Archive for the ‘Bollywood Movies’ Category


Home Shanti Home

December 25, 2007

Though I should have written this post long back, it kept getting postponed for one reason or another. A week after “Om Shanti Om” was released, a Nigerian friend of mine who had left India way back in 1975 suddenly popped in front of my residence. For a while I thought it was a mistake since we are several families living in a flat system. When he muttered the word “Baba” and his residence number of the seventies, I was able to put two and two together and welcomed him in.

Imagine meeting him after 32 long years. When we had parted ways, I was taller than him and we were of the same built but now, he was much more taller and heftier than me. After the initial exchange of pleasantries , he tried to speak in hindi or whatever he remembered though in 1975, he spoke as well as any Indian. He would speak a few words here and there which sounded funny. He said that he was out of practice but had not forgotten “Zeenat Aman”, “Yaadon ki Baraat” and Amjad Khan of Sholay. Some things are beyond the domain of language. We also remembered how his elder brother, Nuhu would wear goggles and look like Clive Lloyd( West Indies captain on their tour off 1974) and we would run after him shouting “Lloyd”, “LLoyd”

When I took him around the colony and the local club, we remembered our childhood days in the early seventies when we had spent three years together. He was extremely naughty and that gleam in his eyes had not receded over the years. Though a year younger than me, it was he who gave me my first “Sex Education” lesson at the age of nine( He was eight at that time) . Though I did not ask him at that time, I could not help asking him where he had received his sex enlightenment from at such a young age. When he arrived at his old house, he showed me the tall wall between his and the house of an American couple who used to stay there. He said that he had a naughty chowkidaar who used to put him on his shoulders and show the American couple “doing it “ at a certain time in the evening. He said that he learnt both theory and practicals like that. With or without internet, those inclined to learn will learn. Imagine, him coming after a gap of 32 years and telling me all this.

Om shanti Om was a tribute to a movie called Karz which was released sometime in the seventies. In the seventies, there used to be a great commercial movie director,”Manmohan Desai” who used to make films on long lost brothers who would separate as children and unite as adults. The best among them was the Amitabh staarer “Amar, Akbar Anthony”. You may enjoy such films as children but one tends to outgrow these things. Never in my wildest imagination I would have thought that Baba would return after 32 years. As far as I was concerned, he was out of sight, out of mind. I could not have traced him on google as I did not know his real name. He would not have been able to trace me had I not been staying in the same colony at a different place. Brothers or friends, it feels great to be reunited after such a long time. Hindi movies have a logic after all and I should say “Home shanti home”


Does god need a guru?

January 13, 2007

The original title of this article was going to be “If I were God..”. That would obviously sound quite pompous and so I first thought of “Does God need a consultant”? . However since the film Guru has been released recently and resurrected certain stray thoughts in my mind, I substituted consultant with Guru. This article is a “thinking out of the box” exercise on god’s performance on several issues(because of which there seems a lack of focus which is deliberate):-

I read somewhere that the film Guru is based on the life of India’s most successful post independent industrialist, the late Dhirubhai Ambani.. His success mostly was because of lateral thinking – The world’s best known authority on lateral thinking, Edward De Bono has always advocated that both linear and lateral thinking should be introduced in schools because intellectuals or other bright people do not necessarily make good thinkers. Just focusing on the romance of “Rags to Riches” story while missing the essence is like missing the wood for the trees. Assuming that god is running this world, he is not doing a very good job on this issue; high time he influences the teachers. . Teacher is also synonymous with the word Guru the literal meaning of which is “One who removes darkness.” A lot of darkness can be dispelled if lateral thinking is taught. Wonder why it does not happen.? The govt may or may not do anything but the people of India gave Dhirubhai a farewell that speaks for itself- he was the Guru of Gurus and who better than Hirubhai(My name is Hiren Shah) to extol the virtues of Dhirubhai.

