Fanaa| Good story spoilt by bad direction

May 30, 2006 at 2:41 pm

“Fanaa” is Kunal Kohli’s third directorial venture. His first one “Mujhse Dosti Karoge” was a flop. If I was his producer I would have dropped him. But Aditya Chopra ka kya jaata hai.. uske baap ka paisa hai! So, second one “Hum Tum” was made. Critically acclaimed and well-handled. It had good performances from Saif and Rani. Aditya’s baap’s paisa came back and Aditya decided to bet it again on Kunal Kohli. Beats me!

It also beats me why Kunal chose to drop Rani in “Fanaa” after having her in his first two films. Rani played a similar but more challenging role in “Black”. Aamir Khan and Rani make a very good pair. So, why was Rani dropped?

With Kajol, Aamir, Kunal, Aditya Chopra, Yash Chopra, Ravi. K. Chandran and Jatin-Lalit (after a long time, but also their last foray together) expectations are sky high. After good publicity through the teasers and trailors, the expectations became almost un”pen”able.

Blind-girl sets out to Delhi to perform on January 26th in front of the President of India at the Red Fort. I need to make a point here about her parents. They ham crazily. Rishi Kapoor sobers down towards the second half, and thankfully Kiron Kher disappears. Anybody knows why she was killed? I will tell you. She was getting back to her “Devdas” hamming mode, so she was shunted out!

Blind-girl meets die-hard-romantic-travel-guide who speaks less in normal words but only keeps reeling out eloquent urdu sher-o-shaayari. Blind-girl falls in love with this shaayar. Shaayar also falls in love. This shaayar is her shehzaada according to her haming-mom. Shaayar doesn’t want to admit his love with Blind-girl, but ends up carrying her from a train to a hospital to cure her of her blindness. Actually they were supposed to get married and they suddenly end up in the hospital. And you are like, “Hey, who’s the editor of this movie?”

Hammers assemble in the hospital around their daughter. Shaayar is missing. Blind-girl regains her eyesight. Blind-girl is no longer blind-girl! And shaayar is no longer shaayar! He is dead and was identified by the not-blind-girl. And you are no longer able to take the crap!

But then wait there’s a twist. Shaayar is the mastermind behind the IKF (Assume whatever full-form you want). He is bigger than the CIA, KGB or the Mosad or even all of these put together. He has the ability to single-handedly destroy the entire Nation of India. A dangerous terrorist. So, blind girl is now normal-girl and shaayar is now terrorist.

Terrorist considers himself to be a soldier in the fight for the freedom of Kashmir. There is a comical “Anti-terrorist bureau” where Tabu does the role of Mrs. Tyagi and there is one other fellow who dons the role of the head of the anti-terrorist bureau. Now this fellow was the villain in “Ghulam”, and that’s my last recall of this guy. The casting director fails miserably in his job. Casting Aamir & Kajol is an easy job, but what about the rest?!

One word more about Mrs. Tyagi. From where does she arrive at those marvellous decisions? She should be at the Mind-Reading and Astrology cell instead of this place. Characterisation apart from the lead pair is not well thought out. No-one looks convincing. And what was Vrijesh Hirjee doing? Apart from Aamir and Kajol, there is no attention paid to anyone else.

Just like the movie, my review also seems to digress at the smallest available opportunity. Let me continue with the story.

The dangerous terrorist now carries on with his mission while the then-blind-now-normal-girl thinks her shaayar is dead and continues her life. What happens in the end? An end, which never comes. You keep waiting for it, but then you come across songs, antaksharis-with-strangers, and many other digressive measures taken to just stretch the climax. I was not very happy waiting for the end to come. But once it ended, I was very happy! Happy that the movie ended.

Kajol, before the rise of Rani, was considered the best of the present lot of actresses. But now, it’s tough to choose between Rani and Kajol. Especially after “Black”. Kajol comes back with a super performance. If she continues being choosy and picks the best scripts, which she is in a position to do, she is bound to get back to where she belongs. The number one actress in India.

