Sunday, 15 October 2017

Solo, a Movie Review: Blog#317

'Solo', a movie review

*No Spoilers

I was waiting in anticipation to watch ‘Solo’. The posters, teasers, trailer and everything about the movie screamed style. It promised substance too. Solo is an anthology of 4 films – not something that we usually see on the Malayalam silver screen. Yes, 'Kerala cafĂ©' and '5 Sundarikal' have done them before. But those movies had different lead actors and actresses in each story. Solo has Dulquer in all the lead roles.

What I loved about the movie is like I mentioned before, the aesthetics about it. The whole presentation is so stylish. Be it the introduction of 4 elements, the pace of storytelling and Dulquer’s different appearances, there is a lot of class in the way the movie is presented. The actor in Dulquer shines through all the 4 stories. One cannot see any similarities in the 4 characters that he has played. If I were to choose a favorite, loved the character of Shiva wherein there is hardly any dialogue. This means that he had to convey all he had to say through his expressions and he did it really well.

What I felt could have improved are the below factors:

1.      Better actresses: I really feel that the movie should have had better lead actresses. I understand the business behind it. One cannot get A-list heroines in an anthology of films. Having said that, may be a little more effort could have been expended in finding better lead actresses.

2.      All the stories were sad stories: Personally, I am not a fan of sad stories. Please don’t get me wrong. I like inspiring stories with a tinge of sadness about them. But, not stories that are just sad. All the 4 stories were sad. Given that it is an anthology; it could have had 4 ‘different’ stories – different in emotions at least. If sadness had to be there as per the director’s vision, at least 2 of the stories could have had an end that was uplifting.

3.      Stories had similarities in the plots: There were too many accidents and too may pregnancies. I could be wrong. But I was expecting an anthology to have 4 different stories in every sense of the word. If not vastly different from each other, at least no repetition in the narration. There were multiple accidents which were pivotal to the stories and the heroines were pregnant which was again pivotal to the stories. The plots could have been different.

4.      The issue with Rudra: I understand that the director has a vision and it is his/her prerogative to treat the movie as per the vision. For instance, in the first movie, there was a lot of shuffling which is fine although it requires some effort on the part of the audience to keep up. But in Rudra, there was a bit of incoherence. The scene with Suhasini and Dulquer. Personally, I did not get it. I also did not understand how what she said related to the context and the struggle Dulquer’s character was going through. Even the climax scene was addressed to the groom’s party. To me, it would have made sense if it were addressed to the leading lady.

Having said all the above, ‘Solo’ is a brave attempt. Appreciation and gratitude to Bejoy Nambiar & crew for that. We should have more such movies on the Indian silver screen. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

Men are not superior to women: Blog#316

Men are not superior to women

Please read the title of blog again. Men are not superior to women. Having said that, women are not superior to men too. They are two genders of humans. Are they the same? Absolutely not. They are evidently different. It is this difference which we should celebrate.

Now, have a look at the picture given here. It is from an advertisement brought out by a firm that makes suits for women. It is wrong on so many levels. I don’t think many people understand feminism in its true sense. Many tend to think that feminism is about showcasing women as better beings than men. At times, some people think it is about falsely emulating all things bad about men. For instance, if some men choose to use abusive words while talking, some women who have a false understanding of feminism also use abusive words. Abusive words are unpleasant, be it used by men or women. To my mind, feminism is about equality for the female gender. She should not be discriminated against, in any regard due to her gender. Men and women are different beings but not inferior or superior in any way in comparison to each other.

This Ad is a perfect example of using feminism in the wrong way. It showcases women in suits with naked men in the background. What is this Ad trying to say? If one wears a suite, will they become powerful? Does having naked people in your house mean power or wealth? Does having power and money give you the ability to hire people? Does having power and money give you the ability to do anything you want to the people around you?

Some people might argue that this is just a role reversal of what we see in advertising. Well, this is lazy and irresponsible creativity to say the least. By that logic, imagine an Ad against child abuse - The picture has a child abusing an adult. How is it justified? It is exactly that which is happening here. Should advertisements stop objectifying women? They must. But this is not how you make them do it.

