9
Apr

Dream Like Ronnie !

The Trio of Ronnie Screwala, Zarine Mehta and Deven Khote got my attention early in life. I was in school and Doordarshan was a staple diet. United Television came across as a different company – production, content and overall packaging. The logo of UTV was stuck in mind.

Since then UTV and Ronnie Screwvala and his team have continued to impress us. India’s first soap – Shanti was a big step at that time. It continued to grow in leaps and bound. In-flight entertainment business, post-production, IPO, broadcasting, VAS business etc. It ventured into the movie business via movie distribution and soon turned into production as well. I am sure each milestone had its share of challenges.

Everyone sees the success and the limelight. Especially in the glamour business. Ronnie’s UTV was sold to Disney – a watershed moment for Indian entertainment industry. It was a great and a heartening story – a company that its Indian entertainment brethren and camps did not take seriously initially was bought by one of the biggest and iconic entertainment companies in the world.

Ronnie has played an important role in India movie business. During the course of my doctoral thesis on the role of modern management in Indian Film Industry, I came across many exemplary practices of UTV. I have documented them and they are a part of my thesis.

UTV gave special importance to movie marketing and production values and content.

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Ronnie has recently penned his journey in his book – Dream With Your Eyes Open. Trust him to do the same with his book. Indian non-fiction does not get great attention. But Ronnie is trying a lot of things here as well. Check his list to redefine this space:

1. Great Marketing Campaign Around The Book – Unless You Are Lost In Hawaiian Vacation, Very People Will Miss The Book Launch
2. Ranbir Kapoor Launches The Book – A Perfect Launch
3. Testimonials From Captain Of Indian Industry & Disney
4. Testimonial From Narendra Modi
5. India’s First Television Ad For The Book
6. An Active Social Media Campaign, Website

The success of the book is important as it helps to promote the message of Entrepreneurship. He says the books is about “It can be done” and not “I did it” Great. The message of entrepreneurship need more ambassadors. Importance of failing. Importance of taking risks. Dreaming Big! May thousands of Ronnie bloom !

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Related Links:
Book Website – Dreams With Your Eyes Open

29
Mar

“Broken Horses Is About Breaking Prejudices”

“Broken Horses Is About Breaking Prejudices” said Vidhu Vinod Chopra at the interactive evening discussion at SOAS, London.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra was the Guest Of Honor at the ‘In Conversation’ interview session hosted by the National Indian Students Union UK and SOAS South Asia Institute. The evening discussion was chaired by renowned author and SOAS’ Professor of Indian Cultures and Cinema – Professor Rachel Dwyer.

Vidhu is the first Indian filmmaker to write, produce and direct a Hollywood film. Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s emphasis during the entire evening was to drive the point that Indian cinema can match Hollywood but we choose to speak our people in our language. Our Indian people are different and hence Indian cinema is different. Expressing love through song and dance is normal – he also did the same in his early days. Indian cinema is not deficient or subservient – It is different.

His motivation for Broken Horses was the same mantra. Hollywood has looked down upon Bollywood. There are prejudices. He wants to break those. He wanted to tell the world that an Indian can produce a Hollywood movie. A Hollywood movie that only had Vidhu as an Indian name in the entire credits – all lead actors, crew and team were Hollywood. The movie was also a true blue mainstream movie – not a diasporic or NRI linked themes.

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Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s earlier movie Eklavya had an impact in Hollywood. It was India’s official Oscar entry as well. It led to opening of few thoughts for a Hollywood movie. And after viewing a screening of The Departed, the urge grew stronger. Abhijat Joshi and Vidhu started worked on a script. Parinda was the initial inspiration (Parinda was also nominated at Oscar) – but after 63 drafts – the 64th movie emerged which was Broken Horses.

Professor Rachel Dwyer brought many important perspectives and Vidhu’s answers to those were the highlight of the evening. There was an interesting conversation about business sense in Indian cinema. Vidhu has been successful with PK, 3 Idiots, Munnabhai etc. His movies seems to bring loads of money and deliver a social message as well. It was rare in Indian cinema. So what contributed to his strong business sense? Vidhu intact said that he had poor business sense. If he was to be interested in business, he should have made 4 Idiots and 5 Idiots after 3 Idiots. He cast Sanjay Dutt in the lead when he was undergoing trial. He made cinema for the sake of cinema. He wanted to deliver a good body of work and hopefully people will remember him. He is successful is a miracle, not a science.

