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Monday, December 31, 2007

New year, new thoughts

In 6 and a half hours, its the dawn of the new year. As all of you, I also look forward to have a wonderful year ahead. 2007 saw many changes in my life - from college to job; from one city to another and many unforgettable memories. And as usual, for the first time, I am sharing my new year resolutions with the world.

1. Fitness - It's going to play an important decision. Doesn't mean that I am overweight or obese. I have a normal one with BMI of 20. What I meant is, (don't laugh!!) , I want to develop a six-pack. (I told you not to laugh. It is my resolution)

2. Read more - Read more, either from web or print. Increase knowledge, write better blogs.

3. Watch classic movies - I have decided to take it up as a challenge to collect as many classic movies - english, hindi, malayalam, french, spanish, bengali, japanese and others. As a start, I already got Citizen Kane and Scarface. And you can expect my reviews on them.

4. Hang out with friends - Already became a routine activity every weekend, but see to it that it continues.

5. Learn a new language - For sometime, I have been trying to learn a new language. At least this year??

These are some of the things that came to my mind when I started writing this. Every new year, I have been taking resolutions, but its time to be serious. At least on 31 st December 2008, I should be able to re-evaluate my achievements. And on the whole, enjoy life.

Wish you all a very happy new year.

I am a CNN-IBN Citizen Journalist

Back from the hectic work of writing movie review, I am continuing with daily notions. Before that I have an important announcement. I have become an official Citizen Journalist of CNN-IBN.

Well, it all started from my trip from Kochi to Chennai. I was on a two day official trip there and was coming back in the Chennai train which starts from Ernakulam North at 9.45 pm. As it was company booked, it got an upper berth in third A/C(second A/C was full, that's why). I fumbled with the sheets and blanket and slowly fell into the ocean of dreams.(I am not going to discuss my dreams here. Or maybe, you should take a guess!!)

When I woke up, it was around 7 am and almost all were awake. The scheduled arrival at Chennai was at 9.45 am and I had around 3 hours. I plugged in my iPod (well, I have an iPod, and I will post soon about how I got it) and looked lazily around.


What does this has to do with journalism. Around 8 o' clock came the surprise and my chance. The A\C attendant started collecting the sheets and blankets from all berths and piled it up. Guess where. Near the wash-basin and between the door. As any other train in India, it was as usual filthy and this guy carelessly threw the sheets here and there. All those who walked the way trampled on it. Who cares!! The sleeping journalist inside me arouse and I took some hidden snaps with my cellphone. (Quality maybe less as it has got only a VGA cam). Here's one snap.




The blurring that you see is a sheet on its way to the heap. The attendant was throwing one more sheet when I took the pic. Here's one more.



The sheets are washed before giving again, but what is the use? Has someone instructed them to make it dirty before washing so to make full use of washing? And the blankets? Are they washed or disinfected at any point of time? God knows!!


Well, after I came back, I uploaded the snaps in CNN-IBN Citizen Journalist website (http://cj.ibnlive.com/). It got approved and they posted it. Also, they contacted me and asked me for my cell no and address and told that they want a shoot with the railway officer in charge and want me to be the journalist. (I didn't get any call till now, am waiting for it...)


Anyway, I have decided one thing. Never travel in A/C if it's my own cash. If it's a company booked one. take one or two sheets with me and don't even touch the one's that they give.


Lalu, are you watching this???


You can find the post in CNN-IBN website. (http://cj.ibnlive.com/photogallery/453.html). The title I gave was "Bed sheet or bed-shit"; but they changed it to tone down the language.


Rock n' Roll - A forced movie review

This post was actually supposed to be a review of Dileep's film Romeo, pakshe enthu cheyyana, it was houseful when I went on saturday. I looked around and saw that Rock n' Roll was running noon show in the adjacent theatre. So, I decided to give it a try. When I came out, I was in an ambivalent mood. Though a utter stupid story, I found it entertaining. Maybe because of the portrayal of our old Madras that I liked it. Or maybe because of the heroine. Think her name is some Lakshmi. Anyway, she has acted in a Bru ad.

