Monday, December 31, 2012

Movies Roundup 2012

And we're back! 2012 turned out to be a decent year in terms of quantity and quality of movies. Saw the highest number of movies since 2008 and had the highest average rating since I started keeping count. Just like in 2009, 2010 and 2011 I have made a note of every movie I watched in the theatres (and also the movies released during the year but watched on the small screen). Will be following last year's format of sharing the 'tweet-review" and rating on 10 of every movie watched, something for the statistics lovers and also the top 5 movies. As always this is most fun with your inputs and comments, expecting some usual fireworks! Here we go.

Year     # Seen Hindi:English:Bangla Top Rating Avg. Rating
2007     32               22:10:0                           9.0             5.78
2008     30               23:7:0                             8.5             6.35
2009     24               18:6:0                             9.0             6.85
2010     25               16:9:0                             8.5             6.62
2011     22               15:6:1                             8.5             6.77
2012     28               12:11:5                           9.0             7.33

The top honours go to (only movies watched in theatres):

Rank 1 - Barfi

Rank 2 - Kahaani

Rank 3 - Paan Singh Tomar

Rank 4 - Argo

Rank 5 - English Vinglish

Below, find the detailed tweet reviews (140 character limit) usually updated within an hour or so after watching the movie. This is in chronological order.

Here's the summary:


  Mission Impossible 4 -sinister scientist, nuclear destruction, breathtaking stunts, happy ending. Buffoonery by Anil Kapoor. Watchable. 6/10

Sherlock Holmes 2 - Brilliant scenes & lines between Dr. Moriarty & Holmes. Strong performances again. A tad too long at 2:09 hours. 7/10.

Tintin - Brought childhood to life. The extraordinary graphics and sticking to the original story added to the charm. Must watch! 7.5/10

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Frankly I didn't understand the movie enough to talk about it. Also, didn't enjoy that much. 5.5/10. 

Agneepath - Powerful and imposing, in terms of story, direction and performances. Kancha is menacing, HR outstanding & RK brilliant. 8/10.

Ek Main Aur Ek Tu - (Anjaana Anjaani + Jab We Met) stripped of romance & climax. Tried to be different, became average. 5.5/10

Kahaani - Fantastic performances and solid storyline. Leaving your seat even for a bathroom break will be a challenge. That gripping. 8.5/10

Paan Singh Tomar - Heart wrenching plot made into gripping screenplay. Taut throughout. Impeccable Irrfan. Skip it & loss is yours. 8.5/10

Agent Vinod - Some good action sequences, too many unnecessary characters, weak(er) climax(es), slick camerawork. Potential wasted. 6/10.

Vicky Donor - Genuinely funny almost throughout, a great find in Ayushmann, unique subject well handled, could've been a tighter end. 7/10

The Avengers - Usual world coming to an end in NY and superheroes saving us all story, but told in a way that'll make you cheer them on. 8/10

The Dictator - every stereotype, every racist joke, every soft spot touched upon. Crass, sharp, hilarious. Worthy successor to Borat. 8/10.

Hemlock Society - one movie that can genuinely stake claim to being that elusive "different" & quite good at that. Humourous & real. 7.5/10

22 Shrabon - A near-perfect thriller/mystery with effortless acting, taut storyline, quirky, coarse language and unexpected twists. 8.5/10.

Memories In March - exceptionally natural & restrained performances, mature handling of an issue that can become easily dramatized. 8/10.

Gangs of Wasseypur - puke inducing violence & gore throughout. So earthy that you can almost smell the scenes. Gritty performances. 7.5/10.

Autograph - engaging first half, slick photography, slightly affected dialogues, predictable & disappointing finish. Could've been. 6/10.

Bhooter Bhobishyot - Making up for the lost 20 years of Bengali cinema. Mind blowing concept, execution & delivery. Refreshing. 8.5/10

Barfi - will remain a high point of the careers of every member of the cast & crew. Sensitive, funny, touching. RK & PK brilliant. 9/10.

Heroine - download Madhur B template & music, plug in a generic movie industry story, dunk Kareena in kohl & glycerine and serve cold. 5/10

English Vinglish - Sridevi delivers a superlative performance and makes most of us think of our mothers throughout. Warm fuzzy feel. 8.5/10

Argo - Compels you to root for the characters & research the incidents immediately after you leave the edge-of-your-seats. Don't miss. 8/10.

Skyfall - Perhaps the most personal Bond movie. Devoid of gadgetry but with a most sinister villain & a story. Batman-like in parts. 7.5/10

Jab Tak Hai Jaan - Hmmm. 5.5/10.

