Zomato

Zomato Delivery Boy and Elite, Urban Sympathy

It’s been three days since the Zomato video surfaced, and now the video has run its course on social media.

We live in an age when an actress’ wedding and an US election enjoy the same duration of relevance on our phones. So the Zomato video has run its course of online relevance. Most news items follow what I call the 3-day Relevance Cycle.

Three Day Social Media Relevance Cycle

Now that the Zomato video has passed the initial outrage and jokes phase, and memes have been paid, it will organically move on to the Editorial articles. This is when articles telling us how to be better human beings will be shared across opinion sites.

Like this Tweet-collector article on The Indian Express which undertook the brave journalistic endeavour of collecting a few tweets on the subject. In it, you find people making statements like ‘If an employee is so hungry that he has to steal food, we must ask ourselves what sort of a society we live in’. (I can’t diss Indian Express too much because I write a humour column with them).

Another article by Arre (another fantastic website that churns out witty, insightful, unique articles) harps on the same subject. That we need to ask questions about the working conditions at the company, and how the guy deserves our empathy. Something about the tone of the article put me off (but I can’t diss Arre too much because I contribute columns for them too – you should check them out!).

The article begins with an allusion to a time in the French Revolution when there were thousands of hungry people on the streets who didn’t have bread, but the queen famously said ‘let them eat cake’. I was baffled at the extrapolation – this was not a case of a destitute man scrounging off the streets. This was daylight theft, a breach of trust, and a cunning cover-up that would have affected honest, innocent customers if it wasn’t caught on tape.

The article goes on to break down the trade on economic grounds. There’s a link to the fountain of all credible knowledge – Quora. Even if one were to go by the Quora post, it mentions that a delivery guy makes Rs. 2010 a day on an average of 21 deliveries. I am sorry but that is not as bad as it seems. In fact, freshly passed-out engineers and MBAs from most colleges in India will find a gross salary of 60,300 lucrative in any city in the country.

The post also mentions that the employees have to pay for the fuel themselves. Assuming that every order is 10 kms away on average, and the employees use your typical 100 CC bike that gives you 50 km/hr – that is a total of 10,800 Rs. on petrol every month. Deducting that amount, it still comes to 49,500.

The working hours are mentioned as anywhere between 8-12 hours a day – nearly every job across every sector falls in the same category. All things factored, a Zomato employee makes a neat 50K a month. How on earth does that demand sympathy and empathy? That’s more than what your average artists, musicians, and journalists earn. And the job doesn’t need high educational background or work-ex – a driving license, a bike, and time during the day.

That’s a bloody good deal.

So it clearly isn’t the economics – but rather an elitist condescension that somehow food delivery is a ‘lesser’ trade. There are nurses saving lives on less than half that salary, there are government employees slogging off for years for less than amount. If anything, the job is one of the modern off-shoots of a growing economy.

For any other job that pays you 50K a month, mishandling company’s property and assets would be met with similar seriousness. If an IT engineer takes company data home on a pen drive, he/she will get their ass booted the next day. If a comedian steals one joke, it is the end of one’s career.

It was an act of theft, a breach of trust, of putting unsuspecting customers at a health risk. And it wasn’t even a one-off act of desperation. It was done in a cunning, carefully planned manner. The employee was not starving or malnourished – he was what Pammi Aunty would call ‘very healthy’. This is not fat-shaming, it is fact-checking.

Unfortunately, the article proceeds to launch into a Guru Dutt film climax-speech about the injustice in society and how we must be ashamed of ourselves for letting this happen. That we must instead be complaining about the working conditions of the delivery boys. That’s just intellectual drivel.

And who really has the time to speak up about every issue in the world? Who possessed the time, dedication and energy to keep harping about injustices in society? For all you know, Indian Express and Arre themselves would have never broached the topic if the video hadn’t surfaced.

*

Out of curiosity, I checked Twitter, Facebook and Instagram if people were baying for the delivery man’s blood – they weren’t. And mind you, we live in a country where a person got killed for having mutton in their fridge.

It was a dick move – an act of theft and cheating, committed with an air of carefully planned crookedness. The guy deserved to get his ass fired.

Amidst this idealistic drivel – nobody speaks about the customers – honest, hardworking, and hungry. What if the food was meant for a child or someone susceptible to dust, allergies and infections? Why should anybody not be alarmed when the health, hygiene and well-being of their family is jeopardised by a cheating asshole?

I’m sorry, but to expect sympathy instead of alarm is juvenile. It’s the kind of stuff university students mouth after wearing a kurta and smoking two joints. The guy broke a rule, put people’s health at risk, tampered with company property, and got caught.

He got caught, and got fired from his job. It is sad, but that’s how life works.

Grow the fuck up!

*****

Zomato

ZoMaToo? How to protect your order in the age of botched deliveries

 

You must have seen the video.

A food-delivery executive mooching off food meant for a customer, then cleanly resealing it, and setting off to work with the focus of an award-winning star employee.

When I searched for the video on YouTube, it was preceded by an ad by Zomato itself – asking me to order food that would get delivered in minutes. It’s the kind of video that makes you think back to all the orders that reached your doorstep decimated. Remember the time the salad looked like it had been ravaged by vultures? Or the laddoo that resembled a 5th day ball of a Baroda Test match? All of those memories come flashing back.

The case is even more interesting because the company in question usually has a funny retort on social media. Unfortunately on this occasion – and pardon the phrase – they have had to order humble pie.

We Indians have taken to food delivery apps quite well. Perhaps because the first instance of order-deliveries was of Hanuman delivering the Sanjeevani plant. We have an intrinsic faith in the food delivery system.

The video was also forwarded to me on WhatsApp groups, and it triggered active conversations. There were those who wanted that delivery personnel be provided better pay, food coupons, and lower targets. Conspiracy theorists, never too far away on a WhatsApp group, argued that it could be a ploy by Swiggy to get rid of their biggest competitor (since FoodPanda has begun to go extinct).

But the conspiracy theory sounds implausible when you see the actual video. It is done with the precision of an experienced hand, of a seasoned (for the lack of a better word) customer. In a way, I sympathised with the delivery executive. He looked stockily built, someone with a natural proclivity for food.

The video was shot in Madurai – a temple town with a rich variety of local foods. An average food-delivery person delivers about 20 orders a day. Imagine zipping through the city, the aroma of different cuisines wafting with you. When the food is so near, yet so far. Luckily for the employee, the video isn’t very clear.

