Saturday, September 29, 2007

Chak De Kudiyaan - II

"We live in the same house, yet my 14 year old daughter sent an email requesting an appointment as she felt it was the only way she could meet me. It shook me up."
- Indra Nooyi, CEO PepsoCo worldwide, speaking to the Economic Times

Ironically, I read these words late last night, just after my daughter flopped off to sleep waaaay past her bedtime. Her reason for staying up most days: You came home late again.

I haven't got an email from her yet but this essay she penned recently for Hindi class on "Meri ma' was an interesting insight into the world as it looks from her side of the dining table.

"Meri ma bahut acchi hai.
Wo mujhe bahut pyaar karti hain...
Meri ma ravivaar ko khana banati hain".

Actually I would amend that to "kabhi kabhi ravivar ko..." but hey, I'll accept her version.

So what's the point I'm making? Just that it doesn't seem to ever get 'easier'. Kids need you at age 1, age 3, age 6, age 9 - and far beyond that. So when is the 'right time' really, for women to get back and give all to their chosen professions...

When the other parent chooses to stay home and shoulder family responsibilities instead, perhaps. But that is something we don't even sit down and discuss. As I scanned through yet another Business Today 'Top 25 women in Business' list a couple of days ago, I wondered if any of them have such an arrangement.

If they do, it's a well kept secret.

I mean at least one very high profile banker kind of fits this bill but she's never talked about this aspect of her life publicly. No glory - in India - being known as 'Mr Carly Fiorina'.

In fact in India most of the women on the 'look how we've come' list seem to have spouses with equally high profile and high pressure careers. Obviously there are grandmoms and maids in the picture but that kid is probably gonna need to send two emails...

So what's the answer?
Yes, men can't have babies but do they have the guts to 'downsize' if their wives are obviously more talented or more driven than they are?

Are women okay with having a husband who looks after the stuff 'moms have always done' without being racked by guilt?

And if they are, can the rest of the world please stop wondering '"Is there something wrong with this guy - why is he not 'working'??"

If only we could move beyond our roles - as defined by society and our egos - as defined by our insecurities.

If only...

We could at least admit there is a huge problem instead of putting on a smiley facade. As top cop, tough woman Kiran Bedi recently admnitted in an interview to British writer Zerbanoo Gifford:

"If I were to be reincarnated and had to do it all over again, I would want the same mother and father but not necessarily the same husband. There's room for improvement there..."

Wonder what Mr Bedi has to say, in response.

Previous post: Chak de kudiyaan

Monday, September 24, 2007

Change is upon us...

It doesn't matter who wins or loses... but WE WON! WE WON!! As the sms doing the rounds goes: Dr Abdul Kalam's wish fufilled. India is a superpower in 20: 20! :)

And cricket has turned a corner. No erudite commentary about silly mid ons and silly mid offs. Any idiot can understand this game.

Ball maaro, bhaago.
Do a jig.
Hit some more.

With Twenty20, cricket is catering to an attention deficit, exceed-our-expectations generation.

And for once, there is no chest-beating about losing our 'heritage'. If five day matches die out altogether, and one days become occasional fixtures - so be it.

If the stars we've known and loved must bow out and make way for a new constellation, so be it.

Change crept upon us - and we embraced it.

If only we could accept and move with change, in other spheres of life.

Every old building is not a heritage structure.
Every tradition can be updated.
Every dog has his day.

Change is good.
Going with the flow makes it better!

Speaking of change, there is something of that sort going on in my head. More on that, soon...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Chak de kudiyaan

Much after the world and their uncle has seen Chak de India and moved on to the Next Big Thing, I finally saw the movie. And my God, what a film!

Bschools are planning case studies. And of course it is a lesson in team building and all that jazz. But to me, the defining moment of the Chak De was when Preeti Sabharwal asks boyfriend Abhimanyu Singh,"Aur mera career?"

And Singh, Vice Captain of the Indian cricket team replies,"Kahan cricket aur kahan tumhara yeh gilli danda.."

Which sums up the overall Indian attitude to women pursuing careers. Shaadi ke pehle, zaroor. Zaroor, beti, you must get an education. You can work, no problem.

Shaadi ke baad? Well, jo aapke sasural wale chahein. And as Vidya Sharma puts it so beautifully in the film,"Ab parivaar wale bahu chahte hain."

