Showing posts from August, 2010

Insuring Body Parts

With the intriguing trend of insuring your body parts catching on, I am sure there would be a race among the well-endowed, in various parts, to earn bragging rights. As in, "My bald patch is worth more than yours" among the wig-wammers (a wig-wam is a Red Indian dwelling I happened to see in Texas), sorry, wig-wearers of celebritydom. Other variants of this would be "My eyelashes are more fetching (in terms of insurance, not aesthetically) than yours", or "My beer belly has a bigger bulge and can earn more terminal benefits if it bursts" etc. And no doubt, insurance companies would go belly-up if all these insured ones were to burst at the same time, as a result of a party that called upon them to fill-up, kingsize, with the king of good times.

What if you could insure egos? Then, the race for the no.1 could easily be decided by the premiums paid, and why not? You can after all, afford to have an ego only when there are people/hangers-on in large enough nu…

Women I Admire

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 person. What she achieved or not is irrelevant to this measurement parameter.

Hema Malini for looking so good, that she beats her daughters hollow at 50 (or whatever her age is). She really made us believe, apart from one or two others, that dreams can come down in human for…

Alumni Meet at Bangalore

Continuing our series of chapter meetings with IMT Nagpur alumni, we had a very well-attended gathering at the Oberoi in Bangalore last week. Lot of old and new faces, lots of animated discussions, some good ideas thrown around, and updating of old friendships, all happened in the space of a few hours. We closed around 12.30 am.

Met a corporate group at Mumbai and discussed training possibilities for their engineers/managers. This is one area where IMT Nagpur is poised to scale up its activity levels.

Also met a few students and faculty at Vignana Jyoti Inst. of Mgt. Hyderabad and saw their new campus. Had worked there in the early 90's.

An activity-filled, hectic week. To round it off, we now have a Marketing Seminar organised by our student group this weekend on the campus. Lot of visitors from industry will participate, and so will students from other colleges.

For She Cabs

Taxi cabs driven by women, for women. Sounds like the by the people, democracy slogan? In a way, it is. Last week, the founder of this unique cab service-For She Cabs (in Mumbai and Delhi), came to IMT Nagpur to share her experience as part of our guest lecture series. And the students were overwhelmed with this brave entrepreneur, and her story.

In a totally male-dominated industry, to set up a niche-segment company required guts, vision and perseverance. All that came across in the vivacious Revathi Roy, the founder. Her biggest challenge, once the idea came to her, was to find adequate women willing to drive cabs. She finally started her own academy to train willing women, and ended up starting a second business which produced trained drivers for her own needs.

Even today, with expansion in more cities planned, she sees drivers as one potential bottleneck. But that is not going to stop her from going full steam ahead. She has a lot of other ideas too, and will drive them into reality…

Promoting Films

Bollywood used to have a great pre-release promotion tool in the sixties and seventies - a sponsored 15 minute radio program anchored by Ameen Sayani or some other RJ- that it has all but lost these days. Internet has compnsated to an extent, and the TV news about movies about to be released. Stars are much more accessible on the idiot box and also in person these days- Aamir Khan and Rajkumar Hirani had come to Nagpur before the release of 3 Idiots, and Akshay before the release of Khatta Meetha, for instance.

During the film's run, the newspaper ads and listings still play a major role in conveying basic information like show timings and actors. But many of the ancillary parts like script-writers, song writers and music directors, etc. get less and less attention in the publicity these days, even in movie credits. Can anyone recall the music director of the last three movies you saw?

The product life cycle for a film in traditional movie theatres is down to a week or two in most …

Of Godliness and 100% Attendance

Note: This was written during my days as a student at IIM Bangalore, where we were briefly subjected to the rule.

Thought-provoking articles are always a success. Because the reader likes to be provoked- or it could be because he likes to think that he can ‘think’- there’s no other way his ‘thoughts’ could be provoked. Anyway, proceeding with the above assumption, when the compulsions to write became unavoidable, I turned my attention to the issue of compulsory one hundred percent attendance. The more I thought about the subject, the more it provoked me. In fact, half-way through my ‘thinking’ trip, I suddenly realized the rationale behind the 100% attendance rule.

