Saturday, 22 August 2009


Why? How?

Someone please explain to me what it is that makes an industry structured around the core tenets of poor acting and embarrassingly cheesy choreography so popular?

No, in fact don’t bother, here comes my own Kangaroo court on the matter.

You honour the case for the prosecution……

Exhibit A:
Until quite recently, Indian banks were forbidden to lend money to finance movie productions. From a monetary viewpoint the industry is exceptionally lightly regulated and this has historically allowed for funding to be received from questionable sources. Even during this millenium the Central Bureau of Investigation, India's national police agency, seized all prints of the film Chori Chori Chupke Chupke after the movie was seen to be funded by members of the Mumbai underworld.

Mumbai gangsters have produced films, patronized stars, and used muscle to get their way in cinematic deals.

In January of 2000, Mumbai mafia hitmen shot at Rakesh Roshan, film director and father of top star Hrithik Roshan. Roshan Snr had stood up to underworld involvement in the distribution of his films and of course the “Goondas” and moneymen didn’t like that.

To go clean you go abroad. Anil Ambani’s Reliance Big Entertainment recently announced a $825-million deal with Spielbergs LA-based production house “Dreamworks” to make six films a year for global audiences.

I fancy the chances of them being almost watchable.

Exhibit B

Bollywood has a huge piracy problem. Then again, this is a country where respect for another persons property is often revealed to be an alien concept.

Even though a film seen may seen by over 500 million people, it could still quite easily return a loss. If everyone paid to see the film legally the industry would consistently make serious profits, but that’s not going to happen as any entrepreneurial pirate would quote simply slip a few rupees in the direction of the offended authority and a blind eye would inevitably be turned.

Corruption is once again the cancer eating away at this society.

There is little incentive to invest in better quality productions when your returns remain unprotected by a pathetically inept legal system.

Exhibit C

Bollywood films are nearly all musicals. Few movies are made without at least one song-and-dance number and boy do Indian audiences expect full value for their money.

Movies which follow this predictable formula are known as “masala movies”, after the spice mixture masala.

If it doesn’t have an overly melodramatic love interest, a charicature of evil, slapstick comedy and OTT thrills all thrown in to a spicy mélange of song and dance routines, then it ain’t gonna cut the mustard with the locals in small town Andhra Pradesh.

Like the Indian taste for masala, these movies have must everything heavily accentuated.

They frequently employ formulaic ingredients such as star-crossed lovers, corrupt politicians, twins separated at birth, conniving villains, angry parents, courtesans with hearts of gold, dramatic reversals of fortune, and convenient coincidences.

Exhibit D

In Bollywood, people often become superstars just by having a pretty face or a powerful lineage.

Bollywood is home to a series of dynastic families who hold court with producers, funders and fans alike. The Bachchans, The Khans, the Dutts and the Kapoors may provide funders with a better chance of a positive return, but their prodigy usually offer no guarantee of a talent in the thespian or dance spheres.

It is par for the course for movies to feature stars with so little rhythm that it makes pre-ecstacy honkies look like they had soul. Idolised lead actors who are often entering, if not already comfortably entrenched in middle age, gyrate and step to camp choreography whilst inevitably being styled like George Michael circa “faith”.

Dance routines which try and add some "pop" influence to traditional styles usually result in the execution of "drunk uncle at wedding" moves except the leads are supported by a huge cast of hoe-down extras mimicking their every step.

The change the light bulb, the cross-the-heart, the thriller zombie, the wiggly hands. These are all popular moves which I have tagged for my own reference. All equally naff in their own camp way, all equally common.

What disturbs me is that the locals truly think this looks good.

And as for the acting? Just think “Summer Holiday” starring Cliff Richard with less double decker buses.

Bad, bad, bad.

Summary for the prosecution:

I feel no more evidence is required than a quick scan of the following 1* IMDB review for “Fight Club”:

Not the much lauded US adaptation of the Chuck Palnuik novel, but the attempted Bollywood lift of that original idea.

“My God such a film. Copy the title FIGHT CLUB and half the script and add Bollywood nonsense and a film is ready. The film starts off interestingly but then you are thrown into some good fight scenes in the fight club and then to romance, comedy, and music as the boredom sets in”

Thankfully a younger generation of urban Indians, quite probably influenced by travel abroad, are waking up to the realisation that their film industry churns out utter crap.

They are now searching for movies which reflect real life and don't involve dance troupes choreographed before a backdrop of a waterfall or a Swiss meadow.

There is hope, oh yes, but just don’t expect change to happen too soon.

Friday, 14 August 2009

One flu over the Makta Pot

Today is Dahi Handi, the national day of celebration of Janmashtami, and birth of the much worshipped Lord Krishna.

Take away the big 3 of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna is right up there with the top boys of Hindu Gods.

Along with Ganesh the multi-limbed Elephant headed idol of millions he is a popular, well supported God but without the might of the aforementioned triumvirate. In football parlance he’s kind of an Everton of the Hindu world, always in with a shout of the UEFA cup and often a good each-way long shot for an FA cup final.

