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.

<< July 2005 >>
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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

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Beena (Class of '08)
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Deepak (Class of '05)
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Sunday, July 10, 2005
A page in my journal

It's been a long time since I posted something about what has been happening to me and my life. In fact, ever since I decided to change the shape of Mode C and make it what it can possibly be - my face to the world, I have been writing stuff that is as far from my life as possible. This helps me avoid any unpleasantness that inadvertently occurs when I get too close to my emotions and feelings about something that has been happening around me. It helps me avoid absolute (negative or positive) references to real events and people and thus, exonerates me from the sins of life blogging...or that is what I would like to believe, and that is what has made it possible for me to retain Mode C in whatever form it exists today.

All the same, in nature with the public vehicle that Mode C has now become, there is another angle that can be touched upon and that is, to let people (who are interested, of course) know what has been happening in my life without going any deeper. So here is an account (warning: those not interested in me or my life may skip this post right now and wait for my next movie review :-)) of what's been up since I landed at IIMK and moved into G hostel (which is the last Mode C knows about my life)...

The juniors have come to the campus, one hundred and sixty six of them (minus a couple who have left for greener pastures) and they certainly have made the campus more colorful in terms of their shear number and of course, the initial enthusiasm that a generally high work-ex batch brings with it as a part of the two year holiday package. There are quite some married people in the batch and one couple is actually staying together on campus (and no, not both of them study here). They have been doing the usual, getting bulk deals on laptops (a good deal they got, too), arranging for the lowest possible bank loan interests (which has been dealt with properly, too), and of course getting involved in the politics as committees start getting nominations and the election dates come closer.

Talking about elections, Backwaters received 43 nominations amidst widespread allegations of misconduct by Backwaters committee members in trying to influence the nominees' choices. sTrEAM Backwaters, of course, maintains that the large number of nominations was all due to the "different" presentation they had made to the junior batch. Getting that presentation together had been a delight, of course. I had a basic idea which was further sharpened by the sTrEAM's inputs (especially Pakow's Troy idea). Although there was initial skepticism about the entire thing, the team that we are, all of us got round to executing the thing with full gusto and the result, a presentation that was something that has not been done before. Although it could have done with some editing, I am still proud of my sTrEAM and the way they believed in a vague idea and made it a reality...a small thing for some, perhaps but not at all inconsequential as far as I am concerned.

Konnect had a presentation, too and although I had decided to remove or at least minimize my association with Konnect, somehow I got involved in this one, too. Another something that has not been done before...more of a performance than a presentation. With editing proving to be our nemesis yet again, the overall impact was nevertheless, quite decent.

Recently, I have been inching away from Konnect to make sure that it gets owned by more people in the batch and does not end up being the dream of an individual. For me, it can never be an individual initiative and unless the batches here take note of it and start setting foundations for Konnect, there is no chance of any tradition being born. There will be problems galore and some of them have already started creeping in. Even as of today, Konnect is not considered official (not a committee, neither an interest group) and perhaps, it should not be made official by force or persuasion. Perhaps, there is much more to be done yet before the current batch realizes that there is no other option but to give a standing to Konnect's popularity...but as I said, unless this dream is owned by more and more people, there is no going forward.

Once I have started on Konnect, let me bring things to the logical sequence by talking about the Treasure Hunt that Konnect organized a few days back. I had to get into the thick of things yet again despite having yearned for seeing people take the entire thing up by themselves...but there has been progress, no doubt with more people joining the Konnect bandwagon. Kudos to the Konnect Team for organizing a splendid first event of the year and kudos to those who participated in Kaptain Konnect's maiden voyage (especially people from the senior batch who proved the dictum wrong that only juniors participate in anything requiring enthusiasm and seniors either sleep or sleep soundly).

