Monday, December 31, 2007


Motives are nice,

Motivations are better,

Motivated are the best,

Is 2008 going to be the year of the Motivated!


Friday, December 28, 2007

Mirror..Her (A short)

The key turned. I twisted the door knob. The door opened. I was in. It was dark. Sombre, sad and eerie. She wasn't around. Her smell was. Saucy, pervading and animal!

Could I turn back? Into my private hell. I didn't think so. Ah, that sole ribbon. A strand of want. Of wanton and sex. I felt her skin. On the wall now. I felt her guile. Lips, tongue and more!

The mirror saw me. Caught my furtive glances. This was that bed. She, me and sweat. My heart thudded now. Fright, lust, broken vows. There, her the mirror?

I sat down. Mussed my hair. Just like her. Her dark eyes. Lit up the dark. The mirror looked. At me and my hopelessness. No longer there, she tormented me, like never before!

Cursed myself, for that night, when I let her go, to heaven. From that balcony there. A push, 32 years ago!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Check this out!!

Roger Ebert is out with his best 10 List...Top of the tops!! Movies 2007!!!

Opportunities in the Entertainment Industry!

Maya Sharma is wondering what she would want to do with her family this Sunday. She brings out her notepad and jots down her home and family needs. She needs to buy some groceries this weekend. Her husband is a music freak and has been clamoring to go to the nearest Music outlet. The children wanted to go bowling in the nearest Entertainment mall. There is a fabulous movie of Shahrukh Khan that has come on screen last week and Maya has not been able to catch up with it even now. Also, Maya feels that the children may need a wardrobe change for the winter.

Maya Sharma is upwardly mobile Indian woman. Her values are intact but yet she wants the best for her family. She looks for contemporary entertainment that would bring happiness to herself and her family. So, the country is seeing a fabulous boom in all forms of entertainment that we can think of. Movies, Multiplexes, Retail Malls, Entertainment zones, Amusement Parks, Theme Restaurants, Spas and Sport Complexes – all doing good business and tapping communities and audiences of all kinds. Add to these the Media vehicles of all kinds – TV, Radio, Internet and Ground or Live Events; we have a mix of entertainment that is huge in size and content.

This vast world of Entertainment has to be managed, operated and processed like any other business on earth. So, all these companies are tripping over each other in trying to keep talent with them. Talent comes in all shapes and sizes. To understand the Industry requirements, we shall have to understand the kinds of Entertainment we are dealing with now. Principally, Entertainment is divided into two sectors: Ground and Broadcast

Ground Initiatives : Multiplexes, Malls, Amusement Parks, Spas, Galleries, Museums, Aquariums, Wildlife Parks, Safari Parks, Botanical Gardens, Theme Parks, Film Cities and Sport Centers

Broadcast Initiatives: TV, Radio, Web, IPTV, Mobile and Movies

As time passes, both these mediums shall converge and each medium shall progressively participate in the profits of the other through sharing agreements and co – branding methods that are now prevalent in the West. This is to enable maximum monetization of the content produced.

The industry is looking for talent of all shapes and sizes to move this huge juggernaut towards glory. Some of the major requirements are:

Operations – All Ground Initiatives require People with Business Administration, Business Operations, Hospitality, Facility Management, Engineering, Health and Fitness, Creative Arts, Retail, Merchandising and Sport Administration talents.

Marketing – People with Marketing, Advertising, Publicity, PR, Promotion, Media Planning, Execution and Creative skills are required to market these Ground and Concept Initiatives into successes.

Projects – Architects, Landscape Designers, artists, Botanists, Construction Engineers, Theme Architects, Conceptualizers, Visualisers and workers of all kinds are required to build all these marvels on ground.

Finance – All kinds of Finance Professionals are needed to run these businesses effectively.

Events – All Initiatives have an Event section that makes the place happen and rock! They need producers, Production teams, Planning teams and Managers that can make these Events highly successful.

TV, Radio and Movies – They need Producers, Directors, Actors, Technical Crews, Writers and Marketing people of all kinds.

Internet and Mobile – Designers, Producers, Technical people, writers of content, Managers and Marketing people of all kinds.

All these put together makes for very interesting combination of people and services. Yes, that is what it is, a very Interesting and Creative field of work and growth – The Entertainment Industry!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Powered by: Taare Zameen Par 

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mesmeric Taare...

Many years ago, a child used to don his Stretchlon half pants, his favourite navy blue sweater and a pair of worn out Hawai chappals to go pottering out in the misty countryside of Nilgiris. He studied rivulets, grasshoppers, droplets of rain and layers of oil only on one side of a Eucalyptus leaf. He was a loner and had to work very hard to keep up in class.

Taare Zameen Par reminds me of that boy, his anxieties, his rebellions, his lies and failures, his truths and successes. It reminds me of a lot more. Of pushy parents, of testy uncles, of indifferent teachers, of insular neighbours and above all it reminds me of unrivalled joys in the nature of life!

Taare Zameen Par is a very mature take on essence of childhood, relationships and parenthood. It talks about many things that hinges around a dyslexic boy, his situations and the indifference that he has to cope with before his drawing teacher who empathizes pulls him out of the morass.

Taare Zameen Par is a story that is a unique sum of many beautiful moments, emotional and apt. A few samples are on offer:
Nikumbh (Aamir Khan) is very disturbed on seeing the paintings by Ishaan (Darsheel Safary) in the child’s home and is aching at heart. He cannot be rude to the parents. The parents are naturally anxious on seeing him at their place. He wonders what to say. He asks for a glass of water! The tension is crackling. We are a part of it!!
The housemaster is at the entrance of the hostel on a bench. The sun is setting. Ishaan comes back from a lonely stroll. The Housemaster asks where had he been to, very authoritatively, but takes him into the hostel with a hand at his shoulder. Love in unknown forms!
The mother retrieves Ishaan’s flipbook. The mother and we see the contents of the flipbook again and again. Both of us register Ishaan’s loneliness and hopelessness. Both of us are stricken. Very moving!
Ishaan is told to get out of the class. He has to be brave and hs to be showing it to his classmates. So he does that classic fist pump, “Yess” and walks out jauntily. He is happy, we smile but there is huge undercurrent of solitude in this act of his!
Ishaan is buying Icegola. He is more interested in what is being done with the Ice by the server. We are taken in by the act. Then, it is served to a child perched on the shoulders of a bare bodied labourer. The child starts eating the Icegola. The labourer turns and walks away, proud and erect, for us and for his child. Mesmeric symmetry in thought and shot! And all this happened in the course of a song. Wow!!
Nikumbh keeps Ishaan back in class after he has explained dyslexia in class. He then reveals the identity of another person who was not mentioned in front of the whole class. Ishaan looks on in trepidation. Nikumbh reveals about himself. Fabulous moment. A story in itself!!
The father is extremely miffed with Ishaan. He is packing. Ishaan asks where is he going. He says he is going away from home. Ishaan is sorry. He keeps repeating ‘Sorry’. We are taken in. His mother intervenes. She says his father is lying. Ishaan is now angry at the betrayal. A mini satire on parents today!

Then, there are the plot points that drive the story and the involvement by leaps and bounds. That needs to be seen on screen.

Some narrative styles are new with an animated song and a documentary ending. The dialogue is kept to a minimum in most part of the movie allowing us to soak in the atmosphere, the child’s urges, loneliness and intelligence.

In fact, the camerawork, sound design and lighting communicate with us directly using the silence and the background music as communicating tools. Just great!

Here is where the team scores. Here is where the story truly catches us and takes us into Ishaan’s world. This is the most unique contribution of Aamir Khan, the director, Amol Gupte, the Creative director and the writer and Deepa Bhatia, the Editor of this film.

