Friday, December 14, 2018

Life's lessons from Junior

When junior gets really cranky, the only option that would calm him down would be a walk down the road. I hardly go out and wifey is worse than me, which leaves junior frustrated like a caged animal. But when I do take him out, it’s me who enjoys the most, looking at his antics. Many times, I over think and over analyze and it is not off limits from junior as well. I’ve never been able to quite comprehend my childhood on how I turned up the way I am today and always try to watch him closely to see his reactions. It has helped me a lot in understanding my own psyche and some key reasons behind my personality. Having grown on a steady diet of Amarchitra katha and jataka tales, I try to infuse those stories and reading as an habit into him. At the moment it’s a grand failure with any book going into tatters within minutes. Padhichi kizhichathu is happening literally.

On our late evening walks, he would exclaim with joy in identifying the name of gods he had seen on the videos and book covers. He would be counting how many ganapathis’ and krishnas’ he had seen on the way and would report back at home to his paati and mom. Last week, while walking across a convent, he was fascinated by the multi coloured star decorations and was awestruck for a while. He was tracking the colors it was displaying and noticed the statue at the entrance. He immediately called me out and said “Anga paaru…Yashodha and krishnar”. I was searching around, wondering what is such a painting doing in a convent only to realise that he was referring to Mother Mary carrying baby Jesus!! Semma bulbu. No wonder children are equated with god. They are without any prejudice or bias and are unpolluted. I am not reading too much into the religious aspects of it, but wish adults have that maturity displayed by toddlers.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

2.0 movie review

Costliest movie ever made in India. First movie, out and out shot for 3D viewing. Biggest ever technical crew assembled on par with blockbuster Hollywood movies and longest ever wait for a tamil movie, with never decreasing hype. All these hyperboles sum up the desperation to ensure the movie somehow manages to break even the production cost of about 400 crore rupees. Funnily this number started from somewhere around 300 crores and has now crossed 500 crores. The fans just couldn’t let go of any opportunity to bring in the superlatives when their idol is concerned, but this might be a matter of different concern for the producer if the IT department starts noticing. Come to think of it, it’s a significant FDI on one particular venture and should probably have the blessings of the government from a “Make in India” scheme perspective!! With the Superstar being open about his political ambitions and transforming his fans club into party setup, every single movie release is treated as a precursor to party launch. 2.0 is no exception. More than movie review, its seen as a political statement, mirroring MGR when he was about to make his political splash.

Story wise, it’s a major deviation from usual template of Shankar. There does exist a protagonist, the typical one man army who takes on the baddies and the system and comes up trumps. This time, instead of hailing him as the hero, he has been made the villain and the usual villains in his previous movies – the government, scientists et al, have all swapped roles. Had Rajini played the role of Akshay kumar and vice versa, things might’ve been different I guess. But with the superstar having already set his benchmark as the robot in the previous version of the movie, there was never a possibility. In fact, the only character, that has some semblance of likeability is Akshay kumar’s Pakshirajan – the ornithologist who takes up the crusade on behalf of the birds, that are pushed to near extinction by telecom operators, violating the transmission norms. He even gives up his life, succumbing to repeated failures. The disturbing trend of bad winning over good, creeps into commercial movies and that too by someone whose movies oozes with positivity and vigilantism. Age has finally caught up with Rajini and despite the mega budget allocation towards his costume and get-up he looks very old and tired. That, he was very sick for major portions of the movie, doesn’t make it any easier. The absence of master talent like Sujatha is extremely evident on the screenplay and dialogue departments. He has been the invisible pillar and secret recipe of Shankar’s success formula and Jeyamohan, for all his literary peaks, doesn’t manage the commercial mix, that is needed for movies. The much hyped 3.0, kutty chitti, looks more like a mock attempt on Rajini himself. Another disturbing hype around the movie is that, it’s being projected as a kids movie. Nothing could be far from the truth and those who spread the news are oblivious of what are “movies made for kids” or they are clueless on the content of this movie. It shows the person, who cares for birds and wants to limit technology related impact to nature and other living things as bad and shows those who support such heinous things as good guys. The final dialogue which praises the thoughts of the ornithologist but condemns the means to achieve it, doesn’t absolve the movie off its screenplay.

Gils verdict – Watch the movie for special day release on Sun TV.

The Gilsbert way of How not to tell a joke

Gilsbert at onsite:

“Hey I am Gilsbert”
“I am Tan”
“Is it so? Doesn’t look like it”
“err..means?”
Looking at his reaction, quickly back tracks into a different conversation.

After sometime, while trying to resell the same joke.
“So Tan..you sign by cause”
“err..means”
This time wanting to clear the point, Gilsbert puts in “extra” effort
“Sin/Cos”
“I didn’t get you”
“Not a maths guy is it?”
“What??”
“Sorry..” muttering to himself walks away.

