Newton- Film Review

A full house for a film with no Khans or Roshans is in itself a great thing. Not to take away from star charisma, but there are other films which deserve a viewing. This is one of them. Please avoid it if you want masala entertainment.

But if you want an honest look at what may be happening in relation to social issues in a place such as Chhattisgarh (could be anywhere, actually), then you may want a look-in. It reminded me of two films that I have seen earlier- Govind Nihalani's Aakrosh, and the more recent Peepli Live.

It is produced by Aanand Rai. The director's name was new to me (he is a kar-Masurkar!), but he has handled a difficult subject very well. The casting is perfect- Rajkumar Rao is brilliant, and so is his counterfoil-the army officer. The tribal girl's character has some meaningful dialogues too. The editing (my favourite punching bag) is spot-on.

Good, meaningful cinema, which cautions you that social problems are solvable, but solutions are not easy. In a democracy, the process is also slow. And that education may help.

Hrishikesh Mukherjee- Birth Anniversary Tribute

He was, in my view, one of the finest directors of films. His sense of what worked on screen was impeccable. Watch any of his classics, and you might agree. Anand, for instance, is forever etched in my mind, though I first saw it in the early 70s when it was released. Every scene is a lesson in film-making. The dialogue, the acting, and everything else seems perfect. He was minimalistic, and no scene stretched beyond what was needed.

It is no joke to make a comedy. It was not one, but many that he made, in a fashion I have not seen since then. Gol Maal with Amol Palekar in a "double character" (and a manic Utpal Dutt) can make you roll on the floor. So can Chupke Chupke. He was also good in serious cinema, like Namak Haraam, or Abhimaan.

His early films, like Biwi aur Makaan were good, though not as popular as his other films. Satyakaam was one about a man who never gave up his principles in life-played very convincingly by Dharmendra. Bawarchi was a later film about a warring joint family brought together by a jolly cook who works for them, brilliantly played by Rajesh Khanna.

Hard guy to follow..he set very high standards. 

Pukar Revisited- Film Review

 This is a review of the film Pukar written in 1983, still vivid (!) and readable. The film literally comes alive, as if on screen in 70 mm. First published on the wall magazine at IIMB. Re-published with permission.

Why I am a Dev Anand Fan

It is because of his attitude towards life. In a word, carefree. Or if you prefer the hyphens, happy-go-lucky. In Hindi/Urdu, zinda-dil.

 Image result for dev anand

He was an actor, producer, director. What may not be so well-known is that he and Guru Dutt were good friends who started in the industry around the same time. But of course, they took different paths, Dev Anand a much longer one but to my mind, no less distiguished.

His film persona usually matched his real self- he was debonair, self-confident, incurably romantic (his autobiography is titled Romancing With Life too). Some of his characters were unforgettable. The guy who sang Main zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya, har fikr ko dhuen mein udaata chala gaya in Hum Dono. Or Yeh dil na hota bechara in Jewel Thief.

Hema Malini's first big hit, many years later, was with him in Johny Mera Naam. O mere raja is a great hit from the film. He would also sing another duet with her in Shareef Badmaash- Neend Churake raaton mein, humne baaton baaton mein dekho baat badal di hai.

He introduced Zeenat Aman in Hare Rama Hare Krishna, a film about drug abuse with the iconic song Dum Maro Dum. He also introduced Tina Munim in Des Pardes, which had some of my favourite songs- Nazar lage na saathiyon, and Tu pee aur jee, among them.

His songs were the highlights of his films, right from Hai apna dil to awara (Hemant Kumar sang this) to Dil ka bhanwar kare pukar (Rafi) to Are yaar meri tum bhi ho ghazab and Khwaab ho tum ya koi haqeeqat kaun ho tum batlao (both from Teen Deviyan, Kishore Kumar). Some other great songs were Tu kahaan yeh bataa is nashili raat mein, Maana janaab ne pukara nahin, Wahan kaun hai tera, musafir, jaega kahaan, Chudi nahin yeh mera dil hai, Dil aaj shaayar hai gham aaj naghma hai, Hey maine kasam li, Abhi na jao chhod kar ke dil abhi bhara nahin.....

Why We Do What We Do

This is my own take on motivation, so all the behavioral scientists please put away those guns.

I am assuming that we have enough food to survive. If we don't, we will of course, beg, borrow or steal. That's not what I am talking about. The higher order things, is.