Aamir Khan seems to essay any role he wants whenever he wants. Coming back after a powerful role in “Rang De Basanti”, Aamir demonstrates again why he is the country’s top actor. Take a bow Aamir.

Jatin-Lalit might as well split and take rest or take rest even together. Except for “Chaand Sifaarish” nothing else seemed to work! Salim-Sulaiman are turning out to carve their own niche in the world of background music. The “Subaanallah” piece is particularly haunting!

Ravi. K. Chandran makes the movie look slick and extremely good. His close-up shots of Aamir and Kajol are amazing. And the camerawork during the title credits is eye-catching. The helicopter shots and the sweeping shots over the snow-ranges are all works of art.

Kunal Kohli must learn how to hire an editor and work towards a better and tighter screenplay idea. I will not say that the direction was bad, but there’s nothing to write home about either. A director who needs good scripts to run the show. But then, who doesn’t? I don’t rate him highly. You can’t call a good story, bad editing, horrible screenplay and unforgivable casting as good direction.

Apart from Aamir and Kajol, there’s nothing in the movie. Story keeps you a little interested till the end. Whereas everything else tries to throw you out of the theatre.

My rating: ***

Legend:
* Stay at home
** If you have the time to kill, go ahead, but not recommended
*** Can watch on a pirated DVD!
**** Go, watch it on the big screen!
***** Don’t miss watching this one on the big screen! Avoid piracy!

Munich – A review from a movie watcher of the ‘Steven Spielberg era

May 20, 2006 at 12:43 pm

Review has been written by a friend of mine – Mr. Damodharan. A senior of mine from B-School. He can be contacted at damodharanu@yahoo.com

Every time the world gets bored of pop corn flicks like War of the worlds, Minority Report, Artificial Intelligence Steven Spielberg comes up with his trademark flick that leaves his imprint strongly. Be it Saving Private Ryan or Jurassic Park or Schindler’s List.

This time it is ‘Munich’. I would say its one of the toughest in the director’s career and perhaps the most anguished. One of those Hollywood fictions that seems to stupefy those who miss the nuance in the words “inspired by real events.”

Based on the controversial book ‘Vengeance’ by George Jonas, the movie is based on the real life incident of the aftermath of murder of eleven Israeli athletes by a Palestinian terrorist group ‘Black September’ at the Munich Olympics. It portrays both sides without leaning to either of them.

The movie kick starts with a scene where Palestinians enter the dormitory of the athletes in the Olympiad at Munich. They take both the Israeli athletes and the coaches as hostages. A catastrophic showdown emerges shortly after that in which all the Israelis get killed. The movie then traverses back to the house of the Israeli Prime minister Golda Meir where ‘Avner’ a former Mossad agent who is coerced to take up the task of tracking and hunting the men behind the terrorist attacks are present along with others. The task will mean that Avner will have assistance in terms of man power and money but if being caught, Israel would deny their very existence itself.

Avner leaves Jerusalem and his wife and travels to Europe. There, he meets his team members, Steve (Daniel Craig), Carl (Ciaran Hinds), Hans (Hanns Zischler) and Robert (Mathieu Kassovitz). A team comprising a bomb expert, work the books, a man good with guns, and a cleaner to wipe the loose ends as the team progresses in executing the task. They find out that ‘Black September’, a group of Eleven people has planned the attack. All eleven of them are in Europe and hence Avner & his team has to stay as long as it takes in Europe and kill all of them. Avner has no idea where to start. He goes to Frankfurt to meet an old friend ‘Louis‘ who knows someone who knows someone etc which leads to the first amongst the eleven getting killed. Avner gets going with Louis, (Mathieu Amalric). Louis is expensive though consistent and provides the information for Avner’s hit squad. Avner’s team starts leaving a trail of corpses In the end his team accomplish the task clinically though they are also targeted by the PLOs. Only Avner survives till the end.