No doubt many of these women do work. But not to full capacity or potential. "Your husband's career comes first..." "Women, you know, must make sacrifices..." "Family comes first..." blah blah blah.

And yes, there are women who willingly choose a supportive and nurturing role but there are many many others who downsize their ambitions, clip their wings, bury their dreams.

Whether it's a Preeti - a modern young woman who has chosen her own partner (on the surface, a modern, metrosexual kind of man). Or a Vidya, who seems to have married into a more traditional family but was assured playing hockey 'would not be a problem'.

But it is a problem when she refuses to leave the camp to attend a wedding... after all 'log kya kahenge'?

To be recognised as an individual - not a daughter, wife or mother - is the secret desire of every young woman in India. And that's what Chak De captures so beautifully, without being a 'feminist' film.

Chak De captures the new face of feminism which is to wow the world with your achievements. Earn respect - don't beg or whine for it. And make a statement but have fun even as you're doing it.

This is such a huge change in attitude from the films with feminist themes in an earlier era. The kind which featured Deepti Naval, Shabana Azmi and other arthouse actresses. Oppressed, suppressed, depressed - until they one day walk out into the sunset and the audience walks out in relief.

Cut to Chak De. There's energy, there's hope. There's the idea that you can have your cake and eat it. If you're smart, and keep your head.

Take the match between the men's team and the women's team. Although technically, the Chak De team lost the battle, they actually won the war by earning the respect of the opponent. The chakle-belan waali team proved it meant business.

It's much the same in a regular career. Whether in medicine or management women still have to prove they are ready for the 'World Cup' - the higher level at which the game is played.

Secondly, women are often their own worst enemies. The back biting and ego issues in Chak De are oh-so-real. Ultimately the team won only when Komal and Preeti decided to co-operate. And Bindiya swallowed her pride to play as one with the team, giving them the benefit of her experience.

So in the real world, women need to make friends and allies to get ahead. You can't do it alone. By putting aside their egos both Komal and Preeti scored a goal each in the final. And both goals were crucial to the win.

Lastly, you don't have to become 'one of the boys'. I think the Australian team was deliberately given this athletic look (even in evening dress they all looked so manly!). In sharp contrast the Indian team was tough on field but also soft and feminine in saris.

The point being that yes, you can choose to become like a man to succeed in a man's world. Or you can balance the yin and the yang and yet get the job done just as well.

Like any sports film, Chak De is a cracking Underdog-wins-the-day, Unity-is-Strength kind of story. But writer Jaideep Sahni makes it something more than that as well. As with Bunty aur Babli, which captured the bubbles of aspiration across small town India, Chak De is a reflection of a prevailing undercurrent.

The hopes, dreams and ambitions of millions of our young women.

Of course there are other, important subtexts. Such as India taking on the firangs and beating them on their own turf. ("Pehli baar ek gore ko tiranga lehraata hua dekh raha hoon" is a bit of a cheesy dialogue but at a symbolic level it works).

The pain of a Muslim whose allegiance to India is in doubt because of a loss on the sports field. "Uske jaise to partition ke time hi Pakistan chale jaate to accha hota" is a telling piece of dialogue...

And of course the pure patriotic angle. Who or what is really 'Indian'? After 60 years of Independence many think all south Indians are the same. And anyone with Chinese features surely can't be a fellow citizen!

Jana Gana mana may not recognise a Jharkhand or a Mizoram but Chak De India does. Making it an updated anthem of an upbeat India.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

IIT Delhi Rendezvous coverage

If you are attending Rendezvous @ IIT Delhi and can cover the fest for JAM , do get in touch! Drop me a line at rashmi_b at

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Elite b schools the world over..

.. Suffer from the same issues.

Students today are primarily interested in admission to, rather than study at, the elite business schools to enable them to join the best networks in order to make the most money the fastest

That's Prof Rakesh Khurana of Harvard Business School speaking. He analyses the impact of 'shareholder capitalism' on business school education in a new book titled: From Higher Aims to Hired Hands: The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management as a Profession.

Joim the dicsussion here.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Outlook bschool rankings 2007

The 2007 Outlook rankings are a significant improvement over previous years. (2005, 2006).

The first good thing is that practically all important bschools are included in the 2007 survey. The IIMs have ended their boycott and participated officially. (Previously IIMs were included but on the basis of information obtained through RTI). Symbiosis was missing last year – it's there now. Sectoral schools like IRMA are also covered separately.

