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Author Archives: crazyrals

About crazyrals

I am an IT professional with more than 12 years of experience. But what defines me is not my IT background, but my penchant for writing. I write/blog/tweet about movies, politics, cricket and other socially relevant topics. I also write short stories and poems, but only when in right mood and good inspiration.

Learning How to Learn

Whenever we get any new topic that has a test or some kind of compulsory feedback attached to it, we tend to panic. The reason for this panic reaction is that, as we age, our ability to grasp new subject or retain new thoughts reduces. Not just that, but our minds are also fatigued and attention span has drastically reduced due to the arrival and onslaught of smartphones.

In such a situation, a course like this comes as a breather and re-affirms the belief that we can still learn by using certain mental tools and techniques. The course is vast, but I shall try to elucidate a few of the topics discussed, which I sincerely believe that you would find use for it.

Topic A: Focussed and diffuse modes of thinking

Focussed mode of thinking is used when we are doing a task that requires our total attention, like solving a critical problem. We know what exactly is to be done, so we put all our energy into it, without getting distracted.
But what if the problem is of a different nature and not similar to what has been resolved earlier. Here, the diffuse mode comes into picture, whereby we relax and think about it.  We usually take a break by going for a coffee or on a long walk, take ourselves away from the problem in hand. And suddenly when we get back to our desk, we find that the solution has just occurred to us. Thats the diffuse mode of thinking.

Topic B: Visualization in learning

This is a powerful tool which helps us in recalling certain events or historical data/facts. We try to weave an imaginary chain of events which will help us remember things better. I usually forget to fill up the gas tank of the car, and this has led to terrible situations of getting stranded on express ways. So, whenever I enter the car, I just imagine a genie perched on the fuel meter , dancing around and teasing me that the fuel is “low” and I would be in problem. This immediately draws my attention to the fuel guage. As simple as that.

Topic C: Interleaving

Studying a new subject in one go and cramming ourselves isn’t the best solution for learning. By doing this, we may complete the syllabus but the understanding remains zero. So, what we ought to do is, learn a little everyday. Build up the infomration brick by brick and erect that wall of knowledge. And every few days, revisit the topics that were covered. This enables the short term memory to get converted to long term memory, by constant revision.

With these techniques, I feel much more confident of learning something new,

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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in general

 

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Risk & Opportunity: Managing Risk For Development

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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in general

 

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,100 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2014 in general

 

Chandni : Eternal Moonlight

Her heart was a secret garden, and the walls were very high“.
-William Goldman, The Princess Bride

Chandni is not just a character from this movie, but she is a character who has been residing in Yashji’s thoughts for a long time. What culminated in this movie was the effect, but the cause of it can be found in his earlier works. Yashji is not a writer, I do know that. And this implies that Chandni is not a character that he has created. And yet, the character kept coming back to him, again and again. It was more like the character found him, rather then he going after the character.

The story of this movie was written by Kamna Chandra, who had earlier written Prem Rog, and her next work was 1942 A Love Story. She has been really selective about her work, and the quality of her work shows in the characterisation. She writes strong grounded characters, be it male or female. The screenplay was written by Arun Kaul and the dialogues were beautifully written by Sagar Sarhadi, another person who has a rare quality of writing mesmerising lines. Earlier, Sagar Sarhadi had written the screenplay of both Silsila and Kabhi Kabhie.

The bubbly and garrulous Chandni meets the naughty and romantic Rohit. When Rohit strikes the lighter at the staircase and the glow from Chandni’s faces brightens the screens, it almost like a storm-in-a-tea-cup moment. Even the heartbeat of the audience stops for a moment. Who wouldn’t fall in love when a smart and daring stranger compliments a beautiful small-town girl! And not just compliment, but open the heart like a bedsheet and shower all the petallic words. The fortress had been breached, someone had gained entry into Chandni’s heart. She just wanted to convince herself that its infatuation, but in fact it was love.

And that deep a love is resounded in the words of Chandni when she questions Rohit ‘Agar tum meri jagah hotey to tum kya karte?‘, when he comes back to reclaim her. Its not easy to fall in and out of love, not for people like Chandni & Rohit. What Rohit does is cruel, but sacrificial at the same time. Both Rohit and Chandni are two sides of the same coin. Chandni wants to tend to Rohit’s leg injury and even becomes his wheelchair in the act, but Rohit wants Chandni to lead her own life and not waste her time on him. She is ready to hear all abuses from his family members, and he is ready to abuse and humiliate her for her own good, so she goes away. And in the process, both of them hurt each other. But if there is more tears than smiles, how can it be called love? Suddenly, the love of Chandni pushes Rohit into going for a treatment. And after he regains his mobility, he shows up at her door. Rohit should not have come back into Chandni’s life, it was too late.

