Vantage point

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

I am no music expert, in fact I am as un-expertish as one can get. But as I sit to listening Kishore Kumar songs, I am reminded of the huge Mohammad Rafi vs Kishore Kumar debate that has raged in several living rooms and egroups over the past years.

I remember Ramanand telling me about a battle royale somewhere between Kishore fans, who called themseles the KKK (Kishore Kumar Klan methinks) and the Rafi fans who (very wittily I think) called themselves Raffians.

I know the opinion of a music-illiterate such as me would not count, but I prefer listening to Kishore Kumar. However, I am also of the opinion that this is largely due to the fact that he sang better songs than Rafi did, which is very different from saying that he sang songs better than Rafi did.

So my playlist currently has many KK songs, some upbeat, some melancholic, and the line I am listening to right now -

Chala Jaata Hoon, kisi ki dhun mein dhadakte dil ke taraney liye
Milan ki masti bhari raahon mein hazaro sapney suhane liye ho

(Off I go, in someone's thoughts, on the song of the beating heart
Carrying thousands of pleasant dreams on the paths where we will meet )

Why do some people feel compelled to make movies? It is almost as if they are producing carbon dioxide, an action which they can't help performing. I don't know how useful the carbon dioxide we breathe out is, but the movies some people churn out are NOT useful at all!

I saw one such movie today. It was titled "American Desi". Now ever since Nagesh Kukunoor made a wonderful low key movie called "Hyderabad Blues" which achieved cult status, there have been many people trying to strike while the arclights are hot. AD was made by some students of Penn State University and man, does the movie suck! American Desi, at best can be described as "boring". It has no real storyline to speak of, and all the attempts at humour fall flat.

You know how some movies have the lead guy who is a real ass and invokes dislike from all quarters, but then during the course of the movie, he 'reforms', becomes a good guy, and the audience celebrates the return of the prodigal son? This movie tries something like that but the prodigal son never comes home.

It's basically the story of an Indian boy called Krishna ( 'please call me Kris') brought up in America who absolutely hates India and everything about it. When he goes to college, he gets stuck with Indian roomies, and also falls in love with an Indian girl. All through the movie, the dude keeps insulting India and Indians and still the girl keeps giving him chances. Finally he makes out with a middle aged American woman in front of the Indian girl. She pretends to be disgusted and storms off. So this guy decides that since he wants to win her, and probably get her into bed as well, he should learn Indian-ness which according to the makers of the movie, is dancing raas, garba, bhangda and playing cricket. Then he bashes up some villain-type character and lo! The girl forgives him and is entwined around him during the closing scenes.

There are movies you enjoy if you keep your brains aside and watch. I tried that, but this movie wasn't funny enough for that. So then the brain you have kept aside nudges you and wants to be let back into its cavity, and you pretty much have to let it in. Once it is back, it starts asking questions.

Like why does the girl put up with the guy's stupidity and arrogance?
Do his roommates not have any self respect that they too keep helping him while he keeps insulting them?
Why does the Indian called AJ speak like a Black (African-American to be politically correct)?
Who are the two guys who hang around the villain calling him "boss"?
If the TA wears woolen handgloves, how can he write on the board with a chalk?
Why is the statue of Ganpati at the Dandiya spouting out flowers through the snout?
Who made this movie?
Why was it made?

I told my brain to take it easy and concentrate on other functions like making sure all the metabolism is going fine.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

The Rolling Stones wrote some pretty meaningful lines -

And you can't always get what you want, honey,
You can't always get what you want,
You cant always get what you want,
But if you try sometimes, yeah,
You just might find you get what you need

Friday, October 25, 2002

When you put some assignments off till the last moment, only to realise that two huge ones are due on the same day, there is nothing to do but bite the bullet and prepare for a night out. So that is what I did last night and today morning. Saw the sun rise, and heard the mynahs chirp (majorly overrated methinks). Worked on excel spreadsheets for 7 hours at a stretch and after that, wherever I looked, I could see rectangular cells in the background.

The funny thing is, when you are sleep deprived, your mind comes up with the profoundest(!!) of thoughts. Here are some nuggets (interpret that the way you want) that kept buzzing about in the bonnet.

- If procrastination is indeed the thief of time, I am sure to be arrested on the charges of grand larceny.

- Whoever designed the human body, while no doubt a genius, also had a depraved sense of humour. Why else do men never go bald in the beard area? And what is the big idea behind armpit hair?

- Our education system is all screwed up. Why else would they spend precious hours teaching us something like Dalton's atomic model, and then that Rutherford model, only to tell us afterwards "But all this has been proven wrong."

- Why the hell is the First World War called a World War at all? I mean, isn't that one of the biggest overestimations? Was it not fought only in Europe? I propose it be called the "European War".

- What do they call French Fries in France ?

- If somebody came up with a perfect power supply that went from Zero to Vcc without any transients at all, would that not be the stupidest invention of all time? Why? Because then how would an oscillator work??!!!

- I am sick of these Arabic countries preening so much just because of oil. Imagine if tomorrow we discovered a car that used water as fuel. That would be fun. Since all these countries are in deserts, the price of running a car would go up exponentially. Come, let's start researching water, I'll get a pail.

- Homosexuality is the limit of Narcissism

- If Bryan Adams meets a lesbian, will he sing to her "Have you ever really, really really ever loved a woman?"

- A million dollars to anyone who has ever encountered a guest/relative who sees you after a long time and says - " Hey, you have not grown up at all since we met last!! In fact, you have shrunk an inch!"

- What good is a tie? What purpose does it achieve? Do I dislike it because it is a symbol of the imperial west's stranglehold on our neck? Or is the reason much deeper? or is it because I simply can't tie a double knot and have to make do with a mediocre single knot?

As I read all this, I realise that I need about 40 winks. Make that 40,000.

Happy Birthday to Sonal. I hope, nay, I know that all your dreams will be fulfilled, simply because there is little that can stand in your way.

Have a great Happy New Year according to the Sonal-calender.

