Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The koward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!"
                     oscar wilde , the ballad of reading gaol

When was the last that I thought of you...I know not...but am I the one who goes alone on this path...and should I but care only a little for the souls that follow or those as march ahead?

Mode C is a way of life, perhaps my way of life: C for Cool, C for Cold, C for Chaos, C for Calvin. Ultimately, all of it boils down to the way you look at things. Are they not how they are but just how they appear?? No...and yes...Almost all the seriously critical fundamental concepts of life...aren't they just the bogies under Calvin's bed that he is afraid of? Miss Wormwood, Susie, Mom and Dad, and of course above all, Hobbes...aren't they all merely the means that he uses to attack these bogies?

Reflecting on 'living the Calvin way', I have started to believe that life and our reaction to it can only be explained by a number of Calvin and Hobbes strips combined together. The philosophy, as I like to call it, is to know that you are not alone. It is not just my perspective alone that is going to help me fight my bogies. I will be able to inch towards the Calvin way only when I perceive the other perspectives on my way.

<< March 2009 >>
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My Past
Loyola High School Patna
Delhi Public School RK Puram
Institute of Technology BHU
Infosys Technologies Ltd
IIM Kozhikode

My Present
Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd.

My Future
My Life

Project Nanhi Kali for the girl child

Movie Reviews at Mode C

Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
Batman Begins
War of the Worlds
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Bunty aur Babli
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Veer Zaara
Phir Milenge
Kyun! Ho Gaya Na
Mujhse Shaadi Karogi
Spider Man 2
Main Hoon Na

Book Reviews at Mode C

Stay Hungry Stay Foolish
The Inscrutable Americans
Harry Potter - Half-Blood Prince
The Monk who sold his Ferrari
Angels and Demons
Life of Pi
The Da Vinci Code
The Tristan Betrayal

IIM Kozhikode Bloggers

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Other B-school Bloggers

Chandoo (IIM Indore, Class of '06)
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Sidin (IIM Ahmedabad, Class of '05)

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Bollywood Blog
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The Movie Blog
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Thursday, March 19, 2009
My Blonde Moment

I did it. Before you start your wisecracks about how everyone does it some time or the other and it took me a really long time to get about doing it, let me correct you. It's not about what you think it is about. It is about what I am going to tell you it is about.

So there is this very popular play I had been looking forward to catch whenever it plays in town. The play called "The Vagina Monologues" is broadly a tribute to Women's Liberation and is popular the world over. It was last Sunday that I came across an ad which said that the play was in town and for the first time in its screenings around the world, this screening (the 200th one) will have any male actors and these male actors would be the celebrities Farhan Akhtar and Imran Khan.

Expectedly, it was an excited me who, after being reminded of the play yet again by an ad this Sunday, shot off an email on Monday morning to all friends, asking them if they were on for the show on Wednesday. Since it was middle of the week, most of the people responded in the negative and it was ultimately Jassi (Jasminder Gujral for the uninitiated is a colleague and friend) and me who ended up forming the party. I happily booked the second cheapest tickets (which were worth 500 apiece, incredulously) on and received confirmation for the same on my mobile.

All I needed to do now was walk up to NCPA (next building to my office), show the message on my mobile, collect the tickets, walk into the theatre and enjoy the show. Things were going along on the said lines till we saw that the ticket counter from where we were supposed to collect the tickets was shut down. When we, exasperated because we were already late for the strict 7:30 PM start, approached the security guards, they knowingly smiled and reassured us that such things have happened in the past.

While one of the security guards was trying to call up the program manager to help us out, the other kept talking about some Lawni event that was happening and if we had come to see that. Knowing that there were three theatres in the NCPA compound and assuming that he was talking about some event at one of the other two theatres, I did not pay much heed to what he was saying. He then went on to ask me if I had the message with me. I was about to blow over the top by now as I opened the message on my mobile and began reading from it, as if to prove the big mistake the guard had done in challenging some one like me on some thing like this...of course, I had the message...what did he mean by Do you have the message...Will I come here just like that, without booking tickets, without checking if I got the confirmation message...

