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Notes to Myself

Month

January 2009

Slumdog Millionaire: Mixed Reviews

I have not yet watched Slumdog Millionaire – the movie that can (and in all probabilities will certainly!) give India its first ever Oscar winner (in form of A R Rahman)
But I have heard and read a lot about it. And the reactions have been extremes…simply too great, outstanding, absolute classic OR crap, bull****, over-hyped etc.
You will find plenty of reviews saying nice things about the movie – so I won’t mention them again. What drew my attention was the following two kind-of-negative reviews.
First, written by IIPM’s self-proclaimed business Guru, Arindam Chaudhari in his blog (http://arindamchaudhuri.blogspot.com/2009/01/dont-see-slumdog-millionaire-it-sucks.html)
And as his usual practice goes, he published one full-page advertisements in all leading newspapers containing this review.
The other one is by a popular blogger Gaurav Sabnis
Both reviews do not rate the movie highly. And have almost thrashed it…I now want to watch the movie and determine how  I find it. My hunch is that: I will not like it either…
But whatever be it – I sincerely feel that Rahman gets Oscars for this movie. I do not think  (and most people will agree) that Slumdog Millionaire is his best work till date. In fact it is not anywhere close to his Top 10 albums. But the important point is: He is a genius and deserves to be acknowledged at global level… and since he has been nominated for Slumdog… he better get it for the same! So all eyes on 22nd Feb 2009…when winners will be announced…and hopefully history will be created by Rahman, for India!
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By the way, while reading the two aforementioned reviews I also came across the serious fight between the two reviewers – about IIPM…and its serious repurcussions…check out more about this here…
And this,
Especially go through the comments on this article, and you will get more insights and further links to explore!
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The New Buffettology: Book Review: Part 2


Another short anecdote from the book ‘The New Buffettology’ which I liked is about Warren’s view about Market – he views investing in market as a deal between you (the investor) and Mr. Market.

Here is the extract about Mr. Market:
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HOW MR. MARKET HELPED WARREN GET RICH


When Benjamin Graham (Warren’s mentor) was teaching Warren about the shortsightedness of the stock market, he asked Warren to imagine that he owned and operated a wonderful and stable little business with an equal partner by the name of Mr. Market.

 

Mr. Market had an interesting personality trait that some days allowed him to see only the wonderful things about the business. This, of course, made him wildly enthusiastic about the world and the business’s prospects on the other day, he couldn’t see past negative aspects of the business, which, of course, made him overly pessimistic about the world and the immediate future of the business.

 

Mr. Market also had another quirk. Every morning he tried to sell you his interest in the business. On days he was wildly enthusiastic about the immediate future of the business, he asked for a high selling price. On doom-and-gloom days, when he was overly pessimistic about the immediate future of the business, he quoted you a low selling price hoping that you would be foolish enough to take the troubled company off his hands.

 

One other thing, Mr. Market doesn’t mind if you don’t pay any attention to him. He shows up to work every day – rain, sleet, or snow – ready and willing to sell you his half of the business, the price depending entirely on his mind. You are free to ignore him or take him up on his offer. Regardless of what you do, he will be back tomorrow with a new quote.

 

If you think that the long-term prospects for the business are good and would like to own the entire business, when do you take Mr. Market up on his offer? When he is wildly enthusiastic and quoting you a really high price? Or when he feels pessimistic and quotes you a very low price? Obviously you buy when Mr. Market is feeling pessimistic about the immediate future of the business, because that’s when you would get the best price.

 

Graham added one more twist. He taught Warren that Mr. Market was there to benefit him, not to guide him. You should be interested only in the price that Mr. Market is quoting you, not in his thoughts on what the business is worth. In fact, listening to his erratic thinking could be financially disastrous to you. Either you will become overly enthusiastic about the business and pay too much for it, or you become overly pessimistic and miss taking advantage of Mr. Market’s insanely low selling price.

 

Warren says that, to this day, he still likes to imagine himself being in business with Mr. Market. To his delight he has found that Mr. Market still has his eye on the short term and is still manic-depressive about what businesses are worth.


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<span class="Apple-style-span" style="font
-family:verdana;”>What I liked a
bout this book is the language, the lingo used to explain simple concepts and Warren’s way of thinking.

The New Buffettology: Book Review: Part 1


I recently read this book – ‘The New Buffettology’ by Mary Buffet (who was Warren’s daughter-in-law for 12 years before she divorced her husband and Warren’s son, Peter) and David Clark.


I immensely enjoyed reading this book; though not a fool-proof, it has some very interesting snippets and anecdote’s about Warren Buffet’s investment strategies and business acumen. It gives you some insight into how Warren thinks and makes his investment decisions.


The books is filled with small write-ups/ tid-bits used to explain some basic concepts/ Warren’s investment philosophies. Here is one excerpt on the shortsightedness of Mutual Fund and how investing in Mutual Funds with long-term perspective is not a good idea (to which I fully agree. I had similar thoughts but was not able to put it in such precise words as te following write-up has done!)

