Monday, December 13, 2004
Once upon a time, in a kingdom far far away, there lived two hundred and fifty odd MBA students. In another kingdom, several miles away from the first, lived another set of two hundred and fifty MBA students. When eight students of the second kingdom decided to go to the first kingdom as ambassadors of their faith, they had no idea of the fate that awaited them.
And a strange fate it was, especially for one of the visitors. This visitor from the Kozhikode kingdom was not alone. He had been carrying along with him, his friend, popularly known as 'Lappie'. Now, Lappie had an uncanny habit of going on solitary walks and not returning unless really sought after. Unknown to the concerned visitor Lappie had come with, Lappie decided to make a case for going out just as the visitor to the kingdom of Hyderabad was deciding to pack up the bags and go back to the home kingdom of Kozhikode.
As Lappie started on this eventful walk, clouds started to part, darkness engulfed everything there was to engulf, eerie sounds filled the ears, and pungent odours made the noses stiffen. It was a walk from which Lappie was not to return, at least not very soon. The visitor was to return all alone to the kingdom of Kozhikode, disappointed and distraught by the loss of his friend. The only good news was that Lappie, instead of being lost on the walk, was discovered by the sentries of the Hyderabad kingdom and handed over to one of the kingdom's residents.
Lappie, being of a weak disposition, could not travel alone, despite being so interested in roaming around. So it was that Lappie and the visitor from the kingdom of Kozhikode had to spend many-a-sleepless nights in the agony of separation. The agony was too big to be cast aside by mere fluke of fate...there were higher powers and another kingdom, the kingdom of Bangalore, to play their roles.
One of the residents of the kingdom of Kozhikode, while on a chance visit to the neighboring kingdom of Bangalore, was brought in knowledge of the fact that Lappie was to be escorted from the kingdom of Hyderabad to the kingdom of Bangalore by a lady in shining silk. The said lady in shininig silk, being the apple of the eye of one of the residents of Hyderabad kingdom, was entrusted the difficult job of escorting Lappie, as a reward for which, she was to spend three days and three nights in the kingdom of Singapore. However, the lady's silk was too smooth and she made a move to Singapore even before she handed Lappie over to the visitor from the kingdom of Kozhikode to the kingdom of Bangalore.
It now came upon the lady's parents, the Lord and Lady of BTM riyasat in Bangalore kingdom to perform the handing over ceremony for Lappie. Once that was done, the visitor from Kozhikode kingdom escorted Lappie all the way back to Kozhikode where the ultimate milan took place. Tears knew no buckets, lightning no trees as the two friends met again. It was after not too long a time that they were brought back together but it seemed ages to the estranged friends. However, the separation had ended and ended well....the kingdom of Kozhikode was bedecked like a Queen tonight with all and sundry bringing their hands together to welcome Lappie with the words: "they will live happily ever after".
Posted at 07:35 pm by Nitai
Saturday, December 11, 2004
Apna to ek hi usool hai yaar...tez dhaar
Aadmi Musafir hota hai hero
Aata hai...chala jaata hai
tere jaane ka time aa gaya
As has been happening with the 'different' Hindi movies since the time of Kaun and others of the genre, Musafir could have been another dud at the box office. Directed by Sanjay Gupta of Kaante fame and produced by Sanjay Dutt, this movie seems to have done something else that is different. Having opened with 100% collections in Mumbai, the movie has all the scope to set the box office ablaze.
The look and feel of the entire movie (thanks to the director, cinematographer, and the art director) is completely international. Athough more than the due effort seems to have been put in the first half to make the movie look slick (so much so that the product seems to be overdone and badly overdone at that), all of it pays off in the second half, which, apart from the ocassional song disturbances, is as fast paced as you will ever see.
Musafir is the story of Lucky, a small time conman, who plans to pull off his last job before settling down to a peaceful life with his girlfriend Lara (played sexily by Koena Mitra). Unfortunately, the job he pulls off puts him in the red books of the drug lord of Mumbai, Billa (the most ceetee-taalee inducing role that Sanjay Dutt has ever played...excpet maybe Khalnayak). Even more unfortunately, Lara cheats him off the money that Billa is now desperately looking for. To pacify Billa, Lucky has to go to Goa to pull off a drug deal and get the money back to Billa.
