Showing posts from November, 2014

Zed Plus- Film Review

I like films that are rooted in our milieu, whether they are potboilers or realistic. This one falls into the latter category, and is a very smartly written film- more than I can say for a lot of films (either category). This one reminded me a lot of Peepli Live, but this one is actually better, I think.

A common man's life turns upside down when he accidentally hosts the Prime Minister at a Holy Place and the PM offers him a return gift. He complains about his neighbour, the PM mistakes it for a terror threat from Pakistan, and offers him Z Plus security.

Lots of funny incidents later, he wants to throw away his security cover. Does not succeed, though he comes close. Through the lens of this story revolving around his security status, the director succeeds in a satirical look at our politics, our society, the wasted years after independence, the plight of the common man, bad state of roads, and many things in between. But the tone of the film is still optimistic, and upholds th…

Cliches and Platitudes

The law will take its own course. How many times have we heard this one, about an ongoing investigation into the crimes and misdemeanors of the high and mighty, from politicians, businessmen to cricket players/admins/bookies and so on?

May I ask very humbly, what other course is the law supposed to take, if not its own?

We are seized of this matter. Again, usually an administration fobbing off demands for action. Since most administrations are ill-equipped for it, what this usually means is that they are having a 'seizure' with the thought that they have to move their butts and actually do something.

The benefits should go to the poorest of the poor. Anyone who mouths this usually has several layers between himself and the segments he/she is talking about.

Customers are our top priority. Barring about eight companies, this is a travesty of the truth, and of what happens on the ground. Aided by bull-headed, unfriendly rules such as KYC, which makes opening a bank account akin …

List of Things To Do

No, there is no bucket in sight, so this is not a bucket list. Not even New Year in sight, so it's not a New Year list of resolutions either.

Just a list of things to do, not necessarily soon.

Visit New Zealand.

Eat biryani.

Cook something nice, tasty, zesty.

Learn to sing better.

Shop less- am already getting good at this.

Travel more, explore places old and new. Starting with my backyard.

Keep in touch with friends from the past, over the last thirty years. That includes students who are now in THE LIST.

Make new friends. This is going well.

Talk less, listen more. Difficult, but doable.

Eat less, think more. Doable?

Go to Shrivardhan- a secret getaway, no longer secret!

I am 200

No, not really. It's just that it is the blog speaking, about the number of posts this year: 2014.

That means I found something to write home about, at least that many times.

Happens to be the 200th post of the year. So,instead of writing about something, I will let it wander about a bit.

Just noticed that I have 102 followers. That is nice to know. Motivating.

Went to Nagpur this weekend and played Golf with friends there, after some suspense as to whether the Golf club would be open on that day. A new IIM is going to come up at Nagpur, it seems like.

Just finished teaching a course (barring the shouting, and the grading of exams) on advertising at Indore, and am getting ready for one on Marketing Research next term.

I always wonder why calendars and year planners (organisationally) come too late for any planning to happen in the first calendar month. Oh, well, such is life.

Heard a nice radio program on Shreya Ghoshal the singer, and found there is a lot of sweetness in her voi…

Digital Marketing- A Primer

This is a term that is used to the point of abuse. Every third guy you meet is a digital marketer, just as, a few years ago, every second guy you met was a web designer.

anyway, as it happens, our digital marketing consultant was here to discuss our plans for the coming year or so, and I gathered a few useful facts from his presentation which was livelier than many I have sat through over the last few years.

There are essentially three types of media that you have a choice of using for digital marketing/communication-

Own media- properties that are 'yours'- a website (personal or corporate), an official/personal page on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, a blog, etc.

Paid media - these are ads on Google Adwords (Search can be free too, subject to your activity level and relevance to keywords that a searcher types in), or any of the social media that permit ads. Email campaigns might also fall into this category, if you are paying either for address capture or the process of maili…

Film Review- Some Like it Hot

This is a black and white movie from Hollywood, starring three well-known actors: Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe. I had never seen it, and took a look at it on DVD.

The thing that strikes you the most about the film is that we have copied it in the seventies (with colour and songs added) under the title "Rafoo Chakkar" starring Rishi Kapoor, Paintal and Neetu Singh. The original, however, is a charming film, with a simple storyline, good dialogue, and great acting.

Eyewitnesses to a murder by the Chicago Mob, two small-time male musicians are forced to flee, and join a female troupe going to play in Florida, dressed up as females. They have an adventurous outing, with one of them falling for Monroe who's also on the train as a singer, and another getting a marriage proposal from a (male) millionaire in Florida.

