Saturday, April 17, 2010

10 things I miss from TV in the 90s

This discussion actually started off as a minor chatter on the balcony of our hostel a couple of weeks back. As our academic calendar draws to a close and every body is reminiscing about the good old days, we decided to really step into the past and pick up 10 things from the 90s television we would love to have in our lives once again. This is the list which we discussed after 2 hours of non-stop, non-utilitarian discussion and does not appear in any order of preference. So here goes: 
1. Chitrahaar and Rangoli:
Our weekly dose of Bollywood was limited to these to programs. My guess is Chitrahaar was on Wednesdays and then moved to Fridays.. and then again moved back to Wednesday evenings but Rangoli was part of Sunday morning breakfast ritual. Dahi-jalebi with Rangoli... yummy!!! or in winters... watching Rangoli while hiding inside the razai.

2. Byomkesh Bakshi:

The baap of all "who-dunnit" serials in the world. The serial involved a complicated mix of medicine, chemistry, logical analysis and intuition, all the while keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. While many people might consider it as the Eastern rip-off of Sherlock Holmes.. with the doctor accomplice but to me it is probably one of the best detective series ever made, with a very simple production backing strong stories and some great acting.

3. Surabhi:

The Sistine Chapel of Indian TV's cultural revolution. Only person who could have rivalled Siddarth Kak in popularity might have been Arun Govil (who played Ram in Ramayan) but Renuka Shahane with her broad grin and emphatic namaskar was miles ahead of any female on Indian TV at that time in popularity. The show brought many cultures, many cuisines, sight and surroundings into the Indian middle class household for the first time, taking us on exotic travels and fuelling dreams of far and wide for many of us. That and of course, the huge number of postcards they used to receive for their TV competition, leading to the launch of the Rs3 special postcard by the Postal department. Some oppurtunism that !!!

4. Potli Baba Ki, Baloo (Talespin) and Duck Tales:

Bachha time now. Sundays 10 to 11.30 am were reserved for the kids of India, with the dubbed versions of Disney cartoons playing out on the small screen. While Baloooo was serenading his boss, Uncle Scrooge and his 3 nephews were always out on some crazy adventure involving mummies and genies, making our Sundays all the more fun.
This generation was followed by legends like Daanu the Danasur..of chipkali ke nana fame!!!
5. Alif Laila: 
The pre-cursor to all those special effect serials that we now see on TV. Ramanand Sagar was immortalised by Ramayan, which was said to have brought the whole country to a stand still. But Alif Laila has a charm of its own. Right from its opening soundtrack to all those crazy sounds and special effects. Not to mention the fact that it had some of the more scantily dressed female protagonists for its times. With all the djinns, pari and shaitans, the serial would take us down a never ending path of fantasy and magic, with the good triumphs evil message splattered all across the storyline.

6. Shanti:

UTV Pictures presents Shanti...Shantiiii... Shantiiiiiiiii.....
After the baap of who-dunnits, we have the grand momma of all the modern day tear jerkers. In a convoluted plot of an illegitimate child, avenging a rape on a decaying family housing an underworld don as its servant, while the family itself is in self-destruct mode, our country's Lady Cricket Mandy Baby rocked the world with her reporter-giri and badle ki aag for Kamesh Mahadevan and Raj G J Singh. Bhandari with his crazy underworld act and finger-tapping dialogs and Nanu Jasoos were essential props to the Shanti success story.

7. Nukkad/Mr. Yogi/Mungeri Lal ke Haseen Sapne:

We hark back to the time when comedy did not mean stand up comedians dishing out corny one liners full of double entendre. Good clean humour, involving Mungeri's day dreaming, day to day happenings at the nukkad or the eteral search for his bride for Mr. Yogi (unsuccessfully ripped off in Wats your Rashee!!) is still a treat for the mind after a taxing days work.

8. Archaic ads of Laxman Sylvania, Link Locks and Nirma Detergent:
Everytime I see a bikini clad woman walking ashore for advertising JK Cement (the seriously WTF ad of the century!!!... if only sex and sleaze could sell everything) I am reminded of the Laxman Sylvania ad .."arre wo Ram Laxman wala bulb dena" or else the legendary Nirma gal or Link locks... featuring never seen before animation..where a filing rod is being used to break the lock and instead the rod breaks with lots of sparks flying around it!!! Simple, almost laughable and yet we are able to atleast relate the ad to the product.. Some times I wonder if we people have progressed o degenerated mentally!!!