Talking of Dhirubhai reminds me of my father who though not an entrepreneur, had turned around a sick company and won a partnership on the strength of his management skills alone. Being a chartered accountant by profession, he prevailed upon me the importance of cash flow management and how any business could collapse without continuous liquidity. So much so that I ended up writing a poem on it . God really takes the cake where cash flow is concerned. He has to ensure that sufficient accidents happen every month to ensure that the kitchen fires burn in several homes(mechanics, doctors, insurance etc); he has to ensure that people fight and there are disputes so that lawyers, police etc earn a living etc etc. Basically, he has to operate on the principle of “One man’s problem is another man’s opportunity”. That’s quite a naughty way to run the world even accounting for the law of Karma. Liquidity apart, God has to ensure that overall the world is good(profitable) and considering the fall of people like Hitler and Stalin, he has done a good job of it. He is a pretty good money manager.

The law of Karma reminds me of the horrifying sexual exploitation and serial killings of innocent children at Nithari Village in Noida recently. One cannot but wonder about the law and what the innocent children must have done in their previous lives to deserve such a cruel fate. Talking in the management context of “ One should not make the same mistake twice”, unless god makes the law of Karma transparent( one should be able to see what one did in one’s previous lives for reward/punishment) how can one know one’s mistake and ensure that it is not repeated again. This is assuming that the law is correct( going by Hinduism, Jainism and to the best of my knowledge, Budhdhism). On mooting this question, I got a new reply this time- the first four years, the child has to pay for the father’s sins, the next four the mother’s sins, the next four his own sins before the actions of the current birth starts. Interesting, if true.

Otherwise the answers one tends to get are- if god makes the law transparent and nobody does any bad deed , how will he run the world- if there is no villain, where will the heros come from and what about the famous maya jaal ?. Another explanation in the context of “Necessity is the mother of invention” is that if no or very little trouble happens, who the hell will remember good(poor), old God?. As it is, one gets to hear that most people worship god out of fear and greed but very few out of love. Man, by his very nature is selfish but for God to create so much trouble in the world just to be remembered? God would not be spiritual if god were like that and if that is so, existence has no meaning. The way tides happen, seasons change, the distance between the earth, moon and sun and similar other things that happen in the Universe which indicates that the universe is in order- why not this(transparency in law of karma)? God alone knows the answer and I do hope the old boy gives it a thought or two.

Talking of transparency reminds me of the redoubtable Bill Gates, the richest and one of the most successful men in the world. I have read in books on how at Microsoft, anybody can write to Mr Bill Gates directly and be redirected by him. In my humble opinion, that must be one of the major reasons of his success because with that kind of transparency, Mr Gates probably knows what the potential of each individual is and people are not likely to be scared of their immediate bosses. Today it has come in the papers “Lost your appetite for work? Blame your toxic boss” where it is given how autocratic bosses can harm both the individuals and the organization. I have read other books on the subject and also suffered practically and feel that the situation can be redressed only if the top boss( boss of bosses) ensures that there is enough transparency without fear which can only be good in the long run. This can only happen if the boss of boss of the bosses( god himself) instills this sense in the heads of organizations. Wonder what god’s views on this are.

Talking of Mr Gates cannot but remind of the initiative that he has taken with his foundation. One gets to hear of a “Capitalists mind with a socialist heart” but perhaps for the first time in the history of mankind, the world’s two richest men have come together for philanthropic activities with a $60billion fund. This is a very handsome step considering the fact that civilizations have perished when there have been extreme disparities of income and wealth. Mr Gates also said that he wanted to give back to society not only in terms of money but whatever he had learnt in the business world. One gets to read in spiritual books that many times severe adversity causes an about turn in people’s attitudes and make them graduate towards spirituality/philanthropy. It happened to one great industrialist. If true, it would be prudent of God to hasten adversity and bring it a little early in their lives- preposterous though it may seem, one has to look from an overall perspective and the lead given by these two gentlemen can remove whatever is left of the rift between capitalism/ Socialism forever. As we say in Hindi, shubh(read ashubh) kaam me deri kya?

Transparency cannot but help you remind of the political system. Yesterday, there was a report on how cricketers were going to be paid on performance alone. I find it a little strange that people playing a sport have to be so accountable and elected representatives of people have no accountability. In every second management book, it is given that goals are so important that the habit of forming them should be inculcated from early childhood. It is strange that for sports and children and companies, goals and performance is important but for those running the country, it does not matter. Strange are the ways of God- somewhat like putting the cart before the horse.

