Friday, May 27, 2005

Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi

The movie is inspired by the tragic Ghalib verse :-

Hazaaron khwaishein aisi ki har khwaish pe dum nikle
Bahut nikle mere armaan lekin phir bhi kam nikle

It is but natural that the movie is a serious movie. It must be the best love story I have seen in recent times. And it feels great to see Indian movie making come of age.

The movie describes the love triangle between Siddharth (Kay Kay), Geeta (Chitrangada Singh) and Vikram (Shiney Ahuja) and is set in the early 70s.

The movie is told in a simple style like its script was written with a pencil. There is no ambitiousness at all in the script and is its strength. The music is fantastic as is to be expected from any sound track backed by the brilliant Shubha Mudgal these days. This time round, the music director is Shantanu Moitra, the same guy who brought," Ab ke Sawaan" to our parched souls a few years ago. One could gauge from listening to Shubha Mudgal in her interviews in those days that "Ab ke saawan" became popular, while she raved about 'Shantanu', to expect that something spectacular was in the offing, from this guy. In addition to the haunting melody of the title track rendered by Shubha Mudgal, there is the "Baawara Mann" track which is also very appealing to someone looking for a classical sounding modern melody. The entire sound track has a folkish feel to it.

Now for the characters - Siddharth is born to a Bengali mother and Muslim father and can speak neither Urdu nor Bengali, in his own words. He sets out to set right the many wrongs in the country and leaves for Bihar, right after college. Geeta is a fellow student from an Andhraite family. Geeta is crazy about him, but leaves India to study (England, Miami, Nairobi, etc). Vikram seems evidently Punjabi and is crazy about Geeta. When the trio part, Vikram makes his way in the power packed 70s starting with converting an old palace to a hotel. Eventually he ends up schmoozing with the likes of a Sanjay Gandhi lookalike.

Sometime later, when Geeta (then married to an IAS officer), meets Vikram , she realizes how time has passed. Like an alcoholic returning to his drink, she leaves for Bihar 'dumping' her husband in search of Siddharth and her own calling. Like she tells him at some point in the movie, its not only about him. Vikram, in the meanwhile can't get her off his mind and gets her out of trouble more than once. And all Geeta can say is "Thanks for everything, like always!" And Siddharth burns with unrequited love, while outwardly retaining his charm and replies to a query on how he's doing with "...making money at an astonishing rate!" Once the Emergency is in effect, Siddharth and Geeta get into a wild mess, which results in 'string pulling' all around - the old judge worried about his idealistic, hot blooded son and the power broker in search of his only love, despite his marriage.

What the trio manage to find themselves with, at the end of the movie, leaves the viewer with a mixture of awe at the boldness of the director to have tried something like this, cynicism (at the idealist Naxalite) and poignancy at the outcomes of love. The last scene is pure poetry.

Go watch it.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Me, Myself and the Capital Market

A long time ago, a friend of mine told me about this site called www.virtualstockexchange.com where one could start with $500,000 of virtual money and maintain a portfolio of stocks which were matched to real market prices. It was a fantastic place for practice. I learnt to shortsell, buy long, use margins, etc. And I had no awareness before I tried this. But I had my gut and those were the heydays of 2000-2001 when tech was king! I went up to a million dollars in abt 2 weeks (My friend made it to $ 5 mn in abt a month, but he used to live in London then and had greater time to watch and maniupulate the market and well he's smart!). I soon lost interest as trades materialized only in 20 mins and it was in US time. So I had to stay back in office and watch my stocks or wait for slow dialup at home. And besides I had to work. I used to manage a maximum of about 3 or 4 trades a day (abt an hr of trading) and then leave for home. So much for the virtual world. There are some such sites in India too.

I finally entered the real market today and bought 2 shares over which I made a net profit of Rs. 5! Obviously I didn't invest a lot, but it was great to have a positive start. And the excitement of doing something new was good fun.