Bajaj and FMS are covered, although in a separate table of 'top university departments', a ranking where there are no numerical scores. (Fair enough – these instis are sadly behind in infrastructure and hence clubbing them in the regular list always results in a poor show).

So who's missing? MICA. IIT bschools like DMS IIT Delhi and VGSOM. Among private bschools: Welingkar.

Outlook does not rank IIPM due to issues with their lack of ethics in providing data to the magazine in the past.

What it says
Let's take a look at the rankings now. Since last year, Outlook has taken to ranking ‘government funded bschools’ and ‘private bschools’ separately. This year sectoral schools are included and ranked separately. You can view the rankings in that format at the Outlook site or CFore site.

We at JAM have compiled a combined table, for your benefit (which they have not provided). Click for larger image. This table has the top 30 ranked institutes - private, government and sectoral listed in order of final scores.

(The term nr* denotes institutes which were not included in last year's ranking).

The top 10 is a major improvement. Except for NMIMS which I would not place ahead of IIM K. No student would! I am happy to see ICFAI Hyderabad out of the top 10 where it was placed – undeservingly – in 2006.

This second table gives the list of institutes ranked 30 to 50. (Pardon the picture quality, some gochi in exporting from MS Word!).

Several schools have tumbled 5-10 places compared to 2006 but this is essentially because bschools which did not participate earlier have been included this time. eg Symbi, IRMA and other sectoral schools like MANAGE, IHMR etc.

These schools may see a boost in terms of applications, as many people would have been unaware of their existence and quality level. Although many sectoral schools rank higher than general bschools I would advise students to go for them only if that specialisation holds their interest.

Value add
There is a very useful table for students which has details on 'Salary offered for Indian jobs'. This could help students in making a decision. And realising the difference in future prospects between one bschool and the next more clearly. Something which is not clear from overall ranking alone.

For example, SJSOM (# 16) has a median salary of Rs 9.5 lakhs while ICFAI Hyderabad (# 14) has a median salary of Rs 6.5 lakhs.

Of course only engineers can apply to SJSOM – and I have never heard of IITians who wish to join IIT bschools. So one man's goose is another's gander...

The flaws
Outlook has proudly advertised ‘India’s most objective survey’ but certainly the facts provided by the bschools require more rigorous checking.

Here's an obvious mistake which I noticed while scanning the salary/ fee table. The table states ICFAI fees as Rs 5.1 lakhs, although for the top 4 campuses it’s actually Rs 7.5 lakhs , which is a huge discrepancy.

Similarly, my eyes popped out when I saw NMIMS charges only Rs 2.6 lakhs for its MBA. The website states:

1st Year
Rs.1,75,000/- (Open)
Rs.4,50,000/- (Management)

2nd Year
Rs.1,67,100/- (Open)
Rs.4,42,100/- (Management)

It’s not clear what % of seats are open and what % are merit but at the very least the Outlook figure is off by a lakh. I would hope there aren't too many such discrepancies - those of you currently at bschools may be able to spot more.

(Please note for all institutes – boarding, lodging etc is over and above the fees and needs to be budgeted for in the overall cost of the MBA).

I also do not agree with Premchand Palety’s assertion: “Although some are still behind the top IIMs in terms of overall scores, non-government schools are fast catching up. Don’t be surprised if IIMs lose their top positions in our Bschool rankings in the near future. It’s now in the realm of possibilities”.

Um, sure. And the government of India just handed Kashmir over to Pakistan.

Laudable as efforts likethe NMIMS joint doctoral programme are I see no change possible in the top ranking of IIM A, B,C,L, XLRI – at the very least – for the next 10 years to come. As long as the CAT selection process remains what it is

And even as far as research goes – let’s face it. IIMs are not world class in this area. But they will be ahead of the private b schools because they attract people with a more academic bent of mind. And offer more academic freedom.

Plus, private bschools have a much higher teaching load in view of profitability concerns.

Lastly, I think ISB and Great Lakes should be covered. If they can't be clubbed with the 2 year courses, maybe a separate 1 year MBA ranking. Now that there are at least half a dozen such offerings (IIM A & IIM C PGP X, S P Jain Dubai, Singapore etc). Yeah, I know some of these courses are apples and some oranges but a way has to be found to assess their standing.