The actors suited their roles to a T. The surprise was how each kid was handled. Darsheel and Tanay (as Ishaan’s friend Rajan) turn in majestic performances. Tisca Chopra, as the mother, is a revelation. Aamir did not act. He just felt his character. Flawless!!
The teachers were probably told to be a little over the top. Indian Cinema needs, I guess!

Taare Zameen Par is truly path breaking and has to be seen by one and all and for their own reasons. It is compelling middle of the road cinema. Something that has disappeared since a gentleman named Hrishikesh Mukherjee had stopped making movies.

Oh, by the way, the boy from the first few lines was yours truly 30 years back!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Picture abhi Baaki hai mere dost!!!!

Excuse me, that line has been taken from OSO and I might infringing some copyrights somewhere. But it is apt for what I am writing about here.

Have you heard about Experiential Entertainment?

Well, that is the BIG THING that has hit me in the last few years and I am going ga ga over the possibilities with it.

It is “the Process of opening a customer’s six senses and leave him agape for a considerable period of time experiencing any form of entertainment resulting in commerce of a different level for the Provider”.

Why am I being very optimistic about where we can go with experiential entertainment? Simply because I truly think that with a little bit of original thought and a lot of hard work (this we always profess to do!!), we can actually think of Products that have never been thought of before in any part of India or abroad.

I have been studying Experiential Entertainment ever since the mall mania hit India and the malls in their hurry to make cash gave out important spaces to top of the line brands that created their own utopia! There was no connect with the customer and we saw the advent of the age where footfalls were in scores but realizations totally messed up. Ex: Bose, Reebok, Wills Lifestyle, Sony World, Samsung Digital, Blackberry’s, W for Women, Satya Paul, Hidesign and a whole lot of others. I do not say they are bad brands. In fact, we all would say that they are top of the line brands that are not able to make headway into the average Indian consciousness because of their look and feel that has frightened the average guy on the street.

Of course, they are an essential part of the Indian mall but going one step forward, they had to be set up in such a manner where the simple tenet of curiosity – entry – browsing – interest – sampling – buy had to be done with the latent view that there is no hurry. Time provides the minds of the customer that unique pleasure – the pleasure of greed!

Ask me why Ladies are better for any retail establishment. I would say that they just have a lot of TIME! Test my observation and see. You will understand that I am right. So, what is supposed to be done if we are to provide time to our mall goers!

Experiential Entertainment is the answer. This is the latest in Hospitality and I have not read it anywhere until now. I just made it all up. But you can get the drift.

Why do we say that when we go for the typical Indian “Masala Movie” that it was “Paisa vasool” or “Mazaa aa gaya” or even “Mast time pass”? Why has Om Shanti Om become one of the biggest grosser of all time in Indian cinema?

Indians all over the globe have always equated Mazaa (entertainment) with Vasool (Value) and Time (as in time pass). This is the ultimate truth of our going out of homes to spend an “entertaining” day. It goes for our Movies, our shopping, our events, our Food and our naachgaana!!

It may or may not be similar for a European or an American. They are societies who have more TIME on hand than us and devote that time to various other pursuits like Theatre, fishing, barbeque, museums, art discussions and other such activities that stimulate the grey cells, activate our latent talent and give them a serene weekend away from their hurly burly weekdays.

It is different with us. Our weekends are not very different from our weekdays. So, when we ultimately get out for some much needed “Mazaa” we want “Mauja hi Mauja”. We want to have the ‘kitchen sink’ of Hospitality and Entertainment to be thrown at us.

I’ll tell you about this friend of mine who eats at a Shivsagar outlet the whole week as he is a bachelor and does not cook. He does not make a single noise through his entire meal at all. But every Saturday night, he and his friends tour the night clubs and bars where he orders for the flashiest Whisky and delectable finger food to accompany his drink. The Whisky is fine but the stewards go crazy trying to solve his food problems! Now, why does this guy have food problems only on Saturday nights? Psychology anyone!

My friend does not get the “Mazaa” and “Vasool” for his time spent at these places. Shivsagar, on the other days is able to provide him all of that on the other days. Strange but true!

Media has converged. So, has Hospitality and Entertainment. Today we just have to be very bold and upfront about our attitude towards our Retail Customer – at multiplexes, malls, Amusement zones, Hotels, Restaurants and Sports arenas. More “Om Shanti Om” type, as I would put it!

How to do this??

Content, boss! Compelling content in all these areas shall keep people engrossed. Like a Reality show on TV, there should be something happening all the time that would enable people to look and experience open mouthed, in wonder, every time, at all times!

You may say that the areas that I have mentioned may have no commonalities in content and so cannot be clubbed together. True yet false! Ask me how?

True because the products are dissimilar and principally cannot be bunched together. False because these are old rules. The new rules are “Any place that welcomes a customer with a concept and wants him to buy into that has to be governed by Content / thought / script / event / feel / senses. Only then the “Majaa” and “Vasool” for the time spent shall come in!

Yes, the world is now the “Masala Movie”!

I have designed methods of making a Mall, a Multiplex, a Movie, an Event, an Entertainment Zone, a Hotel, a Restaurant, a Sports Stadium or even a simple Park work on these precepts.

Entertainment is principally of two kinds – Ground and Broadcast. Movies, for me is a form of Ground Entertainment. Sorry, if I am changing the rules here.

Broadcast, I am not touching upon now.

But, Ground Entertainment has been redefined for ever in India. Are we aware? OK, most of us are. People who are not are getting there. Through trial and error.

First, the forms of Marketing Ground Entertainment changed. We called it Experiential Marketing. Then the content started to change. We are amidst the change even now.

There shall be a day when the success of a mall or a Cricket stadium shall be plotted through content or a story, simply put.

Who would plot this? There shall be a lot of contributors in this team of script writers – Promoters, Architects, Communication experts, Operations, Event Planners, Marketing whizzes, MCs, DJs, Amusement Designers, Movie Producers, Scriptwriters, Special Effects people, Music Composers, Landscape artists and Child Psychology experts!

Oh yes! There shall be a baffling team of people trying to make it worthwhile for you, the customer, to go to such places and have “Mazaa” and “Vasool”.

No, friends, it is no more about the LOCATIONS only. It is about captivating the customer. La La Land for a short while. The “All in One” concept at large! Someone please tell me as to why “Highway Dhabas” do so well!!!!!

They just bundle every kind of food and Masala and present a Unique combination of Food, music, comfort, easy surroundings and Colloquial habitats. The Bundle is what matters!

I don’t profess to be an expert here. Nobody is. Just that I have spotted the trends. Yes, they are very visible. Also, I have been able to spot the ‘Happiness Quotient’ of customers as they converge on content, popular or otherwise!

They define the likeability of an Entertainment product very fast. It is the establishments or content owners who do not see the obvious. Solely because their eye has moved to the collection tills.

Content is forever. Good Content more so! Revenue is transient. It comes. It goes too. So, which is more important. Which requires more Quality measures! How come then that CFOs rule the roost in many companies.

Why is the theme music of a Disco dependent on the in house DJ instead of a top line DJ or Music Composer?

Trends spell interest. Interest brings in Curiosity. Curiosity gets the footfall. Footfall turns into browsing. Browsing turns into a Buy. What I profess here is that we can cement this separate bricks by a product called “Mazaa” and “Vasool” content. This shall customer there for enough time to make that “Great Choice”!!!

Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost!!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Innovation Marketing!!

Marketing shall never be the same anymore. I have been involved in setting
up exciting ground entertainment solutions for my company. The brief was to
get across to my target audience in the most straight arrow manner without
the usually big costs of Media plans that suck the heart out of start up
companies. I had to design something that would be durable and secure. I
also had to make it so customer centric that every unit cost would enable a
walk in to my entertainment mall very comprehensively.