I am an adrenalin junkie. Need something to keep me excited in life. And the capital markets provide a lot of things including adrenalin by the second. Wish me luck and loads of money :)

Monday, May 16, 2005

Bangalore Half Marathon

2 hours 10 min.
That is the result of my efforts at running a long distance for the first time in Bangalore. Since that is almost 10 kmph, I am within striking distance of my regular speed. However it is lower than my attempt at Mumbai for the same distance when I covered this in 1 hr 57 min, in the course of running the full marathon. So much for the numbers. To put it in perspective, I have added about 5 kilos since I moved to Bangalore, thanks to my mother’s cooking.

Now, for the race. After quite some scrambling to get a new route authenticated, the Bangalore marathon started at the appointed hour at 6 am, while most of the city was sleeping. Then the half marathon (my race) began 30 min later, also on schedule. The route was absolutely unromantic (in stark contrast to the earlier route which passed through MG Road) what with no schools, colleges, etc. The saving grace were the trees in Bangalore making it much easier to run in the shade for the most part.

Despite this, the profile of participants made a strong attempt at compensating for the lack of vibrancy as in Bombay. The members of the club of which I am a member (Runners for Life) were in full attendance. There were the software engineers whose companies had printed special Tshirts for them (McAfee, LG Soft, etc) and there was the contingent from Levers in the bright yellow Lipton Tshirts. And there were the assorted young men, who were there just for their first race. There were loads of pretty women (I love this city!), most of them participating. Then there were the men from Services – lean & mean looking. There were a few women athletes from the Sports Hostels. And for some weird reason, the organizers were writing down the bib numbers of all assembled runners.

When we moved into the stadium to the starting line, the excitement became palpable.

And then we were off. The golf course stretch in Bangalore is one of the best stretches to drive on, early in the day. The same holds for running too. I didn’t touch water for the first 48 min and made great progress. In fact when I approached the 11 km mark, it was about 3 min beyond the hour. I even asked one of my fellow runners whether we were going too fast! The route included two underpasses – at Windsor Manor and one more near the Mekhri Circle. And then there was the humongous flyover at Hebbal. When I had done one loop, I had lost my direction. And when the race officials pointed towards the flyover (it has 2 loops), I said, “I just finished looping it!” Then they reassured me saying that the second loop would put me back on the route I came from. I did retrace the route and like my friend who had told me about our speeds, the underpasses did kick in on the return when the knees started to hurt and hence one has to slow down. But I was still doing ok – 15 km in 1 hr 32 min. I began to slow down for a simple reason – body weight. You know when you are heavy and have to drag yourself. For a similar feeling, just go up and down an 8-storey building a couple of times and then try to climb the stairs again. You’ll know what I am talking about. Thankfully for me, one of the regulars from Levers, urged me on and then I picked up pace, but about a km before the finish line, I did slow down and the guy carried on. All through the race, occasionally there were a few members from Runners for Life or some fellow runners from the Bangalore Marathon Meetup group who would pass by and say, “Hey Dhammo, keep it up! Buck up.” And I would up my pace. And then after about 10 mins, they would carry on.

Eventually the consistent runners finished in about 1 hr 56 min. Arvind who heads Runners for Life was ecstatic about his sub 2 finish. Now our target (Arvind’s and mine) is the 4 hr for the Mumbai Marathon. The best runner that we have currently for the half decimated the field in about 1 hr 40 min! And our best runner for the marathon is a 46 yr old. He cracked 4 hr 14 min for the marathon.

And when I sprinted into the stadium for the finish, there was the fantastic sound of traditional drums being performed by an energetic set of people, whose community usually does this for most functions in Karnataka. You got to hear them to feel the rush of energy. At the finish line, a fellow runner added that the officials were timing only the top 10 finishers. Only time will tell whether I get my certificate with my finish timing! (No PJ intended)
It feels great as always to complete yet another race. The organizers have a lot of distance to cover (chuckle!) and so do I. So I guess I shall look inward till early 2006, when Maximum City beckons.
Bangalore Half Marathon


This was clicked just after I finished the race and came out of the stadium by a kind friend.