Wednesday, December 30, 2009

5 Points by Someone - Why you should take '3 Idiots' with a pinch of salt

It’s been a week since 3 Idiots released, and I’ve been dying to write about it. The film in itself is a decent watch, a complete masala entertainer. Now there is nothing wrong with that. I enjoyed it, but when it got a little too preachy, I thought, “Wait, that doesn’t fit in.”

I’ve always felt that Raju Hirani’s premises for criticism have been different from others, and that he wants to ‘shed light’ on some problems (for want of a better word) facing the society. He did it popularly enough with the Munnabhai series (though I was surprised, since the first film hit out at doctors, who are revered in our society and are equated to God). In this film too, the theme he chooses couldn’t have had better relevance. There are lakhs of engineers who graduate every year in our country, and I can guarantee that at least 50% of them either don’t have the aptitude for it, or were forced into it, or both. In fact, most people have their "Oops! Why did I do engineering" moment right into their 2nd or 3rd year and the feeling ironically becomes stronger once you graduate. All eej well, till now.

  1. The principal is portrayed as a heartless swine, completely devoid of human emotions. First flaw. No principal, (and I repeat NONE) can be so heartless, as to not allow a student some leeway in case of a family emergency. The ‘khaana chhod diya kya’ argument is bizarre. I’m from an NIT myself, one of the ‘premier institutes’ in the country, and I’ve never seen such behaviour in any of my professors. They might be strict, but not inhuman. Then you might ask why a grade ‘A’ actor like Boman is reduced to a caricature? Because Indian films have a tendency to classify everything distinctly under either black or white. And in order that Aamir’s arguments carry more weight and have more impact, a demon had to be created. And who better to be the demon than the principal? If you’ve read 1984, you’ll know what I’m talking about. There always needs to be an Emmanuel Goldstein to help move your cause forward.
  1. This brings me to my second argument. The incessant need to thrust ‘goodness’ into your face to help emphasise the point. Aamir is the brilliant student, the rebel who still manages to top the class. But why go ahead and make him a gardener’s son? Why couldn’t he be a normal middle class kid? Does being well off reduce the credibility of his achievements? The film almost forces you to agree with them. Yes, their point is taken, but was there a need to go over-the-top? I’m completely for a reform in education, and am one of the few ‘idiots’ (to borrow the terminology from the film) who have followed their passion and not packages. So technically, I should be the first one to go ‘Yay! Hi – fi’ about the film. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t do it.
  1. Aamir seems to be a superhuman who can virtually do anything from building robots, to topping the class to convincing people their fianc├ęs were useless (hello?) and even delivering children (Did you notice the subtle advertising by Airtel – ringtones and the WiFi modem?). Aamir even takes on the principal, openly accusing him of murder, and throwing in statistics about suicides. Again, the director falls prey to the ‘star syndrome’. Aamir plays a character 22 years younger to himself. Weren’t there any younger actors who could play the role? And for me, Aamir’s didn’t have much to do. His character is written in such a manner, that whatever he does seems cool (breaking into the principal’s office, peeing in his house).
  1. The film has three people commit suicide (two successful in doing so) leading all non – engineers to think that whenever an engineer fails, he tries to kill himself (Notice the ‘he’. Girls don’t fail. They study hard. I give them that). While there is a lot of pressure to do well in college, nothing justifies killing yourself. After all, it’s only a bloody exam. This is one point where I agreed with the film, that parents shouldn’t have binary opinions about their child’s career (engineer or doctor). There are a plethora of career options available. Not everyone is as understanding as my parents (or Madhavan’s parents in the film), and it takes a few months’ time for parents to adjust to your choice. I’ve learnt it through personal experience. So mums and dads, let your children make their own mistakes.
  1. The film targets the youth (of which I’m also a part). Most must have lapped it up and must already be hatching ‘cool ways’ to make life hell for the teachers and be ‘rebels’. I’d like to ask them:
When was the last time you read something not for the exams, but for the sake of knowledge?

Have you ever cringed at the fact that the questions asked in the exam aren’t from the ‘notes that teacher gave in class’?

Have you asked for the paper pattern, and fumed when the teacher did not ‘follow the pattern’?

Have you ever been upset that the question paper didn’t repeat the questions from previous years’ papers?

When was the last time you worked on a project that was wasn’t ripped off from Google? (I’m not acting holier than thou. I’ve done it too.)

