Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Movie Review: 99

Cricket is a Religion in India. Meet the Fundamentalists.

The first question I have for Krishna DK, Raj Nidimoru and Anupam Mittal after watching "99 (2009)" is: "Why did you starve us for 6 long years since your last epic "Flavors (2003)"?".

Like their previous work, "99" is pure brilliance with a tight plot, jokes that work and pop-culture references that make you go "A-ha!". In other words, a MUST WATCH. The packed house at PVR on a weekday late-night show is testimony to that.

Kunal Khemu is an under-rated actor in the mould of Abhay Deol. Luckily, the latter has found his groove with the last couple of releases. Kunal is still stuck at 99 (pun intended), despite excellent nuanced performances in some excellent but forgotten films like "SuperStar (2008)". He has an easy charm and superb comic timing. At the same time, his vulnerable eyes poke through your heart during the tragic scenes. I really hope he breaks the jinx of successful child actors (like Urmila Matondkar, probably the only success so far).

This movie also enjoys the acting talent of powerhouses like Boman Irani (who started in similar Indy films like "Let's Talk (2002)" but now needs no introduction), Mahesh Manjrekar, Amit Mistry (a bonafide superstar at Bombay's Prithvi Theatres) and Cyrus Broacha. All these guys have significant theatre experience and it shows in their comic timing, body language and diction. In smaller roles, the bhojpuri actor and the sidekick provide many laughs with their natural presence. Among the ladies, Soha and Simone are important to the plot but don't have any spectacular scenes where they get to shine.

So here is my second question to Krishna DK, Raj Nidimoru and Anupam Mittal: "Why didn't you repeat the ravishing and very funny Pooja Kumar from Flavors, in the role of (who else?) Pooja?". She'd be so purrrfect-- and a treat to watch.

The production is very well designed. The movie is set in 99-2000 and it almost feels as if that is when it was shot. Be it the film hoardings across the city (imagine "Kaho Na Pyar Hai (2000)" blocking the skyline, for chrissakes!), the mobile phone models they use, the cars they drive or their amazement at the advent of "cyber cafes"--- this could well be one of India's first period films (NOT about the Freedom Struggle)! If anything, that's one award it deserves for sure. The background score is also well used and adds to the tension/fun of the chase.

As for the story itself, this is a chase/heist movie in the genre of what Guy Ritchie does. The two losers are on the run from everyone, with their IOUs adding up faster than Sachin's centuries. Their misfortunes and bravado makes for some very comic situations, without resorting to any toilet humor (well, almost) or Priyadarshan style confusion-climax. The audience kept laughing and clapping all through. Especially loved were the Bombay versus Delhi references (the cities are known for their cultural rivalry and chauvinism).

Some examples:
1. Juxtaposing the Bambaiyya abuse "Ticha Maaiiii Laa...." with the very Delhi "Teri Pennnn Di..." at 2 ends of a phone call
2. "Coffee? Is waqt? Yeh Delhi hai, tumhari Bambai nahi. Yahaan raat raat ko hi hoti hai"
3. "Dilli mein sab ladkiyon ke sirf 2 naam hote hain-- Pooja ya Neha" (that's SO true!)

The movie is peppered with cricket metaphors, delivered in Cyrus's inimitable style. Cricket forms an important part of the plot and it is made by true lovers of the game.

99 is two hours of pure fun. Yes, it reminds you of many a Hollywood films, but not as a copy. It faithfully follows the caper genre. This slight difference sets it apart from the 99% junk that Bollywood ends up celebrating annually, with the likes of Anees Bazmee, Priyadarshan, David Dhawan and Hansal Mehta.

So here's my third question for Krishna DK, Raj Nidimoru and Anupam Mittal: "Agli picture kab bana rahe ho?"



Some hilarious "prophecies that came true" made by the characters in the year 2000:
1. "Na daud sakte hain, na maar sakte hain. 50 0vers khelne ki aukaat nahi hai. 20 overs ka match rakho, usmein world champions ban jayenge!"
2. "Main kehta hoon yeh cyber cafe, email, internet sab 2 din ke shauq hain. Zyada din nahi chalenge"
3. "I want to open a coffee shop". "You mean like a tea stall?"
4. "Ek din hum Amitji ko bhi le ayenge, Bhojpuri filmon mein..."

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

How to find a new tech job

I must link to this post by Phil Montgomery, Marketing Guru and Tech Enthusiast.

An excerpt:

How to find a new tech job

Once you know what you are looking for, here are some suggestions, based on my own recent experience:
  1. Don't let your ego dictate that you need the job with the biggest salary or biggest title. Choose the role based on your career roadmap and best fit - the happier you are, with the best fit, will produce the best long term opportunities.
  2. Linkedin is easily the best job and contact finding service. Change your profile to show that you are now looking - insert a dummy company that says "looking for the next opportunity". Search the jobs available regularly, and apply for anything that looks promising. Recruiters regularly scan linked in looking for candidates.
  3. Make sure you have Linkedin recommendations, and ask for them before you need them.
  4. Always reply to recruiters, and build a relationship - even if you are happily employed. Recruiters remember people who helped them fill positions by recommendations.
  5. Update your resume to two pages maximum. Remember that the aim of the resume is to get an interview, not the job. Be as results focused as possible, and have friends and colleagues critique the document.
Some of the most fantastic (and common sense) tips I have ever read about job interviews and job hunting. I agree with almost everything he says, including the part about using LinkedIn well and presenting non-confidential material to demonstrate past success.

"Brijj", a LinkedIn like feature on Indian job portal Naukri.com

Big salaries and big titles (even big companies) can be the biggest seduction, especially early on in the career. Fresh out of college, you generally have no clue about what you want to do or what technology excites you (but for a lucky few who know at the age of 12!). In my experience, I just waddled till the right breaks came through.

As a 10 year veteran now (ahem!), this is the advise I'd generally give to freshers:

Join a big, branded company for the first 2-3 years. With the credibility behind you, spend the next 3-4 years in a small company or start-up. No place lets you learn as much about diverse things, as a small company. Use that opportunity, at every turn. By the 6th year or so, you'd have a fairly good idea what you want to do next. Depending on that goal, let your 3rd company be a big player or an exciting start-up. Try and stay there for the next 10-12 years or more....

If you happen to fall into Plan B, do not despair. Join a smaller firm out of college, the best thing to do is slog it out as much as you can in the initial 2-3 years. Take on every task, related and unrelated. This experience usually gets you into the established companies that need the "grass root" skills only you have. By the 6th year, you should be able to get back to Plan A.

Do not let petty thoughts of politics and exploitation distract you. I don't know if its ambition or just too much TV, I see more young people now than before worry about that at the start of their career. Believe me, at that level you are too insignificant to be picked on. Everyone gets equally ragged, no discrimination there, and in many cases it actually helps you 'evolve'. If they make you work 14 hours a day and reuse your skills as a delivery-boy, that's just a perk of the job. Bet you heard that "builds character" speech already, eh? It's true :-)

For the remaining tips, I encourage you to head over to that article now.

The Economy Goes Bust -- Sales Need a Push Up

Just came across this company called Systancia, based in France. This is a snapshot of their eye-catching website. The company touts itself as an alternative to the market-leader Citrix in thin-clients and application delivery software.

I am sure sales are slow and they must do what they can to grab some attention. No doubt they will be very successful with this sort of branding-- assuming their target audience is adolescent system administrators. Hyuk Hyuk

To be fair, one of the product-lines they develop happens to be called "Load Balancers". That might explain the visual theme!