"See, here it says", I said..."Vagina Monologues, NCPA Tata Theatre 7:30 PM, Wednesday, 25 March 2009. Aaj Wednesday hi hai na?". And that was when Jassi spoke for the first time. "Dude, kya kar raha hai...Today is Wednesday but not the 25th, 18th of March, what are you doing???"

Posted at 03:53 pm by Nitai

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Ghate do to bache kya?

Jaise door des ke tower me ghus jaaye re aeroplane
Jaise sare aam Iraq me jaake jam gaye Uncle Sam
Jaise Bisleri ki bottle pike ban gaye English Man
Jaise har ek baat pe Democracy me lagne laga hai ban
Jaise bina baat Afghanistan ka baj gayo bhaiyya band
Jaise door desh ke tower me ghus jaaye re aeroplane

Anurag Kashyap does it again. In fact, he did it again when he did it in DevD. This was what he did before DevD was completed and even if you may say that he did it better the second time, he still did it damn better than most others even the first time around. Coming after Black Friday and No Smoking, with Gulaal, Kashyap has gone really deep into the web of ambition, greed, and angst as he weaves his characters around it.

Set against the backdrop of the Rajputana movement and its overlap with student politics in the local university, Gulaal's storyline seems to be incidental to the real tale that is attempted at being told. This, perhaps, is the weakest link in the movie and it is difficult to say if this was intentional or otherwise...once human feelings and emotions take center stage in such strong fashion as in Gulaal, it is anyway difficult to do justice to anything else.

As you see Dilip Singh (Raja Chaudhary) move in with Rananjay Singh aka Ransa (Abhimanyu Singh) and are just settling into the movie just as Dilip is trying to settle in a new city and university, you are caught unawares as Dilip gets entangled in one of the strongest and most hard hitting ragging sessions seen on celluloid. You follow Dilip getting beaten and thrown butt naked in a room which has for company, another naked individual who, you realize with a gasp a little later, is Anuja (Jesse Randhawa), a new professor at the college. If ever a movie had set the tone for what was to come next, this was it.

Dilip's humiliation sees Ransa getting involved in the petty college rivalry and the subsequent entry into the scene of Dukey Bana (Kay Kay Menon) who is the covert marshal for Rajputana independence. In no time, Ransa is projected as the candidate for General Secretary Elections in the university, with full support from Dukey Bana and hidden support from his father, the ex-King, whom Ransa is not really proud of.

At this stage, we also see the introduction of probably the two strongest characters in this movie, the brother-sister duo of Karan (Aditya Srivastava) and Kiran (Ayesha Mohan). Burning with angst against their father for not having given them his name and against the society for never failing to make them realize and remember their illegitimate status, Karan and Kiran want to achieve their rightful place in the Rajput society, come what may.

As pawns start getting moved, the color of blood gets mixed with the heat of bodies pressing against each other and everything, right from bullets to free sex, is used to further the political ambitions of the involved players. Ransa gets killed, Dilip becomes the dummy candidate, wins the election. Kiran sleeps with Dilip, makes him lose his sleep and resign only to take his place. The two camps bump off people before seamlessly merging and Kiran using her charms on Dukey Bana to go for the final kill.

Things happen at such a frantic pace that getting a hold on the story and tying together the strings of each of the many characters becomes next to impossible. This may have been the falling of any other movie but the treatment that the characters get from the director stands out in this case. You keep marveling at Kiran's unabashed sexuality, at Karan's lack of any scruples in getting his sister on others' beds, at Dukey Bana's insane fervor, at Dilip's bumble act translating into that of a madman, at Jadhwal's (Pankaj Jha) arrogance and cruelty, at Anuja's pride and her frustration at having lost it, at Madhuri's (Mahie Gill in a special appearance) simplicity going to the extent of idiocy, at Bhati's (Deepak Dobriyal) cool composure and single minded devotion, and above all at Prithvi Bana's (Piyush Mishra) John-Lennon-amulet-wearing, harmonium-playing folk songs interspersed with some really topical English lyrics.