Vidhu said that he has never followed a beaten path. Maybe because he has educated in school of life and not formal education.

Vidhu shared interesting anecdotes – the making of Kuch Na Kaho song, the revival of R D Burman, the fight for “Give Me Some Sunshine” song, the initial reaction to Munnabhai, his return to Kashmir to see his pooja room being cleaned and maintained neat by a namaazi etc.

On differences between West and Indian Film Industry, he noted that Indian industry was very warm but inefficient while Western industry was cold but very efficient. Indian cinema is improving but West is more professional.

The session was wrapped up rather quickly – everyone wanted more. Nevertheless, it was a great evening and a commendable session. The evening had started with a wonderful dance performance – it was mind blowing performance to songs of Vidhu’s movies. Then there was an amazing rendition to the wonderful songs of Vidhu’s movies.

Then, Professor Michael Hutt, Director of SOAS South Asia Institute, welcomed the illustrious guest of honor, Shri Vidhu Chopra and Professor Rachel Dwyer. In his welcome note, Professor Hutt noted that SOAS was the first British university to offer a degree on Indian cinema. He mentioned about the encouragement and support provide to Indian Cinema and South Asian Cinema at SOAS.

A 90 minute talk show was highly desirable. I am sure Sanam Arora and her wonderful team will listen to our wishes. They did a great job organizing this event !

One must credit to Vidhu for the great body of work – from Parinda to 1942 to Munnabhai to 3 Idiots to PK. He has allowed other talent to grow – Sanjay Leela, Raj Kumar Hirani, Pradeep Sarkar etc. Even Eklavya, Mission Kashmir, Ferrari Ki Sawaari were brave attempts. After 3 Idiots, he supported Sharman Joshi when the entire industry was waiting for his call.

He is releasing Broken Horses in India in English only – for proving a point that it is English movie. Not dubbed in Hindi. It is indeed risky. Ash thinks that when even Spiderman is released in Bhojpuri and South Indian Languages, he should reconsider this. Point is already proven I guess. James Cameron is endorsing Vidhu. Movie is ready. Point is proven.

Wishing him all the success. Broken Horses is a brave attempt. It is a statement. It is breaking new ground. And for that he deserves all our support !

Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Broken Horses releases on 10th April 2015 through UTV Motion Pictures. Set in the shadows of the US–Mexico border gang wars, Broken Horses is an epic thriller about the bonds of brotherhood, the laws of loyalty, and the futility of violence.

6
Mar

Top 10 Impressions From Mobile World Congress 2015

MWC 2015

Mobile World Congress Is The Mecca Of The Mobile Industry. Nearly 90,000 People Landed In Barcelona For The 2015 Edition. It Was The Fifth MWC For Me.

As You Know There Is Lot Of Usual Stuff – New Device Launches, New Buzzword, Old Wine In New Bottle Etc. But It Helps To Know The Overall Trends. It Is Also A Great Event For People To Get Together – The Entire Eco-System Is There. Crack A Couple Of Deals And You Have Got Your ROI. Plus The New Knowledge Is Always Helpful.

The Best Way To Enjoy MWC Is To Attend Parallel Conferences, WIP Sessions, Networking Events Etc.

So What Were The Highlights This Time?

1. Digital Transformation: The New World Is A Place With Multiple Devices And Wearable, Connected Homes-Cars-Cities And M2M Transactions. There Are New Opportunities In Connected World For All Players – OEMs, Telcos, System Integrators (App Developers). The Digital Transformation Story Is More Compelling Than Ever Before. The Players Who Clear Their Baggages, Learn The Emerging Themes And Present A Compelling Story Will Move Forward. The New Winners May Arise.

2. Incremental Innovation: The MWC Saw Continual Ascent Of The Wearable, IOT And Connected Themes. More Refined And Defined Use Cases, More Tangible Evidences, More Clear Positioning Emerged. But Nothing That Can Shake The World.

