Sunday, April 7, 2013

Of Settling Feeling, Gun Control, Patents, Downton Abbey and Ponzi Scheme, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, and Roger Ebert..

So long time no see..

What do I write about this time? So some usual stuff happened this week.

You know I was speaking to one of my friends yesterday. And he said one very interesting thing, which at first I thought he is kidding but he wasn't. So he tells me that he is now tired of going places. He is getting this settle down vali feeling. I was like what is this feeling. He says he is getting mature day by day, he wants to get married, even the girl he is dating he thinks that this relationship is going to last for a long time. He wants to have his own small home and he wants to go back. Is there any such feeling? Because honestly I have never had any such feeling. Maybe because I am single. On the contrary, of late I am getting this feeling that I don't want to ever settle down. I want to see the world. I want to live in different places in the world. I know this feeling is so unlike 'me' but I really want to go different places. If only I had enough money to travel :( Did you ever had any settle down vali feeling

So, this week it was a funny week in some ways. My friend D asked me if I wanted to go 'ammo' shopping with him. What?!?! I was like what are you saying? He has an AK-47 and he regularly goes for shooting/hunting. I told him if I go to a gun shop here, I will be put in jail and be labelled as a terrorist. But the funny thing is if I had a gun in my hand, people would come and shoot me instead :) But he told me next time he goes shooting, he will call me. That would be interesting but I know I will chicken out at the last minute. Gun control is a big thing here. People are so much against gun control. And given the lobbying power of National Rifle Association (NRA), even President Obama, a Democrat, is hesitant for gun control. Republicans are more right-wing and hence do not like gun control, even after the Connecticut shooting. D tells me that you can get twenty rounds of ammo just for $7. 

These days the big issue here is the same sex marriage. So, on all social networking sites, this symbol went viral when the court hearing began. Basically, President Clinton had signed the Defense of Marriage Act that didn't give the same rights to same sex couples as traditional marriages. Now, the US Supreme Court began hearing arguments against the Act. But the funny thing that I find among some of the Indian people here is that they are such big homophobes back home and suddenly all their homophobia is non-existent just because everyone is doing it and they become the most liberal people. Hypocrites. If only something like this was possible in Indian movies too.

But the big news in India this week (apart from Rahul Gandhi's metaphorical beehives, his imaginary Rani ki Jhansi and happening bosses) was the Supreme Court refuting Novartis the right to patent a cancer drug. The NGOs claimed it as a victory for the generic drugs while Novartis claimed that it will kill innovation. Both the parties are wrong. Just read this excellent piece by the always so brilliant Swaminathan Aiyar that actually talks about what has happened in the case.

West should learn from India’s high patent standards

The Economist (UK), no basher of multinationals, acknowledges that over-liberal “proliferation of patents harms the public in three ways. First, it means that technology companies will compete more at the courtroom than in the marketplace. Second, it hampers follow-on improvements by firms that implement an existing technology but build upon it as well. Third, it fuels many of the American patent system’s broader problems, such as patent trolls (speculative lawsuits by patent holders who have no intention of actually making anything); defensive patenting (acquiring patents mainly to pre-empt the risk of litigation, which raises business costs); and “innovation gridlock” (the difficulty of combining multiple technologies to create a single new product because too many small patents are spread among too many players).”

Every Sunday he writes an excellent column on the Indian economy in the Times of India. Last week, he wrote a very interesting one that was perhaps the first article of its kind praising the Indian slum system. Must read.

And this week a professor sent me an email. She has got a teaching award and she wants one student to write a letter of recommendation for her. And she asked if I could write it for her. I said of course I will write it. It is the first time I have to write one for a professor :) 

I finished Season 3 of Downton Abbey. There are just eight episodes in each season. They finally showed cricket.

And Matthew is dead just after his son was born :( What will happen to Mary? Season 4 will come next year.

But Downton Abbey is a great study on financial planning. An article was published in Forbes about the lessons that we could learn from the mistakes of Lord Grantham. At one point, he says to Matthew that 

There’s a chap in America, what’s his name? Charles Ponzi who offers a huge return after ninety days.