In the meanwhile, Chandni moves in with her friend in a new city and tries to gather the pieces of her broken life. She comes across Lalit, a person who owns a tourism business. Lalit is also a loner, having lost his loved one. But he has accepted life the way it is since his relationship had a closure. That’s where Chandni’s story was different, she did not have a closure. Walking out on Rohit was an impulsive decision, and not a thought out plan.

Its not everyday that you come across a character like Chandni, someone who is so full of energy and bundle of joy, someone who spreads cheer and keeps her pain to herself, someone who makes you feel good although she maybe herself be under duress, someone who nurses your pain and licks her own wounds. When someone loves you with all their devotion, least that we can do is not hurt them. But Chandni has always suffered, and not just at the hands of her loved ones but also by nature’s design. It could have been God’s way of saying ‘don’t love with all your heart’, but Chandni probably doesn’t wish to hear that. When she loves, she brings the moon to her man’s doorstep, but when she cries, there is no one to console her.

I had started out talking about Chandni, the character, rather than the movie. The above story is similar to the story of the character Chandni from Silsila. Just equate Rohit with Amit and the helicopter accident with the death of Amit’s brother. Chandni went onto marry Dr.Anand, but we don’t know under what circumstances. It was an incomplete story without any closure, and suddenly one fine day, she comes face to face with Amit. She is again pushed into making a choice.

The movie ‘Chandni’ explains what may have happened after the departure of Amit from Chandni’s life. How Dr.Anand came into Chandni’s life and the many questions that Chandni must’ve asked herself before deciding to move on. The situation in Silsila is a lot more tense, because Amit and Chandni were married, but not happily-married. Both of them were leading a life of compromise, a marriage of convenience rather than conviction. Amit should not have come back into Chandni’s life, it was too late.

But here, in this movie, both are still yearning for each other. When Chandni is in doubt, her friend tries to convicne her saying ‘Rohit tumhara guzra hua KAL tha, Lalit tumhara AAJ hai‘. But she is still not convinced. Although she agrees to marry Lalit, its more a decision of the mind than the heart. Buth when Rohit comes tumbling down the stairs on the day of the wedding, Chandni’s inner feelings come to the fore. A bride, a soon-to-be-wife of Lalit, forgets everything and runs upto Rohit; that one scene changes everything for everybody. A story that had started from a staircase and mandap ends with mandap and staircase. The same questions about love and loyalty start bogging Chandni. She is again pushed into making a choice.

Chandni was dumped by her boyfriend because she was just a toy for him and when she got pregnant, it was like a burden for him to handle; so Chandni was ditched in Daag. She had trusted him with her life, and here she was, left at crossroads. Sunil comes into her life and lends her legitimacy, while she gives him a new identity. And when things were going fine and she had started liking Sunil, from nowhere Sonia lands up to reclaim Sunil. Sonia should not have come back into Sunil’s life, it was too late.

Again, by nature’s design, Chandni is hurt. Her marital life is marred by another woman, and she doesn’t know how to handle the situation. She can either lose Sunil or share him. She is again pushed into making a choice.

That has been the bane of Chandni. She is always left to make a tough choice. In Daag, Chandni ends up sharing her object of affection with somebody else; more out of societal pressure than free will. In Silsila, Chandni chooses to make amends to her life and forget Amit for ever. She has an awakening and they both decide that it would be selfish if they didn’t honour the committment of their spouses. Amit too has a realization and agrees to let go. In both movies, the story of Chandni’s life was incomplete.

Finally, its here that Chandni has a proper closure. She gets to cry the tears of joy. All the wandering years spent in search of love, ultimately results in attaining it. And only Yashji could have made it possible by making this movie during the time when action movies ruled the box office.

Shiv-Hari were the music directors of this movie as well as Silsila. In fact, they even went on to do the music of Darr and Lamhe. Also, a signature tune in this movie went on to be used as a tune for a song in Lamhe, Kabhi Mai Kahoon. Their extensive use of tabla and santoor in both movies is a standout point. They understood the demands of the situation really well, and gave an awesome musical score. They pushed Amitabh Bachchan into lending his voice in Silsila, and they did the same with Sridevi in this movie. Wish they had continued to give music to some more movies, but we have to be content with a handful of albums from this brilliant duo, Shiv Kumar Sharma and Hari Prasad Chaurasia.

