Friday, November 27, 2015

Mr. Modi, are you listening?

At the risk of being bombarded with a "You are anti-national" & "You are pseudo-Secular" comments, I'd like to say, Mr. Khan, you stand vindicated!!

Let's not jump the gun here. I am not a fan of this Khan, my loyalties lie with another one, coincidentally, he too feels there is some growing intolerance!

While we are talking of jumping the gun, I'm not saying India is intolerant. But if the current trend continues, will it soon be categorised thus? Well, I hate to think so, but yes, it will be!

Oh, just so I make myself clear, I'm not a fan of Mr. Gandhi or the Congress... I'm an outright Modi fanboy but a rational one. One who doesn't get blinded by the flashing cameras at his international "Rock-Shows", but wonders what is powering those flashes and sounds, is it rhetoric or substance!

And Mr. Modi, you know what is bothering me right now? That, when one of the brand ambassadors of your pet project speaks of a concern, you remain quiet. You do not engage in a dialogue. You chose not look around and understand what caused him to speak such. He might just have been generous enough not to outrightly condemn you, but he also feels that thought of condemning itself was 'disastrous'.

If you looked around, what would you see? Few loud-mouths have been unleashed on an otherwise tolerant India, those who believe that you either support them or 'go to Pakistan'! These loud-mouths, unfortunately for you, belong to the your party. I'm not saying loudmouths don't exist elsewhere, but a pot can't call the kettle black, can it! Unless of course, it never heard of a shiny object called mirror!

And guess what, politically motivated or otherwise, Mr. Khans, did reflect a glimpse of today's India - one where dissent is meet with stones, one which eulogizes George Bush's infamous, 'with us, against us' ideology. These rogue elements have been there in the past, and they were punished by the demos. That you have gotten scot-free earlier, you know what I'm referring to, doesn't mean you will get away again. Your ethos might forgive you, your demos won't. Until of course you speak up, and now. We know you are capable of that. Show us that you have the guts to rout these rogue elements. Cleanse India and your government of this filth.

And as far as Mr. Khans go, now is the time to use them to show the world that the tolerant India indeed is the best place to be, for all the Muslims in the world. Let them tell you what you need to do to "Connect India".

"Nindak niyare rakhiye aangan kuti chhawaye;
Bin sabun pani bina nirmal karat subhaye"

Monday, July 27, 2015

Understanding it "Inside Out"

This one’s for a lot of people
1) For all those who ever read a self-help book
2) For those who ever wanted to know why they behave the way they do
3) For those who ever wondered what emotions are

If you see one movie for self-betterment in a year, see this one. Called "Inside Out", this comes form the house of PIXAR and goes well past the usual PIXAR creatives and fairy-tales, right into your head.

Through a character Riley, which could truly be just me or you, it goes into the subconscious of every human and how emotions govern or misgovern our behaviour.

I’ll not go into too much details of the movie though there are some spoilers here.

It starts with, well, how we are born with two emotions: Joy or Sadness. As we grow, various other emotions take birth in our head, i.e. Disgust, Anger and Fear. All those emotions exist for our good, but when we let any one emotion take complete control, that is when the trouble starts, and the worst of them all, is obviously, Anger.

Each lifestage teaches us somethings and forms a core memory which we fall back on for every future action: Friendship, Family, Fun and Honesty to name a few. These  are core memories which essentially define us, that are a constant source of Joy, in good times and bad. Some core memory might be a source of grief and talks of a time which we would not like repeated.

Joy and Sadness are indeed temporary. When Joy and Sadness fight amongst themselves, they essentially let the other three emotions take control. And if Anger takes control, it is a grave risk to our core memories. The first signs of cracks in core memory of family and friends come because two Anger emotions collide, when none is ready to back down and essentially wants to “put the foot down”. Fear and Disgust are supporting emotions which feed Anger, but Anger takes centrestage.

