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Hello: Movie Review

Last weekend was a working weekend and hence quite tiresome. Sunday evening we thought of unwinding by watching any movie and since not much choice was available, we decided to go for “HELLO”. I had read the novel “One Night At Call Center” by Chetan Bhagat and so there was definitely this curiosity to watch the cinematic avtaar of the book despite all the bad reviews and critical comments about the movie all across the media.

Well to start with, I think critics have been too critical of this movie unnecessarily; it’s not that bad and I found it to be an average watchable, at least better than some of the real disasters which I watched recently like “Bachna Ae Haseeno” or “Ugly Aur Pagli”. Let me tell you one very important thing about this movie – in case you are like me who just can’t stand the sight of Salman Khan even for few minutes and have avoided this movie as all promos of the movie were full of “Bang Bang” song and other garish dance movements of Mr. Khan then I have a happy news for you…this movie is hardly having Salman anywhere. Salman and Katrina play the role of preface part of the book i.e., Salman the part of Chetan Bhagat and Katrina the part of that mysterious girl whom Chetan meets in a train, only difference being that instead of train the whole plot is shifted to a helipad waiting area. The story is of 6 call center employees - their professional struggles in life, their personal relationships, their frustration and that one call from God which changes their life forever. Yes, a call from God! Won’t write the story in detail in the interest of those who want to watch this movie but overall it’s an exact adaption of the book. In fact while I was reading that book, then only I had found the story to be bit bollywoodish. Overall the movie was not that terrible but yes, the movie definitely went weak in two important areas – 1. Star Cast, 2. Climax. Not that one needs big names to make a movie hit but the very fact that all actors had given a very mediocre performance including Gul makes the overall impact quite weak. Infact I like Gul a lot and after watching movies like Dor and Manorama six feet under, one definitely expects a lot more from an actor of Gul’s caliber. And as far as climax is concerned, I think the movie really went wrong in that. I was definitely prepared for an unrealistic presence of God as I had read the book but somehow the way it was shown was not that impressive. I think they showed it too fast without much emotion or depth! It fails to cast that impact of some life-changing moment. Music of the film was not of my taste though I think the songs are doing good in the market. On the whole I would say it’s a one-time watchable movie if you are not looking for some very quality stuff or some movie with depth.

Though I must say one thing, I don’t agree with all the media bashing of Chetan Bhagat, infact I really appreciated the effort of Chetan Bhagat after watching this movie. I think he has done his job well atleast as far as the dialogue part is concerned. Also considering this was his first effort in Bollywood, I think he did an ok job. At least the man is having the guts to try out different things and the effort is not as awful as it is being criticized in media esp. when this year we have enough examples of duds coming out from some of the biggest names of the industry. From my side it’s a thumbs up for Chetan Bhagat’s effort and an average rating of 2.5 in 5 for the movie with a hope that Chetan will come out with a better book (I had loved Five Point Someone, hope he writes something as interesting as that again) and maybe a better movie next time.

Britney 2.0!

Well, looks like the lady who has always been in news of late for wrong reasons and who is trying to make a comeback with her album “Womanizer” has taken up her image building exercise quite seriously now. One can see Britney all over internet, she is trying to make her presence felt across different platforms – be it Britney TV Channel on Youtube or her revamped official website or her blog or her updates on Twitter. Read More At Marketing Chit-Chat...

MySpace advances with Indian Entertainment Content

I posted this on Saturday on Marketing Chit-Chat

"Joining the league of hosting official online communities for Indian movies / reality shows is now MySpace India. Social networking site MySpace will be hosting the official community of Star Plus dance reality Show, Nach Baliye – 4. Read More..."

Vertical to Horizontal: Web18

Well, quite a lot of development at! We saw lots of online as well as television advertisement followed by some noticeable alliances with entertainment programs and now this movement of their vertical portals like Buzz18 and Storeguru to So, is web18 group moving from vertical portals to a horizontal one? Read More At Marketing Chit-Chat

Small gestures do make a big difference!