Now that reminds me of something else. Getting their due always reminds me of women- one wonders when they will get their due? I read a couple of books on their exploitation at work. One keeps reading on how considering their population, women are grossly misrepresented in parliament. There has been some headway in the right direction after liberalization but by and far, it remains a man’s world. One would like to believe that God wanted men and women to be equal and since women gives birth to a man, this is the cart before the horse all over again. I am not saying that god does not have horse sense but one wonders why such injustice? The 21st century may turn out to be one of servant and mother leadership and one hopes that god makes amends for past mistakes.

Getting their due and cash flow reminds one of something else- one journalist had told me that the goddess of Laxmi( Money) and Saraswati( Goddess of knowledge) do not always go hand in hand. Someone with a mass appeal like actor Govinda can give a brilliant actor like Naseeruddin shah a run for his money where commercial appeal is concerned. Good art films flop where substandard commercial films may do well. There are examples of artists struggling for subsistence and people with very humble businesses being millionaires. Everything that is good does not necessarily succeed commercially and vice-versa. God alone knows the reasons for this but at least he can do a more balancing act that befits his stature.

The balancing act again reminds you of the wide gap between applied spirituality and applied science. Intellectuals like Krishnamurthy have clearly stated that man has progressed technologically but regressed psychologically. Events like the Iraq war, 9/11 or even the recent bomb blasts prove statements like “Man. God’s greatest mistake” or “Religions are many but religion is one”. Spirituality and “religious mind” is more talked about than actually followed . Being selfish is not always a bad thing.. God could do with a bit of selfishness here- why not promote one’s own subject( applied spirituality). We have made enough headway in Science anyway.

From an individual’s perspective, being spiritual is being happy and peaceful throughout the day. This is simply not possible if a person is in the wrong profession which is brought out properly in my other blog –Make your passion your profession. The Russian comunists did it , the chinese also misplaced people in the cultural revolution but how can god do such a thing. I am surprised that a superpower like the United states has so many people writing on the subject. I don’t like to critciize god but he is not much of a critical thinker- how can welfare of mankind be brought about if a majority of people are miserable for a majority of working hours. You need to something about that, Godji.

I can go on and on as one stray thought leads to another. Just a word guru started a whole chain of thought which goes on to show that thought itself is the biggest guru. ( Thoughts have infinite power). At the same time, all this gives food for thought what god is really upto and with due apologies for insubordination, can he do with some help on certain issues. ?


Umrao Jaan ya Umar Bhar Jahannum?

November 6, 2006

I saw Umrao Jaan today. Though the movie is slow and can be quite boring for people not so fond of Urdu poetry or dialogues, its an absolute must for Aishwarya Rai fans who was “omnipresent” throughout the film. Both Miss Rai and Abhishek Bachchan(who does not have much to do in the film) have put in good performances at par with Shabana Azmi who is in her element as usual. No point in comparing Aishwarya to Rekha in the old movie because with the kind of Rekhas(beauty)she has, performance can be on the backburner for some. Speaking for myself, I am a hardcore Rekha fan for both style(beuaty) and substance(talent).

More than the performers and the performances, some chaste urdu poetry and dialogues were quite spellbinding. One such dialogue in the film which Shabana Azmi says to Aishwarya Rai goes something like this

“Heere ko apni chamak nahin dikhti par jauhri uski Kadar karna jaanta hai”.(Maynot be exact) . This implies that a person may not know his own worth but a discerning coach/master may know enough to be kingmaker.

It reminded me of what I had read a couple of years ago- Current Chairman of Indian cricket Selectors Dilip Vengsarkar was then on a “talent-scout” mission among the small villages and towns of India to hunt for natural cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev. Much before that, former Test cricketer and member of world cup winning team Madan lal while talking in the context of coaching my son told me “ My years in International cricket has taught me one thing. Cricket is a god given gift. If I see a gifted child, I take interest in him. Otherwise I tell the parents not to waste my and their time and take their child wherever his potential lies” . Even for Tennis, the best player in the local club also told me that the coaches often know who has the potential but many times hide facts from the parents of the less gifted child to earn more. One wonders how far a proactive talent scout system can work in education as well.