The score, especially the lyrics for Gulaal is one of the most exceptional to have hit the screens in recent times. With Piyush Mishra being given full freedom to flex his creative muscles, the result is striking. Whether it is the topical commentary sung and picturised as a mujra or the closing re-interpretation of Sahir Ludhianvi's Ye duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai, Piyush Mishra is simply brilliant. With his music (mostly in the background), lyrics and his smooth act in the movie, he stands out as the single largest thing going for this movie. And to say that for a movie which has excellent acting displays from nearly half dozen artists is really a lot.

The ever potent Kay Kay Menon, though standing by his own in an explosive performance, is still overshadowed at times by the sheer natural talent of others, the notables amongst them being Abhimanyu Singh, Deepak Dobriyal, Ayesha Mohan, and Aditya Srivastava. All these actors and most of others get into the skin of their roles and get colored by the red Gulaal at different points in the movie, red Gulaal that depicts the emotions associated with rebellion, revolution, anger, ambition, pride, lust, fear, greed, exploitation...

Anurag Kashyap has managed the technicals well and they are good enough to not distract attention from the pure play of emotions that is the high point of Gulaal. In trying to be true to the plotline, however, Kashyap does actually lose the plot at times. There are too many things going on and the typical movie audience keeps trying to tie all loose ends together, focus on how each character is developed, concentrate on the idea left behind with them at some point of the movie, expecting it to be brought to its logical conclusion before things end. It does not happen, however, and it can be attributed to the new genre of film-making that Kashyap brings to the fore.

All threads are not meant to be tied up, all ideas are not important, it is not as much about the revolution than about the characters' situations around it and their way of handling these situations. It is not important if you did not know what happened to Anuja, to Dilip, or to Kiran later...what matters is the strong realization that a change in guard is not enough to change the reality ala Ye Duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai...what matters is the look on Kiran's face in the last frame of the movie and she stares on with tears of pride at her brother as he takes over pride of place at the helm of Rajputana, a society of those very people who had rejected them, humiliated them, and laughed at them for their illegitimacy.

While you watch the movie and digest all this, you may keep your eyes open for the Kashyap touch. There are many ways in which he differentiates this movie, changing it from yet another couple of hours of entertainment to an arrogant medium of expression. The difference is depicted and illustrated both directly and through references...via the use of profanity in sharp dialogues, use of some twisted humor and unconventional music, attention to details, some jazzy light and camera angles, raising a toast to rock culture, whether it is direct references to John Lennon, or the indirect usage of symbols like the song Kiran keeps playing on her guitar (Goodbye Blue Sky from Pink Floyd's album 'The Wall'), and above all, cryptic symbolism depicted in so many different ways, in the antics of the painted Ardha Narishwar and Prithvi Bana, in the names of drinks that Ransa orders (Republic and Democracy, anyone?), through symbols like the word Nihilism (the philosophical position that values do not exist but rather are falsely invented) written on the black board of the class Anuja goes in to teach.

Posted at 08:03 pm by Nitai

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Monday, March 16, 2009
Ye Duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai

Movie: Gulaal
Lyrics: Piyush Mishra
Verdict: Simply awesome

O Ri Duniya

Surmayi Aankhon Ke Pyaalon Ki Duniya
Satrangi Rangon Gulaalon Ki Duniya..O Duniya
Alsaayi Sezon Ke Phoolon Ki Duniya
Angdaai Tode Kabootar Ki Duniya
Karwat Le Soyi Haqueeqat Ki Duniya
Deewaani Hoti Tabeeyat Ki Duniya
Khwahish Mein Lipti Zaroorat Ki Duniya
Insaan Ke Sapno Ki Neeyat Ki Duniya..O Duniya

