Common Strand – The System

July 31, 2005 at 12:35 pm

An Old couple lose their son. They fight to get justice and end up taking Law into their own hands. They try to win by staying in the system, but they ought to take the system on since it’s keeping them out of it how much ever they belong to it. (viruddh)

A conscientious young lad wants people of this country to follow the rules that are there. He wants everybody to do their duty properly and in the spirit in which it ought to be done. He goes about killing the people who don’t follow the system. (anniyan)

The system is the problem.

System is a word that as soon as I hear I realize that it ain’t related to me. I somehow don’t own the word. Can we say the same about words like ‘family’, ‘brother’, etc. ? Why? Why don’t I want to own the word? Simply because there is a responsibility that I openly take up to answer millions of people who have thousands of questions against the system. I don’t want to take up the responsibility and probably I am also guilty of having corrupted the system somewhere.

The system is built up of people whom I have voted for. It’s not always possible that whoever I voted for, lost. So, the people up there are my representatives. If I don’t believe in them, then I have two options:

  1. Make them more accountable. Go to them and demand solutions. (I still trust them)
  2. Ask them to step down, and get a more effective person instead or I stand up instead of them. (I have lost my trust in them)

This is an approach where we are trying to propose a change from the top. There are many more options. Lets look at a few of them.

Everybody in this country wants to do something. There’s this attitude of “Mujhe kuch karna hai” in each and everyone. How do we make use of it? Well, if there is a doubt whether that basic feeling exists in everybody begin by asking yourself. I am sure you will find the answer. How do we harness this energy in the direction all of us want but are not sure whether we will reach the destination? We need to start doing it to know. Prediction of the future is not as useful as exploring and moulding our way through it.

It’s not all that tough you know. The problem is in the fact that each of us wants to do something in the area of our concern. Fine. Let’s do it. We always ask this highly responsibility-shrugging kind of question,”How does it matter if I alone do my duty?”. We need to start from somewhere and we shall start from ourselves. No, not because it’s the right point to start with, just that it’s the easiest point to start from. Come to think of it, I don’t know which is the right starting point! If you know, let me know.

When I was a kid, my parents taught me “Vishnu Sahasranamam” – the
thousand names of Lord Vishnu. I would never take up the initiative to
start the recitation of those 108 slokas. It was a regular feature during our
evenings after dinner, before going to sleep. I would hate
my father for pestering me to sit through the recitation. But you know
one thing, I learnt the entire sloka by heart. I can today just reel out the
entire sloka from my memory. Today I realise the value of the sloka. It can
bring so much of calmness to your personality and keep out certain unwanted things from your mind. That apart, if I had started to learn the sloka after realising that it can bring me peace of mind, then it would have been very tough. But since I had already learnt it, I started saying it daily and today it’s again a regular feature in my day. This time, no outside pressure. And I can feel the enhancement in my daily being. Thanks to my parents!

So, the point is: Starting point is where we define it to be. Since we are defining the entire process ourselves we can start from where we want to. We want to cleanse the system. And as I said, each of us wants to do it in our own areas. Let’s begin the change. All we need to do is do our duties as a professional, family roles (son, father, brother, uncle, etc.) and citizen to perfection. It’s not possible to attain perfection alone. Perfection is teamwork. All of us can do it if we decide to.

It’s my dream to see this country be a developed country before I go to the next world. And I need your help, each one of you, in making my dream a reality. I am sure we can do it.

Tomorrow: Holistic development of the human personality

Me in the news

July 31, 2005 at 12:29 pm

The Hindu Business Line article quotes me:

In fact, some IT professionals are not big spenders on electronic goods. Take, for instance, Aditya, Business Development Manager at Novatium Solutions, a computer hardware company, “Upgrades for TV/VCD players cost a bomb! I always buy with a vision of the future.” He prefers to unwind with a Discman and a couple of books.

Anniyan – is it an alien idea afterall?

July 31, 2005 at 1:22 am

Shankar, the director of films such as – “Kadhalan”, “Gentleman”, “Indian”, “Jeans”, “Mudhalvan” and “Boys” now comes up with “Anniyan”. Too much hype, huge budget, mind-blowing music, using the best special effects in Indian film industry, conveying significant social messages and vivek’s presence (off-late) are all key ingredients of any Shankar’s film. “Anniyan” is no different. But honestly, the movie could have done with better music! Shankar misses AR Rahman badly in this project. And it shows clearly.

Stars or no stars, Shankar knows what the audience wants. He gives it to them in a package that even certain hindi films cannot give. Once you come out of a Shankar movie, you will never have the feeling you have watched a tamil regional language movie. He always connects the movie to a significant social message with which you identify and that raises the standard in which you view the movie. Invariably that also raises the standards with which you review the movie. And Shankar has always come on tops here too. He raises the bar each time he makes a movie. And he satisfies it with his next venture.