Party till you drop and tell me how you spent your day.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

I had visited this page a few years back, but when I chanced upon it again today, thanks to Sameer, it made me miss good ole' Pune so much. Read it, Satyen, and you'll feel like Princeton is turning into Pune.

Rohit, my batchmate in COEP, read the Dil Se post and mailed me about how he loved the movie too. He said the official site of the movie explained how according to ancient Arabic literature, love passes through 7 stages, and that the story of Dil Se moves through these seven stages. The stages are -


Read more here, the official website of the movie.

In fact if you look at the couplets along with each stage, you realise they are translations of lines lines from Satrangi Re.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

I came back from 7 hours of lectures ( 2 extra) and scanned the network. Guess what I found and downloaded?

- The Score
- Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
- Hyderabad Blues
- The Usual Suspects
- The Bourne Identity
- Monsoon Wedding

And you know what I am gonna do now?

STUDY!!!! Cos there are 2 quizzes tomorrow and an assignment to be done. Now I have almost a dozen movies to watch and very less time. Did I hear the walls welcoming me to IIM? ;-)

Hmmm, before I get acquainted with Macroeconomics through Sameulson's eyes, I will watch this little thing I downloaded. The video of Aerosmith's "Crazy". It has great music, plus it features Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler ( Arwen Undomiel to all LOTR fans).

I absolutely love the way Alicia Silverstone looks. Aren't her lips perfect? Well, almost perfect anyway.

Happy Birthday Jogu a.k.a Nikita.

Monday, October 21, 2002


As you all know, bugs and insects of various kinds infest my hostel. Today they were in heavy attendance in my room and there was a huge congregation around the tubelight. I am not a fan of these creatures and I immediately grabbed a magazine, climbed on the bed, and attacked the huge mass of insects on the wall.

The result was similar to what ensued when general Dyer ordered soldiers to fire on the gathering at Jalianwala Baug in Amritsar in 1919. Many died, leaving their marks on the wall. Some tried to escape through the window, but I caught them too.

Now, I am satisfied, for I have killed at least hundred of the little menaces, but my wall is a permanent testimony to this historic day in Bug Annals. We might have tourist bugs visiting the site to pay respects and my children or grandchildren may be called upon to apologise to the bug community for my actions.

Heehee, bottomline - my room is reasonably bug-free due to my assault.

Sunday, October 20, 2002

(lifted from a post by IndianMuslim on

Hindi-Chini Bahi-Bhai

On 20 Oct 1962, ( 40 years to date ), the chinese launched an attack on Riznag La pass in NEFA, wiping out the Indian battalion posted there , fighting to the last man and the last round.
At Rizang La, a small white pillar marking the fallen soldiers reads

For how can men die better,
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of their forefathers
And the temples of their gods ?

So who will join me shedding a tear over the fallen soldiers ?

Saturday, October 19, 2002

As the last two posts must have made obvious, it's a lazy Sunday morning here. Listening to songs and downloading movies from the network. You know the weird thing is, I have had this comp for almost 10 days now, and I have watched only 1 movie- Dil se. Have been downloading millions though. the thing is, my sound system has gone bust and the computer dude is taking time to replace it. Listening to songs on earphones is OK, but watching movies is not.

So here's a list of all movies I have downloaded on the computer and will watch once the system gets here ( and if I get the time).

-The Others
-Training Day
-Guns of Navarone
-Mr Deeds

Desparately seeking Andaz Apna Apna and Fight Club.

Long long time ago I can still remember
how that music used to make me smile

I love this song. American Pie by Don McLean. Did you know the meaning of the song? It supposedly talks about Buddy Holly and rock 'n roll music. There is a little debate on this, but the song is dedicated to Buddy Holly for sure. Maybe George can tell us more.

Oh yes, I hate Madonna for butchering this song. It's almost like she walked into a male bastion and defaced one of a guy's most reverred symbols. There are some songs that guys sang and only guys should sing their cover versions. No sexism here. It's just what the ear and the heart dictate.

I remember a month ago, when I was watching Star World at home, and in the 5 minutes between two songs there was an absolutely revolting girl band called "A-Teens" singing a remix of "I can't help falling in love with you". Elvis will definitely return if he gets to hear the remix, he'll return to kill the group. And maybe he'll be assisted by UB40 in the job.

So Women, please leave some songs as they are. I know that over the centuries, men have suppressed you and continue to do so in many countries, but please, isn't this revenge too harsh?

There are many such songs that women should leave alone. Here are a few-

Right here waiting - Richard Marx (Imagine Jennifer Lopez doing this song....yuchhhhh)
Neele neele ambar par - Kishore Kumar
Yesterday - Beatles ( in fact throw in all the Beatles songs)
Sacrifice - Elton John
Winds of Change - Scorpions
We will rock you - Queen
Always - Bon Jovi

Very soon, all such songs will have been re-sung by women. And the day this happens will be..

.......the day the music died

Why do people smoke? Has it not been scientifically proven that it is chemically addictive? Does it not cause cancer?

Even if it is medically benign, a cigarette gives you such a rotten breath. Your mouth stinks and causes the people around you displeasure.

The smell of a cigarette is so disgusting! In our hostel, fortunately, smokers are not in a majority. But whenever a smoker comes puffing into my room, I get so pissed off, because then my room will smell of cigarette smoke for a long time. I say the government should subsidize room fresheners for people like us.

I have never preached anyone or lectured them about not smoking. After all, your lungs, your choice. If so many people do it, there must be something good about it.

But still, I am curious. Why do people smoke? I have had people tell me, "to handle the stress of engineering college" or "to handle the stressful life in a management institute". Is that not a clear cut case of denial? I have been in stress in engineering and management colleges. But I have never felt stressed out enough to smoke, knowing how disgusting and unhealthy it is. And let me assure you, I am not a person of "iron will" or "dogged determination". Neither am I a paramount of virtues. Smoking has just seemed plain stupid to me. Like bungee jumping without the rope, or swimming with your legs tied.

So I still can't get it. Why do people smoke?

A BIG BIG BIG (so big that if it gets any bigger, it will have to move to a different planet) BIG THANK YOU to Satyen for his help in improving my template's look.