There are people who look upon the rule as an infringement of their Right to Skip Classes-as enshrined in the Students’ Constitution. But think deeply (how deep you go is left to you and your aptitude for delving) and you immediately discover the fallacy inherent in the above presumption. The rule cannot be an infringement…

Marketing Fundas for Bollywood Part 2

Continuing on the theme, we look into the 4 Ps of marketing applied to Bollywood.

Product, the first P

For ease of understanding, let us call this either masala or unique (non-masala). The masala movie consists of taking known ingredients like emotion, drama, fights, songs, a dance item number (formerly known simply as a cabaret), and a comedy track as exemplified by the hero's sidekick played by Mehmood, Deven Varma, Asrani, Johny Walker, or any of their current counterparts, though they are on the endangered list. Mix all these in a palatable mixture, and with different stars either in predictable lead pairs, such as Dharmendra-Babita, Or Dharmendra-Hema Malini, or Amitabh-Rekha, or unusual ones, like Amitabh-Hema (I think they starred together in Kasauti in their heyday once). The endless lost and found tales of the sixties and seventies are one form of this product, and the breezy rom-coms staring Shammi Kapoor are another. The Jubilee (Rajendra) Kumar's movies and most Dhar…

Predictable is boring

Predictable is boring. Innumerable examples. Also the reason why life in India is more exciting than life in US or Germany (not even counting the vast chasm in the quality of food between the different places). What fun can you have if the electricity remains on 24 hours a day, day after day? Americans never heard of singing songs when the lights go off, I am sure. Or never enjoyed the gossip and fights that women can indulge in while collecting water from public taps which come on and go off at times of their own choosing.

Terrorists keep choosing new methods to harass their victims. Just when you thought the next attack will be in local trains (like the last), desperadoes come cruising in a boat. When you think AK 47s will be the weapon of choice, you get good old stone-pelting, and not necessarily from terrorists alone.

The simple household maid, a source of joy to millions of housewives in India, adds to the fun in everyone's life by constantly making them play the game of "…

Marketing Fundas for Bollywood

Just thought of this idea, that we could (or should) apply marketing concepts to Bollywood and see what we can come up with. So, here goes.


The masses can be segmented various ways. First segmentation is by price. The multiplexes, for all their plus points, score very low on price (are priced too high) for the masses. How many people from this segment can actually afford to take out a family to a multiplex even once a YEAR? Essentially, the multiplex caters to the upper middle class. The movie hall next door, or the DVD/VCD version actually must be catering to a large part of the mass market today, from what I can gather.


Family entertainers are few and far between. Intellectuals may not like Sooraj Barjatya for his marriage videos passing as movies style, but they do appeal to a wider audience than many niche movies. 3 idiots, was one such recent film, and that was one reason that it raked in the kind of money it did. Munnabhai series were also in that category. …


Listening to a CD compilation titled Zulfein. Chhedon na meri zulfein, sab log kya kahengee..hum to deewana tumko kaali ghata kahenge, a fabulous duet, is one of the many in the CD. Some others include the little-heard. Yeh zulf kaisi hai, zanjeer jaisi hai.., Ude jab jab zulfein teri kanwariyon ka dil machle, Yeh reshmi zulfein, yeh sharbati aankhen...and the naughty Main tasveer utaarta zulfon ke saaye mein main raate guzaarta hoon...all in all, a nice collection.

Dhadkan, mehek, mulaqaat (chhoti si mulaqaat pyaar ban gayi, ...ya ya yippee yippee ya, ya, ya is a delightful song) and someone told me that Uttam Kumar did a disco in the film on this. The thought is hilarious, akin to Randhir Kapoor's hilarious moments (unintended) on the dance floor in Harjaee for the song (Pehle milan mein hoti hai kashmakash,...etc.)

Tumhari nazar kyon khafaa ho gayi,.. Khataa baksh do, gar khataa ho another full of beautiful sounding Urdu words.

Shikayat. Paon choo lene do phoolo…

Urdu words in songs

Just figured out that a lot of lovely-sounding Urdu words used to adorn songs in Hindi movies, because poets were often lyric writers. Trying to list out some of them.