“Anniyan” conveys the message of “Do your duty sincerely. Let the change in the country begin with you. Don’t put up with nonsense. Raise your voice and make it matter. We can make this country as good as a Singapore or a Japan if we (The Citizens) decide to do it” through three characters Ambi, Remo and Anniyan. Ambi is the one who follows the rules by the letter and spirit. But he cannot make others pay for the mistakes the make by not following the rules. Remo is a pop-singer/ ramp walker (confusing actually!) who does whatever’s necessary to win the love of his beloved. Anniyan is the one who makes every wrong-doer pay for his mistakes. These are the three alter egos of a small time lawyer by name “Ramanujam”. He is called Rules Ramanujam for easier identification. Yes! You got it right! This is another movie on Multiple Personality Disorder!

Vikram suffers from MPD and he goes about following rules, winning the love of his neighbour and making people pay for their mistakes in three different characters. Vikram defines each character carefully. He creates a clear distinction among them in terms of their voice, hairstyle, body language and style. Vikram has done so well in this movie that he can use this movie as a marketing tool for himself to other producers/ directors. Not that he needs it, but just goes to show that Vikram has completely shown the various range of acting styles he can handle with ease. He doesn’t look out of place at all. In order to stop myself from using superlatives for his performance I would like to pick up one Prakash Raj’s dialogue from the movie where he mistakes Vikram’s MPD as a case f good acting and says, “I have seen Sivaji, I have seen Gemini, Kamal and even Rajni. Even I am a good actor myself. But you have outdone all of them. You are simply great!” This is a tribute to Vikram’s performance inside the movie itself!

Vivek keeps the audience in splits whenever he’s on screen. It’s only natural that the tamil heroes (self acclaimed dalapathis and superstars) of today feel insecure sharing the frame with him. He can alone assure repeat value to a movie. “Run” is an excellent case in point. Sada is passable. Nassir comes in late as the psychiatrist and still manages to create an impact as only this veteran can do.

Music is good. Could have been better. AR Rahman is missed sorely in this department. The situations for the songs are just so wonderful that AR Rahman would have made one huge difference to the movie. If the movie ends up being a hit and not a super hit then I would attribute this to the absence of the Music Maestro from this team. The synergy is missing.

Cinematography by Mr. Ravi Verman and Mr. Manivannan is outstanding. The anniyan scenes are shot very well. Choreography was consistently horrible. None of the songs impressed in their execution & presentation. Painting a whole village, bridge, few cars, buses and Lorries were all a wasteful expenditure in my opinion. There are other better ways to create a positive visual impact. Extravagancies are never substitutes for good ideas. Shankar should learn from Mani Ratnam on how to extract the best visual effects from a situation.

Overall, a good movie. Have heard comments like it’s a rehash of all Shankar’s earlier movies. But then, he has a style. He follows it and to top it he makes it a point to show the style. Some people are rubbed the wrong way by this. Also, there is a certain section of people who just don’t get the crux of the movie come out making such comments. The intention of Shankar is there, but it’s not practical enough. All of us need to have an Anniyan growing inside us. If we keep ourselves blind to all the wrongs that are going on round us then, we will continue to live in a flawed world. Is it not our dream to see a perfect world? Is it such an alien idea? I don’t think so. Let me know what you think.

Viruddh – Against all odds

July 31, 2005 at 12:29 am

Amitabh Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan & Amitabh Bachchan. How many movies does this 64-year old sign in a year? He must have lost count. If I attend all working days of my office, I might sign 20 times in the register. And I get paid only once mind you for all that daily effort! And here is an old man, who signs more than I do and gets paid in crores (in all likelihood!) for each such sign! Is he worth all this? Why so much fuss about this old man? Why does it look like the directors of today aren’t having enough of this man? To top it all, we have scriptwriters still writing stories with this man in mind. BLACK. Isn’t this a case of “too much” as a chennaite would put it? Konjam over aa therilaiye? Swalpa jaasti ne ee mudukanige praamukhyate kodtidaare ansallva? Endukuandi prati movie lo ethanni sign chestaru? The bottomline: Is this old man worth all this?

I believe Amitabh Bachchan is worth all this and in fact much more. He is running the best phase of his career. Well, that best phase has been running since the 1970’s! Except for a few glitches here and there, he is really been around for a long time. Rajesh Khanna ended his super streak when the Amitabh began, Anil kapoor came and went, the Khan trilogy rose and they rule in patches now, papa’s son Hrithik flattered to deceive, Amitabh rules over all of them. Even collectively.