Lincoln - Human take on one of modern history's heroes. Strong performances. Background reading on civil war recommended preparation. 8/10

Life of Pi - A difficult story to portray on screen, but magnificent effort by Ang Lee. Breathtaking visuals, brilliant performances. 8/10.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Farewell, Girl

My friend +Tanmay Mukherjee came up with one of the most touching posts I have read about the girl whom we shall never know, but know very well. If you can read Bangla I will suggest don't bother with my post and just read his original blog post.

However, I thought the post deserved to to reach out to a larger population and so I translated it on the fly, almost literal in parts, trying to keep the essence intact. Feel free to share all feedback with him directly.

Also, came across this very ironic Calvin & Hobbes strip earlier today, shared by Diptakirti


Farewell, Girl

I was here just now. Now, no more.

Dad's job, Dad's vote, Mom's parantha, Mom's vote, Brother's cricket, Brother's vote.
My college, my just-turned-twenty-one, my doe-skin, my vote.
My friends, my friend. Gossip-stories-mischief. A bunch of our votes.

Dad used to say that after I completed my studies, I'd take up a good job and visit a foreign land. Will also take my parents. Three votes, will dress up and visit abroad.
Mom used to say my husband would take me abroad. Another family. A whole lot of votes.
He used to say, "I will show you a foreign land. Breathtaking landscapes, charming cities; Explosions of development and technology all of them" A fellow helpless classmate's vote. Innocent vote.
Everyone had known that this girl wanted to go abroad.

"If you don't study hard, how will you go abroad, you fool?" - and so would go my Mathematic's tutor. Just the other day somehow got a 96% in maths and told Sir "Just give me another five years, You will need to come abroad to visit me"
Some would get irritated with my passion to go abroad "Why? What is missing in our country?"

True. What really is missing in our country? Development, a growing GDP, World Cup win, what's missing? We have everything. Just that getting scared had become a bit of a habit. Scared of what?
In trains, buses, Metros,
In the bustle of local markets,
In the masses at religious places,
Was scared of any gathering of people.

Who or who all would be lurking in that crowd and attack me?
The filthiest of words would waft through, lecherous looks would be flung all over my body, and sometimes a few dirty hands would grope me.
Mom used to say I was responsible for my dignity was in my hands; nobody else. These things will always happen in trains, buses and other public places. However, I shouldn't make a scene so that others start talking about it. That's far more dishonourable. She used to say that these things happen anyway.

Used to loathe myself. Who does such things in the streets? Whose brothers? Whose fathers? Does that mean my brother, my father too...! Mercy! Steadily I learnt to not trust others. So had decided to leave everything and move abroad.

The funny thing is those whom I used to detest, those from whom I wanted to run away to a different land, ended up making all arrangements to send me abroad. A few of those dark men tore me apart to such an extent that the entire country and the Indian government gave up on me: they said that they weren't capable of taking care of my recovery. The affectional government bore the entire expenses of my treatment, in fact flew me to Singapore. And in the meanwhile I believe they lathi-charged some unknown faces, set the water cannons on a few unsuspecting ones. Apparently those lunatics had tried to show the government the way. Can't those rascals see that our father-like government has established a "theek hai" empire in our great country?

Finally our most honourable and compassionate media gave me many new epithets and the news vessels overflowed with those monikers, soaring through the skies with TRPs.

Apparently my family was very pleased with my treatment, or so I was told by the media and government. Salute to them.
Apparently I fought like a braveheart, I am courageous, fearless and of an indomitable spirit; the media and honourable government proudly proclaimed. Salute to them.
But believe me, I did not want any of this. I am really scared of those dark men. I am really scared of the unfeeling, all powerful government.

I just wanted to live. No revenge, no cleansing of society. While on the ventilator, the little that I could think of was a desire to live. I did not want to make any official statements. I have to live, I must live. Mom, I will live. Dad I will live. Brother, please...can I live a little?

I failed. I couldn't live. None of you could get away by calling me 'India's Daughter' and my survival story. All of you had to take the blame of my death.

However, you will still have your little sister, your daughter to protest. The government still has it's votes. My parents became a little lonely. Let them be. In all this, at least there was a little good - my plans of a trip abroad materialized.

Singapore. What a beautiful city, just like a picture postcard. No, I couldn't see much of it.
In those crowded buses when someone would come and grope me, I would feel like tearing up. And would say to myself "Will go away and not die in this wretched country."