The movie then revolves around Avner’s character – the emotions, the paranoia, the emotional stress he undergoes during the executions. He along with his team really face conflict within themselves as the executions kill bystanders and innocent people who just come their way. The movie has lot of dialogues difficult to pay attention to though they are powerful. Spielberg brings out the ‘Israel-Palestine’ issue like ‘opening a bottle of colored liquid and spills in on the floor’. Leaves it there. A different touch Spielberg has given to the movie. He does not attempt to give any solution instead throws light on the issue from different angles trying to making the issue clearer”

Avner leaves Jerusalem and his wife and travels to Europe. There, he meets his team members, Steve (Daniel Craig), Carl (Ciaran Hinds), Hans (Hanns Zischler) and Robert (Mathieu Kassovitz). A team comprising a bomb expert, work the books, a man good with guns,
and a cleaner to wipe the loose ends as the team progresses in executing the task. They find out that ‘Black September’, a group of Eleven people has planned the attack. All eleven of them are in Europe and hence Avner & his team has to stay as long as it takes in Europe and kill all of them. Avner has no idea where to start. He goes to Frankfurt to meet an old friend ‘Louis’ who knows someone who knows someone etc which leads to the first amongst the eleven getting killed. Avner gets going with Louis, (Mathieu Amalric). Louis is expensive though consistent and provides the information for Avner’s hit squad. Avner’s team starts leaving a trail of corpses In the end his team accomplish the task clinically though they are also targeted by the PLOs. Only Avner survives till the end.

The movie then revolves around Avner’s character – the emotions, the paranoia, the emotional stress he undergoes during the executions. He along with his team really face conflict within themselves as the executions kill bystanders and innocent people who just come their way.
The movie has lot of dialogues difficult to pay attention to though they are powerful. Spielberg brings out the ‘Israel-Palestine’ issue like ‘opening a bottle of colored liquid and spills in on the floor’. Leaves it there. A different touch Spielberg has given to the movie. He does not attempt to give any solution instead throws light on the issue from different angles trying to making the issue clearer.

In one of his interviews, I remember Steven Spielberg mention “I guess as I grow older, I just feel more responsibility for telling the stories that have some kind of larger meaning…as I get older, I feel the burden of responsibility that comes along with such a powerful tool. I certainly have made movies by popular demand. There is a distinction between moviemaking and filmmaking. I want to do both.” I believe, though direction is tight, the movie is a bit slow. The intelligent audience would have to decide whether the responses from Israelis are ‘counter-terrorism’ or ‘retaliation’. Spielberg also hammers down an emotional punch down our throat by making Guri Weinberg act in the movie. Guri Weinberg plays Moshe Weinberg the Israeli wrestling referrer and former wrestling champion who died in the massacre. Spielberg is too unwilling and seldom cringes to exercise his ideological sureties in his movies

Steven Spielberg has a team of the best in the world. 73 year old Michael Kahn as editor, 50 year old Janus Kamunski, 70 year old John Williams. They almost produce ‘perfections’ every time. In the next generations to come, people who get trained in film production institutes should have syllabus covering works from this team. To begin with, ‘Direction’. The movie is too powerful with Spielberg trying to balance between tragedy and revenge, ethics and politics, diplomacy and emotion.

Camerawork is geometric. Be it the verdant France or the bleached outskirts of Israel. Its presented beautifully. Scenes where the hand held cameras are used to capture the events to make it more realistic are breathtaking. Looks so simple yet gargantuan. The killings are carried out in various European capitals -Rome, Paris, Cyprus, Beirut and Athens. The camera takes the users back to the European capitals of the 1970s. In the climax where a discussion happens between two guys, the camera is pulled back and in the back ground we see the twin towers in the backdrop. Sometimes such elegant shots also show the truthfulness behind the theme the movie carries.

Editing is strong. To say it is strong it was felt. It would be beyond considerable sense to comment on Michael Kahn’s editing.