I designed a very radical thing called "Customer First Programme". This is a
Promotional that enables other malls/ showrooms/ Food joints / lifestyle
places to sell us through their sales. Suffice to say that it was such a
huge success with 95% turn throughs of my promotional give aways. On some
days, the lines at my Box office had to be multi pronged which is generally
not the case with establishments such as ours.

I have many such more radical ideas of direct and indirect sales approaches.
But, all of them are not from any textbooks. Why...I had to ask myself. It
turns out that our country is very "Nirala" in all such matters. Penetration
of most print media is hopeless. Electronic media also suffers because of
the junk on air. Lifestyle customers are not interested in "Bhoot pret"
news, "Saas bahu" serials and chalta phirta cricket. So, how does one get
them. Radio is an answer. Malls and multiplexes are also an answer. But some
of them are so expensive that a start up like my company cannot afford it.
So, where do we go?

Websites and the New media are an answer. But, we still have some way to go
before we catch up with the mass. But, we are getting there. As of now, I
have put my bets on innovative direct sales as the main approach!!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Passions - To keep me going!!

I have never stopped to take stock of my passions in life. Why, I do not know. There aren’t many that I have in any case but an inventory should be on now that I am half way through my life!

Well, let me start with my biggest passion – books! Who are the authors that I like. Ayn Rand…she has elevated my reading to another level of fundamentalism. I have read her over and over again through the years and have understood the Roarks and Tooheys differently each time. Dominique is no more that youthful enigma but I am still yet to understand her fully. Howard Roark has influenced me and I dare say here that except being a sociopath as he was I have relentlessly followed his path to originality! Others may differ but…

Khushwant Singh has influenced me too. Now, ask me why I had to be done in by that dirty Sardar. Then, you must read Delhi – a novel. He is a fabulous historian and a storyteller. I have yet to come across a more qualified Indian writer writing about India as he has done. Suketu Mehta follows in close on the basis of his sole book, Maximum City! Boss, what energy..I could not sleep after I had completed the book at one go on a Sunday. Since then, have read it many a time. There were many others..Bruen, Bach, Henry, Wilde, Forsyth (I love that man!!), Grisham, Lawrence, Satyajit Ray, Sunil Gangopadhay, Tagore, Marquez, Menon, etc and I shall never tire of those page and gum smells!!

My next passion is Movies. Scores of people are passionate about movies but only a few watch movies alone from the age of 12. I did. Don’t ask why. I don’t know. For me, movies are a therapy, a taraana, a thrill, a study, a fantabulous occasion that I could never escape even for a big party or a daawat or even religion. Well, movies are my religion.

I saw Chemeen sitting on my Dad’s shoulders. I saw Aradhana when I was two and I am able to recollect my own lusty singing after the movie ended. I remember Johnny mera naam, Hare Rama Hare Krishna from then on. Then, a hiatus and after a few years I got introduced to Ray straighaway. Pather Panchali, Jalshagar, Apur Sansar, Mahanagar, Teen Kanya and Goopi Gyne Bagha Byne..they were classics even then for without even getting the full import.

I launched into my Hindi movie phase again with Sanyasi. Manoj Kumar and Hema Malini served up Masala movies to me like never before. I was hooked. Sholay followed and what a follow up!!

Then, was a phase that I was seeing a movie every week dutifully one-way or the other. Good ones, vague ones and downright horrid ones. Does anyone remember “Oh Bewafaa”, a ‘The lonely Lady’ rip off starring Anil Dhawan and others. Bambai Ka Badshah will also not ring any bells. Amjad Khan in a double role. I caught up with the Hrishikesh Mukherjee jewels during this time. I also tried a few Bimal Roy ones. Then, I hit upon Kishore Kumar and Guru Dutt films. The movies had me for life.

I have torn shirts getting tickets for Sharaabi and Hero in Nagpur. I have seen Pataal Bharavi alone in Hyderabad grooving to Jeetendra’s pots and pans. I have copied Mithun’s “Kasam paida karne wale ki” muffler style all winter of 1985. I saw Ghayal after curfew in an illegal video parlor in Guwahati in 1990. “Tridev” was seen with CPM and Trinamool Congress going great guns at each other just outside a hall in Kolkata. Sathya, the Tamil one, was with a girl whom I never met after that day. DDLJ was in Panjim with my spouse. Tezaab was in a place called Alampur in Howrah district in West Bengal with my brother. Taal was in Siliguri when my daughter was being born at a nearby hospital. Takshak was in a bus to Pune to see my mom.

Now, I see movies on DVD or at the nearby multiplex. I enjoy. We enjoy. My wife is a freak too. She even worked with Inox and institutionalized her freaking out for two good years. Indian movies changed. We get a Khosla ka Ghosla. We also get a Matribhoomi. We get a Bheja Fry and we also get something as radical as “No Smoking”. I still love the movies.

I am passionate about music too. A R Rahman is God. RDB is up there with all the Gods. LP, KA, Madan Mohan and other greats are also as revered. I can listen to a Pritam too. I can get along with Salil Chowdhury (that genius..) too. Kishore Kumar, Asha, Lata, Rafi, Mukesh, Hemant, Manna De, Jagjit, Ghulam Ali, Alisha, Bappi Lahiri, Salma Agha, Abhijeet, Alka, Sanu, Sonu,Udit, Nusrat and his tribe..all of them have contributed to my ears and pleasure over the years.

I even enjoy Bombay Jayashree, Anuradha Sriram, Harini, Sreekumar, Unnikrishnan, Hariharan, Nachiketa, Zubeen, Indian Ocean, Mohit Chauhan, Remo, Richa Sharma, Vishal Dadlani and others who are not heard all that frequently.

As they say, music has no boundaries.

My last and foremostest passion is work. Here, it shall suffice if I mention that I have toured the country only through my job locations. I went where work seemed interesting. I went where there was opportunity. I am the later day diamond prospector. I cannot give up. I cannot lie in a cocoon. I am still innovating myself. I am still at it. Kitchens, restaurants, Hotels, Banquet Centres, Multiplexes, Discos, Heritage Parks, Clubs, Resorts, Spas, Health Clubs, Amusement Parks, Entertainment Malls and Waterfront developments. I have seen it all and done it all.

Operations, Marketing, Sales, Events, IT, Business Strategy and Projects. I have been all over the place. Ah yes..there are places I can go to from here. Sports Management, Talent Management, Content, Themed Attractions…the list goes on!!

So, here they are…my Passions…then there is Cricket..ah..umm..well..yessss!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Johnny Gaddar - GR8!!

I was never interested in the typical 70s thriller genre of Hindi movies.
PFC kept telling us that Johnny Gaddar was one hell of a movie and that one
should miss it, whensoever it comes to the neighbourhood multiplex..fair
I waited, read about how Sriram Raghavan (the guy who made the film
yaar..)had been sitting with the script for a long while before Adlabs got
interested in making the movie. Of course, Sriram had Ek Hasina Thi to back
his script. But well, you know how it goes at the movies..Even Vikram Bhatt
started with an original movie..look where he went!!
Then, the day arrived and I went to see JG..not many people in the hall..we
were just two of us..the movie started. The 70's style titles and montage
went by and someone was killed!! Oh yeah!..Sriram had me by the hook then
on..I won't give away the plotline, save your foul breath, guys!!
But..but..I was amazed by the dexterity of the director. Every scene was
economical, stood out for itself, perfect shot compositions, yummy teasers,
fabulous silences, textured lighting moods, grand soundtrack for back up,
kick ass dialogues.."Pure Non Vegetarian"..goes Kalyan (Govind Namdeo in a
whammo cameo), terrific sets (Neil's home is just too very cool). All in
all, I could see that here was one director who took the best short cut to a
good movie..A VERY TIGHT SCRIPT..Cool!
If this is the way Indian movies are to go, then boy..I'm relishing it!!!!
Neil Mukesh is the find of the movie. Again, economy in presentation of his
character worked. I hear he has a good friend in a lad named Hrithik Roshan.
That's another actor who has an ample amount of screen presence. Zakir
Hussain is class and Vinay Pathak just leaves me speechless with each turn
out of his. "Jab kissi ki kismat itni saath de rahi ho to usse ungli nahin
karte!!"...Waah!! Dharam paaji was decent and Riimii was OK. Another
surprise was Ashwini as Vinay's wife in the movie. She played the hyper wife
a la Shefali Shah in SATYA to perfection.
My Idea of a good day out is something like Johnny Gaddar from now on!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