Thanks to the Almighty. At least I didn't have to breathe my last on my country's soil. 

Sunday, December 09, 2012

20 Years of Indian Cricket (1992-2012) - Highest Run Scorers & Wicket Takers

Earlier this morning I got into a little to and fro on Twitter about whether Sachin should carry on and if it's time MSD called it a day based on form? This led to digging up some numbers on Stats Guru. The complete details are available below: Highest Run Scorers (Test, ODI, T20 and overall) and Highest Wicket Takers (Test, ODI, T20 and overall) from 1992 to 2012. You can play around with the numbers by clicking here.

For me the main highlights were as follows:


1) We cannot overemphasize how much the team has depended on Sachin over the past twenty years. Genius is one thing, but being a genius for twenty years, consistently takes you to a different level.

2) If it required any more highlighting, Rahul Dravid deserved less attention than anyone else would have by not only being the highest scorer (all forms combined) 6 years (5 of them in a row - 2002-06) but also being the highest scorer in ODIs (a format he was apparently not good enough to make the playing 11) for 3 years (in a team with Sachin, Sourav, Laxman, Sehwag and Yuvraj at their peak). Also, he made his exit by being the highest scorer in Tests during his last year. Way to go.

3) Sourav Ganguly's comeback in 2007 (highest Test scorer, and also overall) after being in the wilderness for two years, is just a script waiting to be made into a movie.

4) There is no denying Virat Kohli's future. If he can look back at the last couple of years by the time he retires and calls it "not too bad" he's a legend.

5) Back to Sachin, highest scorer in both forms of the game, in 5 of the 10 years from 1992-2002, is perhaps a feat that will not be repeated again


1) Anil Kumble has been to Indian bowling almost what Sachin has been to the batting. Given the batsman focused nature of the game he hardly got the attention he deserved.

2) The present state of our bowling reflects in the stats from the past few years - lack of consistency. And if R. Ashwin is to become the greatest bowler we have in the team, it will remain like that for a while.

3) If we had one magical bowling year by anyone during this year it was Harbhajan Singh in 2001. The only 100+ wickets in a year spell.

Of course there's a lot more that can be gleaned from the data. Look forward to your insights.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Bollywood Loves Obama

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Happy 47th Sir

My mother often recounts how I was a pest as a kid when she watched TV. I'd just not sit still, and more importantly not let her catch her shows on Doordarshan, timing my tantrums to perfection with Buniyaad, Hum Log and other popular shows of those days. However, on Wednesday evenings I'd be a completely different person and drag her home if we were visiting relatives and plop myself infront of the television. Same thing repeated a few years later on Sunday nights. But I'd show the same signs of restlessness if Captain Abhimanyu Rai or Raghavan didn't appear in some episodes. I don't know if she made up the story later, I like to believe it was something that magical. 

Hello Sir,

Been 7 years since I wished you on this blog. You had just turned 40, I had started at my first job right after college. Today I've been married for a while, just a couple of years from my thirtieth birthday. Have moved countries and changed jobs, also got myself a little more educated in the meanwhile. You went ahead and won the remaining hearts of Bengal and sponsored our cricket team. Proved a point to the jealous few who derive pleasure by stereotyping you, by appearing on screen as the coach of a women's hockey team. A lot changed. Something didn't, and that is I could have written the previous post even today and it would have remained just as true. So here's wishing you a happy 47th Sir! 

And my little tribute - 47 things about you, from me.

1. The last movie of yours I didn't watch in the theatre was 'Main Hoon Na' (2004).

2. Have asked hairdressers (I know people get into trouble for calling them barbers) to cut my hair like yours.

3. I've watched 'Duplicate' (1998) in the theatre, thrice.

4. I enacted scenes from your movies during my introduction sessions with seniors in my college hostel and it was the best 'ragging' ever.

5. Used to note down the names of your movies at the back of my chemistry notebook. In reverse chronological order.

6. Once got a photo of yours in a 'bhel puri' packet made from an old newspaper. Cut it out and kept it in my wallet as a good omen through college.

7. I have performed scenes from your movies in middle school, high school, college, work and MBA functions. 

8. Purchased the dialogues only casette of 'Mohabbatein (2000)' and could repeat every line of yours in my sleep.

9. Hated Hrithik Roshan for many years for spoiling 'Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000)' with KNPH. I actually prayed for his death. Feel bad for that now.

10. I have spent hours in front of the bathroom mirror trying to be you from 'Yes Boss' (1997), 'Pardes' (1997), 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' (1998), 'Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham' (2001) and other movies from those days from my teenage.