Munich is his best I would say until his next movie comes.

Screenplay is by Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and Eric Roth (Forrest Gump). Tough job though the length of the movie is really a backdraw. To maintain the importance of the theme, the screenplay looks stretched a little too far.

‘Music’. John Williams should remember 2005 for a long time. He had 4 releases – ‘War of the worlds’, ‘Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith’, ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ and ‘Munich’. Munich would be remembered for its uniqueness. ‘A Prayer for peace’ would not only stand to embrace the history of the tragedy that happened in 1972 but would stand to honour the mourning for the members of the Israeli team. The piano piece during the end credits will be one of this bests.

Screenplay is by Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and Eric Roth (Forrest Gump). Tough job though the length of the movie is really a backdraw. To maintain the importance of the theme, the screenplay looks stretched a little too far.

However being a Steven Spielberg fan I feel that he can make an epic in no time with his resources. It appears to me that the movie had to be rushed to get it released before Oscars. Well people make mistakes. Even extraordinary people. Even Spielberg. Spielberg does one with the length of the movie.

Though Munich is not the best of the movies ever made. It may not be the best of the ‘boringly reliable’ Steven Spielberg. Yet it would be a significant movie in the list of movies every made. Quite unparralleled. Just because of the theme of the movie and how it thrives to stick to it.

Dedicated to Sutejas

May 15, 2006 at 9:41 am

The perfect friend.. Since 1988.

No that’s not the year when Sutejas was born. That was the year when we met. And we have been friends ever since.

18 years we have known each other. And I must say he’s the ideal friend, ideal son, ideal brother and ideal boyfriend. Am sure whichever girl accepts his proposal will also get the privilege of being with the ideal husband.

A mature guy with a stable head on his shoulders. His knees are moody though! Has a good circle of friends and is very dedicated to them. Will do anything for them.

Both of us share a common love towards our first love Mysore. He can read and understand the vedas and our ancient scriptures owing to his knowledge of out language sanskrit. A great believer in Hinduism and India. I share the same thoughts with him.

Has the guts to say “No” when he wants to. Peaceful and stable. Fun-loving and emotionally mature. I am proud to have a friend like him. His parents call me as their “mane huduga”. And I love them too!

It’s Hot Machi!

May 12, 2006 at 11:31 am

DMK wins. AIADMK loses. People do rallies on Gemini Flyover. Dance and sing. It’s red and black all over chennai. The two leaves have gone.

So, now you can expect Colour TV’s and Set-Top-Boxes into the houses of people in Tamil Nadu. With DMK taking over, rowdyism is expected to grow. But not at the cost of development I hope.

Media is slowly deteriorating to its worst-ever. Jaya TV (AIADMK’s mouthpiece, obvious from the name right?)continued to give wrong reports of the election even when it was established that AIADMK had lost it! Sun TV was going gaga over its victory; what with its owner’s brother Mr. Dayanidhi Maran occupying the space below the left-arm of 82-year old Mr. M. Karunanidhi – who becomes the chief minister for the fifth time. The CNN-IBN and The Hindu were quite satisfied with the fact that their exit poll was proved correct. Probably for the first time ever some opinion poll was proved correct on TN elections!

Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV, characteristically was pulling the mikes away from the speakers halfway at his post-elections show on TN. And his act of being spontaneous generally backfires. There are so many “aaa..”s and “mmm…”s in his speech that you will go to sleep. And he never does his homework for any programme. Sports a beard similar to Prannoy Roy and thinks he is better than Prannoy Roy! Something like Sehwag thinking he is Tendulkar!

SunTV, well, I don’t know when these fellows will improve their presentation. The winners list was displayed like it was an invitation for a funeral! Blue background (that Doordarshan blue) with white font. And it was being read out by the newsreader. You can’t get worse than this!

