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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Academy Awards : Oscar Winners For 2011

Best Picture: “The King’s Speech”

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Colin Firth for “The King’s Speech”

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Natalie Portman for “Black Swan”

Best Director: Tom Hooper for “The King’s Speech”

Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale for “The Fighter”

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo for “The Fighter”

Best Art Direction: “Alice”

Best Cinematography: ‘Inception’

Best Animated Short: ‘The Lost Thing’

Best Animated Feature: ‘Toy Story 3′

Best Adapted Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin for “The Social Network.”

Best Original Screenplay: David Seidler “The King’s Speech.”

Best Foreign Film: ‘In a Better World’ from Denmark

Best Documentary Feature: “Inside Job”

Best Documentary Short: “Strangers No More”

Best Live Action Short: “God of Love”

Best Original Score: “The Social Network”

Best Original Song: Randy Newman – “We Belong Together” for Toy Story 3

Best Sound Mixing: “Inception”

Best Sound Editing: Richard King – “Inception”

Best Film Editing: “The Social Network”

Best Costume: “Alice”

Best Make-up: “The Wolfman”

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Posted by on February 28, 2011 in AWARDS, hollywood

 

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Carbon Footprint : How I Am Doing My Bit to Reduce It

For the uninitiated, carbon footprint is the emission of carbon-dioxide[CO2] and other greenhouse gases[GHG] associated with our daily activities like our use of car or electrical appliances or electronic goods that consume electricity. Its basically a measure of the impact that our activities can have on the environment and climate change which leads to ills like global warming and migration of birds.

Here are the things that I am doing and hoping others follow so as to reduce the carbon footprint:

i) Saving power : I switch-off lights and fans before exiting a room. I use CFL bulbs which consume lesser power. I try and use rechargeable batteries for the camera, torch etc. Switch on the house lights only when necessary, else keep the curtains open and use the natural sunlight.

ii) Re-use paper : I try no to take unnecessary print-outs of my emails. Even if I have taken prints, I re-use the paper by printing on the reverse side or use the empty reverse side as a scratchpad. Also, I make it a point to re-use envelopes for various purposes.

iii) Justified use of car : In the absence of public transport, if I have to travel beyond 2kms I use a car else walk. I commute to office by state-bus and the days I have to take my car, I try to carpool. Thereby, reducing the usage of fuel.

iv) Use jute-bag : We shop all the time, run errands from the nearest grocery stores. So, instead of taking a plastic bag or a paper-cover, use a jute-bag. In fact, I carry my own bag and bring stuff in that bag. These bags can be washed and re-used and it avoids littering of plastic/paper bags.

v) Energy star rated electircal goods : These days, most appliances come with star ratings. When we purchased an airconditioner, we went for the most energy efficient one which had a higher star rating.

vi) Travel light : I can’t express enough why we should travel light, especially in flights. Recently I flew from India to US and I had just a strolley. I purchasd all the necessary stuff for everyday living and clothes in US itself. I used it there and what I could not carry back home I distributed it among friends there. Excess baggage means excess fuel consumed by the aircraft. The same logic applies to road-travels too.

vii) Unplug chargers : When not in use, we unplug the charger. Be it laptop or the cellphone, always unplug the charger once the job is done.

viii) In the kitchen : Use water, only as much as required, not more. Instead of soaking the various vegetables in parallel, my wife soaks all vegetables in the same bowl of water in a serial process, one after another. No point wasting water by soaking vegetables simultaneously, plan the cooking beforehand and re-use water.

ix) Refrigerator usage : We usually remove milk and other edibles from the fridge at least an hour before its usage, instead of placing it straight on the gas stove. This saves gas, as lesser amount is used in heating it up. Also, do not place heated items immediately in the fridge. Give it some time, when it cools then put it in the fridge.

x) Plant trees : Last, but not the least – plant a tree once a year at least. We do it, every 3 months.

Lets all try to do our bit in making this a better place to live in.

This post was first published on Yahoo Network

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2011 in general, lifestyle

 

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A Tribute To Uncle Pai

Anant Pai, affectionately called as Uncle Pai, the creator of Amar Chitra Katha[ACK] and Tinkle comics, passed away last evening following a heart attack. I got the news through a tweet, and my mind wandered as I tried to recall the first time that I had purcahsed a Tinkle and/or ACK comic.

It was in the 1980’s, during a train journey that I heard about Tinkle and later ACK. I used to look forward to train and bus journeys only so that I could enjoy Tinkle Digest and ACK. I think I purchased my first Tinkle for 50 paise and I continued purchasing it till the sale price touched a new high of Rs.7/-. I had my own collection which I had started with issue no.50 or so and collected until issue no.350 odd. Then gave it up as I had grown up, or so I thought. But every few years I used to go back to my collection and read a few of the comic strips.