While leaving for the day,
“Ok Tan..catch you tomorrow”
“Sure man”
“What time you are planning to start?”
“Not sure..will take a couple more hours”
“Wow..you ARE a workaholic” sensing an opportunity “may your spirit never tan”
“err…sorry. Couldn’t get the last part”

Oh..Come onnnnnnnnnn

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The girl in room 105 - book review

Yet another Chetan Bhagat book review. Despite all my raves and rants, i never miss reading a single novel of his. That says something about me?!! Anyways.

As often i mention about his books, there is a template setting, that starts from the name itself. There should be some number associated with it, 5 point someone, one night @call center etc. It was at the risk of getting into rational number territory considering the title "half girlfriend". But since rational is something that is generally not associated with his books, probably he reverted to whole numbers with this one. There i go again. Why read the book if there is so much to complain, duh!!? But still i am not that suave a reader to feast only on classics. My rest of the reading list is not that fancy either.

Coming back to the book, there are major changes for fellow readers of CB, who follow the template to rote. There do exist IITians and IIT as backdrop and guys entering forbidden territory of girl's hostel and almost no pre marital physical scenes, which - spoiler alert - does happen per the template towards the end. And of course, with the lead guy being the narrator, telling his story to the author on his flight back home, that is almost always the pretext for his stories, is the same in this as well. These apart, credit to CB (!!) for trying out something different. Its not your typical love story and to "quote" the author, its an "unlove" story (whatever the hell it means).

The theme of the book is crime and detective work. How much ever amateurish it has been designed and written, its way off from his usual mix and match supposedly rom-com stuff that he dishes out on his books. There is this guy, who is the narrator, who has been dumped by his girl, gets a message to visit her on the night of her birthday, only to be found dead. The lovesick ex-boyfriend of our hero, goes heads over heels into investigating the murder, from being the first accused, arrested by the police. Since the girl is a Kashmiri, there are ample references to the situation there and as if someone restricted the author from expressing his real thoughts, which would result in controversy over the otherwise silly book, the characters refrain themselves, literally, every time they enter into a conversation about Kashmir and RSS. CB should take a leaf out of how Ilaya thalapathy Vijay markets his movies in tamil. Controversy sells like anything and if at all the story, it would've made up for free publicity for the book. The hero, being a IIT coaching center faculty (what else could he have been in a CB book) along with his bumbling, near gay friend (which is disproved in the end with his fascination for "Tinder" girls), embarks on the investigative journey that takes him on a Bharath darshan from Delhi to Srinagar to Phalgam to Hyderabad and back to Delhi. The investigation resembles more of Pink Panther than Poirot. Not sure if it was intended or by accident though. Finally the grand reveal of the killer!! Even the crime patrol on Sony would've retained some thrill. The reason for the murder couldn't have been any more contrived as CB has literally thrown his heroine under the bus for the sake of a twist. No points from feminists i guess. And such utter and unbiased racism towards south Indians and their complexions is another template feature that is carried out shamelessly on this one as well. Way to go CB. "Black black ugly ugly" it is.

Gils verdict - The girl in room 105 is what happens when Sajid Khan tries to be Satyajit Ray. Again, there goes the prejudiced me in banishing the creative capacity of individuals. But this is Chetan baghat's book we are talking about. If its not prejudiced, then what else can it be!!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

I yaam a rajini fan - book review

A little note about the author -Dev. He is my college mate and is very well known for his tamil poems and short stories that he carries out till date on his personal blog. Been associated with him for almost 2 decades now and his passion for reading books is never diminishing. Considering the amounts he spends every book fair, pretty sure, he could start one of his own. An avid movie enthusiast, its a no brainer on who his favorite hero is and how he feels about him, considering that THE MAN himself has posed with a copy of this book and for a change, the author got a signed copy.

The book, as the title gives it away, is a proclamation of undying love for rajini. There is a slight twist as it also involves his first love, who is also named rajini. How the two rajinis travel along with him in his life's journey is vividly captured. The book is full of booby traps of nostalgia. Infact, the entire story is structured in such a way that, every single incident in the life of Arun (the lead character) is told with an associated movie release of rajini and his interaction with the other rajini at that time. There is an immediate and undeniable connect to the situation mentioned on the chapters as everyone of those movies mentioned are blockbusters and definitely the readers would've watched each of them. There would be nostalgic connect to each of them and would take the readers back to that very moment and for a story from their own life. There are political undercurrents as well and a tinge of sadness that is associated all throughout with the book. Its an open ended ending, with Arun remaining steadfast on his belief on either of the rajini's irrespecitve of the demands of his situation and their's as well.

I loved the childhood portions where the kids fight over kamal/rajini posters. I've never been a big fan of any star in particular, with favorite movies for almost all of the actors. After reading this book, which is literally a booby trap of memory triggers, i was reminded of the time when i saw Thalapathy. It was 90th day show i guess, went with my dad to the theater owned by his boss. They played only MGR movies on that theater and Thalapathy, on its 90th day of the release then, was closest to a new movie release that screen had ever seen. Probably the only tamil movie that i could recollect seeing with my dad on theater ever. 