Now, let us look at the race here. All men featured in the Ad have white skin. Why? Reverse this and imagine the furore this Ad would have caused. If that is wrong, this too is wrong. We need to look at people and provide them opportunities for who they are as human beings and not for what their skin color is.

This Ad is a very uneducated, provocative take on issues which needs to be dealt with taking time, effort, context and finesse.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Want to burst crackers on Diwali? Go ahead: Blog #315

Want to burst crackers on Diwali? Go ahead

Christmas is the major cause for deforestation. Are you laughing? Then you might want to laugh at banning crackers on Diwali too.

Every year, there is a lot of NOISE around how we must stop bursting crackers for Diwali. To fight for this is, to use the gentlest of words, plain stupid. Here is why:

Below are the main pollutants of air in India:

 Fuelwood & Biomass burning        
 Fuel Adulteration
Vehicle emission 
Traffic congestion

The above factors contribute to the poor air quality throughout the year, 365 days a year!

Do we do anything about reining in the above factors? Absolutely not!

Now how much does bursting crackers on Diwali contribute to the pollution?

Let us look at some statistics -

Now, how many days are the crackers burst? One day. Let’s assume it goes on for 2 days.

% of days in a year where crackers are burst for Diwali
% of hours in a year where crackers are burst for Diwali – (Assuming over a period of 2 days, we burst crackers for whole of 24 hours)

% of Hindus in India
%  of urban Hindus living in poverty (Urban & Rural)

(Source: )

Number of Hindus who don’t come under the poverty line
829 Million

So 829 Million out of the 1.3 Billion is the amount of people who might burst crackers. 

Number of households 
(conservative estimate)
829 million/4 = 207480000

Let us discount the below households from the above figure. 

% of households with old people
% of households with dogs and who choose to not burst crackers
% of households with babies
% of households who choose to not burst crackers
% of houses close to hospitals
% of households in states where Diwali is not a big festival

Number of households that might burst crackers(94%)
Area of India
Square Kilometres
60 households per square kilometer

Impact of burning crackers during Diwali is as below - 
Per square kilometer, only 60 households burst crackers for 0.55% of the time of an entire year of 365 days. 

This is not going to contribute drastically to the pollution. By this logic, avoiding it will not have a major impact on the air quality of our country. So relax, burst crackers and have fun people! 

If we really want to make a change to the air quality around us., here are a few steps:

             Till your land instead of burning the crops.
                       Choose to take a shared cab instead of taking a prime.
            Pool your daily office rides
 Plant trees.
 Walk more.
 Maintain your automobile well &Get a PUC certificate.
 Use a solar powered generator instead of the diesel powered one that you use now.

The point I am trying to make is that if  we ban crackers on Diwali, all we are doing is taking a populist, ineffective measure which doesn't have any considerable impact on the outcome. Imagine this. There is a water tank with 4 walls. There is a pinhole sized leak. We focus our energy on fixing the pin hole where as one entire wall itself is going to break and we are least bothered about this wall in peril!

My friend, Raghunath was kind enough to make an infographic out of this blog post. Here it is. Thankful as ever for his time, effort and encouragement :)


Why do we like Khilji more than Ratan? Blog#314

Why do we love Khilji more than Ratan?

I am a self-confessed film buff. Add to that the admiration for opulence and all things beautiful. How can I not then love the Sanjay Leela Bhansali genre of films! The excitement to watch the film, Padmavati is beyond words.

Now, coming to the title of this blog. My friends and I were having tea and most of them talked only about Sultan Alauddin Khilji and not about Maharawal Ratan Singh. I think it was my friend Abhishek who wondered why people tend to like only Khilji. It got me thinking too.

Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh are equally formidable stars. Both are equally well regarded actors. Their popularity among the people is more or less similar. There isn’t really a reason why people should prefer Khilji over Ratan.