It used to be such a delight to read Shikari Shambhu, Suppandi, Idea Raman etc. I was not just a passive reader, but I got into the active mode too, by collecting the Maggi wrappers and sending it to Tinkle, as part of some contest. For every 5 such wrappers sent in a pack, I received free stickers. In fact, once I also made a small story contribution which was published as a Nasruddin Hodja tale.

Unlce Pai had a small section for himself too, in Tinkle, where he would give us lessons on science and reasoning. He would conduct experiments with a handful of school children as participants and unravel the mystery of science. Explaining gravity and parachutes and chemical reactions too. It was such a novel way to learn science.

Apart from entertaining us, Unlce Pai shaped the course of our history lessons. Through ACK, I absorbed so many history lessons and our great epics too. In fact, there was this wonderful ACK book on Shishupal and Krishna. I had not even heard of Shishupal, and here was this comic book leafing a page through the vast epic of Mahabharat and dishing out this little known character who was beheaded by Krishna who forgave 99 sins but had vowed that Shishupal’s 100th sin would not be forgiven. What an enchanting tale that was.

We learned more history and culture, religion and rituals from ACK than from any other book. Be it Jhansi Ki Rani or Maharana Pratap, it was all covered in ACK. In fact, it went beyond its own initial scope and took-up the mantle of educating us through the years.

I had a huge collection of ACK and Tinkle that I had to get them bound, 25 titles in each volume. I finally gave away the entire collection to a children’s library. I am actually ruing the fact that I gave it away. I should have kept it, coserved my precious collection. What a mistake!

It pained me no end that none of the news channel yesterday spoke about Anant Pai and his silent contribution to society. All channels, chasing TRPs, were going blah-blah-blah over corruption, scam, world cup etc. Kalmadi and his associates were in limelight, and here was a man who selflessly worked to brighten the future of kids, was forgotten just like that. Some celebrities tweeted about the sad demise and thats about it. I expected at least a half hour news capsule on him.

I salute you Uncle Pai for the visionary that you have been, for the untreaded path that you took and shaped the learnings of a million children. You entertained us, taught us how to read, how to learn and grasp; and you gave us the belief to become creative. If not for you, I would not have written my first story that I sent to you for publication. May your soul rest in peace. Amen!

This post was first published on Yahoo Network

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2011 in general, personal

 

Love Is In The Air???

I have been hearing this all through yesterday that ‘love is in the air’ ….. but I don’t see where. When I switched on the TV and browsed through a couple of news channel, all I gathered was that there was violence, accident, murders, revolutions and serious national issues being discussed.

There was this discussion about Egypt being under martial law after Mubarak’s departure. Then, there was this unexpected news about Shiv-Sena and other conservative right-wing outfits not playing spoil-sport against Valentine’s Day for whatever reasons, probably to get the youth votes in next assembly elections. A raging debate was on, about the double murder of Aarushi and Hemraj. Not to be left behind, our politicians were also in the news for all the wrong reasons of corruption, scam and embezzlement of funds.

I had enough of news, so I changed my mind and tuned to some music channels. Well, things got worse. There was a mad-mad competition among FMCG products trying to push/force/shove/coerce love into the air. There were ads, one after another, forcing people to fall in love. It was actually the naked face of commodification of love; where the ads were trying to sell dreams, aspirations, holiday destinations, romantic moments, love …. and countless other intangibles. The channel aired almost everything except songs, forget love songs.

I flipped to sports channels and the daily soap operas, but they could not even hold my interest for 10 minutes. So, I turned on the radio and tuned to a couple of FM stations and I was in for some mushy crap. There were listeners clamouring to call up the radio station and narrate their love stories, about how they had met, how they proposed, how they got rejected/disposed etc etc. After a while it got boring and predictable, as I could easily guess what the next caller was about to say.

Anyways, after I was done with the electronic media I moved onto the print media. I read some business news, about depreciating rupee against dollar, merger and de-merger of firms, fluctuating sensex, etc. It was all very good, until I opened the tabloids and turned to page-3 articles and the entertainment news. Some more mushy crap was waiting for me, in there. The pages were filled with columns on how to celebrate v-day, what gifts to buy and what not to buy, how to propose, how to handle rejection etc etc.

For a moment I felt that a hype was being built-up around valentine’s day. After all, it was just another day of the year; and I still felt the same way about my near and dear ones. Neither had the magnitude of my love increased nor decreased, it was the same amount as it is on any other day. I stepped out of my room and walked into the balcony, took a deep breath. I almost choked. I looked up and saw huge clouds of dust and pollution; the air was filled with smoke, saw-dust, pollen, sand, cement particles……..anything but love.

