Apr 242012

…with all due respects to Marquez. :D

Decline and fall of civilisation can be seen best in West Bengal. In 200 years you move froma Raja Ram Mohan Roy driven enlightenment to Mamata Banerjee driven idiocracy. From arresting cartoonists, to painting the city blue, from moving Pakistan to sharing a border with Bangladesh to inexplicable bitchfits when things don’t go her way, Mamata has been a source of amusement for that part of India that doesn’t have to live or do business in West Bengal.

Amul, as usual, gets it right

There is an online exhbition of Mamata cartoons here

Oct 162008

Stuff that made me – in no particular order – think, chortle, smirk, snigger , slurp, nod my head wisely, with sorrow, and in a wtf mode. I shan’t identify which is what …coz it will be fun a year later to figure:

I have been following the economic crisis – you would have to be on mars if you didn’t. ‘emperor’s new clothes‘ anyone?. Keynes must be looking terribly smug and superior at the economist’s table in the great beyond. Friedman is possibly drinking himself to oblivion !

Stephen Dunn’s piece in the Hindu on Galbraith has a brief summary of bubbles that burst, making me wonder how stupid we are as a species….

Starting with the tulip bulb mania in the 1630s, bubble after speculative bubble has been erased from the popular memory: the South Sea bubble in the early 1700s; the Mississippi bubble, which caused a stock market crash in 18th-century France; the Florida real estate bubble in the 1920s; the stock market crash of 1929; the stock market crash of 1987; the Nikkei bubble, which began in 1991, and the Nasdaq bubble of 2000.

There is Christopher Hitchens in ‘Vanity Fair’ on Banana Republics – the anger at a situation where political parties and politicians across the world have colluded with big business to bankrupt the system is very apparent ….

But welcome to another aspect of banana-republicdom. In a banana republic, the members of the national legislature will be (a) largely for sale and (b) consulted only for ceremonial and rubber-stamp purposes some time after all the truly important decisions have already been made elsewhere.

in a related area of tech and media companies Mark Evans writes:

What’s amazing is the “Hey Mom, no business model” model was allowed to exist. You would think after the dot-com boom went bust that entrepreneurs and investors would have a better focus on fundamentals such as, say, how to generate revenue.

I remember meeting an old colleague who had joined a company that makes mobile video content. And in a circuitous conversation he admitted that they haven’t figured out revenue model as yet and that currently, and for the foreseeable future, there wasn’t enough bandwidth to make video content available to customers, even if they wanted it….. i saw it happening before, and i am seeing it happen again, which leads me to question how stupid are we as a species…

Also on the same track, check out Shefaly’s ‘only the monetising survive‘.

Survival may be easier for a small niche business, focused on, say, tailoring services, than it may be for a Web 2.0 firm with lots of VC money but no clear monetisation model.

of course, the assumption is that the next round of funding will happen – i have friends in VC funded companies in India, who are seriously nervous. they have families, mortgages, EMI’s, …

John Kay in the FT looks at the difference between fraud and ‘innocent fraud’ and asks,

Is the deception of others more or less venal when one has also deceived oneself?

And, there was this cartoon at Truthdig, which kind of encapsulates the entire problem of the disconnect between politicians and ordinary voters (anywhere)

Other stuff that was interesting :
Madhukar on Alternatives to Singur – with the agitation moving to Gujarat along with the Nano factory, maybe it is time to relook at the way agricultural land is acquired for industry…

MJ Akbar on why for the vast majority of Indians secularism and religion are both ways of life and go hand in hand.

Ram Puniyani on the Nanavati report. Until Justice is done and seen to be done, there would be injustice …

i will end this with a quote from Hitchens again, this time on the reasons for his choice for President :

A candidate may well change his or her position on, say, universal health care or Bosnia. But he or she cannot change the fact—if it happens to be a fact—that he or she is a pathological liar, or a dimwit, or a proud ignoramus. And even in the short run, this must and will tell.

which is possibly my issue wtih Mr.Advani…

Oct 132008

… in the current economic crisis, it kind of seems silly to speak out against government intervention, but this is not about economics. It is about rights & choices, and Mr. Ramdoss is beginning to get serious delusions of grandeur.

“On weekends in cities like Bangalore and Chennai even women are going on smoking and drinking binge. It’s a dangerous trend. We’ll have to intervene and regulate the system,” and Alcohol consumption poses a grave threat to India, the nation with 600 million people less than 30 years of age,
“The Constitution mandates all states to exercise prohibition but except J&K and Gujarat none of the states follow it. Prohibition is a state subject, I would urge all state governments to enforce to total prohibition.”

i remember voting for a Government 5 years ago, not choose parents or life long guardians.