You can have upto half my kingdom's worth in Lucknowi chaat, dude.

BUMPS AWAY or Uthaa Lo

IIM Lucknow has a weird tradition. We keep giving people bumps. I know what you will say, birthday bumps is a phenomenon common all over the world. But here birthday is just ONE of the occasions for bumps.

Again when I say bumps, I use a great deal of latitude. All over the world bumps is the name given to the activity when you pick up a guy (or a girl if you believe Don Quixote was talking through his hat) with one person holding each limb of his and let gravity pull him down and bring ground and buttock into contact. This leads to pain in the pelvic area. However in IIM, the definition differs (is that alliteration?). Here, 4 blokes pick a guy up and 40 others kick his butt...literally. This leads to an even greater pain in the pelvic area. of course not everyone kicks. There is one guy in our class who uses his slippers to make his frustration felt. He is now called Moses Tatya-Chappal Moses.

So as I said, these bumps are there for a birthday, but they are also there for extremely arbit reasons. And if any of these reasons weaves itself into the circumstances, up goes the cry "Uthaa Lo"(lift him) and the unfortunate bloke is subject to feisty kicks. The arbit reasons include -

- If someone tops a quiz, test, midterm, end term

- If someone cracks a particularly bad joke (No, I've never gotten bumps for this reason).

- If someone asks the teacher a question/doubt after the clock crosses the one hour mark.

- if someone asks a redunadant or irritating question

- generally

So whenever one of these reasons is detected a murmur goes around and a decision is made to bump someone. When the last teacher leaves after the last lecture, an enterprising bloke (usually the one who was bumped last time and is itching for revenge) runs and bolts the door. He then proceeds to say "Uthaa Lo" and the kickfest begins.

As I have said before, the road to MBA is a bumpy one.

Friday, October 18, 2002

Sometimes we get used to some great things in life. We also get used to those great things being around very frequently or all the time. But the sad fact is good things don't last long.

The frequency decreases. It keeps on decreasing........ till one day, when probably it disappears.

But life I suppose has to carry on...albeit it might not be the same again..........EVER!

It's just that when the realisation of the transient nature of great things hits you, it jars you a bit.


Author�s Note: This story is set in the future, not very distant future, but 2004. Whatever I have written is something that my freakish mind thought up, and is to be read only as a story. I do not will this to happen.

3:00 p.m. September 14th 2004
Nagpur, India

The huge crowd waited impatiently as the hot sun beat down mercilessly on them. A good monsoon had left the residents of the Orange City relieved and now, as the clouds had moved on to the north of the country, summer was back for a short stint before it gave way to a frail winter. The whole ground was packed to capacity.

�I hope she comes soon. This heat is getting unbearable� Kamla said to her sister Mohini. Both were maids by professions and had been working for the whole morning and a bit of the afternoon. It was Kamla�s idea that they attend this �meeting� as it was called. She had been proud of the fact that she had voted in every election since she turned eighteen and she had voted for the Congress Party every time. This time too, she would vote for the Congress. The General Elections were just about a fortnight away and Nagpur went to polls in the first phase.

�Look at that man� Mohini nudged Kamala. She followed Mohini�s eyes as they fell on a man who was crouching about 10 feet away from them. He was obviously praying with both his palms joined together. It seemed as if he was furiously muttering some chant to himself.

�What a place he has chosen to pray�, Kamala laughed. �I think he is praying for Soniajee to come soon.�

Kamala was right. The man was praying for it. And the prayers seemed to have been answered. There was commotion at the entrance of the ground, and people shouted, �Tya aalya, tya aalya (she has come, she has come)�. The motorcade had arrived. Sonia Gandhi, the President of the oldest political party in India had arrived to address a meeting in Nagpur, the city that housed the Headquarters of the party�s oldest surviving opponents, The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The latest opinion polls had shown that the 2004 elections would throw up a hung parliament yet again. However it was clear that the ruling coalition, led by the BJP was sure to lose power. The Congress, though all set to emerge as the single largest party, would still fall short of the magic figure of 272 by almost 60 seats, after including the regional allies.

By going in for Sonia Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial candidate, many felt the Congress had committed political hara-kiri. She was an Italian who had married the eldest scion of the Gandhi family, and the fact that she was a foreigner had not helped her chances any.
In fact the BJP in its campaign had coined a slogan � �Videshi nahi banenge, Pradhan Mantri Bharat Ke!� (Foreigners shall not become Prime Ministers of India). The BJP workers kept chanting this nationalistic slogan at every rally and it had become as common as a cola ad-line.

Still, the dissatisfaction among the Indian population about the incumbent government was such that it was sure to be voted out. Many analysts said that had Sonia Gandhi not been the candidate, the Congress could have aspired to form a government on its own. Others however said that a Congress led coalition could still be cobbled up and she could still occupy the top position in the world�s largest democracy.

Sonia Gandhi walked on the narrow carpeted pathway that led to the stage. She had her head covered with the pallu of her sari as she folded her hands and said �Namaskar� to the people on either side of the pathway. Four TV cameras belonging to four separate news channels followed her, as did the correspondents.

�She is coming close to us�, said Kamala grabbing Mohini�s arm excitedly. They were sitting quite close to the wooden barriers that separated the crowd from the pathway. They got up, and stood leaning against the wooden barrier. A lot of people also crowded near the barrier to get a glimpse of the �bahu� (daughter-in-law) of the Gandhi family. Kamala hardly noticed that the praying man was now standing behind her, clutching at a cloth bag in his hand. Finally Sonia Gandhi approached, with the TV cameras surrounding her.

� Her skin is as white as flour� Mohini said �And look at���.�

Mohini could not complete her statement since the man behind her pushed her and Kamala aside. They both fell, just as Sonia Gandhi was right next to them.

There was a loud gunshot. Sonia Gandhi fell dead right in front of Kamala�s eyes. In fact some blood fell on Kamala�s clothes.

There were two more gunshots, as two Congress workers who had been on duty at the wooden barrier, keeping the people away from the pathway also dropped.

Then they heard a loud cry.