(A week after writing this post, it came in an article on India today(featuring Vengsarkar) that cricketers spotted by the Talent Reasearch Development officers(TRDO) were groomed by the National cricket academy. Vengsarkar states in the article that there is no exceptional talent that can straightaway be inducted into the Indian cricket team. It reminded me of how Wasim Akram and Inzamam-ul-haq had been catapulted to International cricket by the then Pakistan captian Imran khan after watching them on Television. Akram as captain followed the same policy with Abdul Razzaq.More or less the same thing happened to Tendulkar. It may not work in all cases(Parthiv Patel) but at least the TRDOs can be there in all occupations)

I recently read somewhere that some recruiting firm was not satisfied with the quality of software engineers that were coming out of institutes. It reminded me of this post in which it is stated that only 20% of the total talent pool is good enough for India Inc.

Who educates the educationists?

The direct definition of Education is that it is derived from the latin word educere which implies to take out what is already in(and not blindly stuff in). Another interesting definition of Education is that “Education is whatever you are left with after you have forgotten whatever you have learnt”.

The above definitions imply that you are born with a certain innate potential. What does that imply? Well known motivation speaker, Mr Shiv Khera often says “ Winners do not do different things. They do things differently”. Though he says this in the context of attitude, I believe it is more true for aptitude for the simple reason that everybody cannot do everything differently. Another well known American consultant said that “You have to figure out what is uniquely you”. According to them, grand success depends on being able to identify if not pin-point what is it that you can do uniquely and exceptionally well. Each of the Pandavas being unique in their own way, one of the teachings of the Mahabharat is to develop your unique quality.

Natural talent often manifests well without any formal coaching. I played lawn Tennis for several years but was not satisfied with the backhand(bane of many racquet games). My younger brother got it right in the first week itself without any coaching in such a brilliant manner that many players complimented him. My wife is qualified in English hons but it is me, an MBA who has written articles and poems for magazines and newspapers. Similarly, she does certain business work much better than I do. My father does much better trading in shares than me despite not having any formal training in Technical analysis(graphs) which I have. I once worked in a company where the rise of one person was much faster than four others though all of them were from the same batch from the same institute.

John Adair, in his book, effective innovation while giving the example of a trained artist who excelled as an inventor concluded that “Engineering is just a state of mind. You do not need a vaste amount of knowledge”

All this clearly shows that talent(application) is more important than the tool(knowledge). Even the scriptures talk about it. Vedanta says that Sukshma( subtle, subjective) is more powerful than sthula(gross, objective). Vedanta also talks about each one to progress according to his natural inclination-Raja yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma yoga and Jnana yoga and further discriminate according to their states of mind –Rajsik, Tamsik and Satvik.. Many intellectual and spiritual stalwarts- Vivekanand, Osho, Krishnamurthy, Aurobindo etc have spoken of it. However one wonders how much the so called educational institutes follow it- imparting knowledge is not very tough but being able to spot innate talent is a different ballgame altogether. Following humotech is as if not more important than following biotech or infotech.

It would not be out of place to mention here what I read about the board exam suicides(which have gone up in the last five years) a few months ago in an article which suggested that the subject of emotional intelligence should start early in schools. One cannot disagree with that but maybe if true educationists were there, the children would know where their unique strenghts were and there would be no reason to commit suicide because of fear of blind competition. Competition ironically means “seeking together”. In any case, blind pursuit of knowledge instead of talent or application in the era of internet is plain stupidity.

Today itself, in the Sunday Times of India, dress designer Abu Jani ( Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla ) says “In 1886 we were treading uncharted waters. Neither of us possessed any design qualifications and we had precious little in terms of finances or infrastructure to invest into the grand vision we had conjured up for ourselves. What we did have in abundance was the dream and determination to turn it into a reality.”

Well, for every Abu-Sandeep who have the guts to follow their convictions, there are countless who do not know their hidden talents, their unique talents or their so called “dreams” and unless the education systems reforms, they are destined to live the life of Thomas Carlyle’s “ The person who has found his vocation in life is a blessed human being. Let him ask for no other blessedness.” Since a majority of time is spent on work it can be a lifetime of misery- “Umar bhar Jehanoom”(lifelong hell) which is the life of Aishwarya Rai in the movie.


Salute the new wise guy, Lage raho Munnabhai- Bapu ke Lal or Jessica Lall?