3. Google Vs FaceBook: Google Announced Its MVNO Plans. It Was An Important Step Towards Further Control On Customer Lives In A Mobile First World. FaceBook’s Mark Zuckerberg Preached About internet.Org And FaceBook’s Vision. FaceBook And Google Are Watching Each Other Closely. (Mark Gave Hiring Mantra For Business Leaders – “only hire someone to work directly for you if you would work for that person.”)

4. 5G: 5G Discussions Start At Mobile World Congress. KT Telecom Will Offer 5G At 2018 Olympics – Cool – 2GB Per Second. (But Let The World Experience Good Quality 3G – Forget 4G)

5. Fusion Of Smart And Real World. WPP Group’s IkonMobile Had Some Of The Best Showcases Of Fusion Of Existing Products And New Technology. Mirror, Oral-B Toothbrush, e-Bikes Etc.

Ford Showcased A Great Example Of Adoption Of New Era With e-Bikes. It Showcased Two Bikes – For City Travel And For Delivery Purposes. It Had A Companion App That Showcased Pending Orders For Delivery Person, Route Etc. It Even Monitored Heart Rate Of The Rider.

6. Good Showcases:

- Runcible: Most Interesting Device From Monohm. A Watch For Generations Like A Family Jewel. It Is To Out Last Smartphones. It Has All The Cool Features But It Is A Round Jewel That You Can Handover To Kids And Grand-Kids
- HTC VIVE Was An Impressive Example And Showcased The Maturity Of Virtual Reality
- BabyMe Demonstrated How A Pre-Mature Baby Can Feel That It Is In The Womb Of The Mother – Nice Idea Worth Taking Ahead. The Motherly Comfort Can Aid Faster Development For The Baby
- LG Showcased Magic Mirror – Mirror That Can Analyze Your Face And Suggest Different Make-Ups For Office Party, Casual Look, Formal Event Etc. It Can Even Suggest Products Based On Your Skin Type.
- Different Use Cases Of Beacons, IOT, Wearables And Overall Trends By S K Telecom.
- Supercharger From StoreDot Charges Phones In 2 Minutes. That What We Need !
- Smart Luggage Tags – Location Enabled
- Eye Tracker. Last Year I Played Fruit Ninja With Eye Trackers. This Year, The Smart Watch Is The Focus Of Eye Tribe. Control Smart Watch With Eye Movements
- Wearables For Kids, Pets, Senior Citizens. Smart Kid Shoes With Mediatek Chips For The Kids Were On Display. They Had Chips – So Track The Child, Geo-Fence Them…2 Days Batter Power. Nice Shoes For Naughty Kids !
- Krystal Liquid Screen Protector – Create A Nano Layer On Screen In 2 Minutes And Prevent Stratches On Phones
- S-Disk 300GB SD Card – X Times More Space Than My First Computer ! A Year Of Movies In One Card – Even If You Watch A Movie Daily !
- Credit Card Sized Phones
- Smart Clothing – AiQ

7. The Usual Big Launches: All Major OEMs Launched New Devices. The Big Launch Was Samsung S6 – Its Bet On High Design And Finish. But I Was Surprised That Samsung Kept Its New Baby S6 Under Wraps For Crowds At MWC – While LG, HTC Clearly Showed Their New Labour Of Love – HTC One M9 – Just More Features, Nothing Breakthrough To Earlier Versions. In The Perspective Of Slowing Superiority, Greater Competition, Xiaomi, And ‘No Apple Dying’ Scenarios, Samsung’s Move Was Indeed Very Surprising. Blackberry Showcased Its New Phone – Leap. Microsoft Showcased New Lumia And Portable Foldable Keyboard. Sony, Lenovo, Alcatel, ZTE, Huawei, Blackphone And Many Others Announced New Devices. But The Most Interesting Launch Was Runcible From San Francisco Based MonoHm – Heirloom Product !