My Interview with Cybermedia - 30/9/07

City: Pune
Date of news: 9/30/2007 4:43:16 PM

When IT amuses

What happens when technology touches us even on Sundays – at the roller coaster ride, at the food plazas, at entertainment joints, at bowling alleys and who knows someday in the machine-made curry and basmati on a day not so distant? Indraneel Majumdar, Vice President of Wonder Leisure & Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. (WLEPL) speaks to CyberMedia News and shares how easy or challenging is to inject technology in an entertainment mall and fight with issues like ROI, obsolescence, servicing and scale at Wonder Funkey, a new entertainment zone in Pune that entailed a technology spend of Rs2.2 crore in a total project investment of Rs15 crore. Here, he gives a glimpse of the magic that IT can work for those Disneyland moments

Being quintessentially an entertainment joint with games, ride simulators, bowling alleys and food as your key offerings, where and how did you pump technology inside Wonder Funkey?

To start with, the entire environment at Wonder Funkey is software controlled. A customer gets a smart card of a given value as he enters inside and from there on at every point he gets access to a game etc through the card itself. Every consumption is cashless and as soon as the card exhausts its value, the customer can get it redeemed with a top-up. So the head of the family need not tug along with everyone whenever they hit a point for payment. Cards can be given to every member, specially to kids, of a value as per the discretion of the wallet-holder, thus everyone can be free and on his own to enjoy a game or point of their choice. Every point has readers for these smart cards. The result is an experience that is not purse-controlled, is error free and proven to be completely secure.

What prodded you to experiment with a cashless entertainment zone?

Research and insight tells us that when an entertainment trip is continually encountering moments with the wallet, i.e. money, the whole joy and fun of the outing is brought down when one has to shell out a sum at every point. Instead, one can plan a lump sum amount that can be spent on a trip and enjoy the outing with no sight of unplanned money going out at every half hour. That's why we hit upon the idea of cards.

Was it a customized IT solution or an indigenous deployment?

We worked the logic and our vendors converted and customized it. It took us nine and a half months to do that. The whole project started in December 2005 and completed in October 2006. Aftek helped in areas of basic hardware, customized readers and lines up to the server so as to get the complete flow of the system right. We had to re-convert the machines too from metal coin input to card input. That undertook some in-house re-fixing. Dimakh Consultants came in the area of software. I initially started with the game applications but later expanded it to non-game retail. We opted for two kinds of cards – offer cards that have built-in denominations for corporate and group packages where games are pre-decided in the menu. The other one are non-offer cards for individual customers or families.

Have the footfalls and average spending reflected some impact?

We are getting 432 footfalls on weekdays and 1081 footfalls on weekends on an average basis. From Rs122 per person to Rs252 per person the wallet outgo has increased too. We see an upward swing in the utilization of the place.

Has the idea of toying with technology at such as scale worked?

Technology allowed me to create an organization and getting through the nascent stages. I have seen many others around who have experimented with the idea of bringing technology in an entertainment environment. They could not succeed. They were eking out from one year to another without the sight of good financial rewards. Entrepreneurs in this field haven't yet crossed the technology barrier but the scenario will hopefully change. It is not easy to marry IT with fun and still be in the black. The investment does not always blossom operationally. I am however hopeful that one day the industry will warm up to this idea and make money as well.

So, did you manage to buck the trend? Is the ROI visible?

The entire deployment, including the software and hardware, cost us Rs15 lakh and adding people and training to that makes it Rs20 lakh. But it is cost effective. Savings of one and a half lakh every month are showing up simply on the manpower side already. There's no big pump-in required for the whole life now. I know I will recoup my investment by the half of next year. The system is delivering well on all scores – business objectives, customer efficiency, EQ, happiness etc.

What then, helped you make money in this business while others, as you say, failed?

Entertainment as a business here is still not import free and that makes the ROI difficult. We have learnt to offset risks like these with other things and F&B (Food & Beverage) has a better ROI any day. But managing profitable F&B is not everyone's cup of tea. We focused there and succeeded. In fact, look a little ahead and we will see technology playing a renaissance of sort in this segment. Big scale IT set-ups for instance, would need the magic of machines in kitchen, catering and housekeeping areas. Why have the headache of finding Indian chefs and manage grime-swathed kitchens echoing with hustle-bustle to cater to a huge army of jockeys, when machines can be of assistance? The idea of a machine that churns out basmati or curries at a large scale for the Indian palate in software premises is quite tempting.

Any plans of taking your IT deployment ahead as another revenue stream - for instance, as a standard product for entertainment vertical or as benchmark sharing?

Well, we are getting interests and queries from a lot of peers across the country. People in the industry are curious and keen to know how is it going so far.

Does your penchant for technology also reflect in the menu? Any hi-tech games or rides?

Our features are non-tech but the system is tech-enabled. In other words, the content has been kept different from the interface. The whole experience is simple fun-filled entertainment, which, at the backstage, is powered by technology. In hi-tech options we only have dark ride simulator and 2D film so far. The 2D thriller will be converted to 3D and probably to 4D. Bowling is however software-controlled and has been sourced from China (Via). All the four lanes are controlled by software. From the moment, a customer steps on the aisle, technology takes over in areas like positioning, retrieval and scoring.

What next?

We will see gradual changes but smart card digitization is the way to go. Hardware might get more concise; software will get better in terms of logarithms and version 1.0. Besides these, there would be no radical shift. The set-up is pretty liberalized and on an autopilot now.

What were your major mistakes or lessons, if any?

Tackling obsolescence was one major challenge. When we bring an item from abroad, it is going through the fag ends of its lifecycle there already. Thus, we end up traveling with the baggage as once the item is obsolete, getting it serviced and invoking guarantee clauses etc is not easy. Many others in the field of electronic entertainment have suffered on this aspect and had to give up their machines as junk. We too faced that when we placed orders in 2006 and by May the equipment became passé. There were issues like cost of servicing, lack of understanding of external software and lack of servicing people. We learnt to develop our in-house service efficiency with domestic resources. This is costly and entails huge payment outgo. It's a hard road to take but now that we have taken it we can tread it up to any scale.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Kolkata Police - a Nightmare!!

This is in response to the ongoing scandal involving the Kolkata Police and the Todi family. I am not shocked at all by the goings on in Lalbazar and elsewhere. I had been a resident of Kolkata in 2004 and was consulting a company that was involved in converting a cinema complex in Central Kolkata into a Banquet center. The proprietor of the complex had financial problems and wanted to come out of his problems by making this center.

The New Market thana was the local police station. I do not remember the names of the officers but I do remember the way they pummeled this businessman into a shell by their strong-arm tactics. They landed up at all hours of the day with frivolous issues and exorbitant money demands. The businessman had to meet them and had to undergo the strain of meeting their demands. The entire Police station was involved in this extortion and there was no respite. Once, the businessman went to Lalbazar to talk to some other known people there but the extortion increased after the New Market people came to know of his escapade.