All in all, the Outlook bschool rankings 2007 are a commendable effort. Of course there is scope to refine it further and it is good to see that the people behind it are open to feedback and strive to better themselves each time.

Lastly, students are advised to never rely solely on rankings and research the specific choices available to them by checking with current students/ alumni of those bschools. It is after all a major decision in life you are taking.

I would also advise a campus visit, especially if you are looking at institutes ranked lower down the placement chain.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Business Today Rankings 2007 dissected

It’s the season of bschool rankings once again. First, Business Today – which has definitely gotten worse. If such a thing were possible.

I won’t go into the details of why their methodology is flawed. I’d outlined my objections to the A C Nielsen ‘Winning Brands’ methodology last year and you can read it here. In a nutshell, winning educational brands are not built along the same parameters as winning FMCG brands – and hence can’t be measured in the same way.

If you use a weighing machine to measure height you will obviously get strange results…

Instead of acknowledging the problem, BT has simply gone ahead and staged a repeat performance with even more mindboggling results. Take a look (click for larger view):

• not in top 30 last yr/ did not participate last year

Chief objections
- No student will choose Symbiosis over IIM L, K and I – keep dreaming
- No student will choose ICFAI Hyd or NMIMS over S P Jain and FMS
- You simply can’t rank MDI Gurgaon # 18 and ABS Noida # 20 as if both are at the same level!
- XIMB should definitely be in the top 20.

The survey was conducted in 2 phases. In phase 1 ”we shortlisted the 30 b schools that were to be ranked by asking MBA aspirants and recruiters to name those they would consider applying and hiring from, respectively.”

- The first boo boo is at this stage itself. Important schools like NITIE and SJSOM are missing (although IIT Delhi makes the grade).
- Goa Institute of Management, IMT Ghaziabad and IMI Delhi (which any student should count in the top 30) are also missing
- Symbiosis seems to be a ‘blanket’ brand – SIBM, SCMHRD, SIIB, SIFT are not listed separately.
- Sectoral schools like IRMA, MICA are not considered at all, although many students would prefer to join them over other options included in the BT top 30.
- 'BIMT' is apparently in Chennai. It’s actually BIM Tiruchirapally.
- For reasons unspecified, IIPM Delhi has not been included. The college ranked an amazing # 11 last year, ahead of IIM K and S P Jain. The sudden disappearance of IIPM Delhi (and the fall of IIPM Mumbai from # 16 last year to # 26 this year) begs an explanation.

And well, I could just go on dissecting the vagaries of this wasted exercise. But I shall cease and desist. Artistic tables and graphs are all very well but … credibility is another thing altogether.

On the positive side, there are some interesting stories accompanying the rankings.

- ‘A Tale of Two cities' examines the slide of FMS and IIFT in the rankings and notes that both institutes are taking steps to upgrade infrastructure. And that both are ‘centres of learning that have a lot to offer budding MBAs and India Inc’. Their selection procedure is rigorous, course fee reasonable and placement excellent.

FMS in particular – didja know it’s the ‘least expensive management school in the world’ (Rs 20,000 p.a. wonly).

- ‘Chasing the gravy train’ – finance and consulting are the favourite career choices of bschool grads. Of course this is true mainly in elite schools… further down the ladder you are basically marketing financial services, IT. It’s what the economy needs, stupid. You don’t have much of a choice

- ‘Essentially entrepreneurs’ – snapshots of recent passouts who’ve started their own companies.

However, none of this compensates for the lapses in the survey itself.

Overall rating to BT bschool rankings 2007: D.

Kindly re engineer to make this a useful and relevant exercise!

Tomorrow: Outlook bschool rankings 2007 – not perfect but quite useful

Monday, September 10, 2007

College festival organisers

..... please get in touch. JAM magazine would like to cover your events. Cultural, technical, management feats - all are welcome.

Email rashmi_b at with the dates and details.

P.S. If you've attended a festival and would like to send in reports/ videos that'd also be cool

Friday, September 07, 2007

Parenting: the new equation

An insightful column by O & M's Madhukar Sabnavis on parenting in today's Business Standard. An excerpt:

In the advertising and marketing world, parenting has mostly meant motherhood. The father has remained the bread-winner, the person who brings in the money and occasionally plays with his kids. And he is the authority figure — all teenage rebellion happens against him.