We now have an 82-year old CM for TN. I guess this will be his farewell term. Or else he might create a record for being the oldest CM of a state in India! Anyway’s let’s hope for the best in Tamil Nadu! All the best to DMK for making TN better!

PS: The title of this post refers to the best FM Radio Station in Chennai. Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM. It’s hot machi!

Meeting the one who made us complete!

May 2, 2006 at 6:46 pm
November 17, 1997
Mysore

First day at college. A huge crowd had gathered in front of the notice board. The crowd was mostly us, first years! I don’t exactly remember if anyone looked particularly tense or what, but we were making one hell of a noise! It was already 9AM and the classes were supposed to start at 9AM. And I was atleast twenty people away from the notice board. Some bright idiot had placed the board on the floor in such a way that it rested on the wall and the floor. So, everyone was bending down to see the board. Studiously if I ever wanted to do anything; all I could do was an instant survey (technically called a snap poll!) of the various brands of college bags in Mysore!

When I went to the time-table I realised people were first supposed to find out into which section they were put into. And then according to your section you need to look at the next board for the time-table. I was told Engineering was hardwork. Now I understood why. We complicated the most simple of things just like that!

By the time I figured out my co-ordinates it was 9.45AM. I was supposed to go to some room no. 207 or something. The class that was going on was Engineering Mechanics by KCM (koLi Manja!). I had no idea which floor that damned room was in. The officials at the office were least bothered about me. Who else do I ask? Seniors? duh…!!

207 was the first room at the end of the staircase on the first floor. As soon as I arrived outside the classroom, I heard some heavily accented english and a few complex equations. As I approached the classroom I could see a group of people standing behind the classroom from the corner of my right eye. Sensing that they must also have lost the race in reading the time-table I approached them.

One guy with big eyes and big ears was beaming from one end of his prominent ear to the other. I casually walked up to him. And when I walk casually, the swagger can be worse than Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s!

This big eyes and ears guy asked me, “E Section aa?” [Do you beloong to the E Section?]

I said, “Hun, haudu. Neenu?” [Yeah. E section. What about you?]

He answered panning his hands across all the present people, “Hun. Naavellaru E Section ee!” [Yeah. All of us belong to “E” Section]

I tried putting on the mask of the sincere student and asked him, ” Horagade nintiddre enu use? Banni olagade bidakke permission kelana.” [What’s the use of standing outside? Let’s go and request to be permitted inside.]

The entire group was now looking at me with a what-an-extrasmart-guy question in their eyes! The grin which was ever-present turned into a guffaw! I knew I had asked the wrong question!

Pointing to a sweet-looking guy with a cute smile, big-eyes n ears said, “Avanu iddannalla? Avanu hoda olagade ‘excuse me’ anbittu. Sakkat aagi byiskondu banda horagade” [Do you see that guy? He went inside the class saying ‘excuse me’. He got scolded (by the professor) and turned him out.]

I gave the cute-smile-guy a sheepish smile and shut myself up for the rest of the time I spent with that gang. But since shutting up was never easy, I carried on a harmless discussion about CET Ranks, branches, counseling, colleges, origin, localite and non-localite, etc etc with big-ears. I understood that the entire gang of guys had done their Pre-University course together and hence they knew each other very well.

At 10Am, KCM walked out. We walked in. I found Sam sitting alone on the third bench. I walked upto him straight and occupied the place next to him. Now, there was place enough for one more only. Yeah, we were and still are fat! I spoke to Sam and explained why I didn’t attend the class. Hey! Wait a minute! The first class of my engineering course and I had bunked!! Wow! I was so proud of myself! Sam was rather disconnected with my idea of pride! Ha! Never mind! Great brains were never understood during their time!

Just then walked in the last occupant of the bench. He was dark, wide (but not fat, and that was then, now he is fat!) and wore spectacles. Sam waved to him and gestured to come and grace us with his esteemed presence. [The effect of composing wedding invites!] K walked in with all his style with a bright smile on his face.