September 19, 2006

The word “lal” in hindi implies one’s children and Gandhiji was revered as Bapu(Father) by many. The movie “Lage raho Munnabhai” is a very good attempt at remembering his legacy. The director has tried to show quite humorously how truth and non-violence which is what Gandhiji stood for are still one of the best ways to deal with day to day life situations.

Jessica lall more than anybody else in recent times symbolizes the fight for truth and Justice. Almost the entire mainstream media united in appealing and making presentations for justice when her murderer was adjudged not guilty by the court. Priyadarshini Matto is another case- she was raped and murdered by the son of a police officer who again managed to get away because of a priviledged background. In a country where the father of the nation is deemed an apostle of truth and non-violence and whose professional integrity as a lawyer is unquestionable, such incidents are clearly a blot on his unique legacy.

The Times of India supplement September 17,2006 in an article “Gandhi kaun hai” states that though a majority of Indians still believe in a peaceful way out in settling a dispute, a whopping 64% of Indians and 90% Delhiites believe that Gandhigiri does not work anymore.

The Chairman of Infosys, Mr Narayan Murthy, a man known as much for his integrity as for his numerous achievements in the software Industry admits in the book “Business Gurus speak”, “Since all our operations were outside, we had very few operations here(India) and had no need to bribe anyone. Maybe we would have done it, if forced to by circumstances. Every corporation can take only a limited amount of nuisance; beyond that it becomes very difficult“. One has to admire Mr Murthy’s forthrightness in admitting this.

Speaking from my own experience, the best boss(an outstanding CEO and later very successful businessman) that I worked under told me once that ” I draft a legal agreement with the assumption that the entire world is a cheat.” He said that that is the best way to be safe because practically everybody cheats.

Exactly the same words were mentioned by a lady on NDTV in a program on Karan Johar’s “Kabhi alvida na kehnai” . She was talking in the context of extra marital affairs and said that eveyrbody who thinks that he can get away with it cheats.Cheating is something that has become so common that one is more surprised when it does not happen. A government organization’s “commission” almost trippled over a decade.

It’s an all pervasive culture- some doctors misguide patients for money, some lawyers delay cases deliberately for money, some chartered accountants collude with the taxmen and fleece the client etc. Some teachers force tuitions on their students, one gets to hear corruption by the police now and then and one has even heard of some elements in the media indulging in corruption of a different kind. One wonders how “Gandhigiri” can work with such people . The question very often is “Who polices the police, who educates the educationists, who watches the watchdog, who makes law for the lawmakers etc or to sum up “Who keeps the keeper? They remind you of one of the all time great songs of Hindi Cinema from the movie Amar prem Chingari koi Bhadke(taken from

The whole song, which has one of the best lyrics of all times tries to explain that if the people who are responsible for certain duties do the exact opposite, nobody can save you. Not only Gandhigiri but nothing can work in a situation like this. God alone knows what the proportion of such people in the total is- whether they are an exception or the rule? The legal system being perceived as “remedy being worse than the disease“, the common man feels stifled and helpless.

Well known management consultant Arindam Chaudhary uses the words “practically defunct judiciary” and “inefficient and lethargic judicial system on perpetual strike for all practical purposes” in his book “Count your chickens before they hatch”. It sounds like a sweeping statement and one can’t help wondering how far it is true. Not only in the Judiciary but elsewhere, people take their professions for granted. One’s occupation sustains oneself emotionally(for a majority of waking hours)and financially and one should have the highest regard for it.

Contrast this to what is said in Gandhi’s autobiography(those not inclined can skip),
” As a student, I heard that a lawyer’s profession is a liar’s profession. That did not influence me. I had no intention of earning either position or money by lying.” “I have never resorted to untruth in my profession and since a large part of my legal practice was in the interest of public work, I charged nothing beyond out of the box expenses and that too I met myself”. “The true function of a lawyer is to unite parties driven asunder”.

Gandhiji was practical enough to admit though that “Truthfulness in the practice of a profession cannot cure it of the fundamental defect that vitiates it”

Gandhiji’s views on funds management-” Carefully kept accounts are a sine qua non for every organization. Without them, it falls into disrepute. Without properly kept accounts it is impossible to maintian truth in its pristine purity” . Gandhi always insisted on receipts being given on the amounts paid.