“Is Sunil Gavaskar (SG) better or Sachin Tendulkar (ST)?”, “Is Illayaraja better or A R Rahman” are oft-heard topics for informal debates. Have you ever heard a debate on “Is Amitabh Bachchan better or Shah Rukh Kan or Aamir Khan or whoever?” In all likelihood you will never hear it in your lifetime. Reasons being: SG and ST were not contemporaries and hence the debate always continues since you cannot equate them on that platform. Same thing holds good for AR Rahman and Illayaraja. But Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, etc. have all been contemporaries of Amitabh Bachchan. And in Aamir Khan’s case, his debut was as a child star in “Yaadon ki baraat” which was released in the same year as Amitabh’s “Zanjeer” – 1973. So, essentially there’s no comparison between these actors. Let’s move on, before I get stuck on this wasteful comparison exercise.

This article started as a review of the movie “Viruddh”. But see where it is going?! I think this is natural. I don’t think it’s a digression at all. If you see “Viruddh” you will understand what I am saying. Amitabh makes you laugh, giggle, jump, cry, sit back, tense, thoughtful and agree with whatever he does on that 70mm white spread. You flinch when he gets hurt. You cry for him when he is pained. You feel sorry for him when he is teased. You feel more helpless than him, when he can’t stand up to people teasing him. You feel his anguish when the police just brush his case away like a pile of dirt. But Amitabh’s greatness lies not only in helping you feel the pain, but he shares his happiness with you with equal intensity. You burst out laughing for those jokes he cracks with his wife Sharmila Tagore. You appreciate his sensibility in handling the situation where his son comes back with a foreign bahu! You stand up to his greatness of comic timing in the scene where they drink wine. But there’s one scene which only Amitabh could have done and not anyone else. Anyone. He watches through the door of the operation theatre with his son dying. The expression that he shows was enough to help the audience understand the result of the operation. There was no necessity to show his son closing his eyes. That’s Amitabh for you. At 64, he seems to get a better understanding of your pulse than your doctor!

You have heard Amitabh speak English in BLACK. He speaks English in “Viruddh” too. And let me tell you, not once during the entire movie did I even think that this could be the same man who was in BLACK. Here he is a typical Marathi speaking retired old man. In BLACK he was the sophisticated, refined, magician who could make the impossible possible. And as only he can do it, he has clearly shown how he differentiates between characters (among so many signatures!). Getting under the skin of a character means what? To understand the question watch Amitabh perform.

Mahesh Manjrekar proves he can come up with classics at will. “Astitva” showcased Tabu, and here he tells a story as a tribute to the Great Amitabh. The story of triumph of the truth over deceit, grit and will over political pressure and corruption. If Mahesh Manjrekar can keep away from fare like “Padmashri Laloo Prasad Yadav”, he would be doing all of us such a big favour! He would rank right up there among the best directors of today if he made such movies!

Sachin Khedkear and Sanjay Dutt find themselves in because they are a part of Mahesh Manjrekar’s team. Sanjay Dutt also has a fight (Or should I call it simple violent?) scene to go with his image I guess! It was not necessary. The movie dealt with having common sense and a no-complaints attitude. And that scene was a spurt in the proceedings!

Sharmila Tagore was good as the mom. She is not as plastic as she was in her younger days. John Abraham is good as the son-cum-narrator. Using the son as the lens to view the movie was again a fantastic move of direction. It helped to show the unique mesh of relationships in new light. And can you believe this? There is a wedding that happens in the movie with only the parents of the bridegroom, the bride and the bridegroom, two pujaris (priests) and three Gods! The Johars and Chopras should learn from this to give a storyline more importance than shooting marriage videos.

“Viruddh” is an under-rated movie going by the other reviews I have read. Similarities to “Saaransh” and other such storylines seem to be there. But you will not repent having watched this movie. And as I said before, you can watch it for one man – Amitabh Bachchan.

Poor man’s

July 18, 2005 at 11:21 am

India is going to become a developed country by 2020. Major reason: Low cost, very efficient, human resource.

When you think of the the major reason that’s stated, you are probably thinking of sectors like IT, BPO, etc. That’s definitely the first few sectors to make use of the benefit of the low cost, efficient, human resource. There are many more areas where we can take this advantage to and help in a more distributed development. By distributed development I mean to say, that all the second-rung cities and villages also develop.

There is a lot of unskilled labour in our country. Unfortunately they are not only unskilled, they are underpaid (I aint talking of this low cost!), unseen and unheard of. Talking about labourers who work in building sites, there is a certain system that’s been in place wherein these people meet up at common points in a city and the contractors come and pick them up and take them to the site where they go to work on a daily basis. These labourers more often than not stay in nearby villages.

There is a requirement in the cities for these labourers and hence they find that by making their way to the cities they will be able to earn their living. But there are many more such labourers who just have one problem – not able to reach their potential customers. We talk about highly responsive and cost-effective supply chains that various companies boast of. Is there anyway that we can connect these people up with their potential market?