Once in Goa, Lucky comes across the sultry Sam getting tattoed at one of the beaches. Sam has a strange past and as deep as Lucky gets into Sam's past, the more strange it seems to be. As it turns out, Lucky reaches a position where he has to accept one of the propositions of Sam or of her husband (played with aplomb by Mahesh Manjrekar). Both of them have a different story to tell about Sam's past and a different proposition, a different plan for Lucky. What really happens, however, is another of the several twists of the tale. Hounded by Billa at one end and the cop Tiger (Aditya Pancholi coming back in an author-backed role) on another, Lucky races on to the climax of the movie, which, though, well executed, is a little lame, given the rest of the movie. The saving grace is that unlike the other Hindi movie villains that Billa keeps taking potshots at, Billa's character is not shown to crumble at the end, after all the building up of it during the rest of the movie.
The etching of all characters in the movie has been first rate. In fact, one of the opening sequences where Sanjay Dutt is introduced in the movie is simply awesome and straight out of some slick Hollywood flick. As Lucky stands in the rain with guns pointed at him, a truly Hercule-esque figure strolls down the pavement. Dressed from top to the bottom in a raincoat with a hood covering his eyes, Sanjay Dutt would have put Darth Wader to shame. His cigar, the Swiss knife that he keeps fiddling with, and not to mention the six cylinder bike that he drives in the end, all add to the effect.
The Liv Tyler (refer to the movie "One Night at McCool's" and the car wash scene) done by Koena Mitra is as sleazy a scene as you would get, even after the Murder-esque movies that get churned out every now and then. Even the tattoing scene that introduces Koena Mitra is brilliantly picturised and would certainly have the arousing impact that the filmmakers would have been banking on. Mahesh Manjrekar as the horny, incestuous, and frustrated husband, and Aditya Pancholi as the corrupt, care-two-hoots cop are the other characters that create their own space.
As for the songs and music, the movie scores in that area as well. With 'Saaki Saaki' and 'Ishq kabhi kariyo na' already topping the charts, the music does not leave too much to be desired. The icing on the cake, however, is the title song rendered by Sanjay Dutt himself. If you don't mind the lyrics and at the same time, have an ear for the kind, 'Tez Dhaar' would take you by a storm.
Koena Mitra and Sameera Reddy outdo each other in the sleaze show while amongst the male protagonists, Anil Kapoor seems to be too old and tired to play a fugitive from crime and law alike. Sanjay Dutt looks a million bucks, what with the new fashion-statement sidelocks-cum-beard. Amongst the supporting cast, while Shakti Kapoor is wasted, Aditya Pancholi and Mahesh Manjrekar do a wonderful job.
The direction is top class, especially in the second half, where the director takes a leaf out of an innovative book, as he presents the same sequence twice, once each from different perspectives (the last I saw something similar was in an old English classic called The Clue). Though the first half seems a little overdone, the movie is able to project an overall slick feel that is surely going to appeal to the classes. As for the masses, they are surely not going to be disappointed, what with the Kaante style street dialogues selling dime-a-dozen in the movie and of course, the Koena-Sameera magic blowing all covers off.
If you are a Sanjay Dutt fan, if you want to see some slick and sleazy fare at the same time, if you are sold on the 'Nikal Le Bhaiye' song of Road, if you really believe in all those who compare Sameera Reddy to Smita Patil, if you are the ceetee-taali type of junta, if you want to be entertained for two and a half hours, and above all, if you don't want someone to kill the suspense before you do, go watch Musafir ASAP.
Posted at 11:01 am by Nitai
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
As always, I am late. As always, I am sure that you will forgive me. This one is to you, my dear sister. Happy Birthday, Priya! Reflecting back at the photographs of the two of us, sitting side by side on the numerous furnishings (we did not spare even one table, one sofa at home), I can still make out your chubby round face looking all swollen and puffy because I would have done some big-brotherly thing moments ago.
Despite being only one and a half years elder to you, you have always been the kiddo for me. Starting from caring for you when both of us were too little to realize the meaning of caring (all claims in this respect are as per what Maa keeps telling us) to having the say when we went to buy clothes and toys, I have always had the upper hand. Then again, you would get your own at me by taking away all that should have been mine :-))
The numerous tee-shirts that we have shared (when I was small enough to fit into them), the numerous fights we have had over aeroplanes and cars and Nana-Nani's affection are memories that shall be there for eternity. The plots that we made together, the throwing of stones at the neighbour's windows, the jamming of tumblers (the one that never got unstuck still adorns our kitchen :-)), the Holis, the Diwalis, the birthdays, the December Kirtans, and lately the understanding between us when we speak the same thing at the same time, as if each knows what goes on in the other's mind... unmatchable.