It is also not the first time such a video shattered the faith of people. A few years ago, a video surfaced from Mumbai where a pani puri vendor decided to offer a new twist on the old favourite – Urea Puri.

Be warned: The video is not safe for work, home, jungle or the hills.

 

*

The video proves that in spite of apologies and warnings, any system that involves human beings is subject to tampering. In spite of best practices and quality ‘testing’, one can never really be sure.

It is only prudent therefore, to make a list of low-risk and high-risk food to order online.

At the low end of the low-risk spectrum stand South Indian food. It is impossible to take a bite out of an idli, vada, or dosa – without altering the shape. However, kindly do not enter the marshy territory of upma, pongal and sambar rice.

The look and feel of the food item is also crucial – a lasagne will be hard to break into. Pizzas are safe too, and in case of doubt, go for one with less toppings. Wraps are difficult to tamper with, and if someone scoops out the filling of a wrap carefully – they probably deserve the wrap more than you do.

If you are a biryani lover, you fall in the high-risk category. When they say ‘family pack’ biryani, they don’t specify how many members of a family. It isn’t hard for a bachelor to want to belong to your family.

Noodles and fried rice are high-risk too. Geo-politically, India and China might not be on Baloo-Bagheera terms, but Chinese food is considered quite accessible. Milk-shakes are a strict no-no. If it’s an ice cream thickshake, you wouldn’t even know that the quantity has reduced! Soups are out of question.

If you’re the suspicious kind, you could even do a test case on your deliveries to check if they have been tampered with.

For example, order Rasmalai and check if the delivery agent has a satisfied, benign smile on his face. Or order Chicken Teekha Mirch Kabab (select Extra Spicy option), and wait for the order.

If you notice the delivery agent puffing and panting, sweaty or fidgety, it might make sense to check your order.

It’s the least one can do in times like this. Of course, one could learn to cook for oneself. But why even go there?

***

Tumbad-min

What Tumbad does with horror

In the age of Netflix and other online streaming apps, amidst entertainment that can be slipped into your back pocket, in the age of stream, download, and watch – what really is the role of a horror film?

We have seen the spooky, the creepy, the horrific, and the Satanic. We have had horror movies involving men, ghosts, monsters and creatures. In water, in the air, and from beyond the earth. Jump-scares and screeching doors and ghosts slamming their ghostly faces into the camera to startle us. All of that is done.

Which is why one wants more from a horror film. We look for more than a ghost chasing a human. We need the film to have more soul – atma – if you please!

Tumbad achieves what horror films in the 21st century are supposed to. To leave you with a feeling you can take back home – beyond the scares and twists and blood. A slight unsettling feeling, a tinge of memory that hits a dark space deep inside you.

*

We Indians might make the most number of movies on the planet, but we are terrible at one particular genre – horror.

Indian cinema has gone through a number of horror tropes – the lady who was wronged and is looking to avenge her death. The pus and blood in lonely buildings era with Ramsay brothers. Followed by the Trishul and Yagna era where a Baba dressed in black directs the ghost to do things – acting as a veritable HR professional for spirits.

This is not to say that I don’t watch them. I have a fetish for bad films, and will usually sit through a bad horror film on television. People like me are partly responsible for these films being made. And once I realise this truth, I feel guilty if I don’t watch them.

It’s only natural therefore, that I have my favourites in the genre. There was Hawaa, with Tabu starring opposite a bad script. Where the ghost is a BA student from Gurgaon who molests Tabu in her sleep. The CGI in the film is pathbreaking  nightie-entering, a sight that could trigger guilt cold-hearted ghosts.

There is horror, there is titillation, and then there’s this video.

Then there’s 1920 – one of those films that were ripped off from a number of English films featuring churches, priests and Christian ghosts. Of course, the legendary brains of Vikram Bhatt decided to adapt the film to Indian context.

So instead of Biblical phrases, the actors start chanting the Hanuman Chalisa. But wait. One can’t just show a few lines of Hanuman Chalisa because VHP. It is a crime to recite a prayer halfway through – and so the actor chants the entire Hanuman Chalisa – from start to finish. For 3 and a half minutes!

And guess what! Tulsidas was right. Bhoot pishaach nikat nahi aave. Mahaveer jab naam sunaave.

*

Indian ghosts have back-stories, character arcs, motives, evidence, and exhibits in court. I won’t be surprised if they turn up in suits and fight legal cases too.

Which is probably why Tumbad doesn’t wish to remain in that space of Indian horror. It takes comfort in the oldest of formats – one that is strictly Indian. Those involving grandmothers, ghosts, palaces, greed and treasures.

The kind of stories that had no motion capture, or CGI, or Dolby Digital Surround Sound. The kind of stories that were narrated by grandparents, or cousins on terraces.

Tumbad is as much about the story, as its atmospherics. The cinematography of the film makes you forget that it is in an independent film. If you ever felt frustrated at the huge budgets commercial Indian films have at their disposal, and yet the mediocre tripe they churn out – watch Tumbad for its efficacy and its indulgences. The cinematography meets the background score and makes deep, passionate love on the screen.

Tumbad succeeds because it isn’t trying to scare you. It’s like a magician asking you to pick a card, and then after a while showing you a completely different card. It isn’t trying to shock you, or trick you, or show you how smart it is.

*

As I write this, Tumbad is limping out of the last few theaters in cities around the country. If you manage to find a show on BookMyShow, do bookyoushow.

Bryan_Adams_1940

The Return of Biriyani Adams

In the 7th century AD, Chinese scholar Xuanzang travelled to India along the Silk Route. In 2018, Bryan Adams embarked on his Ultimate India Tour – traveling through Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi – in what can only be called the Biriyani Route.

At the risk of being called out as ‘uncool’, I am not a fan of attending concerts. I don’t get the point of standing in long lines, waiting for hours, going through disappointing opening acts, and then being fleeced over beer, food and water. With a Diploma Course from the Jeetendra School of Dancing, there isn’t much I can do at a concert. In this age and surrounded by this level of technology, the experience I prefer is the one in front of my screen, connected to my earphones.

But it was a free pass. I usually cannot say ‘No’ to free stuff. I got my pass, Got a free pass, jogged along my memories of Bryan Adams, and decided to attend. If I were being completely honest – there are only two songs of his that I can recognise. Please forgive me – whose lyrics I learnt to impress a crush. It’s a different matter that when I sang it, I sounded like Shankar Mahadevan at a Carnatic Concert.

