Saturday, 19 April 2014

2 States Movie - A Good watch - My experience!

I liked 2 States novel and I finished reading it in one sitting back then in 2009. Neither verbose, nor very high on literary. Yet it is easy to connect. It is about people, their relations and how they deal with situations in their otherwise normal usual life. You can easily relate to the characters and the setup. Since I did my B-School graduation, I could relate to a lot of events as they unfold in the book.

It would not be correct to say if the book is better or the movie. When you read a book, your imaginations paint the canvass. Director Abhishek Varman has done a fantastic job in bringing life to each character from the book. His visualization of story and presentation as an overall package is commendable. It is different from the novel in a way that novel doesn’t portray so much of romance as the movie does. I wonder what Chetan Bhagat's kids must be thinking about what their parents did in the college! Book has more drama, the Shaadi sequence is described at length, the Mickey Mouse moment, which I was expecting, and the ritual of running away of bride and the groom is suppose to brings back, didn’t happen. It was Directors take on the book.

The movie is about a Punjabi boy and a South Indian Tamilian girl who fall in love and decide to marry with each other. And their realization that love is not the only thing that takes to get happily married with parent’s blessings. The movie brings out cultural shocks and diversity in India, which is a reality. What I liked about the movie is it is fast paced. Every song and every frame takes the movie forward. Editing is good. Example, when Vikram Malhotra (Ronit Roy) Krish’s (Arjun Kapoor) dad, writes a letter to him, that letter appears as a voice over between a song and Krish is shown struggling to win his to-be in-laws hearts in Chennai. Story is built and moved in parallel. At various places you are glued to the screen and I did not find any moment where my mind went elsewhere.

Talking about songs and music, very catchy and peppy. There is even a Tamil-Hindi fusion song that you could enjoy.

Arjun Kapoor as Krish and Alia Bhatt as Ananya have done full justice to the respective roles. It never appears that they were acting. They embraced the characters and presented well. Between the two, I would give one extra mark to Ananya for her expressions. Rohit Roy is as usual good in his acting and reminds of a role he played in the movie Udaan that of a difficult dad. Amrita Singh as a Punjabi mom of Krish fitted in the role naturally and makes a mark. Overall the casting worked for the movie.

Few small things that I liked were display of ‘Samsung’ brands (laptops and phones) instead of Apple because Applisation is yet to happen in India. Just to portray protagonists up-class, if a MacBook is shown with them, it appears fake. Krish is shown working in Yes Bank; thank god it wasn’t another ICICI Bank or a HDFC Bank sponsorship. Amrita Singh plays Punjabi mom giving Kiron Kher a break. All this brought freshness in the movie. The only disturbing scene, for me, was when Krish slaps his dad in rage, due to everyday atrocities his dad did with Krish's mother. It was demand of the situation but it was a bit too much for me.

The movie will always remain special for me because this was the first one for my 5 months old son and he did allow us to watch complete movie, he himself was enjoying.

fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Enjoyable, fast paced and fun film. Good to watch.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Indian politics : As I saw, growing all these years...

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I remember as a kid, some politicians visiting our home at the time of local elections. 4-5 politicians visited us in 10 days time, to check our well being, requesting to caste vote on D-day and circulated pamphlets with their party symbol and slogan on it. We use to play with Party Symbol cutouts and try to collect as many as we could. At times there use to be party workers blabbering on a loud speaker mounted on an auto, roaming around carelessly in the colony.

“Mom, why are these politicians coming to our place?” I asked my mom wondering might be we were big shots and they came to take our blessings.

“This is election time, politicians will come; they will make false promises and hide after elections. This is the only time when they run after people and post elections, make people run after them for every trivial thing!”

I don’t remember if I understood what my mom told me then but now I clearly know where it came from. Traditionally, the elected candidates did not take the job of politics seriously. Once elected, politicians are on cloud nine and they forget the common man. A lot of times voters know that the candidate is not good but due to lack of choice, they are forced to vote same candidate every time. This makes politicians more arrogant. There are good people also in the world of politics but it is as hard to point them out as finding a bucket of fresh water from salted seawater.

In my early days, whenever I thought of politics, the only association I could make of it was with words like: Congress, BJP, Jayalalitha, Left, Mayawati, Bofors, Narsimha Rao, Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Nehru and few others. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was PM when I was in my college days. That was the phase were I use to discuss and debate about politics and policies with friends. And I remember I use to say that Atal Bihari was my favorite politician! Indeed he was, not only my favorite, even the opposition parties never denied of his aura and Charisma. My fondness was more to do with his personality rather than political views. He truly represented India as a country at the Global platform.