Despite all the distances and the supposed pursuit of careers between us, I am sure that today on your birthday, you would be remembering me the most, as I am missing you. Though the blog entry comes late because of no laptop (I haven't told you the story yet, just wait till we meet, it is fun :-)), I will certainly make it up to you once we do catch up.
Posted at 11:32 am by Nitai
Monday, December 06, 2004
Of winning hearts and heartlessness
Life does seem to have taken a strange turn this term. I have long forgotten the concept of trying to start some serious studies and change myself as per an 'IIM'. In fact, to be true and honest, I never had the misconception that I will find the need and moreover, even if I did find the need, the motivation to change myself, IIM or no IIM. And that is what happened. As I have been cribbing over the last few posts, I gave another door-waala-salaam to the studies and went on another trip to another inter B-school festival, this time at TAPMI, Manipal.
And a good thing I did, too. Coming along with me on this trip, Ravi 'BigMan' Girdhar, Rohit 'SCon' Gupta, Prashant 'Pakow' Kowshik, and Kanav 'CStar' Kaul made the trip even more interesting. Shounak 'Bappida' Ray was already at TAPMI to participate in the prestigious Young Business Leader contest.
Having already missed the first day of the fest (and in turn, most of the interesting events, as we discovered in due course), we had only four games to participate in and of course, there were those informals. TAPMI people had arranged a hotel (a lodge, actually, but decent, anyway) for us and as soon as we reached the hotel, there were guys from TAPMI to welcome us (as early as 6 in the morning). The kind of unassuming and ego-free attitude that the organisers of this fest had, was in fact, the talk of the place for the next two days.
After breakfast, the first game was Marketing for us (that is Ravi, Kanav and me) and Crisis Management for Rohit and Prashant. Though we did play the marketing game quite well in the later stages, we made a miscalculation in the beginning and that cost us dear, as we finished fifth out of 13 teams. Rohit and Prashant, on the other hand, went on to win the Crisis Game but more on that a little later.
A quick lunch and promise of making the next day's lunch at Domino's later, we were ready to get going for the qualifying round of the strategy game. Since there was only one team allowed from a college, I got a chance to team up with the winners (the results, however, had not been declared yet :-)). The prelims were a cakewalk as we cracked the lateral thinking quiz, topping the list of participants with a score of 26 out of 30 and with the last qualifying team scoring 12. This was one rare time when I was actually thankful for what Father (Dr.) K. Cyriac taught us in Organisational Behavior classes :-)
The beach was scheduled to be presented to us now and a beautiful beach it was. A relatively clean place with a decent crowd, it had its own appeal. The fous, however, was a little away from the waters as the fest started with its second day edition of Brouhaha, the informals. It was at this time that we met Dr. Araana, the visiting faulty who teaches us Corporate Law next term. Surrounded by TAPMI students, he actually tried to put us down by asking us why we had not won anything so far. It was humiliating and we could not even say that we had just come in today morning and the results are yet to be announced for the events we participated in.
Later, we came to know that he had told his TAPMI students that IIMK will not win anything and if they do, he will throw a party for his students on losing the bet. The retribution was taken when in the next half an hour, we not only won all the informals that took place but the results for the Crisis Game were announced and our guys won the first prize there, too. It was fun to see Dr. Araana's facce at that moment.
The next and much-talked about event was the Quiz on the Beach...and what an event it turned out to be. Ranging from the compulsory attendance for TAPMI-ans to buses and buses of beautiful girls, to the discipline of TAPMI-ans in staying within the barricade and actually waiting for their turn at dinner, to the excellent arrangements including a buzer that really worked, the quiz was flawless organization at its best. To top it all was the very standard of the quiz. Even Mastermind or University Challenge do not come anywhere near the quiz that we witnessed that day. Conducted by an enthusisastic quiz master popularly called Pickbrain (he also does the ET Quiz), the quiz was as tough as they come and the quizzers, even more. Out of the final six teams, four of them were corporate teams, with one of them being QuizLab, whose very job is quizzing.
After the long day, we slept like a log but not before we went to this hyped place called DownTown which is supposed to be one of the hip places in Manipal...what a rundown downtown it was, a small time bar with nothing to offer except dark corners and cheap drinks.
The next day was uneventful in terms of the other competitions as neither of our teams could win anything. However, that does not take away from the excellent games that the TAPMI-ans had lined up. They had worked really hard for the events and the concept for most of the games was unique, innovative and well-executed. The valedictory was scheduled for three and we made good on our promise of a Domino's and Cafe Coffee Day meal before that (the coupons we had won yesterday were another reason to go to CCD).