Read a book- because we know it will transport us to another world, which is either better than ours (romance, true love, chivalry, equality, utopia), or a temporary escape (murder mystery, Harry Potter,..)

Watch a Film- I mainly watch it for entertainment, but sometimes to understand things better. It's a different medium, and it's great to try and understand anything that the director is trying to convey visually, even if you disagree with the pooint of view. I have (mostly) stopped watching a film for an actor/star, because most of them are actually disappointing, or too stereotyped.

Travel- I still find travel is one thing where I learn a lot. Combine it with a meeting with a friend, and it's the icing on the cake. I find the behaviour of airline crew extremely funny on most days, and also bus crew (I do travel on the bus- I am grounded, that way). It always leads to something unexpected. I remember a foggy Delhi led our flight to land in Jaipur one time-it was with colleagues from IMT Ghaziabad.

Listen to music- I find it extremely relaxing. Always have. I can do it for hours, usually without getting bored.

Facebooking- both in terms of connecting with people who are otherwise difficult to connect with, and doing useful things like crowdsourcing ideas, I find it a great and easy medium..and of course, to propagate what I write here. Hope you are still reading!

Blogging-it's the best form of self-expression that I have discovered. Better than writing text books too..that's too much work :)

Amazing Blog Stats

Startling Stats

For some reason, there was a spike in this blog's views yesterday. While the usual daily views are around 100 plus, yesterday they went to 1,769. Not sure why, but maybe I will find out in due course. Anyway, enjoying the spike while it happens. Today of course, we are back to a more normal and down-to-earth figure.


Sep 16, 2017 3:30 PM – Sep 23, 2017 2:30 PM

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Global Fashion -an Update

Fashion is the new constant-I mean change is the only constant, and fashion is about change. Don't get it? It's OK, neither do I. So I'll just get on with what I was saying.

The current fashion in these countries/states/cities seems to be-

North Korea- celebrating Diwali by firing rockets over Japan.

USA- Building walls (a fashion started by Facebook, which has since moved to Timelines)

Mexico-Shaking it up

Caribbean countries- Sending hurricanes to the U.S. coast.

China-trying Gujarati food (Dhokla-m?)

Gujarat- banning Sunny Leone ads

Mumbai- trying to become Venice

(These are not countries, but have populations bigger than some.) Fb, Instagram, LinkedIn, WhatsApp,..- trying to be like each other.

Innovations in Flying and Elsewhere

This was a Business Class like no other I have been in. Individual seats that can go horizontal. Was on this flight where I got upgraded, and looks like it was the right one to get upgraded on! Comfortable, so that even the half-hour delay circling over Mumbai did not seem like much (on a one and half- hour flight). Why don't they make all seats in an aircraft like these? Isn't that what innovation is supposed to do?

Anyway, let's leave that to high-flying innovators and concentrate on our job. What have we innovated lately?

Learnings from Current Turmoil

I was struck by what one of the participants of a recent conference said. A music CD was sold at 12 to 14 dollars at one time, with a huge margin. Now, they are forced to make 4 cents per streaming of the latest music coming out. High volume and low margins.

Another participant said that they now assess businesses based on intangibles and give them loans (start-ups is what he was talking about), insead of asking for land and machinery as collateral. Just goes to show how things change within our lifespans.

I grew up on analog photography, and it's digital now. I grew up on the vaccuum tube/diode, and it's all chips today. I grew up on letters, and it's not even email today-mostly, people use messaging services.

Not to mention GST, Aadhar, ...and all that the businesses have to go through in terms of unexpected things that happen.

Movies, that used to run for 25 weeks for a silver jubilee, now are considered a hit if they run into week 2. Records, cassettes, CDs, DVDs and now just a digital transfer is how music went. Youtube has given us access to a lot of video and film content for free.

Life never stands still. Amazing, if you come to think of it.

IFIM B School- Conference

This was a place I had earlier worked in. I visited for a conference recently, and enjoyed the feeling of deja vu. Some of the old colleagues and staff were around, and a couple of surprises too. I was moderator of a panel on Management 2022 among other things.

The institute is a neighbour of Infosys, in electronic city. The company which has seen a lot of turmoil in recent times, after being the bellwether of Indian corporates for many years. In my brief stint there, I enjoyed the corporate ambience, and also did an MDP for the Oterra Hotel at Yercaud. The hotel has changed hands since then.