In this mad-mad world there are days which are really crazy but then there are those sweet li’ll gestures which make your day worthwhile despite its all craziness and chaos. I think today was one such day for me :-)

With an online campaign getting live tomorrow, a key alliance finalization and planning of the new web product launch, it was quite frenetic for me today in office. Day was busy in calls and meetings but suddenly when I reach my desk I see a sweet card and a cute gift box waiting for me. Bewildered I asked my one of the team mates what’s the occasion and suddenly all of them gathered around my desk and wished in chorus, “Wish you a very HAPPY BOSS DAY”. Oh, I wasn’t even knowing it was a Boss’s Day today! The card was having interesting wishes handwritten by each of my team members and I found it to be so cute that I couldn’t stop myself from clicking this picture from my mobile and pasting it here. The gift was also very sweet but sweeter was their gesture and effort which just made my day! I’m so touched, thanks team!

Mom called me in the evening and I was sort of hassled because of work and was upset over one spineless character…in all this, I spoke to her with bit low spirit and told her that I will call her back once I reach home. For last two-three days I’ve not been able to talk to her properly and hence mom was worried for me. After this, the moment I open my personal mail, I get a mail from my Mom with subject “Beta hum apna pehla email tumko kar rahe hai” and the mail text was one of her own poems which she had written for me when I was a child, the first two lines of that poem are, “Gar vash chalta mera toh har leti tera krandan…”. Mom is trying to learn internet these days and this was her first email from her new email account. Oh I wonder what life would have been without mothers! With a smile on my face I immediately called her back and talked at length.

While coming back from office, it was raining. I generally have to walk for some distance to reach that vehicle stand and in rains Bangalore auto drivers are ready with more tantrums to irritate and spoil your mood. Annoyed I started walking in rain, but suddenly saw hubby standing in front of me with an umbrella! Oh wow, he had come to pick me up. Smilingly he took my bag, since he knew that I was not carrying any umbrella so he came all the way to pick me up. Smile on my face, just a silent smile :-)…

Thank god for those smiling moments and those delightful gestures which made my day lovely today. These small gestures do make a big difference in life.

At least do your bit to eradicate Poverty!

I had been planning to post this since morning but somehow didn’t get the time to do it but finally I’m able to complete it now. This is for “Blog Action Day 2008” on Poverty

Last week while coming back from office, I was waiting at one of the auto stands when I observed this little child trying to study in a very dim light placed near the ironing stall. His father irons clothes on that stall and since it is just adjacent to that auto stand, so I get to notice it quite often. While I was waiting I overheard the conversation of the child with his father where he was asking for money to buy 5 notebooks and his father was saying why can’t he write everything in one notebook only and why 5? That little guy kept on insisting that he needs 5 as his teacher has asked him to use different notebooks for different subjects and also his old notebook is almost over but his father very irritatingly told that he doesn’t have spare money to support the tantrums of his school. With so much of difficulty he is able to manage the fees of his school and now these rules and regulations! I wasn’t able to decipher much as they were speaking in mixed language (Hyderabadi Hindi) but all I could see was the disappointed face of that child at the end of their conversation. Unable to hold myself any further, I asked that boy, “how much money do you need”? The boy got conscious and replied in good English “no thanks madam, I don’t need it”. I insisted again but the child didn’t agree, finally I said, “ok don’t take money, let me buy the notebooks for you from this nearby shop”…initially he hesitated but then he agreed! We went to this small stationery shop where I asked the shopkeeper to give 5 notebooks, I asked the boy if he needs anything else, he very politely said no. I asked the shopkeeper to include a pen also in the list and the bill came to Rs.90. Well, 90 bucks is hardly anything for most us considering our day to day expenses but the gleam in his eyes and the gratitude with which he thanked me is something which I can’t explain in words. Honestly speaking I felt good and the small child made me feel as if I’ve done something important in life.