I was a veteran in Kolkata police and political affairs by way of heading Hotel projects in Central Kolkata where one keeps coming across a lot of such filth. But, I was taken aback at the intensity of the extortions. The Thana OC went on to comment that there was no one above the Police and that he should quietly pay. Then, the local political thugs were also let loose on him. Building permissions from KMC were delayed intentionally resulting in more mayhem as the businessman wanted to cut losses by opening fast.

I left the city then with a very bad taste in my mouth about Bengali government servants and politicians. I am vindicated when I see the filth spewing out now with the Rizwanur episode. No industry shall be able to come up in the right manner in Kolkata as permissions have to come through KMC and the Police. They are among the most corrupt and loutish in the entire nation. I have built a 60 crore company here in Pune in one year flat. I would not be able to do even one-fifth of what I did in the same time.

Some Police officers used to tell me very engagingly that they have to do it as there is some quota system or else they are questioned. This money goes right till the top. If anymore needs to be ascertained, somebody should ask the OC of Shakespeare Sarani Thana (2002) as to how many properties he owns in Kolkata and its surroundings. He may not say but his colleagues used to go green with envy in Police Club then!

They are worse than hooligans and it is not the first time that Kolkata has witnessed a murder by the Police officials for money. Prasoon Mukherjee has a lot to answer for!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Maine hi India mein Disco Laya!!!!

Don’t we all come to a point in life when we cannot remember any incident, movie, song or news completely? It comes back to us in snatches like a melody played in Vividh Bharathi some five households away and we are able to hear only the high notes!!

Speaking of Melodies(!!!!)…I keep seeing Bappi Lahiri on TV these days. My mom is a fan of his comments and his Bongliness. She keeps Saying that he is very Bhadro (eeks.. with all those chains, does’nt he get choked!!) and my missus freaks out on his mannerisms and comments for all the wrong reasons (the amajhing accent..main hi Disco India mein laya..Oneek you are tha naambaar oane..types). Well, the poor guy is a hopeless case on TV and is a prime candidate for situational comedy but he has had a brilliant run in Indian movie industry!! I started to find out how much I could remember of him from my childhood and youth. After all the guy made us trip over the Disco beats all those years back, didn’t he!

Disco Dancer comes first. I begin with “I am a Disco Dancer”. A pulsating number that made all of us do the Mithun foot tapping trick and the trademark pelvic shove at all possible places including my school assembly once when I heard it in a distant loudspeaker in Chandrapur. The number had a continuous disco beat but Bappida had done some amazing things with Vijay Benedict’s vocals. I went orgasmic with “Aao mere saath nacho – gao!!”. Mithun had done this like a stage performance in the movie and the song was apt as it was one strong appeal for guys to Disco. The drums rolled and the Sax made new sounds that had not been heard in Indian movies before that. A crescendo never seen before!!
Next in Line is “Auvva..Auvva…koi yahan aha naache naache”. This is the song that actually I took fancy to when I heard the tracks the first time. It had an oomph that only an Usha Uthup could put across. The gruff vocals and those smooth transitions from top to base. Effortless! I should mention here that a guy called B Hiremath who suspiciously sounded like Bappida himself did the male riffs here and what Disco. Priceless! Only, it translated onto screen through Karan Razdan (?) and Kim (??), two complete non entities in Indian cinema and with two great left legs. B Subhash was completely intent on making money only through Mithun’s antics. Now, you see what was Bappida’s contribution to that super hit!
After this was Kishore Kumar’s crazy “Ae o ah..ah o aha…Zara mudke dikha aankhen”..if you do come across the song again, mark the “Tere Liye!!” that he does in five different ways. Yes, Bappida did a classical touch in a total Disco gaana! KK had a fantastic take on the Disco dhoom that was happening then. When asked why he sang such songs that was beneath his capabilities, he said, “Tum khilaoge mujhe…Ghar le jaake!!”. The interviewer had just shut up after that.
Jimmy Jimmy aa ja..was a refrain that had its roots in some English ditty that I am unsure of but what the hell…here was a pure Indian melody just given a Disco face. Imagine, it had a sad version too. Bappida’s genius was in getting Parvati Khan to go as full throat as she could go and drawing those breaths from her to make it sensuous for the listeners. Wow!!
Yaad aa raha hai….was again sung by Hiremath and some very good lyrics pervaded the number. I don’t remember all of it but it was enjoyable to the core. Bappida excelled here and with a voice that never made any other significant contribution to Indian cinema.
Last but not the least were “Goron ki na kalon ki” and “Krishnaa..dharti pe aaja tu”. Goron..was sung by Suresh Wadkar and Usha Mangeshkar. There is an amazing bongo riff in this otherwise normal Indian road song that went turrr…turrrrr. I remember that I used to sit in the last bench of my class and try to do this on my writing table with my fingers tapping the rhythm. “Krishnaa…” was sung by Nandu Bhende. I had a hard time finding out his name when I first heard the song. The violins were used very imaginatively in this song. Hear it and you would know what I am talking about and it had Bappida doing something new ‘Pathos Disco’. That’s something I have invented now, as there was no classification of this ‘Mithun in distress’ number.

Disco Dancer heralded the arrival of B. Subhash as the Disco producer of India. Kasam paida karne wale ki and Dance Dance were to follow. Tarzan came even later.

I should follow this up with a write up on the other tracks of B Subhash, Mithun and Bappida mentioned above. Save it for another day!!!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Poem - My Friend Venky wrote!!!!

This poem is indeed a true reflect of how anyone with a heart feels when you lose love and get in back in different forms…
Love indeed is a mirage… Love is a contradiction to oneself... yet the unsinkable truth holds that love is forever... As with very sunrise, we never know what the tide has in store for us... so love and live life to the fullest… it will never deprive you of what you really deserve... with time!!!
Unknown to the myths of heart aches…
Welcome one and all
A game you must play
lest you look with a wider moral.

Rules put up by both players
But one with knack shall slay
It’s all but a mere game
A game of wit and dare.

Never known reality
To strike as lightning unwelcome
Yet to watch the game go on
As days goes by & by.

Bleeding heart is timeless
None wiser than before
If only the heart would not succumb
To all the bruise deepened

Time heals... true to the word
Not sparing the ugly scars
Without indeed none have know
What it is to grieve.

Yet the new day dawns…
Washing away the tide
Behold the new rays
All that life’s to spare again!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I saw "RGV ki Aag"the film yesterday with the wife in a Pune multiplex. The hall was 40% full (a 400 seater). My wife had already called up friends in Mumbai and got the news that it was bad. She wanted to see Dhokha. But my RGV success anxiety made me chose this film. When we queued up for the tickets we could see that people were ignoring Aag and plumping for Dhokha and Heyy Babyy. I put it to RGV fatigue. 1 good movie and all of them would again fall in line for true blue RGV movie again.Then, the movie started. I could actually see that here was a completely off kilt script going in no direction except run down every original Sholay situation. Nisha Kothari was so awful and poorly characterised that she was actually fumbling and the editors could not do anything with her large screen presence. Ajay and Prashant did not have even one single memorable line. Forget, the original sholay…this did not get upto TLV Prasad levels..then poor Mohanlal had a characterisation that could not evoke any sympathy, honour or a sense of belonging!Sushmita was plain disinterested. I think she had smelt long back that she had been hard done by the director.Into this muddle came in AB. Now, It was very apparent that AB wanted to rule the frames from the time he came into the picture. But, with all the problems in the characterizations..he was plain minute he was he was giggling…suddenly he was roaring..then he was limping…then he was striding across the screen…HERE IS WHERE I FOUND THAT THE MEGALOMANIAC WAS NOT ONE BUT “TWO” - RGV AND BIG B.What do you do when you have two people intent on destroying a movie for themselves and their whims!AB is at such a point where is starting to go overboard in his portrayals if he is not guided well as he is like that guy who says “I know it all and I can do it all”. Also that he had done pretty much everything over all these years, so he wanted to get kinky and quirky..and How!!!RGV let him be and constructed the rest of the movie around his antics…imagine the thing with Urmila in the car!! So bloody unnecessary and tasteless!Also, just as I feared…any remake of Sholay needed a big budget..and I know RGV has tight budgets these he did what he could..put the whole set up in some rundown factory lot…and that spite of some ajeebogareeb cam that does not make good frames..sorry..the lack of budget came through totally..even the Ooty - Mithunda movies have better finishes!!!!Probably, the first time…i had no good word for a RGV movie..I feared it..seeing the poster and how all the other decent actors were elbowed aside by Urmila’s boobs and AB’s smirk!!If RGV has such an ache for Urmi..he should sort out his issues, get back with her, stop that Nisha business…and at least try to make another decent prequel, sequel or anything of Satya!!! Because only she lived at the end of it!!!! Probably, that would be much more palatable…Now, all of forewarned about Sarkar Raj…the two megalos are at work there too…thsi time I shall take it easy and catch the movie if I hear at least ONE guy here speak of it in decent terms!!! get over, I had to see “Bawarchi” midnight on to smile through and regain my faith in the movies!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New Life, is it?