�Videshi nahi banenge, Pradhan Mantri Bharat Ke!�

And there was another gunshot. The man had yelled this looking at the TV cameras and then shot himself in the head. The correspondents and the cameramen took a few seconds to realize that death which seemed such a surety till moments ago was not a threat to them anymore, and they started chattering into their mikes.


8:05 p.m. September 14 2004
A house in New Delhi, India

A news channel on the television was being watched carefully by two men.

��.and it has been confirmed now that the assassin of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi was indeed an RSS member by the name of Arun Bhosale. The RSS has condemned the assassination and said that Mr. Bhosale was acting alone. It says it has no hand in this and�..�

The older man turned the TV off. He got up and went to the mini-bar he had in his living room and opened a bottle of Scotch whisky. The younger man followed him.

�That is what was crucial. It had to be revealed that he was an RSS member. Now no one can stop us from winning.� He said.

� You really are a genius, Sir� the younger man said �I know it may sound cliched but you really have killed two birds with one stone. How on earth did you plan this so cleanly?�

�It was easy to get a man to do so. I however never met the man personally because if he realized that it was a Congress Party member who was financing his activities, he would have smelt something rotten. Fortunately he was not too bright and he died thinking he is doing the RSS a great favour�

� You are right, Sir. Now let us keep our fingers crossed and hope that the emotional nature of our countrymen is brought to fore again, like the way it was in 1984 and 1991.�

�Oh they will.� The older man said. �Many people have made the mistake of berating us Congress leaders for bringing Sonia into the party. They said that the Congress was now ideologically bankrupt. But they did not realize our masterplan.�

�Our?� the younger man was puzzled.

�Oh yes, such an elaborate plan requires many heads, kid. Have you played chess?�

�Yes, I used to be good at it in college, but I quit it.�

�Never quit chess if you want to be a politician, kid, never� the older man said �A military man and a politician should always be good at chess. You know that if a pawn walks moves six squares it can become queen?�

�Yes, sir, I know that�

�Well, everyone made the mistake of assuming that we wanted to make this pawn a queen. While the enemy was trying its level best to stop the pawn from becoming queen, the rest of us knights, rooks and bishops were at our job, kid. We never wanted her to become queen. We were always going to sacrifice her one square away from Queenhood before we moved in for the final checkmate.�

�Brilliant, Sir absolutely brilliant. In their own castle too, Nagpur.�

�So kid, learn from this. Things are not what they seem to be in politics. Maybe you will succeed.�

�Yes sir. What shall we toast to?� the younger man said as he realized his drink was going warm.

�To power�

�To power� they both raised their glasses.


9:00 p.m. October 22 2004
Congress Headquarters,
Akbar Road, New Delhi.

A TV was on and throngs of Congress workers were listening to it attentively as the correspondent spoke

�So the final results are in. The final tally of the Congress Party stands at 335, which is 63 seats more than the required majority. As expected, the sympathy factor has tilted the scales of a nation already dissatisfied with the Vajpayee government. It is expected that the President will extend an invitation to the Congress party to form the next government. Now the attention shifts to within the Congress as the race for Prime Ministership hots up. As of now the clear leader in this race is Mr. ______________ who had been given a lot of power and responsibilities by Mrs. Gandhi in the last two years. The Congress has swept the state he comes from and he seems all set to head the next Government of India. Of course��..�

The Congress party headquarters was the scene of two emotions. While the sorrow of Sonia Gandhi�s death was still apparent, as was seen by the numerous garlanded photographs in the office, there was also palpable joy at this electoral victory. Everyone knew that the victory was largely owing to the mindless assassination by an RSS fanatic, even though the Congress Spokeswoman had said

� The splendid victory of the Congress party in the elections is an indication of the trust that India places in us to take it forward on a path of progress. It shows that the people are tired of the BJP�s fanatic and corrupt leaders and want more responsible and experienced leaders now. Attributing this victory to the so called �sympathy factor� is not only demeaning to the political maturity of the country, but also insulting to the memory of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. We wish she were here to lead us and pray that her soul rest in peace��..�


10:00 p.m. October 22 2004
A house in New Delhi, India

The two men sat with glasses in their hands. They had just returned from a meeting in the headquarters. The leader was to be chosen the next day by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) by an election. It all looked very rosy. The two men sat in the study, away from the noise, with strict orders not to be disturbed, even if the President himself calls.

�Congratulations, Sir. Or should I say Prime Minister?� the younger man beamed. Not only was he happy that his mentor was all set to rule the country, but also that he himself would surely be in the cabinet, and hold a powerful post.

The older man smiled.

�We need to be smart now, though. We cannot afford to commit the same mistakes that our predecessors committed. It is up to us to rejuvenate the Congress Party and make it a strong successful entity again. We need to make sure that the BJP can never challenge us again. Already it is disgraced because of the assassination, but we need to solve this Ayodhya nonsense for once and for all, or they will come back�..�

The mobile rang. It belonged to the older man, and he had given the number only to his personal secretary. She would not call unless it was absolutely urgent.

� This better be important� he growled.

�Turn the TV on� his secretary said. He did so.

The face of a young woman filled the screen. The hair was short and the skin was fair. The pretty face had taken the best of Kashmiri and Italian genes. Her eyes showed sorrow, but her face showed determination, just like her grandmother�s face would show in the most difficult of times.

��.of my family have laid down their lives for the country. I can�t ignore my duty to the country and the party in a time like this. I have been requested by hundreds and thousands of Congress Party members to join the party but I have always given my personal life more importance. Now I cannot be so selfish. I will be joining the party today and at the request of thousands of my well-wishers and supporters from the party, shall be filing in my nomination for tomorrow�s AICC��.�

The older man turned the TV off. His face was red with rage. The younger man did not know what to say.

�That is a pawn I ignored, kid. The pawn that has now become queen.�


On October 31st 2004, 20 years after Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own body guards, her granddaughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadera was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Just found episodes 20-24 of season 8 of FRIENDS on the insti network.


It's been 7 days now. Waiting for 7 days!!!

7 days is a lot longer than I thought.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Tried a layout I liked, uploaded it, and...... the text disappeared.

