Kitnay Admi Thay- Book Review

Yes, this is the title of a book. About Bollywood's follies. Celebrating them. The author, Diptakirti Chaudhuri, is apparently a fellow-blogger too. Another reason to like his book.

There are chapters about the mother-son cliches. And brother-sister cliches. The mothers (Nargis, Nirupa Roy especially), the mothers-in-law (Lalita Pawar et al).

The hero's sidekick. The heroine's confidant, the daughter-father arguments, the rich-poor divide, the running around trees and how it is environment-friendly ( I just made that up).

And of course, the villains, the dialogues that made them famous (Mogambo khush hua?)- the book's title being one case in point.

And lots of trivia- completely useless, as the book's cover proclaims-that will leave you wondering why you haven't read this book so far! There are also some futuristic cliches that we might see in the future.

A must-read if you love Bollywood in spite of all its foibles. If we can love people with all their flaws (ourselves included), why not Bollywood? After all, all of the TV serials can't hold a candle to its larger-than-life entertainment.


This is not the short form for bomb blast, please note. This refers to generally showing off with words. This is what journalists, lawyers, academicians, Public Relations guys etc. do to 'add value' to themselves, their professions, and whatever they are talking about, such as events. Use of meaningless words in the right places adds to the mystique of things. Examples-

Metrosexual (no one is quite sure what that means, unlike bi- or trans-)
Revolutionary (new product, technology)
Game-changing (THAT usage IS the game, my friend)
Breaking news (I hear laughter breaking out among readers)
Breakthrough (while you are at it, might as well break a few more)
Fantastic (savings- when you spend a lot, that is)
Out-of-the-world (holiday destination- is it on Mars?)
Plagiarism- won't plain old copying do?
Big Data- anything can be this
Cloud- this is apparently not the pieces of fluff that you encounter in the sky, but here on earth
Soulmate- by definition, the soul is invisible. So how do you know if the soul has found a mate?
Millennium- what exactly is it? A thousand, million, or in between?
Baby-boomers- may a thousand babies bloom
Bounded Rationality (I assume it's the the opposite of Unlimited Stupidity)
X-gen, Y-gen, Z-gen.....take your pick

Lata Mangeshkar Museum

Some 300 metres from IIM Indore's gate 2 is a two-storeyed house. This is a remarkable storehouse of Indian film music- all in LP records- named after Lata Mangeshkar. The owner/curator has collected these, and claims that he has all Hindi music ever made for films, from 1932 till 1990.

I spent some time looking at his collection, and got a customised CD made of some of my favourites. In the process, I also figured out what one man can do, if he sets his mind to it. I had converted some of my own collection of Hindi music into cassettes, but that was just a few hundred selected songs over a few years in the seventies.

This collection of records is amazing. To add to this he also has written four voluminous books about the songs of Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. Might acquire one of them sometime. They are in Hindi, and that may be why I haven't seen them in mainstream bookstores anywhere.


My Miracle Cures

Inspired by various miracle cures being promoted for a wide range of illnesses on TV channels (why  all these docs originate in places like Faridabad and Pithampur, is something I am yet to fathom, but let us keep that aside in the larger interest), I decided I will promote my own diets/remedies/miracle cures. Try them if you believe in miracles.

1. Adrak wali chai- miraculously wakes you up. Not half as effective if you have to wake up and make it yourself. If possible, get married before you try this.

2. Pan after lunch/dinner. This is excellent for your system, and for the mouth. Not so good for the white walls, but that is a small price to pay for keeping your system functioning well.

3. Mooli ke paranthe. Generally, the mooli is white, the colour that symbolises purity (all Bollywood moms wear white- or used to, until they finished off the mom character itself). You get the point. Pure, and wholesome.

4. Cadbury's chocolate. Contrary to what people believe, this was an Indian Ayurvedic recipe, for which credit is not given. Good as a mood uplifter, much more than the ballyhooed substitutes. Women will vouch for this, as will promoters of Valentine's Day (another blatantly copied ancient Indian custom, relabelled and sold back to us). If only we had patents,...

5. TV. This is a remedy that was conceptualised by Ayurveda for many ills. John Logie simply manufactured it. It is a cure for sleeplessness, tendency towards too much exercise, overuse of brains, and lack of babysitters. Try it, guaranteed 100% cure for all the above. Only, avoid telemarketing channels selling Ayurvedic medicine. They are frauds.