August 25th 2007
The bomb blast happened at Lumbini Garden in Hyderabad. I was there..I mean there..and had a narrow escape..however one might put was narrow for me..I did value my bones and flesh before..I do more so now.
So, what did I learn then??
That life is short and we shall have to make the most of it..a la Anand??
Or ponder, pray, get religious and ask for Moksh or some such fangle??

Hey, I just remembered..a poem (if you don't mind please)

Ah! I look upwards..
Was life so difficult,
before, when I was younger,
Supple legs running,
Up the Nilgiris..
Not a care..Not a Care. was not,
I do remember,
for evil was there then too,
But I gave a hoot,
Gavaskar was bigger,
A issue for me and friends,
For Amritraj ruled,
Our consciences all times.

No fear or tremor,
Except Balan Sir,
When he pinched,
And my skin inflamed,
Except Ma's shouts,
When I emptied,
The Biscuit container..
Ten at a time.

Time passed and,
We got more robust,
Rode Cycles in 40* heat,
Chandrapur roads perspired,
But cared little,
"Laila O Laila"
On our Lips;
And Hair over the ears.

No fear as I entered,
My youth, my golden years,
Proposals and disposals,
took them all in stride,
Studied when I could,
Played all the more,
Heeded Dad's advice,
But was on my own.

Today, I stand aged,
I have my strings,
That are pulled taut,
To my family dear,
But why am I fearing,
Of destiny's will,
Of the Unknown beyond,
Will Never Know.

A state of Mind,
Is that it..Just,
That can be shaken,
And Purity regained,
Ah! I shall try,
Surely, No harm in that

If that is a bad poem..I shall not try my hand at it...anyways Ciao!!!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

10 things that I would like to do...

I constantly read about people who have given up the rat race to do something that they have ached to do over the years as a profession or as a hobby. I also do feel now that I should pursue my other interests to their logical end before it is too late. So, here we go...ten things that I would like to do:
1. Write my fact become a writer!
2. Make my own leisure or multi utility destination (well...I don't have the money now...but maybe...)
3. Travel the world...not the luxorious way..but the budget way
4. Make films...write films...
5. Be a Corporate coach for Business Strategies
6. Own a Library cum Restaurant on the foothills of Himalayas (In Dehra Dun maybe)
7. Make a log cabin away from the boxes of the cities!!
8. Become a professional massuer..I am rather good at it...
9. Read more and more and more.....
10. Learn Architecture

Oh..the wish list seems to be pretty eclectic. But, is definitely achievable..only if I am able to do some nifty time management and get down to planning my day creatively and stick to that plan religiously.

What say guys!!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

La la land diary!

Two articles that appeared in Maharashtra Herald in the last month - written by moi!!!

I don’t drive my car! I have a very trustworthy person to do the honors, my wife! And no, I am not joking, as she will not take to it kindly in public, being my driver!! Oh, Why, because I am mortally afraid of speed, heights and all other assorted body heaving and mass disturbing things in life. My family decided to, please note that I had nothing to do with this catastrophic decision, go to an Amusement Park while we were in Bangalore on a short but hugely money-guzzling trip. They went willingly and I grumpily and grudgingly. Hello, I am not talking about the expenses that I rightly thought were obscene but I knew that now I had a whole day of tackling, dodging and dribbling with fright of all mortal kinds!
The gates of the Park were still closed when we arrived there. I happily pronounced that probably the park has shut down because of low attendance or some such likely thing. I got evil glares from the young and not so young in my group immediately. I clammed up. The gates opened. The Ticket windows opened too. I was unfortunate to stand in and around that line and suffered my first roller coaster then and there. I have not seen a more healthy pack of vultures since then! I careened towards the counter on borrowed legs and found myself confronting a very colourful counterperson. I had not counted the people in my group. I looked around helplessly only to find my little one all of eight ready with an answer. The magic figure of nine was shouted out. The tickets were in my hand in a jiffy. I was shooed to the nearest entrance by very overzealous Black Cat security cops with all the swish. Vroom, I was into La – La land.
My group immediately became a sickeningly childish bunch of Neanderthals, yelling, roaring, eyes glistening, arms waving and furiously gesticulating at me to join them at some nearest contraption that waved its arms about frantically in glee while some poor unfortunate souls were trapped in the buckets attached to its arms. That was a very angry piece of human invention. I must have done the fastest dash to the nearest seating canopy and found solace with seventy year olds grinning maniacally at my photo finish to the chair. My group was already in queue to get on to the angry arm waver. The wifey waved at me to join her. I waved her on. She is my better half. So, there was no sense in endangering the worser half. If anything had to happen, the worser half could carry on like Hydra, amoeba or some other such creature!
The angry arm waver again started with my group in various buckets. They guttural shrieks terrified me if not the very people who were emitting those shrieks. I did not know how humans could be so terrified and yet so thrilled. I was spilling my guts out seeing the spectacle! The ride ended. My goofy group came back and shriekingly related the stunts once more. They were frothing at their mouths in excitement. I said that we give it a little break and was hollered at, GIVE US A BREAK, MAN!
Next they sat in a contraption where they were just dropped from thirty feet. God, I nearly got a qualified seizure seeing those gravity struck faces. My kidneys were in my mouth. I had to gulp them back. But the children came back dizzyingly happy. Wifey was already gravitating towards a giant wheel going in all directions. Now, I had tried a wheelie while in college with my Kinetic Honda and had landed about ten feet behind my own bike. So, anything to do with wheels was definitely out!
Wheelie boy started and the group went ga-ga. I went guhh-guhh. My muscles were stricken with fright, I was lock jawed just seeing the wheelie boy do the act. It was eternity before the wheel thing stopped. The group came down delirious. My first reaction was to try and take their temperatures, CT scans and other medical health reminders. The group only felt that it was time to move me into action. They chose a simple train ride through a lot of tunnels, valleys and caves. I thought that this would be easy and got on with the Neanderthals. The train started. It suddenly turned right at a fast clip. My breakfast banana started bobbing in my esophagus. We entered a tunnel and the train went into a dive. My teeth and my bile started a war in my mouth. My eyeballs wanted to break shackles of their sockets. The dive eased only for us to turn lurchingly left. Now, the banana, bile, tongue and teeth were fighting for space in the mouth. I could vaguely hear an announcement that the first stage of the train ride was getting over and people uneasy within could get down here. I was out of the train in a flash. The Neanderthals were oblivious. I stumbled out of the platform onto the nearest bench and motioned for the Park staff. They arrived fast sensing disaster. I do not particularly remember what happened after that. But yes, I could hear wifey cursing my senility, age, sex, height, sloth, condition and culture in no particular order as I had deprived her of some Jurassic thrills in La-la land as she had abstained from further entertainment to take care of me. Poor she!
Anyway, the group proceeded to have a great day, irrespective of their tortured elder. I thanked all the gods for keeping me alive that day.
Who knew that one day I had to be running a similar establishment here in Pune!!!

