Saturday, February 24, 2007

Movie Review: Ghost Rider

Cast: Nicholas Cage

Director: Mark Steven Johnson

Plot: Legend has it the devil makes deals with people in exchange for the souls. The people who make the deals become ghost riders whose job is to collect souls for the devils.

Johny Blaze and his father are stunt drivers. Once his father is diagnosed with cancer Johny makes a pact with the devil for his fathers life. The devil cures his father temporarily and then kills him. Now johny is playing the game of death waiting for the devil to appear for what is his. He cannot love, tho’ the amazing Eva Mendes is waiting for him (both young and old).

The whole thing is compounded by Black Heart who is the devils estranged son who is after a contract which will give a lot of souls to the holder. One of the riders had turned his back on the devil and left with the contract and Johny must get it back to save humanity. Add our man johny becomes a burning skeleton (there is fire within you types) who can claim the soul of evil does by looking into their eyes and showing them the pain of those killed.

The end is sequel baiting. Johny kills black heart, gets the babe and then tells the devil he will claim the souls of all evil doers.

Cant believe that the yanks call this a cartoon, and whatever is this will devil soul heaven bullshit? The bikes are stunningly cool and there is a lot of eye to details (whatever is the shadow of devil). You an actually watch the movie just for eva mendes too I guess. The movie is so fuckin brainless that you could laugh at the stupidity of the whole of it. It actually becomes a laugh riot that way.

Rating: 4/10

Movie Review: Honey Moon Travels Pvt Ltd

Forget everything else: Arjun Rampal is called Jignesh set match

Cast: Shabana Azmi, Boman Irani, Amisha Patel, Karan Khanna, Vikram Chatwal, Sandya Mridul, Kay Kay, Arjun Rampal (special ap), Dia Mirza, Raima Sen, Abhay Deol and Manisha Lamba

Direction: Reema Kagti

The plot: Six couples are off on a packaged honeymoon. Each of the couples is at a different stage of life and the honeymoon brings some people closer while creating problems for the other. Shabana and Boman ( Oscar and Naeed ‘Nahid’ ) are the bets of the lot with an amazing chemistry. The couple in their twilight seeking love after enduring pain. They have the best lines (‘You think the world is a bad place” irani to the bong kay kay J and gets a kick from shabana) and pull it off.

Vikram and Sandhya are a couple who get married over the net to escape secrets. He wants ot keep the fact that he gay from his family, we are spared her misfortunes other than being cheated by a married man. Amisha patel is the Indian version of the ‘blonde’ and is married to karan. Painful to watch. Karan takes a liking for Vikram and cannot handle the emotions, but keeps himself away. Bobby and manisha(she looks cute, hot, bad all within a few scenes of each other) are the perfect couple, why? Because they are super heroes in disguise. Kay Kay and Raima are a bong couple who were in love and have now lost the spark. Raima is trying her best to get it back, and they rock too. Dia Mirza is forcefully married to ranvir shorey (brilliantly acted role of ‘pride’ oriented guy) and she promptly runs off with her true love Rampal (useless part of story I guess). Everthing in each of the situations is intended (all puns included) and thats intelligent movie making

Good music (I love the song Sajna de Vaari Vaari) and some simple travel promotions of goa. The characters are not well developed, except for the odd nicely done scene. There is a brilliantly done dance sequence between Abhay and Manisha. Technically, each of the movies parts have weaknesses. What the director ( a first timer) has done brilliantly is to weave these small situations into a spectacularly hilarious mix, so as to achieve max entertainment value.

Rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Administrative Reforms Commisson(ARC)

Chaired: Verappan Moily


Disqualifications: MLA's MPs can be disqualified on defection. Extension to party level, where the parties will have to seek fresh mandate.

Bureaucracy: Article 311 ( no dismissal without enquiry for civil servants-apparently a legacy of the montague chemsford reforms of 1919 that removes accountability as no is suspended on enquiry) to be scrapped

Judiciary: Establishment of national judicial council to oversee appointment and removal of judges.

Cool aint it, but as usual good probability that it will be widely discussed ( CNN-IBN-15 min panel discussion amidst an interview of sherawat and the fashion show of tahliani) and then get canned.

C'mon, we are a democracy.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The need for a strategic approach

Qualitative opinion-significant inputs-Pradosh

What do you do when you have a commanding market share and everything you touch turns into gold? How do you approach such a situation? As organizations span borders and reach the size of small countries, they would be well aware to look at threats from all possible examples.

A look at the US automobiles industry: The Detroit big 3 had close to 85% of the market share and believed that they would control the market forever. They built large capacities got into all sorts of contracts with their employees, and behaved.. like well errr large organizations-with the mentality that the market is right. The Japanese came (using Pradosh's direct anology) and started competing. The Japs started with a handicap and consumers stayed wiht the big 3 because the news players were unreliable. Slowly, the new players gained traction and critical mass and within the next 15 years the big 3 had a market share of about 65%. Should the lessons have been learned by this time? Apparently they had not been. The us players began to move to SUVs, the symbol of the american consumerist, a fuel guzzing larger than life, high margin high growth segment. All these time the Japanese began to use their better organizational techniques (JIT, lean manufacturing and jazz) and used resources efficiently, moving slightly ahead on the race because they built fuel efficient cars which did well.

The americans were at their wits end. They had huge capacities, and produced like crazy. To sell they used all sorts of schemes(ya apparently free gasoline :D and patriotism) and there were the SUV's. With secular price rise in oil, that segment too was hit. And then the melt begins. These organizations have no option but to close down operations (most of it overcapacity), meaning large one time costs. They would also need to significantly copy the japs in processes (but as motley fool points out, that would not give them a competitive advantage would it ? ) and get in new designs ( from where tho', but GM is revamping 85% of their product line). But still it begs the question, what was the management doing.