The lyrics were penned by Anand Bakshi and the songs are sung in every wedding since then. Mere haathon mei nau nau chudiyan hain & Mai sasural nahi jaoongi has risen above the status of being just a song and has become a folklore. Its the simplicity of the situational lyrics that keeps us glued to the movie, be it Tu mujhe suna mai tujhe sunao apni prem kahani or Lagi aaj sawan ki phir wo jhadi hai. The songs are memorable and they sit easy on our lips without taxing the brains. It was a phenomenal artistry with the pen.

There is a Chandni all around us, but we probably fail to see her or perceive her. Sridevi as Chandni came across as a loyal, sweet and an innocent persona. Her love was pure as gold and soft as marshmallow. Sridevi justified the character, and for once, she corrected her diction so the dialogues seemed natural and effortless. Rohit was played brilliantly by Rishi Kapoor. Its so easy to not notice him because all the attention is on Chandni. But as a frustrated lover or a romantic fool, he rises above the level of the script. And not to forget, Vinod Khanna as Lalit was immaculate. It was a while since we had seen Vinod in such an avtar, and he lent credibility to the character of Lalit. You feel for him towards the end, and for Waheedaji who plays his mother.

Chandni ushered in a new era of love and romance. In an interview Yashji had said that when he was driving down the lanes of Bombay, everywhere he saw movie posters of heroes with guns. That’s when he decided that his next movie would be a love story, and Chandni happened to him again.

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2012 in bollywood, movies

 

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Daag : First Movie Under Yashraj Banner

Only when you want to fly so badly that you give up being a caterpillar, is when you can become a butterfly. That’s exactly what must have been going on in Yashji’s mind. He had directed five movies under the shadow of his brother Balraj for BR Films, and now he was itching to start a production house of his own where he could make movies of his choice. And Daagwas the first movie of Yashraj Films.

The story of Daag was written by Gulshan Nanda, who had earlier written Kati Patang. Gulshan Nanda had adapted the novel Mayor of Casterbridge, and the story came to Yashji. Wonder what Yashji saw in the story that he was all excited and wanted to produce/direct it. If you see the movie, you will realise that this unconventional movie has no safety net. The only way he could have kept the audience hooked was by having a face that the audience loved seeing, no matter what he did. Rajesh Khanna was a superstar in the early 70′s and his stardom may have prompted Yashji to sign him on as a safe bet. So, Rajesh Khanna was just incidental to the movie, rather than integral.

Sunil Kohli, played by Rajesh Khanna, is a die-hard romantic. He loves Sonia and amidst Ab chaahe maa roothe ya baaba, yaara maine to haan karli, they get married soon after college. While on their way to honeymoon, a heavy thunderstorm blocks their path. Sunil meets a dear old friend Dheeraj who helps them out in this rough weather.

Dheeraj plays the perfect host, but only for a while. His animal instincts get the better of him, and he attacks Sonia with the intention of outraging her modesty, while Sunil is out trying to make alternate travel arrangements. Sunil returns just in time to save Sonia and in the ensuing fight, a violent strike from Sunil leaves Dheeraj dead. A criminal case is slapped on Sunil and he is decreed with death sentence.

Most movies would end with such a climax during the 70′s and 80′s. But this movie only begins to find a footing at this juncture. Sunil and Sonia get separated even before they could start their new lives together. All their dreams, hopes and aspirations get shattered. To make matters worse, the police van which was used for transporting Sunil to the jail, meets with an accident and he is the lone survivor. Sunil is caught in a situation with no option. He understands that life has given him another chance to live. If he declares himself ‘alive’, he would be sent back to serve the punishment.

As I earlier said, its an unconventional love story. Sonia lives like a widow while Sunil re-settles with a new assumed identity. And here, Chandni enters the scene. She is a woman who has inherited a lot of wealth, palatial home but her heart is a cup in which no happiness has been poured, its brimming with sorrow.

Some people look for love, but instead get trapped in lust. Such was the story of Chandni. The person she loved, gets her pregnant and leaves her, absolving himself of all responsibilities. Our society is very cruel where having a child out of wedlock would never be acceptable. The necessity to give her child a social acceptance and to save Chandni and her family of the ignominy of the situation brings the story to its first cross point between characters. The story progresses when a turn of events brings Sunil into Chandni’s life. It could be out of a selfish necessity of Sunil or the unfortunate desperation of Chandni that Sunil agrees to give Chandni’s unborn child his name and agrees to be her husband albeit just for the society. This arrangement was a symbiotic one, where it led to a new identity for Sunil and a respectable name for Chandni and her new born.

