Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Slumdog millionaire: Desi maal Videshi packaging

Danny Boyle's Slumdog millionaire was released in selected theaters around United States on 12th of November. It is receiving rave reviews and is considered strong contender for Academy awards.

I have yet to see it, but i read the book it is based on. From trailer it is extremely clear, Slumdog millionaire is based on 'Q & A' by Vikas Swaroop, a story of an illiterate slum dweller called Ram Mohammad Thomas(why such a strange name forms a part of narrative, however movie changes it to Jamal Malik, how can u expect an American audience to grasp the uniquely strange Indian diversity) who is resident to dharavi zoppadpati in Mumbai, he gets chance to play Kaun Banega Crorepati and to everybody's surprise wins crore rupees. How he does that, is what the story is all about. Very interestingly the author unfolds that how all the incidents in the boy’s life has helped him to answer all the questions.It is story about destiny and hope. And like all such stories they make great reading.

I read the book more than a year ago, and no sooner did i realize how brilliant the premise was, i knew it had a potential for a great cinema, especially Bollywood cinema. Search Fox Light and Danny Boyle too realized that and made a Slumdog Millionaire and now they would laughing to the bank and awards ceremony. Soon some Sanjay Gupta or Kunal Kohli from india would grab a cd from church gate and remake slumdog millionare which would fail drastically. That would complete the circle.

Danny Boyle is a smart director, he knows movie based on Q & A cannot be uprooted from India (although when Kunal Kohli remakes it we'll have couple of romantic songs shot in Switzerland and Mauritius). I am skeptical about how Boyle captures the Indian essence. I know technically he is unbeatable but that was true for all his predecessor Hollywood film makers who have ended up making caricature of Indian way of life.However, the promos look amazing and I am awaiting its release.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Movies are only for Fun!

I have always believed that movies, the medium as we know, is not meant to inspire or change perspective. i feel like scoffing people who say watching lage raho munnabhai changed the way they thought about the mahatma and now they believe in philosophy of non-violence. Not getting much into it, i strongly believe LRM depicted Gandhiji in an extremely shallow light, just to fit him in the premise of the movie and i am totally allergic to the way the actor enacted mahatma. I have similar feelings for Rang De Basanti or Swades . I enjoyed all the three of the movies as a entertaining cinema and had great time watching them but never saw them as a life changing experience.

Call it my callousness or conventionalism, I believe that change in perspective or belief system is an outcome of serious effort put by an individual to cleanse his thought process that can be aided by literature and history books and often demands coming out of the comfort zone of ones belief system challenging the accepted thinking , rather than 2 and half hours of pop corn cinema seen in the comfort of cozy multiplex, whose basic objective is to reach to as large as possible audience by cratering to the accepted beliefs and tastes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Dummies Guide: US financial crisis

An interesting email forward came to my rescue helping me to deal with my financial ineptitude regarding whats this economic slow down all about. It is like answer to one of those Google interview questions(How do u explain economic slow down to a 5th grader?)

Once there was a little island country. The land of this country was the tiny island itself. The total money in circulation was 2 dollars as there were only two pieces of 1 dollar coins circulating around. 1) There were 3 citizens living on this island country. A owned the land. B and C each owned 1 dollar.

2) B decided to purchase the land from A for 1 dollar. So, now A and C own 1 dollar each while B owned a piece of land that is worth 1 dollar.

* The net asset of the country now = 3 dollars.

3) Now C thought that since there is only one piece of land in the country, and land is non producible asset, its value must definitely go up. So, he borrowed 1 dollar from A, and together with his own 1 dollar, he bought the land from B for 2 dollars.

*A has a loan to C of 1 dollar, so his net asset is 1 dollar.
* B sold his land and got 2 dollars, so his net asset is 2 dollars.
* C owned the piece of land worth 2 dollars but with his 1 dollar debt to A, his net residual asset is 1 dollar.
* Thus, the net asset of the country = 4 dollars.

4) A saw that the land he once owned has risen in value. He regretted having sold it. Luckily, he has a 1 dollar loan to C. He then borrowed 2 dollars from B and acquired the land back from C for 3 dollars. The payment is by 2 dollars cash (which he borrowed) and cancellation of the 1 dollar loan to C.
As a result, A now owned a piece of land that is worth 3 dollars. But since he owed B 2 dollars, his net asset is 1 dollar.
* B loaned 2 dollars to A. So his net asset is 2 dollars.
* C now has the 2 coins. His net asset is also 2 dollars.
* The net asset of the country = 5 dollars. A bubble is building up.

