Showing posts from June, 2014


What's with names? Can they be your nemesis (Ok, this word comes from reading Phantom (the nemesis of pirates) comics, folks)?

I mean, Messi? Why not Tidy? Ok, if that sounds like an advertisement for Proctor and Gamble (another crazy name, by the way), maybe Clean. While we are at it, company names too sound odd at times.

My theory about cricketers' names was that you ought to have a name that sounds right. My guess that Lalchand Rajput would never make it with a name like his, came true.

Many film stars realise it and change their names in time. Haribhai Jariwala wouldn't have the same appeal as Sanjeev Kumar, would it? Tun Tun is the only exception I know. Uma Devi was actually a better name, but maybe the new one 'positioned' her well for those funny cameos in films. Yusuf saab benefited from becoming Dilip Kumar, and Jatin Khanna from turning into Rajesh. Madhubala sounds shaayarana compared to her original name, which I have forgotten.

So, the upshot of all …


There are Indian reservations in the US. No, it's not seats on a plane, or a job, that I am talking about. These are places where native Indians (pre-Columbus) can have their own lifestyle, a sort of autonomous region within the states.

In India, we have different kinds of reservations. For jobs. Imagine having reservations, in the following-

1. Cricket team (The Wall may have crumbled even before being built)
2. Docs in hospitals (population may reduce unintentionally)
3. Pilots (MH 370 would be just a blip on the radar of incidents)
4. Film acting (all Kapoors rendered jobless in one stroke- they may have to turn to agriculture, so that they still influence our culture)
5. Music- The Mangeshkar sisters would not have got an opportunity? Kishore Kumar would have been a stand-up artist.
6. Politics ( Mayawati might have been PM for 10 years instead of Manmohan Singh)
7. Car mechanics- you would have lots of fun driving a car, not knowing what would snap.
8. Builders- we can have …

Ek Villain- Film Review

Mohit Suri (of 'Murder 2' fame) has got some talent. For giving some brooding, unexpected moments in his films. The narration is not linear, like many others. He also uses a lot of closeups, and does not use two hundred and fifty dancers in a song meant for the hero and heroine.

The first half of this film was very good, but he kind of ran out of a story in the second. The climax is not as tight or interesting as it might have been, and it was actually predicted by a friend during the intermission. I found the actors good though. Shraddha was the best, followed by the two men. But Siddharth at times has the same expression for too long, like some TV serial specialists. Riteish's character has a dramatic feel to it, and is very different from his usual comic acts. All the characters seem to be on the edge, which helps the narrative, much more in the first half.

The songs are nice, the photography good, and the violence, bearable. Better than many recent films (refer to Hum…

Tribute to RD and SD Burman

On RD Burman's birth anniversary, my tribute to the incredible father and son duo. Naturally, by listing out some of my favourites from both. Here goes-

1. Ye dil na hota bechaara, from Jewel Thief
2. Ruk jaana o jaana hum se do batein karke chali jaana (with the road roller doing a cook, cook to go with the ruk, ruk,...minor genius!). Dev Anand at his neck-moving best in both these songs.
3. Mere sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu,...worth it just for the mouth organ (harmonica?) in it.
4. Piya tu, ab to aaja, ..possibly the sexiest club dance ever.
5. Mehbooba, mehbooba, ..same as above, part 2. Rural setting.
6. Chala jaata hoon, kisiki dhun mein dhadakte dil ke taraane liye...romantic road song.
7. O mere dil ke chain ....oh so romantic, anywhere song.
8. Hey maine kasam lee, hey tune kasam lee, nahin honge juda humm..Tere Mere Sapne, Mumtaz and Dev Anand. Charming lyrics like "saans teri madir madir jaise rajnigandha, .."
9. Aane wala pal, jaanewala hai...meaningful, lyr…

Tattoo Tittle Tattle

I decided to get myself a tattoo. After all, I had got a facebook page, a Whatsapp account (for a while), a Samsung mobile, and so on. The only thing lacking in my life now was a tattoo. The only problem that remained was "what to tattoo?" (no, this is not an attempt at inventing tongue-twisters)

I thought of my first girlfriend's name. But that would be unfair to the subsequent ones. My favourite movie actress? But I had one for each decade that I watched films (you can see I am 'decadent' many times over). So should it be the golden sixties, the roaring seventies, the throbbing eighties, the novel nineties, or the new millennial decade of 2000 plus? It was too confusing. So I thought of  my favourite quote. But it wouldn't fit easily. I would have to give an arm and a leg for it.

