Filmiholic and The Namesake

Came across a great blog on the desi-videsi movies genre. It’s called Filmiholic. Filmiholics claim to fame in my book is that it captures the less popular but equally enthralling independent Indian cinema very well.

Another blog worth mentioning is Kal Penn’s blog on the new Mira Nair movie “The Namesake”. Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar…) plays the son of Indian immigrants to America in the movie. The blog is about his stay and shooting of the movie in India. – An ‘intelligent’ start-up

I have spent an entire morning playing games on The idea is a very simple one, select photos you like from those presented to you and the web application will attempt to guess your personality traits.

Some truths about myself the application recounted, “your the sort of person who rarely misplaces things”, “you enjoy sarcasm”, “your somewhat laid back today”. The last one was hilarious considering my time spent on the site :). The site is almost like a mirror of mind and personality.

It remains to be seen how the founders will turn into a sensible business. I can already see signs that a social-community structure is being implemented around the application. The company is a Y Combinator startup. I read about likebetter on TechCrunch.

Dor: Nagesh Kukunoor perfects the art of story-telling

Dor opens with Gul Panag playing Zeenat, a character defined by a strong sense of honesty, determination, and self-will. The focus is on Zeenat’s serene profile. If your looking for any sign of make-up – you won’t find it. Meera, the other protagonist is played by Ayesha Takia.

Dor is a story of the two women, Zeenat and Meera. Their lives are inextricably linked by a certain sequence of events. At no point are the events incredulous or unbelievable. Also, the events themselves will not dominate your thoughts, rather it is the lives of the two women after these events that will leave a strong mark in your mind. At the risk of oversimplification, you will experience what the majority of women are up against thanks to Indian society and traditions. You will learn that there is at least one solution.

The talented Shreyas Talpade plays the role of Behroopiya. His entrance into the movie is almost an assurance that Zeenat and Meera will find a way to untangle the events. Shreyas’ brand of comic relief is not annoying or repetitive.

Last night, I watched the movie in a packed Multiplex-screen in Pune. Surprised? Even more so when you will learn the show was a late-late show (11pm). The movie had just one dance number (and that too, the number is set with Kajra Re from Bunty aur Bubli). Dor is shot only with the beautiful Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan’s arid backdrop. I am so sure that India (urban and maybe even rural) will accept different cinema.

I admire Nagesh’s work. He has perfected the art of presenting a story to bind the movie-goer. The most memorable scenes have shades of surprise, uncertainty, despair, and hope all painted into brilliant depictions that are alive. I highly recommend Dor if you enjoy watching a rich story unravel. In Nagesh’s own words “The story wrote itself”.

powered by performancing firefox.

Quotes to begin the Hindu New Year

While scanning the papers today, I came across some excellent quotes from the current generation of Indian entrepreneurs.

One needs to be “obsessively passionate”, as passion can vary, but obsession can’t. It’s the distinguishing factor. One must be restless all the time to do what one wants to do.

Dilip Chhabria, Promoter – Dilip Chhabria Design. Dilip turned down a lucrative offer from GM, USA to satisfy his desire to design cars. He has worked relentlessly for an entire decade to establish his design studio. I remember seeing his early concepts in auto-shows back in the late ’90’s.

How can one confirm that spark of passion in entrepreneurs? Last night at a family get-together, a close relative of mine explained in the following inexact words,

I want to see if he is passionate about his immediate family. Experience teaches me that a deep sense of passion and attachment towards family is a very positive indicator of passion, commitment and therefore success in other areas of life, including business.

Unlike academics, where you know you have a fixed time window to acheive success in the form of a degree – life offers you a misleadingly long window; you have only your own lifetime to succeed. Indeed, commitment is crucial.

Finally, better believe it – your TIME is now! Doesn’t matter who or where you are.

Cross-pollinate India –

Ever since as far as I can remember, when NRI’s speak about returning to India, I hear a constant refrain – “I would return to India if only there were industries doing exactly what I am doing here in the United States”. I hope that this post will be my reply. I will not lie, entrepreneurship is not for everybody, neither is idealism. Yet, if they really think that way – I don’t think they will ever come back.

Onwards, to all the NRI’s out there – India has changed! Sure, we don’t yet have the billion dollar technology industry your already working in. In fact, Naukri still has to verbally duel with Monster to prove superiority – reminds me of Google and Yahoo arguing about index sizes so many years ago. As evolution postulates – we are now very different and will continue to change with or without you.

The other refrain that got me thinking, comes from some smart folks employed with the Services companies. It goes something like this – “Building a product for India does not excite me. It will not involve exposure to the cutting-edge, patent-pending, hyper-complex technology (or technologies) that I currently work on as part of my job profile for a huge, successful multi-national in the United States. After all, satisfaction depends on the space you choose.”