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THE SHORTSIGHTEDNESS OF THE MUTUAL FUND BEAST


A number of years ago the authors were having dinner with a middle-aged mutual fund manager who oversaw tens of billions of dollars for the money management division of a large West Coast Bank. He brought along an enormous book that contained a brief analysis over two thousand different companies that he and his fellow analysts followed. They called it their “investment universe”. At his invitation we thumbed through the book and found a company that we knew Warren had been buying, Capital Cities Communications. Capital Cities was a television and radio broadcasting company run by Tom Murphy, a management genius with a keen eye for the bottom line. Warren loved this company and once said that if he were stranded in a deserted island for ten years and had to put all his money into just one investment, it would be Capital Cities. Definitely a strong vote of confidence.

Our friend also had a list of the stocks his fund had purchased. As we read through the list, we noticed that he didn’t own any Capital Cities. We quickly pointed this out and told him that Warren had recently been buying it. He said that he knew it was a great company but he didn’t own it because he didn’t think the stock price would do much over the next six months. We told him that was insane. That it was a fantastic long-term investment selling at a great price. He told us that he was under great pressure to produce the highest quarterly results possible. If he couldn’t beat his competitor’s returns quarterly, his clients would take their money elsewhere, which meant that he would lose his job, his Porche, and the income to send his son to Harvard. (Sounds grim, doesn’t it?)

Our mutual fund manager felt he couldn’t buy a single share of Capital Cities for his fund, even though he knew it was a great investment, because he wasn’t sure that it was going to go up in price over the next six months. This is the nature of mutual beast; it caters to the short-term oriented mutual-fund-buying public. If it doesn’t, money flows out the door and down the street to the fund that produces better short-term results.

(in case you are wondering, Capital Cities eventually merged with the ABC television network, which eventually merged with entertainment giant Disney, making Warren billions in the process. Good things do come to those who have patience and foresight.)


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I am now fully convinced that investing in Mutual Fund with a long-term perspective is a bad idea…and have vowed never to invest in it 🙂


Paanwallas united… sorry, divided, by a name and a moustache


It is not often that you find a Paanwallah with his own brand and website! Yes, Muchchhad Paanwallah from Mumbai (Bombay) has his registered his own ‘Muchchhad’ paan brand and has a neat website (http://www.paan.com/index.html

But even he is not exempt from piracy and competition. Another look-alike or clone came up with the same name paan shop and that triggered the controvery. 

I read this article a few weeks back in Indian Express and it made any interesting read. Check for yourself: 

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Mumbai: So who’s the original Muchhad? On threatens to move court, other says let him and we’ll see

Till a few days ago, Ram Tiwari, whose father Jaishankar Tiwari owns and runs the Muchhad Paanwalla near Kemps Corner on Warden Road in south Mumbai had been under the impression that his was the only shop to cater to customers under this name.

But another shop, claims Tiwari, bearing the same name and logo has been running in Andheri near the Sports Complex without his knowledge. 

“I came to know about this around 15 days back when a regular customer of our shop complained to me saying he had ordered paan for some of his visiting relatives from my shop at Andheri, but it was not up to his expectations. 

When I said that we do not have any other shop, he told me about the shop near Andheri Sports Complex which had the same name and logo as my shop,” said Tiwari. 

Outraged, he went to Andheri Sports Complex to see the shop which is run by one Ajay Tiwari. “I was shocked to see that he had spelt the name exactly the way it is painted on my shop display board. He has painted the word ‘Andheri’ before the logo of Muchhad Paanwalla , but whole effect is highly deceiving. Anyone can take it to be a branch of our shop,” he said, infuriated. 

Apparently, when Tiwari asked Ajay why his shop was named the same, he was told that the latter too had a moustache, which is why the shop was named Muchhad. He allegedly even challenged Tiwari to send a legal notice and that he would contest it. 

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“Ours is a fairly famous shop. We have been in business since 1977. Our brand was registered in 2002 after our clientele grew and the ‘Muchhad’ brand became well known. Any other shop doing business under the name of our shop will surely affect our business. 

“We have a flourishing business. People not only from the city, but even foreign tourists visit us for our paan. The incident has not only hurt our business, but also our reputation. I am in consultation with my lawyer and will take legal action against him,” said Tiwari. 

Ajay, who runs the Andheri shop said: “I set up my shop 11 years ago and named it ‘Andheri Muchhad’ then. I have also consulted my lawyer about whether the name of my shop would lead to any legal hassle. He told me it would not since the name of my shop is different from that of the Kemp’s Corner shop. Why should I change the name of my shop after 11 years of hard work and having set up a name for my business?” 

Source: Indian Express daily, December 23, 2008

Rahman’s Slumdog Millionaire song goes to the Oscars




A. R Rahman lost a dear friend and sound recordist H Sridhar days after 26/11. It has left the musical maestro shaken but not devastated. Without telling a soul, he left for the US to submit his Hindi song ‘Jai Ho‘ from Slumdog Millionaire at the Oscars.. a song that actually belonged to Subhash Ghai!


The song has already been nominated for the ‘New York Critics Choice Award’, and the soundtrack has fetched Rahman the ‘Los Angeles Critics Choice Award’ for the best score. The soundtrack has just received a Golden Globe Nomination and the song is a hot favourite at the Oscars. 