9. Dekh Bhai Dekh/ Sarabhai vs Sarabhai/ Tu Tu Main Main:


The second generation of comedy serials, featuring up market families and primarily aired on the DD Metro network. DBD was a legend in itself with Deven Bhojani and Shekhar Suman pulling of comedy scenes with aplomb while Rosesh Sarabhai ki sadi hui kavitaon ka kya kehna.  Sachin created the first ever saas-bahu item on Indian TV and all Indian male population would agree that it was million times better than the stuff being dished out now. Goooooooooooood ollldddddd daysssssss of laughter Momma!!!

10. Ajnabee:

My favorite army serial, featured Danny and some other leading actors and was about the life in terror stricken Kashmir... one of my favorite characters was a terrorist name Shakoor Rana, who could generate enormous hatred and revulsion through his cool attitude and devilish dialogs. No over hyped, false bearded terrorists as in Sunny paaji's  movies. Just plain and simple story.. and yeah the opening sound track was good too.

So this is my list of 10 things which I hope would come back on TV and I can be happy again. Ofcourse, we discussed many other candidates like Hum Log and Buniyaad ( of which I have no great recollection!!), Vikram Betaal, Shaktimaan and Chandrakanta, Captain Vyom (I am sure this suggestion was more sarcastic than genuine!!) and the legendary Ramayan and Mahabharat. But I am sticking to these ten things... do let me know in case I am missing something else!!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A case in favor of abolishing Valentine's Day!!!

Unlike other posts, I am not wasting any time before coming to the topic. This time of the year is certainly one of the most stressful to me and to many others of my ilk.
 As soon as India finishes observing a minute's silence to remember Gandhiji's martyrdom, the next big thing on the agenda for everyone is Valentine's Day. But why so, I must ask??
 Yours truly is leading a solitary life and my relationship status is well-publicised among my friends and yet, I have already been bombarded with a substantial set of queries asking about my plans on V-day. Further, what is with these colors and how can a color really be used to indicate "if I am on the market"?? Every time somebody asks me the question what color are you wearing this V-day... I am reminded of a stupid gimmick many ppl carried out on social media to increase awareness about breast cancer. Only I am not sure what is more embarassing.. flashing my underwear color on social media or wearing my relationship status all over my physical existence on V-Day. To an average bachelor residing in a hostel, managing two clean pieces of clothing is tricky enough, without the additional of complexity of colors conveying your love life's deepest secrets.
    I googled out this whole color coding phenomenon and I am listing here the most popular connotations of colors:
  • Blue- I’m free
  • Green- I’m waiting
  • Orange- going to propose
  • Pink- accepted just now!!!
  • Black- proposal rejected
  • White- already booked
  • Yellow- broke up!!!
  • Gray- not interested…
  • Red- leave me
While I am not contesting these codes, I do have some questions in my mind. Does a deeper shade of RED mean a strong "leave me" as in "dont even think about it!!" or did the people wearing PINK keep it as spare, just in case, and just got lucky?? On the whole this entire coding business is driving us back to racial discrimination in its most sophisticated form, differentiating people on the basis of color. 
  Imagine the scenario, you enter a pub and see a person wearing BLACK or YELLOW, do you really want to sit near this character and hear their sob story (my gender neutrality begs appreciation here!!).On the other hand, you probably want to sit next to a PINKy person and try to grab to a free drink or two as celebration. Bingo... discrimination on the basis of color!!! (Me thinks, worse would be actually landing up next to an ORANGE and end up as his dress rehearsal partner...take that!!)
Now that socially essential arguments have been put forward, let me come down to the more personal/emotional arguments.
The two broad lines of argument on this topic are as follows:
  1. this is a day for all the lovers to celebrate Love (almost as if its Diwali!!)
  2. this is a day for all the others to find Love
Now lets rip them apart systematically.
Argument 1 is nonsense. Don't all lovers make/create/manufacture/concoct love for the remaining 364 days of the year. Its not like Diwali when you are bombarded with sweets and crackers for just that one day. We, the single, have been painful witnesses to your public cuddling, kootchi-cooing and what not!!! So don't tell me that you are celebrating Love on that particular day and abstain on the other days of the year. And what the hell.. when did you folks ever need a reason to gift a teddy bear, a chocolate box or watever else is in vogue now!!! Just don't call it the festival of Love...and to think that you are actually celebrating somebody's death!!!