In a study done by Ogilvy some time ago, four types of mothers emerged. Interestingly each had its roots in Indian mythology.

The indulgent mother: The one who encourages her child to grow the way she wants to, nudging and guiding him along without dictating. Yashoda is the mythological representative of this type.

The purposeful or disciplined mother: The one who drives her kids to achieve their potential and do well in the outside world. Kunti represents this type — the typical middle class mother!

The ambitious mother is the one who not only has dreams for her kids but goes out negotiating and fighting the larger world to ensure they get their rightful place in the sun. This type has its roots in Kaikeyi of the Ramayana.

The helpless or coping mother, who spends most of her time trying to manage life and provide for the family. Bringing up kids is one more chore to be taken care of in a tough everyday life — this mother largely exists in the lower socio-economic categories and is typified by Gandhari of Indian mythology.

Sabnavis makes some interesting observations:

a) In the last decade the concept of “Badi” (Big) has become “buddy”. From parents telling children what to do, the relationship has became more “friendly”.

b) Secondly, fathers started taking a more active role.

c) Kids have become the teachers of their parents, which was always the case in low income famiies but has become a widespread phenomenon with the entry of technology products which young people understand better than the oldies.

d)Lastly as kids began to grow older at a younger age (thanks to exposure via media and technology) they became more knowledgeable and hence more active members in the decision-making process of many products. Which is why more and more brands appeal to kids. Faith in pester power.

Sabnavis concludes: The dream of parents remains to see their children succeed and make a name in this world. While the Kaikeyi archetype could sound “negative”, it could be a truer representation of what parents today work towards for their children (notice the number of parents accompanying their children to the various talent show trials!).

Actually, I would go so far as to say there is a role reversal happening where bachche badon ke baap ban rahe hain. Like the 'Little Emperor' syndrome in China, except that here they aren't necessarily only children or spoilt silly.

They just have a sense of zid and entitlement that a previous generation did not have.

13 year old Malti (name change) slashed her wrists recently because she came home late after meeting friends and was scolded by her father. This is the second time she has done this, for a minor reason. Her cousin Lata says,"Sab uske pitaji ko bahut maante hain magar woh unki bilkul nahin sunti hai."

This is a true story, in a lower middle class family of Mumbai.

To tell you the truth, I often feel I am being 'held ransom' by my eight year old. We struggle to get her to brush her teeth at night. Something she needs to do for her own good!

I asked my mom, "Were we like this?" She says she doesn't remember the details but yeah we bugged her to death for small things. And that we had no 'pet mein dar' (or sense of fear) when it came to interacting with parents. Which her generation did.

While I am sure the parents and kid becoming 'friends' is a great thing, the next evolution - of kids becoming 'parents' - is scary. As is the thought of a country overrun with 'Kaikeyi' type parents.

In an era where there is no counterbalance in the form of a dutiful Bharat. Or virtuous Ram.

An earlier take on the changing parent-child equation authored by me for Businessworld, June 2004: Bringing Up Father

Update: Related reads
1 ) Father as filmmaker: helping his autistic son reach for the Asmaan (Indian Express, Sept 7 2007)

It took a dream to wake Kaushik Roy to reality eight years ago. To reform him from being a pushy father of an autistic boy to one who allows his son to find his piece of sky, and reach for it. This transformation is the basis of Roy’s debut film, 'Apna Asmaan', starring powerhouse performers Irrfan Khan and Shobana...

P.S. Interesting subject but the film has received tepid reviews..

2) How to Train your Parents - a new book by Pete Johnson.
Synopsis: "They think I'M a big problem. Wrong. THEY are!"

12 year old Louis gets fundas from a friend on how to handle parents who care more about how he's doing at school than anything else. An Indian teen offers her own tongue in cheek take, after reading the book (Mint, Sept 8 2007)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Humour Writer found - 1

A couple of months ago I'd put out a 'humour writer wanted' ad in this space. Well, we did get a lot of response and a couple of them from true gems.

Shishir Dash of IIT Kharagpur is one of them. Read his hilarious take on India TV, published in a recent issue of JAM here. It's titled 'India TV ka aatank'.

Of course you really must watch a few minutes of India TV post 11 pm to truly appreciate... the beauty of his prose :)

OK, Shishir. Hope the maska inspire a flood of funnies from your side. The rest of the junta is also welcome.. to keep trying!