Did I do it for charity? My answer will be clear cut no. Did I do it thinking he was a poor man in need of money? My answer will be again no. Well, then why did I do it? Simply because the child was in need of money for something as important as education! And I have much respect for that child whom I have often noticed to concentrate on his studies even in such adverse conditions and who has got this spark to learn and do something. The first thought which came to my mind was if his father would have been educated enough then may be his life would not have been the same. And tomorrow if this child will not be educated maybe his son will also end up in the same rut like his. Yes, EDUCATION which is the first step towards eradication of poverty. I generally don’t support begging habits & it was not the question of money here and but the fact that the child was trying to get educated. I know my one day of such small contribution can’t guarantee that the child will get to continue his education in future as well but at least for that day his education needs were fulfilled. Quite a few of us do not do even our little bit, thinking what can such small contributions do or how can such small amount help in larger issues! But well even though it’s a clichéd statement still it’s true that little drops make a large ocean. Here are some of the steps which I think most of us can take in our normal day to day life to fight with something as serious as poverty.

  • Support education and educational needs of genuinely needy people. You don’t need to go to any NGO or social organization to do it. Just look around, you might find your maid’s son or your driver’s daughter in need of education. Help him/her get literate.
  • Try to sponsor the education of one girl child every year, it’s hardly anything for most of us. And if you can’t sponsor the complete yearly fees, at least do it for a month. It is said if a woman is educated, she definitely tries to get her child educated as well.
  • Even simpler, you can just buy some stationery like notebooks, pencil, pens etc and distribute it amongst the genuinely needy people. I’m sure most of the corporates these days have listings of NGOs who can provide you the right avenues for such donations.
  • Ok, without money as well you can do lots. If you have free time on weekends, how about contributing your time in teaching voluntarily to needy people. You can join some NGO or movements like TOI Teach India etc. If you search you will get enough opportunities to utilize your time more effectively.
  • Don’t waste food, think of that small girl with a naked baby in her hand who keeps running to clean your car glass on every traffic signal and how she begs for food / money.

On this “Blog Action Day” when I stand for the cause of Poverty, I urge all my readers to at least do their bit. One of the biggest reasons for poverty is illiteracy, so scan your environment and support the needy to get educated! Education will definitely help in eradicating poverty to a large extent and remember “no contribution is a small contribution”.


Aftereffects of downturn – 1. LAY-OFFS

I somehow knew that this is going to come the moment I saw Jet-KF alliance news on Monday late night. Though both the spokespersons kept on insisting that this alliance would be in the benefit of consumers and industry but the first thing which came to my mind was – alliance and that too joint operation deal, well looks like they are definitely now gonna trim down their team size. And here we go, my apprehension turned out to be true when I read today’s TOI with headline “Jet Air lays off 850 flight attendants”! As per TOI dated 15th Oct’08 - The tremors brought about by the worst downturn yet in the airline industry were felt on Tuesday itself, hours before the first Jet Airways flight of the day took off. Said a crew member, "About three and a half hours before a flight, the office transport reaches your home to pick you up. In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, hundreds of cabin crew members in Mumbai who were rostered for early morning flights waited in their uniforms to be picked up." When the worried flight attendants called up the airline dispatch office, they were told they had been de-rostered till further notice.

If TOI is to be believed then what a sudden and scary layoff!!! It’s quite frightening to read the newspaper headlines these days, either there are news of terrorist attacks or there are news of bankruptcy and lay-offs. What started few weeks back as a small economic recession has now become a global downturn of all times. As per analysts, this downturn is far worse than dot com doom and infact first of its kind in last 80 years. Lay-offs started with IT and financial sector but is now engulfing every other industry – be it aviation, retail or hospitality. So, many people have lost their jobs and god knows how many of them would be having car loan, house loan, personal loan or this-that kind of loan with monthly EMIs hanging like a sword over their head and in this tough time of recession it’s really unpredictable if they will get any other job immediately! The worse is that most of us in today’s fast generation never believed in the power of saving and deposits. In the generation of high disposable income almost all the money have been disposed! It scares you when you listen to the experience of lay-off from somebody close to you, it scares you when you listen that some of your very well-settled friends with quality degrees and high paying jobs in US based MNCs have been asked to leave for India over night. It scares you to realize that he is left with no cash to support his needs and it scares you to realize that many of them are depressed to the extent that they intend to give in to the pressure of life. Well to be honest, my intention is not to scare anyone rather express my realistic feelings regarding this issue. And it’s not too late for all of us to be cautious and take some basic steps to deal with this bad time (of course to whatever extent it is possible…). Here are some of my thoughts which I think we can take in person to be prepared for the bad days:

  • Please remember “Cash is King” atleast for a downturn period like this. So, please try to not go for mindless investment and deposits. Ask those who are bleeding under the stock-market blood-bath or ask those who have lost money because of bankruptcy.
  • You think you are getting underpaid, well think again - atleast you are getting paid. Ask those who have lost their job overnight without any backup.
  • Not having job satisfaction? You think you deserve a better opportunity? Well you definitely can get a better opportunity, but think again before quitting your already established job…atleast you are settled in one job and don’t forget that whenever there is trim down movement in any company, the first lot to be effected is the new joinees or the probation ones.
  • So, planning to start a new business, why not afterall entrepreneurship is the “in” thing in India? Well, I am not trying to de-motivate you and I have immense respect for those who have the guts to take the unconventional path and start something on their own but all I would like to say is think again if you are starting some web based or social media company. Gone are the days of easy VC funding and heavy buy-outs! Atleast for next few months for sure.
  • Thinking to upgrade to a new car or a bigger house? Trust me it can wait for some more time…atleast you have a vehicle or a shelter on your head. Its really not the time to increase the burden of your EMIs.
  • Revisit your day to day expense and remember our parents and their good old habit of saving money. With my own experience I can tell you that there are enough expenses which we make just like that. For e.g., in a city like Bangalore, a meal for two in any normal restaurant can cause you an expense of easily Rs. 800-1000 and well for foodies like me and my husband these random eating out used to happen just any day or any moment. Trust me eating more at home on regular days is helpful both ways – it keeps a check on the weighing scale pointer as well as on our wallets :-). And for those occasional cravings definitely you can party out once in a while. Even small one on one savings like these can lead to a noticeable amount at the end of an year.

I know the situation in India is not that bad as of now as compared to US but no one knows if it can happen in India as well. It really hits you hard when you realize that such lay-offs have happened with your close friends and god forbid, it can happen to you too. So, be cautious, work hard to be in top list in your company and save smart for those darker days.

Aside: This is my first post in the series of “after-effects of downturn”, I have some other observations as well as concerns which I will post in my subsequent series. I was speaking to one of my ex-colleagues who and her husband have been laid off from very reputed companies in US. Talking to her really disturbed me a lot! They are coming back to India next week and I pray that they get a job in India soon as even they have a family and those intimidating EMIs to cater to!

Airtel Digital TV Ad

Well, if I have to describe this ad in one word, I will say it’s BIG, it gives the impression of being big, being colossal. What an irony, isn’t it? BigTV kept on insisting “Ho toh BIG ho” through different creatives and through different properties…but the imagery of being big got very subtly and beautifully established by Airtel with just one television commercial featuring 10 popular celebrities! And the interesting noticeable point was that the celebrities are not used as endorsers rather they are shown as representative of different properties of the product. Read More...

Link to my full post:

See you at home… Airtel or BigTV?

So, my confusion was genuine enough and I was not puzzled unnecessarily … I was observing this ad on television showcasing a big Red Sofa and “See you at home” with small fonts mentioning “coming to your home on 9th Oct” but looks like they revealed their product on 8th itself as suddenly on 8th I saw the same Red Sofa with “See you at home with 32 cinema halls” or “See you at home with digital picture and sound” kind of promotion from BigTV. First reaction – ah another one from BigTV but then immediately one thought crossed my mind – why are they doing teaser campaigns again when they have already launched the product with that hopeless “Ho toh BIG ho campaign”! Read More...

