Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Many many reviews...

I've managed to catch up with loads of films in the last 2 - 3 weeks. Here are some brief reviews -

1. Khosla Ka Ghosla - A breath of fresh air. Amidst all the fanfare of the big budget films, remakes and sequels, this punjabi middle class story about a family protecting their plot of land from evil land sharks is a little gem. Natural performances, great script, genuinely funny at times and perfect casting...I would recommend this to all..quite in the Mukherjee/Chatterjee tradition. The second half tends to slow down and that perhaps is the only downer. Watch out for a surprisingly refreshing performance from Ranvir Shorey. 3.5/5

2. Jaan-e-mann - Old wine, new bottle. Starts well, some funny moments, and an interesting premise. Loses steam going forward and turns into the same old three way love story we are used to seeing. Sappy and melodramatic. Performances are nothing to write home about. Run of the mill stuff. Something of a return to form for Anu Malik, though. Some decent numbers. 1.5/5

3. Don - Don circa 2006 is a slick action thriller set in Malaysia instead of Mumbai, like its predecessor. Its a remake, so it is going to be compared to the original. People will want to be thrilled with the same scenes and dialogues that thrilled them in the 78 cult film. Some work and some don't. Akhtar tries hard and succeeds to a point, but the film drags in the second half. While the original didn't let up at all, here some situations are easily avoided. The songs seem to get in the way, baring a couple. Shah Rukh is good as the evil Don, but is unconvincing as Vijay. Some characters are given another dimension, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Om Puri appears for a screen time of 5 minutes... Arjun Rampal mumbles through his role and Isha Kopikar has nothing much to do. I did like Akhtar's plot twists in the end, but it could have been handled better. The middle part of the film lets it down badly. And Boman Irani should stay away from villainous roles for a while. Unconvincing as De silva and Vardhaan. Mixed bag. 2.5/5

4. The Departed - What a film! Martin Scorcese's best effort since Casino. A tight script and great performances from the cast, take this cops and robbers film about 2 moles on either side of the law to another level. Di Caprio puts in his best effort since 'Gilbert Grape' and Nicholson gets enough scope to showcase his hedonistic side..which is what we like about him in any case. Wahlberg and Damon are pretty good as well..with the latter giving an understated performance as the bad cop. Two hours plus just flew by during this gripping police drama. 4/5

5. The Prestige - Based on the novel of same name, this tale of two rival magicians in the early twentieth century is as gripping as it is inexplicable. Beautifully shot, good performances, some great magic, and some conspiracy theories thrown, this film seemed to have it all, till the end. The end takes away all the good work done till that point. A tragedy dealing with the bitter battle between friends turned foes trying to outdo each other with obsession of madmen progresses perfectly till the very end. Full marks for that...and Jackman and Bale do well. Scarlet Johannsen is used as eye candy. Not perhaps Nolan's best, but pretty good all the same. Worth a watch. 3/5


Friday, October 13, 2006

The Nanyang MBA series - 5 (Rankings)

The Economist's MBA 2006 rankings are out. MBA rankings are tricky animals. They are based on pre determined criteria, which generally vary from ranker to ranker. Hence, what is an important criteria for determining the quality of a full-time MBA programme in one publisher's ranking, may not be as important to another. So, to a degree it does veer towards being a subjective exercise. I would recommend students, who generally tend to read too much into MBA rankings, to take these with a pinch of salt. The rankings can at best be indicative of a school's standing, not the final word on its competence.

The Economist's (EIU) rankings are based on the following criteria:

A. Open new career opportunities (35%)
1. Diversity of recruiters (Number of industry sectors)
2. Assessment of careers services (Percentage of graduates in jobs three months after graduation)
3. Jobs found through the careers service (Percentage of graduates finding jobs through careers service)
4. Student assessment (Meeting expectations and needs)

B. Personal development/educational experience (35%)
1. Faculty quality (Ratio of faculty to students/Percentage of faculty with PhD (full–time only))
2. Student quality (Average GMAT score/Average length of work experience)
3. Student diversity (Percentage of foreign students/Percentage of women students)
4. Education experience (Student rating of programme content and range of electives/Range of overseas exchange programmes/Number of languages on offer)

C. Increase salary (20%)
1. How much did your salary increase after graduating? (Salary change from pre–MBA to post–MBA (excluding bonuses))
2. Leaving salary (Post–MBA salary (excluding bonuses))

D. Potential to network (10%)
1. Breadth of alumni network (Ratio of registered alumni to current students)
2. Internationalism of alumni (Ratio of students to overseas alumni branches)
3. Alumni effectiveness (Student assessment of alumni network)

The rankings did throw up surprises this year. IESE continued its march at the top, with a host of US and European schools following suit. Dartmouth came in at 2, with Stanford and Chicago GSB bringing up 3 and 4 and IMD at number 5. The hallowed Harvard slipped to number 7 this year. Though the list is dominated by American Schools, the number of European Schools (IMD, IESE, LBS, INSEAD etc.) and Asian MBAs (IIM A, The Nanyang MBA, NUS, HKUST etc.) have been steadily increasing. The highest ranked Asian school this year was HKUST (37) followed by The University of HK (39). The Nanyang MBA moved up a few places this year to land in at 77, up from 83 in 2005 and 92 in 2004. Without getting too emotional about the alma mater, I would say that it is good progress indeed for a newish program. IIM A fell from a position in the 60s last year to 98 this year. This will disappoint the management there, especially after having gone on record with the fact that they would not participate in local rankings and focus only on foreign rankings like EIU's or FT's. NUS broke in at 99.
A lot of the Asian MBAs like CEIBS and Chinese University of HK went unranked, but this is no indicator of any shortcoming of the programmes. It might have resulted as a consequence of non participation of the schools or any other reason.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Glimpses - Sharodutsav '06 Kolkata

The pujas have come and gone yet again. Only this time I was in Kolkata after a gap of two years to enjoy them in the flavor it is meant to be enjoyed in. So did I go all out? Not really... 'Pandal' hopping was restricted to south Kolkata alone, though the north has more to offer both in terms of heritage and craftmanship. However, the spirit and zest was there to see and it was fabulous to see that it had not waned at all...people braved the rains, be it to pay visits to the various 'pandals' or to generally enjoy themselves with friends and family. The atmosphere was one only Kolkata can provide. Another highlight of this Kolkata trip was the family gathering at home to mark the 100th birth anniversary of my paternal grandfather. While this is not a remarkable event in itself, the highlight for me was a citation received from a gentleman researching the origins of my fathers family in East Bengal. He happened to see the advertisement in the newspapers, where it was mentioned that my grandfather was from Barisal in East Bengal and immediately wrote in saying that he was from the same family, another branch from my grandfather's cousin's side which had settled independently in Calcutta (then). He confirmed names from his grandmother and sent in the citation in time for the birth anniversary celebrations, as he himself could not be present. The citation was read out at the gathering of almost all of my father's relatives. You could almost sense a longing for this new found relative on the faces of the slightly more aged family members, even though they hadn't a clue who he was. Getting the the whole family together there that evening was special indeed.

I attach some pictures of the colorful puja pandals which I visited this Durga Puja.

The Pandal at Shinghi Park The pandal at Raja Basanta Rai Road

The Maddox Square pandalI couldn't resist...opposite the Maddox square pandal

Cheers and Shubh Bijoya!