Template update, tougher than expected. Must to on a day when there are no assignments due and quiz due next day.

Hence blog template status quo maintains.

By the way, Satyen, I need you to host images for me on your server. Please adjust.

The white and blue has served me long enough, so am also going for a blog look overhaul. Might take some time.

A conversation in class today

Me: Let us go jogging in the evening today
Sunil: yes, we must
Me: We will definitely go
Sunil: Surely go
Me: Come hell or high water!
Sunil: (worried tone) Hmm, come hell or high water?
Me: (after a pause) Okay, if hell or high water come, we wont go, otherwise we will definitely go.
(after a longer pause)
Me: What the hell is high water anyway?

Any idea?

Monday, October 14, 2002


Dil Se by Mani Ratnam is one of my favourite movies. It is definitely the most romantic movie I have ever seen. It was the master's first attempt at a hindi movie. Unfortunately, the much hyped film with A R Rahman's winner music score, failed at the box office.

I watched the movie a year after its release, mainly because everyone bad mouthed it, and said it was a half baked attempt at making a commercial hit by Mani Ratnam. So when my local cable operator was playing the movie on his movie channel (that too a pirated CD), I was not sure I wanted to watch it. But I decided to watch for fifteen minutes anyway. The movie captured me, and the next thing I knew, it was three hours later and "THE END" was flashing on the screen, after one of the most powerful endings I have seen.

There are many reasons people state about why the movie flopped. One was the high expectations surrounding it. Another was that the songs were wrongly placed. I just think that the movie was a bit ahead of its time and was very intense. Comparitively, his earlier movies like Roja and Bombay had a message, and had a bit of the patriotic element in them. Both the movie made us feel good about the country and the society and attempt to teach us something. Dil Se, I think is just a love story. People went in expecting a didactic movie about terrorism, but that is not what the movie is. It is just a love story. Sure it talks a little about why the heroine becomes a terrorist but that is just a side story. The main element here is love, passionate love.

Dil Se is the story of Amar ( Shahrukh Khan), a reporter for All India Radio who is posted to a remote state in North East India. There he sees a woman (Manisha Koirala) and falls in love with her. It is a long time before he finds out that her name is Meghana. Amar sees Meghana and it is love at first sight. She however does not show the slightest interest in him. She ditches him at a Railway Station and leaves. However fate brings her in his life again as he sees her on the streets some days later. After this he turns somewhat a stalker, following her around. She tries her best to shake him off, even lies to him, saying she is married, but her persists.

So why is Meghana fighting off such an eligible bachelor? Because Meghana is a terrorist, or as she thinks, a freedom fighter. She is a suicide bomber on a mission that will end with the murder of the President of India on Republic Day. Imagine being someone who knows exactly when they are going to die? Imagine if in this short span of life left, someone falls madly in love with you. Worst yet, imagine being in love with a woman who is going to kill herself in a few months? If you don't find all this extremely ironic, tragic and yet romantic, maybe you should not watch the movie, because you won't like it the way I did.

Very rarely is the issue of one sided love taken up on the silver screen. Generally, the girl falls in love with the boy in a couple, if not less, reels. In Hindi movies it is a song and in English movies it is a seduction, but the falling in love process is very rapid. The director handles Amar's intense one sided love very delicately and comes out on top. Like any person in one sided love, what Amar possesses in ample measure is optimism. He is sure that Meghana is the girl for him and more importantly, he is the guy for her. So he does not believe her completely, when she says she is married. He does not interpret her "No" as a "No", but as a "wait". When she tells him to stop following her and gets into a bus, he runs and jumps on the back of the bus. When she disappears without a trace, he bribes the Public Phone Booth operator to find out she went to Ladakh.

One of the most poignant and yet a little funny scenes is when the men accompanying Meghana (more terrorists) are beating up Amar to dissuade him from following her. While threatening him, they let out the fact that she is not married and was lying when she said so. All the while, when they are beating him up, he keeps asking "So you mean she is not married?" And later, in the hospital, as he lies wounded, through a broken jaw he tells his friends in a cheerful voice "She is not married!"

Later he follows her to Ladakh. There, they are in a bus which breaks down and so are forced to spend a lot of time together. It is here that one sees the ice cold veneer of the bomber girl showing cracks. She starts responding to his wishful blabberings about the future. The dialogues between them in Ladakh are simply mind-blowing and the writing skills of Mani Ratnam are brought to the fore here.

Amar: Will you marry me?
Meghana: No.
Amar Why not?
Meghana: (flashing her most disarming smile) I don�t have the time.
Amar: (puzzled) You don�t have the time??

And later�

Amar: You will not be able to live without me
Meghana: Then I will die.
Amar: Really?
Meghana: (snapping her fingers) Like this!

As I mentioned earlier, you can appreciate the irony in these lines only if you know the end of the movie or are watching it a second time.

Amar: Who is asking you to die? Just say you love me.
Meghana: No.

This is a constant feature throughout the movie. He keeps asking her to say she loves him, and she keeps refusing.

Amar: What is your favourite thing in the whole wide world?
Meghana: My mother�s hands.
Amar: Tell me what is the thing you hate the most in the world?
Meghana: I don�t like it when you come close to me.

The powerful dual meaning in this dialogue is amazing.

Amar: You are lying.
Meghana: I also hate your smile, your enthusiasm, the effervescence in you.
Amar: Actually you are jealous me.
Meghana: ( disarming smile again) Yes. (pushing him away) Now tell me what you like the most.
Amar: No, first I will tell you what I hate the most. I hate this distance between us. I hate all that is hidden inside you. But what I hate the most are your eyes, because however hard I try looking into them, I see absolutely nothing.
Meghana: (smiles)
Amar: Now I�ll tell you what I like the most. I like your eyes, because however hard I try looking into them, I see absolutely nothing. I like all that is hidden inside you. But what I like the most is this distance between us, because if it were not there, I would not have an excuse to come close to you.

The way Shahrukh delivers these dialogues is so magical, that you actually get goose bumps. Anyone who says he is just a TV actor who got lucky will revise their views after watching them.

