Friday, September 30, 2005

The Nanyang MBA Series - 2 (Induction)

After the week of settling into the environs of the University, it was on to the Induction Program. Conducted over 3-4 days, this was aimed at familiarizing the new batch with the system, the resources and the method of study that would be applicable to us. Also, we were quizzed on what we were looking to takeaway from the program and briefed on what the school was intending to make of us. All of this was conducted by Professors Robert Boyd (an ex- Investment Banker and Citibank Europe head, a lovely old gentleman, the kind you would want to respect), John Beck (organizational behavior(errgh!) teacher and one of the funniest guys I've met) and Michael Connor (a fun loving and excitable Aussie, who conducted a session on making presentations). It was all business jargon and snazzy two-by-twos, so we, as budding MBAs were all suitably impressed.

Prof. Robert Boyd's session on the Case Study method

The class of 2005-06 (around 65 full timers) were divided up into 2 groups. One would head out for outbound team building activity and the other would sit indoors for mock corporate games. The next day the 2 groups would change places.

The ice breaker. We had to get everyone's signature next to a charateristic the individual identified with. Ekta won that by getting everyone's signatures first.

The outbound was loads of fun; the instructors put us in various individual and team activities
aimed at team building. It was a hot day so while we didn't enjoy the running around the huge campus in the treasure hunt game, the others were very challenging. Special mention to an activity where around 30 of us had to fill a bucket with water, without touching it, using only long pieces of string. You can safely assume the outcome of that one!

The string game. A classic team game, but we made a hash of it!

The game where the group had to arrange themselves on a thin plank, in order of their birthdays, without speaking. Lots of charades and falling over.

The next day we were up for the indoors. It comprised of 3 corporate mock games were we would be tested on speed, skill and strategy. This was a new experience for me and I thoroughly enjoyed all of these. There were sessions on what was expected from us on the case study method and how to make effective presentations. I left this session pretty enlightened.

My group busy brainstorming at one of the business games, while Prof. John Beck oversees the proceedings...

The final day, however, was most fun. By this time we had got to know each other pretty well so we were all starting to get along pretty famously. One could feel the camaraderie building. The final day's brief was as follows. Divide yourself up into teams based on your country and enact or present something that showcases your culture. Since there was a predominance of Indian and Chinese students, there were 4 or 5 Indian and Chinese teams. We decided to present a few short skits on varied things Indian, starting with a a brief introduction to the country, moving to arranged marriage (topped up with loads of dancing to KHNH's 'Mahi ve') and rounded it off by poking fun at the length of Indian names. I might mention here that the onerous task of playing the bride in the marriage skit fell on me, which I pulled off with a constant laugh and a red chunni over my head. It was quite an embarrassing performance, even by my moderate acting standards. My day was saved when I got to know that the official photographer of the day had missed our entire skit...Thank God, no pictures!

The other skits and presentations were also very enjoyable. Special mention to a Singaporean presentation of how locals speak the English language or 'Singlish' ('Some say leh, some say lah') and the two 'Christian's from Germany, who sang a German drinking song in which the whole class joined in. The Canadian, Hungarian, Chinese and other presentations were also good, though a bit staid and academic, and lacked the boisterous strain that we were getting used to. The day and the Program ended with a dinner session with faculty and MBA office staff.

Bring on the beer!The Germans sing!

It was a thoroughly enjoyable few days and it prepared us in a sense, in gearing us up for the hectic 16 months that were to follow...


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Ray - 50 years on...and 5 picks

The year 2005 marks the 50th anniversary of Ray's first film, the brilliant 'Pather Panchali'. On the occasion, UK-based I B Tauris released Satyajit Ray-A Vision of Cinema.
The book, which celebrates the legendary filmmaker, features priceless photographs and anecdotes from Ray's life, as well his drawings and scripts. The book features several rare pictures from the makings of his many masterpieces.

The man was a genius. He was involved with every aspect of his cinema from screenplay to music to script to poster art. Such commitment and passion for cinema has rarely been witnessed. A luminary of his time, it was ironic that none of his films ever came close to winning an Academy Award. He was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Academy, while on his deathbed. The Satyajit Ray Film Institute in Kolkata was opened in his memory and master's work continues to serve as inspiration for the insititute's many students. His films are timeless in their study of human emotion and socio political influence on personality.

Listed below are 5 of my favourite Ray films.

1. Aparajito (Unvanquished) 1956: I have never figured this out. I have always liked this film better than the other films in the 'Apu' trilogy. Though Pather Panchali was hailed universally and is considered the best of the three, I found the treatment of the mother-son relationship and process of growth from boy to man, to be especially fascinating. The film also gives the viewer some hope that there could be a way out of abject poverty and also spreads the message of the importance of good education.

2. Sonar Kella (The Golden Fortress) 1974: The best children's film he made. I prefer this to even 'Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne'. The movie brought to life the capers of detective 'Feluda', a literary creation of Ray himself. Replete with memorable lines, the beautiful locales of Rajasthan and the funniest sidekick ever 'Jatayu' (Santosh Dutta). The film follows Feluda's pursuit of two small time crooks who have kidnapped a child, rumored to have memories of his past life as the son of a jeweler.

3. Devi (The Goddess) 1961: The film is set in 1860 at Chandipur, in rural Bengal, India. Doyamoyee (Sharmila Tagore) and her husband Umaprasad (Soumitra Chatterjee) live with the wealthy patriarch, Kalikinkar Roy (Chhabi Biswas) who is an aging widower. The father has a revelation in a dream that his daughter-in-law is an incarnation of the goddess Kali. He insists she be worshiped. Then, a dying child is placed at her feet and he is miraculously cured. As the news spreads, the aged and the sick come in hundreds; seeking cure and comfort. Umaprasad attacks the tradition and tries to reason with his father and tells him that he has gone insane. The father is unmoved. Umaprasad tries to take her away, but to his surprise finds that she too has become convinced of her divine status. Doyamoyee's nephew, falls ill and is placed in her care. The child dies for lack of medical treatment in her arms. Her husband tries again to persuade her but it is too late. The child's death shatters her and she goes mad.