The story is simple. A jazz drum player Chandramouli comes back to Chennai to play for his old friend. He meets budding singer Daya and falls in love with her. In order to win her, he decides to do a film. And finally he wins her.

Writer and director Ranjith has taken many aspects from his earlier film, Chandrolsavam. Remember in Chandrolsavam when Mohanlal tells Meena what he has been doing all these years - touring various countries and playing in different places. The same thing is repeated here. Sidhique, who plays music director Guna describes Chandramouli in similar terms. Other than that, some other scenes will also give a feeling (nostalgia...ha ha) of Chandrolsavam.
The cast is a regular Lalettan film type. Jagathy, Lal, Mukesh, Rahman, Hari Sree Ashokan, Manoj K Jayan(as Saidapet Giri, the don and Chandramouli's friend), Siraj etc. And there is no regular villian in the film. Well, u can say that music plays a villian as Chandramouli finds it difficult to compose tunes to sing for his girlfriend.

The biggest drawback is the music. Composed by the evergreen Vidyasagar, it fails terribly. The song when he meets Daya is an affervescent one. The climax song, which Chandramouli has painstakingly composed, reminds of the one from Niram. Background score is good and suits the mood of the film.

In total, watch it when dvd is released (and that too moser-baer!!).

My rating is 4.5/10. Avoidable.

Kadha Parayumbol : A movie review

Today is going to be a D-day for me. I am completely free and have decided to give the entire day for blogging. My new year should start with all fresh memories. So, I am downloading all my memories and stuff now.

Back to film reviews. After my really horrible experience with Flash, I ventured out for the other superstar's Christmas release, "Kadha Parayumbol". I went with my family (read parents and sister; I am unmarried,any proposals?) for a film after a long time. And it turned out to be not so sour.

First thing to say is that it is not a Mamooty movie. His screen presence is very less, maybe around 35 minutes; it's Sreenivasan who dictates the movie. After a brilliant performance in Arabikadha, Sreenivasan has struck gold again.

Warning: Spoilers starts here

As you may know, it is the story of a barber whose friend is the reigning superstar Ashokraj(Mamooty). (A special note. I watched the movie five days back and I still remember the character's name. I wrote the review of Flash the next day after I watched the film and I didn't remember any of the character's name!!). Balan (Sreenivasan) is a barber in a high range village of Nellimattam. He lives with his wife Sreedevi(Meena) and three kids. Balan is portrayed as a man who will never surrender his pride and will always hold his head straight. This is portrayed in many scenes. When Jagadish starts his hi-fi barber shop in the village, Balan's business is hit. Finally, he is forced to reduce the charges. The first half an hour or so is spent in showing the general life. In between, Jagathy plays a cameo as a village officer whom Balan approaches for loan.

Things change when a movie troop comes to the village for shooting. And that movie stars Ashokraj. The villagers and excited a lot by this. But they are not allowed to see the shooting as Ashokraj's life is threatened by religious fundamentalist because of his role in the movie, Gujarat. It is at this time that the people come to know that Balan is Ashokraj's friend. They all turn to him and offer him help in many ways. These scenes show a real mockery of people who are blind when need arises and help un-necessarily when they need something from us.
Anyway, Balan refuses to see Ashokraj. He fears that Ashokraj will forget him. But, the audience will tend to believe that Balan fears that he will let down himself and his pride will be surrendered. He tries once to see Ashokraj but unsuccessful. Things go on and shooting gets over. Ashokraj agrees to inaugurate the Jubilee celebrations of a local school.

The speech during the function is good. It is well written and well orated by Mamooty. And this is the turning point. Mamooty gets eloquent and talks about his school friend Balan who helped him a lot. He says that it was Balan who gave him money to go to Madras for a chance. He says that he was not able to find him as he ran away with a girl he loved and settled somewhere else.
And in the end, everything is alright and all are happy. Ashokraj meets Balan; scolds him for not coming to him; promises to come back and take them with him.

