Tuesday, March 15, 2011


# what happened in japan and is still happening is beyond heart-wrenching can't do nothing when nature strikes. we humans are so small!

# got sucked into cricket wc this year thanks to a friend next door who setup nothing short of something awesome in his basement. a full movie screen projector view with super presentation of willow. loving it. although wish india was doing better

# the everything-is-fixed brigade is growing bigger with each wc game india plays. otherwise reasonable folks are now thinking, bookies are ruling icc and fixing every match. and that is sad.

# btw, have got completely hooked to facebook. not sure how long this will last. but will continue fbing till i enjoy. i think it's really convenient.

# am tempted to buy ipad2. still weighing options.

# haven't read something really compelling in a while. it's like i need to find a new author. internet has become very noisy. although it's a necessary evil.

# have started watching final season of "24". jack bauer looks jaded. good he decided to make season 8 as last one. anil kapoor is surpringly subdued and not very loud. that is a welcome break.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Top Donor

Over Rs 31,000 crore have been received as donations from abroad by various associations and organisations working in the country during 2006-09 with nearly one-third coming from the United States alone, Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.

The top donor was the United States from where over Rs 9,310 crore were received by NGOs in India during the period, data presented by the home ministry in Lok Sabha revealed.

No comments

Sunday, February 20, 2011


A young man in Egypt decided to name his first born daughter "Facebook" to commemorate the way the social networking site helped protesters get organized to topple Hosni Mubarak, writes TechCrunch, citing a story in Al-Ahram. Alexia Tsotsis writes that while the girl could have been called YouTube or Twitter or Google, "it seems like Facebook has become the umbrella symbol for how social media can spread the message of freedom."

I think this is pushing it. Link here

Saturday, February 12, 2011


We all have grown up to Movies haven't we? For every phase of life we have one or more Movies associated and tagged. I mentioned about some of them being "reference point movies" in one of my earlier posts.

Here's another reference point movie for me personally..

Deewar : I am picking Deewar over Sholay for a reason, which I will get to in a moment. Sholay is the movie for obvious reasons and I don't even want to spend a second, explaining it. Sholay is, what it is. A Classic.

Personally I am picking Deewar though, because when I saw it for the first time on a VCR - I may be in my high school or college, I don't remember exactly - I felt something 'real'. I felt a connection. The impact Deewar had was probably more due to my age at that time. You are usually at your rebellious best around college time, I would think. And Deewar which romanticised rebellion like never before, just hit the bulls eye.

The intense dialogs of Salim-Javed, the story about the elder brother who's wronged since his childhood, his confidence at dealing with the Mafia, clash of principles, all hit it home for me. It was surreal at that age. I almost felt the same connection when reading the story of Mahabharat's Karna in Amar Chitra Katha some years before that as a kid ...

(On a different note : I hope to write at some point in more details about Mahabharat, which I feel is the best story ever told)

I read somewhere that Salim-Javed did in fact have the character of Karna in mind when they wrote Deewar. The famous Amitabh Bachchan-Shashi Kapoor clash, is almost parallel to a similar clash b/w Karna and Arjun, figuratively speaking.

What a moment that is in the movie. Vijay is trying to make a case for himself. He knows he is wrong, but the rage that has built up over all these years within him has taken over all the virtues. He is viewing success materialistically. Now he is a classic anti-Hero, who doesn't care for "right vs wrong". He has shown his middle finger to a system that suffocated him all these years. But at the same time, he needs validation from his younger brother and more importantly his Mother. He seeks from them an approval, even at times using the guilt-trip mechanism by mentioning the sufferings of the past. Their poverty, the people who made them miserable, suggesting that all is justified if you are so wronged.

I like what Nirupa Roy says to Bachchan."Apne Ma ko Khareedne ki koshish mut kar beta. Abhi tu itna amir nahi hua hai" (Don't try to buy your Mom. You are not as rich, just yet).

That was stellar. Dialogs of course are Deewar's high points. I mean, come on, do they even come close to what Salim-Javed wrote 35 years back?

