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Archive for January, 2009

Newspapers in Decline

Posted by anandrr on January 30, 2009

The headlines blare: Newspapers are Dying! Being a voracious newspaper reader myself, this is a matter after my own heart. FT’s Lex tried to attack the problem. But he stops way short.

As Lex points out, the problem is simple: newspapers cost too much to produce, but print ad revenues are declining rapidly. Online ad revenues are growing but fall well short of the costs of running a newspaper. To wit, the New York Times costs $338M per quarter ex-printing and distribution, but online ad revenues clock in at a meager $74M. But Lex is blind to the solution. Presumably with good reason. Lex’s salary depends on his/her not seeing the truth in front of his/her eyes. The newspaper business model has been broken for a while now, and while the newspaper companies are trying to fix it by going online, very few of them seem to understand what that really entails. And so we are still where we have always been, online ad revenues can’t make up for the high cost of producing a quality newspaper.

First, let’s look at how well they’re doing the online bit. We’ll stay with the New York Times, they have an exceedingly good website (by newspaper standards) already.  Assume for the moment that you’re researching the 9/11 attacks. You search for 9/11 on Google, notice how not a single link on the first page points to the Times’s coverage of that seminal event. Indeed, not a single newspaper on that list of links. So if you were trying to research an event that happened in the New York Times’s own backyard, the New York Times doesn’t want you to know that they can help you. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the Times ran a series called Portraits of Grief, an incredible series that memorialized every victim of the 9/11 attacks. Only the Times had the resources to do something like this. And yet, search for 9/11 victims on Google…. And on and on it goes, you can search for anything New York related let alone US related and the biggest US newspaper is nowhere to be found. In short, the Times has a great website and certainly gets a large subscriber base that reads it everyday, but in so doing they have replicated the offline business model online.

Offline, newspaper publishers are only interested in today’s newspaper. Advertisers have already paid for yesterday’s newspaper and are unlikely to want to advertise in it again, but there are advertisers who wish to be in today’s newspaper, so let’s make sure we attract them. As a result newspapers spend a lot of money to ensure that they put out the best product for today’s news and ignore yesterday’s newspaper altogether. They charge $1 for today’s newspaper but $10 for archived newspapers precisely because they can’t monetize yesterday’s newspaper with advertisers.

But online, the game changes. All your webpages can be monetized with current advertisers. Newspapers therefore have to make sure that all their webpages are available and searchable by all consumers, news consumers, researchers, everybody. But that isn’t all. The New York Times doesn’t add much value by having its own Wall Street desk most of whose work is reporting on earnings and other announcements from different companies. Reuters already does a great job of that with people sitting in Bangalore. It’s not at all clear what value the Times desk adds over a wire service (even if they were sitting in New York not Bangalore). All in all, it’s not clear why the Times has to pay $338M in salaries mostly to reporters who don’t add value over a generic wire story. There are stories that only the Times could cover. New York based stories for instance, just as the Wall Street Journal is extremely good at covering business, and the San Jose Mercury at covering Silicon Valley, and The Hindu at covering south India. What newspapers need to figure out is what their core competency is, cover that by themselves, outsource the rest of the reporting and stop pretending like their Op-Ed pages matter (thought experiment: if the Times stopped publishing tomorrow, which of their columnists would you read if all they had was a blog each? My answer: Paul Krugman, and yet certainly the Times spends millions of dollars a year on its elite stable of columnists).

If they did all this, the Times would gain a lot of impressions because their website rocks and attracts a lot of visitors, they would lose a number of impressions because nobody thinks the Times is such a great newspaper any more, so lets say their quarterly revenue falls from $75M to $50M. At 25% margins that’s still a great business, it’s not a change-the-world business, but in a world where news and opinion are both commoditized, it’s the best you can do. Unfortunately the Times will never accept that, they have to be the “paper of record” (whatever that means) after all. And nor will the San Francisco Chronicle, and ultimately that is what is dooming the newspaper business. Not that the business is unhealthy but that every newspaper owner has an inflated sense of the worth of his or her business to the world.