What Amar says has such a powerful effect on Meghana that she leaves him and vanishes again. Remember she is a suicide bomber on a mission and can not afford to fall in love. As another terrorist says later �Love is intoxicating, it is not for people like us.�

After this, Amar seems to accept the fact that Meghana is out of his life. He comes home and agrees to an arranged marriage with a bubbly Delhi girl called Priti (Preity Zinta). The dialogues between them are very funny and Priti is a wonderful character. As Amar�s family starts getting ready for the marriage, Meghana and her friend (Mita Vashisht) land up at Amar�s house in Delhi. She says she is in great trouble and asks him to get her a job in All India Radio. This is obviously so that she can get easy access to the VIP�s during the Republic Day parade. She and her friend stay in a room attached to his family�s house.

After this the movie picks up pace and things start happening thick and fast. The police get wind of a terrorist plan. Amar later comes to know of this as well. He comes from a patriotic background, his father was an army officer who died in action, and his grandfather was a freedom fighter. He is appalled by Meghana�s designs.

Meghana faces a very difficult situation in the whole movie and her role has been etched superbly by Manisha Koirala. The contradictions she lives in, the commitment to death and the inability to reciprocate such intense and tempting love. Amar, torn between love and patriotism, is portrayed very well by Shahrukh.

Amar apprehends her near the Republic Day parade venue a day before the parade where she has gone for a practice run. The conversation between Amar and Meghana about the whole situation is very revealing and it attempts to explain the reason behind why normal people turn into terrorists. He finds out she has a bomb strapped around her body. He starts removing her clothes to take it out, but a Delhi police constable mistakes him for a rapist and takes him away without listening to what he has to say. Meghana slips away.

After this, to cut a long story short, he escapes from police custody and finds her just before she is going to complete her mission.

Everyone knows what happens next. I think that is the only way the movie could have ended. The last line of the movie is �

Amar: Say that you love me.

He is hugging her and presses the button, and the bomb goes off blowing up the both of them. And as the movie ends, the following verse is played in the background-

Mujhe maut ki god mein sone de
Teri rooh mein jism dabone de
(Let me sleep in the lap of death
Let me drown my body in your soul)



Saturday, October 12, 2002

I have been super busy for the past few days. Finally watched Dil Se completely in many small installments.

Now I have a 3 day break, cos of sunday-navami-dassehra. Have issued 4 books from the library-

- Chapter 1 to 6 of the Bhagvadgita by Mahesh Yogi
- Collected Short Stories from Pakistan
- The greatest science fiction stories in the past 50 years
- Executive Orders by Tom Clancy

Hope to finish reading these by Wednesday.
Will write a loooooong post about Dil Se tomorrow. Meanwhile, people, should I change my blog layout? maybe include a few pictures?

Thursday, October 10, 2002

One of the greatest views in the world is when you look at the Rashtrapati Bhavan from the India Gate. And then, when you walk down towards the Rashtrapati Bhavan, and finally stand the point at which North Block and South Block flanking you, you get this unique feeling. A feeling that you are empowered beyond your wildest dreams. A feeling that you are so lucky that you were born an Indian. A vision of a great tomorrow for the country. And you have no control over your right hand, it moves on its own, as if in some kind of a pre-programmed scheduled robotic motion, outstreteched, and touches the right side of your forehead. Your spine is erect and feet are erect.

It is as if each and every molecule in your body, as well as the ones you exhale, are vibrating with just one silent cry -

I am an Indian.

By the way, I think that you appreciate Dil Se, especially the import of its dialogues, much more when you watch it for a second time. The knowledge of how the movie ends adds a lot of meaning to the parts preceding it. Maybe that is why people didn't like it much.

Am rewatching Dil Se, which is in my opinion one of the the most romantic movies ever made. Too bad it flopped. A movie ahead of its time, if there ever was one. Shall write a long post about it after i finish watching it.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

They say history repeats itself. It did repeat itself in our class today, albeit in a smaller measure. What part of history was repeated? World War I.

It all started before the Eco102 class when Kanishka stole swiped Gautam's file. Now Gautam constituted a few preliminary enquiries, and by the time, the lecturer was in full flow, discovered who the culprit was. Kanishka sits about 10 feet away from him, so Gautam could not reach at him, neither could he get up, since the Prof was teaching. So Gautam started making tiny paper balls. His plan being to hit Kanishka with them and make him pay for his follies, a thought similar to one nursed by the assasin of the Archduke Ferdinand in 1914. However, unlike the assasin, Gautam does not have a great aim and he hit Kashyap instead. Kashyap maintained a stiff upper lip, but a few others noticed this. Usha, Sunil and Sonia saw an opportunity to enter the fray and started pelting Gautam and couple of others with paper balls. Gautam by now, was in full flow, though bulk of his ire was still directed at Kanishka. What happened was indeed similar to the First World War with the perceived victims joining in the fun. It might even be likened with the pie throwing scenes in movies where person A hits person B, and person B wanting to retaliate, has a horrible aim and hits person C instead. Now person C does not have Gandhi's non violent philophy nor Arjuna's accuracy, and hits person E. It soon involves everyone from A to Z and is not a very constructive concept.

The beauty of the whole thing was that the Prof never realised what was happening. The attacks used to take place when his back was towards us.

That's paper-fight in an IIM for you. The sophisticated version.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Finally after weeks and weeks of procrastination and sloth, I finally went to the city and ordered a computer. It's a P-4 and will be here in an hour, so I will have to go back and set it up. All future blogs from the confines of my cosy room.

By the way, I have renamed all the blog links to add a personal touch. Good no?

Sunday, October 06, 2002

2 days of lazing after 4 days of hectic placement processes.

Tomorrow the grind begins.

Also saw part of "The Guru" , a foreign-desi flick starring Heather Graham and Marissa Tomei.

Halfway into the movie, I got so bored and disgusted that with a loud "Yuck!!" I shut it off.

Saturday, October 05, 2002


With a summer job in hand, and a 2 day break at my disposal, I decided to watch some movies. My journey began with the latest offering from the Varma Corporation, "Road". A good concept and story spoilt by bad handling on part of the director Rajat Mukherjee methinks. It was not bad, but could have been a lot better. Of course, the High Priestess herself has summed up pretty well her thoughts on the movie here, and so i just present a few additions of my own.

