Showing posts from March, 2011

Kurosawa and Woody Allen

It is rare for me to watch two movies in a day these days. I did it a few times during college days. In a day, I had once seen three Hindi films- and survived. But this weekend was different. I saw a Kurosawa film, Red Beard, followed by a Woody Allen film- Take the Money and Run. Both as different as chalk and cheese- or wine and single malt, but each completely engrossing.

Kurosawa is an acclaimed Japanese director known for his prelude to The Magnificent Seven and eventually, Sholay in its Indian avatar. Seven Samurai. But Red Beard is an incredible film. It is three hours long, and apparently, as its cassette cover describes it, about a young doctor posted in a rural clinic while dreaming of a plush job elsewhere. But that description does no justice at all to the film, and the guy who wrote it must have been blind, or of a low IQ. You will rarely see a movie so rich, multi-layered, and making its point with such little drama- understated in all its finery. The drama is in its simp…


Journalistic language is full of cliches which makes news boring to read. Is there a compulsion to use certain words, or are all journalists given a limited-word dictionary to use? Or their editors?

Why is it that the Finance Minister always "mops up" a few thousand crores from his new tax? Can't he simply add to his kitty (which he also does, sometimes, because that's another cliche). Why are politicians always on a "whirlwind" tour of their constituencies, and why is "security tightened in view of a warning from intelligence agencies"? If it's already tight, does security get strangled by further tightening?

Why does CBI always have to "grill" a suspect, as if he is a piece of chicken, or other grillable commodity? Can't they simply do a normal interrogation? Why does the Supreme court only "lambast" or "come down heavily" on the government? Can it not simply ask them for an explanation in a civilised manner?…


In Hindi films, one of the best caricatures has been that of a South Indian played by Mehmood. I am of course, referring to the movie Padosan, known for its chartbusting songs by R.D. Burman too. The film is held together by the Mehmood character, who is an innocent dance and music teacher. What brought great delight to the audience was the politically incorrect but hilarious Tamil accent he brought to the role, a landmark caricature.

The common man caricature, was done well by Amol Palekar in several movies. The drunkard, by Keshto Mukherjee, as also by Amitabh Bachchan in a couple of films. There was an Oriya character played by an actor in Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar ke which was also very good. Lalita Pawar played a quintessential Indian mother-in-law, as did Nirupa Roy, the mother. These were real stereotypes played by the actors so well, that they became embedded as a caricature. The police inspector from Jagdish Raj, the Commissioner played by Iftikhar, all turned into a sort of pseudo…

India Beats Someone

At last, India beat someone convincingly, with a somewhat large margin. But what a comedown from 1983, when we were absolutely majestic in all matches. including the one with the West Indies-the final. Our current team seems to have an overdose of stars, and that may be its problem. Everyone is a major star, and yet the team falls short of performance when it counts.

A major contrast so far has been Pakistan, with almost unknown names, barring one or two ageing heroes. Just out of a match-fixing scandal involving half their team, and yet, on the field, working as a team. Throwing up surprises, beating the champions reasonably convincingly.

I have no idea why, but I get the feeling that these guys don't prepare well. That they assume they know everything. Like the famous dialogue in The Party, where Peter Sellers, playing an Indian who creates mayhem as an uninvited guest at a Hollywood party, answering a lady who asks him "What do you THINK you are doing?", replies with s…

Faking It

The world is "maya" or make-believe. Or, as Shakespeare chose to put it, All the world is a Stage, and we are players. Therefore, we should not be making a big fuss about a few fake pilots. In fact, I would propose that we have fake doctors, lawyers, Supreme Court judges, Parliament, Corporates, Universities and so on. The imagination boggles at the extent to which the 'fakedom' (only rhymes with sheikhdom, but otherwise an unrelated concept) can go.

Most of our worldly problems can be solved if we 'just fake it'. Sorry, Nike, and Pfizer (for different reasons). We can have fake crops, and fake crop insurance. Imagine how much money can be saved. If we even have fake supermarkets, we don't have to argue about allowing FDI (foreign direct investment for those who don't read the papers) in the retail sector- Carre fours and Carry Fives can all have a ball. Precious amounts of time, ink (in the print media) and airtime (on TV) can be saved, thereby keepin…

Sharad Joshi's Satire

For lovers of Sharad Joshi's satire please look up the following link -Hindi, audio.

He's outrageously funny, in the tradition of haasya kavis. I first heard him in the early eighties, and loved his act.

A Landmark

My first Ph.D. student submitted his thesis this week to the university I worked with once at Bangalore. It is a landmark of a kind, though it will take a while for him to clear the evaluation and defend his thesis , and get his doctorate. My Ph.D. was obtained in the US, which has a totally different system, more autonomous, with the guide and his university department doing everything in one place. Here, we have a more distributed system for part time Ph.D. students.