You see, Krishna was a bit of a problem child or so the story goes. He had a rather unusual love of butter and was constantly on the nick for his favourite dairy products. Dahi Handi is a reenactment of Krishna's much fabled efforts to steal butter from earthen pots.

These earthenware pots, known as Makta , contain prizes in cash or kind and are suspended from a high point perhaps 10m high. Teams of local youths, form a distinctly unsafe human pyramid by standing one on top of each others shoulder until they are high enough to reach and break the pot.

Of course, building a human pyramid would be to simple a task so onlookers throw water on the human pyramid to stop them breaking the pot.

Breaking of the pot is followed by prize distribution. Devotees believe that the broken pieces of earthen pot will keep away mice and negative powers from their homes.

What breaking the pot doesn’t claim to do is prevent the participants from contracting swine flu.

Now, this I quite ironic given that Schools, Malls, Cinemas, Gymnasiums etc are all closed through a panic bordering upon hysteria yet everyone is happy to gather en masse, in close proximity, clambering over each other in order to break the pots.

What I find particularly intriguing is the high incidence of dacoit impersonators who have appeared upon the streets since Wednesday. These individuals, and not only from the less educated classes I might add, walk about with their mouths covered by a loosely tied handkerchief, their fearful eyes twitching this way and that, alert to any signs of viral infection floating in the miasma.

And what, pray tell, is this going to do to protect you? You are breathing in the same air only now from beneath your handkie. Does a disrupted airflow prevent contagion? Not to my knowledge.

The TV News channels (and believe me, there are plenty enough of them) seem to have a singular aim to stir the hysteria with their over animated reporting, their lack of assessment of “facts” and opinion, and their willingness to allow the ill-informed public to present their thoughts to the wider world without any questioning of their beliefs.

Even the Hindi radio channels interject their annoying 10-song playlist with “blah blah unintelligible blah, Swine Flu hai, blah blah blah”.

People are cancelling plans for the forthcoming holiday weekend in fear of picking up the virus in the countryside. Why???

My MBA educated underlings have both cancelled weekend travel plans, though one of them had little fear in shipping his parents off to London earlier this week for a holiday in the Swine Flu Capital of Europe where the rate of infection is something like 300x higher than in Mumbai.

Captain, this is illogical.

I mean what ever happened to intelligent enquiry and rational calculation of risk?

Oh yes, I forgot, T.I.I.

This Is India

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Message of the day: Forward!

Kept in the original formatting, only the names are changed to protect those involved......


In refference to the earlier conversation with Mr x and Mr y,
for going forward in that direction,please kindly guide me how should i go forward
for the future association between the two firms on set of consent.Hope you got
the forwarded information about us from Mr x

Warm Regards

Monday, 13 July 2009

Thinking outside the Box

OK, creating and implementing a suggestion box to my mind requires several key components to make it work.

Firstly, and most importantly, one needs a box.

Now I'm not saying any old box, it needs to be a box of a reasonable dimension and scale that anyone who wishes to post a suggestion will be able to identify said box and post their comments within.

Secondly, the box needs to be clearly marked "Suggestion Box" or with indications of a similar effect.

Thirdly, it will need to be sited in an easily identified location, somewhere which encourages use, yet still offering an element of privacy to the potential suggestee.

Finally, one must clearly communicate to ones Target Audience what the suggestion box represents, how it is is best utilised, and where of course it is to be found.

Four simple rules, one effective suggestion box, right?

Not in our company, oh no.

It has taken one of my staff 6 weeks of discussion groups, ideation sessions, design consultancy, fabricator evaluation, communal group approval, review, further approval, sign-off, construction, product evaluation, further "future leaders of the organisation" meetings, and still we have no box.

Not only that but when asked about the time he has been dedicating to this project eating into his core work hours, he looks at me as if I am some kind of idiot.

"Can you not see the importance of this box, Sir? Is it not obvious to your western eyes how the minutae has to be perfected?"

I have asked him numerous times to bring the project to a close, to resign responsibility and hand it to someone in our Creative Team (Christ, this is a full service advertising group which services major accounts such as Colgate, someone surely has more creative juice than my account exec??)

Even when the discussions are predominantly in Hindi to disguise the topic from me, the handy fact that Hinglish borrows the word "Box" happens to be a bit of a giveaway.

But does Boxcar Willy pick-up on this? No, of course not.

He denies he has been speaking about it.

His denial stretches as far as him fabricating a story about helping a friend with some logo design and printing of vinyls which uncannily happen to be of a similar colour scheme and dimension to the much fabled box.

No. No. No.

Do you take me for an idiot?

So to cover for your box-making endeavour (which however misplaced your efforts may be, still has some legitimate work connotation), you will go to the extremes of creating a cover story which puts you even deeper in the shit?!?!


To make matters worse, after giving a hangover fuelled Ramseyesque bollocking, he decides to have another meeting only hours later, meaning he has to leave our office and travel the few kilometres to our parent agencies office in order to sort out something which obviously could not possibly be achieved over the phone.

To be fair he did have the sense to suggest he would go during his lunch hour as to miss more work time directly after his bollocking would he had calculated be tantamount to signing his own death warrant,

Surprisingly though, what he didn't think was unacceptable was that upon his return 1hr 45 mins later it would be OK to sit downstairs and take his lunch.