After Smoking and Alcohol let us take a look at all the other things that can Mr.Ramdoss can regulate in India, to protect our ‘health’ :

a) sex – if you didn’t have sex you won’t get AIDS, or increase population or become anemic through repeated child birth. let’s regulate sex
child birth - if you aren’t born, you won’t get diseases ! and, the woman delivering the baby will not have possible health related issues….
red meat - associated with thickening of arteries, cholestrol , and god knows what else (tape worm>). let’s regulate !
food, -Let’s face it, most desi’s get into trouble because of the ghee and sweets that they have; the meat and the fish that they have; the milk and the nuts that they have ( i am severely allergic to peanuts). Other desi’s get into health trouble because of the food that they don’t eat. Let us regulate food, and send daily receipes to every household to enusre that the remain in good health.
Cars - pollution leading to mass breathing difficulties, asthma, let’s regulate vehicles
Industry - see above
work - i have been seeing a spate of articles on stress caused by work. maybe we ought to regulate work. people have to be in at 9, have to clock out at 5 and have a compulsory one hour break
religion - seriously damages health. look at Orissa, Kerala, Dhule, Delhi …
Men afterall,

Violence against women is a widespread phenomenon. So widespread that, globally, women aged 15 to 44 are more likely to be maimed or die as a result of male violence than through cancer, malaria, traffic accidents or war together.

pretty soon, everyone & everything will be regulated.
do add to this list of things that Mr.Ramdoss can regulate !

and, while we are compiling the list, Mr.Ramdoss can take his eyes away from the urban middle class who are smoking and drinking in weekend binges – but who have private health plans – and look at the rest of India – most people don’t get one square meal a day – and are more dependent on public health systems – may be sorting that out can be a better way of improving health in India…. If he doesn’t want to look at the rest of India and just focus his attention on cities – then maybe improving the government hospital system within the country would be a good start.

If Mr.Ramdoss is interested in health, maybe then he should stop grandstanding and start addressing issues !

Aug 272008

Sri Lanka was good fun. We shot for 3 days at the Sarvodaya Village in Kalutara.
The shoot was exhausting. It was hot, humid and i have come back nicely browned.
there are 7 hours of footage and i have to make a 10 minute film – so editing ought to be fun :)
The Andaman leg of the filming is also done.
more on both of these in the coming days.
On the 17th, i had a free day and caught the goodies at the National Museum of Colombo.

Colombo Museum Black White

The museum ….

Buddha at the Colombo Museum b/w

The Buddha….

May 222008


It is almost a decade since Rangeela was released. And, it was a fabulous film. A.R.Rehman had composed a brilliant soundtrack, there were some rocking numbers, and the actors sizzled. It was possibly my favourite Ram Gopal Verma movie after Shiva. I used to have the tape in my car and listen to it quite frequently. And, then my tape system died, CD’s came in and my PC became my home entertainment system. A lot of stuff I had on tape had not yet been converted to the CD format. And, I lost touch with a lot of music i listened to at that point in time.

Last week when I was out shopping, i saw a CD of Rangeela. Nostalgia overcame me, and i purchased it. A shiny new CD with my favourite songs …. i got into the car, peeled off the wrapping and put the CD to play…. to my astonishment i no longer liked the music. And, there was a part of me that felt terribly let down by it. I think, that in the intervening decade my tastes had changed … and i really didn’t realise it… But, it got me thinking … what else did i enjoy, that i can no longer handle now…. and here are a few of my (earlier) favourite things … that are no longer favourite…

a) American Prayer - by Jim Morrison – there was a time when R was still in Mumbai, when it would almost be an anthem… A whole bunch of semi inebriated people saying waah waah to the American Prayer. About six months ago I was at a friend’s place and there was something that sounded like a terrible audio mix that was coming out of his speakers…… ‘that sounds like cats being tortured’ I said … ‘ i thought you liked Morrison’ was his response…. I do like the Doors even now, but the American Prayer, is just too spaced out for me…

b) Ayn Rand - when i was 13 she was my heroine ….. i was in love with Howard Roark and John Galt. When i was 25 I re-read the books and was terribly impressed by the philosophy … “wouldn’t it be lovely to be an island without bothering about the world’s mediocrity and compromise” . was my take. And, then i read both Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead last year. My response to Atlas shrugged and its question “who is john galt” was who cares, and i was seriously appalled by the rape fantasy in Fountain Head — women generally don’t fall in love with men who rape them!!
I found the writing turgid and the philosophy juvenile. Maybe 10 years from now I will appreciate it again.

c) Partying - I used to be out 5 nights a week. A 14 hour working day, 5 hours of hard core partying. I simply got into the groove of socialising, going out, consuming copious amounts of everything that was not good :) and having fun. I can’t anymore….. I seriously don’t enjoy partying. Hanging out with friends is one thing, hanging out with groups is something quite different.

d) Directing — like most others in my profession i was terribly fida about the film making process. i spent hours preparing, fine tuning technique, understanding light, understanding edit and so on. I was, and still am, fairly good at it…. But, it no longer interests me to the level that it did…. If i am to direct something that is not documentary in nature, i seriously have to psyche myself up …. it is often like watching paint dry :)

e) Films – i used to devour Hindi Films & Hollywood films with equal gusto . Ever since DD introduced the Sunday film sometime last century, i have been hooked to films. I watched at least three a week (if not more) all the way till 1998 or 1999. And, then one day, i stopped. I could no longer handle the Feature Film. Most of them – Bollywood or Hollywood are excruciating, especially if they also happen to be box office hits :) . However, in the last year or so, i have seen stuff that is slowly bringing me back to being an occasional visitor to the theater !