Things have actually come to a passť as history repeats itself and my over indulgence in public activities (read taking random initiatives) once again received flak from unknown sources. Like in college, there has been nothing directly spoken to my face (how I wish that had happened, instead) but there have been what can be called feelers (direct or indirect) that point to the futility of it all. Kdio had not been my idea but I had taken it up for the good initiative that it was. After the most polite of hints that I received from some body who wants to know "how many people think Kdio sucks", I was pissed off but later, saddened...more due to my lack of understanding than that of the person(s) involved. Now again, I am going into my emotions which I had promised I will not. So let me end this particular episode by saying that counter to that one action by one (or few) individual(s), there have been so many supporting me that I am sure I will be back with Kdio (and other such initiatives, of course) sometime soon.

In the meanwhile, classes have been pretty sporadic and given the schedule of the visiting faculty for most of the courses, the trend is likely to continue. None of the marketing subjects that I have taken this term have started yet and it has been a dosage of finance that has been keeping me busy so far in this term. Fixed Income Securities, Management of Banking and Financial Services, and Portfolio Management have all started and apart from FIS, I am comfortable with the other two and of course, with the compulsory Strategic Management course. As far as FIS goes, I have to brush up more of my basics (well, almost all of them) if I am to enjoy and utilize the immense knowledge and experience that the course faculty brings to class.

Posted at 08:55 pm by Nitai

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Saturday, July 09, 2005
Here now

Uski aankhon me baatein, baaton me jaadu
Jaadu me kho gaye hum, ho gaye bekaabu

Dus has star power, no doubt and with the kind of treatment given by the director to the characterisation of these stars, the star power has been used, for a change, effectively. An effective treatment does not mean that Anubhav Sinha has been successful in making a quality movie because apart from the slick sets and fast-paced action, the movie can not really be said to belong to class. However, the effectiveness is brought out in the way the actors are made to carry the aura of the movie around their characters. It is this aura that adds to the glamour and attitude of the movie and ensures that if nothing else, Dus will be a commercial success.

Siddhant (played by Sanjay Dutt with his trademark swagger defining the character's I-don't-care-as-long-as-I-believe-in-it attitude) heads the Anti Terrorist Cell which has received information about something big planned by terrorists on the 10th of May (thus Dus :-)). His officers and comrades-in-arms include Shashank, his brother (played with unmatched confidence by Abhishek Bachchan), Aditya (Zayed Khan in a role that he has been almost type casted in), and Aditi (played by the ravishing Shilpa Shetty with a bat tattoo just above the tail bone and a figure to die for). Danish (Suniel Shetty looking good as he does not have too many lines exposing his poor dialogue delivery) is an officer of the Canadian police who is forced by circumstances to help the ATC (anti terrorist cell) officers in their mission.

On hearing about the imminent danger from the terrorists, Siddhant sends Shashank and Aditya to Canada where their agent, Neha (Esha Deol who does nothing more than walk around in designer tights) will help them find and neutralize Jamvaal (the unknown and face-less terrorist who has planned the 10th May attack). In Canada, the two officers (each of them carrying dollops of attitude and style) meet Danish who is separated from his wife (Raima Sen who does not get any chance to display her talents) and is willing to take on crime and criminals for the principle of it.

While Shashank, Aditya, Neha, and Danish are hot on the tracks of the terrorists and their cronies (including Pankaj Kapur in an amazing display of acting that overshadows even the biggest of the rest of the so-called stars, and Gulshan Grover in an act that does more staring than talking), there is something else being hatched in Delhi at the ATC headquarters. Siddhant's sister (Dia Mirza who hardly appears in more than a few frames) is kidnapped with her to-be-hubby and the terrorists, in association with a mole at the ATC office, want their arrested colleague back in exchange for the sister and sister-in-law.

One action sequence follows the other till the climax shot in a football stadium in Canada where all the players of the drama make their last appearance. Obviously, good finally wins over evil but the way it does is what is going to make Dus a hit with the masses. The movie may not be able to do sustained business but the kind of opening it is already receiving is going to be enough to make its fortune. Apart from the huge star cast, the other plus that Dus carries is, of course, the style and the slick nature of the flick that is made clear to the audience right at the beginning when the credits roll in along with the immensely popular Dus bahaane song.