The Mob gets there for a conference with other mobsters, and chase the two heroes, until all ends well. Enjoyable watch, and Marilyn Monroe is a del…

Modern Lyrics

Old Hindi songs had lyrics such as these-

the guy sings, "How lucky your mascara/kajal/bindiya is- wish I could be as close to you as they are"

or, "I wish I was the anklet/ghungroo on your feet" .

These days, the girl and the guy would both have to sing along these lines-

"I wish I was the app on your phone,
I wish I was the text you read,
I wish I was far away,
So you would send me a 'poke'
If I am not connected on Facebook,
I am considered a joke."

In Hindi, romance would go-

Mujhe apni timeline pe jagah do,
WhatsApp se mila lo,
Instagram se sawaro,
O mere Candycrush ke saathi....

Sport, TV and Roman Gladiators

The more I see the games being played, I am reminded of the Roman gladiators fighting. 'What's the connection?' you may ask.

To my mind, a sport is played foremost for enjoyment without hurting another (or even intending to?). I can also vouch for the fact that some sports used to be that way. Competitiveness was there, but muted and mostly, 'the bat did the talking', to use cricket terminology. Now, cricket resembles the gladiatorial contests more than anything else I can think of. Kill, or be killed, seems the philosophy, the body language and the associated corruption.

Maybe there are sports like Billiards, Chess or Badminton that are not yet at that level of crassness, but you don't see them reported about as much, so I really can't say.

By the way, it's not only cricket which is that way. I find some TV shows actually so rude that I cannot bear watching them. It's another thing to create a badly scripted story, but to build shows on people rat…

Happy New Year- The Film Review That Wasn't

Like 'The Week That Wasn't', a spoof of the news during the week, let me attempt a review of a movie I did not watch.

Shah Rukh Khan dances his way into the audience's heart, matching steps with Abhishek Bachchan. Two of the best dancers ever!

Abhishek Bachchan does a fight, a disco, a comedy sequence, and a tragi-comedy sequence. That's more than he has done in years. Happy or not!

Farah Khan directs. She was great in Main Hoon Na (disclaimer- I saw that), greater in the last one (I forget the name of that one) and is the GREATEST in this one.

The producer is laughing all the way to the bank. So some people are happy-the bank and him. What about the viewers? Some people called me up just to tell me NOT to watch this and remain happy. What could be simpler? Forget Yoga, Meditation (Vipassana, the silent meditation, is especially hard on the incorrigible talkers), Reading, Music, Partying with friends, Long holidays in the mountains or at a beach, and all those thi…

A Dictionary of Sorts- Part 3

Exchequer- Title conferred upon men after marriage; if he doesn't oblige with the cheques, he becomes an ex.

Espouse- a wife one discovers on the internet.

Electric chair- where convicts come to a shocking conclusion.

Density- what Newton suffered from before gravity cured him.

Derail- to boldly take a train where no track has gone before.

Debar- to forcibly drag a husband away from the pub.

Date- a system of numbering days. Go on a date, and your days are numbered.

Crematorium- a place to satisfy your burning desires.

If you want more, read the book. PV Subramaniam's 'Dictionary of English: The Udder Side'.

Shaukeens- Film Review

There is a feeling I get when I watch remakes of good films done amateurishly or in a crass manner. I got that with this film. Last time I had it was with Humshakals, which was not a remake, but crass and stupid nevertheless.

There was this movie called Shaukeen directed by Basu Chatterjee in the eighties sometime, which had three very good actors in the lead roles, Rati Agnihotri as the object of their affection (or lust, if you prefer), and a hilarious series of events unfolding. At the time it was made, this theme was quite novel, but apart from that, the three oldies (Ashok Kumar, AK Hangal and Utpal Dutt) brought such class to the proceedings, that it would be tough to emulate. And Shaukeens shows how true that is.

The stories are similar- the three lustful old men going off into the woods to get themselves a girl, and funny ending to their attempts. Whereas the first one made you laugh or smile, this one ends in a whimper. Akshay Kumar tries his best to infuse life into the sec…

Kalyug- Book Review

This is an original fiction title, just published. Written by first-time author Sreeram Ramakrishnan, it is a thriller set in present-day India.