There are some other incidents/scenes from that movie that got my attention, that are not so talked about in general.

I remember the one where the Mafia leader, played by Iftikar Ahmed (go figure), is slowly following Vijay in his car at the dockyard. Vijay is walking like a King really, in a blue coolie get up, confident from his last night's fight with Peter. Ahmed asks Bachchan to sit in his car. The skeptical Vijay looks around not knowing who this guy is.. but he doesn't fear no one.. The conversation goes something like this..

"Ghabrao mut. Mujhe apna dost samjho"
And the Mr.Baritone himself goes : Doston kay naam bhi hotein hai.

No kidding!

His eyes intense as ever. His voice - mashallah. His walk, his style, his body language, the way he sits and his unassuming demeanor..I think we are talking Awesomness here..

The other scene I like is the one where Vijay is sitting across the glass table with rival gangster Samant (Madan Puri). Vijay is waiting for the 'sona' to reach godown and take his cut from the deal (the deal is a trap basically that Samant doesn't know). Vijay is smoking in style as both wait for the phone call. Once they have confirmation, Samant, instead of taking out the cash, takes out a revolver and says - what if he doesn't give Vijay his share. And Vijay dozes of his cigarette and coolly gets up from his chair and tells Samant - "Bachpan mein meiney ek kahani suni thee..." (I had heard a story in childhood) And then he goes on and pitches the "Hen with Golden Eggs" story to Samant, implying if Samant kills Vijay, he looses all the future insider info.

Impressed by his wit and demeanor, Samant says - "Mein mazak kar raha tha.." And Vijay with a signature half-smile says - "Mein janta hu aap mazak kar rahe thhe".

There's another scene that stuck with me. Vijay reaches the shamshan ghat to give agnee to his dead father. It's almost evening, and every one's in white. The color contrast in that scene is stark. Shashi Kapoor is hugging the crying Nirupa Roy tightly, when Vijay comes out of his car. He lights the pyre. His white long sleeves shifts behind and you can read - "Mera baap chor hai" on his arms. He reaches out to his mom, but she refuses to hug him and goes closer to Ravi instead.

I should take a moment to talk about another character of the movie that people seem to not talk much about. That character is of Parveen Babi's. I like the inter-play between Bchchan's and Babi's character. She has a very small part. She was probably not established then. But there are certain scenes I thought she pulled off pretty well. I think Yash Chopra should be credited to make this vampish-but-not-really-vampish role to count for something. In fact all small characters have some relevance in the movie. Even the old muslim co-worker of Vijay in dockyard who gives him the famous badge "billa # 786", which later saves Vijay from few fatal attempts on his life ..(Again very similar to how Karna is saved multiple times because of his Kavach Kundal and finally he dies like Vijay when he looses his protection..[no pun intended]), has a role we can still remember.

Coming back to Babi. She plays the love interest of Vijay. In 1975, Chopra shows them having a physical relationship outside marriage, pushing that envelope a wee bit and shows that nice vulnerable moment that Babi has, where she tries to go "mainstream" or of being "accepted" by the society. And then just when she's tragically killed.

The long white van that Vijay uses probably became iconic after this movie and was used my many 70s and 80s movies later. There's the scene where he is waiting in his van at a distance from the hospital where his ailing mother is being treated. Vijay himself cannot go to meet her as Shashi Kapoor has the police force spread out to have Bachchan. When Anita (Babi's character) tells Vijay there's little hope for his Mom, Vijay takes the van to the temple and then starts the epic scene of him talking to Lord Shiva. That was epic. The always in control, mafia hotboy has a super emotionally soft moment. He just cannot take it anymore and gives in.

