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Archive for December, 2015

What is it that makes us label a movie as a classic? A unique blend of enchanting visuals, a rich story line, fine acting, lilting music and captivating lyrics are some of the features a successful movie invariably has. However, to be considered a classic, it would also have a multi-layered narrative with a social message which connects with us at a deeper level. Its theme would have an underlying timelessness, often brought in by the values it espouses.

Values which happen to be eternal in nature. Family values. Faint stirrings within a society to transform itself. The need for a soul to be free and joyous. The assertion of independence which demolishes societal norms of the time. The harmony in working towards a jointly shared goal or ambition. A meteoric rise in terms of materialistic goals. The frustration of having hit a plateau of sorts. The complex interplay of human emotions. The gradual transformation of relationships. The downfall arising out of human greed. The introspection. The burden of guilt. The beginning of a spiritual awakening. The search for a utopia. The redemption.

Here are some movies released fifty years back which remain as fresh as ever in one’s mind.

GUIDE

Released in 1965, this movie, directed by Vijay Anand, was based on a novel of R. K. Narayan, The Guide. The U. S. version of the movie was written by Pearl S. Buck.

The heroine, Rosie, walks out of a loveless marriage, so as to be able to pursue her passion of dance. The hero, Raju, helps her in achieving stardom. The song ‘Tere mere sapne’, though four minutes long, had merely three shots, each helping the heroine to gradually overcome her hesitation to accept the offer of reassurance and love from the hero.

The movie had great dance performances by the inimitable Waheeda Rehman. Other than the snake dance, we got treated to the six-part extravaganza – ‘Piya to se naina laage re’.

With success comes the fading away of love, which gradually gives way to self-interest. The transformation of tender love depicted in ‘Tere mere sapne’ gets eventually replaced by an emotional chasm between the main protagonists, so delectably captured in the song ‘Din dhal jaaye’.

The movie had a female lead character who was ahead of her times. The climax was rooted in superstition, though. The hero attained a spiritual enlightenment of sorts.

The charm of this landmark movie remains undiminished even after fifty years of its release, proving the immense possibilities of artistic collaboration.

The Sound of Music

Based on the memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp, the film is about a young Austrian woman studying to become a nun in Salzburg in 1938 who is sent to the villa of a retired naval officer and widower to assume charge as a governess to his seven children. She brings love, spontaneity and music into the lives of the family through kindness and patience.

The manner in which mutual respect and affection grows between the naval officer and the governess is delicately captured in this tender piece.

The governess ends up marrying the officer. Together with the children they find a way to survive the loss of their homeland through courage and faith.

The musical scores stand out for their richness and the way in which they advance the plot of the movie. The heroine, though plagued by self-doubt, shows ample pluck and resource to win over a bunch of defiant children and their disciplinarian father. Characters of all the kids are well etched out and enamour us no end. Underlying the whole narrative is the value of family togetherness, delicate love interwoven with the need for discipline, and the loyalty towards each other.

Even after fifty long years, the movie does not fail to cast a spell. Watch any portion of fifteen minutes and one would come back refreshed and invigorated.

Chemmeen

Even though one is not familiar with Malayalam language, one has heard a great deal about this movie. Released on August 19, 1965, it acquired a cult status in the minds of movie buffs.

The success of this movie is said to be due to its heady combination of social-realistic melodrama, bolstered by high production values. It had creative inputs from some of the most talented persons from the Indian movie industry at that time – music by Salil Chowdhury, editing by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, cinematography by Marcus Bartley and lyrics by Vayalar Rama Varma.

The tale of Pareekutty and Karuthamma is a tragic romance. It makes one cry. It gives one a feel as if one lives close to the sea-coast, listening to the incessant roar of the waves, rising to the cries of fishermen and joining their yells of glee when their catch is a bumper one.

At a deeper level, in a muted manner, the movie argues for social transformation. It portrays the problems that arise when an Araya girl falls in love with a Muslim trader. This is a chasm that most of us are still grappling with.

This New Year eve, one would be tempted to curl up in bed to soak in the delectable cinematic brilliance on offer in any one of these movies. As the New Year rings in, we could be joining the Von Trapp family in its trek across the Alps, looking ahead to the future with hope, faith and goodwill!

