsalves). He had some excellent songs for Randhir Kapoor (Jaane jaan, Yeh jawani hai diwani and Saamne yeh kaun aaya in Jawani Diwani and Gum hai kisi ke pyar mein from Rampur ka Lakshman), and Rakesh Roshan (Aaj unse pehli mulaqaat hoogi, Aankhon aankhon …

Talvar- Film Review

I don't remember what Meghna Gulzar made before this film. But this one is directed well, and the casting is perfect. Every character is well-portrayed by the actors. The standout actor of course, is Irfan Khan, who is fast becoming my favourite. His 'Lunch Box' I thought was outstanding, with Nimrat Kaur also doing a fantastic job there.

Anyway, this one is based on the Arushi Talwar case, and its dramatic turns from the first pronouncement that it was an honour killing, by the local cops, to a completely different possibility that the man-servant's friends were the killers, and back. The twists are brought out well, in the process exposing and shaming almost everyone. The Talwars themselves, without evidence, suspect their man-servant, until he is found dead. The local cops, for destroying most evidence, the CBI and the courts too, for their actions, the media for sensationalising, the public for baying for someone's blood. Almost no one comes out looking pretty…

The Comedians

I mean the directors, not the actors, though some of them were both.

In Hollywood, the first guy that comes to mind is Woody Allen. He made several good films, one as recently as a couple of years ago. Most of these had wonderful humour, mostly about human relationships, but also a lot of other things. Sometimes dark humour, but very witty. And delivered with deadpan expressions. A genius.

A very different kind of humour (in your face, slaspstick) is to be found in Mel Brooks' films. Usually spoofs on something (Silent Movie was about Hollywood itself), I still remembers scenes from films of his I watched many years ago-Blazing Saddles (spoof on Western Cowboy movies), History of the World (about major events in history), To Be Or Not To Be (on Hitler), and a Star Wars spoof called Spaceballs. I remembered the last again while watching The Martian recently.

Closer home in India, directors of good comedy were Basu Chatterjee and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Both masters of situational hu…

Leadership Memories

I spent a few years leading some Indian business schools in the period between 2005 and 2013. The things I remember that I think made a difference, during those years, to various institutes I was in.

1. PESIT, Bangalore. My first and only stint in an institute that was not autonomous.

Creating a self-belief that faculty there could do anything that autonomous B schools could. Running a scholarly journal, interacting with industry, teaching through cases, publishing, teaching internationally. Most of these worked beyond belief, with some of the performance indicators exceeding the then norms at better ranked B schools.

2. IFIM Business School: Streamlining the admission process for MBA. We had spectacular success in reaching out, to roughly 30 cities in a year for admission. Bringing in research emphasis. Repositioning the International Business program as a desirable one.

3. IMT Nagpur. Encouraging both faculty and students to excel, all-round, in academics and extra-curriculars. Add…

Festivities and Productivity

Festivals we celebrate in a multicultural society such as ours are numerous. A rough calculation from my limited knowledge of festivals we celebrate shows that we have around 15-20 festivals of Hindu denomination or tradition, around 4-5 Muslim, around 2-3 Christian, and maybe 1-2 each of Sikh, Parsi, Jain or other faiths.

This totals up to around 2 months of festivities if you include the number of days we choose to celebrate each one, even if you don't celebrate each one fully. The consequences of this on national productivity may be negative, even though there are some positives that are intangible, like the joy of meeting family and friends with whom we celebrate, building up a community feeling, and so forth.

But if we have to improve our own productivity, we may need to choose a few to celebrate and choose not to celebrate others. Of course, that is a choice that we may have to make individually, in order to raise the national standard of living and remain globally competit…

Federal Bank Selfie Account Opening

This is a real innovation. Federal Bank sent a mail saying to open an account with them, you can -

1. Download their App
2. Take a selfie
3. Scan your Aadhar card and PAN Card

and send them these.

Your account is open.

Why can't Passport offices do the same, instead of employing countless useless people and procedures to obstruct you from getting one? Or the RTOs for a Driver's License renewal?

That's what Digital India means to me.

Bhopal- A City Review

After Nagpur, this is the first clean city I have come across in our country. My expectations are minimal. Wide roads without choking traffic, without heaps of garbage all over. Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, do not stand up to scrutiny on these counts. Bhopal does.

I was there on invitation to talk to budding young entrepreneurs. CII was the do-gooder, and a bunch of young guys there have taken up the cause of mentoring people with ideas. People of diverse ages and experience were a part of the audience. Many were existing entrepreneurs-the mentors. One among whom was a former student of mine from IMT Nagpur.

Anyway, the talk went off fine, judging by reactions during and after. It was on marketing strategy. Both on the way and back, we drove along the (Upper) lake, and it reminded me of Tank Bund in Hyderabad.