Also visited an old haunt, The Bierre Club, and met a couple of old students from IMT Nagpur and KIAMS. Just after a training program at HPCL's Pune facility (pics below-with Ranjeet and Ghosh, colleagues from IIM Indore, at Pune)

Simran- Film Review

Simran is a name that became immortal in Hindi cinema after DDLJ. This film is Kangana's show all the way, and she does not disappoint. Though not as good as Queen in terms of viewing pleasure, it's a decent watch. It subtly makes a point. The hero is trying to be independent, while the heroine already is!

Parents don't like independent children, so the final scene of the father trying to strangle his daughter is quite apt. Most parents here think that way (unfortunately), and that leads to many unpleasant consequences for the daughters (sometimes the men in love with them too).

I think with tighter editing, the film could have been better, but I am not complaining, if we get to see more films about free-spirited women who can go to Las Vegas and gamble away their life savings, and punch a big guy and force him to call the Security- Go for it!

Pune Lit Fest 2017

Attended a session at the Pune International Literary Fest that had a lot of fireworks. Gems like "Authors don't have a clue about what they are doing" and "Why aren't people walking out? Most readers are kind and forgiving" were flying around through the session, thanks to Shatrujeet Nath. I forgot the books that he has written - I think some fantasy about Vikramaditya Gathas is one of them. But the session was great fun, with the authors ranging from serious to the comic. (note I said authors, not their books. I have read only one of the four, Harimohan Paruvu -spelt wrongly in the leaflet!)  Anyway, this was my debut as an attendee at any lit fest, and I must say you can learn something from attending one. For one, it's free, and you get to see a variety of people, from the celebrities to the intellectuals to the pretenders (and some real authors too). The hall was packed, and some might say it was due it being air-conditioned, but they could be wrong.Hari spoke about the craft of writing and how it gets better with more writing. Ankita shared her emotions at being cut to size (her novel, rather) by her editor, and so did Shatrujeet. He had written two books instead of one, he sportingly admitted. There were comments baout rejections (around twenty is par for the course?) and about research involved in writing even fiction, to make the background authentic, and it was a lively discussion, well-moderated by Vasudev Murthy.

Another highlight of the event after this one, was a panel with film women, of which Pooja Bhatt and Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari were the highlights. Ashwiny recently directed two good films, and was of the view that directors are back in business rather than stars. I certainly hope so, and look forward to more films like Bareilly ki Barfi and Nil Battey Sannata, the two good films that she did.

I liked a quip from Pooja Bhatt about growing up with Mukesh Bhatt who is a baniya and is not interested in changing the world, and Mahesh Bhatt, the maverick. She also spoke about how women in Bollywood are asked to keep their opinions to themselves or be like Tanuja who was sidelined (they boasted). Pooja's response was that she admired Tanuja, and did not mind being like her at all.

Surprises Big and Small

Life throws surprises at us fairly regularly. Here are some that I like-

Finding a good book while browsing at a book store. I still do it the old-fashioned way, and may continue till the last book store on earth operates.

Meeting someone unexpectedly. It's great fun to catch up, and as I have said before, this happens to me with students from various B schools I have taught at- some recent ones that I encountered without warning have been Vishal Tibrewal, Animesh Jain (IMT Nagpur), Jimmy Jain (IIMK), Sowmyashree Gonibeedu (PESIT), Mrunal (PESIT), Bhuvneet Raheja and Sapna Patni (IIM Indore), Viju Varghese, Shreya Sengupta (also from PESIT, different programs), ..and of course, planned ones too, like Anupriya Pandit, Sheetal Garg, Shafique and Pallavi (IMTN), Jogeswari, Savitha, Achint, Vidya and Swapna Gurijala (KIAMS), Ratnashree, Shraddha, Divya Singh, Nikita, Meghna, Manjari, Supriya, all from IMT Nagpur.

This was not a surprise, but surprising-or maybe not. I joined a music group of Hindi film aficionados thanks to a former student, and met a few for the first time, and got along very well.

Every now and then, I get a pleasant surprise in the form of a chat with a Facebook friend, and sometimes it ends up being a long one. Shreyashi (a former student now doing her FPM) is really good at these, among some others.

Comments on fb, and answers to quizzes or general questions. Sometimes unexpected, surprising, amazing etc..Oscar-style acceptance speeches too.. 😄

I listen to the radio a lot, and hearing a favourite song play is a pleasant surprise, which ahppens frequently.

Sometimes, phone calls, but since I don't pick up the cell from unknown numbers,  I effectively prevent some (nasty?) surprises.

