Sunday, July 09, 2006



I do not give this rating lightly. For a piece of cinema to be so goddamn awful as to not elicit a single star, mark or general sign that it was worth its while there must be something that puts a smile, frown or any sort of emotion on your face from the time the movie starts to the closing credits. Corporate failed on all accounts. There are exceedingly bad films out there, like Govinda's Gambler, or Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, but even these have their moments or are just so plain laugh out loud bad that that is what you are doing. Corporate is like none of the above, it is just plain unbearable.

Here is what was wrong with it. A few of the things, anyhow.

A plot. A plot is a nice thing to have in a film. Not essential, as some pleasant timepass flicks have shown us, but it is one of those things you'd rather come into the theatre expecting. Here's the thing, when you have a film that is not dominated by a two person relationship, a plot becomes even more important, because you're no longer relying on character chemistry. Corporate's plot read like the machinations of some cheap Saas Bahu TV Serial, with double crossers and evil relatives and whodunnit at every turn.

Characterisation: If you don't have a plot, good characters can save the day and win you a point or two. The characters in Corporate are not only one dimensional, they frequently aren't exactly sure what they're upto, or why they're doing the things they are. Bipasha Basu, who's eyes we are seeing the story move through, for some reason moves from career oriented corporate hotshot to simpering bimbo in two scenes, with the arrival of Kay Kay. Kay Kay himself, who one till now respected as an actor, seemed to have only one emotion on his face at all times, complete and abject bitterness. It didn't help that he must have downed 5 crates of Black Label whisky during the course of the film. They kill him off in the end, and that almost wins half a point, but its way too late in the movie for me to care. The characterization of the Corporate World itself is so scarily black and white that one wonders what would happen if people accepted this as the truth. The entire Corporate World seemed so commited to Bottom Line, that they could not think beyond 1 month of profit or indeed the consequences of any of their actions. Everyone is so frikkin deceitful, backstabbing and just plain unethical that it's a wonder any business can happen in our country. Now, I'm not so naive as to believe that all things are bright and beautiful, but for god sakes! Had Hundi Hai!

Dialogue: It's always nice to have a few decent lines to a movie, something you come out remembering. This movie has none. There are abrupt scenes, where characters say things like "Okay", "Thanks" or other similiar one lines to end conversations. There is no flow to anything anyone is doing or saying. People say things like "Sabse Best", and while I am all for language integration, there are some things that sound innately stupid. Sabse Best is one of them.

Reality: This is usually a moot point in Bollywood cinema, with a general willing suspension of disbelief. But when a film is touted to be "researched" and an insight into the corporate world, you expect at least a minimal attention to detail. Sadly, this is not the case. Stock Prices fluctuate Wildly. A new drink entering the market somehow captures a 66% market share in a month. Top secret documents are stored in a laptop which for some odd reason hasn't been password protected. Neither have the files for that matter. These are thinkpads, by the way, who are one of the Product Placements in the film. I don't know why they agreed, because they're supposed to be your safe as a brass locker business laptop. Over here, all you needed was a hooker and a pen drive to find and steal critical files. Board Room meetings, that seem to involve everyone but the actual board of directors. Corporations being run like family companies. The Chairman of the group for instance, on a whim decides to hire his Brother in Law as CEO. Corporate Governance be damned...

Generally, the only expression that one could actually muster out of the whole experience was a constant cringe. One wonders why this film was made. My father thinks it's because the director wanted to take out Khundak on people who he didn't like, and thus made them into caricatures in the film. I don't think its too far from the truth.

Under no circumstances should you watch this film. Go see Krissh if you have to, at least it has some nice shots of Singapore.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Deciphering Dubai

I was having a discussion with my father and his brother the other day about cities, and one asked how Dubai had managed to do so well considering it hardly had any seed money of oil, something quite similiar to Singapore. My uncle said something quite interesting, Dubai's success was thanks to Nehru and Shastri. That got me reading up a bit.

So here's how it worked. Nehru in his often stated brilliance imposed severe restrictions on the trade and price of Gold in India. The sheik of Dubai had free trade in Gold, and was well, a smuggler's paradise. Combine the two and you have possibly the largest movement of illegal gold trade in the 20th century, between India and Dubai. Figures, sadly, aren't exactly freely available for the sheer amount of trade that took place since it was all kind of illegal. But figure it out for yourself. Dubai has about 1/20th the Oil reserves of Abu Dhabi and was pretty much a creek with a palace 30 years back. They started building some serious infrastructure post that, and the city now speaks for itself.

It's kinda ironic when you think about it, though. Everyone curses the brain drain, and how the best talent goes towards developing the states. Even more criminal (quite literally so actually) is that we also seem to have funded the development of a very successful city state buy buying copious quantities of Gold in black money from there.

The world never ceases to amuse me.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Christians and Credit Cards

The Christian Religion has always been one that is actively involved in bringing you into their fold, but either I've been awakened from my own world a little more the last few months, or something is afoot. Now, I am singling this out because I haven't ever had hindu friends out to get me to pray or follow weirdass customs, not even my own family's Pundit who is quite understanding when I'd like to get a Havan thread tied to my left wrist rather than my right. In the same breath, I've never had any Muslim friends or general contacts who've ever tried to show me the way of Allah. I've indeed had discussions about Buddhism of both Chinese and Thai branches with friends without them ever even bringing up the "Join Us, Luke, join the Dark Side" discussion. Ditto with my Sikh friends.
Christianity I have observed, is just bloody well different.

Christians are out to convert me. Frequently.

Lets take a case in point as Singapore, which seems to be turning into militant christianities new homeground. Now, I have no problem with people practicing whatever faith they will, in whatever space they might have. However, I do dislike when this intrudes upon mine. My college has a few annoying Christian Groups in this regard, who mail you before exams, or before term starts to tell you how God will help you through it all, and how they're holding prayer groups for you. In addition, I have had classmates invite me to church to "see the light" as it may be. Its definitely not a faith of live and let live.

But singapore, with its...I assume christian majority is still understandable. What I don't get is how in Delhi, at Priya nonetheless I can be accosted by two Italian Catholics telling me to bow down to the Pope. Okay, they didn't use those words, but I wish they had because they gave out these damn silly pamphlets telling me how my life was shit and how Jesus was a Handyman (this is the part I'm not making up, by the way) with tools to fix all my problems, as long as I invited him in. Now, honestly. Why two blokes would travel all the way to Delhi to spread the word of Jesus the Plumber is well beyond me. They're headquartered in Bangalore, by the way, this particular group of Missionairies, so god bless all you IT types. Quite literally.

I'm still against any law that says I don't have the freedom to choose the faith I would like to practice, or change the one I do practice, but at the same time I would like laws governing how these people choose to go about it in much the same way as I'd like laws banning Credit Card Companies from harrassing you over the phone. It is an invasion of my privacy. If was unhappy with either my faith, or indeed my credit card provider I would actively seek a change. There's no dearth of either Credit Cards of religious institutions, so I'm sure I'd find my way around.