I did a quick research on Social media. On Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, the followers for Shahid are more than that of Ranveer. In all the platforms, Shahid is ahead of Ranveer by a sizeable number. Inspite of this, the reactions on all platforms to Khilji is much more than that for Ratan. Please see the pictures below from different platforms.






Most of the people I talked to were interested in knowing the history of Khilji. Many of us would have googled Alauddin Khilji. Did any one of you google Ratan Singh? Look at the below chart. Our interest in Ratna Singh’s history is minimal to the point of indifference.

This is not the first time. Remember Jim Sarbh’s character from Neerja? What was there in his character to be so loved? Is it that we are more forgiving if the person committing a cruelty is good looking? Are we unable to look beyond the depth of the skin?

Do we have an affinity towards bad over good? Do we find evil to be more appealing than the benign? Do we love villains more than we love heroes? If so, why do we do so? 

Have we started preferring the headiness of being bad over the gentleness of being good? Is there a tendency to worship brute force over the kindness of heart? We see a reflection of this in our day to day lives too. People who are forceful in their assertions are looked up on as strong leaders. Those who try to take an empathetic approach are looked down up on as weak and lacking in will.

Even in movies, the applause breaks out when the Hero seeks his revenge and not when he reins in his emotions. In sitcoms too, we have started worshiping characters that are mean and evil. Look at House of Cards, Suits and the likes.

     I do not have answers to the questions presented above. Do let me know if you have.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Cabs and Principles of Economics : Blog#313

Cabs and Principles of Economics

My first job after completing graduation was in Bombay. Whenever I felt I should live a little, I used to hail a cab. Taking a Cab, a decade back was a luxury. In those days, usually people preferred auto rickshaws. Cabs were reserved for trips to railway stations, airports, emergencies and weddings.

When Ola was introduced in India, I wondered if ever there will be enough people who would prefer this kind of transport. I also remember thinking that the cost of cab rides will go down only if many people opted to use Ola cabs. When that happens, the cabs will get more trips per day and thus the cost will come down and thus the price we pay for this service becomes lesser than the value we derive out of it. This enough number of people looking for a cab is called a ‘critical mass’ and the resultant increase in the number of cabs causes the price to go down and value to go up. This is called Network Externality.

These days, I travel to work and back home almost always in cabs. Often I wonder if I should hire a micro or a prime cab.  Hiring a micro cab will meet my Need of transport. But many a time, the Want takes over and I opt for a prime cab so that I can stretch my legs and travel in comfort.

The first time ever I hailed a cab, I felt elated. I was thinking how convenient life has become! The biggest relief was due to the fact that I didn’t have to negotiate the price anymore with the drivers. I was never good at it. I always used to wonder if the drivers were taking us for a ride, literally and figuratively. But then as days went by, the elation reduced. I started to look at the service with less and less enthusiasm. May be it was the Diminishing Marginal Utility kicking in. I am not saying I don’t enjoy the service anymore. I am eternally grateful to the hailing Apps for making our travel so easy and hassle free. It is just that I don’t look at it with the same sense of wonder and admiration as I used to. Also, there are days when I miss the bus commute.  

As I was missing the bus commute, God decided to answer my prayers and give me a chance. As a result, yesterday, I waited outside my office for a very long time looking for a cab. The problem with evening time especially in the place that I work is that there isn’t anyone coming in to that area during that time. At 5 pm, there are thousands of people wanting to leave that place and reach their homes. This means that there are a lot of people wanting to hail cabs(Demand) but there are very less cabs coming in(Supply) to drop people. This imbalance causes an endless wait. Add to this, a bit of rain and then one is left with no option but to take a bus.

If I have to take a bus, I need to walk half a kilometer. I thought for a while and decided to wait for the cab for some more time. If I walk, I will get a bus soon. If I don’t walk, I will get a cab but not soon. It will take time. Basically, I need to choose between time and the effort of walking. This is called Trade off.

I waited and waited and waited. At first, I thought I will wait for 15 minutes. Once I waited for 15 minutes, I thought now that I have spent 15 minutes, let me wait a bit more. It became half an hour. Once it was half an hour, I decided I can’t just let half an hour be wasted like that. Now, I will ensure that I take a cab itself. That half an hour is my Sunk Cost.