Audience starts expecting a certain kind of treatment from the movie once the trailors show four immaculately dressed people in black suits toting guns and coming out of stylized cars. Dus succeeds in meeting those expectations...almost. The first sequence where the squad diffuses a car bomb (and where Shilpa Shetty gets to execute her much discussed kick) really seems to fit the image and expectation right to the tee. In fact, the entire first half is racy and even the initial moments of the second half are watchable for, if not anything else, the masterful performance of Pankaj Kapur.

The movie, however, starts going downhill as the climax starts getting uncovered. Lots of loose ends, a screenplay gone awry, sequences out of context including spoiling the racy and action packed effect by mixing it with some typical Bollywood sentimental-ism, unncessarily subduing the evil to make sure that all of it ends happily and yet, providing an out-of-context jerk to the happily-ever-after proceedings, all give an impression that the director is done with showing what he wanted to, and is now in a hurry to finish things and go home.

The music is already topping the charts and even the placement of songs is just right. The cinematography adds to the style and glamour that the movie is counting on to cover its weak points. Ditto for the actors, with Abhishek Bachchan stealing the show through another confident display of what success can do to a talented but unlucky actor. The direction is adequate and Anubhav Sinha, in an attempt to try something he has not done before, manages the routine quite well. However, he is not able to come out with something fresh owing to the screenplay that is rather unfitting and cripples the director and the movie.

There was a movie called 16th December that came a couple of year back. It was the story of how an anti-terrorist special force led by Danny and comprising of Millind Soman and Sushant, among others, prevented a terrorist attack at a crowded place scheduled for a particular date, which was 16th of December. Dus has almost the same story line but with a difference (stars, style, attitude and a little more) and the difference is what made 16th December forgettable and what will make Dus a force to reckon with for at least some time...time enough for the producers to go happily to the bank.

Posted at 04:26 pm by Nitai

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005
It's ok but why?

I wanted to go, too...I so badly did! (okay, you wanted to go, so what...did you tell anybody about it?)

Why didn't I go then? (they never even asked me)

They might have thought that if I were interested, I would contact them (why not, I love being the unwanted guest)

But...perhaps they did not have enough space (but didn't someone say they had space for one more person?)

They might not have found me online or on messenger (they had my phone number, na?)

Oh come on, the plan was made in such a you expect them to wait for eternity and call the entire batch up to ask them if they wanted to go? (hmm...that sounds reasonable. After all, I take so much time to get ready that they would have had to spend another day waiting for me to get up and going)

They might have thought that I will be busy with classes (yeah, considering the whole second year has no classes, that is a realistic probability)

They might have thought that I will be busy with Konnect or Backwaters (oh yes, I can not live without Konnect or Backwaters, they are my sweethearts you know!)

They might have forgotten that I exist (ah well...ummm...but they, of all people?)

They might have remembered what I am capable of, when unleashed (if it's that, which I think/hope/pray/wish it is not, well...I have nothing more to say about it)

There might be a substantial reason for it that I can not think of and anyway, why the hell did I expect anything from anyone? (I know but I feel so hurt...but then, this, too shall pass :-))

And yeah, I just remembered...didn't I say myself that I did not want to go to any more trips? (yes I did :-(( )

Posted at 03:38 pm by Nitai

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Sunday, July 03, 2005
There are no rights or wrongs...only power

"Like all other directors across the world, I have also been inspired by The Godfather. This is my tribute to it"
Ram Gopal Verma

No, this movie is not Godfather. No, this is not the first time that Amitabh Bachchan is playing such a role. No, this is not an Amitabh movie.

Yes, there are similarities in some sequences that make you remember Godfather (especially part of the opening sequence where the father of a wronged girl comes asking for revenge and perhaps even the dining table scenes or the last scene where the new don takes charge). Yes, Abhishek Bachchan comes up with yet another stellar performance. Yes, the movie does carry the trademark Ramu style.