Link to my full post:

Changing with times: Amar Chitra Katha

Recently while doing some grocery shopping in one of the retail stores, I glanced on TINKLE digest which was kept on the billing counter itself…and well, as usual I couldn’t refrain myself from buying it (Pssst…Shhh with a hidden face I am accepting that though I’m in my late 20s but I still can’t resist comics like Archies, Tintin, Tinkle etc… :P). Anyways, the comic was as interesting as ever but something which caught my immediate attention was the back cover page of the book. The page was heavily promoting online shopping of Tinkle comics as well as e-comics and contest on their website . Hmmm, looks like they have also revamped their website now and that’s why aggressively promoting their e-content. Read More...

Link to my full post:

I Yearn For…

Ah, it’s that time of year again when I’m in complete love with the air around! I love this celebration spirit, this cheerful mood, this vibrant environment, this liveliness, this…ummm I can keep on writing about these THISs, well to sum it up I just loooooove this FESTIVE ATMOSPEHERE all around me. Its Dusshera today – Wish You All A Very Happy Dusshera!

Well, I’m sure many of you love this Oct-Dec season of the year, so many festivals and hence so much merriment – Navratri, Eid, Dusshera, Karwa Chauth, Diwali, Bhai Dooj, Chat, Guru Purnima, Christmas and New Year! Each of these festivals have got unique tradition and unique reason to celebrate. I remember as a child how excited I used to be for festivals, the eagerness with which we used to wait for new clothes or the enthusiasm with which we used to clean and decorate our homes or the gleam in our eyes with which we used to sit on the kitchen slab when Mummy used to prepare those festival special dishes – Kheer, Mithais, Puris, Curries and what not! Sometimes I wonder where those good old days have gone? Now we have all the money to buy any kind of cloth but still that excitement of getting new clothes is missing, now any kind of food is affordable and infact there is plethora of options of festival special cuisines in every other restaurant but still that taste of mom made food is missing, lots of glamorous options of celebrating festivals are there like Dandiya Nights, Garba specials, Glittering Diwali and New Year rock parties with celebs and DJs but still that enthusiasm of childhood days is missing. While I love this period with festivity all around me but at the same time this period makes me really nostalgic. I suddenly yearn for my carefree and sweet childhood days when even in such limited means there was unlimited amount of happiness, I yearn for my home in that small little town, my mummy, her home cooked food, my brothers, my cousins, my gharonda on diwali, my colorful pencils which I used to get as gifts on Bhai Dooj and my childhood friends with whom festivals used to have a different meaning all together. I yearn to be the same li’ll girl again, I really & really yearn for……well!

Yercaud: A Passage To Tranquility

After some 40 days of planning and some 80 mail exchanges, finally the trip to Yercaud happened :) … Considering it was a group of six professionals with varied work life, planning definitely took some time as arranging day offs on the same weekend was sort of a Herculean task, but at last we did it! And what a trip it was… absolutely enchanting, delightful and a complete break from the regular hustle-bustle of the city life. If I have to describe the trip in just one phrase, I would say it was simply a passage to tranquility.
Just came back from a three day trip to Yercaud yesterday. As decided we left for Yercaud on 2nd Oct’08 morning, though we had all the intentions to start early morning by 5:30 am but call it our laziness or the last night get-together aftereffects which went on till 2 am, we managed to leave Bangalore only by 7:30 am :). We took the Hosur Krishnagiri road and stopped for a quick breakfast at a small road side dhaba after Krishnagiri. Though the distance is hardly 230 Kms from Bangalore but since we drove leisurely and took lots of breaks in between, we managed to reach there in approx 7 hours, however normally I guess one can easily manage to reach there in 5.5 hours.

The drive was awesome esp. the ghat route after Salem which was full of greenery and natural beauty and to add to that the vehicle used was an SUV one which made the driving experience all the more wonderful (thanks to this couple friend of ours for using their own Dicor :-)). Uphill driving was relatively easier as compared to places like Ooty and there are 20 hairpins to be crossed to reach Yercaud. It was quite easy to locate our hotel “Star Holidays” (that’s the only place wherein we could manage to book our rooms because of long weekend rush) which was on the main M.G. Road itself (oh yes, there was a M.G. Road there as well which was hardly like a small lane :-)). First impression of the hotel looked impressive, small cottages with cute li’ll balconies. We decided to check-in, get freshened and then leave for lunch as well as some sightseeing. Hmmm, now came the most difficult part i.e., finding a god hotel to eat. Almost every place was damn crowded with little food options left as lunch time was almost over. After some deliberations, we decided to settle for Shevroys. Food was ok but better than what was on offer at Star Holidays. Once our pet-pooja was done, we decided to roam around in the town and the first thing which one could notice was the Emerald Lake which was just in the center of Yercaud. We went for self-pedaling boats and it was quite a pleasant experience to just boat around on your own in the placid water. Rest of the evening we decided to spend in our hotel balconies itself, well overall it was a great evening except for the dinner served by Star Holidays Restaurant which was really bad.