Understanding the futility of my want for a single cab at a time when there was limited number of incoming cabs and the traffic being held hostage by the rain, I decided to take the shared cab thinking that it is the best I could do to further Utilitarianism and thus contribute in my small way to reduce traffic.  

Finally, I found a shared cab and got home forty-five minutes later which left me wondering if I should revisit my Sunk cost dilemma the next day.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Saudi Arabia on UN Women's Panel?? : Blog # 312

Saudi Arabia on UN Women's Panel??

Saudi Arabia being on the UN Women’s Panel


North Korea conducting a seminar against Dictatorship

Pakistan chairing a panel discussing stable Governments

China giving a lecture against encroachment

Somalia conducting a workshop on curbing corruption

Russia presenting a paper on free and fair elections

Australia talking about how to curb racial attacks

The American president chairing a council on diversity and inclusion

And closer home
In India,
It is like…

Kerala promoting alcohol prohibition

Punjab suggesting ways to address drug addiction

Mumbai local train giving lessons on personal space

Bangalore sharing expertise on Traffic management

Delhi teaching polite behavior

Calcutta speaking on work ethics

Haryana advocating women’s rights

Bihar advising on conducting exams

And on and on...

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Journalists don’t matter! :Blog # 311

Journalists don’t matter!

It is said that Arnab Goswami has lied. Worse, he has been caught doing so. Arnab spoke about an incident that happened during Gujarat Riots. Rajdeep Sardesai said that it happened with himself and not with Arnab.

What importance does this have for common people like you and I? Is it a revelation that people in media lie? Didn’t we know this earlier? People in media, politics, business and everywhere else lie. What is so shocking about this? There are very few humans who don’t lie.

Now Rahul Kanwal has decided to go ahead and do a panel discussion about this on prime time television! This is exactly what is wrong with media these days. 

A couple of questions to those in media:

1.      How is Arnab’s lie going to affect the common man?

2.      Is Arnab’s lying something of national importance? Outside the newsrooms and media huddles, what credible impact does this event have?

3.      What is with people in media that they accord so much of importance to themselves? No one regards journalists as super humans. They are doing their work and earning their salary just like anyone else. Only people who consider people from media as Gods are those in the newsroom. I respect journalists for the good work that they do. The same way I respect an IT engineer or a Traffic Policeman or a School teacher. But beyond that, Journalists don’t matter to us. It is News that matters.

4.      What is this discussion trying to convey?

a.      Is it the fact that journalists lie? – We, the people know that already.

b.      Are you saying that if journalists lie, the fourth estate will lose its credibility and thus will weaken democracy? – We, the people have seen this over the last couple of years. Remember Neera Radia?

c.      Are you trying to make a dent in the TRP of Arab’s show? – Be creative. Do hard hitting stories. And add a bit of Arnab-ness to it. Some drama, some screaming, some emotion will help. Do not go overboard like him and silence all the panelists (Then you and him will be the same.)

5.      People deserve to know the truth. Is that your argument? We know the truth already. We have an internet connection. If you are hell bent on letting people know, add it as a one liner on your ticker. There is no need for a panel discussion.

I am no expert on media. But my humble request to those in media is to discuss the below topics:

1.       Humanitarian crises across the world (Rohingya issue)
2.      Issues with our education system
3.      Employment concerns
4.      Business environment
5.      Need for infrastructure development
6.      National politics
       Climate Change
7.      International relationships between nations
8.      Sports, Arts & Entertainment and so on.

Did you see ‘Media & Journalists’ in the above list? No. That can be discussed in your own gatherings and awards. At best, on YouTube channels – Not on prime time television please!

Now, 'The Hindu' has apologized for not doing its job and for spreading fake news regarding the Mumbai railway station mishap. It is not a wannabe website or a social media page we are talking about. It is 'The Hindu'. Where is Indian journalism headed?