Then there is Summer of 69, which I heard due to peer pressure. Mind you, this was in 2002, a good 15 years after the song had released. Since it was the third English album I was listening to – after Titanic and Spice Girls – it took me some time to get used to the lyrics. They had to be searched for on Internet Explorer, printed out at a Sify Infoway, and tucked away carefully in an Accountancy notebook.

It wasn’t my first Bryan Adams concert either. I had attended his Hyderabad concert in 2011. The Times of India reported that the event was a ‘surreal’ affair – and I remember seeing a family next to me eating biriyani through the concert. In India, we don’t do moshpits, we pass the raita and squeeze the lemon. (You can read my account of the 2011 concert here, and sample my amateurish writing from back in the day!)

Seven years down the line, I was curious to see how the 58-year old Bryan Adams had aged.

I checked out his social media. His Twitter feed is a series of one-sided updates about his shows, or pictures at different places. He rarely replies to comments, and the feel of the account is like that of a Principal’s notice board – official, routinely updated, no-nonsense.

It was on Instagram that I found something unique. He shares pictures of himself singing, doing Yoga, and promoting vegetarianism. He dedicates songs to his listeners, performs around the world, collaborates with others artists. Amidst the angry, ugly space that social media today is, his Insta feed is an oasis of people sending heartfelt messages.

I was also intrigued to find out the kind of reputation Adams enjoys today. When I asked my lady (who’s much younger – but infinitely more mature in the ways of the world – if she’d like to go to the concert, she replied ‘I’m not that gay yet’.

:-/

I have an inexplicable curiosity to know how singers have aged, and have spent hours watching live videos of 90s singers like Udit Narayan and Kumar Sanu. (If you’re interested – Abhijeet still can sing, Udit Narayan holds himself up well at 62, Sonu Nigam is still impeccable, and Kumar Sanu has lost it!). Naturally, I wanted to see how Adams had aged.

He still can sing – I’ll give him that. There was no sign of his age in his voice, and he looked like he didn’t have a shred of fat in his body. His frame hasn’t gone through an unrecognisable transformation like with someone like David Gilmour.

Perhaps it is the fact that he still looks and sounds the same – it is the illusion of youth that his fans reveled in.

For this wasn’t your typical crowd at a rock concert.

Bryan Adams’ target audience isn’t youngsters who headbang. The average age was upwards of 30, going up all the way to the 60s. These were not youngsters in black T-shirts and long hair who slammed into each other and crow-surfed at concerts. They were middle-aged people who sat at tables and ordered beer, and gently swayed when Adams sang their favourite songs.

Some of them brought kids with them, others came with their college friends, there were even a few single men who nodded to his songs with their legs crossed, like they were in the first row of The Hindu November Music Fest.

As a standup comedian, I knew that most performers leave the best for the last – in order to end on a high. I was under the impression that he would leave Summer of 69 for the end. I remember the rendition

But he probably sensed the low-energy levels of the audience and brought out the two songs I know in the middle of the concert – and sang them one after the other! As soon as the songs were done, I rushed back to the beer counter.

The other major difference was all the smartphones out in the air, recording the show. Must be a great feeling for the artist too – to see so many lights flashing in front of him! I recorded mine too. A friend called his sister in law as this song was her caller-tune.

More than the concert itself, the real fun was had at the beer counter. Filled with friends, beer and conversations, older people in black T-shirts nodded their heads and laughed as they sipped on beer.

We met old friends, schoolmates and laughed about concerts we had attended earlier. I heard stories of a Metallica concert in Delhi, where the band was 20 minutes late. The crowd made the stage a slosh-pit and somebody ran away with Lars Ulrich’s drums! The crowd then proceeded to break the equipment, as the crowd cheered.

Another friend mentioned the 2011 Hyderabad concert, where the organisers decided to promote the film Faltu as an opening act for Bryan Adams. Arshad Warsi came on the stage and tried to get the crowd excited by screaming FALTU FALTU FALTU! In a few moments, thousands of Hyderabadis screamed in unison – FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU, FUCK YOU.

I haven’t attended too many concerts, to be honest. My favourite ones would be one by Indian Ocean in Bhubaneswar, where the crowd asked the band to sing ‘Jai Ho’. To which Rahul Ram replied with the iconic Govinda line, ‘Agar hum Rahman ka gaana gaaenge, toh Rahman kya gaaega?’. The other favourite of mine is a Remember Shakti concert at the Chowmahalla Palace in Hyderabad, where a nearby baaraat ended up giving us a ‘One plus one free’ concert. It was surreal to hear the band, and Munni Badnaam Hui at the same time – like taking acid in a Mathematics class.

Bryan Adams doesn’t rouse the crowd too much, going about his work like a disciplined senior VP in a multinational company. He finished a song, and introduced a member of his band. The need for crowd-play never presented itself. He finished one song, smiled, and proceeded to the next. The crowd did not scream their voices hoarse; they smiled, clicked pictures, raised their tired hands, and went back to sipping on beer.

What makes Bryan Adams draw huge crowds today, is probably the fact that others from that generation have vanished. The Backstreet Boys didn’t grow into Uptown Men. Michael Never Learnt to Rock. But Bryan Adams still looks and sounds like Bryan Adams – an emotion that is frozen, that hasn’t been romanticised by sepia-coloured hashtags. He’s still singing about how everything he does, he does it for her.

The concert ended, and the disciplined, middle-aged crowd left the ground in lines. A few took pictures, while others began to walk to their cars. The next day was a Sunday, and people had to take rest before office the next day.

Unfortunately, they did not live in the summer of 69. As she stood on her mama’s porch, telling that she’d wait forever.

But they had been there briefly.

*****

(Featured Image courtesy: The Hans India, Hyderabad Edition. )

The World of Kancharapalem

There are two versions of this review – a spoiler-free version, and a spoiler version.

Please feel free to read the version that is appropriate for you.

SPOILER – FREE VERSION:
Go and fucking watch the movie already!

SPOILER–FILLED VERSION:
SCARE OF KANCHARAPALEM

The first thing that strikes you is how different the film is. Like it turned up for a fancy dress competition without a costume. There is no fluff, no fail-safe gimmick. Even the dialogues are written without trying to overtly impress you, the viewer.
The film’s initial struggle is to be taken seriously. But how?
There’s the acting – amateurish, with neither heightened drama or finesse. It is a question, then, on our aesthetics – are we attuned to only consume the polished, the fine, the honed and the nurtured?

