December 31, 2006

 

Babel

This is the last movie of the year unless I watch "Happy Feet" today.

The theme is remarkably similar to "Crash" or "Magnolia", "Babel" is able to stand on its own. Multiple stories happening across diffrent geographies and culture is the new twist. There is nothing great in plot as such, but the sheer number of novel techniques enhance the overall experience. Not many movies you see where the director is not in a hurry to complete the shot and move to the next after dialogues are complete. The camera lingers on the face of the actors, the mountain, the skyline in Japan with some brilliant score in the background. (Need to find out what string instrument were used.) I couldn't notice any shots with steady camera in any of the scenes. There was time skew in the stories. This skew was also following the timezones, where the future of story in Morrocco is shown in the present of Japan. This doesn't look accidental. When the deaf-mute girl visits a discotheque, the sound switches off whenever the camera gives girl's view. Interesting.

I always put Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in the same category due to their stardom. Now, I must admit that Brad Pitt is a far better actor.

The mild disappointment came when movie ended as I was craving for. Nevertheless, a great note to end the year on.

December 30, 2006

 

2006 in movies

A very cliche post, I must warn you. Here is the list rank-ordered Hindi and English movies I watched this year. Some of the movies are technically released in 2005, but I got to watch them in 2006. No particular order in each sub-list. This list will be updated as I recall more movies.


9/10

8/10

7/10

I-wish-I-had-avoided Department.

Movies-I-avoided Department


Movies I will catch on (hopefully Rs 34-wala) disk

December 22, 2006

 

If this succeeds

If Moser Baer delivers on its promise of selling movie DVDs at Rs 34, it surely is a great news for the consumers.

But that may not come as good news for companies like Seventymm which aspires to be India's Netflix. This is not a good news for TV channels which screen movies. For just Rs 34 you get to watch ad-free movies. That too, at your own convenience and pace. Of course, piracy will be crushed without any support from law enforcement agencies. And, your local DVD rental shop will just vanish.

Now, there is an piquant situation. Substantial part of the revenue for new movies come from satellite rights. For example, KANK's satellite rights were sold for Rs 12 Crores. If the DVDs are available in market before it is screened on TV channels, as it happens today, then value satellite rights will nose dive. Even if the distributor decides to release the movie on DVD only after the TV channel makes recover their money, people may choose not to watch movies with an hour of ads. They will wait for another few months to get it on DVD.

All in all, this might work great for movies may be more than 1 year old. But, getting the latest movies on this price point will be real tricky.

Of course, the hurdle is the first word of the post - If.

December 21, 2006

 

Generalizations and assertions galore

Just like I hate to be a news-bot, I also hate to hitch a ride on somebody else's ideas in a blog. Nevertheless, here is another exception.

Rashmi Bansal writes a fine blog on interesting and original ideas. But, many a times, she jumps the line of making observations and makes sweeping generalizations & thoughtless assertions. While commenting on the placement stats of various IITs, she again crosses that line.

To begin with the subject line stinks of jealousy as the colloquially "chandi hona" is used to indicate an undeserving person walking away with more than fair share of something (exam grades, money, job, girlfriend,...). Many a times, I have seen this phrase being used by losers. Makes me wonder why she decided to chose those words to describe IITians landing up with plum jobs.

Then she goes on to describe IITians as "raw material" (her phrase) who undergo the patent-pending process at IIMs to get converted to "finished products"(my phrase), ready to be deliverd to Investment Bank from Manhattan. Earlier the financial/consulting giants used to visit IIMs for recruitment, but now they seem to be happy with "raw material", thus goes her thesis. Wonderful! Are these the new benchmarks of merit and talent? If yes, then should we label the arts/commerce/science/law graduates coming from India's good colleges as mineral-rich ore from mines in Dhanbad?

Oddly enough, “Only second-rate IITians now go to IIMs” is the stinker from an IITian.

