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.

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

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Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd.

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Movie Reviews at Mode C

Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
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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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Sunday, July 31, 2005
To master fear, you have to become fear

Anybody who has had a healthy diet of DC Comics in childhood, adolescence, youth, or even later, would have often wondered about the character called Batman. Unlike the other super heroes, Batman does not have super powers...he can not punch planets like Superman, or throw web lines like Spiderman but despite all these shortcomings (??), his is a name that the underworld of Gotham City trembles at.

How does Batman hold a grip so compelling?

How has Batman been able to innovate enough to compensate for the lack of super powers?

How did the Bat-suit, the Bat-mobile, the Bat-line, and so many other things come up in the first place?

What, in the history of Batman, has made an otherwise luxury-loving millionaire like Bruce Wayne into one of the most dynamic characters that fiction has ever known, the Dark Knight who knows how to use fear to remove fear?

As the bearded and unkempt Bruce Wayne is seen getting up from a nightmare in his prison bed, Batman Begins grabs the viewer's attention right away...what is a millionaire like Bruce Wayne doing in a prison located in some God forsaken corner of the world? As events unfold, we view the journey of Bruce Wayne, the adolescent who wants to avenge his parents' deaths but in the process, gets lost amongst crime and criminals. We are shown how Bruce Wayne becomes a petty thief while roaming around the world in his quest for the unknown and ends up in a prison from where he goes out in search of his life's purpose.

The League of Shadows makes its appearance and Christopher Nolan skillfully uses his action director to give the Batman addicted viewer some non-gadgetry and slick action sequences as Bruce Wayne trains with the mysterious Ducard at Ra's Al Ghul's headquarters to conquer his fear, to find the purpose of his life, to become what the world shall know as Batman.

As Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City, he knows what he wants to do and starts about it with the ease that only a legacy like the Waynes' can offer. Right from ordering 10,000 masks to avoid suspicion to using shelved defense projects (due to lack of money, primarily) as his comrades-in-arms, the journey from Bruce Wayne to Batman is something that all Batman fans would have loved to watch. The credit should go to the director who, despite trying hard (a little too hard, perhaps) to maintain or even increase the darkness that Batman is known for, has managed to show this transition in a pretty lucid manner.

Christian Bale, of course is no match for the earlier Batmen...he doesn't even come close to Kilmer or Keaton but then again, he seems to just fit in the tale, such is the power of the legend that Batman is, especially for the die-hard fans. It must be said, however, that for people not really into Batman but who went to the movie for its own merits, Bale's shortcomings would have been pretty highlighted. Katie Holmes, popular for all different reasons even before the movie came, looks good but that is all Batman ladies have to do, unless they do something spectacularly villainous or attention grabbing like the Catwoman Michelle or the Poison Ivy Uma.

Particularly impressive, however, turn out to be the two villains with a rather constrained (in terms of Batman villains) performance from Liam Neeson who plays Ducard and an equally mature but more sinister Scarecrow depiction by Cillian Murphy. The villains have always been important parts of Batman movies and right from Jack Nicholson to Jim Carrey to even the beefy Arnold, there have been attempts (if not real executions) at some good performances. Fortunately, the villains of Batman Begins do not fail but unfortunately, they are given too less a scope to show their evil properly.

In fact, by the time the villains become active and as the second half takes over, much of the charm that Batman Begins promises in its first half has already been exhausted and it is back to what Batman movies do action sequence after another, with villains being ambushed in dark corners and the dark knight's gadgets flashing around with gusto. At this point, it will only be fair to mention the support cast in Morgan Freeman (who plays the Q to Batman's Bond), Michael Caine as Alfred, and of course, Gary Oldman (the to-be Commissioner Gordon) who jointly make the second half more interesting than it actually is. And oh! Did I say it yet, Bat Mobile rocks :-)

As the Bat Signal is finally mounted upon the roof of the Police Headquarters, Detective Gordon is shown asking Batman for help on a particular villain who has been troubling Gotham for long and who has, as Gordon says, a flavor for the theatrical, just like Batman himself. Batman flips over the card that Gordon hands to him and the pack of cards' legendary Joker is seen smiling from the criminal's identity card. What a way to join the threads, what a way to complete the story, what a way to build expectations for the next Batman movie...