It may have been a situation of convenience for Sunil where he would be shielded from the law and would enjoy the amenities of a palatial house and luxuries he had never thought of and at the same time, to be in the company of a beautiful and attractive woman. His true love for Sonia may have prevented him from acting on it, but who is to say that he was not resisting any attraction that any man with any degree of romance in him would have for a woman as virtuous as Chandni. And who is to say that Chandni, on realising that a man who lived with her in the same house and who she at some level may have accepted as her husband had not made any advances at her, was not compressing a sense of frustration within herself.

Just when Chandni had finally managed to forget her horrible past and had got used to Sunil, Sonia comes into their life like a thunderstorm; and she shakes the foundation of their relationship. There was a volcano of emotions bottled up between of Sonia and Sunil that needed an eruption point. Something that took the situation by the scruff of its neck and shook the characters to realise their true feelings.

Sunil & Sonia find themselves in a difficult situation yet again, where inspite of being under one roof, they couldn’t be together. Mere dil mei aaj kya hai, tu kahey to mai bata doon, but there is so much to say that Sunil didn’t know where to begin from. Sunil is obligated to Chandni due to societal pressure, but his heart beats for Sonia. Chandni is unaware of Sunil’s past and in enraged by his sudden proximity with Sonia.

Love also results in jealousy. Sometimes people think they are not jealous/envious, but when they see their loved one having a good time with somebody else, the green monster appears from nowhere. Sonia is jealous of Chandni because she can’t be seen with Sunil in public, while Chandni is jealous of Sonia because although Sunil is with her, his heart is with Sonia.

This is a story that has happened in many a household, and such peculiar problems require unique solutions. This awkward situation leads to a nonconformist end, possibly the only ending that could be an acceptable solution to all three characters. Only an iconoclastic director like Yash Chopra, with his deft handling, could have made the movie palatable. Its his understanding of a man-woman relationship, that results in creating such credible characters.

This poem of love had some really good music from Laxmikant-Pyarelal and lyrics was written by Sahir Ludhianvi. Some songs are timeless pieces and are hummed to this day. Sahir captures the sense of the drama very well and pens his thoughts nicely.

This was the last superhit movie of Sharmila & Rajesh Khanna together. Sharmila Tagore, as Sonia, gave a very good controlled performance. But it was Rakhi who walked away with the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress, for her role as Chandni. And Yashji won the Best Director award for this movie.

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2012 in bollywood, movies

 

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Aadmi aur Insaan : Of Friendship & Betrayal

Zindagi ittefaq hai
Kal bhi ittefaq thi
Aaj bhi ittefaq hai

On first hearing, it sounds like a title track for the movie Ittefaq, which was being made around the same time as this movie. Following the super-success of Waqt, Yash Chopra soon began working on a movie which had its roots in socialism.

India was on the path of industrialization, and lot of factories were coming up. Many development projects were on the anvil, construction of dams and irrigation projects were a priority. Akhtar Ul Iman used this backdrop and scripted the movie which was a story of two friends, one rich and the other poor, Munish & JK.

Yash Chopra roped in Dharamendra to play the humble and honest Munish Mehra. Dharamendra was shooting for Satyakam with Hrishikesh Mukherjee, and that could have been one of the reasons for casting him in this movie as the character of Munish was a little similar to Satyapriya Acharya. Those were the days, when Dharamendra was not yet labelled as He-Man. In those days, he had a lover-boy image, a man of honour and integrity, brainy and brawny. While he did play a simpleton in movies like Seeta Aur Geeta, Jeevan Mrityu, Satyakam etc; in parallel he also did thrillers like Do Chor, Ankhen, Shikar etc.

Even in this movie, he did justice to the character of Munish Mehra. Siding up with Dharamendra was Feroz Khan who played JK alias Jai Kishan. JK is a rich brat industrialist who loves to party and knows his drink.

Jaam pakad badha ke haath, maang dua ghatey na raat
Jaan-e-wafa teri kasam, kehte hain dil ki baat hum
Gar koi mel ho sakey, aankhon ka khel ho sakey
Apne ko khushnaseeb jaan, waqt ko meharbaan maan
Milte hain dil kabhi kabhi, warna hai ajnabi sabhi
Mere humdum mere meharbaan
Har khushi ittefaq hai

It was a chance meeting that brought Munish and JK together. JK liked Munish’s sincerity and honesty; and he decides to alleviate Munish’s burden. JK helps Munish financially and also sponsors his education. JK comes across as a benevolent person who wants the welfare of Munish.

Munish returns to India, armed with a degree and JK soon makes him the in-charge of his construction project. While on duty, Munish chances upon Meena, played by Saira Banu, and falls in love with her. He of course doesn’t know that JK too likes Meena a lot.