Malls for Voyuers!!!

We are a nation of voyeurs. We love to watch, period. It could be a monkey dancing to the tune of his master, it could be a poor rickshaw driver getting beaten up by a passer by, it could be a man scratching his armpit or it could even be ‘Tulsi’ on TV getting worked upon by one of her great grandchildren!
Malls have come up everywhere and I and my group of Neanderthals have lately been very supple in making our way to one of this hotspots in the city to see and rejoice! Now, you may ask me that malls are for buying, splurging, getting stoned on fashion or some such hip and happening thing. God! How outdated can you be!!
Malls are for checking out, seeing others at play, gazing at celestial beings on earth. Malls are for getting the grand idea of how much we are missing in our daily buns, I mean the slurpy ‘maska’. You guys have still not got it. Let me tell you of my last and lasting experience at one of our leading malls here in Pune.
The Neanderthals and I decided that we should hit this mall at a very strategic timing on a very sunny and sticky Sunday. The car was brought out. As usual, the wifey was driving. The rest had decked themselves up in the ‘loose and let loose’ fashions that are prevalent these days. So, they daintily crammed themselves at the back of the hatchback. We negotiated the mall going crowds on the roads. It looked like everyone was rushing to the nearest mall to take the serious fix of ‘shoppers’ toxin’ and the high that it gave along with the Pav Bhajis, SPDPs, Papri chats, Samosas, Dosas and chutneys that were being doled out at all traffic intersections as if the country was just going to war with Bangladesh and we were like camels stocking adequate rations within our body during the food famines that were to follow during wartime! Needless to say, the traffic was unmoving, what with all the rations being piled onto soft stomach linings!!
We reached our ‘Imposing mall’ only two seconds after one hour later than when we had decided upon when we left home. That was perfectly acceptable. The Neanderthals had, by the way, decided on their agenda in the car itself. The ideal route was always through the bargain sections of the various showrooms. I understood the need for a neat little scramble when the mind and body is fit and willing. So, I gave into this very obvious proposal.
So, we headed towards a very nicely placed fashion store that had 50% discount emblazoned on its 8 inch glass door. The smiles of the Neanderthals were seen to be believed. We waded in. Legs and torsos competed for strategic spaces and everybody was browsing and checking out the choices of the others. The were a lot of people fighting their way to subtly placed Trial rooms and announcing their outfits to the approval or dismay of all the others in the place. In fact, a few women had very strategically placed themselves near the trial rooms and were rushing towards the origins of every approved dress, not worrying about their colors, cut, look and feel. The game was to try the clothes on offer. Of course! The good ones did not have any discounts attached to them and so had to be discarded very unwillingly. The men in the meanwhile had parked themselves near the women racks and were checking out the aisles rather then the racks! It was like the “” franchise had opened right there. A lot of informal checking out was being done, sometimes rudely interrupted by their spouses or lady friends who wanted them to comment on some fashions that they did not have any idea of.
The Neanderthals invaded my sight seeing with some obviously naughty choices. I desisted from commenting. So, they themselves found suitable faults and returned those discount rags to their bins. The idea was to look, not buy. Buying was for the rich, the Bollywood strains of mankind, the Dubai returned. We do not fall in that category; so, we shifted location and now were in a music and book shop that was crowded to the gills because of a Season sale.
The hip and happening suburbia was here looking, clucking, gossiping, laughing and generally disregarding all the rules that a nice bookshop would have. We again banged our way in. I stood perplexed as to which way to go and for what? I could always come back on a weekday for a favorite book avoiding this BO nirvana. But the Neanderthals had managed to set themselves near DVD stalls that promised “Bheja Fry” at unheard prices. Mine was already getting fried for free because of the din. But, as I looked around I could see many groups of watchers avidly ogling away. A group of programmers were checking out a group of Art girls across the aisle. A couple of History middle-aged men were peering over their unopened books at some very fetching twenty somethings near the Fiction racks. And so it continued. I desperately looked out for the Neanderthals. The wifey had settled herself with a Good Housekeeping magazine near the bargain rack and was oblivious to the bargaining stares. I did some muscling and reached her completely hot and bothered. But before I could mumble anything, there started a shouting match near the door. We turned to see that an old citizen who was similarly bothered like me was admonishing a very blond haired specimen who apparently had passed a highly charitable comment on some PYT in there. The crowd left all the readings, browsings, meanderings and other doings to concentrate on the verbal lashings. Good time all around at the blond’s expense!
We banged our way out. Still no Buy!!
The Food Court was nearby. We had to refuel for the rest of the extravaganza coming along. So, we selected a very dirty table and sat down hoping that somebody would take the trouble to clear it. I motioned wifey to order. She, naturally, ordered all the fries, sauces, chutneys and grease that was on offer. Now, we had to serve ourselves. So, while I jostled at the counter, the Neanderthals got back to watching. Yes, that was that people were doing apart from gorging away at grease unlimited. I made a dozen trips to the food counters and somewhere along the way lost all appetite for the gooey stuff. So, amid the ruins of a bad meal I sat and watched my folks go gluttony. When tired of them, I watched the others. The papas, mammas, betas, bablus, pinkys, bhabhis, uncles, annas, bablis and sweetys clamoring for divided attentions.
I saw forlorn shop owners who probably did not get any sale in this entire din. I saw a gift shop shut early for lack of patrons. I saw the caustic look of the shampoo counter girl who had only given away samples but no sale to speak of. I understood the real meaning of a Mall Experience! Just that “ EXPERIENCE”
Thankfully, I look after an ‘experiential place’ and thrive on people arriving to feel the joint.

Monday, July 16, 2007

My tryst with Equity people

I have been meeting a series of Private Equity Investors and getting them to be interested in our landmark 300 acre project in Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra, India. I have encountered an interesting observation.

The world is again interested in our lands (read Real Estate). Not for purposes mentioned in our History textbooks, but for pure Investment benefits in a large way. And hat enthusiasm!!
One guy happily told me that if I were to show him the modules of Business Revenue, he would happily invest all the way and stay invested, not seaarch for exit routes at the earliest!

On one hand, this excites me as this is ,going to be good for our business and on the other hand it makes me apprehensive as one does not really know what these guys are going to do!!

Of course, at the end of the day I shall have to respect their strategies.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Trip to Goa!!!