There are couple of good songs in there by RD Burman. Although the movie is really about Salim-Javed's screenplay and dialogues, Amitabh's intensity and Yash Chopra's handling of a subject tied to a very Socialistic India of that era. The era of suffocating and frustrating economic opportunities, where a 10 year old boy could get shot for trying to steal a loaf of bread. (There's a scene where Shashi Kapoor, the police officer, shoots a small boy who is running away with Bread. That's a coming of age moment for him personally in the movie). And where if you had to go up the food chain, the avenues were limited and poverty could easily drive you on the wrong side of the law. ("yeh duniya ek third class ka dibba bun gaye hai. mein bhait jata. tum khade rehe jate")

I think Deewar is very reflective of it's time. This is not to say that all young men in the country were angry. And were picking guns and smuggling gold from Dubai via Versova beach. But Socialism has it's issues and there was an angry period in the middle class India. In that sense Deewar is a very era-conscious movie for me.

Deewar is iconic in the realms of Hindi Cinema and I think this is the movie which ultimately sealed the deal for Mr. Bachchan as far as his standing in the Industry is concerned. A phenomenon that India Today magazine would later call - "One Man Industry"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Let's face it. There's a ring of romanticism to any kind of revolt. We all like to see an uprising against a corrupt regime that's trying to suffocate people's "right".

This week, Egypt has been the poster boy of the world news for it's seemingly organic revolution against the 'oppressor' - President Husne Mubarak - who believe it or not, has been ruling Egypt for 30 long years. (Wait. Where have I heard this before? A single man/family ruling a country for decades and decades? Well, never mind)

I do not know much about the "why" part of the revolt in Egypt currently, and that really is bothering me. Frankly I am little disappointed with all the punditry and analysis overload around this subject. None of the premier news channels have really bothered to detail this 'minor' question of - WHY? All I know is that people of Egypt want Mubarak outa office. Fair enough. And I am with them on it. I still am hungry to know "why". And more importantly "why now".

What triggered this? And I am unable to get my arms around this question. Quite frankly it's bugging me.. and I am that kind of a person. I really like to understand the "details".. I can actually get a bit neurotic sometimes about information. I really really need a lot of it, before I can join any bandwagon of Mubarak bashing.

I also keep hearing on NPR et al, that the "youth" of the nation want change.Well of course. The youth somehow seem to be the flavor everywhere. They can do no wrong, can they? But still my question remains, "why do they need him out NOW?".

Is he too corrupt? Is he a womaniser? Has he not done enough reforms? Is he not handling economics well? Is his government dysfunctional? Is the problem that he is seen as an ally of the 'imperialist' USA and hence not very popular with middle eastern youth?

I have no clue. I don't know what their beef is.

In an era of 24X7 news where twitter and blog and Facebook and Google news, not to mention CNNs and NBCs of the world, are constantly in your face with information, I still have no idea why all of a sudden, we are seeing a revolt of this kind in Cleopatra country.

And in next few days, I'd really like to know. Till then my sincere sympathies with people out there.. (especially the ones who did not see this coming and are stranded)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Awarding Mediocrity

That’s really the great mystery about bureaucracies. Why is it so often that the best people are stuck in the middle and the people who are running things—the leaders—are the mediocrities?
I found this very relevant collection of words on this blog.

I am guessing if it's true for bureaucracies its true for every organization big and small. Why do we end up having mediocre leaders?

A perfect example will be Rahul Gandhi, IMO. He is very likely to become the Prime Minister of India in next few years. India, a country full of complex issues, enormous diversity where a very large section of society is still playing an intense cat and mouse game in the very long food chain.

Some of my "educated and informed" friends support Junior Gandhi, because he is quote/unquote YOUNG. And if the 'educated friend' happens to be a female, add the word Charming, to the list of his talents as well! Sometimes I'd like to tell these shallow folks that "charming" is good for date-nights and not for ruling the country as complex as India. So close your 'mills and boons' or put off that Karan Johar movie and go to sleep.

To rule India, we need a leader with a, what's the word i am looking for here... mmm.. yeah Spine! Something that 4 generations of Gandhis could not develop.