(5) B saw that the value of land kept rising. He also wanted to own the land. So he bought the land from A for 4 dollars. The payment is by borrowing 2 dollars from C, and cancellation of his 2 dollars loan to A.

* As a result, A has got his debt cleared and he got the 2 coins. His net asset is 2 dollars.
* B owned a piece of land that is worth 4 dollars, but since he has a debt of 2 dollars with C, his net asset is 2 dollars.
* C loaned 2 dollars to B, so his net asset is 2 dollars.
* The net asset of the country = 6 dollars; even though, the country has only one piece of land and 2 Dollars in circulation.

(6) Everybody has made money and everybody felt happy and prosperous.

(7) One day an evil wind blew, and an evil thought came to C's mind. "Hey, what if the land price stop going up, how could B repay my loan. There is only 2 dollars in circulation, and, I think after all the land that B owns is worth at most only 1 dollar, and no more."

(8) A also thought the same way.

(9) Nobody wanted to buy land anymore.

* So, in the end, A owns the 2 dollar coins, his net asset is 2 dollars.
* B owed C 2 dollars and the land he owned which he thought worth 4 dollars is now 1 dollar. So his net asset is only 1 dollar.
* C has a loan of 2 dollars to B. But it is a bad debt. Although his net asset is still 2 dollars, his Heart is palpitating.
* The net asset of the country = 3 dollars again.

(10) So, who has stolen the 3 dollars from the country ? Of course, before the bubble burst B thought his land was worth 4 dollars. Actually, right before the collapse, the net asset of the country was 6 dollars on paper.

B's net asset is still 2 dollars, his heart is palpitating.

(11) B had no choice but to declare bankruptcy. C as to relinquish his 2 dollars bad debt to B, but in return he acquired the land which is worth 1 dollar now.

* A owns the 2 coins, his net asset is 2 dollars.
* B is bankrupt, his net asset is 0 dollar. ( he lost everything )
* C got no choice but end up with a land worth only 1 dollar
* The net asset of the country = 3 dollars.

************ **End of the story; BUT ************ ********* ******

There is however a redistribution of wealth.
A is the winner, B is the loser, C is lucky that he is spared.

A few points worth noting -
(1) When a bubble is building up, the debt of individuals to one another in a country is also building up.
(2) This story of the island is a closed system whereby there is no other country and hence no foreign debt. The worth of the asset can only be calculated using the island's own currency. Hence, there is no net loss.
(3) An over-damped system is assumed when the bubble burst, meaning the land's value did not go down to below 1 dollar.
(4) When the bubble burst, the fellow with cash is the winner. The fellows having the land or extending loan to others are the losers. The asset could shrink or in worst case, they go bankrupt.
(5) If there is another citizen D either holding a dollar or another piece of land but refrains from taking part in the game, he will neither win nor lose. But he will see the value of his money or land go up and down like a see saw.
(6) When the bubble was in the growing phase, everybody made money.
(7) If you are smart and know that you are living in a growing bubble, it is worthwhile to borrow money (like A ) and take part in the game. But you must know when you should change everything back to cash.
(8) As in the case of land, the above phenomenon applies to stocks as well.
(9) The actual worth of land or stocks depend largely on psychology..

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Beyond The Dark Knight: Why is it not “just another superhero movie”

Sinking into the seats of cinema watching the dark knight, for the second time and this time in IMAX, brought a kind of revelation I was not expecting. I was among the few fortunate of having watched The Dark Knight for the first time on the preview show of Thursday at 8.15 pm(yes,before the 12.01 am premiere show) , a day before the film was released (and for free).

I loved every bit of it. It is a great summer blockbuster, a bit longer, but it still had enough content to keep the audience interested. I found it more of a Joker film than Batman movie, in the first viewing. Joker commits the biggest robbery in the movie, he steals the show!Little did I know that everything would change when I would dig deeper.

The second viewing made me realize that vision of director is not merely make a superhero summer blockbuster, his vision of Batman is much more realistic and much in line with current times , It’s more like a political drama packaged in superhero format that would make it reach to more audiences. Much like Matrix was a take on Philosophy.