As soon as Sam said, “Hi”. I heard K’s reply “Hi!” and almost fainted! It was as if he was saying hi to someone zipping on a motorcycle with a walkman in his ears across the Manantody Road [The road overlooking the college]!! Man, was he loud?!

Sam said, “K meet adi. Ade nanna jagadalli KSS Hostel ge baro avanu idda nodu. Ivane avanu! ” [K meet Adi. He was the one who was supposed to come in my place to KSS Hostel] Oh! so they were hostelmates!

K shouted and at the same time extended his right hand, “Oh hauda. Nice meeting you ma. Enu ninna full hesaru?” [Oh, is it? Nice meeting you ma. What’s your full name?]

I shook his hand and said, “Aditya. Aditya Nataraja” [I always say that in the ‘Bond. James Bond’ style!]

I repeated K’s full name which was Krishnaprasad and asked him if I could call him “KP”. He shouted in reply, but I understood that he had agreed!

KP and Sam were hostelmates during first year at the KSS Hostel. After which, KP separated out of the hostel and stayed with his uncle and aunt at Chikkahardanahalli 2nd stage, Sriramapura. [He always insisted on telling his full address to anyone who asked him, “Where do you stay?”] It is an area right behind the Ashokapuram Railway Station. KP used to have a cycle (Canon Barrel Blue colour) on which he would frequent me and Shastri wherever we stayed. Though he used to sweat profusely after the Tour De France kind of journeys, his inspiration never went down even for a while. As someone has said, “Success is 99% perspiration, 1% inspiration” [Or was it the other way round?!]

KP graduated from NIE (Mechanical Engineering) in 2001. He has been with the corporate world ever since. He has worked with companies like Festo & ESMA (Abu Dhabi). Presently works in Webex as a Sales Manager handling Bangalore region.

KP, Sam, Sha and I formed a relationship. If I call it “Friendship” it sounds too flimsy. But I realise that I cannot give this any name. And I believe that if you have a relationship that you cannot confine to the boundary of a name, then it’s a relationship of the highest order. And that’s what the four of us share. We are proud of what we have with us. And intend to keep it with us forever.

The four of us have given each other strength during trying times. We have given ourselves direction when we were lost. We gave each other a mouthful when we began flying too high. We can say “Very Good” and “Very Bad” with the same intensity and be sure that it will be received with the same intensity. Yeah sometimes we end up breaking our bones, but then if you got the point, then that’s it! Whatever we are today is because of what we were during those years from 1997 to 2001. We know it and live by it!

Meeting NS

May 1, 2006 at 2:43 pm
November 1997
Mysore  

Tomorrow was going to be the first day of engineering. A dream I had seen since passing out of my tenth standard. Doing my graduation at Mysore with all my friends. Coincidentally, most of my friends had found their way to NIE Vivek, Goddi, Raj, Harsha and Sutti. Rohith was in the nearby SJCE. It was the college I had chosen in my first round of counseling.  

I was sitting in my hostel room and matching dreams with reality watching the beautiful network of cobwebs woven by the extra-active spiders on the roof. Then walked in NS. We started speaking on some topic, and both of us felt claustrophobic.

What else do you expect?

It was a 10′ x 13′ room with walls that were last painted when the Wodeyars were ruling Mysore. The walls, probably, were built much before that. It is said that Tipu Sultan supervised the construction! Four of us were supposed to live in that monument of a room. Till I came in, my roomie was the only one to have been staying there. And he was what we called, “Doctorate in Engineering”. It was his fifth year at engineering! Anyway, more about him later.

NS and I stepped out of the room into the corridor. The corridor of this monument overlooked the road to our college. Manantody road. The hostel was just off the road. Nobody would even notice the hostel unless someone they knew stayed in the hostel. From the outside it looked like a neglected Government project of lined up houses for the slum-dwellers. Not that it was a palace from inside, but still!!

