Dec 27, 2009

3 Idiots - Movie Review

3 Idiots - Raju Hirani and Aamir Khan's new offering is a good movie.

It is light, entertaining and gives the right messages. In some sense, it is also one of the many forms in which art in our country is trying to convey the change in people's mindset.

The movie begins with 2 friends trying to meet their third one who has been missing for some time. And then the story moves back in time when they meet first time. Three engineering hostel roomies - Farhan Qureshi, Raju Rastogi and Ranchhoddas Chanchad become best friends during their studies.

The gag fest begins there. Non-stop. Some of them outrageous, some picked from many of the jokes / anecdotes - of these some are contemporary and some very old. At times, you laugh (and really loudly) and at times you can only smile. But the good part is that the message is always delivered.

There is that element of suspense built up in the middle of the story that is good. But the climax feels contrived and, therefore, slightly stretched.

Aamir is good but his role, as an all-knowing, cannot do anything wrong fellow, seems stretched after some time. Madhavan seems wasted in a rather small role. Boman continues his only-needs-change-of-heart villainy.

Who shines? Sherman Joshi in a more sensitive role, Kareen Kapoor in a small but great role and their Uganda-born Pondicherry educated enamored-with-marks classmate (I don't know the actor's name).

The movie has some fantastic campus scenes, great dialogues and locales.  Raju Hirani continues his mission of spreading the right messages. This certainly looks in line with the earlier Munnabhai episodes. All-in-all, good watch.

Added later to post
The movie has elements of various sources from around the world. The ones I see obvious connections to - Earlier Munnabhai episodes, Taare Zameen Par, Kite Runner (the book), Forrest Gump

Dec 24, 2009

The very interesting "Missed Call"

This article in WSJ shows the power of technology through this innovative use of mobiles by the fishermen  in Tamil Nadu. This article points finger to the miserable weather forecasts of traditional agencies that makes fishermen feel the need of above SMSes. In developed countries the forecast is quite accurate and there is no need for such services.

But then, India is a market full of innovative uses, especially in the mobile space. The earliest innovation being the missed call. For readers from outside India, a Missed Call is where a caller calls and disconnects before the call is picked up. With mobile users, the caller's number is displayed on the mobile of the called party. It is quite widely used in India.

Now what is the use of a missed call? I will list few scenarios, but I am sure there are many more depending on the inter personal communication protocol (IPCP). I will come to IPCP a little later.

1. Caller does not have money to spend on a call and wants the other person to call. He/she makes a missed call. The other person calls and speaks. This is probably the most basic of the uses.

2. Both parties have agreed to meet at some place. Whoever reaches first will give the other person a missed call.

3. A missed call is made to economically convey nice emotions like, "I miss you" or "I love you".  The thoughts reach the destination without costing anything to the entrenched parties.

So what is IPCP - Consider scenario 2 above. Now the 2 people have decided that a missed call means "I have reached". IPCP is established and will expire with the missed call.

Similarly, say A and B are going to a wedding. They are reaching the venue directly and they need to buy a gift on the way. Whoever buys a gift first gives a missed call. Similar to above, yet different.

One can think of hundreds of such examples. The idea of IPCP is the users decide the meaning of the missed call. And who framed the concept of IPCP....well that would be none other than yours truly :)

And, IPCP also leads to some really amusing and sometimes embarassing situations. More on that in some other post.

Dec 21, 2009

How 2009 Went By? Part 1

As is the ritual, year endings are mandated with the lists of 10 news, best, worst....

So here are the 2 telecom updates:
1) MBB on top 10 telecom news
2) Telecom M&A details from Unstrung - Check the AdMobile story in there. Interesting.

As I gather more such lists, I will either update this post or post next part.

Also posting these / some of these individually on twitter under #How2009Went. If you got any interesting ones, post in comments here or tweet them.

Dec 17, 2009

How not to engage Stakeholders - 101!

In families, when taking a major decision (like buying a house or deciding to move out) people generally talk to parents, spouse, kids and everyone who matters. Business schools call it Stakeholder Analysis and Consensus building. While it is a Organizational Behaviour topic, the point is raised in strategy, marketing, governance and even corporate finance discussions.

The recent decision from BSE to advance time by 10 minutes and the reaction from NSE to advance it by 55 minutes is a classic case in this area. The decision was being thought over for sometime. In fact, it was more on lines of 9 to 5pm. But there were issues of settlement etc.