 

DARE OF KANCHARAPALEM

But director Venkatesh Maha gives you no other way to connect to the film. This isn’t Lagaan – where actors from around the world get together to transport you to another place. Most of the actors in the film are from Kancharapalem. C/o Kancharapalem is a film of Kancharapalem, by Kancharapalem. But is it for Kancharapalem?

This I where the film differs from its predecessors. Films centered around a place – Masaan, Manhattan, Kahaan – are often credited with making the city a part of the narrative.

This film steers clear of those tropes. There is something universal about the place – it could be your hometown, your grandparents’ native place. There is no physical location that binds the story to the place. Unlike Angamaly’s obsession with pork – there is no quirk to latch on to. Which is why you don’t need to be transported to some place else; you dive into it and stay put.

 

GLARE OF KANCHARAPALAM

Each of the four stories weave religion beautifully into their fabric.

Most films deal with religion in two ways – fear or relevance. Devotee or atheist. Blind faith or vociferous challenge. Black or white.
But these two portrayals gloss over an important aspect of the nature of religion. That it is mostly a part of our existence, as internal as blood or DNA, or genes. Religion is an overarching umbrella that shields you from the rain. But try to break free from its shade, and it becomes an all-encompassing dome that traps you within.

Most people have a resigned attitude towards religion. Like family, ancestry, and citizenship – human beings negotiate with religion not with fiery confrontation, but a reluctant resignation. When Bhargavi gives the gym members her wedding card, it is not accompanied by a rousing soundtrack. You want her to fight, but the director is not interested in painting powerful portraits. He is taking Instagram shots of their lives.

Sundaram Raju’s association with god and religion also follow this pattern. He starts off with blind faith and complete trust. When he dares to challenge the divine powers, he pays for it with a deep personal loss.

By the time he meets Bhargavi – he is a changed man. ‘Converted Christian’ on the surface, broken and shaken on the inside. When she gets married to another man due to their religions, he calmly walks away into the evening.

Which is also why Saleema’s religion does not matter to him. Neither does it perturb him that she sells her body for a living. When she is gone, he has no fight left in him. He has been paying a hefty tribute to religion all his life – his parents, his wife, his companion.

It is easy to etch out character who fight valiantly against the suppressive nature of religion. But that is not how most of us negotiate with religion. We are not valiant gladiators, but silent slaves manning the gallows.

FLARE OF KANCHARAPALEM

There is something about a director’s first film. A certain nod to indulgence, a giant ‘fuck you’ to the norms. First films are wild, fierce creatures who later go on to become domesticated. This is true of cinema worldwide – it is true of Trouffat’s 400 Blows, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.

Closer home, Anurag Kashyap is yet to make a film that simmers like Black Friday does. Tharun Bhascker’s Pelli Choopulu meekly pushed open the door of mainstream Telugu cinema. Sandeep Vanga’s Arjun Reddy was a drunken brawl in the same room. Venkatesh Maha’s film flings a leaky gas cylinder into the room, and throws in a lighter for good effect.

There is a culture of ‘twists’ in Telugu cinema – but most of them could give you brain malaria. They all revolve around the hero revealing that he is a police officer – even though he spent half the film chasing and poking the navel of nubile girls. Or it is a reveal that the heroine’s father is the man the hero had vowed to kill in the first few minutes of the film.

Cliches that leak from a corrupted writer’s pen are passed off as ‘twists’. C/o Kancharapalem delivers the most satisfying twist I have seen in recent times. Not a cheap gimmick, nor a sorry excuse – it is a Hallelujah! moment that makes you sit up, and smile.

Underneath the twist lies a deeper statement of our understanding of India’s villages. We never question why Sunitha chooses to sing Baley Baley Mogadivey as her song. We do not raise our eyebrows when Sundaram gets her a ‘song book’, even though he haven’t come across one in decades.

Our idea of a village has been frozen in sepia shades. Our perception is a prototype that’s dusted off from memories and brought out when needed. And that is why we walk gleefully into the delectable trap that the director set for us.

C/o Kancharapalem relies on nothing but a story. There is nothing else to show here; there are no shiny lamps and syrupy sweets on display. The director sits in the Sunday Market, selling us his story while swatting away flies.
For its ingenuity, its bravery. For the size of its giant metallic balls, for the middle finger it waves at mainstream Telugu cinema – C/o Kancharapalem is the best Telugu film I have ever watched.

***

Manmarziyan-Movie-Review

Manmarziyan is Anurag Kashyap’s least engaging movie

Most Indian critics say the same things.

Have you ever noticed how Rajeev Masand and Anupama Chopra seem like siblings, freakily saying the same thing? This film was hailed as Anurag Kashyap’s entry into the ‘love’ territory. A film where Anurag Kashyap steps out from the dark, psychopath-filled by-lanes and steps into the blue and red hues of Bollywood pyar.

I don’t understand how we became a nation of love consumers? Why are most of our films about love, the loss of love, craving for love, the need for love, the virtue of love – how much fucking love do you guys need? Has anybody asked the people if they want to see this much love? Maybe Indians want to see other stuff – gripping political dramas, slithering, twisted mysteries. Who the fuck decided ki they will bombard Indians with all this love?

And Anurag Kashyap, who was the only guy flowing against the tide – goes ahead and makes Manmarziyan. The most pointless film of the year. We already have so many love triangles. Every third movie is a love triangle. We have movies with the golden ratio where three heroes have three love triangles. We have so many love triangles, I am surprised we didn’t invent the fucking pyramids. Then, what pray, was the need for another love triangle?

This is also the first time that Kashyap hasn’t written the story himself. The film is written by Kanika Dhillon – the script is everything you do not associate with a Kashyap film. It’s slow, boring and predictable.

Kashyap’s films have love stories in them – and while they are not conventional and sappy – they are unbridled in their passion. Dev and Chanda from DevD for example, brought to life by a haunting theme by Amit Trivedi. Or Sardar Khan’s tormented, fatal flings. Kashyap has always dealt in love, just not in the currency that Bollywood operates in.

Vicky Kaushal who is in Kohli-like form at the moment, gets a step-motherly treatment from the writers. A superb portrayal is caged within the boundaries of lazy writing. Tapsee Pannu gets the meatiest role, but the character seems to be just another Anand L. Rai character. Here too, an earnest portrayal is locked withing a KanganaRanautish role. Nearly every shade of fiery, independent woman role has already been portrayed by Kangana. And in hindsight, she has done them all so uniquely, that every actress today seems to mimic her in some sense.