O Ri Duniya

Ye Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaaye To Kya Hai…

Mamta Ki Bikhri Kahaani Ki Duniya
Behno Ki Siski Jawaani Ki Duniya
Aadam Ke Hawwaa Se Rishte Ki Duniya
Shaayar Ke Pheeke Lafzon Ki Duniya

Ghalib Ke Momin Ke Khwaabon Ki Duniya
Majaazon Ke Un Inqualaabon Ki Duniya
Faiz Firaaq Aur Saahir O Makhdoom
Mir Ki Zauk Ki Daagh Ki Duniya

Ye Duniya Agar Mil Bhi Jaaye To Kya Hai...

Pal Chhin Mein Baatein Chali Jaati Hain Hain
Pal Chhin Mein Raatein Chali Jaati Hain Hain
Reh Jaata Hai Jo Savera Wo Dhoondhey
Jalte Makaan Mein Basera Wo Dhoondhey
Jaisi Bachi Hai Waisi Ki Waisi Bachaa Lo Ye Duniya
Apna Samajhke Apno Ke Jaisi Uthaalo Ye Duniya

Chhut Put Si Baaton Mein Jalne Lagegi Sambhaalo Ye Duniya…
Kat Pit Ke Raaton Mein Palne Lagegi Sambhaalo Ye Duniya..

O Ri Duniya…

Wo Kahein Hain Ki Duniya Ye Itni Nahi Hai
Sitaaron Se Aage Jahaan Aur Bhi Hain
Ye Hum Hi Nahi Hain Wahaan Aur Bhi Hain
Hamaari Har Ek Baat Hoti Wahin Hai

Hamein Aitraaz Nahi Hai Kahin Bhi
Wo Aalim Hain Faazil Hain Honge Sahi Hi
Magar Falsafaa Ye Bigad Jaata Hai
Jo Wo Kehte Hain

Aalim Ye Kehta Wahaan Eeshwar Hai
Faazil Ye Kehta Wahaan Allah Hai

Tumhari Hai Tum Hi Sambhalon Ye Duniya
Ye Bujhte Huye Chand Baasi Charaaghon Ki
Tumhaare Ye Kaale Iraadon Ki Duniya…

Posted at 06:23 pm by Nitai

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Thursday, March 12, 2009
The Colors of Holi

When it is time for Holi, I have never been one of those early starters, delaying the inevitable every time. This happens partly on account of the inertia that is behind my procrastinating self, and partly due to the looming fear of having to work hard for getting the color off my skin. Even when I was a little kid, whereas normal little kids revelled in the concept of dirtying themselves and others and getting lost in the world of colors, I had no such, at least not as clearly established, inclinations.

Now that many springs have passed since I used to be a little kid, the scenario is, if anything, even more so directed against the getting-wild-on-Holi tendencies. Not that I have anything against the festival or people who celebrate it fact, I love all the revelry, the fun, and songs and dances that make Holi as special a festival as it is. But all the same, I can not get myself to shout with the same gusto, to forcibly bring out the shy ones from wherever they are hidden out to the maddeningly vibrant colors, to end up in a state where not even my closest and dearest would recognize me if not for a bucketful of water splashed on my face.

It is not that there have not been instances over the years when I have been one of the most vociferous on the battle field of color, actively involved and deeply ingrained. I can distinctly remember times when I was in different hostels (higher secondary, graduation, and even at post graduation levels) and as much a part of the fun as everyone else. But as I said in the beginning, I was never amongst early starters in this aspect, always the one who would follow the lead and that too after reasonable amount of either cajoling or coercion, depending upon the degree of inertia I would be under at the time.

This Holi was not too different. As India and Indians all over the world looked away from the daily routine and worries and trepidations and put on the mask of color, I was mostly unmoved and unimpressed. With Bharti Didi (my first cousin who stays in Vashi) having invited us for Holi, I was thankful that at least I will be amongst people on the festival and not closeted within the walls of my home with nobody but Priya for company.