This Anger then leads to decisions, which an otherwise happy person would not take. Fun and Honesty take the first toll, and Anger continues to grow stronger. The person might want to run away from it all, back to the "Good Old Days" to escape the situations. Joy seem lost in the depths of memory. And if, Joy and Sadness do not arrive in time, the entire structure of the person is soon gone. Will they arrive in time, and how, is the existential question every mind grapples with.

Human mind, through emotions is capable of dealing with any situation. As long as it is a multitude of emotions controlling it. When the response to each adverse situation is any one emotion, situations get worse. You can’t just ignore a bad situation and be happy, neither can you just grieve and do nothing and nor can you just be angry all the time.

And what is more, these emotions are at constant conflict in every human head. Eg: While anger is active in one head, fear might be controlling the other. Not that these two heads can never be together, when Joy is controlling both, they will have a gala time, they will be stronger in family/friendship when Sadness controls both. Joy in one and Joy+Disgust in the other might just create a core memory of Fun!

Philosophical already? Go watch the movie. You will endure 2 hrs of “kiddish, animated movie” but trust me, internalisation is well worth it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Smell of Success

The one room that he called his “house” was located in a suburb of Mumbai. It was this house, where he returned each evening after serving tea to upmarket stores at Saki Naka. Being courteous came naturally to him – he was tipped more, some days as high as Rs. 40! He would eat a two-course meal when that happened. Today he didn’t. He got his uniform washed. What would he wear as he walked up the stage to receive the special honour of topping the state board exams! 

The stench didn’t bother him anymore. Nothing indeed smells like success!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Why AAP lost the battle but won the war…

From just another non-descript location in the capital of India, Anaa Hazare catapulted Jantar Mantar to being the heart of the anti-corruption movement. Anna took a backseat before seeing the end of the movement. But the movement didn’t end. His protégé, or as some of his detractors accuse, the puppeteer, Arvind Kejriwal took the movement forward in the form of the “Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)”.

This movement, the AAP phenomenon could’ve been just another political party on the scene. It wasn’t.

They stood for something that many others had taken for granted – corruption! Through their antecedents – educated, modern, forward-looking and young, they captured the imagination of millions of voters who used to consider politics as “that dirty little secret” in the overall scheme of “India Shining”. Facebook and the Blogging world was flooded with long, sometimes heated, discussions on the candidates and policies. Yes, there were accusations leveled, there were hate speeches and angry outbursts, but more importantly, opinions were brought into the open and debated.

As a result, criminal politics, though still not eliminated, was abhorred. Wherever possible, convicts were kept away. Few important judgements were passed by the Supreme Court that further helped this cause. More importantly, because of open debates started by IAC, more voters came into the electoral fray. And we know when more Indians vote, criminals lose! And not just criminals, even hardliners were sidelined. Pramod Muthaliks were disowned by their former political masters and diktats by religious leaders were left ineffective.

The AAP effect didn’t just stop there.

Kejriwal was one of the influential people who led the campaign that resulted in UPA-1 passing the RTI. But you can’t just give a screwdriver to a toddler and hope he will be able to repair a broken watch. You need to teach him what a watch is and how it functions. And then explain what is wrong with the watch. And finally, tell him how to use the screwdriver to repair it. RTI was the screwdriver. Through regular expose and press conferences, Kejriwal demonstrated the power of the tool, the RTI. Over a few months, many “toddlers” became the RTI gurus. Industry-Politician nexus could no longer be hidden. Adani might still get land at Re.1 – but now we’ll at least know why!

AAP might have won just 4 seats but the AAP effect will not stop here either...

AAP lost not because they put up bad candidates. But as a party, their plan had been to highlight inconsistencies and wrong-doings, not what they plan to do about it themselves. That they were bad at economics and worse at politics was known, what really let them down was that they were bad at strategy. Perhaps, by contesting pan-India, they spread themselves too thin. Like every other party, they had a few strong leaders who, given their lack of funds, couldn’t be in all places at crucial times. But what is good for India is that, this inability at omnipresence gave rise to ground-level workforce, who, with the same anti-corruption philosophies as the main leaders, can carry the movement forward. And importantly, bring to notice of the general public, wherever the main-stream politicians do any wrong.