Chinese Device Makers Climb The Ladder – The Device Space From China and South East Asia Gets Crowdier And Crowdier As Outsourced Manufacturers From Schengen Move Up The Value Chain And Build Their Brands. You Get Phones With All The Latest Specs At USD 29.99. The Commoditization Of Devices Looks Complete With So Many Samsung Killers. And Xiaomi Was Not Even Present!

8. Commoditization At Birth: Smartphones And Tablets Took A While To Get Commoditized. But The Growing Aspirations Of Chinese OEMs Has Ensured That Smart Watches, Wearable Bands, Fitness Bands, Weighing Scales And All Other Devices Are Commoditized At Birth. It Was Interesting To Note That We Had FitBit And Garmin At Corridors Near Entrance, But All Chinese OEMs Dominating The Main Halls At MWC. How Will Fitbit Survive? I Guess The Answer Lies In First Mover Advantage, Overall Experience, Superior Branding, Allied Services, Software Etc!

There Are Wearables And Embedded Devices For Every Purpose – And Every Body Part!

9. Mobile Payments: Samsung Pay Got Announced. Mobile Payment Companies Were In Herds!

10.Apple: Apple Was Not There But Was There – Apple Cannot Ignore Mobile Mavens Shaping The Industry. Apple Was Present – But Not Directly.

Trivia:

Walked About 60,000 Plus Steps In 3 Days. Wow !
Jai Shri Krishna Heard In Even Super Uber Hotel W’s Chic Parties
Another Mahatma Gandhi Restaurant Serving Non-Veg Food Spotted!
The Future Of Mobile Was At MWC But One Shop In Barcelona Promised The Future Of Sex With Gadgets! Even 50 Shades Of Grey Merchandise Was There!

26
Jan

An Evening In Vienna

Somedays are just designed special. It was one of those memorable days for us. Our conference day one had gone well, our session was well received and there was a new victory. And we decided to venture out in the evening and enjoy fresh air and explore Vienna city. It would be very cruel to be in Vienna for three days and be pigeon-holed in a hotel. Little we knew that the day was going to get even better !

People of Vienna are very friendly and hospitable with genuine warmth. When we requested suggestions for the evening, we got nice feedback. A new friend we made at the conference was even more kind and gracious – Ms Britta S. She not only recommended us a few restaurants and places to visit, she actually accompanied us and guided us through the city’s District 1. We did not want to steal her personal time but she wanted us to see real Vienna and accompanied us. And this has actually been the hallmark of the Vienna Trip. People have been very wonderful in Vienna. We got help and assistance from everyone. People actually took efforts to help us. We wanted to buy local SIM and we got it from a local shopkeeper. He did not charge us for the SIM. Now many retailers receive free SIM but people never miss a chance to charge for it – especially to tourists. I had a small issue with my new shoe and a store manager at a top notch shoe retailer helped us fix it. She really wanted to help us and went out of her way. People helped us airports, hotel and city centre.

Our first stop on a wonderful evening in Vienna was a Persian Vegetarian joint called Kardamom. The owner was a Persian lady and she made the food from best local vegetables and she actually flew spices from her mother’s garden. We were happy to visit this place – as we entered the joint, she recognized our friend. She asked whether we would enjoy Vegetarian as she does not serve non-Veg. We were like – enjoy Vegetarian? We only eat VEg. We are more than delighted to visit this Pure Veg and highly recommended restaurant. We started our evening with a refreshing mint-ginger-lime cooler. It was followed by a wonderful Pumpkin soup. I had eggplant and hummus while my colleague had fresh salads, beans and vegetables with yogurt. Our friend had veggie patties and Persian rice. The food was wonderful and we were delighted after a lunch of soups and soups only !

After a wonderful dinner, we decided to walk around the First District. We saw the St Stephen’s Cathedral – it was majestic. There is something about these vintage and spiritual places – there is always so much peace and positive energy. The live piano music added to the charm of the place. After that we went to local chocolate and pastry shops. We bought the wafers from Vienna’s sweetest corner – Wanner. We visited the Castle. It was indeed magnificent. Vienna was founded by Romans and the excavations of the central garrison of Roman period are still for people to view. On the way, we saw a monument dedicated to people who died in the great plague – Pestsaule. The noteworthy city memorial remembered the 76000 victims of the plague. But we wondered why was the memorial in total gold?