NS said, “Ninge bere yaava hostel siglillva?” [Didn’t you find any other hostel?]
I answered, “Sikktu. KSS hostel nalli sikkittu. But alli nange munche inda 6 jana iro room kottru. Nanu hogididdre 7th man aagtidde!” [Yeah, I was offered accommodation in a room where 6 people were already staying as the 7th man!]

NS said, “Sari bidu. Olledu aytu. Illige bandyalla” [Good in a way. You ended up here.]
I said, “Haudu” [Yeah]

NS asked, “Estu ittu ninna CET rank?” [What was your CET rank?]
I said, “2930, nindu?” [2930, what was yours?]

NS said, “1068” [It was around that number! I don’t remember properly!]
I exclaimed, “Enu?! NIE Mech enakke togonde?” [What?! And you landed up in NIE Mech?]

NS said, “Hun. Nange mech ee bekittu. NIE gintha na Mech bekaadre. E&C, CS ella madakke ista illa nange. Adanna elladru kalibahudu” [Yeah. I wanted Mech only. And NIE is the best in Mech. I didn’t want to take up E&C and CS]
I said, “Nandu ade idea iddiddu. But NIE mech sikkidu punya ne anko” [Even I belong to the same school of thought. But getting NIE Mech was a matter of pure luck!]

NS said, “Illa. Hangenu illa kano. Ninna rank ge general aagi sigutte NIE Mech. Olle rank ee nindu. [Nothing like luck. You had a good rank. You got the seat you deserved]
I said, “Nanganthu counseling time nalli full tension. Bari onde seat ulidittu nanu togonda mele” [I was very tense during my counseling. After my chance, only one seat was left]

NS said, “Nanu togondaaga, ade second seat. Naanu first inda second seat togonde. Neenu last inda second seat togondidya! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!” [I picked the second seat from the top and you picked the second seat from the bottom! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!]

I joined in the laughter.

By the time we ended laughing we had settled ourselves comfortably on the bench under the Neem tree within the hostel compound. The weather during November in Mysore is just amazing. The birds migrating from Ranganathittu to their winter capitals. The “V” shape that they formed against the backdrop of the clear blue sky gave me a metaphor to think about. V stood for victory and the sky for the amount of potential we had to achieve the victory. Also, at times it gave me the feeling that our playground is like the sky. Unbounded & limitless but you will encounter clouds as you come down on your value system if you are blinded by that “V” for Victory.

Mysore gave me unlimited metaphors to life with its easy-going nature. The town would be called sleepy by those who had lived in the so-called big (and hence considered as better) cities. If you were not materialistic in nature, then Mysore is a place you would have loved during those times!

On the bench, I couldn’t resist sharing these metaphors with NS. Instantly he agreed! He started sharing how much he loved Mysore. And I was agreeing to each and everything he had to say. It was like he would say something and I would build on it. And later, we would build on it. We enjoyed the conversation immensely.

It was like we were finding our wavelength. And it was being so easy. We felt like we were destined to meet each other this way at this time. Also, both of us were feeling homesick. It was the first time we were away from home. I remember both of us taking an oath that we would stay together throughout engineering. We had struck an emotional bond!

NS is what he signs at his office. Called “Harsha” by family and “Shastri” by friends. Narasimha Shastri and I went on to endure the hostel during the first year. Later on, we moved into a room at Kuvempunagar during the second year. And stayed as PGs at Jayanagar during our pre-final and final years.

Shastri graduated from NIE (Mechanical Engineering) in 2001. Got through Mico Bosch on campus and stayed with them till 2002. Secured an MS in CFD from NUS, Singapore and flew back to India. Has been working for GE JFWTC, Bangalore, as a scientist ever since. He insists on being called a technologist. Has his own blog too.

Shastri tied the knot this year in February to a very cute, sweet and strong-willed girl who goes by the name “Shrivalli”. Shrivalli is an M.Sc graduate from Karnataka University and was with I.I.Sc as a Research Associate. She also has a paper published to her credit while at I.I.Sc. A girl with a clear determination to do her Ph.D in Glass Transition, Shrivalli and Shastri are colleagues at GE JFWTC presently! And it was all arranged!

