August 29, 2005

 

After a really long time...

... I put my hands together to applaud when the movie ended. Nagesh Kukunoor's Iqbal left me spell bound.

I don't follow cricket much. I know, in India, this is a blasphemous statement. And when last time I watched cricket in Lagaan, I came out of the movie hall with my IQ halved temporarily. But in case of Iqbal, I was happy to see cricket in its most non-gimmicky form - by today's standards. It has to be, as it runs through the veins of the movie. Kukunoor resists the temptation of sketching the nuances of cricket matches and leaves much to the imagination of the audience.

This movie charms with its sheer simplicity, a la-Shwaas, and leaves a lasting impact. When the audience is subjected to suffocation of Bollywood's gas, this movie provides the fresh breath of air. Though the "hero" of the movie is a person with hearing and speech disabilities, he commands respect, not sympathies. I wish, Sanjay Leela Bhansali had got this simple thing right in his Black. It also doesn't glorify the failures - a character played by Naseeruddin Shah. I sense a potential Oscars nominee in this movie.

This is, by far, the best movie by Kukunoor, who shows enormous maturity. He not only manages do justice to the stalwarts but also gets best out of the young actors. The show stealer is, obviously, Shreyas. He stands confidently when veterans like Naseeruddin Shah and Girish Karnad are around and delivers his performance with extreme sincerity.

This movie also underlines the fact that Subhash Ghai, in recent years, is lot better producer than director. I still feel the shivers across my spine when I recall his shoddy Kisna.

The story goes so beautifully that the background score might get unnoticed. Kay Kay's rendering of Aashaayen.. is refreshingly original and goes perfectly with the movie.

Actually, the movie deserved a standing ovation!

August 25, 2005

 

Why Shrek is one of all time favourites?

There are probably a thousand reasons for my unabated admiration for the movie. I will get those many occasions to tell you them. Here is one.

As the rift between Karisma Kapoor and her husband, Sanjay Kapur, widens with mudslinging taking ugly turns, I could just recall Shrek, in which Donkey says,
Huh, celebrity marriages. They never last, do they?
I am sure media will relish on this issue, the way they did on Ambani saga.

August 23, 2005

 

Sheer coincidence?!

"Chinese Cryptologists Get Invitations to a U.S. Conference, but No Visas", reports NYT[1]. Of the nine Chinese researchers, only one was granted visa!

Three years back, Arthur Jaffe, President of the Clay Mathematical Institute (CMI), said following in the annual award ceremony [2]
When the Scientific Advisory Board of CMI decided to recommend that Agrawal receive the Research Award, I invited his students (now in the first few months of their graduate study, but already world-famous) to accompany Agrawal to this meeting. Unfortunately, about three weeks ago, the US State Department denied their visa application, stating that they gave insufficient proof that after their one-week visit to the United States, they would return to India! It is not clear that this is really the outcome best for the US!
Prof Agrawal and his two students, Kayal and Saxena, had published a landmark algorithm in number theory.

The stricter visa norms are also reflected by decline in international student intake in 2003-04.[3]

References:

[1] NYT registration-free link.

[2] Remarks by Arthur Jaffe at the CMI Annual Meeting

[3] International students in USA

August 18, 2005

 

Google cashing on its stock

According to this [1] (and many more) story, Google plans to sell its 14.8 million shares worth USD 4 billion. This huge amount they plan to use for general corporate purposes, including working capital, capital expenditures and acquisitions of complementary businesses, technologies or other assets. The two investment banks managing this sale will get USD 150 million! Isn't it the same Google which avoided the bankers on Wall Street and went ahead with Dutch auction for its IPO?

4 billion, actually, may not be big money if they plan to go Yahoo way. (Yahoo recently spent 1 billion to acquire stake in Chinese auction site.)

References:
[1] News from Bloomberg

 

Low expectations == Pleasant surprises.

