Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Movie Review: Halla Bol

My first impression on leaving the theater was that I liked Chak De India better, but I changed my mind on further reflection. Right from the initial scenes where the cynicism of Bollywood society is laid bare, to the gripping finale, Halla Bol grabs your attention and doesn't let go (alright, maybe it does let go a bit during the inevitable, but mercifully few songs).

This was my first Ajay Devgan movie (sue me), and I must say, he has presence; lots of it. He may not be as good looking as the Bollywood hunks who cannot act their way out of a paper bag, but makes up for it with the intensity he brings to his role.

Some of the scenes are over the top, like when Ajay Devgan's character pees on the Persian carpet at the minister's house (where did they get hold of this guy, BTW? They might as well have replaced him with a cartoon), or when Pankaj Kapoor's truck develops bullet-proofing capabilities when he makes his dramatic appearance to save Mr Devgan. There are also some made-for-cinema coincidences (including the above-mentioned appearance of Pankaj Kapoor at the right place at the right time) like the old director's granddaughter being a forensic pathologist who plays a vital role in the revival of the murder case, but these can be overlooked in light of the movie's other redeeming qualities.

The movie also ventures into controversial territory, with party cadres (Shiv Sainiks?) going on the rampage against Devgan, and leaders of the Muslim community offering support to him (BTW, his refusal to accept their help because he believed that he could get justice in a secular country seems more like a nod to political correctness than a portrayal of how things are in real life).

All in all, definitely a must-watch movie.

(In other news, hell froze over at 19:21 IST today. The met department attributed this event to an oath a certain individual took re: Bollywood movies about a decade or so ago).

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Joel, Meet CMM

From Joel on Software:
To reach this sweet spot, we borrowed an idea from Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota. He calls it Five Whys. When something goes wrong, you ask why, again and again, until you ferret out the root cause. Then you fix the root cause, not the symptoms.
Fishbone analysis by any other name smells just as CMMy. To be fair, blogging about all the outages and what you're doing about them is a novel, Web 2.0 wrinkle.

Maybe it's just the cynic in me, but doesn't it sound like a way to save money instead of blindly giving a rebate to all customers who suffer a downtime?
We let the customer decide how much they want to be credited, up to a whole month, because not every customer is even going to notice the outage, let alone suffer from it.
And Joel, you might do well to keep an eye on Michael; his email seems like he's doing quite a nice job of managing his boss, if you know what I mean.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Yesterday I was at the Trivandrum airport, waiting to catch a flight back home, when a friend pointed out that the Chief Minister of Kerala was about to board a plane. I looked around, and sure enough, there was a doti-clad person, walking purposefully towards the boarding gate. What caught my attention was that there was just a single policeman accompanying the Chief Minister; no retinue of self-important sycophants jostling around. I know nothing about Kerala politics -- levels of corruption, development, and so on -- but this was a refreshing change from the personality culture that is prevalent in the rest of the country.

Ironically, I witnessed something completely at variance with the above scene, just two days ago at the same airport: a huge retinue of supporters expressing their adulation (via man-high garlands and slogans shouted at the top of their voices) for a bishop of all people.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Jallikattu Controversy

Public opinion seems to be in favour of the ban on Jallikattu, as evidenced by the letters to the editor in The Hindu. There are a few voices opposing the ban too. Here's one:
Animals suffer at the hands of human beings in many ways. They are overloaded and tortured in agricultural fields, used in transportation in inhospitable terrain and circumstances, and held captive in zoos and homes. They are sacrificed in religious functions. Considering all these, the so-called ill-treatment of bulls, which are nurtured throughout the year, one day is nothing.
Consider this analogy: Two people are beating up a person, one with a heavy club, the other with a much smaller stick (but big enough to cause pain to the victim). Per the above logic, we might as well allow the second guy to continue his actions. Here's another one:
The apex court verdict does not take into consideration the views of the stakeholders, in this case the villagers, bull-owners and tamers
Conveniently leaving out the uber-stakeholder, who's getting chilli powder thrown into his eyes and being set upon by ten or twenty 'tamers'.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

It's different this time

From The Economist:
The authors show that, although details may vary, banking crises follow the same broad script. Each blow-up is preceded by rising home and equity prices; an acceleration in capital inflows driven by optimistic foreign investors; a rapid build-up of debt; and--immediately before the storm hits--an inverted V-shaped path for the economy, with growth first picking up and then faltering.
The quote refers to the American economy, but it could as well be referring to India.

I have been subscribing to the Economic Times for a month or so, with a view to making some money in the stock market (changed priorities and all that). It's been a pretty mixed experience; not investment-wise -- I am yet to dip a toe into the waters -- but in terms of gaining insight and understanding. Will probably post something on this later.