Every pivotal character is a reflection of something more real. Take Joker. Joker is mystical, crazy, his motives has no real justifications and is insanely terrifying, his only known motive is to deface batman, he does not work for money, he keeps appearing on TV from nowhere, giving out his messages and no one knows about his whereabouts. He does not carry any gizmos or gadgets except knives, (this is shown when he is caught). Now tell me what real life character he sounds like. No surprises here, He is obviously a movie avatar of Mr. Bin Laden, an agent of chaos epitomized. Like him, he does not work for money, his only motive is destruction of America and has no solid justifications for it, and he keeps appearing on Al-Jazera TV channel and no one knows where he is? One has to give full marks to Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger for developing a character of Joker so very well and so much real. It is unlike other joker, which were more funny and dramatic, this Joker is scary and crazy and yet much more real.

Harvey Dent is a symbol of What America has been so far. Pre 9/11 it was a righteous country the world looked up to, it was one of the most successful democracy, the country that was built by people and for the people. It had fought World War 2 for the right reasons and changed the course of history. It stood up against Iraq in the Gulf war. There was little to blemish on American character before 9/11 happened (exclude Vietnam war). Same goes true with Harvey Dent; he was the “White Knight of Gotham” as put by Gordon, who fought against the mob. He was righteous, young, bright, white and successful; he was the symbol of America, as perceived by outsiders. However things have changed post 9/11 , first time ever America has been attacked on its own territory, excluding the Pearl Harbor. It has been distraught and fearful since then and has wiped out two countries since then, in its mere frustration to find out one person, Bin Laden, who might be already dead. In short America does not know whom it is hunting for? America is now viewed by some countries as their "Foe"(which is evident why the Arabs have bloated the fuel prices, when perhaps it was not required). Still for Europeans, America is still is the symbol of “The Friend”. America, today has “two faces”

Harvey Dent follows the same path, he is hopelessly distraught after loss of his girlfriend Rachel Dawes and is hunting for the responsible person. Even his election line is “I believe in Harvey Dent”, this sounds similar to the very popular opening line of the movie The Godfather-“I believe in America”. His emergence to two face, from a mob fighting District Attorney is similar to emergence of America from a progressive, capitalist, democracy (democracy is debatable) to a tyrant and anti-Muslim nation.

Lau, the business man, who takes care of the mob money, is not a Chinese by mere coincidence. He is positioned as successful businessman who has business ties with America and is trying to set up a business with Wayne Enterprise. His actual role is to manage finances for the mob. This is the reflection of what Americans see China as, although they use China made cars to ipods, they have reservation about China and the way they operate.

The last climax scene, where the Joker gives detonator in the hands of the people in two boats asking them to blow the other boat by midnight, has a more religious take, the people in two boats may be perceived as Christians and Muslims, they both have power to blow each other or to make a choice to survive together. Whether this gets on their nerves and they kill each other is for them to decide. In the movie though, they both survive.

Now who is Batman? This is hinted when Gordon says to his son-“he's not a hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector...a dark knight.” Batman according to me is what America has to be…”Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now”...America is richest country, it is powerful, strong and influential just like Bruce Wayne is. It has all the resources to be a watchful protector and guardian to the world which is in midst of anarchy and brisk with problems like global warming and terrorism to name few. It has to make a right choice here a choice only America can make, the choice to be “Two-face” or a choice to be “The Batman”. As said by Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred-“Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They'll hate you for it. But that's the point of Batman, he can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make, the right choice.”

Friday, June 27, 2008

Reading Rand might Kill you

"I like Cigarettes; I like to think of fire held in a man’s hand. FIRE, a dangerous force, tamed at his finger tips. I often wonder about the hours when a man sits alone watching the smoke of a cigarette, thinking. I wonder what great things have come out from such hours. When a man thinks there is a spot of fire alive in his mind – and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression."
- Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged, 1957)

This quote by Ayn Rand, some few years back, almost compelled me to take up smoking. After few failed attempts when i was finally able to take the puff inside my lungs, i almost choked myself by coughing intermittently, there was a sure heaviness in the head and mouth was foul with bitterness. I decided never to try it again.
Since then i believe.."Reading Ayn Rand can be injurious to health"

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Loss of Words: Side effects of Depravity?

It has, comfortably, been a year since i read the last book. Life has surely changed ever since i have landed to Los Angeles. It’s not that I was unaware all this time that i have stopped reading, it was always there back of my mind, like a splinter caught in the eye.