When I asked him directly if he was "taking the piss" he appeared amazed at my audacity to disturb his dining.

How? Why? What?

Is this normal or am I just mad?

Anyway, the old suggestion box should be delivered any week soon.

It seems the idea of a rocket ship has been abandoned in favour of a plain blue cube. It does look the part from what I briefly saw, but lets wait to see whether all these meetings come up trumps withn points 2, 3 and 4.

Somehow, I doubt it.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Sex and the City metro system

It amazes me that not only small concerns, but large advertising corporations fail to do the basics such as answer their switchboard number, or even when it is answered have someone formally trained in the art of answering the phone with more than an abrupt “Hello?”.

This afternoon I was trying to source information about restrictions upon alcohol “surrogate” advertising on the DMRC (Delhi Metro) and failed with my attempts to get a call answer by either Big Street, or TDI, two of the main media contractors on the network.

At least my man at Times of India was available on his mobile, even if his take was the polar opposite form that provided to me earlier by a contact at Big Street.

He was quite clear (in Indian terms) that the contacts were awarded on the basis that certain categories of lewd or unhealthy products would be banned.

He believed alcohol and paan fell into this category, though thought condom brands might be OK, just so as long as they didn’t show the product or any images of people.

God it’s a different world!

I mean condom ads? Banned?

FFS, this is the country that gave the world the Karma Sutra.

Just look at the stats India..... you are breeding like freaking rabbits, yaah?

Someone somewhere is having unprotected sex as we speak. Your AIDS rate is rising rapidly and there are already 2.5 million of your citizens infected, yet still you would rather pretend that shagging isn't going on.
Are you stupid?

Actually, that was a rhetorical question.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

I was interested to read an article in today’s Mumbai Mirror which served as a timely reminder as to how much of a pigs ear was made of the Wembley stadium construction, and how steps needed to be taken to ensure a repeat scenario did not occur with the construction of the Olympic Stadium.

In one of the Mumbai suburbs a “skywalk” is being constructed to allow pedestrians safe and easy passage to their destinations without running the gauntlet of the choked streets below.

Unfortunately the project hit a hitch when they discovered conduit pipes had been laid in the path of the foundations.

Now, this may have proved a difficult hurdle to overcome in London or other Western cities, but the local Indian contractor swiftly overcame the problem by contracting out the work to a separate agency, instructing them to build over the pipes at will whilst recompensing for any damage or indeed insults to the gods through the sacrificial slaughter of a goat.

Not only did they slaughter it, but they it there on the street. Very thoughtful indeed as probably quite a few people in the area would have been leaving home with the intention of buying mutton as a non-veg dinner treat fro the family.

Now if I am not mistaken, Multiplex, the company responsible for the timely delivery of the Wembley project were fined a serious amount of £’s for it's late completion.

Compare and contrast with the still unfinished Bandra-Worli Sea Link which though running over a year behind schedule will probably in the current market climate require no more compensation than a 3 goat, 8 chicken, and a partially atrophied water buffalo.

Now I’m no construction engineer, but when it comes to fines for tardiness, then “that’s the way to do it” as Mr Punch is oft quoted as saying.

Sunday, 17 May 2009


Loving the IPL, loving it.

There have been so many nail biting finishes over the past week or so it's unreal.

My loyalties lie with the Chennai Super Kings.

Any franchise with the audacity to name itself after a cheap British cigarette gets my vote.

I was slight disappointed that the Mumbai were named "Indians" (like really? How did you come up with that one? A bit like playing the 'Milan Italians' or "Munich Germans" in the Champions League" huh?) so bland they don't deserve their fanbase.

Surely a more imaginative would have been the Mumbai B&H Menthols.

The Mohali based team have gone for the use of Roman numerals in their name "Punjab Kings XI". It seems to be doing alright but what a difference "Punjab King Edward XI" would have made, a classy cigar based alternative wlould have pulled in teh aspirational classes.

The Rajasthan Royals? Uh hello, anyone home?

You live in a freaking desert you muppets, it's screaming "Camel" at you.

Calcutta, or Kolkata as they like to spell it now could have been the "Calcutta Capstan Non-Filters"

The "Delhi Dunhills" is a no brainer.

I wouldn't meddle with the Bangalore team as to be fair they are named after a cheap brand of whiskey, and the Deccan Chargers could simply tie up with Duracell for simplicity's sake.

Outside of the grand show it has undoubtedly been, it is also somewhat annoying to have aTV commercial break every other ball or so it seems.

There are so many sponsors involved. DLF sponsor the IPL itself, each team has a main sponsor and several secondary sponsors, some company or other bring you the Man of the match, and hell they even have companies sponsoring 4's, 6's, and wickets when they fall.

It must be squeaky bum time in the marketing department when a ball is weakly skied towards the boundary.

Will it carry all the way to be a Hyundai 6?
Will it fall short for an Airtel 4?
No wait, there's a man in the outfield and they are popping the champagne in the Havells box.

Oooh, he's dropped it.

This complete and uttter balls up was brought to you by Cardiff City FC, "Bigger than Barca"