The city’s town centre was very spacious – it indeed lookec like a city of royals and emperors. The city centre is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The First District was truly royal. It was very grand as compared to London. The small streets present a beautiful charm. The palatial structures along the spacious big streets reminded us of a royal heritage. The evening was little cold but pleasant and shops had wonderful lights and best displays. We were enjoying our walking and nice conversations.

We visited Cafe Central – It was established in 1876 and had a very classic and vintage look. During summer days, people had to really book well in advance. Lot of people come and enjoy their coffee and reading. People can pick up magazines and newspapers and enjoy reading while drinking coffee. They can spend an entire day with one coffee – nobody asks questions!

This is another speciality of Vienna – Its famous coffee culture. One can find many traditional coffee joints – such a break from Starbucks, Costa and Cafe Coffee Day world ! These coffee joints serve as an ideal place to catch-up with friends, read a newspaper or just enjoy the lovely coffee. And coffee is always served with a glass of water – which is either charged or has to be requested for in other cities. The coffee culture in Vienna was discovered accidentally. After the Turkish War, Turks abandoned hundreds of sacks of coffee beans. It were the Allies that helped Austrians discover the powers of Coffee. The Turkish war was driven at the behest of the Queen in Turkey who wanted her silks and shopping to reach her quickly via the silk route – women inspiration !

Our current joy land Cafe Central was patronized by Royal Family as well. We were happy to be there. It had some of the best desserts. We ordered Hot Chocolate and it was served with a special chocolate and water. I had one very special Chocolate called Chestnut Chocolate and it was indeed very different and exotic. The attendant was very thoughtful and he gave us some more almond chocolates as souvenirs of Cafe Central.

We ended the day with a stroll along the river Danube. It was a nice and pleasant walk. We watched the traffic drive by in the adjoining 10 lane roads. We saw trams on one side and boats in the river. We saw people walking with us. We saw people running. We saw people sitting on benches and talking. We saw people with pets. It was relaxing for everyone – and that relaxed us. We were at peace and we were experiencing immense happiness. Vienna was tranquil. Vienna was amazingly cajoling!

We were really loving Vienna and the wonderful evening. We have visited many cities but this city made an impact. Vienna has a population of just 1.7 million people ! Vienna has been chosen as the World’s Most Livable City for 5 times – amongst 200+ global cities. An achievement indeed ! About 30% of people in Vienna say they have no religion – significant indeed. Though my friends told that this might be to avoid payment of certain fees to Government. Every person entering Vienna (other than tourist) has to register with Government.

Vienna has something for everything. Royalty, Palaces, Music, Museums, Gardens, Opera, Night Life, World’s First Zoo ! Vienna has a museum for coffins and mortuary science. Its central cemetery is very famous as well. Of course, music is one of Vienna’s legacies. Musical prodigies including Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and many others were born or worked in Vienna.

The next day, we had lunch at Vegetasia. Very good vegetarian only restaurant – serving Asian food. Not very expensive as well. Good ambience, nice buffet spread and nice service as well. We saw nice soups, good collection of desserts, curries. We also saw Indian samosas!

Indeed, Vienna is a one lovely place to visit. Place with royalty, charm and lot of avenues for happiness. A place waiting to be discovered – again and again!

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3
Jan

The Mobility & Technology World In 2015

Mobility:

1. Smart Mobility will continue to increase its influence over daily life. Service schedules, ordering groceries, controlling appliances, school updates, managing finances – mobile will influence our lives in versatile ways.

2. Enterprise Apps and Platforms will mature as CIO drive “Mobile First” strategies. Mobile Application Programs will manage scalability, security and analytics amongst the portfolio of enterprise apps.

3. The world is becoming mobile-centric and app centric. Amongst plethora of Apps, apps with simplicity, refreshing clean UI and intelligent context will emerge as true winners.

4. The smartphones pecking order will change. Xiaomi has already broken into Top 5 smartphone sales. Samsung will be challenged. Rise of niche phones and purpose-driven phones. Flexible displays.