But i have convinced myself that reading is something you can pursue only in leisure and it requires a luxury of time. And it’s not so that my coursework here does not allow me to read a book or magazine here and now. But perhaps its this very idea that reading is an activity to pursue in your leisure, i have kept myself away from picking up a book. Or perhaps and more likely is that pursuit of reading as a refreshment and 'Enlightenment' has been replaced by a more viable option-YouTube. Am I at the loss of Words?

The second idea not only sounds more convincing but also comforting. i perhaps want to condole myself that my pursuit of enlightenment hasn't stalled since i have stopped reading; it just has shifted to a different source. it has shifted from words to pictures, from white papers and black words to gamut of colors that change at 16 frames per second. From a description to visualization. From a silence of a room to a stream of Stereo sound coming out of ear plugs, going straight into my mind through the ear drums.

I have heard this, I don't know how true it is, that mind becomes passive when you watch television and it is more agile when you read a book. Isn't that one another doctrine being pushed by the torchbearers of traditionalism who still feel that "good old ways" are still the best way to do things? I am perplexed because i do find myself more engrossed when reading than watching videos. But i can not negate the fact that amount of details thrown by a video to me is infinite compared to what i may perceive by reading a book. Should not that make my mind more agile as it has more information to decode? One counter argument to this is that by being engrossed in reading your mind creates pictures and builds information that are far more complex than what is being viewed on videos. But the pictures made by mind would be the one mind would have seen before somewhere and sometime, so it would be presenting the information which already existed. Someone might argue that tons of information is known only to the sub-conscious mind and that reading is a bridge between consciousness and the sub-consciousness by presenting pictures only known to the sub-conscious.

As of now i don't plan to pick a book. I myself was never an ardent book reader until I got into my undergrad school. However, I picked it up well and could comfortably say i was among the "literate" people of my class. Just like people are natural sportsmen, I guess was a natural TV watcher. My passion for TV deserves another post sometime. My Grandpa and i have had serious arguments regarding my TV watching habits, to make long story short my passion was nipped as my family got rid of cable connection. I think me being over hooked to the YouTube is just a side effect of keeping me deprived of the required dosage of TV. At least, thinking so keeps me out of the guilt and blame it all on my family. You know after all, I need to keep a clear conscience;)))

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Dream Deferred...

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

A poetry by Langston Hughes, inscribed on the glass at Aviation LAX Green line station.

A lonely number like root Three

I fear that I will always be
A lonely number like root three

The three is all that’s good and right,
Why must my three keep out of sight
Beneath a vicious square root sign,
I wish instead I were a nine

For nine could thwart this evil trick,
with just some quick arithmetic

I know I’ll never see the sun,
As 1.7321

Such is my reality, a sad irrationality
When hark! For what is this I see,
Another square root of a three

As quietly come waltzing by,
Together now we multiply
To form a number we prefer,
Rejoicing as an integer

We break free from our mortal bonds
And with a wave of magic wands
Our square root signs become unglued
Your love for me has been renewed

very interesting poem.....i first heard this when i saw the movie Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay and after a bit of googling i found out that the author of this poem is David Feinberg, a computer science teacher at MIT

Monday, May 19, 2008

Orkut Apps Suck?

Whats wrong with Orkut? It was simple to use most quintessential social networking website and that was the reason i was hooked up to it, it not only made up for my lack of "socialness", it also allowed me to wish bdays and new years to people I would have not bothered to say "hi" throughout my whole existence. It also has been an excuse and means to peek into some interesting "test cases". And all this I was able to do because it was a simple, fast and easy to use social networking site. And then they decide to put an end to all that simplicity by imitating Facebook. And every time now i log in i find senseless updates from people who think its funny to be "emoting".."i m so confused" and senseless quizzes..."Sudhir has taken a DDLJ quiz...would u like to beat Sudhir" ya i would like to beat him up to death for taking that silly quiz and beat the Orkut guys too for taking the simplicity out of the portal. Not only that, it takes lot of time to load every time i log in, and get back to my home page.

listen Orkut guys, if people wanna use applications they will go to Facebook. U guys need to understand, reason why Orkut picked up well in countries like India and Brazil is coz its simple , Indians in general don't know how to use their fully loaded mobile phones or may i say they are unaware of what to do of 37 buttons on their TV remote control, forget about them using and writing this applications for Orkut. Also large population in India still have very poor Internet connection, all this heavy application is gonna bog down the usage as it no more leaves Orkut a fast portal.