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Poseidon_Louvre_CA452Homo Sapiens continue to misbehave with you, Water,

Exploiting you with all their ingenuity and might,

What they do not realize is the power of your mightier force,

Which could easily turn a sunny day into a dark night.

 

To meet our insatiable needs, we keep drawing you from deep down under,

Inviting salinity and making the tables to fall more steeply than ever,

Large corporates do manage to grow and flourish based on your input,

Alas, the poor and the downtrodden are neither that resourceful nor clever.

 

They look for you with parched throats and unseeing eyes,

Victims of circumstances beyond their control, your partiality they do mind,

Those who produce food and grains look up to you for succour,

Facing blizzards, tsunamis, cyclones, droughts, floods and deluges of all kind.  

 

The Water Nymphs whose modesty we continue to outrage,

Get back to humanity, their retribution instructive and a class apart,

Your commodification they protest, your disrespect they do not like,

To live in harmony with nature is the lesson they try to impart.

 

Elements of Mother Nature are here to help us to evolve and grow,

Not to be abused, exploited and confronted with any artificial constraint,

They come to sustain us, free, in a mode of selfless service,

And deserve to be respected, revered and used with adequate restraint.

 

Note: On December 26, 2004, the East Coast of India was struck by a tsunami.

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What is the best Christmas present a CEO can give to her organization?

In keeping with the Yuletide spirit, the best gift could perhaps be a resolve to take decisions based not only on commercial considerations but also on sound ethics and values. Decisions which would serve the strategic interests of the organization and would never lead it to a situation of public disgrace and compromise.

An upgraded Blake Mouton Grid

If one were to take the liberty of modifying the Blake Mouton grid, the leadership style of such a CEO would qualify for either a 9,9,9 or a 5,5,5 classification.X Y Z upgraded

Here is a quick rundown on the various leadership styles which emerge from a grid of this nature:

1,1,1: Charmless Charlies

One can only wish their organizations the best of luck.

9,1,1: Road Rollers

They would achieve a target by ruthlessly crushing anything that comes in their way.

1,9,1: Sponge Comforters

As long as employees have an identity crisis, they are in high demand, ready with a bucket and a towel to listen to their woes and comfort them.

9,9,1: Arsonist Achievers

Under them, short-term goals would get achieved. Means be damned.

1,1,9: Missionary Zealots

Saint-like souls who have willy-nilly ventured into the business world.

9,1,9: Crazy Conformists

Those working under them could soon get referred to a lunatic asylum.

1,9,9: Armchair Revolutionists

They could be assets to political outfits owing an allegiance to some outdated doctrines.

5,5,5: Understudy Chiefs

A middle-level successful manager on whom greatness has been thrust by a benevolent fate. His Moral Compass is in working order.

9,9,9: Super Leaders

A balanced Chief Executive Officer who leads his team successfully in the long run. To be spotted, head-hunted, and hired without further delay.

When it comes to corporate governance, most businesses are driven more by greed than by the norms of propriety. Compliance with statutory provisions is often given a short shrift. As a repercussion, we end up having more controls and complex laws, thereby making non-compliance even more rewarding in the short run.

A universal virus

When it comes to perpetrating a fraud on unsuspecting stakeholders, human ingenuity has never been found wanting. If America had Enron and Lehman Brothers, UK had Barclays. If Norway had Nortel, Portugal had Banco Espirito Santo. If Switzerland had UBS and India had Satyam, Germany has just had Volkswagen.

No industry could lay a specific claim on such man-made disasters. Be it banking, insurance, mining, automobiles, energy, commodities, IT or real estate, all have set examples of devious plans to deceive the gullible stakeholders.

Human greed and avarice are obviously the root cause. The sheer pleasure derived by a minority in making some extra gains at the cost of a silent majority apparently has a sense of gratification which surpasses all else.

Correcting the myopic vision

What is it that makes a business owner or a CEO to put his conscience to sleep and take a decision which could impact the whole organization a few years down the road? A trade-off between extraordinary gains in sight and the risks involved? A hope and a prayer that a deviation would never get caught? A major investment that cannot be written off merely to make a process legally compliant? A gut feel that the regulatory agencies are invariably open to manipulation? The option of using speed money to get the necessary approvals from concerned government agencies?

In their relentless pursuit of business results, CEOs are apt to develop a myopic vision. Everything else becomes the last priority.