I had thought that there will be quite a lot of action at Bharti Didi's place, what with Jijaji being of an effervescent nature himself, and his brother and sister-in-law also being there to enliven the atmosphere. I was surprised, however, to discover that the inertia I have is shared. In retrospect, I think that this may have been more because of the age group that the party belonged to. Although not really coming from entirely different generations, Priya and I were relatively the younger lot and the others had seen more of life and Holi festivities than either of us. And then there was the media, generally sermonizing on how festivals have been increasingly losing their sheen and zeal over the last few years, more so in the recent recessionary times.

So it was that apart from the traditional tilak, this Holi was rather colorless and limited in its impact. Till the next time, hope that the symbolism that color represents is not limited at all and all of you have an extremely colorful and joyous year ahead.

Posted at 03:47 pm by Nitai

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Monday, March 09, 2009
(Un)Real Estate

The fact that the economy of the world, as of India has slowed down is something that has been hitting our ears with varying intensities over the last year. At times, it has been a whisper, while at others someone shouting down our throats, but the effective truth has taken hold on all of us, and the economy, we are in consensus, is doomed for quite some time to come.

It is in times like these when unemployment is at the highest and spending power at its lowest, that things start crumbling. And when I say things, it should logically include every facet, be it the much-in-news financial services, or the still not obvious retail. The reality however is different. There is no restaurant in town which is not filled to its capacity on weekends, no superstore worth its salt which does not see huge footfalls even on weekdays after office hours.

Whether all these footfalls and all these people at eateries contribute to the actual growth of the economy is a big question. The answer, to me, is pretty obvious...a big NO. Had it been really effective, we wouldn't have put the lids on the consumption story of India, or would we? This answer to this is not so obvious because the economy's dependence on consumption, especially the visible economy's (stock market, real estate prices, inflation) dependence on consumption is not as straight forward as it seems.

The impact of factors not really related to the domestic market and its consumption is far more than what we would like to give credence to. Consumption in the advanced economies, we all know, is not even a spot on its previous self and more than that, there are far bigger problems than a slow down in consumption that are plaguing these economies. The world, to add to it all, has shrunk in such a big way that all these problems of the global greats are taking their toll on the so called pygmies who were just beginning to show their real size but have been thwarted in their tracks.

All this has been going through my mind as I have, taking a contrarian call, been looking for a 2 bedroom place to buy in this teeming metropolis. With the kind of rent I pay every month, and the softer interest rates in force, I thought that it will make supreme sense to capitalize on the cash-strapped distress of the Mumbai builders and developers. Hoping to make a killing out of the real estate scenario which everyone has been talking about with a frown on their faces, I started looking out.

Beginning with passive enquiries with friends who have already taken flats (even while the going was good and prices were high) and slowly transforming into active chats with brokers, I have been busy for the last few weekends. Ravi and Deepti have helped immensely, Rohit and Kanav have been making the right noises about going for bulk deals and Himadri has pitched in with his relatively well-off contacts with experiences of their own.

For people familiar with this mad city that Mumbai is, I have, since January this year, explored the central sub-urban areas of Chembur and Wadala, as well as the Western suburbs of Andheri, Jogeshwari, and Goregaon. And this was when I realized the folly of it all. The bloody pirates are still holding on and it is not just illogical, it is silly, even comical…nay hilarious.

I have realized that the best of deals that I have looked at put the floor of my investments at a staggering 70 lacs (for a moment, forget the black component for the sake of convenience) for a 2 bedroom-hall-kitchen house with a carpet area close to 700-750 sq ft. Lest you have forgotten, I am talking about the central and western suburbs, not even Bandra, right before which Mumbai town ends. A distress deal puts the value of 1100 sq ft of space at Jogeshwari-Vikhroli Link Road (not a very prominent location) at an all inclusive tag of 88 lacs. Can you imagine the effrontery of it all?

I can't.

Posted at 04:03 pm by Nitai

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