Though a DreamWorks' movie, I was not really expecting a la-Shrek experience from
Madagascar. I was still to recover from Mangal Pandey shock. This cute animation movie made my week-end. A typical DreamWorks' animation movie which elders and kids can enjoy together, albeit different shades of it. Go with kids, if you can. Its fun to watch such movies with the kids. I was alone, but there were couple of hundred kids in the movie hall.

PS: The "==" sign in subject line is a dead give away on what I do for my roji-roti.

 

More of ET's sleaze headlines..


August 17, 2005

 

Triumph of ambush marketing


"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."
-- Abraham Lincoln

Well, you can fool all the people for some time if you have right advertising budget, insanely aggressive marketing strategy and an iota of understanding of mob psyche. That small duration is good enough to make truckload of money! Aamir Khan's earlier movie Lagaan was supposedly part of B-school curriculum for leadership. His latest venture Mangal Pandey - The Rising should also be included for Marketing 101.

This week, I suppose, 75% of the shows in movie halls across all major cities screened Mangal Pandey. Yeah, Aamir is returning to screen after 4 years and there was lot of euphoria about it, and all that is fine. But the sheer megalomania associated with this movie was, IMHO, unworthy. In the recent past, the other event which hogged such media space was launch of Harry Potter book. My gut feel is, there will be more after-shocks of this marketing tremor with news items like how the movie stormed into chart-buster list of Timbktu.

I, per se, don't have any problem with such larger-than-life images of actors and movies. The Johar-Chopra clan do it regularly with Shah Rukh's mediocre movies. But, atleast, they are promising entertainment (yeah, all the emotional crap on relationship is entertainment), not art, like Devdas and, definitely not a crash course on freedom struggle of India.

The movie doesn't turn out to be disaster like Asoka, but surely, utterly unsubstantiated assertive statements like "Aazadi ka jo sapna Mangal Pandey ne dekha tha, woh 15 August 1947 ko such hua" are not something expected from a Aamir Khan's movie, arguably one of the most sensible contemporary actors who gets himself involved in every tiny aspect of the movie. Such movies do more harm to the society in general than Asoka, which are clearly differentiated as failures by an average Joe.

Till the movie was released, we Indians were taught in our ever changing history text-books, that India got its independence due to Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh. Their contribution to freedom struggle is not a topic of debate. Now, the coming generations will add Mangal Pandey to this list. We will continue to identify our freedom with only a few "celebrities" and be happy with ourselves carrying a impression, false one if I may add, that we know what it took for the air of freedom we breathe!

August 07, 2005

 

Loyalty, anyone?

I read this[1] article with amusement. It talks about how big IT companies, in India, are aggressive about hiring freshers.
Good salary can only be a part of the package used to lure them, but companies don't miss opportunities to show off their swank campuses and facilities.
Just 4 lines before, article says,
Insiders say many students have upto two offer letters besides a dream job offer to chose from besides the offers they could be getting from outside the campus.
If my limited experience is anything to go by, I would say most, if not all, of the freshers will ditch companies paying lower salary. Even when the difference is as low as 10%, which in absolute numbers translates to couple of thousands per month! All the swanky campuses are great, but most of the IT companies already have that. So, nobody gets brownie points for showing off their facilities. Unless you have something like THIS[2]!

If the HR folks consider that sending Birthday Card is a cool idea, God help them. They are living in Alice's Wonderland. According to a friend, candidates take job offers as causal dating. You can leave it after initial chit-chat without any emotions, let alone guilt.

And the targets are massive.
The top two vendors, Infosys and TCS alone will hire 33,000 employees in the rest of the year.
If 33,000 is net addition, then total hiring number goes up again. Assuming a extra-conservative 10% attrition, total strength of both companies together at 90,000, this number shoots up to 42,000.

I distinctly remember, just a few years back Infosys' selection ratio was 1 in 100. With such number-driven hiring targets, who bothers about such out-dated ratios?


References:
[1] I'm Infosys 3rd year.

[2] Keyword: chefs

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