PS: Lastly, most of the jokes are stale. The ‘pencil in space’ joke came around as an internet forward when we were in 8th.

I might be completely wrong. In that case, you are more than welcome to explain it to me. I love being proven wrong!

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The MBA Diaries # 1: Gay MET

Okay, this is yet another series of posts I'm starting (More Dukki Diaries still to come) and this is a disclaimer I would like to highlight:
I'm going to be immensely judgmental, shallow and flip - sided in my observations and sometimes chauvinist too. It is all meant in good humour, and nothing should be taken seriously.

As most of you know, I 'prepared rigorously' for six months and am in the process of completing my MBA exams (notice only completing exams) by Jan 10. And since there are almost half a dozen exams to be taken, there will be half a dozen test centres and each centre consists of its own form of entertainment. I have this habit of observing and characterising fellow (unsuspecting) students into different categories, and make predictions about how they are going to fare in the exam and in general, what they would be like. If you think its horrible on my part to makes such assumptions, try it once. You'll have fun, at the expense of no one but your imagination.

CAT was a totally different story, and the only thing I actually want to write here, is that there were a total of 48 leaves on the patterns of the curtains in my lab, and 24 flowers, arranged in a diagonal fashion. This was my only productive conclusion for Dec 1, which I arrived at when I was waiting for the test to be 'delivered'.

But the real deal (read paper based test) started with JMET (Joint Management Entrance Test), excelling in which would get me into the IIT B - Schools. If you're one of the people saying, "Wait, IITs are technical institutes, right?", a very warm good morning to you. When I was applying, I had a deep discussion with one of my school friends who said, "I'm not going into the IITs. I can't take another two years with engineers." I thought deeply (for once) and took a chance and filled the online form (with some hiccups, owing to my mistake and their Stone Age era application form design - long story that too), even though I knew that an engineering degree combined with an MBA from an IIT was one of the surefire methods of turning a person gay (virtually zero exposure to the fairer sex).

When the exam date drew near, I thought to myself, "Let's give this all we've got. It's only an exam, and I can do it." And I did (by asking my friend a day before the exam what the syllabus and pattern was. He replied, " Tension mat le. Just go and take the test"). I was more interested in my exam centre, which was Jamnabai Narsee School since I'd had an argument with a colleague at office, over which school (hers was Jamnabai) was better (mine of course, is Singhania). I promised to be as unbiased as possible when we settled the argument the day after my exam (way to go in prioritising), and went with a cool (almost empty) head to Juhu at about 9: 30 in the morning.

I was expecting a crowd of geeks, most of them from neighbouring villages like mine. 'Girls' was the last thing I expected, except for a few, who barely made it to that category owing to their long hair. But what I saw was quite a respectable number of female candidates (Engineers have a hawk like precision and accuracy in spotting girls in a crowd). Some of them were even cute, probably the 'Sindhi/Gujarati quota' types (If the female readers are incensed by the appalling terminology, I apologise. It is only for humorous purposes). I looked up the chart and saw that my room was W-52, which turned out to be the West Wing (how appropriate, the Wing of power). Since I'd left home at about 7:30, I hadn't eaten anything. I wanted to eat a vada pav at Dadar, but thought it wiser to have something near the centre. Wrong choice. There was absolutely no shop/thela selling anything. Anything. The whole area is full of residential buildings with Gujarati names and a common 'bai' suffix. I went to my exam room on an empty stomach.

Now, it's not as if I always count the number of girls, and calculate the percentage of good - looking ones, but when you're taking an MBA exam, percentages tend to hover in and out of your thoughts. But the percentage today was around 0.54321. In fact, I'm always amazed at how my friends always run into girls who believe in socialising and casual talk, and I manage run into ones who think all guys are rapists. The seat in front of me was occupied by a guy who'd forgotten his watch, and he requested his neighbour to keep her watch on his side of her desk. That was when I noticed the girl in blue top. She was fat, and looked nervous. But MOST important of all, she had a moustache, almost as much as me. I decided to call her 'Moustache Girl' (henceforth MG). I glanced at MG, and she gave me the 'you're a rapist' look. MG had a friend of hers in the room too, sitting behind me, who immediately fell into the 'Teacher's favourite but a class one bitch' category. The type of girls who usually tell on you when you're up to no good in class. And she gave me the 'Oh! He's just here because he paid the application fee' look (henceforth referred to as COB) . It didn't help my cause when my pen stopped working and I'd to ask COB for a pen. She grudgingly gave me one, as if I'd asked for her kidney.