In the valedictory, Shounak showed what he was capable of, as we saw a cheer go up from his competitors when his name was announced. His was the only name that evoked suh popular appeal...he was even nicknamed Captain, all in a space of two and a half days...now that's what I call charisma and winning hearts.
There were lessons-a-plenty to be learnt for Backwaters from this fest and as the others kept reminding me, I should start doing something about it pretty soon (about backwaters, I mean). To top off the excellent fest, the TAPMI people had managed to get hold of Yukta Mookhey to judge their Mister and Miss Personality contest. We had to miss that as we had our train to catch at 5:30 in the evening to be on time for the two quizzes this morning.
Prof Saji Gopinath's quiz is over and I did pathetically. Nevertheless, instead of studying for the FM quiz that goes live at 5, I am writing this blog with the hope that the limited syllabus and the open book format will bail me out.
Posted at 02:11 pm by Nitai
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
To paste a short story long
Here I am, without my laptop, without the keys to my room, with a back that aches from the day trip from Bangalore to Calicut, and with some wonderful memories of the past few days spent at ISB. Even though it was another fruitless venture in a way, (I did not win any prizes and considering that there were some very mouth-watering ones, it is indeed bad) all the same, I did enjoy most of the experience personally.
I had a chance to meet Richa and Sushant again within the space of a week. And this time, it was much better in spite of the lack of real big time spent together. For the first time, I got to hear about how far things have reached between Sushant and Richa. I always had my ideas but got it from the horse's mouth only this weekend. That makes it two couples of four that were a part of our training days. Puneet and Banhi, despite our best intentions :-), were not really interested, and as for me and her, the less said the better.
The journey from Bangalore to Hyderabad, though uneventful, had its own share of adventures on the Bangalore side. With another visit to Yeshvantpur (but first to the railway station), I got to gloat on the memories of IISc and Jawahar Guest House while passing through the area and seeing the auto meter inch up to three figures, slowly but steadily. Yeshwantpur railway sation, not much bigger than that of Buxar, had a small chaiwalla who met my gastro needs for the time, that is before we got on to the train and had bouts of bhelpuri as I struggled with my laptop to make something of the debate topic.
The contingent of eight from IIMK landed in Hyderabad at the ungodly hour of five in the morning and hoping against hope for an escort from ISB, we were pleasantly surprised when we actually got to reach ISB in a jiffy, what with the Qualis and the Esteem from ISB giving us the royal treatment. Despite the twilight hours, the first impression of the campus was massive. As things got clearer and I came out from the bath in one of those ISB apartments (with four air-conditioned bedrooms, a living room furnished with sofa sets, television, fridge, hot plates, two three-star-hotel-standard bathrooms, and people coming to clean up the 'house' and change bed sheets everyday), I realised that ISB campus was actually a class apart. Although it is very difficult to compare the campus of ISB with that of our own IIMK, I could get a better parallel for the ISB Campus with that of Infy.
In fact, starting from the lawns to the rooms, to the food courts, to the cafes and stores, to even the rest rooms, the campus was exactly like what Infy or Wipro would typically look like. It was actually a nice feeling and for me, a nostalgic one too, as we moved on from one place to another in their huge attrium and the central building holding the entire academic block and a tastefully built auditorium (more close to a PVR-esque theater, actually).
As for the event I had gone to participate in, got a missile thrown on any hopes of a a good performance. I started badly with stutters and pauses and by the time I was half way through my talk, I knew that I had blown it. Since we did not get a chance to listen to the other speakers, I really do not know how bad we were (or conversely, how close we were to the grand prize :-)) With the tech quiz guys bombing out too, the situation for the IIMK contingent did not look all that rosy. So it was that I teamed up with Rajat and Gaurav with Suraj to enter the technology on-the-spot case contest. A good desision it turned out to be for me, with the Patni people (who were sponsoring the event) giving away tee shirts, pens and pads to all participants :-).
Two teams of Gaurav-Suraj and Baid-Sinha reached the finals of the Biz Quiz and as I joined them after the dismal performance in Antakshari prelims, I got some much needed solace with the entertaining questions and quiz format of VV Ramannan (of the Hindu Young World fame). The Antakshari prelims, where I had teamed up with Rajat and Anupam, had us aslmost done over (what with our not being able to recollect the chak dhum dhum song from Dil to Pagal Hai) till the fateful time in the middle of the biz quiz. Hearing my name all of a sudden from the quizmaster's PA system, and being compared to Mukesh and Rafi was a surprise. It appeared that the Antakshari organizers had actually selected us for the finals and since Rajat and Anupam were nowhere to be seen, I had to form a team with Pragati and despite the disadvantage that the organizers kept reminding us of, we decided to have some fun and go on stage. In the end, it actually turned out to be great with both of us belting out song after song and having a whale of a time. Despite her protests, Pragati actually turned out to be good and actually made sure that we finished fourth out of the five finalists :-).