Then, I thought of a slogan. If I had to pick one defining slogan that would capture what I would like to do now, later and forever, that would be my watchword for life, what woul…

Dave Barryisms

Dave Barry is one of the best American sit-down comics (I don't know if he does stand-up comedy) I have read. Here are a couple of his gems from 'Dave Barry Does Japan,' which I am reading slowly, so that I can savour it longer- the way you linger over your favourite ice-cream. Not his exact words, but the jokes are his-

As I got off the plane, I noticed rightaway something unique about Japan. For  lack of a better phrase, I'll call it "lack of height." Every Japanese person was tall as our average school boy, without the guns.

The Bellboy got the luggage into the hotel room, and then did something amazing. He left! In America, he would have stayed with you until you remembered to tip him.

Translation of Japanese people speaking English into American.

Ah- No

I see- No

I will think about your proposal-  It will be sent to the shredder.

Note: The polite Japanese never say no. So the thick-headed Americans need this Guide to Japan to help them understand what…

World Cup- Cricket, I Mean

Today is the anniversary of the first (Prudential) World cup win by India. Kapil Dev was the unlikely guy holding the cup instead of the West Indies or England captains. And what a series of matches it was!

I remember the thrill of watching some of them, the final included, on a TV set (UPTRON, for the brand-conscious), in our common room at the IIMB hostel. Some of the earlier matches I heard on radio because I was travelling for my summer internship with WIDIA at the time. I remember a lot of people played well in a team effort through the series. Roger Binny, Mohinder Amarnath, Sandeep Patil and Kapil himself being some of them.

The final was low-scoring. India put just 183 or so on the board. Then, Balwinder Singh Sandhu created magic by clean-bowling Gordon Greenidge with a beauty that swung onto the stumps. That started the fall in the finals. Kapil had a spectacular catch to get Richards. That was the final nail in the coffin for the West Indians. And the (East) Indians triump…

Feel Good Stuff

What makes us feel good? Try some of these for size.

A road that was full of pot-holes being made up like Hema Malini's cheeks (to use a Lalooism). Had this feeling recently on the Rau-Pithampur road in front of the institute. It was languishing in a lunar crater syndrome for a while.

The sight of vegetables in a market, neatly arranged.

The sight of a shady tree on a summer afternoon.

The sound of rain, and the smell.

A cup of tea on the boil.

A long-time-no-see meeting with a friend.

A beach. A lake. A river. Particularly when it's deep blue water.

A poori fluffing up in the kadhai.

I guess I am hungry!

Humshakals- Film Review

This is what can aptly be described as a khichdi film- neither here nor there. It takes too many different gags or elements from too many diverse films, and the resultant brew is tough on your digestive systems.

First, the constant switches between the lookalikes which ought to be a pleasant surprise, get tiresome after they happen once too often. Three of each is a bit 'three' much too. Saif and Riteish are not bad, but Ram Kapoor overacts, and is only in a slightly better position than the three girls, who get to do so little, except plan a stupid scheme to break in to a board meeting. Satish Shah is wasted in a stupid fan-of-Hitler role. He is capable of much more.

Individual scenes are good and bad, some of the good ones being straight lifts from various sources- usually Hollywood or British comedies such as Carry on Doctor, or Mel Brooks' movies. Some scenes are so bad that they evoke yawns rather than laughter. The songs are atrocious, and could have been totally ed…

Some Thoughts on Appearances

Note: The 'I' is metaphorical.

I wanted to appear thoughtful. So I thought!

I wanted to appear beautiful. So I made up (as in make up).

I wanted to appear wise. So I read up.

I wanted to appear humourous, So I cracked some jokes.

I wanted to appear fair. So I heard both sides.

I wanted to appear spiritual. So I took to spirits in the right spirit.

Hope you are spiritual, and take this in the right spirit.

Artists at Their Peak

There is something special about artists who are at their peak form. I am going to talk of a few Hindi music and film greats that I remember. All of them made an impact.

The sixties and seventies saw a few singers at their greatest form. These include Kishore Kumar, Mohammad Rafi, Manna Dey, Mukesh, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. My favourites were Kishore and Asha, but all of them produced many great songs. There were also heroes at their peak. Rajesh Khanna (Aradhana, Kati Patang, Anand, Aap ki Kasam), Dharmendra (Aadmi aur Insaan, Aankhen, Blackmail, up to Yadon ki Baraat) , Dev Anand (from Jewel Thief to Johny Mera Naam), Sanjeev Kumar (Manchali, Manoranjan, Koshish, Aandhi, Sholay) and so on.

Of course, in music, we had RD Burman, Laxmikant Pyarelal, Kalyanji Anandji who dominated the landscape, with their superhit numbers. Filmmakers in my view included Basu Chatterji (Rajnigandha, Chitchor, Chhoti si Baat, Shaukeen), Hrishikesh Mukherjee (Golmaal, Chupke Chupke), Gulzar (Par…

My Comments on the Headline News

There have been, in the past three days, around three or four stories doing the rounds of the news channels on Indian TV. Uncannily, all channels have the same stories. Makes you wonder, in a country of about 1.2 billion, if that is all that is happening. As I speak, a new story, on onion prices, has started doing the rounds. Instead of investigating who is planting the stories (not onions), I will concentrate on the learnings from these news stories.