While Munish is going about his duties, he accidentally finds out about JK’s financial irregularities and how he has expanded his empire by wrong means and business malpractices.

A two-hero movie invariably has a duel and here too, Munish & JK are locked in a bitter duel that involves Meena on one hand, and JK’s favours done for Munish on the other. One weighs more than the other, but which side will Munish swing?

Husn hai aur shabaab hai, zindagi kamyaab hai
Bazm yoon hi khili rahey, apni nazar mili rahey
Rang yoon hi jama rahey, waqt yoon hi thama rahey
Saaz ki lai pe jhoomle, zulf ke kham ko choomle
Mere kiye se kuchh nahi, tere kiye se kuchh nahi
Mere humdum mere meharbaan
Ye sabhi ittefaq hai

JK feels betrayed, the one person whom he had trusted, turned against him. He hoped that Munish would remain indebted to him for life. But instead, Munish dared to go against a friend who had done so much for him. Its an interesting movie about human relationships, about friendship and honoring that trust. Its never an easy task to take a stand, but Munish takes a stand and the duo split.

Munish takes up another job, trying to forget the bitterness. Yet again, just by chance, a case comes to Munish, to investigate the collapse of a bridge. It turns out that the bridge was constructed by JK’s firm. Will Munish do a fair investigation based on ground realities or will he mix emotion with his profession and use this as a vehicle to get back to JK?

The problem with honest people is that, they have very few options. They are always in a pristine white zone; rarely do they choose to stay in a gray area or live a life filled with ambiguities. On the flip side, the ones in gray area just have one objective; that objective could be anything, love, money, status symbol. Whatever be the objective, they find ways and means of getting there, by hook or by crook. That’s the basic difference between a man [aadmi]  and a civilised/moralistic man [insaan]. Feroz Khan, for the stark portrayal of JK, won the Filmfare award for Best Supporting.

Except for the song Zindagi Itteaf Hai sung by Lata mangeshkar and Dil Karda, O Yaara Dil Dara sung by Mahendra kapoor, the other songs weren’t anything to write home about. It was the same team that had worked in Waqt, Sahir Ludhianvi & Ravi. But somehow, the consistency was lacking this time around.

This movie again shows Yash Chopra’s strength as a director. Be it the tight thriller Ittefaq or this movie, he excels in both. The reason I have mentioned Ittefaq so many times is that, both these movies released in the same year. And while Yashji was shooting for this movie, Saira Banu fell ill and the shooting had to be halted for a few months. Restless person that he was, Yashji and Akhtar Ul Iman collaborated again on Ittefaq project which was shot within a month. When Saira was back in good health, he wrapped up this movie.

Some people aren’t able to give their best even while directing just one movie at a time, but Yashji did justice to both movies. The ease with which he switched from melodrama to thriller genre, and then back to the melodrama, is commendable. Basically, his understanding of movies, the spirit of the story, and comprehending the characters with all their flaws, is tremendous.

In AAI, Yahsiji has captured the milieu of the construction site very well. Be it the bridge or the government offices, he is spot on. But best of all is the way he films human emotions. Feroz Khan’s anger, arrogance and the hurt was shown very well. He is quite a spontaneous actor, so it becomes all the more important to give him enough time and space and he does wonders. Even in movies like Safar, Arzoo, Apradh etc, he comes good in scenes where has to display remorse and anguish.

Dharamendra is excellent in the movie, be it the honest officer or the good brother or the faithful friend; he plays all the parts with such ease and fantastic body language. Never does he try to overpower other characters in the movie. In fact, he gives Saira and Feroz enough space to shine in the movie.

Yashji balanced the characters very well; never showing one better than the other. He shows both sides of the story and nobody comes across as a villain; they are all trapped in a situation of their own making. Just remember that, much before Namak Haraam, there was Aadmi aur Insaan.

This post was also published on MadAboutMoviez

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2012 in bollywood, movies

 

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How Long It Takes For Investment To Double

People always want to know how long it would take them to double their investment. Its a curious question because all of us want our money to multiply as soon as possible. So, here’s a simple calculation called Rule of 72, which will help you know how long it takes to double the investment amount.

If we divide 72 by the RoI [annual rate of interest], we get the time period for doubling our money.

For example: If RoI is 9%, then 72/9 = 8. So, it will take 8 years for amount to double at 9% annual interest rate; whatever be the invested amount. Lower the rate, higher the time taken for doubling.

Suppose there is a bull run and RoI is 14%, then 72/14 = 5.14. So, it will take a little over 5 years for the invested amount to double.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2012 in business, personal finance

 

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