There are a lot of things one can see around Bhopal too, and I am sure I will visit again. Bhojpur temple nearby and a prehistoric man site called Bhimbetka seem the most inte…

Film Review- The Martian

The movie is nice to watch, but not the best in its genre. Survival pics have been made that are better.

Firstly, there's too much technical mumbo-jumbo along with the real survival stuff-the latter is better than the former.

The dialogue is very good, and adds charm to the dull landscape (yes, even in 3D, it can get boring).

Secondly, why is it 3D? Not too clear to me. The humans appear small in 3D, and the planets big. I am a humanist, and not a planetist.

The story is predictable, mostly. Therefore, it could have been shorter. Editing is a valuable commodity while making a film. Usually, the Hollywood editors are better at it. Twenty minutes less would have made it perfect for my taste.

I prefer the raw, human, non-technological stories of surival, but this is not bad.


Global Fashion

A quick sum-up of the fashionable things.

In Syria, it is to migrate to Europe by boat, or bicycle.

In the U.S., it is to shoot at campuses. To find a higher purpose in life, shoot inside places of higher education.

In the Mediterranean, it is to resue the boat people mentioned above.

In Australia, it is changing Prime Ministers.

In India, it is to hold election rallies, build speed-breakers on potholed roads.

In Dubai, it is to boast about and construct tall buildings.

In Japan, it is to bow.

In North Korea, it is to make cutouts of their Leader to upstage Jayalalitha's.

In South Korea, it is to barbeque anything in sight.



Birthday Wishes

I am now 55...well, almost, starting tomorrow. What do I wish for?

Mostly, peace. For myself, of course, and for others.

I wish people get what they want, and also peace. The opposite, strife, or tension, I have learnt over the years, is not good for you. If you can, you should live your life as you like it. If you can't, smile through the life that you might have to lead.

Cherish all that you have. Wonderful parents, siblings, friends, spouse, relatives - all of them could be irritating at times, but are priceless to keep one going. And we might be irritating to them at times, so that's Ok.

Excellence comes naturally to those who try and do their stuff sincerely, and maybe like the Bhagavad Gita seems to suggest, without actively looking for the reward. Work, hobby, activity of any kind (inactivity too) can be its own reward. Enjoy all phases of life, do not regret anything beyond a point, and look forward instead of back.

That in a nutshell, are my thoughts on the day- actu…

Nana Patekar- Great Actor

A neglected (relatively) actor in tinsel town is Nana Patekar. He is an intense actor, and has delivered in any role that required it. In movies such as Tirangaa, Krantiveer, Ab Tak Chhappan, Welcome, and many earlier ones, he showed a flair for dialogue delivery that reminded one of Raaj Kumar, also known for dialogue delivery. Mostly into serious roles, an unseen side of Nana was seen in this song from the film Krantiveer, in which he matches steps with Bindu in a fun rap song titled Love Rap. His part of the song is sung in Marathi too. Enjoy- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiO2t7_e8vA

Sho-sha

That is the cool term for things that we do. To show off, essentially. We can go to great extents to appear cool. Fom wearing a hip (used to be hep) garment to watching a film to be able to talk about it, to doing a Band, baaja, baraat wedding that costs too much, to many other things. Ok, it's also called Keeping up with the Joneses in Queen's English, but the Joneses keep growing. And they are never happy, thus getting you exhausted.

Therefore, we must draw the line somewhere, and do things that satisfy oneself. Start small, maybe do 1 thing that makes you happy, then 2, and slowly increase dosage.. and see the difference. You may be happier than you think, sooner than you think, at a lower cost than you think.

Is Five Years Too Long?

Elected reps should be able to do their job if they want to, in about three years time, if they really worked hard. They can concentrate on one proble/issue at a time for about a month, and leave the rest to someone to do, and monitor things from then on. If you can solve one major issue a month (put the best available brains/teams on doing so), you can do at least 24-30 in three years.

I think we could have elections every three years, to make that happen. Five years seems too long, and gives people time to waste on irrelevant things.

Relevance of Gandhiji

We often miss the woods for the trees, and get caught up in what Gandhi did instead of what he could do for us today.

Even if 20% of us in India (or anywhere, actually) could think about issues like he did, got set in our beliefs after trying things out, and stuck to them in the face of tough odds, we might be a different people. Instead, what we focus on is whether he married (or abstained), whether he was a vegetarian, and what he wore.

These are irrelevant, and contextual. He may have done several things, and wisdom is not in imitating them, but discovering the truth for ourselves.

I urge everybody to do so. I know I am not Gandhiji, and I don't have a zillion followers, but maybe half a dozen may pay heed. If not, well, I have made my case anyway.