"Ray's feeling for the intoxicating beauty within the disintegrating way of life of the 19th century landowning class makes this one of the rare, honest films about decadence." - Pauline Kael.

4. Charulata (The Lonely Wife) 1964: Charulata (The Lonely Wife) was Ray's twelfth feature film. It was also the director's favorite. Ray described the film as the one which has the least defects. In an interview with 'Cineaste' magazine, when asked about his most satisfying film, Ray said, "Well, the one film that I would make the same way, if I had to do it again, is Charulata."
In Charulata, Ray explores the emergence of the modern woman in the upper-class of colonial India. Parallels have been drawn with Ibsen's A Doll's House. The film had brilliant performances from Madhabi Mukherjee and Soumitra Chatterjee.

5. Aguntuk (The Stranger) 1991: Based on a short story written by himself, this was Ray's last film. It was also the brilliant Utpal Dutt's last curtain call. A normal middle class family receives a letter that a long lost uncle is about to visit them. While the wife is sympathetic to the man, the husband is suspicious and believes that he is an imposter here to claim his share of the inheritance. He is repeatedly interviewed by the husband's friends in an effort to determine if he is truly a world traveler as he makes himself out to be. The film, in a classical way, questions urban and family values and materialism in today's world. A fascinating study into the human psyche.

There are so many more. 'Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne' (The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha), 'Nayak' (The Hero), 'Ghare Baire'(The Home and the World), 'Jalsaghar'(The Music Room) and 'Satranj Ke Khiladi' (The Chess Players) are all gems of Indian cinema.

Here's some trivia about the great man and his films:

- His favourite actor was Soumitra Chatterjee, who worked with him in more than ten of this thirty odd films.
- His first few music directors were Ravi Shanker, Vilayat Khan and Ali Akbar Khan. After 'Devi', he composed the music for all of his films.
- He allegedly refused to make a third 'Feluda' movie because he couldn't imagine anyone other than Santosh Dutta playing the role of 'Jatayu'.
- Ray claims that the one foreign film that influenced him the most is Vittorio De Sica's 'Bicycle Thieves'.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Sadak chaap...

Right! Its final then. The email has come in. (Despite much pleading) We, the students of the outgoing MBA batch, have to vacate our beloved Graduate Hall in a month or be faced with the consequence of becoming designated 'squatters'. So its house hunting time for me along with the current preoccupation of job hunting. A few of the guys and myself plan to move into an apartment somewhere in the city. We should start soon as finding likeable accommodation here can take a while. I've never shared a house with anyone before, so it should be a pretty interesting experience.
That said, leaving GH will be difficult. We have had some truly memorable times here and most of the residents had almost become extended family. Another bummer is the fact that we will have to move out of the campus. Its back to living in the concrete jungle...sigh!

PS - Cogito, could you pass on the nos. of some agents that you might know?


Saturday, September 24, 2005

Ramji Londonwaley

The trend of remakes of Tamil films in Hindi cinema continue. This time its Kamal Hassan's 'Nala Damayanti'. And the new avatar is 'Ramji Londonwaley'. Southern star, Madhavan, who essays the lead role, has gone on record saying that Ramji is a superior product and that he enjoyed the role more than he did in the Tamil original. However, the film hasn't done too well at the box office. Does that mean we write it off?
I wouldn't. I thought it was a pretty charming, feel good flick, along the lines of a 'Munnabhai MBBS'. Of course, Munnabhai was a superior product, but Ramji isn't a write off either.
The story revolves around a lower middle class Bihari cook, who leaves to work in London, to help raise money for his sister's greedy in laws. He lands up there, loses his passport and papers, but is saved from destitution when he is given a job as a cook by a kind Indian family. Though everyone dismisses him off as a village bumkin, he ends up endearing himself to everyone around with his mix of innocence, wit and earthy charm. The restaurant's owner is grateful to Ramji for having partially cured his spastic child. However, the owner's friend, a scheming lawyer, has plans to fleece his friend for every pound he's worth, under the guise of doing him legal favours. Ramji sees through his nefarious plans and puts him in his place, thereby restoring peace and harmony to the proceedings. In the middle of all this, he falls in love with the lawyer's fiance, who is slowly drawn to Ramji's simplicity and charm.
Madhavan is the obvious strength of the film. The fact that the actor was born and brought up in Jamshedpur clearly aids him in delivering a convincing performance. His accent and mannerisms are spot on. He also has the rare ability to pull off comedy with elan. Some scenes, like the one on the plane where Ramji commits a series of hilarious 'faux pas' highlight the actor's comic timing. Samita Bangargi, the love interest in the film, makes her debut and is passable. The supporting cast of Harsh Chayya, Akhilendra Mishra, Dayashankar Pandey and Raj Zutshi are very good. Satish Shah, as a sympathetic immigrations official is good as well. The music is average barring the title song which showcases Raghuveer Yadav's (surprise!) singing talents.
After a while though, especially in the second half, the film peters into mediocrity and the formulaic 'pahle inkaar phir ikraar' love story. Though tedious in bits, I found the film to be wholesome entertainment. Clean, fun and charming. To be seen with the whole family.
PS - Watch out for Amitabh Bachchan's special appearance in the final scene.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Taking over America - John Cleese

I recieved this forward a long time ago, so forgive the fact that its a bit dated. It is hilarious, though. This is from John Cleese, the veteran British Comic, known and loved for his roles in 'Fawlty Towers', 'Monty Python' and 'A Fish Called Wanda'. Here's John taking out the time to rail against America. Delightful.