The real shit-show in the film though, is Abhishek Bachchan. The guy can’t fucking act. I wonder how many more films he is going to act in, how many more millions of dollars are going to be burnt till people politely ask him to fuck off?

Watch any interview, and he sounds like he is the protege of Marlon Brando. An accent that is shakier than his acting, and the smug confidence of someone who’s the shizzz. It is unbelievable that after more than 20 flops in 18 years, this guy is still allowed to hang out around film studios. His acting is still like a stoned high-school kid. Honestly, you can draw out a clip from Dhai Akshar Prem Ke, or Kuchh Na Kaho, and there’s literally no change in voice modulation, posture or dialogue delivery.

Most reviewers spoke about how he has to use his stares and silences to play he is role. What they don’t tell you is that the film that had been racing on steroids suddenly grinds to a halt everytime he appears on screen. That he takes a frothing, bubbling film and transforms it into an experience as exciting as jacking off AK Hangal.

Ask any ‘fan’, and the only films they will mention are ‘Guru’ and ‘Yuva’. Both Mani Ratnam films made greater by stunning Rahman soundtracks, and frankly, strictly above-average acting. What they don’t mention are shit-fests that bombed louder than Kim-il-Jong’s nuclear missiles. Shararat and Zameen and Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost. I doubt there’s anybody else in world cinema who keeps getting movies after delivering as many flops as this guy.

I wish like the #MeToo campaign, there was a #HeToo campaign, where people on Twitter got together and asked shit-actors to fuck off. For an industry that survives so much on commercialisation and economics, I am appalled how morality and personal life is used as a barometer of an artist’s work, and not market dynamics, economics, and actual fucking skills.

*

If there’s one person my heart goes out to, it is Amit Trivedi.

He has been loyal to the Kashyap camp, always choosing smaller films with a soul and a story. Unfortunately, even with immense skills as his, he has been unable to crack the A-listers’ market. While people like Pritam Chakraborty win awards and fame by lifting songs from Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Mars.

Give Manmarziyan a miss if you are not an Anurag Kashyap fan. If you are a fan, stay the fuck away from this hogwash of a film. It will ruin your image of the man.

Give me the dark, brooding Anurag Kashyap any day. Not these diluted ORS solutions in collaboration with Karan Johar and Anand L. Rai. I rarely walk out of films, but I walked out of Manmarziyan simply because of how frustrating the film was. A member of the opposite gender had pinged me on Tinder. And I was confident I would perform better than fucking Abhishek Bachchan was!

***

Sanju

The Real Problem with Sanju

Reviewing a film is a tricky matter.

All art is subjective. And cinema encompasses all art. And the final product is advertised a few weeks in advance and then sold to the general public at 100 rupees per person. How does one discount the huge amounts of subjectivity in the consumption and appreciation of cinema?

I have been reviewing films for 101India in the last few months, and on my blog and other magazines for more than a decade now. One of the side-effects of the job is to develop a thick skin. I have been accused of being a ‘hypocrite’, a ‘pseudo-intellectual’, ‘trying too hard to be different’, and the worst curse of them all – ‘of being a Salman Khan fan’.

Bollywood fans are so stupid in their understanding of cinema, that they cannot fathom any other reason for a negative review, than a conspiracy that was brewed on the sets of Koffee With Karan. My review of Sanju was accused of being partial to Salman Khan’s Race, which was running at the Box Office at the same time.

This hasn’t been the first time, either. I have earlier been accused of being an Aamir Khan hater, a Saif Ali Khan hater, a Farhan Akhtar hater. Believe it or not, I have also gotten hate-mail from a gentleman who was offended by my article on Uday Chopra. Fucking Uday Chopra, for god’s sake! Even Uday Chopra doesn’t give a fuck about Uday Chopra!!

While the accusations are hilarious, it is also sad that educated, urban youngsters of the country carry such devotional love and adoration for film stars – one that goes beyond logic and decency.

But anyway, you can find the review here – https://www.101india.com/arts-culture/sanju-sells-its-soul-baptise-its-hero-and-ends-lame-effort

 

*

I wasn’t among those who were terribly excited to watch the film in the first place. Why?

Because we Indians suck at making biopics. Our idea of a biopic is a masturbatory eulogy – full of hype and glory. Our biopics come across like Thanksgiving speeches – never probing beyond the surface, never exploring beyond the superficial.

I did some research and found the three most filmed personalities in India. It’s an eclectic mix – BR Ambedkar (8 films), Bhagat Singh (5 films), and Kalidas (5 films). Kalidas!!

I have had the misfortune of watching many such movies over the last decade. There was Azhar – one of the worst films I’ve seen in my life. A film so idiotic, so dull – it could have been the biopic of Venkatpathy Raju. Then there was the MS Dhoni biopic – while the person was still actively playing in the team. It would inconceivable in any other country. Or Mary Kom – that masturbatory exercise in fuelling Priyanka Chopra’s career – a film that didn’t have the decency to cast someone from the region. This is the case with most Indian biopics. Our biopics are lingaabhishekams to the rich and famous.

The review evoked a extreme responses, as expected. I had to endure a number of conversations about the film, its intent, the creative freedom of a filmmaker in choosing what he depicts. With much annoyance, I decided to give the film a second chance. Well, guess what!

The second time left me even more pissed off.

Here’s why.

*

I have never understood why Sanjay Dutt is revered so much.

His body of work is ridiculous. He has spent an entire lifetime playing gangster, bhai, dada – or a combination of Gangster Dadabhai. A glance through his filmography will give you an idea of just how many films have been recycled tripe, where he sleepwalks through the film from the first scene to the last.

But even that is subjective, I guess. As the years have rolled by, I have reconciled to the fact that I might be a cinema snob. Of course, I can understand the intent of the film – it is a fascinating story. A life constantly under lights, adoration and scrutiny. What I did not understand was the motive of the film.

Sanjay Dutt is depicted as a misunderstood hero – almost a patriot, a martyr to the Indian judicial system. Like the hero of a Greek tragedy directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. Hirani’s school-play style (exaggerated mannerisms, jarring background score, emotionally manipulative writing) – they all feel phony and motivated at the same time. But art is subjective, and a matter of personal taste.

What pissed me off was the positioning of Dutt – as this innocent bystander to circumstances around him. The fake shroud of honesty by depicting drugs and womanising (which are hardly frowned upon today), but escaping into clichés during the portions dealing with guns and terrorism.