5. Local Language Apps and Specialist App Stores will be the next big thing. Curated App Stores and Curated Content will be the first call of the masses.

Technology:

1. The Top 4 Enterprise IT spend areas for 2015 will be the same as last year: Mobility, Security, Cloud and Big Data (The Big Four)

2. Wearable Technologies will get a big boost with Apple Watch and several Health and Fitness trackers. The first versions are already out but the refined version will determine the direction for future. Basis is a smart evolution over initial watches.

3. Mobile Wallets will be a reality. Managing expenses, rich analytics, money recommendations – things what credit cards cannot do will be possible now!

4. Smart Cars, Smart Homes, Smart Offices, Smart Cities – Our world will driven by technology like never before. Even TVs and Passwords will move to next level – think Biometric passwords.

5. Big Data has been the over-used & over-heard term. But it is the technology that will impact our daily life. The world is generating and gathering data at a maddening pace. Tools, technologies & people around big data will be in big demand!

6. Industrialization of Innovation for everyday and human challenges will matter more. Like waterless toilets, quick housing materials etc. Like the “Le Chal” shoes by Anirudh Sharma – shoes that use haptic signals and Google Maps to guide the visually impaired people. Can these innovations achieve success like Narayana Hridalalaya or Arvind Eye Hospital? IT Giants need to help them.

7. Innovations and business models from East will inspire West and Tech world.

8. Data Scientists, Data Architects, Mobile App Developers, Social Media Specialists, Business Analysts, UX visualizers, Mobile Testers – Top Job roles that will be in demand!

Photo Credit:Anders Adermark

31
Dec

Happy New Year 2015

A Curious Mind
A Joyous Heart
A Playful Workday
A Peaceful Sleep

All These Are My Wishes For You!

Happy New Year 2015 !

May Every Sunrise Of The New Year Bring Loads Of Sunshine, Happiness, Success And Peace To You And Your Family !

Happy New Year 2015

31
Dec

The Year End Musings

14383876092_1296fbe602_kTechnology:

1. Cyber wars are here. Sony stopping its release of the movie “The Interview” was a big one. A behemoth like Sony could blink was disturbing. Though Sony released the movie online and in select theaters, the damage was done. North Korean Internet was down for a day. Lot of action for a movie – that was not worth the cyber war ! Freedom of speech is worth it.

2. The Leaks business continue confirming that digital data is never secure. Amy Pascal and others kept PR agencies busy to manage the fall-out. Though Amy spoke venom for Angelina Jolie, her rights need to be protected. The Jennifer Lawrence episode was another reminder of the dangers of digital data. Security is going to be even bolder and bigger font for everyone – beyond traditional CIOs.

3. Digital data may not seem secure but digital business is zooming ahead. Valuations of Indian e-commerce giants Flipkart and Amazon as compared to brick and mortar giants of the world clearly prove that the future is digital. India has again leap-frogged and embraced the digital economy – as more Indians from small towns and villages are buying from online and mobile marketplaces. As financial inclusion spreads and more Indians get connected, this will be even bigger.

4. Security theme continued with the Uber drama in India and other parts of the world. The ban on Uber seemed inappropriate as Uber cannot be alone responsible for the tragedy. An organization cannot be banned for an illegal act by an employee. But what did not help was the approach and response from Uber – their processes can be improved. Sometimes issues need to be handled with kid gloves.

5. Data Scientist and Social Media Analyst are the hottest jobs which highlight emerging IT trends.

The World Around Us:

1. Homo Sapiens now suffer from new disorders: FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), eCDA (e-Commerce Delivery Anxiety) and Nomophobia. Homophobia is the fear of being out of cell phone contact. According to a recent study, 53% of mobile phone users in Britain tend to be anxious when they ‘lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have no network coverage. eCDA is a term for the anxiety caused by wait for the big online purchases made on Singles Day, Black Fridays, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day and other big shopping days.

2. It took 132 kids to make us realize the monstrous inhuman threat that terrorism has become. Assam, Sydney, Nigeria – terrorism continued to be a global disease. ISIS, Boko Haram – new names but old acts of mass murders. 132 Dreams were buried in 132 Coffins. The whole India joined the grief – common man was shaken, people expressed their pain and sadness in many ways – that was real and it showed a sensitive and a caring nation. It also showed a great hope.