Republic Day- My Dream India

My dream India would have-

no starvation deaths

no child mortality

no infanticide-rather, birth control used wisely

equal opportunity for boys and girls

no discrimination

no dowry

no stupidity on TV (I am afraid many, many channels would have to shut down)

no immigration check (this would need cooperation of the rest of the world)

a limit on corporate income ( at a reasonably high limit), with the rest going into social upliftment or poverty alleviation managed by reputed NGOs or special purpose organisations

capital punishment for people who build bad roads

airports functioning in every tier 2 town, with easy licensing, low taxes

passport and RTO offices being outsourced to customer-friendly organisations

low paying jobs (irrespective of educational qualifications) for anyone who wants them, with chances to upgrade skills and progress higher-much higher (parallel to this, an organisation to invent useful jobs in different sectors)

easy starts for entrepreneurs

Dolly ki Doli- Film Review

Dolly ki Doli is watchable. The premise is quite a likeable one, with certain similarities to Dawat-e-ishq in the modus operandi followed by the bride. Only, in this case, she is the genuine article- a scamster through and through.

An interesting premise, of marrying gullible men and making off with the booty after feeding them milk mixed with drugs; done reasonably well. The only problem I had was that of a lack of hard-hitting scenes and dialogue. It might have enhanced the film's WQ- watchability quotient- a lot. The lead actor Sonam Kapoor has done well, except the dance number. Malaika still does that a lot better.

The support actors are all pretty good. The length of the movie is a pleasant 100 minutes, and that is a plus. Some of the jokes about marriage and relationships (for instance, Sonam telling one of her victims that it is cheaper to get scammed than to be married a long time) are decent. I wouldn't go out of the way to watch this caper, but it's not bad. 2.8 on 5.

Obama Visits India, I Visit Timbuktu

Inspired by all the visits by Heads of State, and the Pope, I decided I would visit some place. It had to be unique, but known to people somehow. There were only two such places- Jhumritalaiya, made famous by all the farmaishes (song requests on radio) and Timbuktu. Given that the former was too 'middle class' and infra dig, I settled on Timbuktu.

I had to work hard at finding out how to actually get there, but once I did, I got a hero's welcome. I was told that I was the first visitor from this continent to actually go there. I felt like I had achieved something that even Obama hadn't. And at a fraction of the cost that it must be costing him. Also, saving myself from the traffic jams resulting from his visit.

I also found out how the place got its name- there was a buck-toothed guy called Tim, who everyone there made fun of, and his name over time stuck to the place itself. Tim-buck-too also, in a stroke of poetic justice, got to be spoken of derisively. Saving Jhumritalaiya the blushes.

Hemant Kumar

Hai apna dil to awara, na jaane kis pe aayega...Dev Anand sings in Solva Saal to an irritated Waheeda

Beqarar karke hamein yoon na jaaiye, aapko hamari kasam laut aaiye..Biswajeet to a not-unpleased Waheeda

Na tum hamen jaano, na hum tumhe jaane, magar lagta hai kuch aisa, mera humdum mil gaya

Khwab chun rahi hai raat intezaar hai, tumhara intezaar hai, tum pukar lo.

Yeh raat yeh chandni phir kahan..

Ya dil ki suno duniyawalon.

He was incomparable in the songs mentioned here, and many more that he composed. Happened to hear a few of his songs today. His voice did not have the variety that Kishore Kumar's did, but he was very good at what he did.

The PGP (MX) Program

I was in Mumbai to attend the inauguration of a weekend program for working executives we run in Belapur (new Mumbai). There is a good amount of interest among working people to do this to enhance their qualifications, and learn some management concepts. Currently, many candidates are self-sponosored, but going forward, companies might consider sponosoring their executives, so that they turn out more effective in their jobs, or get to leadership positions in the organisation and shoulder more responsibility.

We have had this program for a few years now out of a temporary campus near CBD Belapur. We are likely to move into our own campus in a few months. That will give us much-needed space to add a library and a few other things to this outreach campus. Other IIMs that have a second campus are Lucknow-NOIDA and Kozhikode-Kochi. There were plans to have an Ahmedabad campus in Mumbai and Bangalore campus in Singapore many years ago, but they came to nought.

Maybe a few foreign universities starting MBA programs could shake up the IIMs and prod all of them towards thinking global. Right now, an assured domestic market of Indian students ensures some complacency.


A surprise is a surprise is a surprise..or is it?

Some surprises lose their charm because they are on expected lines, like a birthday surprise of any kind. I like non-birthday surprises better. Like-

a flower looking majestic on a plant

a witty joke from a person/ a book

an unexpected smile from someone

someone laughing at my joke a lot more than warranted

a bird pooping after you have cleared "the zone"

meeting somebody out of the blue, and chatting away about "the good old days"

someone who is not 'busy' all the time

a corollary of the above, someone who does not answer his mobile phone calls while eating, in a meeting, in a movie hall, ...the list is long.

an fb message that is unexpected

Weekend Wanderings

When you wander out, you learn a lot. On some recent wanderings, I had the following great learnings.