So, here's a country on a brink of reinventing itself, getting a handle at reducing poverty (if not removing it) finally, targeted to substantially increase it's %age of GDP in world economies (some reports suggest as much as 34% of world GDP by 2050); and looking for a super mediocre politician like Gandhi to take the reigns?

phrrrrr.... I don't like the idea of this. That's where the 'young' India beats me. I mean with all it's confidence and new world view, the youngistan is really lacking in some ways exactly that. Yes, a genuine World View.

Now if I am sounding like a middle-aged loser passing judgment on the youngistan, well to an extent it's true. I *am* passing a judgment. But on one aspect of this India that I am witnessing. No doubt the current generation is doing good - professionally. They are confident go-getters who are very clear about what they want. But when it comes to geo politics, we still have to witness that big narrative, that can see India through the complex road map that lies ahead. Sadly, all I see around me is a cookie-cutter, template "view point" which is mostly media driven.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Visit to India 2010

  • As far as my memory serves India was always a corrupt nation. What is different about corruption in 2010 is the scale. The scandals are no more in few crores. Each scandal is worth the GDP of a few nations. The Bofors scandal that happened around 1985 and the first my generation got exposed to, was worth only Rs.64 Crore; Today with 64 crore you probably can buy a 2BHK apartment in Peddar Road in Mumbai or may be give that sum to NDTV's, Padmashree winner Barkha Dutt to whore for a minister to save his seat in UPA government. It's value is *that* cheap. 
  • Scandals are not news anymore. There are so many scandals happening in tandem, that to keep a tab on one of them is like watching one TV channel when 232 are available. You got to push that remote button to surf. Following one Scandal at a time is boring.
  • Everything has multiplied, except people's attention span. That has infact been divided. You cannot hold anyone's attention for more than a few seconds unless you are talking money.
  • Why did we end up absorbing only the negatives of Capitalism? And please don't tell me it only has negatives.
  • For what it's worth, "common man" can now fly easily in India. Air Ticket fares are within reasonable range and Airports are as crowded as Bus Stands use to be in 1980s, when I used to travel in State Transport buses to Wani and Mardi. But that also means, newly built swank and plush Airports of Bombay and Delhi, now have overflowing trash cans. With capitalism came disposable income. Unfortunately money did not bring with it, civic sense and basic common civility. That flight has not landed yet.
  • Bombay was a mixed bag. One of my favorite cities from the yore, it's not a patch on it's old self. Atleast as far as civic sense, traffic discipline is concerned. It keeps hitting a new low, as a culture completely alien to Bombay of 70s and 80s,  makes it's footprint on the Bombayland. It's depressing and agonising at the same time. One can only wish this is a temporary phase in Bombay's life and one of my old favorites will rise like a renaissance again.
  • New Delhi was a revelation. Found much more disciplined than Bombay. Lane driving was followed for most part by our cabbies and I observed zero bottle necks. Of course the good old and notorious "badmashi" of public transport is still alive and kicking.
  • But it's not ALL negative. Change is happening and like any other change it's bringing both good and bad with it. It's upto India as a country how it absorbs good and rejects bad. If I had to put my money now, it will still be on India. With all that's going on, I somehow felt positive.
  • People are talking positive. They are enjoying. They seem to be happy. I met a lot of folks from my extended family and a few friends. All sounded positively encouraging. There were few cribs here and there, but overall there was a lot of happy vibes around.
  • If inspite of infinitely corrupt central government and an unscrupulous first family ruling the country like a banana republic, we are still feeling happy, imagine the transformation, if by stroke of luck, we end up having a semi-decent government at the centre. My hope increased many folds, when I saw the cover page of the latest Business Today magazine. Hope someone like him becomes our PM soon.
  • One last thing. My 11 year old niece said to me - "Mama, your generation failed us. You used and wasted resources without thinking about our future." I was amazed in equal parts by her confidence, knowledge and pure assertiveness in saying such a thing bluntly. Not that I can change what "my generation" did, but just the fact that she is aware and seemed like "ready to take on" was a winner as far as I am concerned. I wish and pray, her generation transforms India into something beautiful and positive, which probably my generation did not. And on that note... Jai Hind.