*

It is treated like an act of mischief. Like it is Natkhat Nandalal who stole some butter from nubile gopikas. I understand one cannot be completely unbiased, but how about one fucking shred of objectivity. The film keeps you from asking questions, by shamelessly hiding key facts about the case.

Like the sheer amount of ammunition, for example. Three assault weapons (we are shown that two of them were returned – Hallelujah! What nobility!) and 20 grenades. 20 grenades. While there were already three licensed weapons in the Dutt household. Why does one need assault weapons and grenades to protect one’s family? Who are you protecting them from? Taliban? An alien invasion??

Or the fact that the information Dutt had could have averted the riots, saved hundreds of lives. One call to the police could have helped the city avert its greatest tragedy to that date. All because our hero was too much of a scared moron to own up to his faults.

Or the sheer impunity with which we are shown the jail scenes – like it is a favour to the Indian judicial system. When there are documented reports of youth who are tortured for alleged connections to terrorism. Some of them spend years in interrogation – beaten, given electric shocks, their fingers ripped off – on mere suspicions.

And here is a guy who was in touch with terrorists, procured assault weapons in the middle of riots, and then continued to remain in touch with them even after prosecution. A guy who was allowed to go home on numerous occasions – even to ‘ring in the new years’, which others accused in the same case are still rotting in jail after 25 years.

Hirani’s films have been successful to drawing attention to the villains in Indian society – blind faith in religion, autocratic education system, the wrath of the powerful. Sadly, Sanju makes the media the villain.

Not only is this extremely lazy and unimaginative, it is a low hanging fruit. Like the media nudged him to stock up on guns. Like newspapers wrote editorials asking him to call Chhota Shakeel.

If anything, the media is the reason Sanjay Dutt is relevant today. The incessant coverage, the gossip, the ongoing interest in his life – that is the reason Sanjay Dutt has not been relegated to the zombieland of action stars – a desolate park where Suneil Shetty and Sunny Deol hang out.

*

This is not mere whitewashing – this is an utter disservice to the truth.

Is it too much to expect some objectivity from one of the country’s most prolific filmmakers? Why even go through the trouble of making this movie, then? Why not just put giant cut-outs of Sanjay Dutt across the country and ask people to jack off while offering coconuts and flowers? Why fucking bother to write a script and go through the farce of being honest and truthful?

*

It is hardly shocking that the film is a hit. Of course, it is. Like its politicians, a nation gets the films it deserves. And these are the kind of films we love to watch – masturbatory eulogies. We invented the Kamasutra, no doubt. But our favourite position is to bend over and lick the asses of the rich and the powerful.

It’s sad because I had immense respect for Rajkumar Hirani. He has a keen understanding of the pulse of the people. He has a wonderful knack of storytelling, he has a way with humour.

What he doesn’t have, sadly, is a set of balls.

*****

Meeting my Father after 15 years

I belong to a dysfunctional family.

There are four members in my family – my father, mother, sister and me. The four of us live by ourselves, without the need/necessity to be with any of the others. We have found our own paths, and drifted as far away from Pangea as Iceland and Australia.

I lived in a boarding school for 10 years, and by myself for the next 15. As you might have guessed, family values have never been an essential part of my existence. Over the years, I have tried to analyse my life and see if it was better or worse without my family.

The pros far outweigh the cons.

For one, living independently shaped who I am today.

I was kicked out of the house by both of my separated parents. The teenage me was angry and resentful about it. But when I look back, I learned to scrape through, to hustle, to do odd jobs, and become an independent person. Everything I have achieved today are due to my own efforts – not my parents, friends, relatives, or God. And all this wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t been inadvertently kicked out of the house by my parents.

Without the nagging, half-knowledge pressure that Indian parents masquerade as ‘affection’, I was free to choose the life I wanted for myself. I was answerable to nobody in the world, and my only consideration was my own interest. It’s been great!

The only con I can think of is the lack of empathy and compassion in my life. I believe that living with a family teaches you kindness and compassion. It teaches you how to talk, how to behave, how to empathise – skills that are nonexistent in me. I am as emotive as Arjun Rampal in Asambhav.

But be that as it may, I couldn’t have chosen any other way to have led my life. Somewhere down the line, my parents became side characters in my story. I knew they existed somewhere, and had general updates on their lives, but I wasn’t concerned too much about making peace with them.

Last year, wisdom-in-hindsight presented itself and waved to me.

I figured my parents were about 22-23 when they got married, clueless about love, life, marriage and kids. When I was that age, I used to masturbate five times a day. That was my level of emotional maturity, so why was I judging my parents with alien barometers?

I decided to get in touch with my parents. I began with my mother, and sailed through without too many worries. She has retired from her government job and found solace (I think!) at the ashram I grew up in.

But it was getting back with my father that had me on my toes.

I do not have too many memories of my father. I lived with him till I was about five years old, and then for a year in 2003. I remember him being efficient and emotional – those two words probably best describe the personality that I remember.

He was a boy from a village who came to the city with the proverbial 10 rupee note in his pocket. He got a job, got his brothers educated, got his nephews jobs, and spent his life being the village adarsh baalak.

I was away when most of the above happened, so my connection to him was through the letters he would write to me at school. They were all inspirational in nature, harping about how he knew I would make the nation proud one day (gotta start working on those weed legalisation measures!!). The letters were well-written, and the teacher usually read them out to the entire class. He was also the person who sparked an interest in reading, writing, and stories.

But there was also the fact that he possessed an extremely short temper, was abusive to people around him. That he ran away from our home when things got sticky, and married a girl decades younger than him, to start a family again.

On a personal level, he kicked me out of his house when I was 16. At an age when fathers are supposed to have matured discussions with their kids, my father mouthed unthinkable words and tossed me out on my own. Moreover, in the 16 years that followed, he never bothered to get in touch with me, or even ask for my number or address.

There were long-buried issues between us, and I was skeptical about facing them.

 

*

I have started a scholarship for my village school, and on that pretext, I called up my father.

He didn’t answer at first, and then called back a little while later. We got talking, and the only thing I felt from his voice was a sense of relief. Like he could tick off a long-pending item from his life’s to-do list.

I traveled with him to my paternal village to supervise the nitty-gritties of the scholarship. I was hoping to make a connection with him after all these years. Tell him what I’ve been doing with my life, describe my life as a writer, standup comedian, and journalist. Ask him what he’s been upto all these years.