The exam began and I started out decently, but lost the plot midway when they started asking weird questions in the English section, and when a pigeon entered the room and completed its third round (reconnaissance?). I wondered for about two minutes as to why MG had a moustache, but immediately got back to solving my LR set. I'd also decided to catch the look on COB's face when the paper got over, and as I got up, I saw a look of despair on her face. Someone hasn't performed very well in the paper. I'd almost forgotten that I was starving, and while leaving the hexagonal premises, I caught sight of a couple who'd come to write the exam, happily munching on a burger, which I don't know where they procured from (This was turning out to be quite a day). Most people had no clue how their exams went, but I knew I hadn't done my best. The 'gaytes' of IIT wouldn't be open for me this year probably.

Now that the exam was over, I had to catch a rickshaw to Ville Parle railway station. I don't like fighting over rickshaws, and thankfully I caught hold of a guy who was having tea . He said, "Bhaiyya humko thodi der lagegi. Aap rukenge?" I happily agreed and watched him enjoy his cuppa while I caught one last sight of COB entering a Hyundai Accent with her dad.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Getting down to business

I know it is late, and I know people have already seen it on Facebook. But I'm too lazy to post anything yet, and have MBA exams till the Jan 10. A good post shall follow soon. I promise.

Till then, peese see theees.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An exam, a wedding and a lot more

This incident happened just today.

I just finished my CAT two days ago. And it felt really weird. Last year, when we came back from CAT, we headed straight to PP’s (a pub in ‘downtown Nagpur’) where I proceeded to watch the others drink away while I munched on my paneer malai. And emotions were really high. I still remember the way I announced that no one should discuss the paper, and Kanabar (my friend and bandmate) perhaps not liking the tone of my voice, retorted with an angry ‘Who’s doing it anyway’. We proceeded to argue and shout it out and soon cooled off (when he grabbed his beer).

This year though was a totally different affair. I went alone to a Lokmanya Tilak College of Engineering in Kopar Khairane (Navi Mumbai). Now, here comes the weird part. I don’t particularly like mingling with college crowds other than the ones I’m familiar with, and having studied in Nagpur our wavelengths don’t exactly match. ‘Hao na be, bhasad, and doling out generous amounts of references to sisters and mothers was the norm at our institute, while most of the Bombay people go for ‘Dude’ and the likes. And it didn’t help much when the persons behind me were discussing why Kasab should have come to LTCE and not CST. So I just kept to myself.

I had to wait for one and a half hours before the test started, during which time I counted the number of leaves in the curtains, the number of tiles in the roof, the number of swing panels in the air conditioner and also analysed my photograph in detail to get to know why they suck so much. I failed to arrive at a conclusion for the photo riddle, but I did conclude that this year’s CAT was one of the worst disasters in the history of the exam (which also includes a leaked paper). Feel nahi ayi is all I can say.

But this isn’t about that. Immediately after the CAT was Arvind’s sister’s wedding in Karjat. So me, Tanmay and Alokraj set out on the long journey to the place. After having some really good food (Thanks, Arvind!) we set out some time in the afternoon. We were cruising along on NH – 4, when our driver missed a turn towards Panvel, which is when he decided to take a quick U – turn. Here is where he made the error of not signaling his intent through indicators. From the opposite end, a bike sped in and almost rammed into us, since the rider was busy chatting away on his mobile. Our driver coolly ignored him and sped away (since a bike can’t catch up with an Indigo Marina). But a toll booth to cut us short and the bike caught up with us. And that was when it happened.

The guy got down, opened the door, and beat the hell out of our driver. We were totally stunned by what happened, what with our previous experience in such matters. In fact, just a few minutes ago, Tanmay had said, “Load kya hai. Apan paanch hai aur woh do.” But when our driver was on the receiving end of slaps and kicks, we couldn’t do much except stop them from doing so, which we eventually did, thanks to the toll booth guy. But the last line which the guy uttered is still fresh in my mind. He said, “Tu Marathi manoos ahe mhanunach me sodtoy tula (I’m letting you off, only because you’re a Maharashtrian).” I wonder what would have happened if he wouldn’t have been a ‘son of the soil’.

Alokraj raised the most pertinent question of the event, when he asked, “Is that how they do it here? What if the driver wasn’t Marathi?” (He’s new to the city, if I’m not wrong)

I, for one, had no answer, and could only manage an embarrassed and awkward shrug of the shoulders.