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Posted by on February 23, 2011 in general, lifestyle

 

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Taco Bell in Koramangala, Bangalore

Yesterday we dined out in Taco Bell that has newly opened in Koramangala. It was a nice treat and did not pinch the pocket at all. Before you rush off to the eat-out, a few things to keep in mind:

Location : Diametrically opposite to Sony World in Koramangala. The entry is at the beginning of the Intermediate Ring Road which goes towards old Airport Road.

Cuisine : Mexican food [veg and non-veg]

Menu : While I cannot list the entire menu, all I can say is that it has the regular fajita [pronounced as “fahita”], enchiladas, chalupas, quesidilia [pronounced as “quesidiya”], crunch-wrap nachos etc

Cost : A meal for two will not go over Rs.350/- and the soft drink can be refilled any number of times. Yippee …

We settled for chicken quesidilia and chicken crunch-wrap. The quesidilia was fine, reminded me of the ones I had tasted in Houston; very authentic. But it was served wrapped in a plastic, not spread-out on a plate. I think they should change this. The sauce that came with it was really hot, had a whole lot of jalapeno [pronounced as “halapeno”].

The crunch-wrap was hexagonal in shape and size of a pan-pizza, it resembled a stuffed paratha. The filling was really tasty, it had good quantity of minced chicken, olives, green veg like lettuce, onion and tomato.

On other occasions we have tasted the fajita and chalupas too, but don’t have too much hopes from these both items. They have been Indianised to suit our taste bud and liking.

They have limited number of items, and just 4 options in the name of dessert. We just darted across to Oasis Mall to have ice-cream in Cream’N”Fudge instead. But whatever they have is low priced and tasty. I believe they will expand their menu once the operations settle down and customers start pouring in.

Taco Bell can give a good competition to KFC and McDonald’s if they continue to operate at such low prices. What they lose out on cost, they can make up in volume by keeping the quality high.

I am sure I will visit this often; its value for money, just slip-in for a quick snack and leave without causing much stir in your wallet.

This post was first published on Yahoo Network

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2011 in general, lifestyle

 

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Ten Tips For Aspiring Shoe Throwers

A shoe throwing incident is an act of bravery and only the people who are extremely disturbed or personally affected by the policies of the target in question takes it upon himself to throw a shoe. But unlike GMAT or  GRE which can be attempted multiple times, hurling a shoe can be done just once because there is a high chance that you would be arrested and punished for the rash act. Hence it becomes even more pertinent that you prepare well.

Here are some tips that can help you deliver your best:

i) Strategy : Like every other examination, shoe throwing requires a planned strategy. Prepare a timetable and divide your time for all aspects of the act, from entry to exit. Experts suggest that last 15 days should be spent in doing a recce of the venue. You need to devise your sequence of events.

ii) Practice It : Since this is an act of defiance and a new way to express disgust and hopelessness , you need to be very confident on how to throw the shoe. You need to buy the right kind of shoe with correct weight and good aerodynamics and practise throwing it on a mannequin.

iii) Mock Throws : Guessing the type of venue and personality on whom the shoe has to be hurled, the best way is to attempt as many mocks as possible. It will help you to be confident about your preparation. With so many local events happening, it becomes easy to do this and evaluate your performance and know where you stand.

iv) Work On Your Weakness : Track your weak points and work hard to improve them. You should be able to aim from any distance and at any angle. Also pay attention to fundamentals of where the security guards are placed.

v) Get Upto Speed And Accuracy : Since you have such less time to aim and shoot, time is of prime concern. And while we have seen so many enthusiasts miss the target, it becomes more important that you gain accuracy by practising.

vi) Mood Setting : Be focussed, don’t lose your concentration. Get into the zone and be prepared for the consequences. If you succeed you will be held in high esteem, but if you fail then you may become an object of ridicule. So, get your mood right. Eat well, sleep well and breathe easy before the day of the event.

vii) Punctuality Matters: Be punctual. Be at the venue before time and do a quick survey. Spot your seat, hide your shoe carefully so you can get them out on time.

viii) Don’t Carry Unnecessary Objects: All you need is a good shoe, quick reflexes, guts, good aim and calm nerves. Don’t carry any other unnecessary objects which may hinder your performance.

ix) Cue Card And Quick Inspiration : Have a cue card and go through the plan again and again. Take inspiration from people who have attempted hurling a shoe, and try to better them by getting the target.

x) Be Careful About Extra Security: In order to hurl the shoe and escape, be careful about the extra security cover who move around in civilian clothings. Be careful about this.

