Showing posts from June, 2016

Brands I Grew Up With

Dalda- There was a shortage of this cooking oil most of the time.

Binny- Many clothes were made from this cloth brand.
Bata- Shoes invariably had to be Bata. Learnt much later that this was a company started by a Czech immigrant into the West.
Cadbury- the end of desire.
Chiclets- the first chewing gum that we had.

Tata- The trucks and buses we saw were either Tata or Ashok Leyland.
Godrej- They made locks and cupboards. Life's valuable possessions (few then) used to be under their lock and key.
Camlin-Oh, the excitement of a new compass box in school!

Taj Mahal- This was a Udipi restaurant in Hyderabad.
Kamat- and this too.
Modern- Mummy, mummy Modern Bread-an iconic ad.

Philips- Listened to marvelous songs on the Philips radio through the ages..Binaca Geet Mala, Bhoole bisre geet, Aap hi ke geet, Jaymala, Chhayageet, S. Kumar's ka Filmi Muqaddama, and many sponsored programs.
EC TV/Uptron TV- at home and at IIMB respectively. On the latter, watched in 1983 as India lifted…

Game of Drones

Looking at the immense popularity of GOT, I decided that I will launch the following games (patents pending)-

GOD, or the Game of Drones. This will consist of 5 really boring lectures, to be given by human drones. Whoever stays awake through the droning, wins. He could go to the International edition, where he will be subjected to global bores, to really test his listening skills.

GOS, Game of Stones. This will be played with coloured stones, some of which will be precious, and some not. The game consists of guessing correctly, which is which. Women players will have to pay the price for guessing wrongly, by buying the fake at the REAL one's price.

GOP, Game of Phones. Your phones are kept in a loft about 4 metres high, mixed with other phones which are procured from various sources. You have to reach up, get the bag of phones down, and blindfolded, pick your phone out of 7 or 8 that are in the bag. Pick the wrong one, and you are banished to an island with no phones. For 7 days…

Anniversaries and More

We all have anniversaries. I recently had one- of my wedding, many years ago. OK, 28 years to be precise. I was in the U.S. at the time we married (in Pune), two-thirds of my way through a Ph.D. and living with 3 flatmates in Clemson, a university town in South Carolina, on a student budget.

After the Ph.D., we moved to another town, Greenwood, with exactly 15,000 as its population. Two Indian friends, Samren (and wife Annie, below)
and Dr. Soni (and wife Shakun in this pic)
kept us great company, and some American friends  too (like Leslie, and Ron Green, who are in touch). Alok, my senior at Clemson (and Pam, his wife), and the former flatmates (Satish, Anil and Suresh) and their partners Marla, Vinita also occasionally met with us. Some of them are in this pic taken outside our Greenwood apt.
My wife Anuradha (Iyer/Nargundkar) was able to manage the chaos of all these new friends effectively, and we also agreed on coming back to India, proving that it's possible to have unan…

Raman Raghav 2.0

There was a real serial killer by this name, without the 2.0 of course. But this film is about another similar character, fictitious.

The film is quite watchable, if you are OK with serial killing in principle-watching them on film, I mean. I must admit I didn't get the opening murder until pretty late in the film, and that's a compliment to the director. The sets are too dark for comfort (mine) at times, but other than that, no major flaws I could find.

Nawazuddin may have found one of his strong points-playing maniacal characters. This is not a giveaway, the director shows him up for what he is pretty early in the film. The police inspector is good for his role, though less effective than Nawazuddin, because he isn't as good an actor. The female friend of is speaking Telugu with her Mom and Dad was a surprise.

As the genre goes, you expect some goriness, and you get it. But there is some stinging dialogue too, which keeps the movie watchable, and the speed is good, so y…

Dhanak- A Knockout Film by Kukunoor

Sometimes a film just hits you in the solar plexus. Because it's so unexpectedly beautiful. Dhanak is such a film. I did not know what to expect, and a decision to see it was based on a whim, and a vague memory of a positive comment about it on facebook by a friend (Thanks, anonymous friend).

From the opening shot to the last, the movie is a tale of how good cinema can captivate. Brilliant photography (Rajasthan never looked so beautiful), earthy dialogue, great acting, writing, editing. The story flows without any jarring interruptions, and you want the boy to get his eyesight back. Just as his sister does. And she writes to superstar Shah Rukh after seeing a poster of his endorsing Eye Donations. In the naive belief that he will pay for the surgery which they can't afford.

The brother and sister pair (Hetal and Krrish) are riveting, and you don't miss the presence of big actors for a moment. The supporting cast, each member, play their roles well, and fit in perfectly i…


There's no such word, or acronym. I just made it up. But with the great interest (not the financial one) in exits of all kinds-Brexit, Rexit and so on, I thought we could invent a few. So Trexit is just a trick to get you to read this inventive post.

Mustexit- The permanent closure of the production house that produces the Masti flicks.

Shirxit- A Salman film.

Syxit- LED bulbs not made by Syska.