Gandhiji’s views on truthfulness in business- ” I strongly contested my merchant friends views when they said that business was a very practical thing and that pure truth was out of question in business. I reminded tham that their conduct in foreign land is how Iindians would be judged in general.”
Sometime back, there was another movie called ‘Maine Gandhi ko nahin mara” which stated how Indians remember the father of the nation only during his birth and death anniversaries. The truth is that he and his legacy have been murdered in a variety of ways and there can be a post on each of them. He being a lawyer, apart from “Truth” being explored above, our laws merit some detailed mention:-

In our colony. some people have let out their property to Banks. This causes traffic problems of Herculean proportions. About a week back, I received a call from the security to remove my car. I was surprised as I had parked it in the right place and said so in so many words. A young lady pleaded “You maybe right but I am very late and my children are waiting. Please remove your car and let me go”. She was almost on the verge of tears and I had no alternative but to remove the car. Banks in the immediate neighborhood apart, someone had dumped the construction material nearby(with no fear of the law) which compounded the problem considerably. Traffic is a daily nuisance and it probably takes even the bank customers more time to park the car and go back than the time spent in the bank. What can one do if the laws themselves are idiotic? Why allow any commercial activity in a residential area? The resident welfare association had once closed one gate in desperation as a result of which some people could not back to their own houses after going to the local club and were up in arms. This can have an endless spiral in stupidity but the basic fact remains- why are such stupid laws there in the first place? Some years ago, there was an article in a magazine by the name of “The law is an ass” which gave details of stupid and obsolete laws. Can “Gandhigiri” work in such cases? Indian businesmmen often complain of default in payments. In the United states, anybody can purchase anybody’s credit for a nominal sum and nobody tries to fool around with their credit history as everything runs on credit. Why can’t such laws be introduced here?
There must be donkey number of such cases where people have to face mental and emotional rapes without any hope for justice. It may not be possible for everybody to be as truthful as Gandhiji was but at least we can have sane laws.

I have always admired Gandhiji for his integrity and his sincerity. Some of his views on giving more emphasis to rural India have also proved correct. On the negative side, some of his conduct against the leaders who were against his non-violent policy leaves a lot to be desired. His family also suffered because of some of his obsessions. Forcing “Prohibition”(in Gujarat) on poor gujjus like us some of whom believe in enjoying their drink is actually a farce which is why maximum bootlegging deaths occur in cities like Baroda. Thank god they did not similarly try to impose his views on sex.

In Ganghigiri’s context, no system is infallible and if you need a Gandhi against a Churchill, you need a Churchill against a Hitler. No one strategy works all the time; it is the situation which dictates the leadership style. Lord Krishna himself orchestrated the Mahabharat(epic war) because the situation demanded it. One must mention here that the leadership likely to succeed in the stress filled 21st century -mother and servant leadership is similar to Gandhiji’s style. Gandhigiri maybe back in business not just in reel but in real life as well.

Today(25/9/2006), six days after the original post, I came across an interesting post which stated how Gandhigiri had failed with Pakistan(I had read similar posts after the recent Bombay blasts and some even suggested that we should follow Israel):-

It reminded me of what the Mahatma had said once which I wish I had mentioned earlier. Gandhiji had once specified in the context of the Hindu-Muslim riots ” ‘Ahimsa’ does not imply that when your sisters are getting raped, you standby and do nothing. That is not Ahimsa but cowardliness”. One has to see the situation and then act instead of being overobsessed with any one strategy, whatever it maybe.

Movies like “Lage raho Munnabhai” and “Rang de basanti” are very good symbolisms but some of our problems are too deep rooted and need a surgical operation. These problems cannot be solved by token symbolism no matter how much we eulogize the father of the nation.

I am a firm believer in “Without danger, one cannot go beyond danger”. When things go completely out of control, maybe Gandhi II will emerge from the teeming millions of India once again to our rescue. It is said that the hour produces the man. Till then, while trying to solve our problems and live like “Bapu ke Lal”, we have no option but to suffer like Jessica lall.
This post has an excellent presentation of both podcast and videocast
Remembering the Mahatma
After I wrote this, while bloging I came across a couple of more websites
Indian legal system
Teachers disgrace

This corroborates what is written earlier. How can Gandhigiri or anything work if people do the opposite of what they are supposed to be doing. One only hopes that such people are in minority.