Meticulously detailed, it sets out with a writer being called upon to witness a coup 'as it happens', in Delhi. A shadowy organisation claiming to do it in the nation's interest, puts up a puppet as the Head of the new government, and runs it by remote control. There is another organisation run by an industrialist, with nexus abroad, which is a rival power-monger, appropriately called 'Powerhouse'. The coup succeeds, and the rival, Powerhouse, attempts to sabotage the new 'government' by all means available to it. There is an exciting finale to resolve the various threads.

The unique thing about the story is its contemporary Indian setting, and characters drawn from recent political history. Many of the characters and events are recognisable, and add to the curiosity of the reader about how things will pan out for…

What Can make you a Better Person?

This is a quiz of sorts, while being fully mindful of the fact that ‘better’ is a subjective adjective. Which of these would you say makes us better people?
The latest mobile phoneThe ability to connect to peopleAbility to tell a jokeKindness to peopleBeing contentedBeing gratefulListening to musicSharing a good time, however definedTravel to a new placeObserving natureWatching a news channelA sport- playing it, I meanContemplation over a cup of tea/coffeeWritingReadingComplimenting someoneBeing liberalBeing conservativeA luxury carA great laptop computer
I have left out a few things such as meditation, as I have no personal experience of these.

Janapav Mela

A village fair (mela) at Janapav, a village around 30 kilometres away from the campus, is where we went yesterday, to look at some stalls put up by our students. They create games to measure whatever the sponsoring companies want them to measure. Participants get a small incentive for their  effort, companies get data from rural respondents, and students learn how to do market research in this setting. Fevicol, ITC and Pepsi were some of the companies that put up stalls through IIM Indore this year.

Interesting to see the fair (the occasion is Kartik Poornima) and a nearby temple on a hill-top. The evening setting was nice and breezy on the top, with a good view of the Agra-Bombay Road. We also treated ourselves to some local delicacies including poha, jalebi and mirchi bhajjis.

Legend has it that Parashuram was born in Janapav.

A good outing, overall.

Horror Movies- Then and Now


In India, Ramsay brothers were the kings of this genre. There were hands rising from the grave, or heads rolling, or songs sung by unknown spirits, or doors creaking open in the dead of the night, or skeletons tumbling out of cupboards (not figuratively, but literally), to make it feel like a 'horror' film.


A movie can be a horror film without any of the above ingredients. All it takes is-

1. An ageing hero who shows his biceps, six-packs, or just a shirtless body

2. A heroine with oodles of makeup trying to look sexy

3. A troupe of dancers with no dancing skills

4. A plot that goes berserk without head or tail

5. Songs that sound like they were tuned in hell.

6. Remakes of old movies that were themselves terrible.

7. Sequels of films that were not sequel material.

Oh, how I long for the 'real' horror films of yore.

Joy of Workplaces- My ranking

Inspired by all the rankings going around, I decided to reflect (I do that sometimes, even though it may not seem so) on the places I have worked in and the joys they gave me. This is not a ranking, actually, just a recounting. The title about ranking was only to get attention. :)

Vignana Jyoti- Joys of being part of a startup, nice small group of students, cosmopolitan atmosphere, and biryani for lunch almost every day at Hyderabad. My pic at VJIM, with my spacesuit top.

Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies- this was an idyllic workplace. The students were lovely, the staff the friendliest (we partied regularly), the colony was excellent, and we had a Golf course (18-hole) in it, 500 metres from our home. Still remember most students I taught here in the first four batches. The MDPs (training programs) we did here were also high quality.

IIM Lucknow- though the weather was terrible, it taught me how to teach well, and re-introduced me to research. Colleagues were very …

Naming Kids and More

How do people name kids? Kings had it easy, as in just repeat the name with a roman numeral to prove that you could count, until a coup removed the last-mentioned numeral from the throne.

Why I was called Rajendra is that a great man turned into our first President, and his name was Rajendra Prasad. We had a brainwave about Prarthana (our first) and were influenced by film stars Pooja (Bhatt and Batra) for our second.

Many surnames emerged from professions- worldwide. What inspires people to still retain a name like Smith I cannot fathom. I like Wodehouse's Psmith idea, for its use of the differentiation strategy. I also like the U.P. style of renaming your surnames or not using them (sometimes to hide your caste)- free-for-all, in other words, like the state itself seems to be.

The feminist version of not changing surnames after marriage is fine, but may lead to confusion about the family tree. Though if there are no trees, families may vanish in due course, so it might not be t…