The supposed positives include more volumes, greater overlap period with some Asian markets and possibility of allowing more investors to invest/trade due to increased time. But these are all guesses as of now.

But the strange part is the very little time given to the brokers to adjust to the new timings - less than 3 weeks! Generally brokers would be a happier lot because of the additional business that extended timings offer them. But they still need their offices to open early, employees to come early, make arrangements for starting the trade early (like turning on lights that may be contracted outside) etc.

And for large cities like Mumbai or Delhi where employees travel for more than an hour the initial inconvenience is also likely to generate some hurt within.

Change, for a logical reason, is fine. But if a gradual change is a valid and viable option, why not exercise it? If for 2 decades, this time was suited for trade/investing, how can these institutions justify a sudden switch with a 2 week notice?

And to top it all, I heard voices saying consensus was taken. What was the sample size to build consensus?

What could have been the way - Possibly few months notice, gradual feelers to "all" stakeholders, some dummy operations in extended hours to allow system testing, etc. Stakeholder consensus goes a long way in building reputation.

P.S.: Made some factual corrections.

Dec 16, 2009

Going Green in India - Story of Solar Entrepreneur

An excellent article on story of a Solar Entrepreneur in WSJ -

It speaks of how the costing of solar power is difficult and the entrepreneur needs incentive (or subsidy...any way you see it is fine) from the Central Government. IMHO, just reduce the environmental hazard element from the cost and the equation will get balanced. (Yes I know it is not that simple...but then what is?)

The article is also a reflection on how much more we, as a country, have to travel to become a truly pro-entrepreneurial society.

Just one question, why use farmland for such energy generation when we have deserts and mountains that are relatively free from farming / cattle grazing needs? I am sure there is a reason, just that, I am not aware.

Dec 15, 2009

Green Telecom News & Nortel Sells Equipment!

For a change, it is not its divisions that is in news, but it is a product from Nortel that has made news.
Lightreading has reported sale of Nortel's 100GBPS system to Verizon Europe. Interesting.


More interesting stuff in this report on Green telecom initiatives from Tim Hills. While most companies have been focussed on reducing power consumption. This report and many market indicators indicate that now telcos have decided to take steps that improve the quality of power consumed.

The report correctly points to smart use of technology that will lead to major changes in system architectures.

One thing I would like to see is how can telecom equipment harness alternative energy. For example, a lot of mobile transceivers use Solar energy. Can this be brought to a significant level? Other ideas can be idle time harnessing, footprint optimization etc.

As the report correctly concludes Green telecom sells....but it also gives back to environment and ensures happy communications.

Dec 5, 2009

2 States - Book Review

Interested in light entertaining stories? Pick up Chetan Bhagat's "2 States". It is light, nicely humorous and meant to be read fast. Bhagat knows his readers or writes such that that segment of readers enjoys his books the most.

So, the story is about a Punjabi boy Krish and the love of his life - a Tamil Brahmin girl Ananya. They fall in love at IIM Ahmedabad and decide to get married after getting their respective jobs. As is the story of many many love stories in India, Chetan Bhagat explains that the boy's family needs to love girl's family and vice-versa to ensure that the love marriage is really accepted by the parents!

Krish goes to Chennai to woo Ananya's family and then Ananya comes to Delhi for the same. The real challenge is getting the 2 families to like each other. A lot of incidents in Chennai, in Delhi and eventually in Goa keep things rolling. The reading is full of humour. It keeps you interested without break. There are events happening non-stop. At times the story jumps from one event to another.

One thing that kind of does not add up is the character of Krish's father. The character is abrupt and his actions are mostly inexplicable. The last part of the story is somewhat cliched but I am ok with it since it finishes off quickly.

There are some interesting similarities in characters of his previous work "3 mistakes of my life" and "2 states". But the story is completely different. The biggest similarity is in the lead male and female characters of both the books. The characters here seemed to be more complete versions of those from the earlier book, especially Ananya.

There is also a sense of nostalgia that Chetan Bhagat brings in for folks who graduated around 1999/2000. The high cell-phone charges, tech bubble, use of STD booths etc. are so dear to the generation who were there then. Also, at times, some North India - South India marriage stuff reminded me of the 1993 Aamir Khan - Juhi Chawla movie Hum Hain Rahi Pyaar Ke.

All in all, great read. Enjoy!


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