Warned by last night’s food and service experience, next day we decided to venture out for breakfast to nearby areas and oh we landed up in Club Mahindra’s property which was hardly a kilometer away from our hotel. What a lovely place it was! Adorned with French architecture, the property boasts of amazing landscapes and décor. Breakfast was awesome and service guys were really hospitable. After a good cup of tea and sandwiches we left with an intention to come back again for buffet dinner. Next targets were Pagoda Point, Lady’s Seat, Gent’s Seat and Children’s Seat. These places were good but not well maintained, lots of dirt and litter here and there :-( and because of hot climate, we decided to quickly move to our next destination - The Servarayan Temple which is situated on top of Servarayan hill. Temple is inside a small cave and the surrounding areas were fabulous with a very pleasant climate – Don’t miss this place at all and try to go there in the evening to enjoy the sunset and lovely weather. The day ended with a scenic drive back to hotel and some fun n frolic in our same old cottage balconies. Next day, it was time to return back to Bangalore – but no our holiday was not over yet as we had decided for a stop over at Hogenakkal Falls which was enroute to Bangalore.

The drive downhill was lovelier as the ghats were full of fog – wow, it was truly beautiful. After almost 3 hours of easy driving we reached Hogenakkal, now Hogenakkal experience definitely deserves a separate post as it was really a marvelous experience. So, I will post the details of Hogenakkal later on. And with loads of enjoyment, full jollity, hila ke rakh dene wale PJs (trust me, some of our group members can win world level prizes if there was ever any PJ competition) and lovely songs by some of the good singers in groups, the trip ended on a beautiful note. We all reached back safely to Bangalore last night with lovely memories, exquisite reminiscences and only one sad thought – Why do Holidays end so soon :-(?

Quick Facts:
My Recommendations:
  • In case you are looking for a vacation spot with lots of tourist attraction and places to see, then Yercaud is not the right place for you. But if you want to have a serene and peaceful trip and if you love the silent retreat with nature then definitely visit Yercaud.
  • In case you are willing to shell out 3k-5k and if you can manage to get the booking, try out Sky Roca or Club Mahindra for stay, otherwise the place is full of economic options like Star Holiday or Shevroys. Though Star Holidays was having a beautiful property but the service was hopeless and food quality pathetic. Try to have food at other places, we tried out Hotel Silver breakfast (a small dhaba just near to Star Holidays on M.G. Road) and tea as well as Dosas were amazing. Other places like Indieco hotel (Club Mahindra property) also serve you good lunch and dinner buffet at Rs. 175/- person and breakfast buffet at Rs. 120/- per person.
  • Incase you are not an expert driver for hairpins and uphill route, drive bit carefully. Though its not as difficult as Ooty but its not as cakewalk as Yelagiri too.

About Yercaud: Yercaud is a small hill station situated amidst the Shervaoyan Hills in the Eastern Ghats, close to the town of Salem in Tamil Nadu. It is at an altitude of 1,500 metres from mean sea level. Yercaud has been named so because of the lake located at its center - in Tamil "Yeri" means "lake" and "Kaadu" means "forest".
Distance from Bangalore: Approx 230 Kms (we started from HSR Layout)
Driving Route: Bangalore - Electronic City - Hosur - Krishnagiri - Dharmagiri - Salem – Yercaud
Road Condition: Very good as on Oct’08
Climate: Pleasant with bit cold esp. in the morning
Ideal duration of trip: Not more than 2 days

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