That's all; spoilers ends here.

Except the climax I liked the film. It would have been good if Ashokraj had gone back without meeting Balan, but that is impossible. Having said this much about Balan in a speech, the villagers will surely lead him to Balan's house. But the problem is, Balan's pride has been compromised. And, it might feel as a defeat for Balan.

Anyway, its a good film. Innocent, Salim Kumar, Mukesh et al add spice to the film. One song, where the villagers praise Balan is really good. It goes like this:"Vyathyasthanamoru barberam balane, satyathilarum thiricharinjilla..."

Music is by M.Jayachandran. There is one more songs which is depicted as a song in the movie that is being filmed.

Direction is by Mohanan and Sreenivasan and Mukesh have turned producers.

My rating is 7.5/10. Worth a watch.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Flash in a flash - A movie review

I warn all of you. I am on a one week holiday and at home. My main aim is to see all the films before I get back to work. So, my posts will be mainly reviews of the films. And in between, some politics about Gujarat.

All my friends who saw Flash warned me not to go. But, being impressed by the credibility of the director and the actor, I risked my money. And now I think I should have had a good biriyani with that cash.

Flash stars Mohanlal and Indrajith as the CEO and his subordinate of a software company. But, mind you, being CEO of that company is just one of the hats that the multi-faceted personality wears. He is also an IMA certified psychiatrist as well as Scotland Yard (is it a time pass club!) certified criminologist. (I wonder whether he did a B.Tech. Or maybe, he took it along with MBBS; part time engineering!). We are made to believe that Parvathy (the notebook girl) is Mohanlal's heroine when suddenly after some duets, he makes a promise to Indrajith that he will give Parvathy completely cured!!

If you care to continue reading, I warn you, its a spoiler. As wikipedia warns, "Spoilers starts here" (carry on, its just a joke; there cannot be any spoilers for a movie like this)

One of my friends gave the review in a line. "Flash is Manichitrathazhu + Nerariyan CBI". And now I feel, that's a perfect review. For the part of psychiatrist, they have entirely depended on the character of Sunny in Manichitrathazhu. Even the dialogues are heavily copied from it. ( I prefer not to call it heavily inspired; its plagiarism). Even the dialogue that most Malayalis will remember till the end of life, "Ithu vareyum oru mahashastrajanum sacharikatha vaykalilude enikku sancharikendi varum. (I will have to travel through new ways which no psychiatrist have dared to go)." and "Namukkelavarkkum ariyavunna aa pazhaye Gangaye thirichu tharan (to give back the Ganga whom we all knew)" have been ruthlessly copied.

The intro scene in Manichitrathazhu where Sunny comes in the pilgrim dress from Sabarimala has been copied in Flash. Here, Mohanlal makes his appearance in a "lungi" and shirt with a "thalekettu" and travelling in the ladder of a private bus. No comments!!

Nerariyan CBI, the fourth installment and the least successful of the series has been well known for its unnecessary twists. In Flash, the story-writer has tried the same way by changing the story of a murder a thousand times.

Coming to the songs, I forgot the name of the music director and lyricist. Anyway, the songs can be tolerated only once, in theatre!! Malayalam music industry has not produced a hit after "Hello". God and tamil music directors save us!!

The director,Sibi Malayil, once famous for his classics like Bharatham, Kireedom, Thaniyavarthanom etc. looks like lost in the sea of films. Lack of themes is obvious in the script of Flash. Anyway, he has been lost for sometime with Amritham, Alice in Wonderland etc.. Maybe he feels that he is in a wonderland!!!

Sidhique stands out with his style. Even though his screen presence is very less, the way he changes his style in all films is really great. And, it seems he is always a default part of Mohanlal's films. Parvathy played a mentally upset one in notebook. She reprises it again. Anyway, her acting is ok. And the girl(i don't know her name) who is her friend is really cute. Indrajith is good as a estranged lover and a software engineer. Jagathy and Jagadeesh add some spice, but at times it is sour.

And, the hero, Mohanlal cannot be justified. He really puts in a bad performance. He is unconvincing, fails at his jokes, looks like being lost in the duets.

If you really want to lose some money and verify that what I have written is true, go on and watch the film. If I am to put a rating, its 1.5/10. And the worst part is, i saw the film only yesterday and I don't remember any of the character's name!!

There's only one spoiler. Mohanlal's wife in the film. I leave it as a surprise.

And finally, a request to Mohanlal. "We all know the potential of your acting. Pls, don't act in such movies for just cash. Pls, select your script carefully. If you have any problem with cash, just tell us, the fans. We will raise money for you.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gandhi and Google

Forget my earlier post. I have made up my mind to blog about my environment(I mean whatever happening around me) and about my experiences also. So, my confusion is over.

"Gandhi and Google" or "Google and Gandhi"? I am not sure what title i should give it. Anyway, its all about Bapu and Google.

Recently Google released the most anticipated data about India. "What are Indians Googling for?" And the answers were really interesting.

The most searched political leader is Mahatma Gandhi. This keyword gives 3,580,000 pages in Google (on Dec 20, 2007). Well, that's really a good number. And the second in the list came our dear ex-president Abdul Kalam. It brought up 130,000 results. Hmm..its a huge difference. The list has almost all of the famous leaders including Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Sarojini Naidu etc...But, two people are conspicious by their absence in the list. Take a guess. (want clues? They are related. One is the grandson of the other). Still didn't get it? Really bad!! Its our first Prime Minister and the seventh prime minister. Jawaharlal Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi...

Let's not confine just to political leaders. From Bollywood, Aishwarya Rai made to the first place. (I wonder when people will start searching for Aishwarya Rai Bachchan!!) Salman and Hrithik made to the top while the six-pack Khan was overtaken by Katrina Kaif (maybe people are searching as "six-pack Khan"). And newcomer Deepika Padukone made it to the 10th place.

When coming to movies, Spiderman overtook the most hyped movie of the year, Sivaji. Chak de and OSO made to the top 10. Saawariya, the most awaited film from Sanjay Leela Bansali, which turned out to be the worst of him(still he says its my best ever!!), made to the list.

And India is dead without cricket!!! But, when it comes to sports personalities, its the girl who always gets into controversies. Sania Mirza has topped the list with Maria Sharapova and Tendulakar following. Former Captain Dravid, current ODI caption MSD and the Dada also made to the list. Football sensation Cristiano Ronaldo also made to the list.

And this makes me proud. Kerala tops in the list of places of interest. Singapore, Goa, Australia, London, Dubai etc follows...

Google's Zeitgeist has given a good outlook about the minds of and Indian Gooogler. It sprang up some suprises as well as some default things. Watch and wait till the list is out for 2008.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Biggest Confusion

I am a lot confused these days about what to write. I have been writing my views and my takes on the things going around. Should I continue with that or should I make a more personal one? I am confused!! Anyway I am taking a short vacation of ten days frem work this x'mas. Maybe, after that my thoughts will become clear and I my confusion will dissolve!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Great Indian Dream

Shall I call it the Great Indian Dream or the Ambitious Dream of Subhash Chandra? Whatever it is, the idea has started to become the biggest follyin Indian business world in recent years. I am talking about our first domestic cricket league, Indian Cricket League(ICL).

Promoted by Subhash Chandra of the Zee and having roped in Kapil Dev, Tony Grieg, Kiran More and Dean Jones as the board members, ICL was touted as a direct competition for India's cricket mammoth, BCCI. But, the recent turn of events looks like the mammoth has grown bigger and the newly formed to-be mammoth has turned out to be a tortoise.

They selected the worst time to debut. The entire event went unnoticed in the event of "Sholay of Cricket" - that was how the ongoing India-Pakistan matches were described by Ashish Kaul, Essel Group's (it promotes Zee) executive VP. Everything went wrong from the beginning. And it was a very costly fall.

The biggest mistake was to telecast the matches only in Zee sports. It is one of the least viewed sports channel and almost around 2 million Tata Sky subscribers doesn't have access to it. In the last moment they suddenly realised something (maybe Subhash sat in a pitch and floodlights shown on him that gave an enlightment). They planned to show the first 30 minutes in all Zee channels. Great indeed!! Who is gonnna watch it?

The second mistake was the worst publicity campaign. I never saw any good ads other that those in Zee about the matches. Maybe they thought all the publicity that they got while forming ICL and the controversy regarding it will take care of the publicity campaign.

And then came the astronomical prices they asked for a ten second slots. They also wanted something un-imaginable from the would-be ground partner Foster's that they caught the next flight and flew all the way back to Australia!! (maybe they asked for a stake and free beer for lifetime). Anyway, they got about one-third or less than that they asked for a ten-second slot. It will go on reducing for the future matches as the TRP tumbling. For the opening match on Nov 30, the TRP for Zee sports was under1. The channels that showed the first 30 minutes, especially Zee Business and Zee Cafe gave "0" ratings on the second day. Thank God, it can't go to negatives.

It has been rumored that around 30 crores of rupees have been betted on ICL by Zee and Essel. As the way it goes now, this will break the complete Zee network. If at least they want to generate some money to save their souls, they have to come up some different strategy. Like telecasting matches in DD Sports and entering into a revenue sharing agreement with them. Or else, this will be the first and the last of ICL and BCCI with its IPL will have the last laugh.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Future of Indian IT Industry

What will happen to India if someone drops four nuclear bombs in four corners of America? Especially, what will happen to our IT industry?

This thought came to my mind the other day when I was debating with my friend about the future of Indian IT. I think its bleak.

Gone are the days of the silicon boom! The laws of Moore may be still valid but the growth doubling is not there. The Silicon Valley, once the hub of development and money, is doesn't give a bright image now.

Our IT companies have done many things to help US companies. From automotive to retail to pharmaceutical to finance, Indian touch is there everywhere. But, almost everything in their country runs under machine (read computer) control. So, hasn't the flow of money reduced? Hasn't there been a decrease in the orders that we are getting?

It can be argued that the existing system needs to be updated every night and someone has to provide support to run the existing ones. Its true. But, still, the flow of money and projects that was witness in the start of 20th century will reduce for sure.

Then comes the biggest roadblock. Appreciation of rupeee. Its one thing that we Indians should have been proud of. Ruppee gaining against dollar is a happy moment for us. But, there comes the problem. Our export revenue is getting reduced. It makes the entire thing sour.
Someone may urgue that we are not completely depended on US on our export revenue. We have exports to Europe and other countries. But don't forget the fact that the lion's share of our revenue is from US alone.

I hate NASSCOM (Hope is spelled it right!!). I will hold this organization responsible for creating millions of jobless engineers by 2012. They went on creating hype that there is a very big talent crunch in Indian IT industry. Engineering colleges mushroomed like anything in every small cities and villages. And now they have said that out of every 4 engineering candidates only 1 is employable!! That means if four millions engineers pass out this year, then one million will get some job. Others will sit @ home!!! NASSCOM is an organization that lacks an objective.

So, what can save Indian IT industry? Well, first of all, the majors SWITCH (Satyam, Wipro, Infosys, TCS, Cognizant, HCL) should stop the hype surrounding the campus recruitments. The truth is they recruit in large numbers from colleges so that their competitor will not have anyone to take. This has to be stopped. The image of mass recuitment has to be removed (Recently, IBM and Accenture also started following the herd). Then, the focus of business has to be shifted. Now its just outsourcing work. 'Someone else creates the idea. You implement it.' It has to be changed and we should become innovative. R & D has to be pushed up the ladder and more resources should be allocated. Release their own products and do outsourcing and BPO at the same time. That's what IBM is doing now. So, what are our companies waiting for. Buckle up and change the tide.

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