What is Success in Life?

May 1, 2006 at 1:49 pm
Success in Life

There was a talk on “What is Success in Life?” by Swami Dayananda Saraswathi yesterday at K.L.N. Prasad Auditorium, Hyderabad. I will try to articulate the 40-minute speech here. The learned and well-versed Swamiji laced his speech with characteristic humour and made it sound quite down-to-earth. Though I felt he could have avoided unnecessary swipes at other religions, as my uncle said after the speech, “Somebody needs to protect Hinduism too”. Maybe it’s true. I am thinking.

The Chief Guest of the evening, Hon’ble Justice L. Narasimha Reddy tried interpreting the topic in his way and gave his ideas on it. He said, “Success is something that is achieved on meeting Goals. An individual fixes a goal before starting out and at the end if he has achieved whatever he had set for himself, then success is achieved.” Fair enough we thought. We applauded.

Then Swamiji began.

What is Success? You have a desire. You achieve it. If the means of achieving that desire are within the confines of Dharma, then it is a success. That’s all. That’s why you need people like hon’ble Justice! [Pointing to the chief guest of the day!Audience is impressed. Laughter all around. Appluase follows!]

In life, we play multiple roles. A father, an employee, a son, etc. There are homes in which “Father is coming” is announced as if some ghost is coming. And as if on cue, the children rush into their rooms hiding from their father. Everybody is running to take shelter somewhere. The only person to come out is ‘the dog’ of the house! Ah! What a success! [Audience is in splits! Applause follows!] In some cases, even the dog runs for shelter! [More laughter, more applause!] With the tail in between its legs! [Laughter! Applause!]

There are some religions where it is preached, “Don’t have any desires. Be desire-less. The state of desireless-ness is happiness. Between the fulfilment of one desire and the beginning of another desire is defined as happiness.”

Don’t have any desires is like saying,”You are having an headache? Cut off your head!”. Ha! Ha! Ha!

Now you laughed. What desire did you fulfill you tell me?! You were happy, you laughed. Sometimes, happiness can also be achieved by not fulfilling any desire.

Have desires. It is healthy to have desires. If you have desire you will experience failure. You will learn how to come out of it. You will grow as a person. But make sure the means to achieve your desire is within the confines of Dharma.

We, human beings, have two things to do. We have to survive, and take care of ourselves to follow Dharma. Because there are predators all around. Be careful. They are waiting to prey on you.

But we have one more thing to do. “Make-up”. If we don’t have hair, we do some farming on our head to help hair growth. If we have some hair left, then we need to comb it from one side to another. If we have to hear a swamiji speak we need to comb our hair, put on a good dress and come. So, that means we have three things to do. Survive, take care and make-up! [Audience is almost on the floor laughing!]

What is Dharma you might ask. The Dharma being referred to here is Samanya Dharma. Lord Krishna has said, “I manifest myself in the form of desire in you. I am desire”. But before that he says, “I manifest myself in you as Samanya Dharma”.

What is Samanya Dharma? In order to have a desire you need to examine if it falls under the confines of Samanya Dharma. It is something like the “Law of Gravitation” that a baby monkey knows. Have you ever seen a Mother monkey tell it’s baby monkey, “See, you will need to hold on to me tightly. Otherwise gravitation will pull you down and you will fall”. Have you ever seen a baby monkey ask, “What is gravitation?”!

Similar to the knowledge of gravitation to a monkey, is the Samanya Dharma to a Hindu. Why is it called “Samanya”? Because it is “Samana” to all. “Samana” means common to all. It exists in everybody. In Hinduism, ends does not justify means. Never. The means have to be as righteous as the end being achieved.

Finally, success is following Dharma to achieve a desire.
[Applause! Applause! Applause!]