To the citizens of the United States of America,
In the light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy.Your new prime minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1. You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up "aluminium." Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and 'neighbour', skipping the letter 'U' is nothing more than laziness on skipping half the letters. You will end your love affair with the letter \'Z\' (pronounced \'zed\' not \'zee\') and the suffix 'ize' will be replaced by the suffix 'ise'.You will learn that the suffix \'burgh\ is pronounced \'burra\' e.g.Edinburgh. You are welcome to respell Pittsburgh as \'Pittsberg\' if you can't cope with correct pronunciation. Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up vocabulary. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. Look up "interspersed". There will be no more \'bleeps\' in the Jerry Springer show. If you're not old enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn't have chat shows.When you learn to develop your vocabulary then you won't have to use bad language as often.

2. There is no such thing as US English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter \'u\' and the elimination of -ize.

3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn't that hard. English accents are not limited to cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier). You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents - Scottish dramas such as Taggart will no longer be broadcast with subtitles. While we're talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is Devon. If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American states will become shires e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire.

4. You should stop playing American football. There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American football is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays American football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies. We are hoping to get together at least a US Rugby sevens side by 2005. You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the 'World Series' for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls' game called rounders which is baseball without fancy team uniforms, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.

5. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don't believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

6. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called Indecisive Day.

7. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean. All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips. Fries aren't even French, they are Belgian, though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat. Waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

9. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all, it is lager. From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. The substances formerly known as American Beer will hence forth be referred to as Near-Frozen Knat's Urine, with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as Weak Near-Frozen Knat's Urine.

10. From November 10th the UK will harmonise petrol (or Gasoline as you will be permitted to keep calling it until April 1st 2005) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices(roughly $6/US gallon - get used to it).

11. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

12. Please tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us crazy.

13. Tax collectors from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to1776).

14. Last but not the least, and for heaven's's Nuclear as in "clear", NOT "Nucular".

Thank you for your co-operation and have a great day.
John Cleese.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Happy Birthdays

Here's wishing two of my dear friends A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Cogito's was on the 22nd of September and Brijesh's on the 23rd. Many happy returns of the day, guys. Please celebrate...and invite me if there's cake and alcohol.


Yeh sambhaal mera faulaadi mukka!

Which are the film lines that you think are keepers? There are just too many of them. From Arnie's 'haste la vista, baby' to Bachchan's 'Mein aaj bhi pheke hue paise nahin uthata'. A funny thing one notices is that almost all of the unforgettable lines in cinema have been uttered by men. Coincidence I'm sure, but intriguing. One can remember a Hema Malini rattling off a 'yun to bak bak karne ki aadat hai nahin' from Sholay and a Srivedi going 'Balmaaa' from Chaalbaaz or an Ingrid Bergman wistfully saying, 'Play it Sam, for old time's sake', but nothing else really stands out (my memory stinks, so the statement is open to argument) .

Anyway, this isn't about gender bias. Here are some of my favorite quotes, film or otherwise, in no particular order:

1. Super Commando Dhruv Comics: I used to enjoy these comics tremendously when I used to visit my grandparents in Kanpur. Every kid in the locality had a ton of 'Nagraj' and 'Super Commando Dhruv' comics. I was hooked after a little while. Whenever our hero got into the final showdown with the villain at the end of a story, he went "Yeh sambhaal, mera faulaadi mukka!". Freakin' hilarious!

2. Terminator 2: Arnie made this part all his own. Playing a mindless robotic killer has been the most convincing thing he's done to date. The line I like the most from the movie is "I'll be back". Menacing.

3. Sholay: This movie gave us tonnes of classics. But Gabbar was the true hero of the film and his line "Kitne aadmi the?" is my favorite. When batchmates in college and in university used to return, disheveled and hassled, from panel interviews, this was a sure shot way to get them to beat you up.

4. The Godfather: "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse". Haven't had one of those in a long time.

5. Jerry Maguire: "Show me the money!". Show me the money.

6. Wall Street/Ivan Boesky: "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." The decade of the 80s on Wall Street was characterized by multi million dollar deals, corporate raiders, obscenely rich I-Bankers and insider trading. Ivan Boesky, the biggest arbitrager of them all, uttered these lines in guest lectures at the Harvards and the Whartons. He subsequently was fined millions of dollars and was sentenced to jail. Michael Douglas does an Oscar winning reprise of Boesky in Wall Street.

7. Anand: "Babu Moshai, zindagi aur maut upar wale ke haath mein hai. Hum sab rangmanch ki kathputliyan hai, jinki dor upar wale ki haath mein hai. Kaun kab kaise uthega, yeh koi nahin bata sakta." Only hindi film to have made me cry.

8. Mr. India: "Mogambo khush hua!" Best baddie dialogue after Gabbar's many verbal pearls.

9. Frankenstein: "It's alive! Its alive". Exactly what I said when the forecasting model I'm working on at my current internship started working.

10. Star Wars: "May the force be with you." Before a date, an exam or a drinking session. A phrase for many occasions.

There are many more unforgettable lines that linger in memory, but can't include them all here, much as I would like. Feel free to key in your favorites.


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Nanyang MBA Series - 1 (The School)

The first in the Nanyang MBA series. This one might just be of academic interest to most people, but I feel I should introduce the school before I start getting into the wonderful memories that we've made here. Setting the scene, in a sense. So here goes.

Nanyang Business School's MBA program is a relatively new one, started as recently as 1991. That given, since then, not only has the school consistently ranked in the top 10 in Asia, but the school today is ranked amongst 100 best MBA programs in the world, according to The Economist. Quite a good show for a 'fledgling' program.