The title is apt, since like a road, the movie is smooth, slick and enjoyable in the beginning, but gets all bumpy after a while. Since the idea seems very RGV, getting Mukherjee to direct it was not a good idea. It needs a tight leash handling like Varma's. Manoj Bajpai gets more irritating with every movie, and he really needs to go in for an image makeover. Vivek Oberoi does his unshaven best, and Antara Mali looks hot. Maybe they should have a contest where viewers guess the radius of Mali's belly-button ring. The first song has both Vivek and Antara emoting with the forced zest of someone suffering from constipation. The songs are there mainly to showcase Antara's curves which the script was forced to hide in "Company". There is a song in the end featuring Bajpai, Antara and Ganesh Yadav (what the hell is he there for!!!) which attempts to be a funny song like "Woh Ladki hai Kaha" in Dil Chahata Hai, and does succeed to some degree.

One funny thing I noticed is, Vivek and Antara are listening to a song from 'Company' in the car. Now they both starred in the movie and Vivek was in the song himself, so it is funny, like Ramanand mentions here about Diane Keaton in Annie Hall

The film does have its moments, the most notable being the look that Mali gives Bajpai when he says "Tum to mujh se bhi gandi nikali". Most of the time, though, you find yourself cursing the dumbness of Oberoi's character, and it is because of this dumbness that I think Bobby Deol would have fit the role perfectly. Somehow Oberoi does not look that stupid. There are the usual RGV suspects like Sayaji Shinde, Rajpal Yadav, Makarand Deshpande ( totally miscast as a Sardar truckdriver, and makes a hash of things), etc and there are also the by now trademark digs at other filmmakers like Bhansali.

Like a one-day international gets boring between the 15th and the 40th over, this film too drags in the corresponding period.

And like many roads in India are in shambles because of improper mixing of components and bad levelling, so is this "Road". Worth one ride however.

After 2 days of waiting, more waiting, appearing for GD's, sitting through interviews, and not sleeping for a long long time, I got a summer job.

I will be doing a project on marketing of engineering products at Larsen and Toubro, Mumbai in April and May 2003.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

A little late to post (since 2nd october has passed), and I know that many will unnecessarily mouth off against the man, but my respects to the soul of Mahatma Gandhi, on his 133rd Birth Anniversary.

May we learn to sort his teachings out wisely and not point fingers at seemingly futile ones like non-violence, but also look at the other great virtues he possessed like innovation, creativity, willingness to learn, pragmatism, and a determination to fight even the mightiest enemy on your own terms.

My last post was so long, I am sure will charge me for my membership from now on.

Keeping this one short.

The Summer Placement process is tiring, but fun.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

A LITTLE GYAN ABOUT MBA IN INDIA..all you ever wanted to know about management education in India but were afraid to ask

This is a post which is different from my usual ones. I am using my blog to make life a bit easier for me. Ever since I got admission into an IIM, I have been getting a zillion mails from juniors in college and other friends/relatives/acquaintances asking for advice. I have no hassles giving advice, in fact I am honoured that people consider me worthy of dispensing it, but it gets a little cumbersome repeating the same things over and over again. So this post will be a list of FAQ's ( and answers) about the whole topic. I shall be sending the link of this post whenever I am quizzed similarly in the future. Please note that I am writing all this as merely a student who had these questions himself a year back, and I am not an expert.

Q- Why did you go for an MBA and not an MS or MTech?
I have done my engineering in electronics and telecommunications. I love the field, but I am not yet sure it is THE field for me. I feel that there are other career options, like Operations Research, Systems, Marketing, Finance etc where I may be able to do well. What MBA does is give me a wider range of choices. 2 years later, armed with an MBA from a premier institute, I have to option, of continuing with a career in electronics/telecom/IT or trying my hand at one of the above mentioned fields. Another issue is that I know what kind of a person I am and I would be aspiring to get into the management level of a company eventually. Starting out as just a techie may take a bit longer, so here too an MBA will help.
An MS or an MTech is an excellent option for someone convinced of his/her wish to stay on in engineering studies. So do not think of MBA and MS/MTech as two conflicting choices. It depends on what you want.

Q- Which are the good institutes offering MBA in India and where should I apply?
Having said all that about MBA, let me make it clear that an MBA is worth it only if it is from one of the top institutes in India. There are six Indian Institutes of Management (IIM) and they are considered the best of the lot, like IIT's are for engineering. The ranking of these 6 is unofficially accepted as Ahmedabad, Calcutta, Bangalore, Lucknow, Indore, Kozhikode. Among the non-IIM's, good schools are (in no particular order) SP Jain Mumbai, J Bajaj Mumbai, NMIMS Mumbai, MDI Gurgaon, FMS Delhi, ISB, IMT Ghaziabad etc. There are some institutes which are known for a specific field. NITIE Mumbai for Operations, MIC Ahmedabad for advertising and mass comm, XLRI for Human Resources, etc. For a more exhaustive list, consult any business magazine's website.

But my advice, especially to people with an above average intelligence and aptitude, would to be restrict their applications to only the abovementioned places. They are the best in terms on faculty, course, placements, peers and industry interaction. MBA's from other institutes are not worth it, in my frank opinion.

Q- Do we have to choose a specialisation in MBA?
A -
Not necessarily. This is a big myth that an MBA is either a solely Marketing guy or solely Finance guy. Most IIM's give you the option of not having any specialisation, in fact they encourage an all-round development. In our institute for instance people have 2 or 3 specialisations, so it is not one-track like in Engineering. These broad areas of specialisations, if any, are to be chosen after the first year is completed, and you are not expected to have made up your mind when you go for the admission process.

Q- What are the career options for an MBA?
If you are from one of the top 10 institutes or so, the prospects are great. You get good starting posts and good pay packages in good companies during the campus placements. The companies include Indian firms as well as multinational. In a place like IIM Calcutta or IIM Ahmedabad, a huge proportion of their students are actually placed abroad.
You can be anything from a Marketing Executive to a Sales Manager to an investment Banker to an HR Executive. You can also be a project manager in a software company or start your own firm if you have an idea.

