Sunday, March 29, 2009

Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!

I just watched Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! and give it a rating of 8/10 (RECOMMENDED). Directed by Dibakar Banerjee who gave us the well received Khosla Ka Ghosla. The story is inspired by the true story of an imaginative Delhi thief seeking celebrity. Abhay Deol plays the lead character Lucky Singh and seems a better actor than his cousins, Sunny and Bobby. Paresh Rawal gives a fine triple-role performance. Last, but not least, Manjot Singh does a fantastic job of carrying the first hour or so with his portrayal of Lucky Singh as a teenager.

AR Rahman's Nokia Connections

I recently stumbled upon more fodder for my Rahmania. I've gotten my slimy hands on AR Rahman's latest non-movie-soundtrack album -- Nokia Connections -- a 60-minute collection of largely instrumental compositions with representation from several of India's folk traditions and influences. I can do no better than point readers to Amanda Sodhi's excellent review and discussion. My favorites are Jiya Se Jiya, Mann Chandre, and Mosquito.

  • Jiya Se Jiya (4:18); with great beats (apparently similar to those at wedding/pongal ceremonies in Kerala)

  • Mann Chandre (7:48); a Punjabi song featuring Sukhwinder Singh, among the highlights of this collection

  • Kural (5:24); a Tamil song featuring rapper Blaaze

  • Silent Invocation A (8:39); mellow flute

  • Silent Invocation B (8:50); mellow flute

  • Silent Invocation C (5:20); mellow flute

  • Mylapore Blues (6:03); guitar-based easy jazz blended with Carnatic percussion

  • Himalaya (3:23); piano-based, discernably oriental in flavor

  • Mosquito (9:06); a lovely Sarangi-based composition, perhaps the strongest number on this album

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

DeSantis's Blatant Grandstanding

Jake DeSantis's resignation letter published today in the NYT ( is a case of blatant grandstanding. Perhaps unwittingly, the former AIG executive agrees that he has probably been overpaid over the years. An unexpected acknowledgement, albeit in the form of a major understatement. And yet, he isn't willing to pass up his massive bonus during a year that has been horrible not just for AIG but for the entire world! This is nothing but greed. There is no sacrifice involved in his resignation and the associated donation. He is already stinking rich and will probably get an excellent offer from somewhere, especially now that he is a celebrity of sorts. I don't doubt that there might have been government missteps (i.e. the WSJ article). However, those don't absolve multimillionaires from the added responsibility to give something back from the huge rewards they raked in during the supposed good years. Extraordinary situations call for extraordinary measures. If the elite can be overpaid during boom times, then it is also reasonable to expect them to bear an extra share of the burden during tough times.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Facebook Is NOT Like Twitter

Those who claim that the new Facebook is like Twitter clearly have no clue what they're talking about. All that has happened is that Facebook has changed the label of its status update window to read a bit like Twitter's. The two applications have entirely different goals. Facebook is for social networking. Twitter is for marketing yourself. Twitter is also good for information fiends like me because the leading Twitters post a ton of useful updates and links in order to market themselves and improve their ranking (measured in terms of number of Followers). That makes Twitter the information superhighway of the web -- and Following the leading Twitters is a bit like drinking from a fire hose. What Twitter calls Followers are just called Friends on Facebook. And for good reason because anyone can choose to Follow you on Twitter -- you can follow me on Twitter by going to my Twitter page -- but Facebook Friendship requires mutual, two-way consent. Broadly, there are two types of Followers on Twitter. One, folks like me who crave information and Follow people who post informative updates and links. Two, celebrity stalkers/fans -- the kinds who read People magazine (totally not me). On the other hand, Twitter has none of the features and applications that make Facebook a great site for slowing down a bit, getting to know family and friends, and enjoying the good things in life.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Understanding the Economic Crisis

I highly recommend this set of visualizations and infographics aimed at explaining the current economic crisis from various angles. Each graphic explains the meltdown from a slightly different perspective. The graphic format makes it easy to digest in bite sized pieces. Especially eye-opening is the visual build up of what one trillion dollars look like.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

How To Stop Terrorism

On March 4, terrorists in Lahore, Pakistan attacked a bus carrying the visiting cricket team from Sri Lanka. Many friends have expressed their horror over an attack on sports. Terrorists, by definition, appear to hold nothing sacred. They seek attention for their claimed cause, at any cost. Characterizing something (e.g. sports) as out of bounds only makes it a more attractive target. I agree with those who have suggested that the best possible response would have been to continue the game and the series per schedule. That clearly did not happen in this case. Therefore, terrorism won this round. Terrrorism is defeated only when the silent majority exhibits a level of imagination, selflessness, determination and solidarity that exceeds that of the terrorists. Here's a case in point. Four planes were hijacked during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The only plane that didn't crash into a landmark was the one on which the passengers and flight crew challenged and disrupted the terrorists. I believe all four planes had the same opportunity, but only one lived up to the potential -- United Airlines Flight 93.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Rush Limbaugh Is A Nincompoop

Enough said. (In case you've been living under a rock, the reference is to Rush Limbaugh's recently expressed desire to see Barack Obama fail.) Although I was planning to stop here (not much really needs to be said on this topic), I'll go one step further and recommend David Frum's opinion in Newsweek.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Economic Crisis Explained

This short video explains the current economic crisis in a simple and fun way. I didn't notice the t-shirt until a friend (Deepak Kapoor) mentioned it. It's a funny depiction of oversized families who received most of the subprime mortgages.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

How Facebook and Rahman Are Alike

Facebook and AR Rahman both seem to appeal to all demographics. Facebook launched around 2004 and has steadily been gaining popularity among young and old ever since. Personally, I love Facebook -- it has allowed expatriates like me to reconnect with friends and other nomads. And Facebook offers not just a reconnection but a rich, nuanced canvas on which to rekindle a relationship, albeit virtually. Rahman has been around a bit longer, but many folks seem to have jumped onto his bandwagon just recently after Slumdog's sweep at the Oscars. I consider myself an original mega-fan and have been following his work ever since my wife, Samita, introduced me to his very first score for the movie Roja (1992). I've created an MP3 DVD with every single one of Rahman's compositions -- almost 500 songs. It's a prized possession. Rahman's grasp of music is exceptional -- each soundtrack seems to contain a few songs with popular appeal and others (with classical leanings) for more refined tastes. As a result, he is able to keep everyone engaged. Similarly, with Slumdog (and other Western collaborations) he has been able to extend his appeal to a much broader audience. I'm glad that Slumdog fetched Rahman the international recognition he more than deserves, but there are many other soundtracks that are much more potent examples of his true talent. (To hear Rahman at his best, check out classics like Bombay, Water, and Zubeida. Also recommended is his more recent work on Delhi-6 and Yuvvraaj.) Slumdog seems to have received mixed reviews from elite Indians but I overheard someone say the other day that the dubbed version is playing to packed cinema halls in Delhi.