After the disappointment of the biz quiz, where neither of our two teams could make it to the prizes, the fashion show and the party made up for a lot. ISB does have more than a fair share of girls and of these girls (58 out of a batch of about 250), most are actually good-looking and more than that, smart and bold. In fact, the attire at the party took me by a bigger surprise as compared to that at the fashion show. This was one party where people actually came dressed up for the ocassion. After an hour of wondering how and when I should get on to the dance floor full of unknown people (the others from the IIMK contingent having given me the ditch), I finally got in and what a time I had. With so much choice, there was not one song for which I could not get a decent partner...in one word, it was awesome.
Having danced till about 3 in the morning, another early morning was a pain that had to be endured, however, for the excellent breakfast that the ISB guys served. The food, in toto, was amazing and it was not just the variety that amazed me, but even the ambience of the place, combined with the food's shear taste and quality, that took the breath away. They do pay 90K for the food, though :-)
The second day was a little better with Gaurav and Suraj actually winning a prize for IIMK. The tough stand that they took against meaningless acquisitions by Patni and their actually spreading their competencies instead of consolidating on them earned them recognition from the judges and more than that, the second prize of 15 thousand rupees. Pragati's finance paper presentation was up last and by the time the high quality stuff (I know now that I need to work really hard if I am to be anywhere near the standards of those people) ended, it was already six and the chase was on for the train at 7:25 from Secundeabad.
With an hour separating us from the railway station, we made a Just In Time start at 6:30, hopin to make it somehow. The auto driver that took me and Gaurav along excused himself from the job by handing us over to better hands of a younger guy with a younger and meaner (!!!) machine. However, in the process of rolling over from one auto to another, my laptop refused to be rolled aside and was left in the Auto No. 1. By the time we realized the loss, we were halfay to the station. Hoping against hope that the auto sriver would have handed the laptop over to the second auto coming right behind us and carrying Rajat and Pragati, we decided to make it to the station first and think later.
Gaurav was actually pretty bogged down with the jinx that he said follows him on all trips. However, we did make it on time to the station with the train being delayed by half an hour, too. A call to the security gate of ISB allayed my fears, too with the information that my laptop was safe with them. Ramit, one of the coordinators for Poseidon, the ISB festival, has my laptop with him now and he will be managing the thing's getting to Bangalore shortly. I will have to go down some weekend (probably this one) to collect it from there.
I did want to spend a day in Bangalore, what with having already missed Prof Saji Gopinath's presentation and with the chances of a good birthday-cum-prize winning treat from Suraj, but with Pragati intent on making it to Calicut by the day bus, I decided to carry forward with my earlier plans. Believe me, the day trip to Calicut, though not all that uncomfortable, was a lesson and a memory, what with playing hide and seek with sun filtering through the windows, and making it just in time to the bus after the lunch halt, loaded with a bunch of raw bananas.
All was hunky and dory enough till I reached the hostel and realised that the key to my room was in the case of my laptop and as such, I was stranded till I either broke my door or found a suitable alternative. I could do neither and despite the flood of spam linking me with long haired people and talking about people I wanted to sleep with, I finally made it somehow through the night, out of my room and living, as Shounak remarked, out of my briefcase (in this case, though, it was Somas' bag). Luckily, I could get the duplicate keys to my room this morning and since the laptop should be here by the weekend, too, I have no real worries on that count.
In the meanwhile, things had heated up back at IIMK, too with another of the email wars following a seminar (this time, it was Horizons 2004, the annual management festival of IIMK). The senior-junior debate that ranged from people questioning others' achievements to sending sarcastic mails, raged on and on, so much so, that I had 101 mails in my inbox by the time I could make it to the CC to check my mails. The ITC Business Plan Contest was also over and with two teams having won (and probably qualified for the finals), congratulations are in order. Congratulations are also in order for the 14 people who got through Wipro and the five that made it to IBM in the laterals placement season for the seniors here at IIMK.
Ultimately, after all the fracas and the fun and the tension and the experience, I am back at campus with the last phase of the term approaching fast. It is going to be another spate of assignments, projects, submissions, and examinations for me, as we fight it out to finish another 1/6th of our MBA course.
Posted at 08:52 pm by Nitai