Smart ones, however, would take a longer view of things. They would have a 6/6 vision. Their decision-making models would invariably take into consideration the moral and the ethical aspects of a situation at hand.

This way, their organizations would continue to celebrate Christmas year after year, much after they have hung their sandals and retired to an adrenaline-less life.

While affixing the mistletoe atop the door of their luxury mansion, they would then have the luxury of looking back at their career with an inner glow of warm satisfaction. The Yuletide spirit would pervade their entire being.

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'The Thinker' : Rodin

‘The Thinker’ : Rodin

The Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies desires to hire the services of a Director Marketing who would assume the responsibility of aggressively marketing its unique range of technologies and products.

The Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies is an ISO-certified international academy of goofy schemes which are designed to resolve ticklish issues afflicting our society. It does so by promoting and propagating non-violent techniques of registering protests and wreaking vengeance upon those who profess views which are at odds with those of theirs. The Academy brings together the world’s leading scientists, engineers and technologists to advance and promote excellence in innovative methods designed to secure socially desirable results.

The First Fellows of the Academy include such illustrious figures as Roberta Wickham and Stephanie Byng. Researchers and innovators of all hues continue to be inspired by their inimitable schemes to pursue the lofty goals of the Academy.

Some examples of technologies developed and gadgets patented so far by illustrious fellows of the Academy include:

  1. Laser-guided Needles usable for puncturing hot water bottles. These guarantee deadly precision, with minimal risk of exposure to the fleshy parts of the target person at the receiving end.
  2. Infra-red Incinerators which allow one to burn offending scripts and memoirs at the push of a button. No smoke is emitted, thereby allowing complete secrecy even within confined spaces.
  3. Magnetic Props which are highly effective in pinching policemen helmets. Field tests have demonstrated a high rate of success even for novice clergymen who might be out to pinch such objects merely to please their current heart-throbs.
  4. Machines which automatically produce 3-D versions of butter slides. These are found very useful by step-sons who have been refused protection money by their would-be step-fathers.
  5. Adhesives of an advanced nature, which allow party of the one part to affix and remove with much ease fungus of any colour from the visage of the party of the other part.
  6. Software which develops and delivers juicy speeches of all kinds to large gatherings of giggling and staring school girls and boys, thereby simplifying life for all those who are left all of a twitter when invited to address the wards under the charge of such illustrious lion-tamers as Rev. Aubrey Upjohn and Miss Tomlinson.
  7. Advanced e-learning kits which enable enthusiasts to learn to play such musical instruments as banjeoles. By using blue-tooth technology, such kits enable one to practice without disturbing one’s neighbours.
  8. Artificial Intelligence enabled gentlemen of gentlemen, duly configured with a Jeeves Service Package. These are extremely popular as wedding gifts which the brides-to-be accept with much glee, enabling them to show the door to the real Jeeves in their would-be husbands’ lives in the post-nuptial phase.
  9. Silver Detectors which can be used by enterprising aunts to locate and steal cow creamers and such other collectibles from castles of rivals. Smart nephews who do not wish to lose the privilege of feasting on Anatole’s delectable spreads use such contraptions to keep their aunts in good humour.
  10. Calorie Counters specifically designed to monitor the feeding pattern of the Empress of Blandings. These enable her to keep winning the top slot at international level sow competitions.
  11. Advanced Algorithms capable of accurately forecasting the results of all kinds of speculative sports. Bingo Littles of the world are thus enabled to keep the dove of matrimonial bliss flapping above their humble abodes at minimal costs.
  12. Aniseed Perfumes specifically developed for those who specialize in stealing detective dogs from the enemy camp in a peaceful and non-violent manner.
  13. Electronic Stunners which can be used for inducing temporary disability amongst cops who might be chasing well-meaning persons out to serve the delicately nurtured members of the society.
  14. Digestive Capsules designed to eliminate any problems of the lining of the stomach amongst those who are routinely taken in by the pleasures of the table and do not believe in the efficacy of Larsen Exercises popularized by Ashe Marson.
  15. Anti-aunt Apps designed to block communications from obnoxious aunts when they refuse to be gentlemen.
  16. Spider Footwear which make it easy to slide down pipes to escape the fury of aunts who insist on having a word with their nephews who are in no mood to face the firing squad.