Argument 2 is offensive. Nobody, take it from me NOBODY, ever finds love during Valentine's day. Not only does it provide false hope to the usual-suspects of solitary living, it also gives the whole romance thing a marketplace atmosphere, feeding on supply and demand. You are either already in love and the mass hysteria is helping you express it or you are just feeling the peer pressure of not being found alone (screw the subtlety, without arm candy!!). In the first case you get your hindside kicked and in the second case you are in deep $h&t with either a wrong decision or worse, a compromise!!! Anyways, in case any of you thinks that it is possible to find love on Valentine's Day, this is what I have to say on it:
 Planning to find love on Valentine's Day is like selling notional futures contract in love. You will most probably end up squaring up your positions in the spot market!!!

 Thus, having successfully and single handedly, sounded the alarm bell on Valentine Day celebrations, I request the powers that be to abolish the celebration of V-Day thus, protecting the society from racial hatred and keeping the population on a realistic leash of romanticism.
 My Lord, I thereby rest my case!!!

P.S. Now time for something useful:
 Check out this new cool Facebook group, as a designer you might be interested. Otherwise just spread the word.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pareto Principle in B-School Classrooms

This is post is continued from an incomplete draft early in September 2008 and it is only apt that this post be published now, with a complete flavor of the Pareto rule in B-Schools!!!


The Pareto Principle, or the alternatively famous 80-20 rule, has been interpreted in the most mundane ways possible. I was oblivious to the greatness and versatility of the rule before I landed on the gates of a B-School. As life at B-school started sinking in, Pareto’s interpretation opened new avenues for conjuring 80-20 relations in many obscure ways. Let me try to put into words, the endless minutes of daydreaming to bring up few of the 80-20s, which I believe make life at B-schools really interesting.

  1. 80 percent of the batch is male, generating 20% interest in ice-breaking and the remaining 20%, even if it does not consist of that hot girl you met during your GD-PI, gets 80% attention in ice-breaking activities.
  2. 80% of the gyan comes from 20% of the seniors, while the remaining 80% sit back and enjoy as juniors are mercilessly slaughtered by these zealots,
  3. Alternatively, after the first 10 days, 80% of the gyan is taken by only 20% juniors and the remaining 80% are deaf by this time.
  4. 80% doubts in class arise in the minds of 20% of the student, while the remaining students are content with sleeping (or dreaming up such stuff!!!)
  5. All the team projects will be split in the 80-20 rule as follows:
    1. 80% of the PPTs are made by a single person
    2. 80% of the presentations are presented by a single person
    3. 80% of the data analysis will be done by a single person
    4. 100% of nothing will be done a very special single person
  6. 80% of your time in a term will be spent on a single subject which ends up contributing only 20% to your CPI
  7. As the summer internships come to an end, 20% of the batch has an 80% probability of landing a PPO/PPI while the remaining 80% have a combined 20% of doing so
  8. Come placement time, only 20% junta has an 80% chance of landing up in their dream job while remaining 80% looks to split the remaining 20% in the best way possible.
  9. If an interviewer is smiling at your answer then 80% of the times he has found a way to nail your backside on the crucifix the remaining 20% he doesn’t have a clue as to what you are saying 
  10. And finally, 80% of the people who have read till here have no clue what this was about and the remaining 20% are out searching for me!!!