Posted at 07:03 pm by Nitai

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Friday, July 29, 2005
Of Pappu, Munni, Postman Uncle, and Bharateeya Blog Mela

Pappu and Munni had done it again. Not exactly counted amongst ideal children, the brother-sister duo was living up to their reputation even today as they bunked school to go the Mela that had come to their town. Pappu and Munni had never seen a Mela and were very excited at the prospect of seeing if what they had read in their story books about such fairs was actually true. Mummy had given them their pocket money only yesterday and their pockets were full of jingling coins as they made their way towards the crowded street that led to the Mela.  As they were about to enter the huge gates that welcomed them to the Mela, they heard a familiar voice behind them. "Oh no! Postman Uncle had seen them, he will tell all", thought the children.

But Postman Uncle was smiling. He came to where Pappu and Munni were standing, scooped them up his broad shoulders and after smilingly admonishing them for bunking school, agreed to show them around the Mela and not complain to Mummy or Papa (of course, Munni's tears and Pappu's tantrums had a role to play). "First up", said Postman Uncle, "we will go to see what you children will like the most".

The Bioscope

As Pappu and Munni stood awed at the wonders that the Bioscope-wallah was exposing them to, Postman Uncle started telling them about Indian film industry, including eight things about Bollywood that Amardeep says people might not know about. He introduced the children to India's greatest film makers like Satyajit Ray, their movies like Pather Panchali and Arnab's intensely personal take on the legendary Pather Panchali. Postman Uncle also told them that apart from movies, TV and print media have taken up important roles in the society but as Arzan says, their lop-sided priorities might as well make it impossible to take anything you hear or read at face value.

In answer to Pappu's rather innocuous question about the quality of Indian movies vis-a-vis Hollywood movies, Postman Uncle relayed the views of Sunil who does not see the need to be defensive about Bollywood, not any more. "In fact Pappu,", said Postman Uncle, "if you really want to see the current face of Indian movies, hop on to this music review of The Rising by lazygeek and you will find what works and what doesn't". 

The Book Stall

After spending quite some time with the Bioscope-wallah, Pappu and Munni had moved towards the glisteningly covered and unique smelling books. Flipping through the books, Postman Uncle told Munni about how Vikrum finds it difficult to impart the knowledge of books to Mumbai's slum dwellers for whom, even bandages are luxury. "In the internet era", said Postman Uncle, "books have been replaced by sites like Wikipedia but as Dilip says, their accuracy is subject to change, as well". When Pappu complained of lack of time to read all these books, Postman Uncle silently glared at him and told him about how Amit discusses Attention Deficit Disorder and its impact on journalism and media.

Removing his glasses to wipe them, Postman Uncle seemed to be lost in a different world as he advised the children to be true to their books' learnings and not let things end up in a situation, as described by Patrix when he talks about the Desi Columbine. As Pappu and Munni hung on to his words, Postman Uncle told them to try and develop their culture, language, and literature along with them selves, just as Charu talks about her musings on language.

The Food Pavilion

By now, the children were famished and the inviting sight of The Food Pavilion proved irresistible even for the otherwise sedate Postman Uncle. As they made their way through stalls of delicacies, Postman Uncle warned the children about the ills of roadside food but all the same, pointed them to how Rashmi explains people wanting to stomach street food. Seeing Munni dig into her chaat plate with gay abandon, Postman Uncle started his discourse about etiquettes but in good measure, backed it up with Ram's anecdote about The Bite-ing reality.

The International Exhibition

"How come he is so tall, Postman Uncle and how is that girl so fair?", Pappu shrieked out as soon as Postman Uncle was finished paying for the chaat they just had. "Children, that is the international stall and those people are not Indians." "Who is an Indian, Uncle?", asked Munni. Postman Uncle just smiled in reply and told her about how Surya wonders about what it means to be an Indian and about Nimbupani's mixed feelings about the difference between Indians born in India and those in the US or between Indians and people from the Indian Sub Continent.