BJP won because of a positive agenda and not divisive politics. Caste equations were ignored. Religious equations, while not ignored, were never stressed upon. Now, the ball is in our court. The moment this positive agenda gets lost and BJP is back to its old divisive politics, we need to give them a rap!

And as long as we keep doing that, AAP would have won the war :)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Life is Short

Life is short. Enjoy it while you can.

Guess I should have seen it coming. He was getting weak and needed a glucose dosage every 6 hrs. And even when he was awake, it wasn’t to the fullest, getting tired real soon. Sometimes, he would stand at a place and stare at nothing.

The hearing had gone down and the voice faded – many times he was barely audible. The dental setup was gone and he needed an artificial tooth. His memory was fading. He couldn’t recall the good times he had stored “forever”.

His connections had become weaker. Even old friends were forgotten. Many times he needed to be reintroduced to them as “new friends”. And just yesterday, even the doctors said there was no further support available.

And today it happened. It fell and broke its glass. Thank you Nokia 701.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Answers to your 10 Qs Mr Sampath

Read this piece in HT (with Reference to Mr. G. Sampath's book) where the author asks seemingly uncomfortable questions to Sachin Tendulkar. Since Sachin is too much of a gentleman to answer his critics in any other way than making more runs, I thought, as a fan, I might fulfil this hard task for him.

Q1: Why did Sachin remain silent on the match-fixing issue?
A1: Is it actually not possible that he didn't know anything? Think of it like a corporate department - the boss knows something. Another guy is also part of that secret team. And suddenly one day, you hear the launch of a completely new plan. Do yo speak about the plan? You are not supposed to - because you were not part of the team that hatched the devious plan!

Q2: On his and India's opposition to DRS as it would harm his batting averages
A2: Test Match 199, Eden Gardens - First Innings dismissal. I rest my case.

Q3: Seeking exemptions for his car and bungalow as special concessions for his "Celebrity Status"
A3: Asking for favours is human. That he did it openly demonstrates his honesty. Couldn't he have done, with all his money, what a normal human would have done - go and pay a hefty bribe, or in his case, offer the commisioner's kid his bat, and get the same work done? He was just asking for a favour. To honour or not was a government decision in which he had no role to play.

Q4: Not voicing his opinion on important things
A4: Not having a public stand doesn't mean not having an opinion. Rajya Sabha is not just a place for voicing a public stand. it is a place where he can influence opinion. BTW, this question is a contradiction to your second question.

Q5: Choice of Rajya Sabha and Cricket
A5: Huh? What kinda question is that? Have you never done two things together - one of which is a priority? Say attend a family function by skipping a crucial workplace meeting because family comes first? Is your workplace a hobby?

Q6: "Abysmal" Captaincy record
A6: Does the writer know that Sachin QUIT captaincy? He was not sacked. He was not even asked to step down. He just quit because he wanted to concentrate on his batting (Ref: Chandu Borde's statement on the issue). And remember, he was 22 then and nowhere close to the "star" that he is today. Just shows that he knows his limitations well. Next are you going to ask him why does he not win cricinfo fantasy leagues as it involves the same cricketing intelligence?

Q7: Personal records before team player
A7: Does it harm the team if few individuals get personal records on the way? Didn't he also put his hand up to open the innings in the ODI's when after Siddhu, India was searching for an opener? Who doesn't remember the Hero Cup final over when out of nowhere, he took the bowl and left the Proteas clueless! Again, reaching personal milestones is important to every individual. Doesn't in any way mean that he is not a team player. Regarding the Bangladesh match, Mr. Author, he did well not to blame the bowlers who let Bangladesh chase away those runs so easily!