11. I also did the same with Don 2, a few months back.

12. Decided to never fly to/through Newark airport after they detained you there.

13. Mentioned you as my role model in my first corporate interview. Got the job and spent 6 lovely years there.

14. Prior to MHN the last movie I didn't watch in the theatre was 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' (1998).  

15. Could never manage to like Sunny Deol after he killed you in 'Darr' (1993).

16. My favourite song from your movies is 'Ek Din Aap Mil Jaenge' from 'Yes Boss' (1997).

17. I have only seen 'My Name Is Khan' (2010) first day first show.

18. I have gone all by myself to watch 'Shakti: The Power' (2002) in Jaya Cinemas, Kolkata. Felt cheated to realize you only had a guest appearance.

19. Had your poster on my hostel wall. Still have a picture with it. 

20. Took my sister with me to watch 'Devdas' (2002) when she was eleven and we had tickets in the opposite ends of the theatre.

21. Played 'Ajab Si' from 'Om Shanti Om' (2007) and delivered the 'Mere Naina...I love you Naina' lines from 'Kal Ho Na Ho' (2003) in front of an office audience to woo my then girlfriend, now wife.

22. Your movies (as an actor) that I haven't seen till date are - Idiot (1992), In Which Annie Gives It To Those Ones (1989) and Zamana Deewana (1995).

23. I wasn't allowed to watch 'Maya Memsaab' (1993) as it had an adult theme. Saw it in Fast Forward mode in 30 minutes on VCR while mom had gone out of the house.

23. Every time I wouldn't do well in some exams I used to imagine myself being kicked out of the house by my dad and my mother singing 'Woh Toh Hai Albela' from 'Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na' (1993). 

24. In the early 2000s I'd force  my eyebrows into your S shaped style so much that it became normal for quite a few years.

25. I also tried very hard to get the dimples when I smiled. Some people now tell me I get them sometimes. I guess dimples can be acquired after all.

26. Without making a conscious effort I've picked up your 'God bless you' as a sign off line for many years now. 

27. Have made some lifelong friends primarily based on our common love for you.

28. Once walking in the office parking with Veni I put on your limp from 'Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna' (2006) and she feels that's the best impersonation I have done till date.

29. A friend from Delhi University gifted me a photocopy of what is supposedly your marksheet at Hansraj College, have it with me for more than ten years now.

30. After you said "my hair is like a bear" in the first interview with Simi Garewal I would meticulously tousle my hair after taking a bath and not comb for hours.

31. I remember events in my life with your movies. E.g. Class 5 winter break - DDLJ (1995), first shave - after coming from watching Badshah (1999), class 10 boards - Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000), College final year Veer Zara (2004) and Swades (2004). Wedding - Billu Barber (2009) to name a few.

32. I judge those who criticize you. Seriously.

33. The highlight of my first Mumbai trip (2006) was posing for this horrendous picture next to Mannat's gate. Have visited Mannat each of the thirty odd times I have been to Mumbai since then. 

34. I have a bone to pick with Google. They invited you as the special guest in the 2011 Google India conference, 6 months after I left the company after 6 years. I had delivered some of your lines from OSO at the same conference in the same venue 3 years back.

36. I have you (@iamsrk) in a separate Twitter list called 'Sir'.

37. Veni was at the field at Kotla in 2011 when KKR beat DD and you did a lap of honour. I was back home with my parents in Bengal. I will never be able to get over it.

38. Bought my first sunglasses - Ray Ban aviators after seeing you in them in Chak De India (2007).

39. I'm not sure of the precise influence but my first car was a Hyundai Santro and you played some part in that decision.

40. Similarly I've always been a Pepsi guy since I remember and I have a feeling it's because of you. So yes, you deserve all those endorsement deals.

41. I was immensely relieved when you bought KKR as your IPL franchisee. Had it been anything else I may have been too confused to support any team.

42. I often play the scenario in my head of what will I say if I ever meet you. I remain tongue tied in those practice rounds, so can only imagine what will happen if it comes true.

43. I always replay your dialogues on YouTube by pausing and playing and noting them down. Done with Jab Tak Hai Jaan.

44. Even after numerous tries I have never been able to quiver my lips like you did in the "Madan Chopraaaa...." line in Baazigar (1993).

45. I practiced all of my Class 12 Accounts & Maths problems by listening to songs from your movies in my casette recorder on repeat loop. Never bought a casette for any album in which you were not there.