Here is an assertion, packaged as common knowledge, blindingly obvious and generally accepted truth.
"Of course, no one from IIT will join an Indian software company today because the 'quality of work' sucks."
Sadly, this is an uninformed lie. So, how do we define Indian software company? One which has office in India and pays in INR; or the one which has parent in India and pays in INR? In my opinion, if I get an offer from a Bangalore/Pune/Hyderabad based software company, it is an Indian company for me.

And which are Tier-I software companies visiting the campuses? Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Amazon, Cisco, and more. These companies are generally get top slot in recruitment due to their compensation. Bunch of folks I know, directly and indirectly, working in these companies are happy with work. Almost all of my class-mates are in India. None, no exceptions, of them live with the crib - "quality of work sucks". Because in current job market if a qualified software engineer complains about quality of work that means either of the following. One, money is so freaking good that only a bozo will walk away from it. Or, two, he/she is really clueless and incompetent. Since, only smart IITians were under consideration, only first answer is plausible.

I don't write anything about work, but here is another exception. We have a good number of IIT graduates in our company. If only IITians are considered, we have rejected a few due to quality reasons. On the other hand, bunch of candidates rejected our offer on the grounds varying from "pay me an outrageous salary" to "start-ups are risky business." None of them due to "quality work sucks". In fact I would argue that there are lot of real techie jobs (ones which require skills of programming moderately complex recursion) but not enough quality candidates, including IITians. Even if one is ready to pay an obscene compensation!

And finally, oft-repeated lament on brain-drain.
"So honestly, I sense that IITs themselves are confused about what to do with this ardent courtship of its students by the free market. At the back of their mind lies the question, what about the 'T' in IIT."
The idea that IITians leaving technology industry is a brain drain belongs to Stone Age. Why is an honest, tax-paying IITian working for a financial giant considered less worthy? Will you put
Raghuram Rajan and the likes as testimony of brain-drain? Anyway, it is a topic of another post and not worth debating here.

The "T" needs in "IIT" needs evaluation, but not through the broken prism of placements. That needs to be judged on the basis of quality of research, as Prof Pankaj Jalote argues in an op-ed. IITs and IIMs need to move up from consumers to creators of knowledge.

Frankly, this kind of "controversial" post is similar to "Outlook" publishing sex survey with pictures of nude women - meaningless and cheap attempt to get attention. Watch out as the number of comments hit three-digit number. Only reason to type these few hundred words is to highlight the lapses in argument.

And, yeah Rashmi, I share your concern you expressed recently - "Are these institutes being rendered to glorified placement agencies?"

 

Someday, I should exercise my right to remain silent

When you think, things can't go any worse, they suddenly do. Few months back, I criticized the password policy of ICICIDirect. A not-so-smart trick of maintaining two passwords was suggested in that post. Well, somehow NSE folks (those who put in this policy in place first) learned this secret and they have modified the policy as follows - in verbatim.
You will have to change your password compulsorily every 14 calendar days.
  • On login after the 14th day from your previous change of password, you will be taken to the "Change Password" screen.
  • The New password cannot be the same as the immediate previous password. (IMPORTANT EXAMPLE: abcd1234 is your password for Jan 1- Jan 14, your password from Jan 15th to Jan 28th can be wxyz4321. From Jan 29th to Feb 10th your password can again be abcd1234.)
Hmm. Now I've to keep 3 passwords. Oops. I shouldn't have given out my new secret. I just hope this doesn't get as bad as another bank which insists that you can't repeat any of the last 10 passwords. Ten.

December 20, 2006

 

India Today Book Club Offer

You can choose 8 books or CDs for Rs 600 (approx) and you'll receive the membership of India Today Book Club for one year (for whatever it is worth). The list of books and CDs available on offer are here. The reason I was attracted to this offer is the "The Elements" and "Soundscapes" music albums.

Use the passcode
http://offers.indiatodaybookclub.com/Best_seller/getpasscode.asp?BCODE=B278
to avail this offer.