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Posted in Advertising, Business, Capitalism, Economics, Globalisation, Internet, Media, Newspapers | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Book Review: Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra

Posted by anandrr on January 27, 2009

My relationship with Vikram Chandra goes way back. Back when he was a young novelist who had just completed his debut novel and I a callow youth, I read about Red Earth and Pouring Rain and knew that I had to read it. Unfortunately I was but a college student low on funds, so I had to wait around until I won a gift certificate to the local book store and then I pounced. My expectations were sky high, the reviews had been glowing, they were sent higher still by the fact that I was spending precious book store gift coupon currency for which I had had to win an inter-college quiz competition or some such and they were sent into the stratosphere by the fact that I count among my prized possessions a copy of the Panchatantra (translated by Ryder) gifted to my brother and I by our parents and that translation of the Panchatantra had taught me that the Amar Chitra Katha variant of the Panchatantra was a sham, a mere trifle, and the Panchatantra far from being a mere Indian version of Aesop’s fables were much much more, a massive work of art and literature. From those sky high expectations, there was only one direction: down. And Red Earth disappointed me. It had started off strong, I had loved the way it moved, but somewhere along the way he lost me and I lost him. And that was that as far as Chandra and I were concerned.

Until 2007, when he wrote Sacred Games. This time I had a secret weapon. Bookmarks magazine (Bookmarks review of Sacred Games) gets truck-loads of books every year and surely this had to be among them. It was, and I was saved. Risk-free Vikram Chandra enjoyment. I started in on it right away, but my return to India interrupted my reading. At 900 pages, a hardbound edition took up too much valuable space and weight to make the top list of things that returned with me. So it sat (marked at page 150 or so by a sad letter from State Farm telling me that it was my fault not their customer’s that my car had a dent (it was entirely his fault, you jerks, and you can’t even spell my name right, so what kind of investigation did you do anyway?)) in storage patiently awaiting its turn. Which turn came on my last trip stateside, so as soon as I was done with our new President, I was ready to continue where I left off.

Sacred Games appears to be a companion volume to Maximum City. But that is doing Maximum City too many favours, and Sacred Games a grave disservice. Games is the book that Maximum City should have been, indeed could have been, but thank God for Games, it does Bombay credit. Chandra is still playing with form, half the book moves forward in time, the other half is told in flashback by a man who kills himself in the first chapter, both stories moving forwards of course, but interwoven beautifully without making it seem like a gimmick, and there are insets: little bits of back story, seemingly without much relevance to the story, a little gimmicky but you sense Tarantino beaming in approval.

Ganesh Gaitonde is the mafia don found dead, of apparent suicide, early in the book by police inspector Sartaj Singh (whom Gaitonde has called to his hideout), this death precipitated by Singh’s decision to take Gaitonde’s nuclear-bunker-like building by force. The rest of the book chronicles the story of Gaitonde’s rise from a small-time assistant on a smuggling boat to the man who runs the G-company, Bombay’s biggest mob. This is the first thread, narrated by an omniscient Gaitonde in first person. The second thread is a police procedural as it follows Singh, an unambitious cop in Bombay, investigate Gaitonde’s death (and that of a woman found dead with him) and why he was in the bunker. The investigation is mostly above his pay-grade, there are forces operating here over which he has no control and sometimes even less understanding, but he is diligent and eventually ends up wanting to do the right thing.

Gaitonde appears truthful to a fault, a dead man has nothing to lose; Singh has his vices, he is not above an occasional bribe, and will happily beat up innocent people if it will further his investigation. But between the two of them, Chandra has written up a terrific piece, L.A. Confidential can suck it. It has the grandeur of an epic: the partition and the Indo-China war get a look-in as do the ’93 Bombay riots. It has the elements of a pot-boiler: plenty of sex via aspiring Bollywood starlets, plenty of blood, and sudden and incongruous twists that suddenly tie up loose ends. Religious tensions simmer, the ISI is of course involved, and a sadhu does the Indian rope trick. But like a well-made Bollywood thriller (ha!), when Bombay is your backdrop anything will work!

Every story about Bombay (shout out to Slumdog), has to revel in its extremes and Games gets it just right. But the other finely calibrated thing in Games is the language. When Rushdie writes, he captures a certain English that belongs to the English-speaking classes of India, a Hinglish that is not so much a mixture of Hindi and English as a direct translation from Hindi. When we speak informally among brothers and cousins we affect an English that traslates directly from our mother tongue and yields a language at once funny and inventive, the language comes alive as you listen to it. Chandra goes in a different direction, but it is just as effective. He is also translating, but not with a wink and a nudge, but quite truthfully. And the untranslateable words are, well, not translated. The result is that as you read, you can hear the characters say it in the original Bambaiya Hindi down to the mandatory curse word.