Chuck de, India

A couple of years ago I wrote a piece titled 'Career lessons from Bunty aur Babli'. It was inspired, not by the film as a whole, but a single piece of dialogue spoken by 'Bunty'.

Logon ko kaafi pasand aaya. You know, 'pop' management fundas - they always sell.

Now, a leading newspaper wants me to write on 'Career lessons from Chak De India'. I declined. First of all, I haven't seen Chak De India. (Yeah yeah yeah. Did try to, twice, but ticket nahin mila).

Secondly, I am sure Chak de India contains all the usual lessons. Team work pays, underdog can win, every individual counts yada yada yada.

But you don't need me to tell you that, do you?

However, there is a career lesson in Chak de India. It doesn't lie in the film, though. The lesson is: Look beyond MBA, Engineering, Journalism. Any career you choose today, you can make a difference.

I'm not talking about taking up women's hockey. Mera ishaara scriptwriter ki ore hai. Jaideep Sahni is the man behind the story, dialogue and lyrics of Chak De India. He's also the guy who wrote Bunty aur Babli, Company and Khosla ka Ghosla. Each a different kind of film, a different kind of challenge.

A recent interview in the Sunday Express brought to life Jaideep's fascinating journey into the world of film.

Civil servant father, teacher mother - an ordinary middle class upbringing (Kendriya Vidyalaya, DPS R K Puram, computer engineering in Karnataka. Totally non-filmi ("When I came to Mumbai to write, I must have seen 30 odd films").

Jaideep's first job was as an IT consultant with NIIT (one year) and then a stint with Contract Advertising (six years). Scriptwriting? He was introduced to it it by chance.

In the late 90s he stumbled upon John Briley's screenplay of Gandhi in a bookshop. "I was hooked. I read it and thought: it's almost like a computer programme..."

He brgan teaching himeslf the art of scriptwriting by accessing sites of universities abroad which ran scriptwriting courses. The first break came when RGV was looking for a writer for Jungle. Someone recommended his name. He got the job. Company followed.

Aside: Whatever Ramgopal Varma may have degenerated to, today, he must be commended for all the guys he's given a break - when at the height of his career.

That said, the first 'trademark' Jaideep Sahni film was Bunty aur Babli. A film which captured the aspirational spirit of small town India. Which, despite being a comic caper, was oh-so-real. And that's because Jaideep created the sleepy town of Fursatganj from his first hand experience of small town life. Experienced as a territory manager for NIIT in western UP.

Khosla ks Ghosla was similarly born out of a real life land-grab incident in the family. The bits about the mafia erecting a wall around the plot and the Khosla family hiring pehelwans to evict them was true. The rest was fantasy - in real life there was no happy ending.

As for the 'authenticity'- Jaideep actually sent out his team to meet and secretly record conversations with property dealers in Gurgaon.

This Script Writing by Observation is the secret sauce of Sahni's films.

Chak De India was inspired by a single column article in the sports page of a newspaper. But to actually get the flavours seen and enjoyed in the film, Jaideep hung out at national hockey training camps - pretending to be a student writing a PhD thesis.

Sahni's scripts start from a 'subject which catches his attention.'

"Then come the characters, then a kind of story idea starts forming, the character's journey. And from then on it's the craft stuff - screenplay, dialogues, lyrics, all of it."

The interesting thing about Jaideep is that at no point does he say,"I always wanted to write Bollywood films." But he did take different bends in the road which eventually led him there.

Firstly, he quit the engineering-IT way of life pretty early to do 'something creative' - in advertising. I am sure when he made that leap of faith he would have suffered a temporary loss of income (trainee copywriters are never paid as much as IT types!).

When he stumbled upon scriptwriting, he pursued it. And became a student without a 'teacher'. The vast resources of the internet are available to all of us, but how many use them in the way he did?

Then, at some point Jaideep quit advertising to work independently. Apparently his resignation letter was somewhat filmi, it included the line "Do takiye ki naukri mein mera lakhon ka saawan jaaye". Although he hastens to add, they were 'very good years'. Magar all those meetings and stuff were restricting his self expression.

The point is, many of us develop parallel interests along with our regular work life. At some point you may think: "What if I could do this full time. Wouldn't life be a lot more meaningful and fun?" But you hesitate, you think, "Why take a risk?"