46. There's a friend in Mumbai who wishes me invariably on Nov-2, though he has forgotten my real birthday a few times.

47. I hope somehow, someday I'll be able to  repay a fraction of the happiness, comfort, confidence and support that you've provided me. 

God bless you.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

London Olympics 2012 - Medals Stats & Trivia

As the ceremonies were wrapping up in London earlier this afternoon I was busy finishing my thousand calorie Sunday brunch and then running some errands. An acute sense of guilt was building up for a while which I finally gave in to while checking my Twitter timeline and seeing plenty of Twitterers from India live tweeting the event almost into dawn. I took refuge in the final medal tally to come up with the following stats to overcome the guilt somewhat.

1. India with 6 medals topped the list of countries that didn't win any gold medals. Followed by Mongolia at 5. 

2. Algeria, Bahamas, Grenada, Uganda & Venezuela are the only countries that won just gold medals (1 each) 

3. Of the 204 nations, only 26 countries won 10 medals or more

4. Kazakhstan (54%), Hungary (47%), S Korea (46%), GB (45%) & USA (44%) won highest %age of medals in gold [min. criterion 10 medals]

5. Canada with only 1 out of 18 medals (5.5%) was last in terms of gold medals as a %age of all medals  (min. 10 total medals) 

6. England/GB (65), Germany (44), France (34), Italy (28), Brazil (17), Spain (17), Argentina (4), Uruguay (0) - World cup football (soccer) winners' performances in London 

7. Australia (35), West Indies (31), India (6), Pakistan (0), Sri Lanka (0) - World Cup cricket winners' performances in London 

8. Germany (44), Australia (35), Netherlands (20), India (6), Pakistan (0) - World cup hockey winners' performances in London

9. All the countries from 2008 top 10 list (gold) remain in 2012, with Hungary as the only new inclusion 

10. Jamaica & Tunisia are the only countries to win equal number of Gold, Silver & Bronze medals (4 & 1 each respectively) 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Review of 'Kitnay Aadmi Thay?' Completely Useless Bollywood Trivia

Disclaimer : Diptakirti, the author of KAT (Kitnay Aadmi Thay?) is a friend. Bollywood & trivia has taken up a greater part of my life. Will try to keep the review unbiased.

If you have a passing interest in Bollywood, or trivia, or preferably both then you're sincerely better off reading or ordering the book right now than going through this review. 

KAT is a Bollywood fan's wet dream come true. Like any blockbuster worth its salt it takes you by surprise with the depth of research in its very first chapter on opening credits over the years. My sister still has a smirk on her face as she could guess Taare Zameen Par (TZP), Kuch Na Kaho and Tanu Weds Manu to my meagre single recollection of TZP, as deserving candidates in this category.

The entire book is divided into similar chapters which at first glance don't seem to be following much of a plot, but as you breeze through the pages you realize you're a part of a potboiler, cleverly wrapped with the usual trappings of a Bollywood movie "jisme action hai, romance hai, suspense hai".

I'm getting this immense urge to discuss the different chapters, lists and information nuggets (like the Big B was called Munna by his parents) but will refrain from doing so at it'll be like giving away clues of a murder mystery. Just take it from me that you will be continuously trying to predict the next movie, star, date and theme that Dipta is discussing.

All right, temptation, I lose. Sample these 3 instances:

  • List of movies that were named after songs from other movies. Sounds simple? Now he goes on to compare the differences in years of release of the original movie containing the song and the movie named after the song (e.g. Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (2006) released 30 years after Chalte Chalte which had the song Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna)
  • An entire chapter on the depiction of Parsis in Bollywood, and the list goes far beyond Being Cyrus (which apparently had a Parsi director - Homi Adjania & co-screenwriter - Kersi Khambatta)
  • Did you know there are (at least) 7 Bollywood movies remade or inspired from the Godfather series? Try guessing beyond Sarkar, and when you give up look at the bottom of the post for the answers.
You will still come across situations where you'll feel some of the lists are incomplete and you'll feel superior to the author for having missed some entries in certain lists, but he's cleverly clearly mentioned at the very beginning that not all the lists are complete and one of the primary purpose of the book is to increase the enjoyment by finishing these lists ourselves. However, typos I'm assuming are not covered under this so I take immense enjoyment in pointing out an error from Page 16 - 2nd paragraph, 1st line - "A list of film titles that went on to become songs in other films" should be "A list of film titles that took its name from songs in other films". Also, page 186, 3rd paragraph 3rd line "And thus was born probably the most famous human-best friend combo..." which I feel should read "And thus was born probably the most famous human-beast friend combo..."