The family and I went on a short trip to Goa. We drove down with a colleague and his family from Pune. The drive in itself was quite interesting with some beautiful scenes to take in on the way. Also, we had the first taste of monsoon as we drove, a sight in itself.
We checked into Ramada. The Hotel was a disppointment for me, as the food and some services were insipid to say the least. But, in a trip of two days one could overlook such trivialities as there was a lot to catch up with.
We met Arvind, now in Ramada, then in CDG (95 - 00), and doing well for himself. Also met Sujeet Kumar at Marriott. He was a nice meet up. Narsimh Mallya was also there and it was a nice thing to meet him too.
We then went to CDG too and enjoyed it, even though we came to know that all the oldies are missing. Only, Rajesh and Manjula were the ones surviving!!
I came to know many sad things about our seniors in the Hospitality business there. Many had turned corrupt. Some had had messy divorces and some others were plainly not doing well.
Well, not everything is rosy in life!
We came back the day before. I still have the vision of the beautiful Goa that I visited this time, all decked up for the international visitors. Wish all the other states also feel the same things about their towns.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


I was reading the news of how Dav Whatmore was shunted out of the Coach selection because he was too 'keen' on the role. I do not get this. Anybody who wants to do well in life would be too 'keen' for the job. A certain Mr. Gavaskar always was during his playing days and kicked up a huge fuss everytime he was ignored during team meetings. I remember him roundly criticizing everyone in his columns those days.
Anyway, I have huge suspicions about Gavaskar these days. He has an agenda. That is clear. He also has an axe to grind with many an ex - cricketer. He is in the centre of every unsavory controversy surrounding Indian Cricket over the years. We still don't know where unaccounted bucks were in his locker in Bombay Gymkhana. There is a certain smell with him that is unpalatable. Just as it is with Amitabh Bachchan.
AB, I remember, was pretty mean during an ICICI conference in Bombay years back wanting his appearance money before showing up in front of the delegates, and when ICICI could not provide the bucks as he was already the Brand Ambassador, he headed home.
Now, on a bigger stage, he and his money friends have forgotten their manners, modesty and civility sharpening their personal axes to grind.
AB, in his defence, always says that the industry did not come to his aid when he was down and out in the 90s after the debacle of ABCL. But I ask, does anybody ever come to anybody's aid without reason.
AB had treated the industry people shabbily during his heydays and had to face the repurcussions. It is again happening with the shaadi tamasha that he has gone and done. No other lead actor wants to work with him or his family.
RGV worked with him and now has a situation where no other actor is signing up with RGV.
Superstars with sell by dates have this problem! Remember Kaka!!!!!!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

passion for cinema - Anurag Kashyap's Blog

Reading Anurag Kashyap's posts in "Passion for cinema" blog today. Actually, studying that man's intellect, desires, motivations, likes, dislikes and whims. At long last, here is a man other than RGV, his cronies, Imtiaz Ali, Sanjay Khanduri, Rajesh Bellary, Sourabh Shukla AND A FEW OTHERS, who is looking to take Indian Cinema on another route.

To think that, he has not been able to release his major works, Paanch and Gulaal, uptil now.

The man is a genius. I can vouch for that as I have seen Satya, Yuva, Water and the other films that he has written. I also own the DVD of Black Friday and that is compulsary screening on my player every Saturday night.

I am going to look at the cult artist's career very closely. I know he shall make a big mark on the celluloid of this country.

Cheers to AK and his NO SMOKING!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

My Novel Effort

I am now on my my umpteenth try at writing my first big novel. The way I have been going about it has not been very funny. I know that this stop - start method would take me nowhere but yet, as I keep telling my dear friends, I shall over come - my sloth, inertia and all the blistering mind barnacles, to actually put fingers to keyboard!!!
But why do we always take snippets of our own life and pass them off as highlights of the novel. Also, is that why most of the first novels are the ones that come out best and the following ones are usually less than best!
I have decided that I shall take snippets from my own adventures but make novels, not over a lifespan but on 'phases' that have been quite interesting.
Some may say that "kya yaar..apna..dukh dard baant raha hai kya" but no...i assure that it shall be quite interestin...even thrilling in some goddamn parts...
Ok Ok...I shall not trumpet out for some highlights here!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

People I Emulate

I would like to take the opportunity of this Valentine’s Day to thank a few people who have been instrumental in my growth as a person in this lifetime.

My Dad – He has been the cornerstone of my development as a person. He taught me honesty, loyalty, the power of knowledge, the positive attitude, the ability to laugh, reading, writing, music, cinema, theatre, focus, method and above all love and affection for other people. He was a people man!!

My Mother – She has been my vigil teaching me tidiness, the eye for detail, value of time, the need to study hard, healthy living and all above – the ability to keep working towards a goal. She has great resolutions in life that is tough to emulate!

My Brother, Shuddhasheel – He is 6 years younger and went through the first part of life doing what he did best, being the good younger brother. But then he transformed and how!! Today, he is a Corporate Trainer and a very good one at that. He has taught me a lot. The Power of Self, Determination, Clear-headed focus, Follow through in a work process, diligence, innovative thinking and team building. He taught me the essence of acceptance.

Vijay Dewan, presently MD of The Park Group – He does not remember me. I do not expect him to. The last time he saw was in 1994. But he has left an indelible stamp on my growth as a person. He taught me the beauty of Systems, Procedures and Continuous Development at work. He was far ahead of his times in thought processes. He taught me, indirectly – as I did not dare ever sit down with him, I was a measly Supervisor when he was a VP, the value of class, design, value to customer, posture management, eye for detail, work competence and zeal or passion for excellence. That sure was incredible!!

My Father – in – law – I learnt the art of simplicity, humility and honesty from this remarkably down to earth person who rose up the ladder in Tea Industry only through uncomplicated hard work. I have not seen another person like him!

Jeffrey Shabong – If a combo of knowledge, quest for excellence, hard work, smart work and curiosity can carry a person far…here was one example and I just had to emulate this person. It also helped that he has been my brother – in – law for sometime now.

Sujith Gopinath – An unassuming guy with tons of aptitude towards planning. Whew! I sure learned the goodness of planning from this colleague of mine. Absolute method to counter all madness and emerge victorious!!

Rakesh Upadhyay – A master in the Culinary world and my room mate in college, I still try to keep up to his simple adage in life, ‘Be the best in what you do’. He has lived unto it. He has been a hard act to follow.

Vijay Thombre – A creative thinker who provoked me to new levels of creativity in my profession. People like him have the ability to ignite the minds around them and that has occurred with me too. It is a pity I cannot work with him continuously.

Kiran, My Spouse – Last and arguably the one who has influenced my life most. She has a host of qualities I have emulated – Listening ability, clear and concise thought process, uncluttered mind and unfettered decision-making, thoughtful spending, budgeting, target orientation, target achievement (you should just ask her company), logic usage (in all situations), tidiness, eye for taste, planning, practicality, emotional leadership (she gets her teams to do anything…and I mean anything!!), friendliness and above all the capacity to be unruffled. Oh! I have conquered my temper just watching and emulating her!!

These people are men and women that I have lived and worked with. I shall quote the Kotlers, Welches, Dr. inghs, Gandhis of the world to cover myself in adjusted glory.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Triple Aces!!

In the ongoing scenario between Aishwarya, Abhishek and AB, I smell a huge marketing story. For one, they have mastered the art of staying in public view over the years.

AB has been doing it for years together and his very modest approach towards the media has nobody fooled these days about his inordinate need for publicity. Also, his stance that he had been down in the dumps after the ABCL debacle and that Mr. Amar Singh managed to save him from the edge is old hat and does not have many takers too. Of course, it goes without saying that he is one of our foremost actors in the cinema business even now.

Aishwarya has precisely two hits, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Devdas, and even here the contributions from her co-actors mattered most along with the canvas and direction. In fact, most of the movies that have starred her have flopped because of her bad acting. Also, she has never been good with the warmth on screen and comes across as pretty cold…Umrao Jaan, Dhoom 2, Josh, Bride and Prejudice, etc. are ready samples that come to mind. But, she has remained very nicely in the public eye with the right acts, poses, interviews, moves, premiere appearances, utterances and that giggly laugh. She should brand that laugh now!! I smell a marketing guru’s coaching here and if she has done it herself, then Abhishek shall do well by making her his manager for the oncoming future.

Abhishek has come a long way in the recent past and has been picking up the best commercials for hefty prices right through 2006 to secure his earning potential. This had not happened before and has certainly been helped by his cinematic successes in Bollywood. But, essentially it is good Marketing at its zenith!
They all have a need to promote their brands or be their ambassadors at all times but weaving their personal world with their brands and thereby moving to another plane in Marketing, Waah!!!