Why, because the rewards could be phenomenal. If you are a realist (ie not deluding yourself about your talent !) and yet an optimist (it won't be easy - but so what!), then go ahead. Take the plunge.

Chuck de security and Provident Fund. And you too could Chak de, India.

Quotable Quote

"Salim-Javed never went to a screenwriting school but still ended up becoming a screenwriting school for all of us. Too much education can kill a perfectly smart brain forever. But it's desirable in terms of craft, in basic things like creative writing classes in every university which most people in the west take for granted.

We spend our childhood dreading our Physics-Chemistry-Math scores and hundreds of entrance exams instead, which is a pity for those who are not so inclined.

It's strange, I always say I never went to a film school, I went to Jungle instead-and recently Anurag told me the same thing-that he never went to a film school, he went to Satya instead".

- Jaideep Sahni, in an interview to India FM

Other New Age Bollywood writers who I think rock:
Anurag Kashyap, Abbas Tyrewala

Raju Hirani, Vishal Bhardwaj, Rakeysh Mehra, Nagesh Kukkunoor (of course, they're directors too!)

Pic courtesy: Sunday Express

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Adventures in Curdistan

I finally laid my hands on Nestle's Probiotic dahi. You know, the one with 100 crore friendly bacteria which will help my digestion.

Noble cause, but I'm afraid you can only digest what you swallow and I could take no more than 3 spoons of the stuff. It looked strange. It tasted strange. Ordinary dahi will do just fine, thank you.

Whatever Nestle might believe, I don't think we are ready for biologically enhanced curds... yet. Heck, we aren't even fully ready to embrace bazaar ka dahi!

I mean for centuries now, we Indians have been dutifully culturing our curds. No doubt we noticed the tetrapacked variety in foreign supermarkets and enjoyed them. But that's yogurt.

Dahi is different. Dahi is roz ka khana and that's something you take for granted. It's the stuff you expect, by constitutional right, in your humble kitchen. Must you really pay for it?

Well, yes, say the companies. And commerce creeps in to every crevice of the Average Indian Home. The market for bazaar ka dahi is estimated to be 40-50,000 tonnes. Which sounds like a lot but is still a tiny, tiny drop in the ocean of dahi we consume on a daily basis. But of course, with time, that will change.

Proposition 1: Convenience over careful planning
Thought dahi jamaana was easy? It's a fine art! Kam samay rakho, dheela reh jaata hai. Zyaada samay rakho, khatta ho jaata hai. The stuff our moms did without us ever knowing - I tell you!

Proposition 2: What's the price?
This is where the slip up lies. I wouldn't mind picking up dahi every two days, along with my loaf of bread. But at Rs 15 for 400 gms most bazaar ke dahi are priced on the high side. An entire litre of cow milk costs Rs 19-20, so in effect you are paying a 100% premium for your baahar wala dahi.

And while price may not matter to yuppie couples and singles who are simply grateful that such a convenience exists, your average housewife will slot bazaar ka dahi into the 'rainy day category'. Something to buy only during emergencies.

But the even bigger block is this: the bazaar ka dahi does not 'taste the same'. At times, it's good. But often it's not. The consistency, the texture, the smell, the taste - it is just not uniform. Of course, it's the same story with ghar ka dahi. But hey, when you pay for it, and it's slightly sour or a little bit watery - heaven help. Humko nahin chalega!

And that, ultimately, is the problem with this probiotic thingy. The dahi we sampled was a bit 'loose'. And whether imagined or otherwise, it tasted 'different'.

As much as we all care about health, I think most consumers believe dahi is healthy in any case... So why bother to go probiotic? Unless you have a specific problem such as lactose intolerance.

Meanwhile, companies plod on. Trying to convert us to a commercially produced 'just like home experience'. Here's another other example:

Krd Rys : pre packed South Indian style curd rice or thayir sadam. This is the world's first 'branded curd rice offering' from Hatsun Agro. Currently available in Tamil Nadu.

Methinks the average curd rice eater is a bit of a finicky eater so it's gonna be an uphill journey. Unless the taste and freshness exceeds expectations...

Might do better as a 'snack offering' in the ignorant-about-the-real-taste north Indian market!

P.S. Just realised I'm writing about dahi just on the day when there are dahi handis being broken all over Mumbai. Divine coincidence :)

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