And to think that the song belonged to Subhash Ghai in Yuvvraaj. It’s not just the ‘Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai‘ song that Subhash Ghai allowed the British director Danny Boyle and A. R. Rahman to use in Slumdog Millionaire. It now comes to light that Ghai also gave away an entire original song from his own Yuvvraaj to Slumdog Millionaire


How did this bewildering barter of creativity happen? Says the song’s writer Gulzar, “I had written a song called ‘<span class="Apple-styl
e-span” style=”color:rgb(51,0,51
);”>Aaja Aaja Shamiane Ke Taley, Zari Wale Neele Aasman Ke Taley
‘ for Subhash Ghai’s Yuvvraaj. But then for some reason Subhash felt he didn’t need that song in the film. So Rahman suggested that we use the track in Slumdog Millionaire because it fitted perfectly. We asked Subhash and he readily agreed. I must say it was very generous of him. It’s my first international project.” 


Subhash Ghai brushes off the compliment. “There’s nothing generous about it. Give and take is an integral part of any creative field. Look at M F Husain Saab’s generosity. He called me up all the way from Dubai to say he loved Yuvvraaj. After the battering that it got, his words came as balm to my soul, especially when Husain Saab said he saw the film twice and liked it even better the second time. I happily gave the ‘Aaja Aaja‘ song to Rahman when he said that it was needed for Danny Boyle’s film. I felt the song was slightly too soft and subtle for the aggressive character (Zayed Khan). I’m glad they could use it.” 


And now the song that Subhash Ghai so generously handed over to another film is being submitted for the Oscars. ‘Aaja Aaja Shamiane Ke Taley‘ is being entered in for the Best Song Category at the Oscars. 


Any regrets for giving over the song? “None at all. Every film and every song has its own destiny. That song was meant to be in Slumdog Millionaire. I’m just happy that a Hindi song is being noticed heard and hummed in the US by non-NRI audiences,” says Ghai. 


Speaking from the US, Rahman says, “I’m here for work. But I’ve to say the sudden death of my friend and my permanent sound recordist H Sridhar (who died of a cardiac arrest on December 1) has been a big blow for me. He was a close friend and professional associate for twenty years. He was not just a sound recordist but also a fantastic keyboards player. He revolutionalized sound recording. I am shattered? It’s a personal and professional loss. But life goes on. It has to.”
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You can listen to the song here:

What if the U.S. won no Olympic medals?

An interesting article about the status of education quality in the US. It compares downfall of the inttelectual achievement by US students (in Math) to a similar downfall in Olympic sports.

Also – some nice and encouraging words about the education system in India and China…


“Excellence” is a drive from inside – not outside

This is a simple short story, but has something to learn from it…

A man once visited a temple under construction where he saw a sculptor making an idol of God. Suddenly he noticed a similar idol lying nearby.

Surprised, he asked the sculptor, “Do you need two statues of the same idol?” “No,” said the sculptor without looking up, “We need only one, but the first one got damaged at the last stage.”


The gentleman examined the idol and found no apparent damage. “Where is the damage?” he asked. “There is a scratch on the nose of the idol.” said the sculptor, still busy with his work.  “Where are you going to install the idol?” The sculptor replied that it would be installed on a pillar twenty feet high. “If the idol is that far, who is going to know that there is a scratch on the nose?” the gentleman asked.

 

The sculptor stopped his work, looked up at the gentleman, smiled and said, “I will know it.”

 

The desire to excel is exclusive of the fact whether someone else appreciates it or not. “Excellence” is a drive from inside, not outside.

 

Excel at a task today – not necessarily for someone else to notice but for your own satisfaction.

Just for fun: Celebrating New Year


Someone just asked me: ‘How did you spend your first day of the New Year?’


I said: I reflected on the year gone by to see what I have gained during the last year…but that proved to be a bad idea…for, the only thing I have gained is…WEIGHT 😦





Happy B’day A. R. Rahman…





A R Rahman turns 42 today…

Happy Birthday to A. R. Rahman – my favourite composer and undoubtedly the best of today’s generation!!!

2008 has been one of the landmark years for ARR – with as many as 6 films he  composed music for viz. Jodha-Akbar, Jaane tu…Yaa Jaane Na, Ada (yet to be released), Yuvvraaj (weakest of all these), Ghajini (typical South Indian masala music) and Slumdog Millionaire (new experimental music – for which he won Goldan Globe nomination)

Quality-wise none of these can be counted as his all-time best, yet all of them were decent to good/ very good – fulfilling what you would expect from Rahman.

So this year Rehman will definitely be a contender for Best Music Director award at Filmfare.
And my vote goes to ‘Khwaja mere khwaja’ from Jodha-Akbar (first choice) or ‘Kabhi kabhi Aditi…’ from ‘Jaane tu…’ (a distant second choice)

I’m a big fan of ARR and have most of his Hindi songs. I have created a Podcast devoted entirely to ARR songs – where I plan to upload many more songs composed by Rahman:


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