The book isn’t unputdownable: both its size and scope demand that you put it down every now and then and take a rest. From the way the flow sometimes ebbs, one senses that Chandra did the same as he wrote it. And it does have a fault: I was promised the end of the world in the last chapter, I did not get it, what’s worse some villains got their just desserts at the end but by handling that backstage, the climax left one feeling a little limp.

Posted in Book Review, English, Literature, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Flashback Friday: The Sun is Brahman

Posted by anandrr on January 23, 2009

Solar heating, then and now

Solar heating, then and now

One of my fondest memories is from a summer when I was but a stripling of  10 or 11. We lived in Ulsoor (spelled Halasuru these days, I’ve noticed), back then it felt like it was very far away from the city centre, how things change. The corporation would supply water at least once a day, perhaps a couple times a day, this continues to be a luxury in Bangalore. It is up to the people to figure out how to store the water for as long as they need it. I am not entirely sure how or why this is a good idea, if people are going to store all the water they will need and then some, surely it is more efficient to just keep the taps on, but I’m surely missing something. But to get back to my story, we lived in a house built before I was born so of course it lacked “modern” infrastructure like overhead tanks and pumps to fill them up. The result was that the time that the water flowed through the taps was precious and enough water had to be collected in sufficiently large containers and so on so as to last the entire day.

Now, the year I am referring to, perhaps this was one of those years that the monsoons had failed, for whatever reason the Bangalore corporation decided that summer that they would cut back on the frequency of water supply. My dad in his infinite wisdom obtained a couple large black drums that would be filled with water so it could be used later in a last-resort situation. These were sufficiently large drums that once they were filled at the tap in our “yard”, they were heavy enough that they would have to be left there and not moved anywhere. And so they would sit there in the Indian summer and bake all day. It must have helped that they were black, so any sun rays getting anywhere in their vicinity had no choice but to heat the water within the drums. It didn’t take my brother and me long to discover that a drum filled with cold water in the morning had very warm and toasty water in the evening. After a summer day filled with playing cricket or running around in the dusty streets, we could think only of taking the very warm water and enjoying lingering baths in them. The fact that the water appeared to have heated itself must have added a surreptitious dimension to the situation, here we were able to take a hot water bath in the summer with apparently no adult help required in turning on the water heater or anything, just transport the water into the house, and you were good to go. Bangalore’s weather demanded that you use the water as soon as possible, any delay beyond twilight meant that the water would cool quickly even in the summer, if I had known Newton’s Law of Cooling back then I might even have found a way to intellectualize the bathing experience. The bathing situation was of course curiously dichotomous: as kids we were excited by the prospect of “stealing” hot water from what had been mere cold water in the morning and the prospect of getting to use it all for a bath seemed curiously exciting, our parents were probably quite pleased they’d found a way for the kids to get the grime off their bodies so willingly in the evening. It didn’t make sense but there it was.

All of which came back to me as I stood under the shower spewing forth scalding hot water at me from our newly installed solar water heater. There turns out to be a certain joy in knowing that the only conventional energy involved in bringing you your hot water is the motor that pumped the water up to the tank. The utter simplicity of the system is beguiling, no conversion of light to electricity or turning turbines involved here, just the sun heating water in tubes and letting the laws of physics do the rest. Beautiful!

Having lived so long in a city and area where sunlight and natural light are at a premium, the first thing I noticed on my return to India was how much free A-grade sunlight we had pouring over us every day and how little energy the average Indian gets by way of electricity. Unlike the Bay Area sun, temperamental and unreliable, the Bangalore sun is always on yet temperate. (Cue joke about Superman going from the red sun of Bangalore to the yellow sun of the Bay Area). And yet, our ability to use sunlight and sun-heat to do any thing more than heat water in a manner that is economically viable is severely limited by the technologies available. It’s a little frustrating, but also somewhat hopeful, after all the day that we learn to tap the sun, that’s the day we truly attain energy-moksha.

Posted in Nostalgia, Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Shout Out to the Hindus

Posted by anandrr on January 21, 2009

Ned: Homer, God didn’t set your house on fire.
Rev. Lovejoy: No, but He was working in the hearts of your friends and neighbors when they came to your aid, be they [points to Ned] Christian, [points at Krusty] Jew, or [points at Apu] … miscellaneous.
Apu: Hindu! There are 700 million of us.
Rev. Lovejoy: Aw, that’s super.