The first thing you learnt in those mind numbing strat courses was to analyze competition. I used to love that resource based model. To identify the primary resource as a key driver for the success and potential competition: once that resource becomes a commodity, the faster and leaner will win. Should see how the japs themselves respond in future if threatened. But if the really really big guys ( walmart type) do not look out from everyone, they will become a dead man's stock. Poor stock analysts. boo hoo. The key is to prepare for possible changes in environment. The cliche still works: Change or perish.

Me and pradosh will mount a bid for Ford ( much sexier name than GM or chrsyler). :D

Monday, February 12, 2007

Rocky-last :)

Rocky Balboa

Direction: Sly Stallone

Cast: Sly Stallone (
J rest are not relevant)

Plot: Rocky Balboa is at a crossroads in life. He has lost his wife, his son does not want to adopt his life while looking to get away from the shadow of his life, and Rocky is left to entertaining his guests with stories of his exploits in the ring. He feels an emptiness, the feeling to accomplish something again. So against the advice of all he knows, he applies for a boxing license.

The first half of the movie is actually a small glimpse into the lives of people who have been there and done that. They realize that their chance in life has come and gone, and now its only their choice whether to take another shot or not. Rocky wants to be a part of his son’s life, make the world a better place ( this is done brilliantly through his ‘relationship’ with little marie-who thinks herself to be nobody and her son, tagged by the brilliant one liner approximately “you never forget bad insults”).

The present day boxing champ is going through a crisis of his own, he is undefeated and cannot find anyone to fight against-someone who can stretch him and create a legacy for him. To add insult computer simulations show him being defeated by Rocky. So, when his promoters hear that Rocky has managed to get a license (by a rant to the panel –a literal gobbly dock), they set up a fight err a sparring match. Rocky responds as only he can, the amazingly cool 60 yr old does weights and trains his battle hardened body some more. ( I loved that part-he actually trains, and the famous library is shown… Rocky the Philadelphia slugger is back :D) After taunts et all ( this part of the movie is badly done), Rocky fights he defending champ. That is best part of the movie. The champ injures his hand and this makes a fight even for some time and they trade punch after punch (even though this could have been real time instead of slow motion).

The true cinematic moment comes when rocky is down on one knee and the whole audience is cheering him to get up (this is the theatre audience is downtown Mumbai J, including yours truly) and he down to a deafening roar. In the end he loses the match 2-1 after full 10 rounds but the point has been made, the people’s champion still has the spirit and goes down blazing.

Stallone has done a very good job of directing the movie. The pace picks up during the fight sequence (after some boring 15 min in between) and scenes from the previous series are brilliantly injected. There is continuity in characters, language and tone of the movie ( I have seen 3 of them) and the characteristic rocky theme song just gives you goose bumps.

I grew up with Stallone’s action movies and he does not let me down (even with a non working lower lip-seizure apparently) in what is probably his last act. Thank god Pradosh asked me for the movie.

You got to have pride and do what you have to do.

Rating: 7/10

Black Friday

Black Friday

Direction: Anurag Kashyap

Cast: Pawan Malhotra, KK, Aaditya Shrivastava. I do not know the rest of the names.

Length: Around 3 hours

The movie is the adaptation of the book by the same name by S Hussain Zaidi . It traces the investigation into the Mumbai blasts of 1993 and how the case was cracked. The movie was released after a long time in the courts and just its appearance in movie halls is a victory for freedom of speech in India.

Opening with a small glimpse of silence after the blasts, the police unravel the case with the help of an abandoned vehicle and an un-exploded scooter bomb. The primary angle of the movie is from the investigation side, into how loose threads formed a coherent story eventually. The case itself was classic police lore, with accusations of human rights violations, bravery and intelligence of the police force and large political repercussions. But, the purpose of this movie is not entertainment, it sort of moves a documentary style about how ordinary people, brought together by ‘loss’ conspire and execute a daring plot to cripple the financial center of the country.

Mushtaq(Tiger) Memmon (Pawan Malhotra), is filled with rage after his business is lost in target mob attack during the riots. He channels the rage of similarly affected people, broadly influenced by the demolition of the Babri Masjid (“We refuse to believe that a construction that has stood for centuries could have been destroyed by stones and hammers”) and the state of fear induced by the vicious attacks of the Hindu mobs. (I guess this part is what stopped the movie from being screened, “How many Hindus have you killed” Memmon asks one of the recruits). The recruits are sent for training to Pakistan and execute the plot while the masterminds fund it from Dubai. The entire plot is recounted by Badshah Khan(brilliantly portrayed by Aaditya Shrivastav) who turns an informer when he figures he is just a pawn in the larger game.

The movie is set against the haunting music of Indian ocean (tho’ I would have love to hear “Ruk ja re bande” in the movie itself) and captures the anguish of the perpetrators( without showing whether they have remorse or not) and the chilling efficiency of the police (KK as chief investigating inspector Rajeev Maria). I say anguish because, most were ordinary people who suddenly realized that the way of life and country they believed was theirs, was now making it difficult for them to live in. Of course there are creative licenses in the movie probably (I have not read the book), but the attempt is to have an impact on the audience of reality, not shock, awe or message driven.

The acting is brilliant with Vijay Mourya (Dawood) having and uncanny resemblance to the original. Malhotra and KK are restrained, while Shrivastav shows the right weight to his emotions. Indian ocean is at its elements with its background score.

Rating: 9/10

PS: The chilling coldness of the policeman kadam is to be seen to be believed.