One-tip Cricket and Management Fundas

This one originated right this evening.
  It was started by my bro GuGu ofcourse, with whom I have the pleasure of sharing many intellectually intense and invigorating debates... and all this while watching a dismal game of cricket. No, I am not refering to the 'ordinary' India-Bangla test match but to a game of cricket commonly known in the balconies, passages and verandahs of India as one-tip, one-hand cricket.
 As to the origin of the name, there have hardly been more to-the-point names in the world, which leave you in no doubt as to the game ( I wish human names were as useful!!!). However, the debate did not rest on the mere nomenclature of the game rather hinging on a more intriguing part of the game. How is it that the rules for 1t1h cricket (1-tip 1-hand cricket..inspired by T20) are more or less the same across the country?
As is often the case, I began my answer in all earnest abstraction and hoped to end my monlogue with the famous "Elementary, my dear Watson" look. However, ever since I have been solicited for services by a name sake of the Jaya Prakash Murugan Chettiar Bank, the time on my hands has enabled me to delve deeper on entirely useless things!!! ( You might wish to argue that it was the case earlier too but let save it for later.)
So I took up the development of 1t1h cricket as a management problem and this is how I guess it must have worked out:
  •  Need Identification: In India everybody wants to play cricket but hey, where is the space!!! So every possible quadrangular (or not so quadrangular space..) is put to good use. Now we Indians are competitive people and no cricket can happen without elaborate scoring systems and even more ritualisitc methods of getting out. Thus, the birth of 1t1h cricket owes itself to the space-strapped cricket maniacs of the country.
  • Early Adopters: Early adopters are the people to whom any product might give reasonable amount of credit for shaping usage patterns and augmenting product features. So while 1t1h started out as a simple variant, the early adopters to the game decided to add rules for hitting on the wall, hitting the tubelight, minimum runs in an over etc etc etc and more... thereby increasing the ability of the game to handle various tricky situations and obstructions.
  • Critical Mass: Many new product innovations have perished because of their ill-timed launches. While market timing is as much an art as a science, the rise of  1t1h cricket has coincided with the emergence of housing complexes, having more parking space than playing space (infact substitutable spaces... these two!!!). More controlling parents, who figure children are safer playing cricket in the balcony of their 8th floor apartment than on the ground and of course, the simple truth that any playground is hideously anti-social compared to filling the coffers of some builder bloke. Add to this the stereotypical picture of a cricket field in India.... 5 parallel pitches and close to 100 fielders packed into a regular size field. While the batsman's concerns are not limited to the opposition fielders alone but expand to include the pitch invading goons from other teams, the poor fielders have the additional worry of protecting their nether regions from a well directed pull shot. Hardly a pleasing sight you would say!!!  Thus, the new baby in the cricketing world couldn't have come at a better time.
  • Standardisation: While many sports in India have secured an elitist status, its just impossible to keep any form of cricket away from the masses. Though in essence this penetration of the product into new market segments should be a good news for most firms, it also brings in the additional burden of standardisation. And I guess, we have no one to thank more than the kids of Defence personnel & other folks in transferable jobs for bringing about this standardisation of procedures/rules/rituals and other gimmicks in the sport of 1t1h cricket. These people have travelled far and wide, carrying with them the best practices in the sport and spreading it across the various parts of the country. Thus, many of the rules in the sport are now universally (read "nationally") accepted.
With this my analysis of the evolution of the sport has been concluded and all I now worry about is the survival of the game. You see there was this game we played as kids, it was called book cricket but with the advent of PDFs, laptops and Kindle the children of today have been deprived of the sheer thrill and adrenaline of playing the great sport of book cricket. I hope 1t1h does not meet such an unceremonious end. Amen!!!
The above gyan is written without any backing of management studies. It is just a intuitive piece of imagination of how things might have worked out at a micro level, at the same time causing a sea change in the cricketing behavior of an entire nation. Believe it at your own risk!!! 

Friday, December 25, 2009

Looking back on 3 Idiots!!!

The entire IIT Bombay campus is getting up from the sleepy hangover of Mood Indigo 2009. An extravaganza in itself, it deserved a fitting finale, a finale as delivered by the awesome trio of Shankar Ehsaan and Loy on the last ProNite show of MoodI last night. The entire OAT was up and rocking for 2 hours as we sang ourselves hoarse and danced till the body could take it no more. At that point I could never have thought that anything else could go one up on that show that evening. But then there was the premiere of Mr. Perfect Khan's "3 Idiots" to contend with!!!