Reputed for offering a global perspective with an Asian focus, the Nanyang MBA draws participants from around the world. We had individuals from 16 countries in our batch, which added great diversity both in terms of perspective and learning. A wide and flexible choice of subject specializations and the Overseas Business Study Missions are other unique features of the program.

Enough propaganda. Now on to the Campus. The campus is huge, spread over more than 600 acres of lush green landscape. By far the most beautiful surroundings I have ever lived in. The combination of hi-tech infrastructure and natural greenery made this place ideal as a seat of education. Coming from a concrete Calcutta, this was a treat for the eyes.

The South Spine by night

An aerial view of The North Spine

The Business School is situated in the South Spine (S3.1) of the University. It is quite a distance from the Graduate Hall (accomodation for graduate students only), and one can avail of the shuttle bus service to get there. For a virtual trip of the campus, please click here.

This towering structure is Graduate Hall, home to post graduates. This is where it all goes down! Offers both single and double rooms. This has been home to me and most of my MBA batch mates.

I remember the first time we got here, the shuttle bus services was temporarily unavailable. Walking to School and back used to be such a big deal. I was better off for it as I needed the exercise! The first few days after arrival zipped by with all the registrations, paperwork formalities and student pass collections. I also used this time to settle into Graduate Hall, my home ever since, and to get to know some of the other students from the batch. Acclimatization
was swift enough, with no major hiccups. Getting used to the food took a little while, but now I'm absolutely at home with the sumptuous 'migoreng' or the spicy 'laksa'. The Indian food on campus wasn't great, but it wasn't too bad either.

A great aerial shot of the Sports and Recreation Centre where many a game of water polo, squash, tennis and badminton has been played.

A week of this and then it was on to the Induction Program...

One of the many lovely walkways at NTU. Looks brilliant in the night time with the lights lining the walkway .

PS: Would like to thank Naresh Kumar Agarwal (NTU alumni) for some of the photographs.


Sunday, September 18, 2005

My Wife's Murder

RGV's new offering is an interesting effort. I felt the title was a little misleading. Visions of a slick whodunit appear. But this is not one of those. And the film is all the better for it. The film tells the tale of an average, middle class man (Anil Kapoor) who accidentally ends up killing his wife (Suchitra Krishnamurty) during a domestic fight. He considers going to the police, but is scared and is worried about the future of his little children. So he chooses to dispose off the body, wipe out all evidence and pretend that his wife had left home and never returned. His assistant from work (Nandana Sen) helps him out during all this. However, the police (Boman Irani) suspect foul play and attempt to track down the killer after the body is found.
The film is good. No songs and unnecessary frills to impede the narrative. It stays on track all through. The film chooses to focus on the psyche of a scared man on the run rather than turning it into a mystery/suspense thriller. Smart move, as I think this hasn't been explored in Hindi cinema to this depth before. It is quite plausible that a large number of people would react in a similar manner when faced with such situations. The film maker tries to explore the consequences of such a reaction.
Commercial success has eluded the film so far. Understandable, given that this subject will not appeal to all audiences. Anil Kapoor is fantastic as the unintentional wife murderer. The man never ceases to amaze. He gives a wonderfully understated performance, where he could have easily gone over the top and ruined things. The fact that he continues to experiment with his roles is commendable. Nandana Sen and Suchitra Krishnamurty are not bad. But the other acting highlight of the film is Boman Irani. His performance as the sadistic inspector hot on the 'murderer's' tail is exceptional. The man is full of suprises.
At two hours long, the film holds the viewer for most of the time. The only drawback might be the background music, which some might find a little too loud and jarring.



Friday, September 16, 2005

Songs of a Lifetime - 2

The next song in the series.
This is the perfect traveller's tune, so to speak. I remember when I first left the country, this song used to sound so true. Still does. I guess one can use it as a metaphor for life. One is never stationary. You keep moving from place to place, from experience to experience and from time to time. In a sense, all of us are travellers.
Kishore's soulful rendition of this track makes it all the more special.
Film-Namkeen, Lyrics-That man Gulzar again!, Music-RD Burman, Vocals-Kishore Kumar

Rah pe rahte hain,
Yaadon pe basar karte hain,
Khush raho, ehele watan,
Hum to safar karte hain.

Jal gaye jo dhoop mein to, saaya ho gaye,
Aasman ka koi kona, thoda so gaye,
Jo guzar jaati hai, bas, uspe guzar karte hai.

Udte pairon ke tale jab beheti hai zameen,
Mudke ke humne koi manzil dekhi hi nahin,
Raat din, rah pe hum, shyaam o saher karte hain.

Aise ujde aashiyan mein, tinke ud gaye,
Bastiyon tak aate aate, raste mud gaye,
Hum thaher jaye jahan, usko shaher kahte hain.

Rah pe rahte hain,
Yaadon pe basar karte hain,
Khush raho, ehele watan,
Hum to safar karte hain.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Songs of a Lifetime - 1

Some songs will always stay with you. For ever. Maybe its the tune that works, maybe its the words that mean so much that you can't get it out of your system. These songs become like the soundtrack to your life, echoing in your head whenever an identifiable situation arises.
Here's the first in my series. One of the most beautiful songs ever penned by Gulzar. The film- Anand. Music- Salil Chowdhury. Lyrics- Gulzar. Vocals- Mukesh.

Maine tere liye hi saat rang ke sapne chune
Sapne surile sapne
Kuch hanste, kuch rote,
Tere aakhon ke saaye churaye, rasili yadoon ne.

Choti bate, choti choti baaton ki hai yaadein badi,
Bhule nahin, biti hui ek choti ghadi,
Janam janam se aakhein bichayi,
Tere liye in rahon main.

Bhole bhale, bhole bhale dil ko behelate rahein,
Tanhayi mein, tere khayalon ko sajate rahen,

Kabhi kabhi to aawaj dekar,
Mujhko jagaya khwabon ne.