Homer The Heretic from The Simpsons

For far too long, the Hindus have always been an afterthought in American religious discourse. Listen to any George W Bush speech and any reference to religion will be accompanied by references to Christians, Muslims and Jews. Although as Apu says, there are over 700 million of us! Not ignored any more! In today’s speech, Obama said, “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus – and non-believers,” thus making Hindus and Jews natural allies in a grand HinJew alliance.

Change has truly arrived!

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Book Review: Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama

Posted by anandrr on January 20, 2009

I am famously skeptical of The Messiah. But I can be cynical and skeptical all I want about Obama’s true colors, or whether he really represents a break from the past, but I have to give him this: he displays amazing temperament, and he can write and speak like a champion. And no matter what I think of him, it is still quite an accomplishment for a black man to become President of the US, even in 2008. Most of all, his is an intriguing tale, product of a Kenyan father and Kansan mother, growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia (away from his father at all times), a sudden turn from this apparently idyllic boyhood to an adulthood immersed in the south side of Chicago as a community organizer and finally this rapid rise through the ranks from mere state senator to President in the blink of an eye.

When I was done with Maximum City, I was looking for a quick read that would be an easy transit stop on my way to something more hefty, and decided I would honour our new found leader of the free world by reading one of his two tomes. I thought, and Jon at Bookmarks magazine agreed, that Dreams From My Father might be less I-am-running-for-president-so-listen-to-what-I-have-to-say than The Audacity of Hope, so Dreams it was.

Dreams is a good book. It came out of a book deal that Obama landed when he was appointed the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review thus turning him in to the subject of fawning news stories. The book spans Obama’s life from his childhood until the time he went to law school, but it is a story of a young Obama “finding himself.” That is of course an overused phrase, most people looking to find themselves are probably just looking for an opportunity to get high, but Obama truly does find himself, and in so doing understands race relations in the US from a unique perspective. Obama has much to find. The son of a white mother and growing up in an entirely white family in Hawaii, he is never seen as legitimately black while his skin color ensures that he will never be seen as anything else. His father appears to have abandoned his family soon after Obama’s birth leaving him father-less for most of his life.

Obama’s journey takes him to Indonesia, California, Wall Street and Chicago. It is in the south side that Obama finds himself for the first time. For the first time after all the way stations, he is in a place where his skin color is taken for granted and few people know of his exotic background so it allows him to be himself. When he gets to Chicago, it is a heady time. Harold Washington has just been elected mayor and black people feel like the outlook is finally beginning to change for them. (BTW, if you have not listened to This American Life on Washington’s election and tenure, it is well worth a listen. It is quite amazing how racist Chicago was, even as recently as the 80s. And if that was Chicago in the 80s, how about many other parts of the country today?) Of course, it is a chimera, nothing really changes. Being a community organizer brings Obama into people’s homes and families where he learns this first hand. And it’s only getting worse: single parent families were already the norm, racism already pervaded every aspect of black people’s existence, now drugs are beginning to invade the inner city, the kids are “changing,” and most of all jobs are still scarce. More troubling, everybody who is interested in helping them isn’t really interested in helping them but only in helping themselves. Politicians who will participate if it helps them rise higher, school officials if their families get jobs as a result and so on. (Of course, this is all wrapped now with a very post-modern bow. Obama himself could well have been in it for the law school essay/political gain. As Ryan Lizza meticulously laid out in the New Yorker, Obama has always been in the business of “using” people, experiences and contacts to rise rapidly in politics).

The other constant in the African-American experience would appear to be abandonment. Obama himself deals with it in his childhood. His fellow black people face it at every step of their lives. Abandoned by their fathers, by the state, by society, and finally left in perpetual hopelessness.

A couple years later, after Obama has been accepted at Harvard Law School, he visits Kenya for the first time. This is the second time he finds himself. For the first time he meets relatives who “look like him,” and he meets his father’s side of the family. This is an especially moving part of the book, as Obama learns about his family, the Kenyan way of life, and most importantly the sacrifices made by his father and grandfather that set the stage for his comfortable existence in the US. Obama goes from being not just a black man in a white country but also the son of an immigrant.