It was 2004 and Congress/ UPA came to power post elections. Mr. Manmohan Singh became PM and being one the finest economist and key architect of 1991 liberalization, hopes were high. At the same time there was pessimism because probably the country has already seen enough of Congress. And I distinctly remember people saying, “Now things will become costly…” “…Now country will take 10 steps back…” and I use to wonder why did people vote for congress in the first place then? To which I never got an answer.

History repeated itself in 2009 with UPA coming to power again. Once again Manmohan Singh was the face of the nation, to the world. This time scams and corruption became more evident and there seriousness multiplied. Out of hopelessness, I wrote a ‘Letter to Prime Minister’ to which he never replied. Though I am happy I expressed my wish and was not mute like him. Miss-governance can be attributed to weak opposition also who was not aggressive enough to keep the ruling party in check. Even the international press criticized Indian PM by putting him on Time magazine cover page with an ‘Under Achiever?’ headline. It surely raised lot of brows but then everything was forgotten with the passage of time.

And then suddenly, out of nowhere, there came Anna Hazare and the anti-corruption movement. The demand was to pass Jan Lokpal Bill in parliament as a mechanism to tackle corruption. After initial denials and ignorance government was forced to listen to Anna’s demands. It was a storm that shook the government. People saw an avenue to make India of their dreams, into reality. Indians were on the streets around the country supporting the cause and it was considered a big victory. News channels telecasted minute-by-minute proceedings of what was happening at Jantar Mantar. It was a massive movement and I never felt so strongly or so passionately about any movement ever before. Candle lit marches to slogans to dharnas, all peacefully.

Since it was matter of power, stake and survival some anti-social elements were planted among the working committee of the movement. What happened next was a series of opportunists, frauds, hope, exposes and dismay. Aam Aadmi Party was born with Arvind Kejriwal became crusader and projected as the representative of common man. Delhi elections were fought and in the history of Indian democracy, first time a new party got such a huge number of votes by country men. It was not a clear mandate but it became a coalition government with local people’s choice.

For the first time it looked like the country has taken many giant steps forward on the path of progress. The canvass looked perfect and beautiful. It was time for an agitator to become an administrator. It was time for the crusader to fulfill his promises. Though promises were short term like free to heavy subsidy on water and electricity yet people were swayed by the miracle of having an alternate in the politics.

Arvind Kejriwal promised to clean the system. He seemed to be Anil Kapoor from the famous Bollywood movie Nayak. But when it came to execution, the dreams seemed to be faltering away. Day by day, the way Delhi was miss-governed, looked dubious. The man who stood against corruption and exposed from CM to Industrialist became soft on a section of political society. The dharna politics became way of life. But Indians are always hopeful. In the game of Cricket, even if we would need 8 runs to win on a last ball, we would hope for opposition to bowl a No-Ball, our batsmen to hit a four on it and then hit another four on the last ball. We are a land of hopefuls, forgivers, 'Chalta Hai' attitude endorsers, Cricket lovers, God-fearers and not so politically inclined people.

Supporters of AAP ignored and discounted all the miss-doings of AAP under the name of inexperience party. But it became evident that AAP had soft corner for Congress with the passage of time. It was called a Team B of Congress and a well-planned movement to gain anti-congress votes in Delhi elections. In hast, Arvind Kejriwal quit CM ship and dissolved his government. The man who appeared as crusader, a common man driving blue Wagon-R, who gave hopes to clean the society, change the way politicians work, broke millions of dreams and hearts. How can you leave Delhi and Delhiets in a state of political limbo? Anarchy? Double standards? There are many questions that Kejriwal needs to answer not to us, but to the people who believed in him and who voted for his party. The alternate government, the very option seizes to exist now. There seems to be no difference between AAP and any other political party.

Ideally, Kejriwal should have stayed as Delhi CM and strengthen AAP as a national party over a period of time by good governance. The country capital faces so many issues, biggest being women security. He could have picked 2-3 major issues and resolved them permanently. This would have given him some political experience and chance to prove his administration capabilities. Changing the system is not easy but he had biggest strength with him – The Common Man. With passage of time it became more evident than AAP is against Modi and BJP. It never gave importance to people who actually gave birth to the party. Jumping for Lok Sabha elections shows that Congress wants to get anti-congress votes through AAP and keep BJP away from power. And this is the reason why my mom was so correct back then, when I was a kid, about the politicians.