Ruthi raate, ruthi hui raaton ko jagaya kabhie,
Tere liye, biti subhah ko bulaya kabhie,
Tere bina bhi, tere liye hi,
Diye jalaye ratoon mein.

Maine tere liye hi saat rang ke sapne chune
Sapne surile sapne
Kuch hanste, kuch rote,
Tere aakhon ke saaye churaye, rasili yadoon ne.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Pommies to Ashes...Aussies to dust.

What a reversal of fortunes it has been. But then, fortune always favours the brave. And England has been the braver side throughout what will be remembered as one of the best Ashes series ever. Coming back from being one test down to winning the series takes some doing and England have done this with flair and fight. Its been a long wait since 1989 but the team now bears a solid look. The bowling attack is to die for, with Harmison, Hoggard, Flintoff and Jones. The batting order keeps firing regularly as well. And those two firebrands - Freddie Flintoff and Pietersen, have huge careers in front of them. Flintoff with his performance in this series has made a claim at Botham's exalted position.
The Australians put up a decent show, but they seemed a rag tag side with a lack of ideas. Though the Aussie spirit kept them from giving up without a fight, it was all a little too late. Those veterans McGrath and Warne tried their best, but a two man side is heavily on the wrong side of the odds.
The Australians as usual indulged in loose talk, mind games and attempts at mental disintegration, something that hasn't worked after Waugh's reign, but in the end were asked to look to the final score line, which read 'England 2, Australia 1' - Put that on the BBQ and cook it!

For now, England is delirious. About time.

Here's a link to Cricinfo's collection of Ashes 2005 quotes.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Nanyang MBA Series

I will soon be graduating from the the Full time Nanyang MBA programme at The Nanyang Business School here in Singapore. Its been a great year and a half (almost) to date and I must say that its been a ride I shall never forget. Its been made even more special by the many friends I've made here. I intend to put up a series (at what intervals, I don't know) on the MBA experience here, from its commencement in mid 2004 to date. The collective joys and sorrows, the late night discussions before exams, the 'have to crack this case' frustrations, the many rooftop gatherings and the life at the beautiful campus...just a few of the many things I intend to recapitulate through the blog. Its always sad when good things come to an end. But we'd like to believe that, from here, its only on to greater things!

PS: Batch mates beware!


Monday, September 12, 2005

Quiz Time!

Quizzing is something that I've kind of lost touch with over the years. Participating in school and college Fests used to be a huge rush. It's taken a back seat for while now. Here are some questions, from the world of Cinema/Music/Arts, which have stuck over the years. Go ahead... test yourselves.


1. Roland Joffe's 'City of Joy', had Om Puri playing the lead, Hasari Pal . Rumor has it that Puri didn't charge for the movie. He did, however, ask for one thing in compensation. What?
2. If SeaWind : Dirubhai Ambani, Pratiksha: Amitabh Bachchan, The Jet : ?
3. This one's easy. "Not to have seen the cinema of ____, means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon", said Akira Kurosawa, the great master of Japanese cinema, about a contemporary film maker of his time. Who was he talking about?
4. What is common to the following films; 'Awwal Number', 'Chamatkar' and 'AllRounder'?
5. How did Kundan Shah zero in on the names of his two heroes 'Vinod' and 'Sudhir' in the cult classic, 'Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro'?
6. This is for all those 'X-Files' fanatics. What's the significance of Mulder's apartment number, 42?
7. I am a vegetarian, suffer from asthma and myasthenia gravis, and got my first break in Bollywood with the help of a recommendation from Indira Gandhi. Who am I?
8. Lets see if you can guess the films which had the following closing lines:
a) “Men like my father cannot die. They are with me still, real in memory as they were in flesh, loving and beloved forever. How green was my valley then?”
b) “Madness. Madness.”
c) “I was cured all right.”
d) “This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.”
e) "Vanity - definitely my favorite sin."
9. This one is thanks to fellow blogger and batchmate, Cogito. How did the guys at Motorola come up with the name 'Six Sigma' for their quality excercise?
10. If 12 Angry Men:Ek Ruka Hua Faisla , Kramer Vs. Kramer: Akele Hum Akele Tum, then A Kiss From The Dying:?


1. The rickshaw he pulled in the movie.
2. SD Burman. The name of the houses in which these celebrities stayed.
3. Of course, Satyajit Ray.
4. All had Cricket as the central theme.
5. They were named after Kundan Shah's assistant directors in the film, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Sudhir Misra.
6. '42' is the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything, according to Douglas Adam's 'The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy'.
7. Amitabh Bachchan.
a) How Green Was My Valley
b) Bridge On The River Kwai
c) A Clockwork Orange
d) Alien
e) The Devil's Advocate
9. People working on the project were huge fans of Pink Floyd. The band was originally called 'Sigma Six'. They just turned it around.
10. Baazigar. All the Hindi films were remakes of the listed English ones.


Friday, September 09, 2005

A Tale of 21 heroes...