Dilbar- There was a flop movie starring Sushmita, where only the song that goes Dilbar, Dilbar, stays in the mind. Many old movies used this word in the lyrics, such as Dilbar dil se pyaare (from Caravan?)

Arzoo, Tamanna, Razamand (shaadi ke liye razamand kar li, maine ek ladki pasand kar li), Mehbooba, Daaman, Dastan

Mohabbat (yeh jo mohabbat hai, is one of the best), Ibaadat, Taqdeer, Hasrat,

Khwaab (Khwaab ho tum ya koi haqeeqat, kaun ho tum batlao from Teen Deviyan),Haseen,

Afsana (Afsana likh rahi hoon, dil-e-bekaraar ka),

Bekaraar (Bekaraar dil, tu gaaye ja...Khushiyon se bhare ye taraane is one of my favorites)

Situm (Waqt ne kiya kya hasin situm, hum rahe na hum, tum rahe na tum)

Muqaddar (Woh muqaddar ka sikandar, the title song, was the last one I remember using this effectively)

The evergreen song from Dev Anand&…

Oracle Night

That is the name of the book I read this past weekend. Fiction, for a change, and good one too, by an author I did not know anything about. Paul Auster is his name. It is about an author recovering from a major accident, with a career going nowhere (how many authors can claim it is going somewhere?) who runs into a mysterious Chinaman (a man, not a reverse googly) who sells mysterious Portuguese books at his book store, and starts off on a new novel. At some point, his life becomes entangled in some angst regarding his wife and forthcoming child (very understandable), and an older author friend of his, and his wayward son. Resolving this tangle is not an easy job, but the author has managed it with some deft twists of the plot, and a satisfying end. Might try his other books, as a result.

Also saw the movie Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, and liked two things-Ajay Devgan, and the dialogues. Also the short length, and the abrupt but good end.

Nagpur became a maximum city- maximum rain, l…

What I Taught the Women in my Life

Foreword: What follows is pure fantasy, and bears no resemblance to what actually happened. But happiness also includes occasional delusions, so what the heck!

I have taught the various women in my life the following things. Just my way of thanking them for everything.

This consisted of the basic course on budgets, and the advanced course on budgets. The basic course on budgets consists of the following sentence- There is a budget for everything. The advanced course consists of one more sentence. If you exceed the budget on item A, that money has to come out of item B. Repeat about 20,000 a year. Most of them understood, and I would say this was effective, on the whole.

This essentially was about a hierarchy of Needs or Ranking by Importance. If something is going to kill you, Importance Rating is 5, on a five point scale. If you will survive without doing something, rating is 1, 2 or 3. Ratings will decide what you will do in a day. Other facts of t…

Women in my Life and What I Learnt from them

There have been around five hundred women in my life. In case that sounds like a lot, let me also say there will be many more. You might call it an occupational hazard. I am a professor, and in my profession, there are almost as many women students (and colleagues) as there are men. Professional life is also a large (too large?) part of life, you will agree with me. Therefore, this rough estimate of the women in my life, both personal and professional. One wife and two daughters, and a few relatives seem a blip on the radar when compared to the professional side, but in terms of influence, the dice are loaded on the personal side.

However, this is about my learnings- from both sides. I learnt how to cook from some men friends, though there were tips galore from observing women too. So I can’t really attribute this to the women in my life. Cleanliness, I was taught by some rather strict teachers in boarding school, but I may have picked up some good habits from the constant cleaning …


A recent seventies movie that I saw inspired me into this one. I have tried to generalise the Bollywood and Hollywood movies into Plots of the Decade kind of segments. The plot goes something like this-

70s, Bollywood

Plot no. 1
There is a young man. His name is Vijay. He is brooding, angry. With everyone, except mama. His dad, his brother, his employer, the society, are all in a global conspiracy to get him. He fights all these dark forces single-handedly, and comes out victorious (sometimes) or dead (most times).

Plot no. 2
There are two or three brothers. They are separated at birth or soon thereafter, due to either that bane of family togetherness-the mela- or the bane of all good souls- the villain. They travel different paths, sing romantic duets with various attractive ladies, pass each other several times, but unite and recognise each other only two and a half hours (screen time) later.

70s, Hollywood

Plot no.1
There is a hero. He is not called Vijay. He uses a gun (rather than his f…