 Well not many Bollywood movies move me enough to write a blog post about them, and those which have done are for all the wrong reasons but "3 Idiots" deserves to written about, talked about and felt good about so here goes....

 To start off, the passage to the movie hall itself was a thriller, what with a hitched ride to the IIT Main Gate and a Bollywood ishtyle sprint to get on to the running bus, all of which enabled me to reach the place about 10 mins in advance. Only one thought ran in my mind ...this movie better be worth all the running around!! But after having read Chetan Bhagat's 5 Point Someone, frankly my expectations weren't very high.
But then if we take one of the finest acting talents in Indian cinema and mix it with the directorial talent of the legendary MunnaBhai series, fireworks are guaranteed.
3 Idiots has masterfully uncovered the dirty underbelly of the Indian education system. Right from unrealistic parental expectations and peer pressure all the way upto some of  the drastic steps that students are forced to take, all of them have been dealt with seriously, delicately and passionately.
The storyline is not straight of the novel, which is good and makes it a TRUE 'adaptation', with a few unexpected twists and turns. The screenplay is crisp and the songs make sense ( and will be on your lips, on your way out!!!), and probably the only place where the script falters is towards the end, where the entire childbirth scene is a bit too much to handle. Apart from that I guess there are no gaping flaws in the movie.
Coming to the actors, well.... singing anymore praises to Amir is a waste of time because we have come to expect him as being nothing short of real, fresh and brilliant. To quote Amir aka Rancho from the movie itself... "strive for excellence and success will follow you around." and he has proved himself right. Madhavan as the narrator is restrained and yet full of energy, while Kareena as Pia is a deadly combo of sweet and sexy!!! After seeing him play the dean in Munnabhai, one would have thought that Boman Irani couldn't go one better but he has actually outdone himself with the potrayal of Virus, a hugely competitive and eccentric professor but also a defeated father. The chap who does the role of MadanMohan..or Millimeter is also good.
 But for me the best performances came from Raju Rastogi (Sharmaan Joshi) and Chatur Ramalingam. Typical rags-to-riches boy, Raju is torn between his responsibilities towards the family and his loyalty to his friends and this internal conflict is reflected in all his actions in the entire movie. Sharmaan's ability to make those straight faced jokes really brings alive the character even though some of the jokes in the movie are oft-repeated college humor. Chatur Ramalingam is the quintessential padaku, a person who has mastered the current system and is so sure of tiding over any anamolies like the 3 Idiots with supreme arrogance and sheer weight of memory power. However, like all good Hindi movies, the supremacy of our hero is emphatically stamped on this rote-machine and he accepts defeat with a traditional salaam at the end. The balatkar speech delivered by Chatur will surely become part of college folklore for years to come.
 The  Kareena-Amir chemistry deserves special mention for its vibrance and "chooo-chweeet" factor. So much so that by the end of the movie you are almost rooting for Kareena to slap him and seal it with a kiss ( which she does). And to think that moi was sceptical about the pairing initially!!!
Who should watch the movie?? Well almost everyone, the junta studying in engineering colleges, people passed out of engineering colleges, people who couldn't make it to engineering colleges and of course, all the parents who decide at their child's birth as to what their child should become.
Amir and Raju Hirani have given us a great movie to savour and also maintained their tradition of delivering a strong message underneath a light, fun-filled experience.
 As we all agreed last night after the movie... it gets a 4 out of 5 and is a must watch for everyone in the country!!!
"Ohh Bhaiya.. Aal izzz Well!!!"

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mummy... I want a state!!! Plz can I have one too?

The post was written on the day Govt declared creation of the Telangana state. The delay in posting was caused by lack of access to Internet.