The bus crowd behaves the best, particularly when it's a sleeper bus. The reason? It immobilises you, and you can only lie down, and do no mischief- except snore. In the case of air passengers, they try to achieve the same by putting the service trolley in the aisle, and preventing you from moving, but passengers take revenge by springing up like an unsprung toy doll the moment the plane lands, even before instructed. And then wait forever at the baggage belt for their checked luggage.

In trains, people move forever. Mostly to check on the loos. If there is water in the loo, or sometimes to inspect which one is clean enough to use. Immobilising strategies don't work, except on the train itself, for lack of a green signal, particularly just outside its destination station.

Also, in a train, you cannot escape constant noise- from vendors selling almost anything- I won't be too surprised if Airbus and Boeing salesmen started vending their wares through brochures soon. The platforms on stations give you choices of local delicacies, and now Railways are threatening to offer mobile apps for ordering food delivered to your coach. Soon, I can order a Hyderabadi biryani while in Nagpur- or maybe not.

All these apps aside, someone forgot to remind them that a Cleanliness Drive is sweeping the nation (pardon the pun). The cleanliness was better around twenty years ago. Well, one can either have gourmet food, coach-delivered, or cleanliness. Not both. Given the airline food, I'll take the gourmet food any day. And wait for cleanliness to arrive some day.

Kite-flying and Other Pursuits

Flying kites has never been my thing. But caught up in the enthusiasm of our students who organised the event (hopefully they did not have classes at the time), and a couple of colleagues, I went along with the idea, and we flew a kite or two yesterday. By the way, it's the done thing to do this at this time of the year, in many Indian states. My learnings from the escapade-

It is not as simple as it looks. (I also had this enlightenment earlier when I began playing Golf)

The kite continues to fly only if handled correctly, so the flyer is an important part.

There is a time to tighten the reins, and a time to let go. Both are needed for the kite to soar as high as it is capable of doing.

A kite can take a lot of beating, and still fly. It does not give up easily.

A breeze is what is ideal for it to fly, not a storm. Nor a dead wind. Strikes me as similar to Buddha's Middle Path...

Stress- Then and Now

When I was a kid growing up, we had-

Only one brand of toothpaste- Colgate. Now you have 200.
Only the radio. Now kids have TV, Internet, Mobile, Ipad, Kindle, ..
Only white teeth. Now they come in Blue too.
Only home-made food. Now you have McD, Pizza Hut, Dosa, Vada Pav, and Indian Chinese, Indian Italian, Indian Mexican, American Balushashi (sorry, Donuts), Horrible airport sandwiches, even more horrible airline sandwiches,....
Only one superstar at a time. It was either Khanna or Bachchan. Now we have at least 5 Khans and twenty Kapoors..

Even after the TV came in, we had only one channel, Doordarshan. Now, there are 400.

Movies were only in theatres. Now, you have DVDs, downloads (as a Chief Minister recently told reminded us), file sharing, and so on, in addition to re-runs and dubbed movies)

Is it any surprise then, that stress levels were low then, and are high now?
Moral of the story- (having to make a) choice breeds stress.

The Genius of RD Burman

Along with his dad SD, he is my favourite musician-almost a magician. Today is his death anniversary or punyatithi as we call it. A tribute is in order.

He made a mark in serious tunes as well as fun, dance-inducing ones, naughty as well as sombre situations. Some memories of memorable ones-

Aandhi and Amar Prem. Dripping in romance, but divine to listen to, and very slow, like good

O mere, dil ke chain...likewise.

Chura liya hai tumne, Lekar hum deewana dil and Yadon ki baaraat nikli hai..all in the same film and so different!

Kya hua tera wada, Tumne mujhe dekha hokar meherbaan, Aaja aaja, and O haseena zulfon wali - a surfeit of riches in Mohammed Rafi's voice. Another Rafi favourite is Gulabi aankhen, from The Train, that makes you want to dance.

Jaane jaan, an experiment with vocals in Jawani Diwani.

Kehna hai and Ek chatur naar in Padosan,..pure genius.

Musafir hoon yaaron, my adopted theme song for my life, from Parichay.

Aanewala pal, jaane wala hai,..another contender for it. (Golmaal)

Ek ladki ko dekha to aisa of his last compositions in 1942- a Love Story.

Truly, madhosh kiye jaaye..

Wilde Quotes

Wit and Oscar Wilde have a correlation of 1.0, that is, high correlation. Sample some of these-

Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.

I live in terror of not being misunderstood.

It's perfectly monstrous the way people go about nowadays saying things against one, behind one's back, that are absolutely true.

I must decline your invitation on account of an engagement I am just about to make.

I always pass on good advice- it's the only thing one can do with it.

Of course I have played outdoor games. I once played Dominoes in an open air cafe in Paris.

Work is the curse of the drinking classes.

My Name is Anthony Gonsalves

No, of course, it isn't. I am simple trying to recall some songs which made an impact when I first saw them on screen. Some like this o...

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