I was invited to a friend's place last week for a drink where I happened to chance upon his rather fascinating collection of old film posters. Being a film buff myself, I went through each and everyone of them. The ones that stood out where, 'Scarface', 'On the waterfront' and that John Sturges classic, 'The Magnificent Seven'. All original and and in mint condition.
The classic western brought visions of two other movies with almost identical themes rushing to mind. The Akira Kurosawa masterpiece, 'Seven Samurai' and our very own Raj Kumar Santoshi's 'China Gate'.
Kurosawa's 'Seven Samurai' has to be the best film in this genre. A motley group of hired firebrands bond together to vanquish a plundering enemy. In this 1954 film, a group of villagers hire samurai warriors to defend their village from bandits who regularly steal their harvests. They are so poor that they can offer nothing more than 3 meals a day our heroes ('the Magnificent seven were offered $20 each and our China Gate veterans mopped up more than a lakh...theres inflation for you!). Our men train and ready the village for the battle and succeed in defeating the bandits. The films strengths are its actors and its emphasis on human emotions, rather than on the action. The master's character sketching is near perfect and his use of deep focus would put Orson Welles to shame. He concentrates of human emotion and the bonding between the warriors and the villagers rather than on the action sequences (which are very raw and life like so if you're looking for fancy sword play and Jackie Chan-esque combat then go watch... a Jackie Chan movie!! duh!!). The bandits aren't sketched at all in this film. Shimura Takashi and Mifune Toshiro stand out amongst a stellar cast.
The 1960 remake by John Sturges was as good a Western as they come, but failed to capture that human quotient of the original, perhaps intentionally. The film was entertaining and made stars out of Steve McQueen, James Coburn and Charles Bronson. Yul Brynner plays the gunman with a heart of gold and leads a bunch of cowboys to protect a Mexican village from a roguish Elli Wallach. This movie borrows heavily from the original but focuses on the battle more than it does on drama. There is an interesting bit of trivia connected to the film. RJ Reynolds bought the theme song for $5000 and used it in their Marlboro commercials. Yul Brynner, who is often shown smoking in the movie, died of lung cancer in 1985. There are hints of heart in the movie, shown through Bronson's association with the village boys and McQueen's insistence on settling down after the 'final battle', but the focus is on the action. Loads on quick draws, duels and gun fighting here. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Santoshi's 'China Gate' was a rework of 'The Magnificent Seven', and in my opinion succeeded more than the original. The movie struck the right balance between action and drama. There were many issues here apart from the main purpose of 'daaku termination'. A bunch of aging, court martialled ex-army men out to prove to themselves that they were not deserters after all and still have some fight left in them. One of them is terminally ill, one has communal issues, and another is on the verge of suicide. Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Danny Denzongpa and Amrish Puri put in solid acting performances. It also had that famous Urmila Matondkar item number, 'Chamma Chamma', which later appreared in 'Moulin Rouge'. The movie also introduced the talented Mukesh Tiwari as the larger than life dacoit. I quite love a good 'underdog Vs. huge odds' kind of film,(especially when the heroes have old age to contend with as well) and with a cast which showcases some of the best veteran talent in Hindi cinema including Jagdeep Jaffrey and Anjan Shrivastava. Very Bollywood, very smooth. Sameer Soni and Mamta Kulkarni provide the lighter love angle. An easy watch. You'll smile the most while watching this one!

My Ranking:

1. Seven Samurai
2. China Gate
3. Magnificent Seven

Any thoughts?


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Tomake chai...

Walking down Cecile Street off Collyer Quay, during lunch time, I suddenly heard a voice call out, 'Dada, ki khobor?' Bengali. Sweet Bengali. But what was it doing here in the business district of Singapore? Not even Bengalis greeted each other that way here. In my heart of hearts, I hoped that it would be someone I knew, maybe an acquaintance from Calcutta here on holiday. I was dying to speak the language. But it was just some Bengali man greeting another one. They could have even been Bangladeshi, who knows? So much for my 'Singapore-Bong' theory... I guess Bongs did greet each other that way here after all.
Perhaps I was home sick. Perhaps I had heard that distinct accent after ages. I don't know. For a moment I almost considered walking up to them and joining in their conversation. But I didn't. I headed back to work. I guess it made me wonder. I have learned to appreciate 'home' (Calcutta/India) much more, after I actually left it in early 2004. I guess its true for most people living outside the country. Its strange how we don't cherish something enough when we have it. I have listened to more Hindi and Bengali-band music here, than in Calcutta. I jump at the opportunity of watching an Indian film much more now. As little as a cup of tea makes me all nostalgic. Make no mistake. I love it here. The place is great, the people very friendly. However, Calcutta doesn't let itself out of my system. And thats a good thing.
Listed below are few of things I miss the most about my 'City of Joy'.

1. The lingo : The mini-bus conductor going, 'aaste ladies', the para-dada admonishing his cronies, 'durr shala', the call of the workers on strike, 'cholbe na, cholbe na!' and the news reader going, 'aajker bishesh bishesh khobor'.

2. Very few things in life will match up to the combined pleasure of the following : A cold winter morning. Tea in an earthen cup ('bhaand'). A cigarette.

3. The 'Addas' : Bengali for a session of extended 'gup-shup', these invigorating sessions are used to discuss anything from particle physics to the neighbor's pretty daughter.

4. The Pujas : The Durga puja. The crazy crowds. The colour. The idols. The all night 'pandal hopping'. The laughs you share with your friends. The new clothes. The joy in the air. The city. The magic.

5. The people : You can hate the traffic jams and the strikes, but you have just got to love the Bengali. Where else in the world can you have a conversation, with just about any average-Joe on the street, about why Buddhadeb is doing a good job as CM, future prospects of the Indian cricket team - short and long term, how we are falling behind China in the growth statistics, and what needs to be done about global warming?

6. The Anjan Dutta song, 'Aakash bhora surjo tara', which says everything I'm trying to say far more eloquently.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Triumph and Heartbreak

This week saw India lose another final at the 'Ind-Zim-NZ' triangular tourney and it also saw an unlikely hero in teenager Sania Mirza, who reached Round 4 of the US Open.
Sania's dream run was ended by none other than the reigning glam queen of the sport, Maria Sharapova. The scoreline of the hour long match read 6-2, 6-1. However the match was a little more hard fought than that. Sania put up a solid fight in every game and managed to stress Maria's serve. Sania's got talent but she really has got to do something about that serve of her's. Geoff Boycott's mum could smash that back for a down the line winner with a walking stick! Anyways, she did a great job. You go, girl!
Now lets talk about those 'Men in Blue'. Given that the team had a great run from 2001 to 2004, one can allow them a period of mediocrity for a while. They'd better get their act together before the World Cup, though! The tournament had a few takeaways...Ganguly scoring routinely in double figures (hey it's an improvement,ya?), Pathan and Nehra bowling well (except in the finals, but we'll allow that...too much pressure after all!), Yuvi's and Kaif's return to form of sorts and Dhoni's batting. The newcomers (Venugopal Rao and Jai P Yadav) failed to impress in the opportunities that they got. Suresh Raina didn't get much of a chance. Dravid's slump is scary. Many will admit that the final was a game India should have won, but losing finals has become an art form with these guys... Its on to the test series now. One would hope for a 2-0 India scorecard, but let's not get too ahead of ourselves!