Q8: Performing under pressure
A8: Haha. Desert Storm 'Semi Final'? Hero Cup Final? Chennai Test against Aussies? Shall I continue? Yes there are instances to the contrary too. But doesn't mean he thought of the team any lesser. And remember, the captain of the ship steers the ship amidst troubled seas. Even tugboats can steer it in the shallow waters of the port.

Q9: Public Speaking
A9: Again, haha No comments. Speaking is not his forte. Doesn't make him boring. Trust me, when his bat is doing the talking, no one calls him that!

Q10: On Journalists who suck up to him
A10: Again, No comments. The question without any context doesn't merit an answer!

Now I know why I couldn't read the book. Because, its just not funny!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Doctor: Between the devil and the deep sea

I’ve seen many “positive” reactions to the Supreme Court verdict that many news channels termed historic and landmark. While the case might be historic, extrapolating it to any and all other medical cases is, however, not good for the profession in particular – and general public at large.
  • Disclaimer 1: I belong to a family with a few doctors.
  • Disclaimer 2: I’m not a medical practitioner. I’ve not consulted with one before writing this. I’m not in any way related to AMRI or any other hospital for that matter.
  • Disclaimer 3: I’ve nothing to say about this particular case but a lot against generalizing this case.
Here’s why:
Have you gone to a car mechanic with a complaint of a weird noise in your engine? How does he repair that? He doesn’t take it to an automotive lab. He doesn’t contact the car manufacturer for the engine specifications and schematics. He puts his ear to your gas guzzler and asks you to turn the ignition ON. He keeps his ear close while making those faces that make you feel insecure about your 10-yr new possession. He suddenly rises from the hood of the car and pronounces to no one in particular – “There is a jam in the valve”. Now he is not talking to anyone. His brain is however working to repair your car. He then calculates and tells you, “It will be done. Do you want a company valve or just any will do? It will cost you Rs.4000. You can collect your car tomorrow.” You haggle about the valve price without having any clue whether 4000 or 1000 is the right price. And finally, a number decided, you entrust him with the vehicle. He repairs it, or if else while trying to repair, finds some other fault, calls you up to tell you that his initial diagnosis is wrong and a separate procedure might be required.

A doctor does the exact same thing with your body!

He has two options:
  1. Go the detailed way:
    1. Conduct thorough diagnostics – You never know if a scratch on the outside is actually deep rust from the inside! So better do a x-ray scan of the complete car
    2. Prescribe the best medicines. Why go with a Rs.10 rubber strip when you can go for Rs.200 guaranteed puncture fixers from Dunelope!
    3. Treat it with intense care till it becomes alright. Even if its just puncture, better get the car to a workshop where a team of specialized mechanical engineers from IIT-KGP will work on it for 4 days and fix the puncture.
    4. And at the end, give you a bill of Rs. 1,20,000 (+taxes)
  2. Go the trusted way:
    1. Conduct brief diagnostics – just feel inside the tire to see if there is a nail.
    2. Prescribe the most effective known medicine – you know the crowbar is enough to open up the tyre and a hydraulic press is not really required.
    3. Treat it with care – you know its not your car but you have an intent to do good for two reasons – i) you do not want the brickbats ii) You want a repeat customer. Hence, give it chhotu who knows how to repair the puncture and has a workshop record of doing it under 4mins 39secs.
    4. Give you a bill of Rs. 200 (the tube has to be purchased from the market by you)
Agreed, a car is far more dispensable than a human body, even then, does the doctor prescribe ELISA the moment you go to him with a second instance of a running nose! Ideally, he should – recurring diseases is a sign of AIDS. And if he does that, Aamir Khan will be knocking his doors with a court notice of unjustified expenses on the treatment of a “poor hapless customer”. And then he’ll be accused of being a stooge of the pharma and medical instrumentation companies.