When Pappu wanted to know if he could go to visit some other country, Postman Uncle advised him to get a job in the IT industry when he grows up and then, as Sumne points out, everyone will ask him, "Yavaag Foreign Ge??". He continued, "Once you go there, however, you will also have to adjust to their way of doing things, as Nilu did by re-learning how to nod". 

Ever the source of information, Postman Uncle told the children about achievements of Indians abroad. "However", said Postman Uncle, suddenly getting misty eyed, "before foreigners accept India and other South Asian countries in their fold, we need to counter prototypes like the one Aaman calls the blanket assumption that pan-Islamic terrorism is only about the Arab Muslim populace.

India House

The children had now moved on to the India House and were busy impressing Postman Uncle with their knowledge by shouting out names of the Indian leaders they could identify from the hanging posters. Postman Uncle kept smiling at each name the children shouted and from his side, entertained them with Dhiraj's tales of how Wajid Ali Shah turned into Krishna. "It has always been the spirit of Indians that has made them successful despite all odds", said Postman Uncle as he took the recent example of Gaurav's descriptions of the Mumbai downpour, here and here. To drive home his point, Postman Uncle quoted Indiagenie on how the spirit of Mumbai came forward to counter the natural calamity.

Coming back from a conversation with a friend he had met in India House, Postman Uncle found the children engrossed in space station models. Seeing this, he started telling them about how Indian industry was successfully shaping India's future, notwithstanding the debates plaguing them like the one Neelakantan mentions about in arguments over the value added by a call center job. Postman Uncle went on to tell Pappu and Munni about the modern centers of development that these businesses had given India and to illustrate such centers, Postman Uncle used excerpts from Saket's post on his first experiences at Delhi and adjoining Noida.

The Curios Shop

The children hardly listened to the last part about other commercial centers of India as their attention was diverted by the curios shop keeper who kept digging out one item after the other for the children. Laughing his rather jarring laugh, Postman Uncle recalled the experience of the unsuspecting rabbit by the name of Neelakantan who barely managed to escape the jaws of an MLM specialist greyhound. Warning the children against spurious products and services, Postman Uncle gave the example of Bangaloreguy who finally had only split hair and ruined garments to show.

On being shown a really innovative product, Postman Uncle reluctantly agreed to buy it for the children but he told them to be careful with it because he said that at times, there are more issues related to an innovative product than one thinks of right away...something similar to what Aditya talks about as he presents the two sides of the Brain-enhancing-drugs coin.

Going home

Even Postman Uncle had lost track of time, roaming around with the wonder struck kids but as he chanced to look at his watch, he realized that it was time for him to deliver his letter and for the children to go home. Passing his hand over their heads in blessing, Postman Uncle asked Pappu and Munni to promise to be good and further sharpen their knowledge and develop their personalities through appreciating and getting involved in things like the Scouting movement and its present significance as described by Arzan. "It is only when you have a solid foundation, that you will be able to think like Saheli who wishes tools of technology to encourage more cooperatives, working for the benefit of all.

As the children walked back to their home, they kept thinking of the day's wonders but at the same time, Postman Uncle's wise words were not lost, either. Pappu and Munni made a silent promise each to them selves to follow Postman Uncle's advice and have something substantial to show Postman Uncle when they meet him at the next Mela.

Posted at 07:57 pm by Nitai

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Thursday, July 28, 2005
For those in the middle


Has Indian English writing really come of age or is it just that we have moved into writing something that they can identify with? They, of course, have to identify with what goes on in the books because it is only then that the Indian writers will be recognized, greeted on the world circuit, given royalties for the never ending sales, approached by movie makers and of course, be known like never before. Perhaps, RK Narayan did not find the need to do all this as he made the readers venture into the streets of Malgudi. Perhaps Anurag Mathur did, as he greets his readers first with the neon lights of New York in "The Inscrutable Americans" and then with the starving millions of India in "Making the Minister smile".

The point is that I am not trying to say that the author is naive enough to portray the customs officials at Delhi's international airport as betel leaf chewing and spitting buffoons or to show that a student who has cleared exams like the GRE or TOEFL to gain admission to a US university is not even able to draft letters in flawless English, forget manage speaking perfectly.