Sarkar is anything but Godfather copied frame to frame. There is no way it could have been. The Italian mafia is too different in its style and fabric, when compared to the Mumbai underworld. While politics was only a minor irritant in the Italian mafia scene, it is a major factor when one comes down to Mumbai and its dons. Amitabh Bachchan plays Sarkar, the undisputed (so far) king of Mumbai who rules over the masses with an iron rod, working for the poor and not caring about the rich, law, order, system, etc.

Sarkar is a law unto himself and Amitabh Bachchan does look the part with a panache. He plays the quintessential ageing man with a deep voice, one who may not be in the prime of his health but one who still demands respect by his glance, stare and voice. It is not so much the dialogues and/or the histrionics that matter in this movie (for there are hardly any, at least from the father-son duo of Amitabh and Abhishek) but it is the silent stare, the expressions in the eyes and the slow, steady and deep baritone that does the acting. Kay Kay (supposed to be playing a combination of Sonny and Fredo Corleone) does raise his voice a lot and like Sonny Corleone, is shown to be the hot-tempered one in the family and like Fredo Corleone, does things that are against the family.

In fact, perhaps the the only central theme in which  the movie can be be said to be similar to Godfather is the family concept and the patriarch passing on his duties, though he does not want to, to the younger son, the one who has always been kept away from the dirt and scum. The family, however, is not as much that of an underworld don as it is of an influential politician who has taken it upon himself to become the messiah of the poor and the helpless.

Although the intent behind the movie was good, but it has been an overdose of underworld movies from the Ramu stable now and yet another, despite the Amitabh-Abhishek magic, does not really work from the point of view of the average movie goer who might never have heard of The Godfather. For the multiplex audience who have been expecting a hard-hitting (and for a change, decently "inspired") movie, the disappointment is written clearly as they realize that it is not the story of Don Vito and Michael and Sonny that they have grown up on. Rather, it is just an attempt to take the basic idea and build upon it as per Indian conditions, a concept that may be foreign to many of them who are used to direct frame to frame lifts.

The characterisation, unexpectedly is a trifle weak in this movie. Apart from the Bachchan duo, as Ramgopal Verma admits himself, rest of the actors are not stars, taken mostly from the stage and cast in what has been a clear attempt at making a commercial movie. Although the addition of more stars would have helped in the commerical aspects, even the characters and their placement in the current scheme of things does not seem to be good enough. While the villains are all caricatures (as has been seen in many Mumbai underworld movies) going by names like Silvermani and laughing hysterically, the sidekicks have nothing to do than grind teeth, either. The female leads are wasted and have nothing to display (literally or otherwise) at all in a short movie (just over 2 hours) which is dominated entirely by the brooding looks and toned-down but effective dialogue deliveries of Amitabh and Abhishek.

Amitabh Bachchan holds the movie together, no doubt, with his voice booming across the screen in every other frame but this movie belongs to the junior B. With Yuva and Bunty aur Babli, he has already proved that he can act outside his father's shadow and in this movie, he really out does himself. In fact, in some of the scenes, the intensity of his expressions surpasses those of Amitabh himself, truly something any actor would die for. Kay Kay is wasted in a role where he does not know what to do, a mix between Sonny and Fredo, he is neither strong nor completely weak, a waste of a character and an actor. Katrina Kaif looks amazingly beautiful and more than that, carries oodles of sex appeal but since she does not have much to do in the movie, no impression of her acting even starts getting formed. Rest of the support cast is just that, support cast and none of them manages to make his/her presence felt in the middle of the Amitabh-Abhishek performances.

The background score, though it sounds good initially, starts getting on the nerves when it is repeated every now and then without scope or necessity. Cinematography is apt and the dialogues crisp and as per the situation. There are no typical hard hitting whistle inducing typical-Amitabh-movie dialogues but Amitabh manages to overcome this minor issue with the extra-ordinary way in which he delivers even the most ordinary dialogues. Ram Gopal Verma comes back to direction after a long gap and actually realizes his dream of over 25 years by making this movie. However, he does not manage to do something extra-ordinarily novel this time. Unlike his different-from-the-league movies like Kaun, Bhoot, or even Satya, this one has a lot of aspects that Ramu has already shown us and has already got our respect for.