Gorexit- The result of the Quit India movement, 1942. (Goras leaving)

Jokexit- End of humour, as we knew it.

Ekxit- Ekta Kapoor's retirement from serial-killer serials.

Texit- The guy who drives a texts while driving. (and may exit the mortal world)

Guexit- The line of miffed guests walking out on Arnab Goswami.

Brexit- actually, breaks-it, any movie starring Akshay Kumar- or even the Dollar banian ad.

Shakesit- The artists who shake their bootiya in Hindi films. (refer to Finding Fanny).

Vexit- all those who are vexed with the exits above.

Getsit- The guy/gal who gets all the above.

Humanism- Why It's Unpopular

My latest theory on why humanism is unpopular, while all other "isms" have some degree of popularity.

Humanism needs you to think logically.

It needs you to treat everyone, from the CEO to the gardener, on an equal footing as a human.

You may find yourself worrying about too many unimportant people, and forget yourself, the most important person in your life.

The environment, accident of birth, etc. have convinced you that one kind of human is better than another...the labels vary. Fair and Lovely is but one small example.

No one's tried it on a large scale, so you aren't sure if it works.

If it works, it will render a great number of people unemployed. But could be good for humanity, if that is what we want.

Favourite Films- Hollywood

Though I have seen a few Iranian and French (and Japanese) films that are very good, I will list out some favourite Hollywood films here.

1. My Fair Lady based on Shaw's Pygmalion, about making a lady out of a flower-girl. Classic.
2. The Sound of Music. One of the best in all departments-conceptualisation and execution. Immortal.
3. Psycho. A classic in its genre from the master, Alfred Hitchcock.
4. Zorba the Greek. To me, a major philosophical book and film. Top ten for the book too.
5. The Omen. I generally dislike horror, but Gregory Peck warrants an exception.
6. Mackenna's Gold. Brilliant outdoor film. Omar Sharif in a great role.
7. Where Eagles Dare. Spectacular war-time film of a daring rescue. Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, and the scenery were amazing.
8. Silent Movie. Mel Brooks' spoof on Hollywood studios.
9. The Reincarnation of Peter Proud. I liked it for the way the mystery was handled. Unlike Karz, which was inspired by it.
10. Come September. Rock Huds…

Udta Punjab- A Conversation or Two

This is an imaginary conversation between the director of Udta Punjab and the cast.

Shahid Kapoor: I want a hit-badly. My career is at stake.
Director- Don't worry, you'll be a Gabroo after this film.
Shahid: Lekin main itna kyun ghabra raha hoon? Mera munh kaala to nahin karoge na?
Director- Arey nahin, nahin, woh to Alia ka honewala hai..

Alia: Chee, main kheton mein kaam nahin karoongi.
Director- Don't worry, uska ek hi scene hai, baaki film mein tum udti hi rahogi..
Alia: Flying scene! Superman! Phir theek hai.

Kareena: Doctor ka role? Woh bhi itna chhota?
Director- You can bring your favourite Scooty from 3 Idiots.
Kareena: (An idiotic smile playing on her face) Haan, phir theek hai.
Director- You are the only sober person in the whole film. Isse zyaada unique role aur kisiko nahin mila hoga..Kareena is positively glowing.

Post Script
Audience: Director saab, yeh film itni controversial kyun hai?
Director- BC, itna bhi nahi jaanta to dekhta kyun hai? Kuch le rakha ha…


You have 24 hours in a day, like every one else. What you do with them, is mostly your own choice.

I try and do things that I like. I am also fortunate that I have the liberty to choose most of my working hours, which can be any time of day or night. Reading and writing can be done anywhere, and that's a blessing. Physical teaching is still classroom-bound, but that could change too, at some future point.

The point I am trying to make is simply that prioritisation is a key to achieving your goals. What those goals are, is likely to be partly driven by organisational necessity (I am assuming you work for one). So about 8-10 hours of the day may be spent in ways that maximise the organisation's output in terms of whatever they consider as "output"- it may be sales, processing of data, coding or civil construction.

But there are ways to do things smartly and use short cuts in most jobs, while maintaining quality. Some ways I have increased my output or learning, are by…

Background Music in Films

I still remember the music from The Pink Panther series with Peter Sellers. (You can listen to it here from the later version. The series was remade with Steve Martin playing Inspector Clouseau.

The James Bond theme also is distinctive (, and helps engage the viewer in the super spy's exploits at the start. In general, background music has the ability to enhance the appeal of the visuals in cinema. Sometimes, it becomes memorable, like the ones mentioned.

Among Hindi films, I liked the theme music of Sholay by RD Burman (listen to it here This was also unique, and you may like to listen to it for its own sake.