The point is that he has to bring out the satire in this form to make it acceptable to the audience he intends to get his message across to. Here again, the assumption that the books are intended for the Americans or for the Indians would be rather an oversight. The section that would have enjoyed these works the most would probably be the ones in the middle, the pseudo Indians who have their own version of the great American dream and of course, the pseudo Americans who actually know the difference between Taj Mahal and Taj Mahal Hotel.

As Gopal, the protagonist of "The Inscrutable Americans" journeys across his one year stay in America, trying hard to study, avoid beef, and get laid, the readers are entertained, no doubt...but all the more so if they can identify with the characters. The book is really appreciable for those who can understand that most of the things (racial violence, sexual frustrations, loneliness) that the book shows actually happen but at the same time, there are things that have been put there just to bring out the irony, to hit them where it hurts.

In "Making the Minister smile", Chris is shown following a similar pattern, just that his domain is not academic but the thick of Delhi commerce and the intertwining politics. As the author demolishes deeply held ideas about India and Indians by exposing the truths (as he sees them, perhaps) about the fidelity of Indian women, of the lack of food to even feed the middle class, or introduces the readers to the idea of a television and radio in each of the homes in the slums, it might seem that he is trying something novel and to a majority of Americans, it might as well be novel.

However, the people who are going to read his book, as the author must have known, already know these things as facts. The only eyes that the book is going to open for them are the eyes of mirth and laughter for they are the ones who will be able to appreciate the subtlety with which Anurag Mathur has got the satire working for he has touched their heart when he shows things happening that they have always been trying to convince others of.

When read as parts of a series, the two books are interesting readings in deed. Not only do they try a jab at the incomer (the Indian in the first and the American in the second), but the things that are said about the host countries' social fabric are quite intricate as well. Delhi politics, trade unionism, America's racial problems, the supposedly sex starved (or overfed??) American youth...all these things make the books a racy reading for even those who might not really understand what exactly is going on. All the same, the books might help form inaccurate opinions given the amount of popularity that they have already gained and given that all readers (attracted by the popularity) may not be able to appreciate the reasons for introducing satire and logic or their placement in the stories.

Posted at 08:57 pm by Nitai

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Gathering the shreds of life

As Vidyadhar Patwardhan gets back from his morning walk with his friends and starts bellowing "Sumi" as soon as he opens the door, it seems to transmit the viewer to the quintessential middle class home with Dada, Dadi, Papa, Mummy, and the kids.

As Vidya and Aman enter the home and try to work around Sumi to make her accept a Brit as her daughter-in-law and the ease with which she does accept it all...which child or which parent can fail to get a little misty eyed with it?

As Aman, Vidya, Sumi, and Jenny sit in the living room...joking, laughing, Sumi putting oil into Jenny's hair, Vidya and Aman convincing Sumi to let Jenny and Aman go to the party, Jenny trying her broken Hindi and saying "main sabke liye coffee banata hoon" is just not possible to stop that smile from coming to the lips.

As the neighborhood mechanic, Ali makes his boisterous appearances in the frame and as Ali gets straightened by Sumi and the way Vidya takes all the credit with Sumi smiling behind his shoulder...could you have asked for more?

But more is what Viruddh delivers and delivers, with panache. Mahesh Manjrekar comes into his element after a long time and after some unforgettable escapades into trash commercial cinema. He delivers the goods this time and no, he does not promise another Saaraansh, nor another Dhoop. Viruddh, as the name indicates, is not just about coming to terms with something bad that happened, but revolting against it, and doing something about it. The protagonists do not lose hope, but keep fighting till the end, and that is the beauty of the movie. Of course, who better for this fight than the pair of Amitabh Bachchan and Sharmila Tagore...seasoned actors who out perform the rest of the cast by miles.

Roughly speaking, Viruddh is the story of how an aged couple's happy family is shaken upside down by events that threaten to tear the very fabric of their home and lives and how the emotional strength of the couple, brings them out of this lurch. Nothing that has not been tried before but this time, they have done it, with a twist. More than the twist or the story in its entirety, it is the subtle moments that pack the kick.