Just like in his previous (and first book) - Cricket he keeps the audience engrossed with one tidbit after another and constantly challenges you. Also, I'm glad that he maintains his language which is elegant yet simple and never pretentious. It's in that perfect zone where you feel like the author is your friend, well spoken and intelligent, but never condescending, and always trying to be helpful rather than show off his immense knowledge.

The book is great, but has it's frailties, particularly in the form of the author's biases, and I guess gives a more genuine feel to it. It's clear from the very beginning that . He makes no bones about his obsession with Amitabh Bachchan, Sholay & Madhuri Dixit but you don't hold that as a grudge against him because the author is not trying to portray himself as a neutral, spectacle-wearing studious disciple of cinema, but a cheering, whistling, dancing fan. You kind of forgive him for not realizing that the greatest star that Bollywood ever produced was actually born in 1965 in New Delhi to Taj Mohammad Khan & Lateef Fatima.

This is one book I am looking forward to paying extra luggage fees to take with me and keep on my bookshelf.

Answer to the Godfather question: Dharmatma, Dayavan, Nayakan, Atank Hi Atank, Virasat, Rajneeti & Sarkar.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Yours Gratefully

[DISCLAIMER: Personal & long post]

Tomorrow I will be walking down Ryan Field along with my classmates at Kellogg to collect my MBA degree. One of the 150,000 odd US students to do so this year. A part of a much larger number of Indians across the world. No big deal. True. But it brings to an end a chapter that started nine years back. A chapter from my story, and it will remain incomplete without this post.

It was during my second year at college, I was doing my B. Com or undergraduate in Business as they refer to it in other parts of the world, that I wanted to do an MBA. A normal career choice for a moderately bright student like myself. For those not acquainted with the Indian B-school system, at least in the mid-2000s, almost the entire batch of the top schools joined straight from college with no prior work experience. This means that the one annual test day, taken by ~150,000 students then (more than ~200,000 now) pretty much sealed your fate for the year. The top B-schools - the Indian Institutes of Managements (IIMs) had around 3000 seats. If you do the math only 2% of the test takers had a chance of making it.

I started with my MBA preparations during my final year of college and was consistently performing among the top 1%-3%. I knew that with further practice unless I messed things up on the D-Day I had a fair shot at cracking it. It was the third Sunday of November in 2004 and I went to Presidency College, Kolkata for my test. I do not recollect the exact  details but I remember coming out of the exam and calling my parents from a PCO (Public Call Office) booth and telling them it could go either way. The results came out in a month's time and though I had performed better than 95% of the test-takers, it wasn't good enough for an interview call from any of the 6 IIMs.

This is where I will try to but won't do justice to the role my parents played in providing the support and confidence in me. First, it's almost taken for granted that all good Indian students will pursue engineering right after school, whereas I, in spite of always being a good student at school and doing quite well in my school final exams decided to take up Commerce. Just because I wanted to. There was tremendous societal pressure on my parents to "show me the right path" but they protected me from all the noise and asked me to do whatever I wanted, with the confidence that they're with me. This was 3 years prior to the MBA episode. This time around, first there was the setback that I wasn't going to the premier B-Schools. Second, no "good student" worth his/her salt thinks of not doing his/her Masters before joining the workforce. It was during this time that Google, just starting their operations in India, came to our campus. And I made it. Goggles? Web Page? Am I mad? And my parents were being foolish in letting a twenty-one year old take the decisions of his own life. Once again, all they told me was they believed in me and would support me in any decision I took. Even if that meant joining a company with a funny name and brightly-colored child like logo. Gulu (Mom, yeah I know silly!) & Baban (Dad) - I know today you are more excited and happy than I am and so I wanted to congratulate you on the MBA. I have perhaps never mentioned it in a public forum, but  - thank you for being by my side, always. Love you. And love you too MLS (my little sister) for being there.

Google on the other hand I have never shied away from showing my love for, in a very vocal fashion. It was as if Google took over my guardianship from my parents. I can't thank everyone who put their faith in me while at Google - giving me responsibilities far bigger than what my years or experience would have made seem prudent. I was most fortunate to have managers who were far more of mentors than bosses like Neel, Ashish, Sundar, Aliza and Sridhar. Also, a special mention to Shailesh, a fellow Kellogg alum and my manager at Google who instilled the confidence in me to go big. 