Inspired by an Osho video that I’d watched, I was hoping my father would be less of a father, and more of a friend. That he would acknowledge that I have grown up, and that he doesn’t need to be the same person he was decades ago.

Unfortunately, I found that my father cannot stop playing the father.

He pretended like nothing had ever happened between the two of us, that it was all normal. I have always found the habit of Indian parents constantly monitoring their children’s lives suffocating. I don’t know why they do it. Perhaps it’s the only kind of parenting they are aware of. Perhaps they fear the neighbours would be offended if they let down their walls.

I found my father’s constant advising, guiding, cajoling and correcting to be excruciatingly frustrating. He gave out weird reasons for the last 15 years – ‘You were born on Ramnaavami. These 14 years were your vanvaas!’ Really? No they weren’t. The last 14 years were me busting my ass around, trying to stay afloat while you were frolicking about with a younger woman and experiencing the joys of being a father at the age of 45!!

I wanted to tell him that it was alright. That he could stop performing, that he could get off the stage now. The play had run its course, the cast had retired, even the theatre was crumbling. But I knew it would be of no use. I could see him flinch a little every time I expressed an opinion, as if he was scared I would burst out again, and vanish from his life.

 

*

I wanted to put up this post immediately upon my return.

But that Sunday coincided with Fathers Day – that fuckall Archies Greeting Cards day that we have all foolishly imbibed in our lives. All the posts on Fathers Day are so dumb, so demeaning, so insulting to fathers worldwide! It robs fathers of their agency, their right to have an opinion.

No! Your daddy is not the strongest in the world. No, he is not a superhero without a cape. Shut the fuck up, and let him be who he is. Such posts only add to the problem, by burdening fathers with the pressure of being Amitabh Bachhan in Baghban – of being the upright, selfless father.

Fathers are not extraordinary human beings who attained wisdom when children are born. If all it took was becoming a father, Osama bin Laden should have been the wisest person on earth. The dude fathered 25 children!

Fathers can be criticised, reasoned with, and spoken to as an equal. You didn’t choose to be born to someone – it just happened. Being proud of your parents is illogical and childish – like being proud of your country, language, or sun-sign.

*

I tried talking to my father. Explaining that I am 32 years old now, that I do not need to be told to brush my teeth. That nagging constantly is not love, it is annoying. It is encroaching upon my carefully-gardened personal space.

But I am pretty sure my father won’t get it.

And that is the sad part. I am not obliged to be nice to my parents, I don’t owe them anything. I grew up completely independent of their support, their backward ideas, their egos and their narrow-mindedness.

What I was hoping for, was to have a discussion. To catch up on life. But the pressure of being an Indian father does not permit him to stoop down from his high pedestal and meet me half-way.

There is no break from being a father. Which is probably why I do not see myself being a husband or father – it is method acting for decades at stretch!!

I still speak to my father over the phone these days. Generic shit like ‘go to bed early’, ‘work hard’, and other outdated lines that his father had told him. Being passed on to me like antique wisdom without any context. That is when I realised something that I was trying to wrap my head around for the longest time.

The greatest burden that fathers shoulder, is of being a father in the first place.

 

    *****

Shower_head

The luxury of taking a hot shower

In the much-hyped world that we live in, we often miss everyday, commonplace joys. Our hashtags are reserved for the life-changing, the earth-shattering, the path-breaking.

But taking a hot shower is no less of a modern miracle.

This everyday chore often gets side-stepped on the path to larger things in life. But not too long ago, it would have been inconceivable for you to be taking a hot shower at the time of your choice.

*


There is just enough time.

Just enough time to smoke a joint, and switch on the geyser. And as you launch into your thought pool of the day, the water is getting heated up. Just as you near the last few puffs of the joint, you cough the TB cough, and step into the shower.

Into a luxury that you are probably the first generation to enjoy in your youth, in our long history of 2000/3000/5000 years (subject to your education, political inclination and patriotism).

It must be noted here that it is ‘showers’ that I will be harping on about, and not a

  • ‘bath’ in a tub (for you certainly aren’t the first generation hot-bath consumer)
  • a tap-bucket-mug (you have a certain climbing up in life to do, my friend).

The tap-bucket-mug method is too tedious and demands a lot of coordination to execute. Profound thoughts do not come visiting when you’re busy trying not to slip on soap. And I haven’t ever enjoyed a bath. When I am put up at luxurious hotels when I travel for shows, I don’t really know what to do in the tub. My only references are Bollywood villains, or vamps who seduce heroes. Since none of those options are available to me, I sit like an awkward Vishnu on an uncomfortable Sheshnaag.

This article is mostly about taking a shower. The kind with a working geyser (hence the term ‘hot shower’ in the title). The fact that a shower can be had is in itself a modern luxury. If we travel back in time as early as two generations ago, to the time of our grandfathers-

They needed to wake up and bathe in the mornings. There was no hot water, no shower; and in my village in Balasore, he would have to go to the village pond. I have seen it, and let’s just say there is no san-sanananana happening there. My grandfather could not skip it and stay in bed, as he did not want any adulting that day. #Adulting #DontWant

You go to the pond or river and perform your morning ablutions, well aware that you could slip and vanish forever. Then there are crocodiles and snakes to be watchful of. And if you evade all of that, there are still human beings that you need to take a bath with. Neighbours, uncles and relatives, since bathing was more social ritual than hygiene chore.

And why only take the male perspective? What about women? What if you were your ancestor – a noble, law-abiding lady about 500 years ago?

You needed to get to a waterfall or water body before the sun rose. If you lived in a rural area, it must be a headache. For you needed to carry water back with you too! Imagine taking a shower and coming back with two buckets of water, that you needed to carry to your office and manage the entire day with!

And if you lived in an urban area, it did not make your life any easier. You had to find your way to a public bath, or go with the women in your friends circle/family. Which meant you problems were not only with animals, but humans too! I don’t believe in the glorification that our past was all vedas and sunshine and nobility. There must have been creeps to deal with. You might live in the greatest civilisation of all time, but had no control over the time and place of your bath.

Or what if we went deeper into our past, say a 1000 years ago?

1018 was the year when the first Islamic invader – Mahmud Ghazni – entered India. We were still a civilisation that ranked low in the Maslow’s hierarchy of need theory.

If you managed to survive the ongoing wars, you still needed to rush to a water body. And it wasn’t exclusive to you, you had to share it with animals of the jungle too. Deers and tigers and wild boars and crocodiles. And goddamn bears! Bears who roamed the jungle and discovered that you had stolen their honey.