Q- What is the entrance procedure?
The IIM's and a lot of other institutes conduct a Common Admission Test (CAT) in November-December each year. It is held only once a year and is not like GRE which can be taken any time you want. The exam is a paper based one with multiple choice questions on verbal, quantitative and analytical skills. There is negative marking, though the exact nature of the negative marking is not specified.
Many other institutes have their own entrance tests similar to CAT.
After the written test, each institute announces its own shortlist and conducts a Group Discussion (GD) and a Personal Interview (PI) of the shortlisted candidates, following which a selection is made. The ratio of shortlisted to selected students is roughly 4:1 for the IIM's.

Q- How do I prepare?
This is the most common questions. I can only tell what i did. I joined a class called Bullseye in Pune about 11 months before CAT. i preferred it over the bigger names like IMS and Career Forum because of its reputation of giving personal attention to each student. The strength of each batch is just 20, and the teachers know the students very well. As a result, they give you specific and potent advice about hiow to improve your score. Bullseye is also perhaps the only class that starts preparing you for GD's months before the written test. While other institutes generally have a hurried workshop 2 weeks before the GD process starts, Bullseye prepares you for it long before.
The only drawback of Bullseye is the same as its strength, very few students. This makes it tough for you to benchmark yourself with respect to the general public. So I joined the sunday test series of IMS. Around 25,000 students appear for an IMS test and it gives you a good indication of where you stand (CAT 2001 had 80,000 candidates). The two pronged approach (Bullseye for theory and concepts, and IMS for benchmarking tests) worked for me.
The fees for a training course, at least last year was Rs. 7,500 in all the classes. The duration is 6 months or 1 year. Fees for an IMS test is Rs. 200-300 per test.

Q- What is CAT like?
It is like GRE and at the same time it is not like GRE. The basics are the same- verbal, quant, anat, but CAT is considered a lot tougher. The number of questions varies from 150 to 180 , and the test is for 2 hours. Hardly anyone can solve more than 100 questions, so the factor of question selection comes into play here, unlike GRE where you attempt everything, and go for wild guesses if you please. Here, negative marking makes wild guesses suicidal.
The quant and anat of CAT is considered a lot tougher than GRE, with verbal, roughly the same. There isn't too much emphasis on wordlists, like in GRE, and it all mainly depends on Reading Comprehensions (RC).

Q- What is a good number of attempts? What about the sectional cutoff?
This is one of those questions which have no fixed answer. Firstly, it is not a GRE where your score is absolute. In CAT, there is a merit list, so your score is good or bad compared to how others so. In one year, 100 attempts may be considered good enough to get calls from all 6 IIM's, while in some year, it may be a below average number. Accuracy is another key issue.
Generally speaking, 90+ attempts is a pretty safe bet, if your accuracy is decent.
Agnother aspect is the cutoffs that each section has. Each institute has its own cut-offs for shortlisting. This means that you must score a bare minimum in each section to qualify. This makes sure that you concentrate on every section and are not unidimensional in your approach. Different institutes have different parameters for this. In IIM Cal for instance, it is rumoured that the quant cutoff is very high as compared to other schools.

Q- How important is work experience?
In USA, all the good B-school consider work-ex a must. In India, though by and large, B-schools prefer a mix of work-ex and freshies, some schools are starting to gravitate towards the US concept. IIM Bangalore for instance, has 90% experienced students this year. In other b-schools however, there is a healthy mix, and once you get admitted, there is no real difference in the performance of freshers and experienced students.

Q- Give me advice on how to improve my score.
This is the toughest question to answer. How can I tell someone how to improve their score? It is pretty subjective really. However here are a few tips that may help-

- Remove your watch and keep it in front of you on the desk. Give only 1 minute to each question. Be strict in sticking to this. Even if you are 4 seconds away from the solution, let the problem go at the 60th second. What happens otherwise is we tend to get stuck on a particular problem which appears easy, but is not, and the total attempts heads south. Remember, be it an easy question or a difficult, it has a weightage of only 1 mark. So it does not make sense to solve a toughie and impress the examiner (which anyway will be a computer). The smart way is to identify easier questions, and attempt as many of them as you can. Let the toughies go!!! Time management and the ability to let go of a question is very important.

- If you are weak at a particular section, and have problems clearing its cut-offs in the mock-CAT, practise it more. Otherwise you will end up with a high overall score but no shortlists, due to the cut-offs

- Divide time equally into the number of sections.

- For Reading Comprehensions, it is advisable to spend about 15 seconds just browsing the questions before reading the passage. there are typically 2 or 3 answers which you will be able to locate and underline while reading. Be careful not to spend more than 15-20 seconds on this though.

- Try imporving reading speed. In Bullseye, there was a session which helped us do so, by telling us to skip the prepositions and spot the kep words. You can read very fast this way. for example, a sentence like >"Shaft (2000): John Singleton's sequel to /retake on the cult Richard Roundtree vehicle has Samuel L. Jackson as John Shaft Jr., the nephew of the original John Shaft (Richard Roundtree, doing an affectionate cameo, and making good on the opportunity to take digs at the character that made him famous) and even reuses Isaac Hayes' classic Oscar-winning theme." It has so many words, but hardly 1/5th of those convey any real information. Practise and soon you will find that you can spot the keywords instinctively and make sense out of them, and your reading speed increases manyfold.

- Staying on reading speed, it is generally good if the topic is of our liking, but is lousy if we find it boring. For example, I would rush through a passage from a novel, or about sports or movies, but would take ages to go through something about sociology or economics. The problem is with concentration and attention. The best way to tackle this problem is to start reading boring stuff. Sounds corny, but I mean it. Start reading the business pages of the newspapers, the editorials on topics you hate, weird articles, ..anything that is boring. If your tolerance for printed tripe goes up, so will your overall reading speed.

So that is about it. If there are any more questions, I can be contacted personally.

My next post will be a normal one.