Looking at the promos, and expecting a Godfather made by Ram Gopal Verma and enacted by Amitabh Bachchan, is not going to help when you go to watch this movie. Expect another Amitabh and/or Ramu master piece and you will get it but if you expect a different underworld movie after Satya, Company and D...or if you want to relate Amitabh Bachchan with Marlon Brando or Abhishek with Al Pacino, there is disappointment written right ahead.

Posted at 01:31 pm by Nitai

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Saturday, July 02, 2005
They are!!!

Right from the mitochondria to the cells to the organisms to the planet and the universe, life has so many things and so many wonders hidden inside it that it is almost impossible to contemplate on what might happen next. This is the idea that had prompted HG Wells to write a story that turned out to be a sensational success, the stuff legends are made of, when relayed over the American radio one fine morning. The story comes back to treat us to the possibilities of annihilation, this time in the avatar of a movie. And before you reject it outright as a stale idea (after the success of Independence Day and even spoofs like Men in Black, the idea does seem stale), let it be known that the person who has directed this movie is none other than THE Steven Spielberg and the lead actor, none other than THE Tom Cruise.

While this might have been enough to draw people to the theatres for the first time, the rest of the making-the-movie-a-hit part has to be done by the movie itself, which it fails miserably to do. Having directed movies in the same league earlier (Jurassic Park was also a case of bigger powers against humans), audience would certainly expect better from Spielberg. It may be possible that he was constrained by the elements of the original story, but then since when have directors stopped taking artistic liberties with the story line (and it is a re-telling of the original, remember)?

The story begins with Ray, a divorcee who lives all alone, enjoys his work at the docks, and lives a life of carelessness and monotonous sustenance. Ray (played in a rather lacklustre manner by Tom Cruise) has his kids staying with him for the weekend. While his son hates him, his little daughter does not trust him, either. Soon enough, Ray finds himself in a city where after multiple lightning strikes, tripod machines come out of the ground and start wreaking havoc, destroying man and material.

The annihilation continues as Ray and his kids run from city to city in a car that is one of the only cars to be working when all others are stalled on the roads ever since the tripods arrived. Overstretching the story from here onwards, Spielberg seems to be making a mess of holding the script together though he does have a few brilliant moments. I specifically liked the part where the news lady asks Ray if he had been a passenger of the plane that had crashed so badly the last night. On being informed that he was not, she expresses disappointment on having lost a probable story. Good stuff, Mr. Spielberg but what happened to the rest of the story?

The combination of Spielberg, Cruise, and of course the immensely popular War of the Worlds had given birth to so many expectations that on seeing yet another man vs beast movie where man has no clue but keeps fighting back, it turns out to be a major let down. The special effects are also not something to write home about and after trend setting effects like those in ET, there was more that one wanted to see in a Spielberg presentation.

Tom Cruise is the only actor worth mentioning in this entire movie though his son (Justin Chatwin) and daughter (Dakota Fanning) have equally long airtime but they fail to utilize the same to promote their histrionic talents. The daughter does a much more creditable job than the son, though. As for the acting acumen of Cruise himself, there is little to say but that he looks tired and jaded throughout the movie. While it is understandable that the character demanded portrayal as a dazed and helpless person but Tom does not limit his expressions to these, he goes on to look tired, even when there were no tripods and no running away from them. The difference between a tired and a scared person is obviously too subtly handled by the director and the actor.

Decent cinematography saves the movie from complete disaster although the rest of it is enough to make Independence Day appear a classic before this one. A shorter story or if that was not possible for staying true to the original storyline, a tighter screenplay would have certainly helped. So in effect, if you are expecting this movie to be as path breaking as some of Spielberg's earlier movies, you are in for a rude shock. However, if you take it as another of those whale-shark-tornado-anaconda movies, you might even enjoy your popcorn and the soft drink, of course!

Posted at 11:34 pm by Nitai

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