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Adoor Gopalakrishnan

This year's Dada Sahib Phalke Award has gone to the very deserving Adoor Gopalakrishnan. When I read the news I was suprised that he hadn't recieved it earlier. I guess I had just stopped following his films after the Mammooty starrer, 'Mathilukal'(1989).
He is truly one of the doyens of Indian cinema, single handedly responsible for putting Malayali cinema on the world map. He is the most decorated Indian film-maker after Satyajit Ray. He has also set up the Film Society of Kerala, 'Chalachitra', apart from actively taking part in the constitution of 'Chitralekha', Kerala's first Film Co-operative Society for film production.
All the nine films he directed, from 'Swayamvaram' to 'Nizhalkkuthu', were screened at several International film festivals and won him several National and International awards. He won the British Film Institute award for 'Elepathayam'. He also won National Film Awards four times for Best Director and three times for Best Script. The Nation honored him with the Padma Shree in 1984.


Swayamvaram, Kodiyettam, Elippathyam, Mukhamukham, Anantaram, Mathilukal, Vidheyan, Kathapurushan and Nizhalkkuthu.

To read an interview with the great man, follow this link.


Jagte Raho

This 1956 classic was something I saw about a month ago but I somehow never got around to writing the review. Shambu and Amit Mitra co-direct this satire. It tells the tale of a simple villager(Raj Kapoor) who finds himself in Calcutta, hungry and thirsty. In his search for water, he walks into an apartment complex where he is seen and presumed a thief. The film tells the tale of his subsequent efforts at hiding in the complex and the hypocrisy that he encounters in middle class society.
A dark comedy, this is one of starkest films in Indian Cinema. Shambhu Mitra's direction is almost flawless and he takes the film forward through a series of episodes, unmasking the double standards in society. The village bumpkin stumbles into a number of different homes in his attempts to escape, and experiences various forms of depravity...drunkenness, gambling and counterfeiting. He sees adultery, clandestine love, a husband trying to steal his wife's jewelry to place a bet at the races, a rich drunk who wishes for his wife to more than entertain his friends, neighbors who fight for everything and a murderous counterfeiter. All of this happens when the whole complex is in search of the so-called thief. The thirsty villager finally gets to quench his thirst, thanks to a kind and pious woman(Nargis), in the last scene of the film. The film does a great job at asking us searching questions like looking at oneself before pointing fingers and also addresses issues of social apathy and mass hysteria. The depiction of the foibles and the insularity of the middle class almost jumps out at you and makes you cringe.
A huge strength of the film is the supporting cast. Ifthekar (as the resident 'dada', in the only young and non-policeman role I have seen him in), Pahari Sanyal (as the stealing husband), Motilal (as the wife-beater,in the most lovable drunk act ever filmed) and Nargis(the woman who gives the villager water, in the last of the famous RK-Nargis pairings) were all very believable. What can say about Salil Chowdhury's music? The sublime 'Zindagi Khwab hai' and 'Jago mohan pyare' start and finish the film respectively. Then there is that personal favorite, the bouncy 'Loshe wai wai', a song which unfortunately remains one Chowdhury's more underrated tunes.
The only drawback of the film is the fact that all episodes do not get equal time. The Motilal episode drags on needlessly while the alcohol-maker sequence ends far too quickly.
A classic movie, fit to be displayed proudly in your 'Satire' collection, right next to 'Jaane bhi do yaaro'.



Monday, September 05, 2005

Best Cricket Books

As MS Dhoni clobbered a six to complete a great come-from-behind victory against Zimbabwe(though it needn't have been that way!), I received a phone call from a friend asking me if I had that book by Mike Brearley, 'The Art of Captaincy'. I obviously didn't and told him accordingly. My mind still on cricket, I looked up my University library's database for cricket books. Apart from 'The British specifications for leather covered Cricket Balls', I couldn't find half a decent title. Cricket books can make for very interesting reading for anyone with a working knowledge of the game. The players trying to get under each others' skins, the strategy behind every move on and off the field, the grit and the determination, the heroic performances and the camaraderie of a team. All great things to read about apart from being a great lesson in team building as well (all you 'organisational behavior' enthusiasts please take note) . Given below are some of the Cricket books I have read, which I actively recommend:

1. The Art of Captaincy (Mike Brearley) : One of the finest books written on leadership in sport, this masterpiece was the first instance of a writer applying principles of sport leadership to more general or business leadership. Very well written, replete with apt examples and still very relevant, this book is a must read.
Key takeaway: Brearley's man management skills - his knack of perfectly gauging each players' mental make up and using that knowledge to build team harmony.

2. A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport (Ramchandra Guha) : A great book about the history of the sport in India. The author delves into the British colonization of the country, the history of Bombay and how the sport got to where it is today. Guha's writing is insightful and he lists key matches, innings, and events which have shaped the sport here. Fascinating read.
Key Takeaway: A great book about the history of Cricket in India. Snapshots of key cricketing moments in Indian Cricket.