I am pretty sure, each of you would have your own stories to recollect, when you read the book and those "90's kids" "80's kids" and "kids forever - like me" will sure have quite a nostalgic trip. Really proud of the efforts that has gone behind the book and it involves many of my friends. Its truly a remarkable achievement and having seen things behind scene a bit closer, it made me truly appreciate the work that goes behind in a story seeing its print version - web or hard cover. Kudos to Dev for his work and would be eagerly looking for more such stories from his side.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

As I see IT - 3

EGO.

My class teacher once explained that Ego means “Edging God Out”. Even after decades, that expansion is still stuck in memory, not just because I am a sucker for abbreviations, but more so on the meaning it conveyed. In the journey so far in IT industry, one thing that I could find omnipresent is nothing but overinflated megalomania level egos of individuals, that screws up the peace of many. I’ve been at both sides of the table and have not so memorable experiences.

Compared to any other industry, IT is the youngest and most evolving of all. In fact, with so much of process being shoved year after year in the form of maturity models, business driven changes, best practices, lessons learnt et al, it should be the most conformist of all industries. At the same time, its most prone to disruptive changes as well, that shakes the very foundations of established norms. The industry renews itself every decade and the lead time between the shredding of old tech to new is forever under stress. It’s probably the most democratic of all, where in any change, which has good impact on ROI is easily absorbed as the norm and almost everyone toes the line of the industry leaders. Considering such a background, working in IT should be a shoo-in for anyone. But so many of the employees suffer from stress related illness, heart ailments and life expectancy could pretty soon be a major talking point in this industry. For a place, that is built on the foundation of best practices and clear cut processes, why should anyone even struggle begs a soul searching question.

If we turn the clock back to the moment of big bang, to understand the purpose of its very existence – IT was and always will be a support function to business. To put simply, Its necessity is to make things easier for business and reduce the turnaround time in getting things done. The concept was always that, a smart guy teaching  a dumb terminal to make monotonous things simpler. With the advent of including “Smart”ness into everything, the ghost in the machine is wide awake, literally and figuratively, shutting down the humanity in people. Off late I find people to be more comfortable dealing with machines than with their own kind. Machines don’t have ego hassles. They never misunderstand the content from its tone or the emotion behind the statement. Emails don’t provoke mail storms when directed to machine monitored mailboxes. In between all these advancements in technology, which is supposed to make the life of end user easier, we’ve lost a critical thing in translation – the empathy for each other.

When there was a raging conflict in one of my teams, I spoke to both the parties individually and asked them to first hear each other out. It was an simple issue blown out of proportion due to the individual ego’s in play and neither were willing to budge. What was surprising was, it should’ve never been an issue in first place and when I suggested that, each of them should respect the other’s decision and should give a patient hearing, it was knocked off as an unfathomable attempt of a solution!! Eventually, the stick won over the carrot. When we can pick up machine learning and AI on the fly, work out complex semantics and syntaxes for evolving programming languages, work wonders with internet of things, we are seriously and severely pegged back on our social skills.

If I’ve to RAG it, it’s fast moving away from Amber to Red.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Junior's jestcapades

At times, makes me wonder, while rest of the time I am absolutely unsure, that, how the hell he manages to do what he does.

Ever since he noticed the Big Boss promo, the part where Kamal introduces the show, before and after the ad break, as “Vanakkam... Ithu Vivo v9 vazhangum Big Boss”, it had caught his fancy and he rephrased it as “Veena vaana big boss” with the traditional way of telling “Vanakkam” with folded hands. Gradually, the rest of the sentences went out of his mind but the “vanakkam” part remained and somehow he linked it to the fact that, it’s a way of greeting. One day, when the apartment driver had come to our house, junior greeted him with folded hands and said “vanakkam”. The driver was stunned and he was so happy. He immediately responded back with joy and repeatedly they said Vanakkam to each other. Ever since, it has been the way of greeting for junior and wherever he meets anyone new, he would immediately say “vanakkam” to them. More than “hi” or “morning/evening” wishes, I find that people are overjoyed when someone  wishes them in mother tongue and everyone responds back with one of their own. While on a mall visit, we met a north indian couple and when junior greeted them they were so happy that they decided to make it a habit of their own. When I went to his play school to pick him up, everyone – right from his aaya paati to his class miss, where calling junior to say vanakkam and he duly responded to every single one of them. They told me that, as part of their lessons to teach greetings to kids, which had only the English way of greetings, it had been updated to include saying vanakkam. They even showed me videos of kids telling vanakkam to each other.  It’s a simple thing and probably something pretty basic for anyone and everyone to follow. The reason why it struck me with awe was not just because he is my kid. But how people relate and adapt to positive change.

You need not be in your thirties to trigger something. It can start from three itself!!