1. PM goes to Bhutan. This is a masterpiece, because firstly, it improves everyone's general knowlegde. Not many people in the world know where Bhutan is. Heck, many in South Carolina (US) did not know where Florida is. You can imagine what educating India must feel like. TV journos too-educating them, I mean.

2. Preity Zinta, actress, filed a case for harassment and verbal abuse against ex-boyfriend and current business partner, businessman Ness Wadia. Moral of the story seems to be- if you are pretty, don't mess with Ness. Or …


There was an air of resignation and frustration in the country (India) during the last three or four years. The rot started at the top. Actually, a downturn in the economy is not the end of the world. Every country has faced one, including The Great Depression of 1929 in much of the Western world. But what accompanied that downturn was a sort of 'waiting for doomsday' attitude among everyone, starting at the top-the PMs' office.

The Modi campaign caught on to this and projected their version of a rosy future (achche din aanewale hain), which got the young voters and old enthused. There was a spurt in voting percentage, and selfies abounded on the social media, showing that someone had voted. Somewhat like the "Yes, we can" campaign that Barack Obama ran.

Now that government formation has happened, all that goodwill must be utilised to do some serious building up of the physical and other infrastructure of the country. The positivity should remain, and be a part …

The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken- Book Review

This is a Vish Puri mystery- yes, the Dilliwala jasoos created by Tarquin Hall that I had referred to in an earlier post. This is his second book I  read, and I am quite impressed. The Delhi language and mannerisms of all the aunties (particularly the aunties), the guys, the ordinary people 'and all' , is spot on. The mystery is no less.

A dinner guest, father of a Pakistani cricketer, is poisoned in full public view, at a gala dinner after an IPL (name disguised) cricket match. Vish Puri has eaten the same butter chicken that killed him. A lot of big businessmen  and their families are present, and are suspects.

How Vish Puri, aided by his mother (mummy-ji) solves this international crime, involving the betting ring-leader, a paan laced with aconite, a moustache thief who steals the facial hair of the record-holder for the longest 'mouche',  Pak ex-general with a softer side, and the diamond-smuggling syndicate of Gujarat, is the rest of this absorbing story. Tarquin…

City Lights- Film Review

There was the original Charlie Chaplin film by this name (remade in Hindi as 'Sunayana' starring Rameshwari and Naseeruddin Shah)- and this. This is a remake of a movie called Metro Manila, probably adapted to Mumbai.

The first fifteen minutes are boringly predictable, with the hero being forced to migrate to Mumbai and his being duly cheated out of a large amount of money on arrival. But thereafter, the movie picks up steam, and is unlike most Hindi films- because perhaps it is not a Hindi film originally.

There are pretty good twists and turns that keep you interested, and one man's (actually two, if you count the friend/partner) quest to better their lives, and the consequences (not pleasant for all concerned, but realistic under the circumstances) are worth a look. Patralekha is not bad, Manav Kaul (the partner) is very good. Rajkumar Rao is also pretty decent. One song is well-composed. Reminded me a bit of two films, Gharaonda and Piya ka ghar (with the brilliant so…

Postcards from Bali-4

This is the evil spirit-defeating dance called Barong. Somewhat like the masked dragon dances of China. Lot of classical dances feature themes from the Ramayana etc. There is one called the Kecaka, and many others. Watched a few on TV too.

The street food had a unique kind of soup with mysterious ingredients, and a roomali roti-wrapped omelette cut into square box-like shape. Quite tasty. I also tried out Guinness for the first time. Dark-coloured beer from Ireland. Black is beautiful, even here.

The Balinese massage is a bit harder than the Thai one, if mine was anything to go by. But the aromatic cream used was nice.

Went to a coffee factory, and bought some strong coffee called Peaberry. They also do Arabica. It was a brand called Butterfly. There is a very expensive coffee, Luwak, where the bean passes through an animal's intestine, and the enzymes add to the taste. Didn't actually taste it, it was the one referred to by Jack Nicholson in the Bucket List- the film.

My Encounters with Anopheles- Post No. 1000

This is a rerun of my favourite one, to celebrate my 1000th blog post.

My Encounters with Anopheles

I have tried to explore the meaning of what I do in my own way. Part
of that exploration was through this series in which I converse with
Anopheles, the female mosquito who bites.

A mosquito buzzed into my bedroom. I was sleepless anyway, so I started a conversation.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
“From the drain on Street No. 6,” the mosquito replied.
“Do you always have to travel this far for dinner?”
“Not really, but I go for quality food. So I don’t really mind.”
“Tell me something. Is it necessary for you to suck the blood of human beings to survive? Can’t you find some other food?”