Shubh Mangal Saavdhaan- Film Review

Good film, and enjoyable for most part.

It stars the wonderful pair of the expressive Ayushmaan Khurana and the lovely Bhumi Pednekar (from Dum Laga Ke Haisha), and takes you through an Online Arranged-cum-Love match, and both are excellent. In my own view, Bhumi is a shade better in this one.

Everything is hunky-dory with the match until he discovers he has a "Gents Problem," in his own words. The world calls it erectile dysfunction, mostly. The angst that both feel, and how the rest of the universe conspires to either help them along or force them to break up forms the rest of the story. It has many ups and downs, and keeps the audience sympathetic most of the time. The rant at the end by Ayushmaan was probably unnecessary, but the rest of it is a cute film touching on a somewhat touchy (or rather, unpsoken) topic. The support cast is decent too, and keep the movie light through their comic dialogue. The 'Alibaba reaching the gufa' dialogue is the funniest in a long time on the subject.

Produced by Anand Rai, who has also produced or directed some of my favourite films in recent times -Happy Bhag Jayegi, Tanu Weds Manu 1 and 2.

Managing a Business School- Alumni

Alumni Relations

These could be the most critical of the relations an institution may have. I am not kidding (not being a kid any more), but dead serious. The brand of their alma mater is carried by each alumnus/alumna for their career and the rest of their life after! Therefore, the institution or its office-bearers need to have a plan of action on roping in the natural goodwill that alumni feel for their alma mater. All great institutions in the world have active alumni support in terms of words and deeds. In India too, some of the better institutions, public and private, have a wonderful alumni network.

What Can be Done
In the pre-internet and mobile phone days, getting in touch and keeping in touch was difficult. Now, it is not. There must be a full-time body or committee headed by a faculty member of the institution to take care of alumni affairs- or relations, if you prefer that word to ‘affairs’.
There are several things one can do to make the alumni a vibrant and connected force. But you must remember to think of it as a human relations exercise, first and foremost, and not as a financial extraction exercise.

Chapter Meets
Regular opportunities that come every year, include a social gathering or chapter meet, attended by the institution head or faculty members, or both. This connects the alumni back like nothing else, except a visit by him/her to the campus. Since that is difficult, you must reach out. Maybe the costs of the chapter meets could be shared between the institute and the alums, but that is an accounting matter. The meets must happen regularly. If budgets are small, this can be initially a low-cost venue, and expanded into a more high-profile one after funding is sorted out. Sponsorship of these by alumni companies is an option.
We were able to attract 500 alums to attend chapter meets at IMT Nagpur (which I headed then), and about 650 of them at IMT Ghaziabad (which I was associated with later), in a year. The interactions were lively, and organised entirely by current students who had a genuine interest in linking up with their seniors from the institute. The alumni felt good, and came up with their ideas on improving their institution further in several directions.

Awards for Alumni
Distinguished alumni awards are another way to recognise the contributions made by alums to their organisation, to the profession, or to causes. There could be one at the convocation each year, and some at chapter meets too.

Admissions Interviews
Most Indian B schools have personal interviews for admission into the institution. You could invite select alums to contribute as a panel member to select future students. This is a sure way to improve ties with alumni, while increasing their feeling of ownership in their alma mater. We have successfully tried this in the IMT system, and at IIM Indore.

Guest Lectures
Most alumni would have experiences to share after a few years of work experience. What better way to get this into your classrooms than to invite them for a guest lecture? They would be very pleased to take a day off sometimes, and come to their institution for one. They also get to meet potential recruits if their company is in hiring mode. They may end up mentoring some youngsters regarding what career paths they should or should not take. A formal mentoring program can also be thought of, and implemented apart from this.

Seminars on a Theme
Themed industry seminars are something we successfully did at PESIT Bangalore. In one academic year, four such seminars were held on four different themes in HR, Finance, Operations and Marketing. These are eminently doable in cities, and also in other locations, for a modest budget. Many industry bigwigs including alumni can be the speakers. It forces students to think about trends in functional areas of management, and organise an event in their interest area too.

To alumni of any program, mementoes of the institute are very dear. US universities do a great job of merchandising mugs, t-shirts and a range of alma mater-branded stuff. We must learn to do this better.

Review of The Sky is Pink

True stories are sometimes difficult to handle. The Sky is Pink is an uplifting story of a child (actually, two) with a rare condition at b...

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