The book is useful in understanding Obama. He comes across as thoughtful, curious and empathetic. His desire for “change” is obvious from the start. And there are portents of the future. Obama is not a radical by any means, he seeks consensus and works from within the system to bring change. He is also opportunistic, when Washington comes to his neighbourhood to inaugurate a job center, this is not just the culmination of a successful initiative but a chance to get him to commit to something more. Of course, the writing is good. For a person whose daily job does not involve writing, Obama writes really well. In parts it feels a little stunted and trite, but on the whole, I wish more politicians wrote this well. Finally, he covers his “conversion” from what can best be described as don’t-care-ism to Wright-led belief in God. One understands why Obama gravitated to Wright (as apparently do many other black yuppies etc), but for a man of his foresight it is a little incredible that he stuck with it rather than move on to a less “controversial church” when he had decided to take his politics national.

To return to where I started, I picked the book hoping for it to be less politician-preparing-for-a-run-y. I’m not so sure now. There’s one tell: in the book Obama “recounts” many conversations (as best as you can recount conversations that happened over the last twenty-five or so years). People speaking to Obama sometimes curse, use the n-word and so on. Obama never does. I’m thinking he knew that the words he was writing might just come back to haunt him.

Posted in Book Review, English, Literature, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

L’affaire Satyam: Two Thoughts

Posted by anandrr on January 12, 2009

Just two quick thoughts about this whole Satyam business.

Not to condone what Mr Raju did, has confessed to doing or might confess to over the days to come, but I’m forced to ask: How much of the cavalier attitude towards the law that seems all pervasive in Indian businesses is fostered by the excessive regulation of business with a low price bar set for (apparent) compliance (i.e., just pay off the official in charge of ensuring compliance)? For a country that prides itself on the entrepreneurial spirit of its people, we make it exceedingly hard for entrepreneurs to start companies. To take a tiny example, just being a Director of private company requires registration with the Government, while I would argue that even for a public company the most that should be required is SEBI clearance. I’m not a Laffer curve enthusiast for the most part, but the situation in India seems very pre-Kennedy and it seems like a reduction in regulation would increase (real) compliance very greatly.

Second, we are now in an environment where a large number of software engineers are suddenly going to find themselves out of jobs with a full blown recession ensuring that they have nowhere to turn. Sounds like a great opportunity for the Central Government. The Government has many fine labs and research centres (DRDO, ISRO, HAL, NAL…) suffering from an acute shortage of good engineers because all the good ones go to the private sector for the money. If the labs have any sense, they’ll all go and set up shop in the Satyam’s parking lot and scoop up the best people from there and make some real lemonade from lemons. If I know my Government well, this opportunity too will pass like many others before and many more to come.

Posted in Business, Capitalism, Corruption, Economics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Calvin and Hobbes go to Norway

Posted by anandrr on January 10, 2009

Sitting in the airport, there’s a foreigner sitting across from me reading a comic book whose characters look like Calvin and Hobbes. The only difference is that it’s not titled Calvin and Hobbes, but Tommy og Tigern (or even possibly Tommy ög Tigern).  I’m assuming that it’s Calvin and Hobbes in Norwegian or something. But wait a minute, on the one hand, you have characters named for two influential philosophers who stood for sharply differing views of human nature, and this dichotomy expressed in the characters’ views towards life.  On the other, you have Tommy and the Tiger? Did the creativity well freeze over in Norway?

Posted in Literature, Philosophy | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Book Review: Maximum City by Suketu Mehta

Posted by anandrr on January 3, 2009

I first visited Bombay as a young teenager, and it was a case of love at first sight. There is an energy to Bombay that other Indian cities can only aspire to, indeed the only other city anywhere that seems to have a similar energy is New York. There were many other things that were unique and lovable about the city: it never seemed to sleep, people were going about their business and shops and restaurants seemed to stay open late late in to the night; the people I was visiting with lived in (compared to Bangalore) cramped flats but this seemed to foster a much greater sense of community among the families who lived there; the Bhel puri was a revelation; and I didn’t look at the generally run-down condition of the buildings and cringe, like an infatuated teenager I only thought it made it look more beautiful. When I visit Bombay today, almost all of that is still true, of course I continue to love the city, it is still one of a select few that I could imagine living in, the huge piles of garbage do make me cringe, but I’ve learned to ignore that in India, I continue to be amazed by the vast slums, and the most amazing thing about Bombay is that the taxi/auto drivers don’t seem to want to fleece me and people stand in line to get into a bus (but not to get into a local?). There are times of the year when I hate the weather there, but I’m beginning to learn that there are few places in India that a Bangalorean can go to and not complain about the weather.