3. ‘Germany 7 – Brazil 1’ surprised us more than crude oil hitting below USD 60 and falling of Russian economy. Not surprised that Scotland rejected Independence – ‘The Better Together’ campaign winning was a victory of wisdom and reason.

4. Malaysian carriers are having a tragic run. Three crashes in a year is disastrous and demoralizing and just bad luck!

5. Lack of compassion, lack of tolerance, lack of care, lack of faith, lack of sensitivity – are we human beings converting into our worst nightmarish robots?

Personal:

1. Moving countries is an ordeal. Moving countries with a kid and an infant is a bigger ordeal!

2. Life exists beyond Facebook. And it is equally beautiful as well !

3. Alcoholics can survive without alcohol. Workaholics cannot survive without work.

4. I have still not figured out what really is more outrageous?
- People wasting their time
- People wasting their talent and gifts
- People celebrating mediocrity

5. Daughters are God’s biggest gift!

Image Credit: Ila

22
Dec

The Best Of Bollywood – 2014

2014 was a normal year for Bollywood – The Hindi Indian Film Industry. A mixture of Comedy, Action and Emotions ruled the Box office. But nothing path-breaking was achieved in the year. The Hindi Film Industry continued its march on profit maximization and adoption of management practices.

The overseas market continued to grow. Production qualities continued to enhance. From content perspective, it has been a mixed bag. Though new content and new packaging is rising, the moolah still went to the traditional content – action, comedy – driven by “Tentpole” cinema.

All three Khans and top male actors had their hits. Aamir Khan had PK, Shah Rukh Khan had Happy New Year and Salman had Kick and Jai Ho. Ajay Devgan had his Singham Returns, Akshay had his Holiday while Hrithik had Bang Bang. Arjun Kapoor shined with 2 States and Gunday. Alia Bhatt was clear box office queen with 2 States, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and Highway.

(Related: The Best Of Bollywood – 2013)
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Top 5 Movies of 2014

1. Queen
Kangana rules! Story inspires! Perfect treatment of a great script. Nice direction. Lisa Haydon, Europe and Rajkumar Rao provide great support. The ‘London Thumakda’ and the movie rocked the box office as well!

2. Haider
Vishal Bharadwaj’s Shakespearean magnum-opus. Breath-taking Kashmir. Shahid’s portrayal of Haider. Tabu in another class act with equal support from Kay Kay and Irfan. Mind-blowing music. Movies are like this ! A rare blend of critical acclaim and commercial success.

3. Highway
Alia Bhatt’s terrific act. Imtiaz Ali’s direction. A R Rahman’s music – Phataka. Randeep’s strong presence. And a brave movie. Perfect!

4. PK
A very courageous movie. Sarcasm on Indian religious beliefs. Rajkumar Hirani – Aamir Khan delivered the goods. Anushka shined. ‘Bhagwan Tu Kahan’ moved us.

5. Ek Villain
A surprise package of the year. Riteish Deshmukh in a completely new avatar. The songs “Teri Galiyaan’, ‘Humdard’, ‘Awaari’ were on everyone’s playlist.

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Honorable Mentions of 2014:
1. Rang Rasiya
2. Khoobsurat
3. Mary Kom
4. CityLights
5. 2 States
6. Holiday

The Top Box Office Grossers 0f 2014:
1. PK
2. Kick
3. Happy New Year
4. Bang Bang
5. Singham Returns
6. Holiday
7. Jai Ho
8. Ek Villain
9. 2 States
10. Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania

What was your favorite movie?
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20
Dec

PK : Pretty Kool Or Pseudo Klassic?

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It is all about expectations ! If we are talking about the pedigree of Rajkumar Hirani and Aamir Khan, there is a certain expectation. And measured against that expectation PK is a big letdown.

Remove the pedigree and this is a good movie – but not extraordinary. This is Rajumar’s most mediocre work – though Rajkumar’s mediocre is above average of Bollywood’s standards. Aamir’s ‘template’ work inspite of his best efforts. Aamir did Dhoom for money – now after PK proving to be his usual fare, it is going to be interesting to see his next movie outing.