To begin with, we have a well-defined Internet and Mobile Consumer market. To cater to it, India is already fostering several innovative start-ups. I believe that the solution will not be the Google, Intel, Amazon, BlackBerry, or Microsoft that we are familiar with but the challenges are definitely the same. Innovation, cost-efficiency, mass-appeal, and scalability are still critical dimensions for success. These are the very same factors that every Silicon Valley (or Seattle, or otherwise) success story was written on. The real question is, do you have what it takes in you to seed it? Let us not forget that even the Valley was seeded by the humble transistor.

A few weeks ago, Vijay Anand let me know about DEMO’s cross-pollination in India –, an innovation showcase for technology companies. I got around to looking it up carefully this weekend. A hint of idealism and Proto’s genesis came through when I read over bothack’s introduction to

India’s IT giants have done nothing to foster technological innovation. Although they have built multi-billion-dollar businesses by providing outsourced IT services, they haven’t really created new intellectual property. India’s much -touted prowess rests merely on labour arbitrage.

Having said that, it is true that India has the potential to become a technological innovation hot-spot. It must be noted that, it won’t be the IT majors who make this happen, but start-ups. There is no surprise in this. The world over, startups play a larger-than-life-role in technological innovation, with no existing market to lose, they tend to take bigger risks.

Vijay succinctly explains on his blog what one can expect from Undoubtedly, the excitement around the event is evident from his words – “I am not speaking of evolution here. We are here to cause a revolution“. I feel there will be several other entrepreneurs who will participate at Proto. Chennai is the surprising venue – not Bangalore. So, If your interested in how our story will be written, seems like a good place to start. Definitely do come if your a developer with an IT-services or an NRI wondering what your next job will be like if you moved back. might just open a door or two for you.

Google’s keen on indexing videos you upload

Final Update on this post: The deal is done, check out the report on NY Times.

An update:

A deal for YouTube would be the crowning moment for a property that emerged as a cultural phenomenon almost immediately after it officially began last December. Its site, which delivers more than 100 million video clips a day, allows users to share a broad array of offerings from news clips to home movies to spoofs — sometimes funny but often simply crude — created by ordinary users.

more… (New York Times – Google is said to set sights on YouTube).

Friends mentioned to me the other day that one can watch on YouTube just about anything I can watch on Indian television. This is not really a huge issue, I can’t imagine Karan Johar being upset that his interview with Aishwarya Rai (on Coffee with Karan) has been broadcast to the remaining millions who don’t have access to Indian TV. Again, from the article:

Almost single-handedly, YouTube has both popularized the sharing of videos and empowered would-be movie makers around the world. The site is also facing possible legal challenges over the unauthorized posting and sharing of videos. Yet a number of media companies would prefer to embrace YouTube as a partner, rather than treat it as a pariah, as was the case with Napster.

While it may appear as if I have been living under a (Web 1.0) rock, I only recently learnt of the fundamental value proposition offered by YouTube.

  1. Come online, register with YouTube whoever you are, wherever you might be.
  2. Upload a teaser of the video (or other media) you have to offer.
  3. Offer your contact details with the video.
  4. Inform your clique of the video, hope it catches on and is rated well.
  5. Wait for offers, requests and feedback to come back in.

The other trend with online users that YouTube rides is video sharing. Today, I received an e-mail from a friend with a link to a video of Schumachers driving technique. Of course, the video was part of YouTube’s massive collection. To conclude, YouTube already fits in well with how online users work.

Before I end this post, I will leave you with some more analysis on why Web 2.0 does make business sense. Again, from the New York Times article,

The $1.6 billion price tag, while seemingly rich for so young a company, makes sense, research analysts said.

“That’s expensive but not unreasonable,” said Charlene Li, an analyst with Forrester Research. Ms. Li estimated that the company has about 50 million users worldwide, which works out to a purchase price of about $32 a user.

The deal would make sense from the perspective of both companies, Ms. Li and others said.

So, if you have an idea that you fear is not immediately monetizable, especially if your approaching the problem from the consumer-end – think again, it may be worth more than you believe.

Time: Google’s chief looks ahead

Google’s chief – Eric Schmidt speaks about the silver bullet in business – partnerships. Eric is usually rather honest in his interviews which is what makes them so interesting to read.

The new technology thrust that is unravelling is in terms of video online, Search, Exchange, Edit, Annotate, Popularize, Promote name it there is a web 2.0 site out there that is doing it. Google themselves are partnering with MTV.

Google’s chief looks ahead.

From the Bigger Boat site,

Entertainment isn’t what it used to be. From big media company blockbusters to two minute videos created by individuals armed with an imagination and a camera, entertainment comes in many forms. Much of it now targets the individual instead of the masses. With so many services competing for our attention, we find ourselves asking, “Does it work on my iPod?, Is this the free version with ads?, Can I burn this to disc?” While the Internet gives us access to much of this content, there hasn’t been a simple way to find and filter it.

BiggerBoat gives people a better way to search and discover entertainment. From the top of the charts to the long-tail of consumer generated content, we’re developing a resource that gives consumers an accurate picture of what’s out there. We’re doing this by creating a single powerful Index of information coming from a variety of sources – the freely available Web; members-only services; and information that you just can’t get anywhere on the Internet, until now.