The Academy has several exciting projects on the drawing board which are set to revolutionize the ways in which any goofy scheme is planned and executed. These include Body Scanners which can enable a member of the delicately nurtured tribe to ascertain the Chivalry Quotient of a matrimonial aspirant; Mental Imagers which can check the Pumpkin Quotient of a person; Cat Detectors which bleep when a bunch of feline characters are in the vicinity; Powder of Milk of Human Kindness and the like.

Countries need no longer wage deadly wars against each other. Terrorists no longer need to use violent methods to achieve their political ends. Almost all the patents mentioned hereinabove can be used to achieve the same goals in a non-violent manner. Comrades owing their allegiance to Brigades of all hues can make the haves of the society simplify their wasteful style of living and instead start philanthropic endeavours to fulfill their social responsibilities.

Harassed husbands do not need to inflict violence upon any of the delicately nurtured to ensure peace and harmony at home. Loving spouses need no longer tutor such despicable kids as Thos, merely to recoup their losses incurred at the turf. Owners of prized sows can enjoy good sleep, free of worries concerned with the calorie intake of their prized possessions.

The Director-Marketing shall be assisted by a team of crack salesmen comprising eminently rogue characters of the stature of Thos, Seabury, Edwin and many others.

The Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies is an equal opportunity employer. Its compensation packages are based on the psychology of the individual and compare with the best in the industry.

Those interested may forward their resumes within a fortnight to directorHR@ragt.com.

(Related Post: Click here )

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When it comes to shopping for Christmas, residents of Plumsville have much wider range of choices available for their near and dear ones!

Here is a quick run down on the juicy possibilities, courtesy Plumtopia.

Plumtopia

jeeves-and-the-yule-tide-spirit-and-other-stories-700x700-imae2rsyj7gzt7rmOnce you, or a loved one, have embarked upon the pleasures of Wodehouse, the seasonal gift giving possibilities are considerable. Likewise, a dash of Wodehouse can make the ideal gift for those poor souls of your acquaintance who have yet to read his healing prose. So here’s a timely guide to assist you (and anyone you might forward this to, as a gentle hint) with your seasonal gift-giving decisions.

Wodehouse for first timers

I often give Wodehouse books to new readers, with mixed results. The trick is to tailor your choice to what Jeeves calls ‘the psychology of the individual’. If you want to start your intended reader on the Jeeves stories, my recommendation (discussed in a previous post ) is The Inimitable Jeeves. But with the Everyman (Overlook) Library editions making Wodehouse’s lesser known works widely available, you needn’t start with Jeeves.

TheAdventuresOfSallyIf your intended recipient is…

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ashokbhatia

c1 (25)You can be forgiven if you think we, the people of India, have let you down,
We have deeply ingrained prejudices upon which many of us do frown;
Like an ostrich, or like the three monkeys of the Father of our Nation,
We refuse to hear, see or speak evil, or to examine our value fixation.

Our society needs to stop mistreating and tormenting those of your kind,
Killing the likes of you in the womb, denying them a healthy body and mind;
Treating them like mere toys, made to fulfill the males’ lustful impulses,
Prisoners to their patriarchical mindset, ignoring your appeals and curses.

Some of us would like to know why at all you went out on that fateful day,
Why did you have to flag a bus full of maniacs while finding your way?
Were you not being stupid when you dressed the way you did that…

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Our pollution blues keep aggravating year after year. Our politicos keep regaling us with their innovative antics. A cleanliness drive for our attitudes and our civic sense is much overdue.

Amidst all this chaos and disorder, those who keep dishing out a dose of humour keep our spirits high, our hopes soaring and our faith in humanity alive and kicking!

ashokbhatia

When the chips are down, what do we do? Some of us would drown our sorrows in tissue restoratives. Some would watch a movie. Some would curl up in bed with one of the anti-depressant narratives of P G Wodehouse. Some others would reach out to their bookshelves, shake the dust off a book of cartoons, and soak in the wit and humour embedded therein.

One of the cartoonists I have always admired is Sudhir Dar. For many years, every morning, it used to be a delight to look up what was in store on the front page of The Hindustan Times. These were invariably timely, uproariously funny and highly pungent. Amidst the plethora of gloomy happenings – a gang rape, a murder, a scandal and what not – his cartoons, published under a caption ‘This is it!’, never failed to lift one’s spirits.

Here are some of his cartoons…

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