This, btw is very likely what happened in the west where the cost of medical treatment is high. So high that healthcare alone could shut down the government controlling the biggest pot of money in the world.

Not all doctors are unscrupulous thugs. In fact most aren’t. Medicine is a profession built on trust and fame. Infamy is a death knell in the profession. More often than not, a doctor intends well. More often than not, a doctor will practice his profession well (almost like a case of a SW Engineer coding – the ‘default’ is the right way). In a few cases where he doesn’t, action needs to be taken. But to say that all hospitals are 5-star hotels and thugs is a gross misstatement and, imho, a disservice to the nation. Continue this tirade against the doctors and very soon we’ll be shutting down the Indian Govt too asking for a cheaper healthcare system.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Rahul's Press Conference: Behind the scenes

Disclaimer: Nothing Official About it. Attempt at satire/humour. Is in no way meant to dishonour/discredit the people or the positions of the honourable PM and the President of India.

So here is what happened an hour before the Press Conference of Rahul Gandhi today (Sept 27th, 2013)

Pranab: OK What do I do... I have to return this ordinance. BJP does have a point.

MMS: Kya Pranab da, sign karo na Jaldi.

Pranab: Singh Sahib, Itna aasan nahi hai... Ise to waapis karna padega. Govt ko bada dhakka lagega

MMS: Sachchi?

Pranab: Muchchi...

MMS: Ek sec ruko, madam ko line pe leta hoon...

Madam: Kya ho Manmohan ji? US jaakar to bahut baaten kar rahe ho...

MMS: Madam, US ki baad mein baat karenge. India mein problem hone waali hai. Pranab da bol rahe hain ordinance waapis karenge.

Madam: Na. Nahi karenge. Main baat karti hoon.

MMS: Line pe hain.

Madam: Kyon Pranab. Presi ban gaye to humaari nahi sunoge?

Pranab: Sorry Madam. But BJP does have a point. Main agar sign kar bhi doon to koi na koi PIL file karke isko void kar dega. And fir Congress Govt ke saath saath meri bhi image kharab ho jaayegi. Aur poora credit Narendra bhai le lenge...

Madam: Wo Gujarat ka Chief Minister Narendra Modi? Wo kyon?

Pranab: BJP hi to aayee hai ye mere paas le kar...

Madam: To kuch bataiye na.. BJP ko nahi lene de sakte credit..

Pranab: Ek hi idea hai. Aap apne upar le lo. Aap bol do Congress is taking back ordinance..

Madam: Us se kya hoga. Manmohan ji ka to mazaak ban jayega aur saath hi govt ka.

Pranab: To aisa karo na. Rahul baba ko bolo Press Conference bulane ko.

Madam: Press Conference? But usme to press waale hote hain. Rahul baat nahi karega

Pranab: Press waalo ko Question nahi poochhne denge. Saath mein kisi doosre congress waale ko bhi rakh lenge taaki rauhl baba ki statement ka sahi sahi meaning de dein just in case kuch ulta bol de.

Madam: Kya matlab? Rahul ulta bolta hai?

Pranab: Nahi nahi madam. Ye matlab nahi tha mera.

Madam: Anyways, sahi to bol rahe ho.

Pranab: Aur fir credit bhi Rahul baba le sakte hain. Main bol doonga BJP ki sunta us se pehle hi govt ne ordinance waapis le liya

Madam: Manmohan ji, aapka bhi kuch boliye

MMS: "Thik Hai".

Madam: Chalo bolti hoon kisi ko press conference arrange karwane ko.

Pranab: Manmohan dada, sambhal lijiyega. US mein press jyada poochhegi nahi. Jab tak waapis aayi tab tak kuch aur scandal arrange karwa denge. ya fir news waalon ko bolenge thode din Modi ji ka laughter show dikhaye TV pe...

MMS: "Thik Hai"

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Delhi Dystopia: BA Pass

Ok, I didn’t want to do this but I was asked so many questions about BA Pass that I had to write it out on the blog.
Warning: The below text contains elements of the plot.