PK has been marketed as a satire on God and Gomdan. The movie questions the practices around religion in our lives. Paresh Rawal – Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Oh My God’ touched upon the same topic and was quite successful – hence comparisons are obvious. PK has its heart in the right place. There are excellent moments especially in the first half. A school girl’s message that her God is not so small that he would get upset about her going to school is a great moment. Aamir’s search for God via song is presented wonderfully – musically as well as visually.

PK (Aamir Khan) lands from a different planet and is an alien. His device that will allow him to go back is stolen. He wants to get that device back and return home. While pursuing his search for the device, he comes across God and God’s managers (Godman). He coms across our prejudices, beliefs and hypocrisies. He is not successful in getting the device. He starts questioning lot of things on earth – as he has zero baggage and a new perspective. Jaggu (Anushka) is a TV reporter who befriends PK and helps him. Saurabh Shukla as Godman is the antagonist who wants to build a temple and has hold of PK’s device. He also has been instrumental in spoiling the love life of Jaggu. The movie addresses all these issues layer by layer.

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Aamir Khan has done a good job – though it looks like his normal template job. He does not surprise like Shahid in Haider or Kangana in Queen. The person who does surprise us is Anushka – the life of the movie. She is better than Aamir Khan in certain portions. She will benefit the most from the movie. Boman Irani, Sanjay Dutt and Sushant Singh Rajput are wasted. Parikshit Sahni is out of place. The music is good but not extraordinary.

Rajkumar Hirani brand of cinema stands for universally relevant social message delivered in an entertaining way. Think Munnabhai talking about medical system or relevance of Gandhi. Or Rancho challenging our notions of educations and beautifully highlighting the concept of excellence! PK becomes too preachy and common fare. PK does not live upto the movies mentioned earlier. But I am sure Rajkumar Hirani will be back. He is our last man standing in Bollywood.

PK – A film that challenges us and our beliefs . A RajKumar Hirani brand of cinema. A movie worth a watch. But not extraordinary.

What do you think – Is it Pretty Kool or Pseudo Klassic?

2
Oct

Haider – Making Shakespeare Proud !

Haider – A Must Watch Film

Haider Is The Third Film In Vishal Bharadwaj’s Shakespearean Triology – A Fitting Finale !

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Vishal Bharadwaj Is One Of The Finest Talents In Indian Cinema. He Proves It Again With Haider. Vishal Has Wore Multiple Hats For The Film – Proving His Genius.

Vishal Took Shakespeare To Eastern UP and Mumbai Underworld Via Omkara And Maqbool Respectively – This Time His Spotlight on Kashmir. The Kashmir Situation Provides A Perfect Backdrop To The Complex Human Relationship Drama.

Shahid Kapoor Delivers His Best Ever Performance – Clearly Scoring Several Brownie Points And Showing His Real Talent ! Shahid’s ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ Speech Is Just One Example Of A Perfectly Optimized And Balanced Performance. ‘Chutzpah And AFSPA’ Is Another Example. Shahid’s Transformation From A Poet To A Rebel Is Very Commendable.

Tabu Outgrows Everyone. This Is The Tabu We Have Been Missing. An Woman With Ambivalent Feelings. Watch Her Talk About She Being The Villain Always! Or Her Looks When Shahid Meets Her After Her Second Marriage. Her Fragile, Heartbreaking, Vulnerable Portrayal Is The Stellar Performance Of The Film.

Kay Kay, Irrfan, Shraddha Kapoor Deliver Power-packed Performances In The Important Characters In The Opera. The Grave Diggers, The Two Salmans, Haider’s Father Are Equally Important Portrayals. Cinematography Is Captivating Indeed.

The Film Could Have Done With Sharper Editing, Removal Of Forced Romantic Song.

Shahid And Vishal Did Not Charge For The Movie – Proves That Best Things Are Priceless.

This Is Definitely Vishal’s And Shahid’s Best Film. National Award For Vishal, Shahid And Tabu? Fingers Crossed !