Honey they had discovered and nurtured, only to find that you and your soldier friends burnt a hole in its dreams, partied overnight, and left. And just as you were having a bath by yourself, the bear would ambush you and insert its paw deep in your posterior.

It was a dangerous time. A risky time.

*

Taking  shower is a luxury that we have taken for granted.

This magic cubicle that you enter, and come out a calmer, better looking version of yourself. A space that nobody else can intrude upon; not your family, friends, not Mark Zuckerberg.

A place where tiny plastic bottles contain specially formulated oils and liquids to make your hair shine, your skin glow. A place where you turn a knob, and thoughts come flowing down.

And why not? When you needn’t worry about tigers and bears, and Golu the neighborhood sex-offender – that’s when nobler thoughts come to us. I daresay that is when we evolve as a species.

It’s when you take a shower that you are truly with yourself. When you can think higher thoughts, when you can whip up a blog, and thousands of strangers could read your thoughts and nod in agreement.

*

On our path towards evolution and revolution, our efforts to be better humans, to save the planet and bring about peace and prosperity, we humans have forgotten what a luxury it is to take a hot shower.

*****

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Flipkart and the Myth of the Indian Startup Revolution

Walmart’s decision to purchase a chunk of Flipkart last week was hailed as ‘revolutionary’ by sections of the Indian press. Economic Times, the business arm of The Sensational Times of India, went so far as to call Sachin Bansal the ‘poster boy of Indian e-commerce who redefined 21st century startups’.

In some ways, it was relief for the company that had witnessed its valuation dip by a few billion dollars last year. Amidst news of Amazon and Walmart vying for a piece of the Flipkart pie, the $16 Billion deal with Walmart must have been a sigh of relief.

As expected, the acquisition caused social to go berserk, and over-zealous patriots began pompomming the deal as a matter of pride for India; a shot in the arm for our ‘startup revolution’. At the risk of sounding like an anti-national presstitute, here is my not-so-rosy opinion on Flipkart and the Walmart deal.

*

Flipkart gave me my first real experience with e-commerce. I had read about the magic of e-commerce on The Economic Times – that intimidating newspaper that I chucked the moment I started studying journalism.

To their credit, Flipkart were the first ones to fully trust Indians with a Cash on Delivery option. Earlier, sites like Rediff Shopping and Indiatimes offered COD, but you needed a Credit Card, a shopping history, and four pet tigers. And even then, the items available were limited to ‘safe’ products like baseball caps and talcum powder.

My first online order was placed in the year 2011. Ironically, as the world was moving towards smartphones, I was ordering a feature phone – Nokia X2 – the poor man’s Blackberry. This phone set new standards in over-promising and under-delivering.

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I placed my order and the phone got delivered in three days. I even got a mail saying the delivery guys tried getting in touch with me. So low were my expectations, that I was moved to tears.

Flipkart impressed

Ain’t no appreciation like genuine appreciation!

*

This genuinely good impression aside, I did not become a huge fan of Flipkart in the coming years.

At its very essence, Flipkart is a rip-off of Amazon – the world’s largest e-commerce site. I find it amusing that the founders took the same path that Amazon did – books. However, Amazon did it in 1995, and Flipkart in 2007!  What’s even more shocking is that the founders are ex-employees of Amazon. Imagine you’re employed by a company, and quit to start your own clone of the same company. I’m not too familiar with business lingo, but that’s kind of a dick move.

If you look carefully, Flipkart’s business strategy is lifted from the world’s largest e-commerce site. And even it’s logo seems to be lifted from the logo of the world’s largest social media site.

In the years that followed, Flipkart and Amazon went head to head, often with similar strategies, similar logistical decisions. After Amazon did it, Flipkart launched their own music player Flyte, which took flight after a few years. Flipkart also launched their own e-book reader that had more than a few similarities to Amazon’s Kindle. The service was later transported to Kobo, and eventually shut down.

Flipkart’s few bold moves backfired badly. The decision to go app-only with Myntra was quickly aborted. Flipkart’s in-app chat service Ping was also dumped in less than a year. Nearby, the grocery-delivery add-on sank without a trace.

Flipkart’s only real innovation must have been those annoying sales. Big Billion Sale, Gazillion Sale and Poonam Dhillon Sale.

As Amazon announced its arrival to Indian shores, Flipkart did everything to prepare itself, including buying the rest of the market – eBay and Jabong, and a long, gruelling negotiation with Snapdeal.

*

But then, India has never been the torchbearer of innovation. Our much-lauded IT revolution has been around for more than 20 years now. And yet, we haven’t shaken up the world with a single product, service or organisation. For the most part, we are cheaper alternative for high-end labour. An advantage that is expected to slip away from us as our brethren in Philippines and other countries wake up to the wonders of Rapidex English Speaking Course.

May be that is why we are so hung up on our past. Everybody from your friendly neighbourhood social media troll to ministers at the highest echelons of power – they love to hark back to that magical era. We love to stake claim to every modern technological thought, claiming we had done everything in the Vedic age (except sex, of course. Indians don’t have sex. They do tapasya and babies are born).

And this lack of innovation is not limited to Flipkart alone. If you search for the largest Indian startup companies, you’ll find they are all clones of global companies. Often times, the products and services are nearly identical. Ola is Uber without the professionalism. PayTM began with phone recharges and jumped on the smartphone revolution to follow the path of WeChat and other payment carriers. Swiggy does what global companies like JustEat and Takeaway do. OyoRooms is a shameless rip-off of AirBnB.

It’s perhaps telling that most of the founders of these clone companies are from IIT-IIMs – those haloed meccas of education in our country. And our media keeps worshipping these guys as visionaries and trailblazers. Whereas in reality, it is a case of first-mover in a booming economy. The strategy has been charted by others. It just needs some money and good replication skills.

I am yet to come across a single Indian startup company that is working towards a unique Indian solution to a uniquely Indian problem. (If you do, please let me know in the comments – I would love to read up on them!).

I am sure there must be organisations that are honestly trying to blaze trails. But they will never enjoy the funding or popularity that the copycats will enjoy in our culture. A culture where we go down on our knees to suck off anybody who got ‘foreign ka paisa’.

*

The Flipkart deal with Walmart might be celebrated among India Inc, but please do not call them ‘change-makers’.

It makes me cringe when the founders of these companies are hailed as ‘change-makers’. They are bringing as much change to the world as Venkatapathy Raju brought to the world of fashion designing.

*****