It is a movie rife with dystopia - dark with no glimmer of hope... It accentuates the hell that life can be for an aspiring middle class "BA Pass". And worse of all, shows the defeatist side of humanity that has no spine and keeps on bending as more pressure is piled on... and at the climax, the spine breaks and the protagonist is down flat.

It starts off with an unassuming, just ‘adult’ Mukesh being asked to collect a carton of apples from the manipulative Sarika’s house. Apples – the first sin committed by mankind..! What he doesn’t know is that a plot has been laid out for him to be sucked into a world of male prostitution. Yes, he is reluctant at first, but soon accepts it as a way of life. And not surprisingly, very soon he begins to enjoy the money that he earns! After a few repetitive erotic scenes, we land at the intermission.

Things change after the intermission. Mukesh is discovered by Sarika’s husband, thrown out of his aunt’s house (under a different pretext) and lands into the open and waiting arms of the man who makes his daily bread from the dead. Suddenly, Mukesh has no “business” and no money (having handed over every pie to Sarika for “safe-keeping”). Instead of working to make a living and also paying for his sisters who stay in an orphanage, he does what he knows best – pimps himself out – this time to a gang of unruly guys who pick him off the road. Ill-treated, he decides to rob Sarika and ends up killing her. Not surprisingly, the Delhi police is after him. On the other hand, his “friend” from the graveyard has disappeared. His sisters are waiting for him at the Delhi Railway Station in the dead of the night. And he decides to jump off a building and kill himself.

The video is dark, the colours gloomy and the music melancholic. I'm sure if screens could smell, the theatre would stink. The actors do rise above the melancholy to give standout performances. Shadab (Mukesh) is amazing in his controlled display of emotions (imagine control during the first half and you will know why I appreciate it). The story is powerful and incisive. However, this is a movie made for the critics to applaud and not for the mainstream audience to enjoy and appreciate.

Overall Verdict: Go if you must, but don’t blame me if, after the movie, you feel like there is no good left in the world. The only movie that comes close is Requiem for a Dream, and I, while appreciating that movie, had bad dreams even days later.

Music from "Requiem for a Dream"

P.S: Btw, this movie could as well have been “Engineer” or “Doctor” :D

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Movie Review: Lootera

You know the movie was good, when on the following morning, you are still thinking about the movie! Lootera is one such movie… Agonisingly slow yet inexplicably brilliant!

Plot: It starts with those typical girl-learning-to-drive-collides-with-the-hero-falls-in-love-hero-goes-away storylines we know to be so common in Bollywood. The twist right before the interval! And then the prestige of the hero and then they fall in love again. So typical, right? Trust me, it isn’t!

Cinematography and Direction: The first half of the movie, though slow, is beautiful in the period setup and those few delicately handled romantic scenes. The authentic Bengali setup, with its vibrant colours and intricate sculpture cannot be missed. The second half is where the brilliance of the movie starts. Like Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black, this movie takes beautiful form in the second half. Every act in the first half starts having more relevance in the second. Each moment is revisited, though in a changed scenario. And the way the climax is handled – pure brilliance!

Acting: Ranveer and Sonakshi are good, the real ‘hero’ of the movie is the direction, though.

Music and Lyrics: Amit Trivedi does make it a tad too exciting in places, but overall, is brilliant. The movie has no “songs”, only background score. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there is a beautiful line, so delicately woven in the storyline, that you will go WOW!!.

Mujhe chhod do, mere haal pe
Zinda hoon main, kaafi hai…

Overall: The movie progresses at a very very slow pace. So slow, you can go for a tea break and you wouldn’t have missed anything even if you decided to have some samosas along with it. But then, that is where the brilliance lies! Each scene has so many details, so intricate that you will realise their presence only after you exit the theatre. This movie will linger with you – you will either hate it for the slow pace, or love it for the direction and cinematography.