By sticking to all the above tips, you can have a nice time in throwing a shoe at your target and become famous too. All the best!

This post was first published on Yahoo Network

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2011 in general, humor

 

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Movie Re-View : Hum Dono Rangeen

Mai zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya
Har fikr ko dhuen mei udaata chala gaya

The flamboyant actor Dev Anand has more or less lived a life in spirit of this song penned by Sahir Ludhianvi. His love for the medium and his enthusiasm for movies is unmatched. He may have ceased to be relevant and not in touch with the thought process of this generation, but he hasn’t ceased to make movies; good or bad. In fact, his movie making escapades are not decided by box-office success or failure, mostly failures.

In a bid to reach out to this generation Dev Anand decided to colorize his last black and white home production, Hum Dono. Reviewing this movie would be a redundant task since the film was a mega success of its times; the songs still ring true in our ears. Dev’s style and Sadhna’s beauty aside, Jaidev’s tunes and Sahir’s lyrics are timeless. I shall save myself the trouble of writing about the movie’s plot and story.

Interestingly, this is one of the few dual role movies where the personality exchange hasn’t been used for conning people or obtaining some hidden secrets etc. The army backdrop was just incidental to the movie, it could well have been two look-alikes in a train or air mishap where one gets rescued and the other finds his way into a lost-and-found list. Anyways, Anand replaces Verma as a favor; a promise that he had to keep. But what was supposed to be a brief support to Verma’s mother and wife turns into a moral dilemma for Anand. In the process of keeping Roma [Verma’s wife] happy and cheerful, he offends his true love Mita. And instead of being thankful for Anand’s honest attempts at consoling Roma, Verma accuses him of adultery.

Vijay Anand’s involvement in the writing department shows, the screenplay and dialogs were really good. The conflict between Anand and Verma and the interaction between Anand and Roma was written delicately but handled dramatically. Another new aspect for those times, 1960′s, was the conversation between Anand and his conscience. Usually, the voice of conscience was depicted by an echo effect; but here they brought the mand and his conscience face to face.

Of course the movie had some flaws too. The portrayal of army life was incorrect, the planning and strategizing during war sequences were not done well and Dev Anand was trying too hard to create distinct characters for the two roles which led to a lot of hamming as Mr.Verma. But lets not miss the woods for the trees. The wonderful songs and the theme of the movie more than make-up for the minor glitches.

And now I come to the big question: What’s the need to colorize the movie? Not just this movie, but any movie. I think the movie loses its charm, the heritage value and the tag of being a ‘classic’. No wonder that in 1980′s when talks were on, to colorize Citizen Kane and Casablanca, there was outrage among the movie makers. They felt that the studios were destroying an original piece of work, and future generation would be unaware of the fact that the movie was actually shot in black and white; thereby redefining the history of movie making.

At some level I concur with the people who are against colorization of movies. Lets not confuse between restoration and colorization. If an old classic has to be restored then its fine. If the restoration process requires pigmentation then I can understand and accept that too. But don’t harm an original piece by colorizing it, leave it untouched. With the help of new technology, distributors might think of adding background voices to silent movies! Please let a piece of history be as it is and let it speak for itself, we don’t really have to give a voice to it. The charm of Gone With The Wind or Shri 420 would be lost in color. In fact, some directors choose to make movies in black & white as in Schindler’s List or a pixellated grey as in Pi; because they want a certain feel to the movie.

Another important point, in Mughal-e-Azam the color version worked because certain parts of the movie were shot in color. Hence, there was a reference for the various pigments used. But in the case of Naya Daur and Hum Dono, there is no color reference element. Something that appears white in the movie could actually be off-white or yellow or peach, and that info cannot be captured. The result could be that in colorization, the white gets replaced by baby-pink. For that matter, what appears grey could be bottle-green or navy blue; but colorization may translate that grey into muddy-brown. Hence, we will only be resurrecting the body but losing the soul. The legacy of the movie and the special memories that such old classics have in our heart would be eroded. People who wish to watch the movie will go out and seek the original version, we don’t really have to make it available for new generation by all this gimmickry. The movies of yore exude a certain warmth which would definitely be lost in colorization.

Coming back to the movie, as soon as I reached home after watching the film, I logged into youtube and saw the songs Abhi Na Jao Chhodkar and Mai Zindagi Ka Saath in its original form, black and white. Soon after that I received this retweet : 20 years from now, I suppose Dev Anand will release Hum Dono in 3D.

This post was first published on PFC

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2011 in bollywood, movie review, movies

 

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