Then there were the friends, Anal, Sreejita, Manan, Saurabh, Dushyant, Savio, Arnab and many others who not only believed in me but also spent hours guiding me through the application process, preparing me for the MBA interviews and going over multiple iterations of the essays. And then there was Boudhayan who timed his move to Chicago to perfection and played the greatest host for the year.

December 2010 I received the call from Kellogg, congratulating me on my admission. The past year deserves an entire post and more for itself, all I will say for now is that the MBA was worth every penny of the many I spent on it.

Finally this story will remain irrelevant without the person who sacrificed everything for it. If taking the risk of tying the knot just a few months after her twenty-second birthday was not enough, she actually gave up everything she had - her city she had always lived in, her parents who lived in the same city,  her friends, her lifetime savings and her most cherished job, to fly out with me to an unknown country, without a job or purpose. Just to fulfill my dreams. My newly acquired MBA skills tell me she'll make for a pretty lousy businesswoman working on blind faith and love. Something else tells me I'm covered, for life.  Thanks for everything Veni.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Kellogg India Business Conference

The following article was published in my Financial Times blog today. Reproducing without any edits.


This past weekend we hosted the 18th annual Kellogg India Business Conference. The conference, the first one was held in 1995, is one of the most prominent conferences organised by the student body and attracts some of the most accomplished men and women from corporate India and beyond.
Opportunities Take Flight
Once again this year we had a wide gamut of Indian achievers from a variety of fields including the internet, enterprise software, venture capital, consumer packaged goods and not-for-profit. The conference started early on Saturday morning and was kicked off by a most riveting welcome address by one of Kellogg’s favourite professors – Mohanbir Sawhney.
Prof Sawhney delivering the welcome address
This was followed by a keynote address by Param Uberoi, the chairman of Pernod Ricard, south Asia who retraced his steps from his initial days in the beverage industry and outlined how the market has grown and matured drastically over the years. He regaled the crowd with plenty of anecdotes and insightful observations about not only the beverage industry but also the overall landscape of business in India.
Mr. Uberoi delivering the opening keynote address
This was followed by a panel discussion on financial services in India called “Fuelling a Billion Aspirations”, which was moderated by Navin Chopra. It included Kellogg alumni Rahul Khanna, the managing director of Canaan Partners, India and Jasjit Mangat, director, investments, Omidyar Network India Advisors, as well as K B Chandrasekar, the founder and chief executive of Asia Bridge Capital and Amitabh Chaudhry, the managing director and chief executive of HDFC Standard Life.
A wide variety of subjects were discussed including the exit strategies of venture capitalists in Indian start-ups and how and when should Indians working overseas decide to return to their home country.
The finance panel in progress
After the panel discussion the audience was enthralled by a passionate speech from Abraham George, the founder and chairman of The George Foundation, who has been working hard for many years to try to improve the lot of the underprivileged in India. He moved the assembled audience with his statistics about the real impact of poverty in India and discussed various ways in which everyone can make a difference and contribute towards a brighter, more egalitarian future for the nation.
Abraham George delivering his keynote speech
The afternoon session started with the social innovation competition that saw four student teams, three from Kellogg and one from NYU’s Stern School of Business, present their ideas about solving certain issues in India. These ranged from insurance and the availability of seeds, to iron-rich nutritional biscuits for mothers to tackle the problem of iron deficiency in Indian women.
Further ideas were investing in various kinds of skill development among the large population through a modified private equity fund and shared tractors, along the lines of the car sharing business model in the west. After an hour of intense presentation and gruelling question and answer sessions with the jury of professors and speakers at the conference, UpSkill Capital won first prize, followed by iNsure. They received $10,000 and $5,000 respectively as a team and they plan to invest these amounts in their venture ideas and bring them to fruition.
UpSkill Capital - the winning team in the Social Innovation Competition
Bharat Goenka, co-founder and managing director of Tally Solutions delivered the next keynote speech and won over the audience with his stories of the hurdles he initially faced before the success of one of India’s best known software brands. He also made a strong impact by firstly highlighting the issues that India faces as a country today, but also pointing out that nevertheless it is poised to take off as the biggest economic superpower in the coming years.
Bharat Goenka delivering his keynote speech
The final session of the conference was a panel discussion on entrepreneurship in India which was moderated by Rashmi Bansal, the best-selling author of entrepreneurial stories (Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish). The panel consisted of some of the young achievers of online India – Anupam Mittal, the founder and chief executive of People Group (the parent company of brands such as, etc) and Neetu Bhatia co-founder, chairman and chief executive of KyaZoonga.
Bharat Goenka was also on the panel and discussed the opportunities available to those who want to make a start in the world of Indian entrepreneurship. Lots of personal experiences were shared by the panelists and by the end of the session it seemed as if many in the audience were motivated to move back to India and start off on their own!
Rashmi Bansal moderating the entrepreneurship panel
The Entrepreneurship Panel in progress
The highly energetic and inspiring day was brought to a close by a well-attended networking session with the students and other members of the audience getting to spend some quality time with the various speakers and panelists.
And finally a note of thanks to the conference leadership committee who worked very hard for months to put it together and deliver a most engaging event.
The India Business Conference Leadership Team

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I Want To Be...