The mosquito looked surprised. “The human body has 6 litres of blood on an average. What’s a drop or two for you?”
I replied, “Our sleep is disturbed, for one. And, of course, your bite is, quite literally, A PAIN.”
“Do you really need so much sleep? Why don’t you remain awake and think about things?” the …

First Rain?

It's probably the first rain of the 'official' monsoons of 2014. I was kind of surprised at the regularity of the first rain in Nagpur while I lived there. It arrived unfailingly on the 10th or 11th June. So it was in Indore yesterday. There was a strong cool breeze around 5.30 pm, an indication of things to come.  It took a while for the rain to arrive, but it did at about 7.30.

Mood changes probably closely follow the weather, so I am expecting an uplifting month. As the senior MBA (PGDM) students come back on campus, the activity level and the energy levels are up. Classes will be on in full swing. Faculty will have a somewhat tight schedule, compared to the two months gone by which were somewhat relaxed. We will need to put on our thinking caps and device new means of torture- assignments, exams, quizzes, I mean. All good-natured torture, you understand, designed to enhance learning.

We kicked off the academic year with a workshop on new teaching methods, with a few s…

Postcards from Bali- 3

In case you thought the beauty of Bali is limited to its natural areas, this set of postcards should dispel the notion. The Balinese women are petite, pretty, and when they dance, very artistic. The first pic shows ritual offerings they make at the temple. Usually, nicely woven bamboo baskets contain the offerings, and a lot of time goes into preparing them. The headgear in the second pic also looks very different.

By the way, a lot of people wear a (frangipani) flower perched on their ear, and it apparently means they have finished prayers- somewhat like our tilak or vibhuti.

Sounds of Bali

The sounds of the words used in Bhasa (language) Indonesia are musical, and some are similar to those used in the Malay language. For instance, Pintu is a gate. Pintu Keberangkatan is the departure gate (at the airport). Jalan is a street, same as in malaysia. We were on Jalan Kartika Plaza, close to Jalan Raya Kuta, in a hotel called Paradiso. This is close to the Kuta beach, where footballers seem to hold sway in the evening. Pertokoan is the word for shops, which when closed have a sign that says Tutup (closed).

At the airport, a sweet voice makes announcements beginning with the words "Prohebian, prohebian," which I assume means "attention, attention."

Pura is a temple, and sari means the essence. Shops selling seafood called themselves "Essence of the sea." Denpasar, Ubud and Sanur are regions on the island, each known for something. My conference was at the Pan Pacific Nirwana Resort  many kilometres away, and among other things has a golf course o…

The Hospitable Hindus of Bali

This is not a religious discourse, but just an element of surprise that fellow Hindus can be so hospitable! Yes, it is a surprise, because I live in a land where tourists are usually taken for a ride, and we are not so hospitable out here. Maybe at one time, but no longer. The Buddhist Thais have beaten us to it by a mile!

The culturally rich Indonesians (judging from Bali)
are certainly more evolved than us, in terms of how they treat their surroundings- they are a lot cleaner, in general. They also revere their mountains, and their offerings at the temples are unique. Even their street decorations for festivals are so attractive yet simple. Best of all, there is no racket and rush to get in to a temple to touch/view the deity, who is inconspicuous. So are the priests. The surrounding courtyards of the temple are maintained beautifully.

A lakeside temple (Ulun danu on lake Beratan in Bedugul) has a spectacular setting, and another temple complex on the sea-shore (Tanah Lot) is brea…

Postcards from Bali- 2

These are pics of two volcanoes, considered sacred in Bali. We went to one called Mount Batur, in Kintamani village, (pic just above). Some fascinating vistas along the drive too, and nature has provided a wonderful green cover to most of the island. Rice fields also dotted some of these landscapes. Found that rice exists in more than one colours- brown and black, for instance.

Postcards from Bali- 1

You are going to be subjected to lots more of this, since I just happened to visit Bali, one of the loveliest places on earth. It is also culturally rich, and may compete with Bhutan for a high Happiness Index, if you know what I mean (I hope I do, at least). First time after Kanyakumari that I got to dip my feet in the Indian Ocean too.

Her- A Surreal Yet Human Movie

Saw a film in-flight on the way back from Bali to Mumbai - a Hollywood film while coming back to Bollywood (nay, follywood, mostly). Good premise, somewhat like the robots in a sci-fi film running amok in many science-horror films. But here, it is an Operating System, custom-designed to one human, that provides the twist. And if the human is male, and the OS female, then love can bloom. And it does.

If we can't understand ourselves (and how many can claim to?), why not let the software do it for you? In any case, except changing diapers, it is already doing most things for us.

Though surreal in its premise, it manages to remain a warm, human film. Scary? Yes, because that may be  a glimpse of the future. gay marriages are passe. Marry the comp.