But much of the Hindi film background music is cliched, and was even more so in the 70s and 80s. The sitar used to play in sad situations, or emotional ones tugging at the heart, and loud percussion was used in chases. Amateurish music kills…

Film Titles

Provocative film titles are out. You cannot single out one state and claim it's flying. Therefore, I propose that a basket of films be made simultaneously, highlighting personalities/achievements of various states, such as these-

Badalta Pradesh (With the song Badal jaaye agar mali, chaman hota nahi khali, baharen phir bhi aati hain)

Adarsh Golmaal

Achar-i Sanskruti

Baraste Megh

Neeti-yukt Praant

Gore gore mukhde pe Kala Kala Chashma

Karnatak aur Maharashtra ke Beech Mein

Chai pe charcha

Didi Tera Tewar Deewana

Balika Vadhu (for the big screen)

Lungi dance ke anokhe roop

Biographies- 2

Continuing the previous post, about biographies I was reading. Of Hindi cinema artistes.

Nanda was a girl actor, Baby Nanda, as she came from a film family- Master Vinayak, her father, was an acclaimed actor and producer/director of Marathi films. She started acting to support her family after his death, and continued into Hindi films due to unexpected success. She acted with Dev Anand in Hum Dono, Rajesh Khanna in The Train and Ittefaq, Shashi Kapoor in Jab Jab Phool Khile, Manoj Kumar in Gumnaam, and with lots of other heroes. After many successful films, she withdrew from the film world. She was to be married to Manmohan Desai, but he died suddenly before it could happen. She was friends with Waheeda Rehman, Shakeela and Helen.

Rajendranath is known as a comedian in umpteen Hindi films. His brother Premnath was a villain in films. Their sister married Raj Kapoor, so they were related to the Kapoors through marriage. But each one tried out his own thing. Shammi Kapoor and he spent …


Read a nice collection of filmi biographies by a Marathi journalist. These include interesting people like Salim Khan, Basu Chatterjee, Shamshad Begum, B.R. Ishaara, Rajendranath, and Nanda.

Salim Khan is from Indore. He narrates his early attempts to become an actor, and how he got into script-writing, into a partnership with Javed and delivered blockbusters like Deewar, Sholay, and Don. His breakup with Javed and lack of support from Amitabh and others cost him about 4 years in which he had no work. His love marriage with a Hindu girl is also a part of his life story, and his second marriage to Helen, in his own words. His hands-off approach towards his sons stands out.

Basu Chatterjee always made films that were believable, and extremely funny at times. Shaukeen, a story of three old men trying to reinvent a love-life was hilarious, for instance. Rajnigandha, Chitchor and Chhoti si Baat were all path-breaking comedies/simple stories. Amol Palekar became a household name, playing t…

Appointing (Brand) Ambassadors

I am going to appoint a few. Only condition is, their names have to be suitable for the category they are endorsing. Here are my top picks-

Hardik Patel- any brand of Motels
Sunny Deol- Deo
Sunny Leone- Lion safari
Mayanti- Aunty's home-made Pickles
Dig-vijay- Excavators
Akshay- Malabar Gold-special campaign for Akshay Tritiya
Shilpa- Hyderabad's Shilparamam
Raveena - Cloud computing (Ravi-na)
Kangana- Branded bangles
Dhoni- A new single called Anhoni ko honi karde Dhoni hai yeh Dhoni
Rahul- Arhar dal brand (it's called Kandi pappu in Telugu)
Obama- A cocktail to be invented, on the lines of Bahama Mama-that's a real one.

Housefull 3- Film Review

I have a feeling that Sajid-Farhad have deliberately introduced crassness in this film. I think they have a few things to learn even in that department. For instance, the master of double entendre was Dada Kondke. The lyrics of a couple of songs in this film are really the pits.

But apart from these, I found the movie is watchable, and strung together with a fairly good pace. The first half is mostly PJs built from translation of dialogue from Hindi into English, and a lot of it is funny (for those who like MAD humour). Not memorable, but funny.

The lead actors and actresses are caricaturish, because they are meant to be. Boman Irani gets the most scope to perform, and does well. Jackie Shroff is passable as the Don, but I would have liked Nana Patekar in his place, to make him more terrifying/crazy. The women are adequate (Lisa, Nargis and Jacqueline), but nothing great. Akshay gets to do a bit more because of his phobia, and is good at that part.

The wax museum is used well as an i…

Innovative Taxes

Here's to taxation beyond imagination.

A- Activity cess. If you move, you pay.
B-Bread+Butter Cess. If you put butter on your bread, you pay.
C-Cutting-edge. If you use the word, beware.
D-Dog-walker's cess. Who do you think is going to clean up?
E-Elephant ride cess. Stay away from them, if you can. If you can't, well..
F- Forest misser's cess. If you regularly miss the wood for the trees, you pay.

G-If you launch anything with a G in it, you pay. (3G, G3, 4G, etc..)
H-Harry Potter fans' cess. Try your wizardry and get out of paying this.
I- Iyer and Iyengar cess. Special one for special people.
J- Joke-sharer's cess. You are beating stress, eh? Not this one, you don't.
K- Kat/Kar cess. On all films starring them or their ex-boyfriends. Current BFs exempt.

L-'Long-term-we-are-all dead'-cess. You have to pay this while alive.

M-Mangalyaan (Mars Vehicle) cess. If we decide to move there, who'll build the colonies?
N- Nano cess. A small one. You …