We all spend some time reflecting on what we want to be. Recently while doing the same I realized I want to be a lot of things, and though it's sad I'm not most of these, the good part is I can always try to be some of these.

A Writer

A Photographer

A Journalist

A Technology Evangelist

A Movie Director

A Blogger

A Cricket Commentator

A Quiz Master

A Travel Writer/Host 

An Internet Entrepreneur

A Talk Show Host

A Movie Critic

An Actor

A Word Game Creator

A Restaurant Critic

An Orator

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Google Love

Yet another easter egg from the big G!

Type the following in the Google search bar

sqrt(cos(x))*cos(300x)+sqrt(abs(x))-0.7)*(4-x*x)^0.01, sqrt(6-x^2), -sqrt(6-x^2) from -4.5 to 4.5

I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day, but found it cute nevertheless.

[Source: Mashable]

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Brunch @ Marmalade & A Day At The Museum

Trying this new pictorial and interactive blog format, with more text than a Facebook album, much less than a usual blog post. Really appreciate any feedback, will decide format of future posts accordingly. Thanks.

Today was a day most memorably spent with my classmate & ex-Googler Ethan, his wife & Googler Jamie and of course, Veni. Yes, I'm on Google+ as well, in case you wondered. 

They suggested this amazing brunch place, Marmalde on West Montrose Avenue and it more than lived up to its expectations. The place seemed to have a loyal following of its own, especially on a balmy Saturday morning. After waiting for for a few minutes we spent the next many in a state of utter confusion and temptation trying not to miss one amazing dish for the other while ordering. Safe to say we were far from disappointed. (You can click on the images below for a closer look)

Ethan's brunch - Chef Efrain's Texan Bennie

Potato rosemary flatbread with our slow-cooked pork shoulder, marinated in Marmalade’s own secret-recipe house brine, topped with pineapple chutney, poached eggs, drizzled with pesto hollandaise

Veni's Order - The 'Shroom' Benedict

Two poached eggs, sautéed spinach, roasted tomatoes on top of breaded Portobello within a bed of our house potatoes topped with sundried tomato hollandaise 

Jamie's dish - Red velvet french toast

My brunch -  Smoked Salmon Omeletta

Smoked Atlantic salmon, capers, dill, scallions, red peppers, cream cheese, topped with lobster hollandaise

After that hearty brunch, which even by the standards of my healthy appetite was well and truly more than a (breakfast + lunch) we decided to indulge a little in the finer things of life and headed to The Art Institute of Chicago.

The AIC is on Michigan Avenue also known as Swami Vivekananda Way
The Bengali in me was filled with pride seeing this great cultural institute on the main road of the city named after one of Bengal's & India's most brilliant sons - Swami Vivekananda who had the city of Chicago enthralled by his oratory skills and intellect in 1893.

And if that was not interesting enough, we were in for a surprise to find that one of the exhibitions being held presently by the AIC is that of Rabindranath Tagore's paintings. Some days are just born more coincidental than others.

Seeing the familiar face in a whole new setting was quite nostalgic

The AIC itself is a marvelous destination for all sorts of art form such as oil paintings, pastels, photography, sculptures and needlework. We were welcomed by this stunning city scene which almost gives a feeling of waiting to come to life at any moment.

It seemed like a group of ladies and gentlemen had assembled at the museum to replicate some of the masterpieces and they sat patiently in front of the canvases and flawlessly recreated the scenes and murals on their own equipments such as the ones I photographed below.

The next few photographs are from the many hours we spent admiring the works of Monet, Van Gogh, Pabst and many others.

The miniature city dwellers

The Knight in Shining Armour

The spectacular self portrait by Van Gogh

Monet's 'Stacks of Wheat' series

Ivan Albright's ghastly  'Picture of Dorian Gray'
We ended the thoroughly stimulating tour at the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room

and the curio shop which displayed this clock which gave me a feeling of deja vu from one of the social media viral photos doing the rounds.