Vidyadhar Patwardhan (Amitabh Bachchan in another of his memorable roles) tries to laugh while sitting on the park bench and is not even able to open his mouth, forget guffaw like those from the laughter club he was a regular member of.

Vidya and Sumi (Sharmila Tagore in an amazingly powerful comeback role) lie on the bed and imagine sounds when there have been none.

They don't embrace each other to share their pain but follow the more natural process of handling their individual sorrows alone...but they know, both of them know what the other is feeling.

Sumi knows that Vidya did not really want the tea he asked for as an excuse to cry alone and Vidya knows Sumi did not run out to prepare tea...touching, most touching.

The helplessness with which Amitabh, as Vidya, performs even the bravest of acts is to be seen to be believed. Doing all this, of course, is the actor we have all seen as the angry young man, an all powerful variation of the human species who does not think twice about his ability to deliver the world of all evil. Watching the same man with sagged shoulders, permanent lines on his face, and a tired gait makes you cry out at the unfair nature of it all. Believe me, Manjrekar could not have got such reaction by the medium of many other actors.

And then, there is Sumi, the mother who is traditional and yet speaks fluent English, one who cries on hearing her son's pining for her hand made sweater and yet is strong enough to support her husband who has started to lose the battle. Sharmila Tagore is as believable as she is graceful and has proved yet again why she is considered to be one of the legends...the difference that she can bring to a character's treatment is what makes Sumi so real.

John Abraham, as the ideal son Aman, does not have much to do but does well in whatever little he is made to put in. He looks serious and well meaning for the most part which is what an ideal son of Vidya and Sumi should have been. Anusha, as the Brit live-in-turned-wife of Aman, could have been much better. Though she does manage the accent pretty well and her attempts at broken Hindi are a treat to hear, they are not as much to watch. A better screen presence would have helped.

Sanjay Dutt, in a dynamic appearance (as the movie credits claim) as Ali, is good and does what he has been kept in the movie for...draw whistles. Last but not the least, Sachin Khedkar, that much under rated actor, is at it again although the role does not offer much scope to him to display his talents. He does manage, pretty well, to show his own frustration and inability.

Viruddh is not as much a take on the system as Saaraansh and Dhoop might have been but it has more to do with the struggle, a very subtle difference in the take on the topic that makes Manjrekar's effort all the more laudable. The movie might not succeed at the box office (Sanjay Dutt's whistle inducing charms notwithstanding) but this has to go down in history as one of the better movies that Bollywood has come up with and one of the better performances of that man, that legend that goes by the name of Amitabh Bachchan.

Posted at 01:36 pm by Nitai

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Synapse at IIMK: Marketing comes of age

Another of the firsts happened at IIMK this weekend and this time, it was the first ever marketing seminar on campus. With some big names from the marketing arena making their presence felt over the two days of the seminar, the atmosphere was, if not completely awe-inspiring, at least electrified. The first years were witnessing an event at IIMK for the first time and fortunately, the event turned out to be a success in all respects.

Association with such firsts is always an exhilarating experience for the organizers and I am sure that the Mpower coordinators and volunteers who worked for the seminar enjoyed the entire thing right from the conception to the execution to the post event bickering. In fact, this is one major advantage with IIMK. Being a young institute, it presents so many opportunities for students to make the institute evolve with themselves, in the process setting traditions and leaving their foot prints on the sands of time.

Unfortunately, I could not attend even a single of the sessions in the seminar and hence it is impossible to present a first person review of what happened. Much that I wanted to, assignment submissions, a bad mood, and some pending matters kept me away from all the action that I should not have missed, considering especially that I am a marketing major and have a special thing for the area. Anyway, be that as it may, let me just give a few links that shall guide the readers as to what happened at IIMK's Synapse, the marketing seminar with the theme of "The brand new world - Local competencies, Global challenges".


Business Line's Marketing page

Online information at CoolAvenues

Exchange4Media News


The Hindu reports

Pagalguy article

CoolAvenues Online Report

A student's perspective

Posted at 03:14 am by Nitai

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