PS: This is not some pyramid scheme from which I'm getting a cut.

[Update on 24th Jan] : 5 days back I received a reply from the regretting the delay in dispatch. Again, that line went dead. A comment on this blog indicates they have dispatched to some orders, but still the quality problem persists. The reply I received was from shashi [dot] chandriyal [at] indiatodaybookclub [dot] com. You can send the mail to same address.



December 18, 2006

 

Kingfisher Calendar 2007

When I was disappointed with quality of the images in the forwarded mail, I went to the original site of Kingfisher Calendar. I wonder, why they are so afraid of putting some good quailty images on their site. Finally, Atul Kasbekar's site met my lowered expectations - here is the album. While you are at that site, do check out the brilliant work by the photographer. It reminded me of some the photos clicked by Gautam Rajadhyakha.

Here is my favourite photo from the calender. The whales (or are they dolphins?) will win one or two medals at Olympics in synchronized swimming, if allowed to participate.



(Image directly linked from Kasbekar's site.)

Technorati Tags: Kingfisher Calendar 2007

December 16, 2006

 

PVR vs Yash Raj Films

The marketing machine of Yash Raj films started humming almost two months back promoting "Dhoom 2". Life-sized teasers were all there to see at PVR multiplex. But, when the movie released in November end, it was not showing at PVR. Reason? Negotiations between distributor (Yash Raj) and exhibitor (PVR) failed to come to revenue share figure. To quote, Ashish Saxena, COO, PVR,
"They were demanding a 50% share in the first week, as against the 48%, which is the norm"
This revenue share arguments between multiplex owners and distributors popped up its head with "Fanaa", another Yash Raj movie. But somehow, they managed to release it on Friday. Then, same devil came haunting for "Lage Raho Munnabhai". PVR lost first two days and finally screened it from Sunday. But, no such respite for "Dhoom 2".

If a difference of 2% in the first week decides the deal, serious amount of money must be involved. Here is some math I came up with for PVR.

From Annual report of PVR:

Revenue from Ticket sales : Rs. 65.57 Crores (Without entertainment tax)
# Tickets Sold : 87.84 Lacs
Avg Price of Ticket : Rs 75
Occupancy ratio : 46% (let's round up to 50% for convenience)

From the company profile

Number of Screens : 70
Total seats : 17,270
Seats per screen: 250 (approx)

Ambush Marketing. It all started with Mangal Pandey. When a big budget movie releases, there is no way you can watch any other movie. The big movies occupies 50-60% of available screens. 2 shows per day per screen (50%) would be a fair assumption for "Dhoom".

# Shows of "Dhoom" = 70 (screens) * 2 (shows per day) * 7 (days) = 980 shows

Revenue: 980 (shows) * 0.5 (occupancy ratio) * 250 (seats per show) * 75 (price per ticket) = Rs 91.8 Lacs

2% of 91.8 Lacs 1.83 Lac.

So, there we are. The deal was called off for Rs 1.83 Lacs. Undoubtedly, not a small sum. But, take into account that the movie is running good in 3rd week. That is more than Rs 2 Crores in revenue PVR has kissed goodbye.

That is not all. Today, "Kabul Express", a niche "multiplex movie", by Yash Raj is again not available at PVR. This indicates, the acrimony in relationship still exists.

Here are prominent money spinners distributed by Yash Raj in last 3 years - "Dhoom:2" (2006), "Fanaa" (2006), "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna" (2006), "Krrish" (2006), "Black" (2005), "Bunty Aur Babli" (2005), "Mangal Pandey - The Rising" (2005), "Veer-Zaara" (2004), "Dhoom" (2004), "Hum Tum" (2004). Given such an impeccable record, one should really hate money to get into an argument with them on 2% margin.

Oh, I forgot. Doesn't PVR itself use flexi-pricing to decide the ticket prices?

Technorati Tags : PVR Yash Raj Films

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