Arvind Kejriwal who is projected as an alternate PM candidate for Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi, have shared very shocking thoughts. His priority is to defeat Narendra Modi. He is of the view that there would be another elections in a year or so and then India will get new stable government. More can be read here. Any sane person would not subscribe to his views. When the country is in such a fragile state, economy is crippling, constant threats to internal and external security, corruption is spoiling the image of India at International level, this guy seems to play a trial-match this time to get some practice and then play real match again next year! In all this humdrum the only thing that is being ignored is – The Country. We still have time and resources to put country back on the growth track. If not this time, we may get deviated so much that the road to growth might look impossible.

To me, it is always nation first. Whatever takes the nation and its people forward should be done. The world is progressing and we have to lead the way of development. We are self sufficient, self-sustaining and a vibrant force of energy. All we need is good leader and decisive policies, which are executed for the benefit of society as a whole and not just a particular section. It is time we shun the ‘Chalta hai’ attitude and vote for a change. After looking at the manifestos of BJP, Congress and AAP, I would opt for the one giving hope of development and willingness to execute and take some difficult but corrective actions. Enough of communal card has been played and this time we should vote for development. We should not forget that we ourselves would progress if the country moves in proper direction, we the people would be the most benefited.

fOoD fOr ThOugHt: For the country and for the dream of development to fulfill the unfulfilled, please go out and vote for an able leader. Let not your heart rule over your head!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Jet Airways : On Time, Efficient : Customer delight!

Not the first time I travelled with Jet Airways but after this time’s experience I thought of putting it in an article as a positive feedback for the company.

The first and the most important factor when it comes to flight especially when your itenarry is relatively tight and you do not have buffer for any delays is TIME – On Time Arrival/ On Time Departure. I am convinced and trust Jet Airways for On Time arrival. This helps is planning your trip properly and do not put you in an unforeseen circumstance at a remote location. The scheduled flight 9W21 from Singapore to Chennai took off little late due to delay in clearance from local control room. Public Announcements were made in flight to communicate about the delay. Since I was to reach Chennai at around 10:15 PM IST nighttime, I thought I will have a delayed landing but we arrived On Time. Full marks.

Check in and boarding was effortless. 30Kg+30Kg+7Kg+7Kg luggage allowance was enough to make us happy while returning back from Chennai to Singapore.

Stewards and Airhostess were presentable and professional enough to take care of us. Airhostess looked at ease, as they did not have to bother about if they were looking young or old or fat or slim! We were travelling back with infant and the in-house flight service was on its toe when it came to our needs.

Food – We Indians are always on a munching spree whenever we are travelling. Be it with Indian Railways, Buses or flights. We were welcomed with a ‘Chatpata’ munching followed by liquor.  Food was good, served hot, fresh and sufficient. For me the highlight was steel-ware cutlery unlike plastic made. Though it doesn’t make a difference but the former enhances your eating experience when you are travelling. Please continue doing so.
Good food with steel-ware spoon, knife and fork!

Touch screen entertainment – It was loaded with latest Songs, Videos, Movies both Hollywood and Bollywood. Business section of entertainment had videos from CNBC Young Turks. It also stored my favorite comedy entertainment – ‘Comedy Nights with Kapil’ episode. Overall total enjoyment.
Security announcement via an animated video instead of Air hostess doing the drill.

Security announcement via an animated video instead of Air hostess doing the drill.

Entertainment Juke box was fully loaded with latest songs and movies.

Passenger load – I was really surprised to look at the full house in economy class. I have observed that normally flights fly with a 70%-80% capacity load. Though it was Chennai bound flight and I am told the capacity load is always at a higher end but this was my first experience with almost full load flight.

Improvements - Since there is always a room for improvement, two of the points that I want to highlight which management can take up are: Please add Coca Cola in your offerings of non-alcoholic drinks unless you have a tie-up with Pepsi and forced not to add Coke. Secondly, taste of food was far far better in Chennai-Singapore flight as compared to Singapore-Chennai flight. I know there might be supplier constraints and also you cannot satisfy each and every customer but these are things that I thought would have increased my experience. You can try to match taste of food with what is served on Chennai-Singapore flight.

After this experience I checked Jet Airways stock listed on NSE. Though the aviation industry is in trouble for several years now, still the industry is not closing. Talking about India, I find Jet Airways evenly poised providing full service and connected to international destinations. Company has posted losses last year though it was lesser than the then previous year. With stake sale to Ethiad Airways and leveraging on potential synergies from the combined resources and expertise, I would say a ‘Buy’ considering the fact that it is near its 52-week low.

PS: These are my personal and independent views based on past few experiences with Indian carriers like Jet Airways, Air India, IndiGo, Go Air and Spice Jet travels. It easily matches with the standards of non-Indian International carriers. No offences meant, if any.


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