This general love-affair with Bombay was why I was rather looking forward to reading Maximum City. I was eager to learn a lot more, I had only glimpsed Bombay in brief 1 and 2 day stints, what was I missing? And more importantly, make me love it more. The title aptly captures my concept of Bombay, it is truly a maximum city, not only is every thing bigger and better: they have the largest slums and Ambani’s $1B home, more people migrate there than anywhere else, every form of industry known to man seems to operate in some corner of Bombay, some of the richest Indians live there and certainly some of the poorest, they have more gangs per capita than anywhere else, and more ingredients in their melting pot than the rest of the country.

And so it was that the book itself fell short of my expectations. The biggest problem with the book was that it felt more like a buffet than a banquet. You get to pick and enjoy your dishes, but there is no unifying theme, you don’t come away with any greater appreciation for Bombay and what makes it tick than what you already imagined.

There are three distinct voices in the book: immigrant Mehta, literary journalist Mehta and ironic Mehta. Immigrant Mehta gets us kicked off with a personal note about his return to Bombay after an absence of some 20 years during which time he has lived around the world. This is of course an experience I appreciate myself, and his visceral notes about Bombay (generally true of any where in India, natch) ring very true. He neatly and concisely captures the culture shock of a returning Indian and continuing amazement that the “system” works nevertheless. Bombay (as the rest of India is also) emerges as the city of No, a city where change is the only constant where even the footpath today is not what it was last week, and will never be a usable footpath.

Literary Mehta disappoints. This section of the book comprises long (think New Yorker length and more) essays about different facets of the city: the 93 riots, the beer bar dancers, the gangs and so on. Mehta’s method here is to immerse himself in the lives that he wishes to document and then write about them in mini-novellas. But this leads to three problems: first, and somewhat trivial perhaps, his is not a writing style that lends itself to such long pieces. His writing style feels Economist, his writing length says New Yorker, this often left me tired as I reached the end of a marathon that I had expected to sprint through. Second, this method has an inbuilt shortcoming: there are only so many lives you can document, and you come away feeling that you have not had a complete picture, what about the lives of the local train engineer, the taxi driver, the stock broker, the high flying industrialist, the iron smelter in Dharavi, all of these people contribute to making Bombay maximum also, but they are conspicuous by their absence. Finally, by insinuating himself into their lives what starts as an apparently journalistic investigation of someone’s life and work quickly turns gushingly sympathetic, all Mumbai cops are corrupt and immoral except the one whom Mehta has chosen to portray, all Bombay beer bar dancers are really just looking to swindle their next “boyfriend” except the one Mehta befriends (and I’m so not buying the chastity of that relationship), and on and on.

Finally, we read Ironic Mehta. When he turns a detached (and somewhat snobbish perhaps) eye at Bollywood, his school, the Jains in search of salvation, Mehta turns the irony dial to 11 and doesn’t disappoint. He is unfailingly energetic throughout the book but now he channels it well showing us how few things in India are what they appear to be on the outside. This turns out to be especially true in that city of dhandha, and Mehta documents this exceedingly well. A different Bombay comes together at this point in his book, it might or might not be the real Bombay, but is certainly the most credible portrait, and it is as well that he leaves us with this picture, a little something to wash down the earlier silliness.

Posted in Book Review, Capitalism, Literature, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Quickie Film Review: Sarkar Raj

Posted by anandrr on January 1, 2009

We watched Sarkar Raj recently. We waited so long because we had watched Sarkar and had been rather unimpressed. We are not big fans of derivative movies. Except when we are, of course. But Sarkar Raj was good! We enjoyed it thoroughly.  Watching it, we were struck by two things: First, an open-collar-black-jacket, clean shaven Abhishek could stand in for Obama in the movie version of 2008. Second, as often as Abhishek utters the word “change” (except he calls it badlav) in Sarkar Raj, heck, he probably is Obama. I doubt that the word change has ever been uttered more pointlessly and vacuously anywhere else except in the Obama campaign?

Posted in Corruption, Films, Politics, Reviews, Showbiz | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »