Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Interface Space

You probably spend long hours a day staring at the computer/laptop screen — working, blogging, chatting, talking to friends, e-shopping, e-banking, blah blah blah....... With so many creative people spending so much time on their computers it is no surprise that the computer interface itself has become source material for ideas. It’s the sheet that one uses to make the optimal use of the "left side" and the "right side" of the brain. Daily immersion in a two-dimensional space has raised an intriguing question that many people can’t resist: what is the physicality of the creativity and how do I add a third-dimension to it? This concept I feel is applicable in all spheres of life, be it at home, in the classroom, at work place or for-that-matter anywhere. Just that the tint, shade or tone of the third-dimension takes a new perspective, like it varies from what it means to an engineer, to a writer, to a doctor, or an artist, etc.

The ubiquitous interface experience has created a symbiosis between the metaphorical space of technology, ideas and the physical world.

I got an email from one of my friends, Mo who is pursuing her MBA in the US and she sent me this interesting pic. This is a magnificent piece of smart ADs involving the combination of real people and intelligently placed photos to attract immediate attention.

There's a lot of ways to promote a magazine. Some strikingly unconventional than others. With the tagline "Let us keep on dreaming of a better world," which, funnily sounds like some old hippy song. The pictorial graphics portrays a woman as is visualized inside the fantasy-laden mind of a man. This is a promotion for Belgian magazine,Che.

I think it is fun if viewed without the lenses of one's politically correct glasses and the person who created this definitely has lots of humor and uses his/her grey cells for some of the most original creative expressions and witticism.

I also read an interesting post, while searching for an online bookstore on the Internet and learnt a new form of art. Have you ever wondered that you can create a photo-mosaic of a lot many things of your interest using book-covers using a simple step-by-step process? Check more here.

Did you like it or you didn’t, adding a third dimension to the two dimensional life?

Keep reading and remain connected.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Can Turbulent "Water" Make It.

Bringing Water to life has been a painful voyage both in real and in reel life. The recent Cauvery Tribunal verdict caused some amount of uproar and there is more to come. As one of my blogmates, Aaman points probably the roots of the English words 'river' and 'rivalry' stem from the same source. Somewhat like swimming through turbulent waters marred with protests, violence and even death threats, Deepa Mehta who has a reputation for liking hot potatoes made it to the shore with a film.

Yes, yes a film named "Water" [ don’t you feel even the words 'water' and 'war' are linked in a deceptive way.] that is being hailed as her best in the trilogy by critics. "Water" is the third part of an elemental trilogy starting with "Fire" which tackled lesbianism, and then "Earth", covering a sensitive subject of India's partition.

To talk about the movie in short. It’s a period piece on the Indian widows in the 1930s. It begins with eight-year-old Chuyia being sent to a home where Hindu widows must live in penitence. Chuyia's presence affects the lives of the other residents, including a young widow, who falls for an idealistic young man. A neat analytical review of the movie and the story line can be read here.

Why suddenly "Water" has come to limelight now ?

Because, with Oscar awards just round the corner [25th Feb’07], speculation over Deepa Mehta's "Water" winning the Oscar is high in the Best Foreign Language Film category. After "Rang De Basanti"'s dis-qualification Indians have set their hope on "Water".

But Deepa’s movie is now a Canadian entry for the Academy Awards. Canada, is the country where Deepa, a director of Indian origin is based, chose "Water" as its Oscar contender. It is the first time a film in a language other than French that Canada has chosen for the Best Foreign Language Film category from its side. Water was shot in Hindi.

Now the question comes a movie shot in Hindi by a director of Indian origin, based on an Indian storyline but still how come Canada is projecting it.

Mehta began filming "Water" in India at Varanasi in 1999, but was forced to stop after an outcry from local leaders and nationalists who smashed sets and threatened the crew on grounds of making a film on a very controversial issue. The Uttar Pradesh government withdrew the film's location permits as mobs stormed the ghats along the Ganges, destroying the film's sets and burning effigies of Mehta.

But Deepa was not to be deterred.

She looked at many places but found Sri Lanka closer to what she was looking for. The same kind of lushness and the water ponds but the only thing lacking was the ghats. The production designer and his team did an incredible job in creating the ghats. Because of the changing dates and all this brouhaha, even the original cast got changed. Seema Biswas of “Bandit Queen” fame replaced Shabana Azmi. John Abraham and Lisa Ray took over the roles originally marked for Akshay and Nandita Das.

The director's Indian origin and cast of Indian stars like Lisa Ray, Seema Biswas and John Abraham have evoked patriotism and support from the 'desis' junta round the globe and lets see if “ Water” can clinch the award. Keeping fingers crossed.

The other four in contest for the same category are "After The Wedding" (Denmark), "Days Of Glory" (Algeria), "The lives Of Others" (Germany) and "Pan's Labyrinth" (Mexico). Do you know that even the movie “After The Wedding” has an Indian connection?
Though born and raised in Denmark, Jacob Peterson made a life for himself in India, where he runs an orphanage for homeless children. While Jacob cares little for money, raising funds is part of the responsibilities of his position, and when he learns that Jorgan, a wealthy Danish businessman, is willing to donate four million dollars under the condition that he meet with him in person, Jacob grudgingly hops a flight back home. Once in Denmark, Jorgan insists that Jacob attend the wedding of his daughter the next day; at the celebration he meets Jorgan's wife, Helene, whom he recognizes as someone he knew many years ago. As Jacob finds himself revisiting a past he would prefer to forget, he discovers that Jorgan has an ulterior motive for bringing him to Denmark -- the wealthy man is in poor health, and while the donation will help ease some of his guilt over a life of avarice, he's also looking for someone to take over as Helene's husband after he dies.
[ Source : New York Times ]

Be it Cauvery Water, Roger Waters[ did anyone attend the concert in Mumbai. ],irrespective Water is a stir.

Don’t miss the Academy Awards on the 25th Feb’ 07 night.

Keep reading and remain connected.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Thinking Inside 3x5

I have been following a blog by Jessica for a while. Its a coooooooooooool blog and she uses this canvas to think a little more relationally without resorting to doing actual mathematics.

Jessica's way of conceptualising Venn Diagrams, X-Y graph, solving linear equations,
and understanding polygons is so very pragmatic and humourous.

Her little blog is called Indexed [something that I use day-in day-out] and she has created her 'salmagundi' of her ideas in 3x5 inches.

Smart, Simple and Succinct. Smarty Jessica, shine on.

Keep reading and remain connected.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Exactly what you tell it to?

The entire last week was a bit hectic with a tight schedule in my work hours, which generally spills beyond normal work hours, if you wish you can even brand me a poor time planner of my activities. I have no issues at all but as they say, "The wearer of the shoe knows best where the shoe bites the most" (or something similar to this, that is not very important as long as you get the point). I knew things would turn out that way, but that’s Ok for me as long as the people I work with and deal with don’t have an attitude. Also I have worked with some smart people, who have so much to offer when it comes to learning both here and in foreign lands. Its like learning becomes a routine affair and it happened without me making a conscious attempt. For me age doesn’t matter as long as there is steady exchange of views and ideas with the person I am dealing with. But I guess, this population is very rare and most end up having truckloads of ego and superiority complex.

I just don’t understand WHY? Now, I don’t personally like meetings. They are affairs, which people higher up in the corporate like to do for long hours. However, what I have seen is that no real work gets done at meetings. What happens at the most is some amount of planning but nothing concrete ever comes out. This is not something new but has been there since the times of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.

However, that is not the moot point. Without exception, there are few people who have climbed the ranks within an organization based on seniority (not skills in a particular domain). In the end these people have found themselves in a position where they don’t understand the subject matters anymore but what makes them survive is glib talk. By itself, this issue can be sidelined if their management skills were sublime. I’m talking about taking control of projects, designing a new product, working proactively with the team mates and always coming with new ideas (I know these people cannot implement new ideas to the minutest details, but then your experience should germinate new thoughts), creating smart and challenging opportunities and most important motivating individuals.

But trust me, I am talking in a fools world, if you are looking for all this at one place. This is utopia and I have seen some of the best organizations in the world in my 4.5 years of work life so far but not in any place I found all these parameters in place. Fine, I have no comments but then why can’t we achieve that excellence and set the bars to those limits. My funda is only when I set something un-achievable, can I achieve something and that’s what gives me kick to strive for better and more. In the real world, managers will without exception create hassles, slow things down, and ask one to work on an architecture without being clear of what technology they are taking about or may be prepare tons of business logic and intelligent reports. But why? Because they have to validate their presence, as I like to call it. If they wouldn’t bug you with all kinds of questions [mind you most of them are irrelevant to the context] and demand you to report to them about every little detail, the hierarchical level above them would find out that they’re irrelevant in the organization. And egomaniacal as they are, they obviously will never allow for that to happen. At some point of time, they need to show it somewhere, so make someone else "bakra". Bacchu grow up, act smart and not like school kids.

If you think you’re then stuck in this situation, don’t worry. Have you ever wondered why this happens? 99% of all managers will have a direct boss above them and they are sort of middlemen between the top boss and the team below. So in order to show his/her efficiency [no, no its like bahar se efficiency and andhar se inefficiency], this person always wants to impress his/her boss. Often with activities, which are not, possible and attainable in a particular time frame even if one cracks the underlying algorithms on a rapid-fire mode. If that’s the case department managers can be ignored, they can be made extraneous. Just stop following the standard ranks of the organization, and go straight for the top. In most instances, the top management will appreciate to be involved more directly and efficiently, and you will automatically undermine the position of your idiot department manager.

Problem solved, everybody happy. Ah well, if the strategy has proven itself, why not apply it again. Simple, effective, and also a lot of fun.

Hmm, enough of gyan but then I was in some different state of mind for the last few days and this blog window, became my canvas to articulate my thoughts. Now leave all this lets get back to some good fun I had the last Sunday over a late night dinner. I was unluckily to be at work on a weekend but then realized that we had to bid farewell to SUMO, one of my teammates, a pretty senior guy but fun to work with. Since SUMO is moving to Florida for good, so planned immediately, got a gift from Shoppers Shop [thanks to AJ, HadeBoss for taking the role driver for a change, a welcome deviation from his long hours at work digging through the code.] and invited him and his wife for dinner at Magnolia, a Chinese restaurant that is hop-skip-jump from the place where I stay.

The late evening get together was entertaining and the food was good too. Very next to the table where we were seated was a small family with their only kid who would be barely 4 years old, having a good time with the food as well as the relaxed atmosphere. I liked the cute kid sitting next to me and popping her head intermittently while having her food. She was talking to her mama what all she learnt at school the entire last week, was teaching her Mama how to differentiate between a spoon and a fork. The most interesting part in the entire conversation was when she said, "Mama, we will take noodles with the same fork and I will feed you sitting in your lap and I will eat at the same time". She was trying to explain her Mama about a new concept and word that she had learnt in her play school, the word "Sharing".

I was so impressed with this, when I thought this kid is so much better than the junta who talk shed loads only, chucking bombastic jargon often. This kid learnt something, understood it and was applying it in her real life in the most practical way. That’s knowledge.

Life is all about perspectives and I am certainly not clear about the first group called the managers but I am definitely very sure about that kid for her crystal clear approach in understanding and application.

Keep reading and remain connected.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

End of An Era for Remote Control.

I am not a television freak and follow it just for few news channels, FRIENDS and sometimes tossing between the music channels. Other than that to me it’s an idiot box and it is indeed. But today while I was going through the morning newspaper, saw one news that really saddened me.

Now imagine operating a TV set, or watching one, without a remote control? These days, television has metastasized from a few channels to a 100+ channels, (just try getting from Channel 10 to Channel 99 without the remote control). To think of a TV set without a remote control is like getting a laptop without any operating system on it. The remote control made watching TV a comfortable and a lazy experience and few even hold this freaky small gadget responsible for the new generation of couch potatoes.
In a May 2004 interview with the Associated Press, Adler recalled being among two dozen engineers at Zenith given the mission to find a new way for television viewers to change channels without getting out of their chairs or tripping over a cable.

But he downplayed his role when asked if he felt his invention helped raise a new generation of couch potatoes.

"People ask me all the time, 'Don't you feel guilty for it?' And I say, 'That's ridiculous,' " he said. "It seems reasonable and rational to control the TV from where you normally sit and watch television."

Dr. Robert Adler, inventor of the wireless remote control for television in 1956 among many accomplishments and contributions to the consumer electronics industry, died of heart failure, on Feb. 15’ 07. He was 93. In his six-decade career with Zenith, Adler a prolific inventor, earned more than 180 U.S. patents. Adler joined Zenith’s research division in 1941 after earning a doctorate in physics from the University of Vienna. He retired as research vice president in 1979, and served as a technical consultant until 1999, when Zenith merged with LG Electronics Inc.

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded Adler and co-inventor Polley, another Zenith engineer, an Emmy in 1997 for the landmark invention.

This man was a genius and I feel Adler's triumph was the gateway to wirelessness in general. I feel the TV remote control taught us to expect similar ease and practicality in almost everything in our daily lives. The remote is the direct root of automatic garage-door openers, wireless phones, remote keyless entry in cars, operation of AC’s etc. At least we got an idea for that. Even age didn’t reduce his endeavor and he published his most recent patent application, for advances in touch screen technology, on Feb. 1’ 2007, just a few days before his demise.

More here from CNN.

You see he really preferred reading to watching TV. Interesting!!!
His wife, Ingrid, said Adler wouldn't have chosen the remote control as his favorite invention. In fact, he didn't even watch much television.

"He was more of a reader," she said. "He was a man who would dream in the night and wake up and say, 'I just solved a problem.' He was always thinking science."

Infact reading is the beginning of anything and everything, me-thinks. Just a word, as a mark of respect for this man, press the mute button for a moment of silence, today while watching TV.

Keep reading and remain connected.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Love Is In The Air

It was a bright sunny day on 9th of Feb’07 and the six-lane Bellary Road from the Hebbal flyover till the Yelahanka Air Base in Bangalore was packed with vehicles carrying the city's aviation buffs, young and old who started early to reach the Air Base on time. The onward stretch leading to the "Aero-India 2007" air show seemed like it had all the vehicles in Bangalore, while the opposite plank was empty. I traveled there on a weekday assuming the heavy crowd that would pour packed in cars, SUVs, special BMTC buses and motorcycles over the weekend.

Leaving aside some glitches, the public was enthralled with aerial displays, manoeuvres by Sukhoi-30MKI, MiG-29K and Gripen Fighter Aircrafts team, and a vast array of aerial gymnastics by foreign aircraft like F-18, F-16. The Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team (SKAT) did its trademark display. The Surya Kirans turned up in full strength charging up the sky with the characteristic aerial loops, rising sun manoeuvres and majestic cross runs high up there.

Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group after having acquired Corus, touched down at the show to celebrate his win, flying the F-16 of Lockheed Martin. This was one day before my visit and I missed it. There is news that Lockheed Martin is in race to sell 126 multi-role combat aircraft to the Indian Air Force. In all there were a total of 500 participating companies, including 275 foreign companies from Britain, Germany, France, Israel, Russia, Sweden, the US, etc, forty-five foreign delegations, 28 air force chiefs and visitors and tourists from various parts of the globe.

The show was organized well and there were neat arrangements for car parking, food stalls, souvenir stalls, etc. For lesser mortals, who were not as fortunate as Tata was, there was always a simulator of various aircrafts in the exhibition stalls, with a serpentine queue waiting for the chance to try his/her hand at it. Let me not extend my post; hope the pics of the exhilarating moments that I tried to capture will speak for the missing words.

[The entrance gate.]

[Few of the participating countries.]

[C-130 Hercules,the famous American heavy lift strategic transporter.]

[Falcon 1.]

[C-17 Aircraft.]

[SU-30 MKI,one of the deadliest of them all.]

[F-16 Fighting Falcon.]

[The pilot acknowledging the crowd for its support.]

[Jas 39 Gripen.]

[Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) from HAL.]

[Pride of US Air Force from Raytheon.]

[Speed Check by the parachute.]

[Man and Machine.]

[The Surya Kirans, India's Pride.]

[Preparing for the aerial loops by (SKAT).]

[Mera Bharat Mahan.]

For more details visit check here.

The manoeuvres, displays and exercises made me realize that human beings were playing music in the air. It was true to the term "love is in the air". The most remarkable aerial performance was the itching of the Cupid’s heart in the air with the fumes reeking from the Surya Kiran flights. That reminds me, that today is Valentine's Day but what’s that? A symbol of commercialization/flamboyance or true love?

Well, reading the title of my blog, you would have been in a different world. Now that you have read my post, would be thinking, "Yaar, yeh hamhain topi pahnadeeya[I tricked you]". But didn't you like my love ride at mach velocity amidst clouds though sans "The Very Best of Chris de Burgh's Lady in Red", Red Roses,Heart shaped chocolates and the list continues. Hmmmm may be fooder for my next blog. Hehehe....

Keep reading and remain connected.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Pics from Mumbai Marathon.

......continuing with my post made at Desicritics, the team from Bangalore, participated in the Mumbai Marathon (Asia's largest Marathon) on 21st of January '2007. There were 40 members in all including the volunteers and kids from 'Dream A Dream', for the "Dream Run (6Km)" category at the marathon. The pics are from this run.

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Thanks to my friend, Vikram Rai, who was one among the volunteers in the "Dream A Dream" team, and who took the pics.

Keep reading and remain connected

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Paradox of Life

A jury in Amsterdam has awarded the World Press Photo of the Year' 2006 prize to New York-based photographer Spencer Platt of Getty Images, for his picture from the Israel-Lebanon war last summer.
The picture shows a group of five friends cruising in a red Mini convertible against a background of the wreckage of a collapsed buliding. The building reduced to rubble by Israeli bombs.
"It's a picture you can keep looking at," said World Press Photo jury chair Michele McNally, assistant managing editor for The New York Times, in a statement announcing the prize.

"It has the complexity and contradiction of real life, amidst chaos. This photograph makes you look beyond the obvious." A woman grimaces as she uses her mobile to send an SMS while another, wearing sunglasses covers her nose with a handkerchief.The photo's clutter and complexity set it apart from previous year winners, which tended to show individual, personal moments.

Platt's took this photo on Aug 15th'06, the first day of a ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon. Platt had been up since 6 a.m. wandering the city with his translator,that day. In the late afternoon, as he was preparing to return to his hotel to file his images, he spotted something red and flashy out of the corner of his eye. He spun around and quickly shot five frames of the passing convertible and one of them turned out to be this picture.

For more information about the winners see here for details.

That's why all say, Life is a Paradox.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Mukund Bhai Crazy Kiya Re

From long hours at work in one of the biggest US-based software firm in the world for its consulting team to making his own movie, Mukund looks every bit the typical corporate executive only to find a different persona if you glance a little deep. Around mid 2006, after going through a lot of soul-searching, Mukund put his cash to good use and chased a nagging dream. By end of 2006, "Boomerang", Mukund's very own production was ready on reels for release. A 70-minute psychological thriller in English, "Boomerang" is his maiden attempt in visually portraying a story. His vision is to act as a catalyst and share his film making experiences with like-minded people.

The Inspiration.

Mukund hails from a family, which is closely attached to Indian theatre and film making, his father being an accountant in Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. Since his school days, he has grown up in a neighborhood where "Lights, Camera, Sound, Action" is part of the day-to-day language. But on insistence of his parents, he followed the regular path, completed his graduation and then his post graduation in management before joining the corporate world. The dream to make a movie was always there in the back of his mind and Mukund believed in the idea of sharing his dreams with as many people as he could. With this lingering aspiration in mind, he enacted some theatre performances in Bangalore under the banner of "Playback Theatre". He often wrote "I want to make a movie on a piece of paper 10 times every day". It was this constant reminder that kept him focused. This went on for a while, when his friends and colleagues all got cheesed off and gave him an ultimatum saying either you do it or stop talking about it. It became an 'izzat ka sawal' sort of situation. Finally after long series of self-analysis Mukund decided to take a break from work and start his own production.

He has traveled extensively on business assignments to various destinations in U.K, Uganda, Kenya, Malaysia, France, Honk Kong, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, etc to name a few and during these trips he visited the libraries in these lands and studied a lot about filmmaking and cinematography over the weekends and after work. He learnt how to write screenplay, the dialogues and the nuances of film-making lingo - camera, dolly, shot breakdown, shot scheduling, editing etc, all by himself out of sheer passion. The desi community in Uganda was so appealed in his venture that they were ready to support his entire project financially, at one point of time.

The Journey.

The entire cast and crew of "Boomerang" was gathered online through e-mail messages and requests posted on websites. He posted his requirements on the film site, Mandy and was surprised that those who replied were people with experience, with strong footholds in Hindi film industry and were serious about the whole idea from an amateur. The script for the movie had stuck to Mukund on one of his trips to Hong Kong and the story got its real 'U' turn, when he was stuck in a traffic jam in Bangalore. The script was reviewed time and again, modified and restructured entirely through the web world by e-mail exchanges with some of the best names in Indian movie and T.V. world namely Anuradha (Eenadu TV, Hyderabad) and Himanshu Vora, to name a few. Himanshu was the Assistant Director of the movie, Iqbal and has worked in many of the assignments with Nagesh Kukunoor. While all these activities were in progress, Mukund started his hunt for the artists using networking sites such as Ryze and Yahoo Groups. The response was motivating and he went ahead and short listed a few people and met them personally in Mumbai. The rest, as they say, is history. The movie was shot in Mumbai and Panvel.

The Process.

On request, Mukund’s manager at work granted his leave for close to 12weeks. With this time constraint and equipped with strong theoretical knowledge, he reached Mumbai on 4th Aug’06 and started meeting people from the industry taking their valuable inputs, understanding how the industry functions, what are the procedures for getting any film registered and so on. ADs were put up in Prithvi Theatre, Café Coffee Day and Mocha outlets for the audition.

He conducted auditions, which is when he felt like a real filmmaker. After many auditions from the brilliant to the not so brilliant, he finally settled in on his actors, who later went for a 2-week long rehearsal at a school in Mumbai. In the meanwhile he was running from pillar to post for the props, the costumes, film equipments etc. After a lot of site selection for the shooting, Panvel, a place near Mumbai was finally zeroed in. The location for the shoot was from 8th to 16th Sept. One week before the shoot, his production person said he is unable to get most of the things for the film, the camera, lights, makeup, props, etc. Now that the location was booked and a big amount had been paid, postponing the shooting was something out of question. Something not in his mind at all but the panic button had already been pressed. This was the time when his father’s contacts at FTII, helped him a lot to collect and arrange the needful in four days from Pune.

Finally the shooting for the movie started on the scheduled date, Mukund spending his entire day shooting, shouting, scheduling and what not with less than two hours of sleep. Amuck and berserk weren’t the words either, shots not getting canned properly, retakes running over 17 takes, disturbances from the dogs howling to water flowing. Meanwhile some rumor spread that the movie has a big star and there was a huge crowd outside. It took some while before they realized that there weren’t any big stars, but still the crowd was curious to watch the shooting. The local panchayat honcho finally fetched in some peace to the dis-orderliness only after getting his palms greased.
First Shot
[On the sets.]

After the shooting was done, the next major hurdle was the post-production (editing, mixing and music) activities. He got the team from Pune and they used to work at nights as the studio, which they had booked, was already allotted for a star-studded Hindi movie blockbuster during the daytime. By the 1st week of October the film was complete and the results weren’t quite encouraging. Few of Mukund’s, father’s colleagues at FTII saw the final print and they pointed out some gross mistakes and also some fine subtleties that were missed. Left with 2 choices - either (a) leave the film the way in its present format or (b) to re-shoot, Mukund after much deliberation decided on (b). Getting the location was out of the question, so he created the same set at his home in Pune. Got the room painted, got the sets, the interiors, the team in place and re-shot on the 20th of Oct’ 06, the fine points that were neglected before. After all these hard work, the film with the music and final edit was ready on reels on the 10th of Nov’06 night at 12 pm. So his stargaze of "Lights, Camera, Sound, and Action" finally became a reality at the stroke of mid-night.

The Movie, the Starcast and the Marketing.

Mukund made the movie in English. The reason being since Internet was the medium that made him realize his dream, he wanted to release his movie thorough the web-world, which follows English as the de-facto language. More so he wanted to make the movie for an international audience and make his mark as a quality filmmaker understood and appreciated worldwide.

Mukund’s movie was appreciated at the International Film Festival, which was held at Goa from 23rd Nov to 3rd Dec 2006. Serge Sobczynski of the Cannes film festival saw the film and Mukund is keeping his fingers crossed to hear from him, the feedback about his work.
[ Mukund on the left, Raj on the right.]

Movie Synopsis: AK is a London based, renowned but controversial crime novelist of Indian origin. His claim to fame is that the protagonist of his novels is always a negative character. He comes to India to write his latest novel. But some sinister plan unfolds. Does AK’s own life begin to appear like one of his best-selling crime novels?

The main cast includes Raj Vasudeva and Rajeev Mishra. To get a peek into the movie, watch the video below.

Now that Boomerang is ready, Mukund is looking to market it. Once again he has turned to the World Wide Web to arrange for screenings at the festivals and home video circuits. He has got invitations from few distributors for his movie. Apart from that few NRI’s have appreciated his work in his maiden production and have displayed interest to support him for his forth-coming ventures. Mukund is a married man and his wife is a schoolteacher and they have a four-year-old son.

I had the opportunity to work with him way back in 2003 in one of the most awaited events in any Inter Corporate Fest, the MADADS (non-stop scoff on the ADs for 10-12 minutes without the use of any props, background music or any gadgetry.) I was fresh out of my graduation school and he wanted all young blood in his team of six and the script was written over lunch (with valuable inputs from chimney king,AJ) and we rehearsed after work, late nights for two days before the final performance. The performance was so humorous and professional that we won it hands down against the other twenty odd participating teams from the corporate world and was also requested for a repeat performance.

Once I asked Mukund, how he juggles between his work life and his passion for theatre and movies and what is his trade secret. His reply was he believes in 'The Alchemist' philosophy - When you want something, the entire world conspires in helping you to achieve it. Ok, then are you aware of the latestsci-fi thriller from the desis stable, Formula 69 made by a IIM-Lucknow graduate and 29 IIT-Delhi students, entirely shot in the IIT Delhi campus. Watch out for my next report, coming soon.

Saach Bolega Sirkeet, apna Mukund Bhai na philum banaya re, ekdum mast re, enngleesh maain, Saamjha kya...

Cross posted at Desicritics.

Keep reading and remain connected.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Tik Tik Tik Booooooom !!!

And that's how someone's nose got broken...

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

That Birthday, one e-mail and life goes on.

It was a birthday party at my work. One of those birthdays when we mostly just gather to have a piece of cake and a break. The famous cakes of this land look so yummy and delicious but are so terribly sweet that I can never grab more than two bites. We sang the birthday song, cut the cake into generous pieces and luckily I had the camera with me to take photos. Taking the photos for me was the best part. I could send them to my maa and father so that they could have a picture of my colleagues, the people that I talk about so often over our telephonic conversations.

Although, birthday parties are never that eventful and people just come to say happy birthday out of the mere sake of politeness and to eat a piece of famous, good-looking cake. But the fact that it broke the normal routine of my humping behind my computer, cheered me up. I was happily humming when I returned to my domicile. Jumped on my big chair and tried to resume my work but there was a mysterious force in the air. A power that made me go to my mailbox despite the fact that I was behind in my work. I told myself: "Hey, you sure do not want to miss your internal audit meeting, do you? So, be nice and finish your work." Yet that power in that air was much stronger than the mere thought and I opened my mailbox.

Surprisingly there was only one new e-mail from an old friend of mine. We knew each other from college days, when I was in second year and he was my junior in the same school. He was a brilliant, fun guy studying chemical engineering who had a passion for literature. And it was this passion that became our starting point. I met him in a trip with a bunch of common friends. One of those trips to the green, green north of India when you gather round the fire at night and have a casual talk. You talk about politics, the latest book that you have read, the poet that you like best, the hot crush stories among the batchmates and then you all sing a song together while the fire is lighting up your faces in red and orange colors. Then you live a life of those songs, those voices and those talks, those faces turned into red and orange under fire, wherever you are for the rest of your life.

He was one of those people that I discovered around fire. His solid voice talking about "if a winter’s night a traveler" of Italo Calvino drew my attention. It was the sparkle to talk about life, the dreams of our young lives and how to set goals. Goals those were so vivid, tangible and attainable then, at a time when we were not even at our twenties. The sparkle lasted long in our eyes, in our hearts till we crossed roads, years later, when I saw him again in a foreign land with the same eyes and bright smile. Looking directly at me and asking that famous old question: Remember "if on a winter’s night a traveler"? It has become a legend for us to remember that we have to stick to our goals in life. And I laughed and saw that orange and red face of years ago without any fire to reflect its light on it.

He came to Paris two years ago. At the beginning we were in constant touch but as things started rolling for him, we were both so busy that although we were lucky enough to live in the same city, we hardly got the chance of talking to each other, let alone getting together and talking face to face. That’s how life is in Paris, as we all know.

Anyways, with all these memories marching before my eyes, I opened the e-mail and read it. For five minutes my mind was blank. My brain had stopped to function. As soon as I could move the muscles of my mouth, my first reaction was whispering loud: No, it is impossible. A few minutes later, the tears found their way and came down my cheeks although I was constantly repeating to myself: No, this can’t be true; he had made a mistake when writing this. I read his e-mail two, three times. Tears in my eyes falling on my keyboard and I could never close my browser:

Dear RC,

This is a shocking news to you and it is with immense pain I share with you the sad demise of my mother.

I am feeling lonely and lost in this world and I wish that you were near me as you have been forever so far.



I searched for the phone but could not even think of what to say, how to ask if that was true. I remembered his mother so clearly. Such a vivid, sociable creature that was always laughing and so happy. And she was so young may be in her mid fifties. May be even younger. I was weeping loud in my own world, when my neighbor from the other cube brought me back to this world: "RC are you OK?" .I just replied with broken words: "Yes, I am". What could I say? How could I transfer all those emotional load of memories and young dreams in a sentence over the wall of my cubicle? And he did not say anything. That is the role in here; you‘ve got to respect your privacy.

Gathering my mind, I tried to picture him during the past two years. He had come to Paris on a student’s visa and he was a certified chemical engineer, after long years of study and work back home. He got admission with great difficulty, with a clause to work on weekends. It was his dream to work and go for a part-time program in Paris, a paradise for a literature lover. Yes, as an outsider he had a long way to go, to be able to get a residency, with the rules becoming more stringent for immigrants globally.

I remember his words at the early months: "RC, I am not born here, I am suffering every day, why should I start everything from scratch to just say that I studied in Paris? All this pain at what cost? As an outsider, I can choose only limited fields to specialize in, may be two or three and not even what I like. I can never even get into the field that I want. Just I have to stick to internal field chemistry and thank good Lord."

I said: "Hey man keep trying and something positive would work out but still if it is really that bad- winking- why don’t you go back home and make to the best of schools there?" He looked at me kind of upset and laughingly said:"Ohhh. Common RC, you have been there, you know how that hurts. What can I do? Drive taxis round the city after all these years and with all those big plans? Remember "If on a winter's night a traveler"? Can I leave all my wishes? A man is alive as long as he makes wishes! I can not." He lowered his head and I could feel the tears coming from his eyes.

I looked at his big brown eyes and preferred to just keep quiet. What could I say? I knew at least in Paris, he was able to realize what he had in his mind, if not today and tomorrow, but in 5 years, 10 years, just one day. One day before he would give that warm flesh of his body to the cold earth. Before all those brain cells under his hair could stop producing those big thoughts. How could he be cruel to all his dreams? He should stay and fight and I am the one to tell him, now that he is desperate, now that he needs a push.

Moments later there was me talking about the beauties of the utopia of his dreamy universe and how he has to try hard. How his maa would be proud of him one day. One day when all flourishes and once again its he who would rest his head on the bosoms of his kind, loving maa. He can invite his parents soon as he would be a doctrate in chemical engineering cum specialist and they would feel proud.

He looked at me and I could feel that. He loved his parents especially his maa so much. Just the thought of it worked and he started his swim against the stream of time.

He said in a firm voice: "RC you are right. No pain, no gain and it has been our destiny.. pain, pain and when comes the gain? Only GOD knows..." And then he giggled.

He took the exams, Level 1 and Level 2, scores were so high that I was more proud than he was and both of us walked down to a small brasserie in the rain for the celebration. He was offered a residency in Chemical Engineering Department. Things were turning even much better than what we had expected. How he was happy and how I could hear him calling his maa and Papaji from the other room and saying:"I am changing my visa status, they will take care of my work visa as I will start working as a resident in Paris. Hey start planning! I will send you the invitations and in summer, you should come to visit me. We will be altogether again and I will take you to Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Galeries Lafayette for shopping". Then added with a lower voice "and you do not need to worry about the funding aspect of my education. Now, I will be working, now you wait for my money coming your way" and he laughed so happily that I told him to knock on the wood so that evil will not hear him. He gave me one of those meaningful looks of: "hey, you superstitious creature". But when I left, I could hear the voice of his fingers knocking on the wooden door.

Suddenly I remembered, last time he was talking of starting to work in 4 months after the work permit work paper was done and his visa status was changed. And now? Has it been done? Does he have a different visa? Oh... my GOD, under this new bill for outsiders, he could not leave this country and come back. What does he do now? Knowing him, I knew that he would think of going back home definitely. I should talk to him as soon as possible.

Can’t wait any more, so picked up the phone and it was me talking with such a strange voice. A young woman answered and told me two unbearable, unimaginable facts: he doesn’t want to talk to anybody and he has locked himself up and just mourns. My heart was beating and tears did not let me talk but I had to talk to him. So, I just insisted and asked the lady to mention my name. I was his old friend, the friendship made over a fire and I could not let go all his efforts so easily. It worked and finally it was he on the phone, his voice was slow, interspersed with sobbing.

"RC, can u believe?"
"No, never. I could never even imagine".

"RC she is gone re. She is not there any more. RC my maa is no more. Do you hear me?" (Yes, I hear you with all my heart. Can I still talk about a fight for life, for goals now? Never.) I was torn apart, I heard my voice saying:"I know, how you feel.. It is all so bitter."

"RC, I am leaving this land in two days."

Now I come back to the real life. I should do something, something to prevent him from leaving .He is leaving but he can never come back or at least not so soon. My mind is filled up with that new bill. No more immigrant visas. He has tried so hard in this land. He is close to thirty years old now. How can he start it all again? How many more years should he go through the pain till there comes the gain? I remember all those petitions but never knew if it would be a law or not. More likely to become a law. Oh GOD! How I wish more people had signed that petition. I wished there was no bill but there is one now, what happens to him now? Are they all gone, all those efforts? He can never return, his efforts are all gone, he cannot go home, but how can I say that? "No. If you do, you know all you did is gone for good, you know".

He said, " I don’t care, how can I not be by my Papaji. Huh... How can I even not be there when he needs me so badly? How could I let my maa suffer all this time? I gave her all the pain of loneliness and separation. She was crying all the time that we talked on the phone, and asking me to come back. How do you want me to stay here and live? What is the worth of this life for me? Even if now, I can not go and be there for her, for them for the very last time."

I heard him weeping and then a door that closed. I better shut up; sometimes logic is nothing but a piece of mud to slide on.

I hung up the phone, closed my eyes and made a wish. Wish GOD treated us differently and was a bit kind to my friend.

Si seulement Dieu pouvait nous traiter différemment et être un peu gentil avec mon ami.

Keep reading and remain connected.

[Note: This is a fictitious story and is not based on any individual, on the intricate laws and rules of any land. The word maa means mother and Papaji means father.]

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Grounded By Tonnes Of Tomes

"Perhaps it is only in childhood that books have any deep influence on our lives. In later life we admire, we are entertained, we may modify some views we already hold, but we are more likely to find in books merely a confirmation of that is in our minds already; as in love affair it is our own features that we see reflected flatteringly back." -- Graham Greene

This quote came to my mind while writing this post, but even words can’t express my respect that I have for an 'unglamorous' person and his passion for books. I know this person for more than four years now.

A short and narrow by lane leads from Brigade Road, where Bangalore’s flashy consumerist culture displays itself along a crowded stretch of shops, pubs, restaurants and glazed arcades into a small backwater of quiet and unhurried living. Every day a countable number of booklovers head for an unusual little shop located in one of the semi-new dwelling in this area. This is the Select Book Shop, one of the finest antiquarian bookshops in India.
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Here crammed into five rooms, on simple wooden racks that run to the roof, on and under tables, in stacks piled precariously on the floor, in short in every conceivable piece of floor area, with little space to walk, are books, books and books. Unlike in a bookshop or library, where books are arranged alphabetically, here there is no such order, which is one of its attractions. The books here range from anything to everything, possibly every thinkable area of knowledge and literature. This is not the place if someone is looking for the latest Grisham, Sheldon or pulp based books, but it’s a real treasure trove of frayed pages on any topic starting from pre-Indian independence to pre-globalization, exciting ideas and six decades of unique history. There are books on education, Egyptology, health, art, history, politics, humor and satire, philosophy and religion, psychic science and psychology, and folklore. There are memoirs and anthologies too. Select is no snob and if you are a low-budget browser in these inflation-prone days, it won’t disappoint. Thanks to its profit-is-not-all approach, this quaint outlet has a remarkable ability to locate books of one’s interest.
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So what is the genesis of Select and how did all this happen?

Select was started in 1945 on Museum Road, Bangalore by K.B.K Rao. Rao abandoned his flourishing career as a lawyer and came to Bangalore. With due support from Dr. Robertson, then well known in bridge circles for his innovation called the 'Robertson Move' who provided his garage, Rao started his dream journey. Rao whose mind reveled in the sublime beauty of literature and art always invested whatever possible from his front though at the same time going thorough the motion of humdrum daily routine. The books were collected from the Britishers who were returning home after India’s independence in 1947 and many were selling their precious libraries. As time passed Select Book Shop attracted eminent people like scientist C.V.Raman and Philip Spratt, who was sent to India from England during those days to start the Communist Party but later like many others got disillusioned with communism and became a right wing proponent. During the late fifties it moved to a small shop on M.G. Road and stayed there till the eighties before moving to its present location on Brigade Road.
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[This is one of the oldest pics of Gandhiji.]

K.K.S. Murthy, son of K.B.K Rao, who like his father also has an interesting story currently, mans this bookshop. I know K.K.S. Murthy for close to 4 years now and I call him 'Sir' for the respect I have for this man and he has shared with me few of his experiences and memorable events, which are priceless.
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Though trained as a production engineer from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, K.K.S. Murthy was an ardent booklover. He worked with Kirloskar for few years and later served under Hindustan Aeronautics Limited [HAL] for 18 years. During this time he made trips to Europe on business assignments and as is akin to any booklover he spent vacations visiting bookstores all the way from the banks of the Seine in Paris to the collections sold near the British Museum in London.
[I am telling from personal experience, that if you love books, irrespective of whether you read those or not, banks of Seine river is one place for sure visit. Even after three visits, I crave for more as they say in Hindi "Yeh Dil Mange More".]

Later he moved to US and served for Lockheed in New Jersey. He spent five years in the US, his main intention was to collect books and send those to Bangalore so that it would add to the existing collection of his father. He left two jobs in the US as the firms wanted him to apply for US citizenship, which he was totally against as it was never his intent to settle in a foreign land. Finally he took a job as an Inventory Control Manager with a publishing house in New Jersey. In his role of inspection he found that many books from the conveyor were discarded everyday as they were unfit for final packing because of silly reasons like a minor wear and tear or a dent. There were copies of Lawrence Olivier and many such books kept on accumulating. Seeking permission from his manager there, Mr. Murthy bought 19 such boxes at 500 dollars and transported them to Bangalore by sack mail.

In the mid-1970s Mr. Murthy entered the business just before his father died, and he has been at it ever since. After getting into this passion of running his father’s legacy, Murthy has traveled to every nook and corner of India to collect his books. From Chennai’s Moore Market to Kolkata’s College Street to New York to the street shops in France on the banks of the river Seine, his is a life inextricably linked with books.
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As Keats once said of a true book collector, good books cling to his hands like iron filings to a magnet and this aptly fits Mr. Murthy to the final word. His collection numbers over 90,000 and few of his rarest of rare collection include an autographed copy of Tagore's Gitanjali, Darwin’s Origin of Species, Richard Burton’s authored series of Arabian Nights, Boswell’s Life of Johnson and Issac Watton’s The Compleat Angler written in the 1870’s.

Once in a while on a weekend, I just go to his place after lunch and then spend the rest of my day there till it is closed around 6:30P.M. Talking to Mr. Murthy is like roaming thorough a moving library and or a cruise through a mini-university. One day while I was there, I asked him a simple question.

What did he love in this work and was he not feeling challenged by the big bookshops in Bangalore such as Landmark, Gangarams, Strands and Shankars?

His reply was "I am not selling books here and I am not here to do business. Because of our common interest being books, I meet so many people, young and old and from various backgrounds. And it is nice to meet new people, learn new things and see new perspectives. As far as my motive and the big bookshops intention are concerned, we follow totally different schools of ideology or philosophy."
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One of the unique features of this place is that, any visitor is allowed to browse among the books for as long as you want. There is no one watching or policing you. My tip to anyone who visits this place: "Never address this place as a second hand book shop". Chances are Mr. Murthy will exclaim with a hint, a vexation: "Books are books, why do you classify them as second hand?"

Mr. Murthy gets the real notion of any person who visits him and if he finds some person 'deserving' of a particular book, monetary consideration is the last thing on his mind. I have seen it myself, he giving books to few visitors, especially students with insufficient funds just because he saw flair on their faces. He even told me an incident, when he was in a bookstore in the US, how a student of Psychology realized his ignorance in the subject, helped him get the correct book. But it’s not that way in India and so he allows the readers to spend as much time as they want before they get their book. Mr. Murthy spends hours poring over the shelves to find specific books if you seek his help. It’s customer service of an impeccably high order.

Now think who in these mercenary times would think of helping a not-so-well-known artist and showcase his works and not take a commission on the sale? Well Mr.Murthy is one such person, who is trying to develop an art gallery for the young artists. He also has a rare collection of paintings and a collector can also buy paintings by some of the upcoming talents here, which do not find space in elegant, and spacious art galleries.
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There is a particular calmness in this place, which almost seems like a reverential hush intended for the books themselves. The books here are brittle with age; their pages have turned dullish yellow and threaten to snap softly. It is this magic that has attracted many in recent times. To mention a few who frequent here are Yusuf Arakal, Girish Karnad, Ramachandra Guha, N. Ram, Romila Thapar, Sashi Despande, etc as well as expatriates who religiously visit the bookshop whenever circumstances bring them to Bangalore. Occasional visitors include author Ruskin Bond, who has been coming to the Select since the 1960s. Mr. Murthy even shared with me an autograph of Ruskin Bond during one of his visits in 2001 to the Select Book Shop.
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Bond even wrote: "Booksellers should encourage browsers. Sooner or later most of them will become book buyers. And it was in Select that I became a collector of picture postcards."

These days Mr.Murthy’s son, Sanjay has joined him leaving his job as an accountant. This place also holds discussions and talks by eminent speakers from India and from professors from different Universities across the globe. These talks are organized in a typical informal baithak format where in the listeners generally sit on mats on the floor with the speaker seated on a chair or on a dewan [cushioned chair]. Anyone can join in these discussions or visit the shop at the address:

Select Book Shop
71, Brigade Road Cross,
Phone: +91-080-25580770

It’s open 11:30 A.M. to 6:30 P.M. Monday to Saturday and upto 5:30 P.M. on Sundays.
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In this age of computers, with information at your tips, courtesy Google and Wikipedia but still 'Select' is a comforting place to be. There is something reassuring about the thought that not all information in this world is available online and there are few things, which are beyond Google’s tentacles. If you seek my opinion I prefer few things to be the way they are and be restored as they are, bearing the virginal beauty and not touched by technology. That’s the reason one hardly hears about this place in newspapers or in media as Mr. Murthy told me he is never interested in advertising.

Dive into this amazing world here.

The amazement of the first time or Nth time visitor, makes him realize that s/he 'Select' ed the right place to get his/her books. A unique discovery indeed. 'Unpretentious' treasure trove is my word to describe this outlet.
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It was in this place, that my romance started with books by Derrida and have read few books by this French philosopher but have lots to read. I have got some of the best in my collection of books from this place. Whenever I go there, I talk to Murthy 'Sir' and its the simple talk and you feel blessed with the load of knowledge, maturity and cognitive abilities of this person.

Keep reading and remain connected.