It is so funny. Charles Ponzi was infamous for his Ponzi scheme. A few years ago, Bernie Madoff was arrested for one of the largest fraud in the history. And Lord Grantham wanted to invest there. It is these small details that make it such a good show. Meanwhile, the article here:

Love is like riding, or speaking French. If you don’t learn it young, it’s hard to get the trick of it later. - Shrimpy

I finally got a chance to watch Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola. And I loved it. It is not as good as other films of Bharadwaj but still it is a treat to watch. The film is about a village in Haryana, controlled by Mr.Mandola who wants to convert the farmer's land into a SEZ. At the other end is Matru, inspired by the Chinese Mao Zedong, who is with the farmers and wants the farmers to retain their land. And a whole lot of other issues are weaved into the narrative - the role of the government, middlemen, Naxalism, etc. The film is extremely witty and characters are lovely with one main character being the gulaabi bhains. Bharadwaj has been a master of references and I am sure I missed most of them here because the subject is left wing extremism, a subject which I have little knowledge of. But I did catch some of them, such as Mao refers to the great Chinese leader. In one scene, Mandola says to Matru, left hand vaali beer lo, tum left ho na. One of my favorite scenes was when Matru explains to Bijlee that she suffers from Meena Kumari complex meaning that she tried to find happiness in her own sadness. Vo dukh mein sukhi rehti thi. I think I too suffer from this Meena Kumari complex :(

This phrase Meena Kumari was first coined by Shekhar Gupta of the Indian Express, who had written a super article on the Meena Kumari politics of the Congress Party.
The Meena Kumari Politics

Back to Matru, Pankaj Kapur was terrific in the movie. In fact, all actors were amazing Imran Khan, Anushka Sharma, Shabana Azmi and Arya Babbar too. The problem with this is that Anushka might be typecast in this sort of role. She has played this fiesty girl or as the critics are calling her as the Liril girl so many times already. But I have really started to like her. Will wait for her in Peekay, though with Sanjay Dutt in jail, the film might be delayed.

At one point in the movie, Mandola plays a game called Neta-Janta, which someone remarked was so similar to the Chor-Police. Matru tried to include contemporary events in the narrative as well. It is a film so relevant to our times. The diversion of fertile land for SEZs,  the Tata Motors Singur controversy, the role of FDI, and the Lokpal were some of them. At one point Chadhuri Devi talking to Matru about his dream project says, yeh sapna nahi, sapnon ka lokpal hai.

And as always, Bharadwaj had a Shakespeare reference. At one point, Bijli is shown reading Macbeth, and Matru says, 'fair is foul, and foul is fair; hover through the fog and filthy air', which summed the entire premise of the movie. It means that whatever is fair to the common man is foul to the witches and to the people related to them. And whatever is foul to the common man is fair to them. Matru wanted to bring development to the village and he saw the farmers as the 'foul', while villagers wanted to retain their land perceiving Mandola as 'foul'.

But  my absolute favorite scene in the movie was when Chadhuri Devi gives a monologue on the necessity of corruption in an economy. She spoke with such force that anyone would be convinced. And somehow what she said is very true. She says,

मसला है देश का, देश लोगों से बनता है, लोग याने समूह, भीड़.. और भीड़ का कोई चेहरा नहीं होता.. भीड़ को चेहरा देता है उसका नेता..तो जो चरित्र मेरा है वही मेरे नेता का होगा और वही मेरे देश का..जब मैं आध्यात्मिक था, तो देश बुद्ध था, जब मैं विलासी तो रजा मिहिरकुल.. मैं कमज़ोर पड़ा तो सिकंदर और टूटा तो बाबर..मैंने व्यापार किया तो देश घुलाम हुआ और बाघी बना तो आज़ाद.. जब मैं आज़ाद हुआ तो मैं स्वार्थी हुआ, स्वार्थी तो भ्रष्ट, भ्रष्ट तो धनवान, धनवान तो सफल और सफल तो प्रगतिवान..
देश की प्रगति के लिए मेरी व्यक्तिगत प्रगति अनिवार्य है..


And Roger Ebert passed away. More than film writing, his writings are literary masterpieces. He taught us how to watch movies with a heart. All my favorite authors on Hindi cinema consider him as their guru. In fact, Beth Watkins first saw Indian cinema on the big screen, Taal at Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival.

Roger Ebert quotes

We will miss you. 

And you what? A guy sends me a business proposal if I could manage his movies quote page on Facebook and we can combine ours into one. I was like no. It is my page. If only I was good at writing :\

More later.

Dialogue of the Day:
Ek kal hamare piche hai, ek kal hamare baad, aaj aaj ki baat karo, aaj hamare saath 
- Ra.One

Try as you might, you can’t ignore your instincts. It’s like they say; always follow your intuition.
 - Meredith, Grey's Anatomy


  1. Nice post Pankaj...your passions for movies is really amazing :)


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