3. The Cricketer Book of Cricket Disasters and Bizarre Records (Christopher Martin-Jenkins) : What can one say of the indomitable 'CMJ'? This book a great read. A humorous take on the game, it contains some genuinely funny incidents that occurred in various moments on the Cricket time-line. At just over 100 pages, it is a short book, with cartoons et all, urging the reader not to take the game too seriously.
Key Takeaway: Nothing other some good laughs and some interesting records!


Saturday, September 03, 2005

In search of Truth - Musings of genius

This is something I always wanted to post. Rabindranath Tagore and Albert Einstein met twice in Caputh near Berlin in 1930 for a little tete-a-tete. The conversations between these 2 geniuses are fascinating. At times my limited mental faculties find it hard to comprehend the profundity of the exchange. However, it still makes for interesting reading. On one occasion they spoke of the different music styles in Asia and Europe, and in the second, they try to 'plumb the Truth' and is easily the more intellectual of the two meetings. You can read the whole conversation here.

Just a quote,
TAGORE: When our universe is in harmony with man, the eternal, we know it as truth, we feel it as beauty.
EINSTEIN: But this is a purely human conception of the universe, don't you think?

The great poet also had a very interesting conversation with the greatest science fiction writer of our time, HG Wells. They dicuss social and literary issues relevant to India. HG Wells actually suprises with his thorough knowledge of India and the state of affairs in then British colony. Read the whole conversation here. Geneva 1930. Fascinating.


Friday, September 02, 2005


The knowledge of a dead son. The engulfing lonliness. A powerful adversary. The corrupt system.
These are few of the things that the elderly couple in Mahesh Manjarekar's 'Viruddh' have to fight against. The film tells the tale of a couple who's son is accidentally killed by a powerful politician's son. The departed soul is branded a drug peddlar with the help of the corrupt police. The parents are devasted but vow to fight the system for justice. Amitabh Bachchan and Sharmila Tagore essay the roles of the parents and what a fantanstic job they do! The comfort level the two achieved in their previous fims (Chupke Chupke, Faraar & Desh Premee) continues to be visible here as well. The two of them are absolutely brilliant. John Abraham plays the son and does a decent job. Amitabh Dayal, an actor with much potential, who was last seen in N Chandra's explosive 'Kagaar' plays the son's killer but doesn't get much scope.
The movie's obvious strengths are the lead pair, the lack of distracting songs and the first half. Sanjay Dutt, who has a 'dynamic' appearence in the film is also a pleasure to watch. However, the weaknesses are in plenty as well. The movie is clearly divided into two halves, the first where the director etches out the characters'. The days in the lives of the couple are wonderfully potrayed and are very enjoyable. The simple family conversations, the little idiosyncracies of the aged etc. are a delight to watch. The second half is, however, a bit of a let down. The film switches track from 'lifestyles of the elderly middleclass' to 'fight the system for revenge' all too suddenly and hence lacks continuity. Not much is shown in terms of the battle against the corrupt officers and politicians. In that regard, 'Dhoop' was a much superior film. Also the 'parents dealing with the death of their only son' angle could have been explored further (perhaps the director could have taken a leaf out of 'Saraansh'). Hence the hitherto smooth flow is suddenly hampered by a haphazard twin track. Another annoying element in this film is the blatant product placement. Nerolac, Western Union Money Transfer and a motor oil co. I can't seem to remember now all get screen time buttressed with taglines and ad jingles. The ending again is an oft repeated formulaic one. Nothing new there. Manjarekar's direction is good but this film will not rank in the league of his 'Vaastav' or 'Astitva'.
But it is an honest attempt at a genre that hasn't been a favourite with the audiences. Give it a go.



Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Music of Bollywood

I was in Singapore's largest HMV store the other day, and since I had more than my usual time to spare, I ventured up to the third level which houses the Classical/Jazz/World music collections. My intent was to look for the Kronos Quartet's new album titled 'You've Stolen My Heart- Songs from RD Burman's Bollywood', which they have recorded with Asha Bhosle. Long time collaborator and tabla maestro, Zakir Hussain also makes an appearance on this CD. I was rather keen to give the string quartet's rendition of RD's tunes a listen. However, the CD was unavailable and and I was left with no other choice but to browse through their collection on world music (which is rather good actually). I came across an interesting 3 CD set called the 'Music of Bollywood' - a collection meant, no doubt, to showcase the quintessential film-pop music from Bollywood's movie assembly line. The track listing is available here.
I must say I was very disappointed with the collection. The album is extremely partial to the 70s and to Kishore Kumar(Personally, I have no problems with it being Kishore heavy, but ideally one is looking for a representative sample). What are songs like 'Pyar do pyar lo', 'Pyar mein dil pe' and 'Aila re' doing on CD1? (or for that matter on any CD). 'Jahan teri yeh nazar hai' (Kaalia) and 'Humma'(Bombay) are the only redeeming moments from an otherwise pathetic collection on CD1. CD2's tracklisting reads more like a Kishore Kumar retrospective. 'Jaanejaan', 'Pal pal dil ke paas', 'Dil aaj shayar hai' and 'Tera mujhse hai pahale' are all worthy inclusions. CD3 again meanders into mediocrity. Jagjit Singh's 'Hothon se chulo tum', Mohd. Rafi's 'Mera man tera pyasa' (Gambler) and Chitra's 'Kahna hi kya'(Bombay) are the saving graces of this deplorable collection. One could have altleast hoped for some more thought on the songs of this generation. No modern hits here with the exception on 'Tu mere samne (Darr) and 'Bahon ke darmiyan' (Khamoshi).
A Bollywood collection with just 2 Rafi songs, no Manna Dey, Mukesh or Hemant Kumar! A listener new to the world of Hindi film music is not going to like this compilation, I'm afraid. The makers seemed to have played a game of random selection to come up with this collection. And that's all this is, a haphazard, choppy and in the end a below-par attempt to showcase Bollywood music, which will disappoint classes and the masses equally.