Which brings me to my regular lament- or famous grouse, to borrow from the name of a whisky. That we don't have enough good institutions offering a Ph.D. program in India, at least in the area of Management. The system we have does not encourage excellence with a few exceptions, and falls short of most autonomous institutions like those in the US or Europe. IMT now has a new Ph.D. program in collaboration with NLU Jodhpur, an autonomous institution. We hope we will be successful in launching a few good doctorates in…

Undiscovered Delights

After our foray into MP last time (pics of which are uploaded here, from Bhedagat's marble rocks), we decided to explore the unknown territory of Easternmost Maharashtra in Gondia district. A place called Navegaon Bandh (dam) was our target. We finally succeeded. But after consulting many maps, because directions were not too clear. After taking the highway to Raipur, we turned right at a place called Sakholi, and went asking for directions from friendly residents, turned left at Sangadi, reaching Navegaon Park around 3 and a half hours after we started.

Amazing place, a combo of Sundarbans and any lake that you may have seen elsewhere. Lazy birds in the marshy surroundings of the reservoir of the dam, trees of many varities, a mountain backdrop with yellow and green leaves resembling the US Fall colours in October, made for a mesmerising and tranquil experience. The flame of the forest, an tree with blazing orange flowers in full bloom along the way to Navegaon also made it a gre…


In 2004, I did not know the meaning of the word. But the Dec 2004 experience that Eastern India and the Andamans went through changed all that. This one in Japan has also proved devastating, never mind the technological brilliance of Japan. There is fear of nuclear radiation leaks too, after the explosion in a nuclear plant. Just goes to show how fragile our equilibrium on the earth is. It can vanish at a moment's notice, if nature chooses to make it.

So, what are the lessons for humankind? One is not to be too arrogant under the false notion that we can control everything. Humility, is lesson number one. Second, celebrate the moments and the life that we DO have, doing everything you wanted to, or enjoy doing. And it is not the big things necessarily, though they are also contenders. The world cruises, the big holidays, the houses (or castles) to be built, and so on. It may also be the small things, like smiling at friends (or strangers), or going for a walk, or cooking something …

A Memory to Treasure

Excitement was in the air as the chopper neatly landed in the front lawn. Out emerged two figures. Much was expected, and delivered, in the space of the next two hours. What went on inside the large dome of white that resembled a hangar which houses aircraft, is difficult to describe, but the emotions of all the stars of the event were running at a high.

The stage had the look of a film set, well-crafted to look stunning, with necessary details like the name of the event, the date (11 March 2011) and the name of the major dignitary who was the Chief Guest- Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal. The second dignitary was Mr. Kamal Nath, the dynamic Union Minister. Yours truly was the third person on stage. The medal winners were all agog, and so were all the graduating students and their proud parents.

The occasion, as you may have guessed, was the Convocation held for the first time at IMT Nagpur. It was a memorable occasion, and time just flew by, ending with a lunch, and a press meet, and a farewell…

Sunset at Ambazari Lake

Discovered two lakes in a single day. One was Ambazari, which has a decent garden built on one of its shores, and a play area which even has a large Pirates' rocking boat, the kind of thing one has seen in Disneyland abroad. Not bad, for a park run by the Nagpur Municipal Corporation. The sunset view from this park is fantastic, and there is a musical fountain which even without music, is impressive when it is on.

But the walkway on the bund outside the park is not very well maintained, and could do with a little more of cleanliness and upkeep. Many interesting tree and flower species can be found in the park and outside.

The other lake, Phutala, or Telangkhedi, is done up a lot better with some exotic food stalls to keep people occupied while they enjoy the lake view. Good for an evening's outing, particularly in the 'warmth' that will soon envelop Nagpur in the next two months or more.

Makes me wonder why many more of such public spaces cannot be created wherever resid…

World Cup Cricket

Somehow, I am unable to feel the excitement this time around. I can't put my finger on the reason for it. Is it due to an overdose of cricket since the IPL began? It seems as if every other day, there is a cricket match on TV. How much cricket can a guy watch? It is an ideal pastime if you have an hour to spend at the airport, and staring at other bored passengers is the only other option you have. As an aside, the number of people airlines manage to bore in a year would be mind-boggling. You can try calculating the numbers, if you want to get out of your boredom!

But even watching a David Dhawan or a Priyadarsan movie, though both have let their standards slide of late, seems more entertaining to me than watching a Canada Sri Lanka or Zimbabwe West Indies match. Of course, an occasional Irish rope-trick will appear to keep you happy, but there are not nearly enough of them. Even the much vaunted India-England match was quite boring to watch. 600 plus runs on an Indian pitch? That&…

The Smell of the Place by Sumantra Ghoshal

The link provides a glimpse of what Sumantra Ghoshal, one of India's NRI management gurus thinks about the Quality of Management in various companies, in his own words. He calls it The Smell of the Place. Interesting..