This is the third consecutive day when I am posting on my blog. Understandably the amount of time on my hands is worrying for both me and the Saptarishis. Infact in relation to my previous post, I confided to a close friend that becoming a writer is a serious career option. But then that was yesterday.
 Today, of course, India and the world woke up to one of the boldest blackmail heists in the history. As if right out of a Calvin & Hobbes strip, an unruly kid foregoes his meals to get a better Christmas gift and the hapless parents agree. And, of course, that carving out Telangana will motivate other such power-hungry ruffians to go on a fast and demand smaller states from the existing ones, is none of the Central Government's business. 
 I guess given the current state of 'bovine excrement' the Centre has landed itself into, is the perfect impetus for all the separatist movements. An the potential outcomes of their 'humble' requests can be quite interesting, coming primarily from some of the most productive lunch table group discussions. Lets have a look at some of them:
  • Possibly, we'll end up 545 states, where each constituency is a state in itself. We'll hv a small matter of 500+ state governments, potentially be renamed "The United States of India". Sounds cool, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's hardwork done to dust!!!
  • How about a spate of Union Territories, acting as regional headquarters and you can form whatever number states you want. So Mumbai is separate from Maharashtra, Hyderabad is separate from AP (Telangana..go figure this one!!), Bangalore is separate from Karnataka. I am sure the kids in school will hate it.. Imagine the enormous amount of gyan they'll have to memorise because of our politicians, some of whom actually never bothered going to school anyways.
  • Third, and this I find to be the most plausible, is the case for dual citizenship. I am sure this gives one Mr. Thackeray a smile on his face. People moving between states will have visa interviews and will have to clear exams with fanciful names like Test in Tamil Speech (who's acronym can't be written here!! Imagine if you had a guidebook to the exam saying "Ace your T&^*") or Test of Marathi as Professional Language.
  • What if the motivation for creating states changes? Currently states are formed according linguistic, cultural and of course, political considerations!! Imagine what happens if professional considerations are taken into account. What if the huge mass of software engineers strewn across country goes on a hunger strike demanding creation of niche states only for IT professionals? What will be the name of this state ... Soochna Pradesh will be unacceptable to the Madrasi anna while IT Nadu will be indigestible to the bhaiyaji!!! Some problem there. One thing is for sure Mark Zuckerberg will be proud!!!
Probably we could also pack up all these useless separatists into one state and build huge fences around it so that no one ever escapes from there to more conundrum in India. In the meanwhile I am planning to go on a hunger strike demanding creation of a state for all Priyanka Chopra fans!! Can anybody tell me if this wish will be granted?? Plz Mr. Prime Minister!!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The King(s) of the Good or the Bad Times... who cares!!

As I mentioned in my previous post, it is indeed disturbing that I have so much time at my disposal. With the approaching placement season, we are all to work our posteriors off figuring out the nitty-gritties of Finance and try our best to untangle the mess of HR (Hamara Rape) questions. And rightly so, I must add.
From the interactions I have had with members of the industry and my brethren from the student community, it actually seems that Mr. Porter and his famed 5-forces of bargaining power have undergone a tectonic shift in the recruiter-recruit landscape. Bad timing one would say but as is my wont to take a look at things from unusual (read useless) perspectives, let us try and understand how the fina preparation of a final year MBA student would vary from the Good to the Bad times.
Before starting on this rather controversial, and yet soul-searching, quest lets set some benchmarks to demarcate the Gooooood times from the Bad ones:
  • Good times are HR-killers, Bad times are Placecom-killers
  • Average packages are cooked up in Good times, they are cooked harder in Bad times
  • Good time gossips include packages, locations, profiles, parties, Bad times gossip is just one question "sab place ho jayenge?"
  • In Good times entrepreneurship is a fad, in Bad times it is a different perspective of looking at life
Apart from remonstrating on the various differences that exist between the Good and Bad times, I did get one striking similarity in the two times. The preparation enthu of the students. Yes, come what may the students have distinct apathy towards "placement preparation". The Good times cause this phenomena by virtue of the euphoria surrounding everything in the world while the Bad times bring upon you a depression, almost resembling decay.
Most of the time is spent researching (read Google-ing) the Web in search of some arcane topic, which eventually gives way to "Top 10 ______ movies of all time" where _______ is filled by a particular genre, depending on your mood. In Good times, the genres are comedy, romance while in Bad times the focus is on drama and crime (possibly as an alternative career choice!!). While the students live between meals, new passions like untried sports, photography, poetry (the sad type, especially) are cultivated, which we hope will earn us brownie HR points. Sleep knows no upperbound while all the requisite books are neatly stacked near the bed, untouched.
Come Boom or Bust boss... we are the King of all times... Good or Bad who cares!!!