Yes. Let’s look at how we can do it. Every village definitely has a panchayat/ post office/ or a PCO atleast. We choose one of these for what I call Local Stations (LS) But before going into the village level, we need to create a website that’s functionally like any of the jobsites. Just that the job listing is going to be profession-wise (Carpenters, plumbers, gardeners, cooks, etc) and not company-wise (HLL, Asian Paints etc) as it is right now. Lets discuss the structure of the website later. Getting back to the idea.

We get all the people (who want to get employed) to register at their respective nearest LS’s. Their names go into a central database and automatically gets listed on the available skillsets of the website. Lets call the website a Central Station (CS). At the other end, we need people to know that these people with these skillsets are available. For that we need to do some publicity work for the website.

The revenue, initially, will come from both ends. Meaning that people who register for employment, on getting a succesful employment call (I am clueless on how I am going to track that) or even on registration itself (easier, but might have to compromise on the numbers) will pay up to the website. The people who hire, undoubtedly, will pay for utilising the services of the website. Advertisers, etc come into the picture later!

Yeah. I agree that I am not very clear on how it’s all going to look finally. Before getting into the nitty-gritty issues I am thinking aloud to decide on it’s necessity. And once I am convinced of its necessity, we can go into the commercial and technical feasibility.

There are a few more ideas. I shall blog them one by one gradually. Wear your thinking hats and let’s see how we can build our country into a better one using the available tools of technology!

Two of my all-time favourite songs

July 13, 2005 at 10:06 am
Zindagi ...kaisi hai paheli, haaye
Kabhi to hansaaye kabhi ye rulaaye

Kabhi dekho man nahi jaage peechhe peechhe sapno ke bhaage
Ek din sapno ka raahi chalaa jaaye sapno ke aage kaha

Jinhone sajaaye yaha mele sukh-dukh sang-sang jhele
Wahi chunkar khaamoshi yu chali jaaye akele kaha

Kahin Door Jab Din Dhal Jaye
Sanjh Ki Dulhan Badan Churaye
Chupke Se Aaye
Mere Khayaalon Ke Aangan Mein
Koi Sapnon Ke Deep Jalaaye

Kabhi Yun Hi Jab Hui Bojhal Saansen
Bhar Aai Baithe Baithe Jab Yun Hi Aankhen
Kabhi Machal Ke Pyar Se Chal Ke
Chhuye Koi Mujhe Par Nazar Na Aaye
Kahin Door...

Kahin To Yeh Dil Kabhi Mil Nahin Paate
Kahin Pe Nikal Aaye Janmon Ke Naate
Thami Thi Uljhan Bairi Apna Man
Apna Hi Hoke Sahe Dard Paraaye
Kahin Door...

Anukokunda Oka Roju

July 7, 2005 at 6:32 pm

‘Aitey’ director Chandrashekhar makes his second movie. Not having seen ‘Aitey’ I will not be able to give a comparison.

The plot revolves around the leading lady Charmy who has lost a day in her life and is unable to recall the happenings on that day. The repurcussions of which she seems to be facing daily. How does she discover what’s going on in her life? Who helps her out of it?

Well-written & well-picturised the movie tries to belong to the RGV genre. The first half could have been trimmed to make it a taut film. A song at the wrong time just before the climax is what makes me call it an attempt at the RGV genre. The cinematography is particularly good. Music by Keeravani is good. “Left o Right o..” and “Evarayna chusuntara…’ are two songs which show Keeravani’s brilliance. Using self-acclaimed pop star Smitha’s voice in “evarayna..” turns out to be a good choice.

Charmy leaves an indellible impression! She is outstanding! Comaprisons to Sridevi and Revathi only go to show the brilliance of this actress. A class act throughout. I haven’t seen her before. So, I also thought she was fresh and away from the navel-exposing, pouting for attention kind of today’s heroines!

Jagapathi Babu has this knack of excelling in supporting roles! Remember ‘Anthahpuram’? Again here, as a Real juice sipping, thinking, but suspended cop who wants to marry Charmy, he puts across a very convincing performance. I am yet to see him in his ‘Gayam’ days! That was vintage Jagapathi Babu!

Among others, you are forced to call Sashank as the hero. He does well. His role doesn’t require him to be very expressive. Yet you empathise with him as you watch the movie. There’s very little of him though. The script is totally inclined towards Charmy’s character.

Gunnam Gangaraju having produced the film gets himself into the film as a comedian. Looked like he didn’t want to pay Sunil a hefty amount for it! Everytime he spoke I got this impression he was trying to imitate Sunil. But blame it on my rare viewing of telugu movies and unlimited admiration for the comic timing of Sunil!

Pavan Malhotra is wasted. Charmy’s friend who gets pregnant through the ‘missionary’ position and is so matter-of-fact about it actually makes an impression!

The social messages conveyed through the movie are commendable. Very aptly timed. Don’t believe in anybody blindly and Drugs is a bad habit!

Glad I watched this movie in telugu after a long time.