Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kitnay Questions Thay?

Come to think it, writing a book on Bollywood was a LOT of fun. For nearly a year now, I have been happily thinking of entries for my 50 lists, checking clips on YouTube, scouring IMDb for additional info, writing them down and re-writing them to squeeze in more jokes! It was great fun… till I hit the proof-reading stage.
Proofs are supposed to be filled with misaligned paragraphs, extra line breaks, colons instead of semi-colons and inconsistent spelling of proper nouns. Now, add all of that to a book loaded with film names, song lyrics and dialogues to get a 70-mm, Dolby stereophonic, Love Story 2050-sized disaster. 
On top of that, add an author who has no knowledge of Hindi and you are left with a book-full of decisions on whether it should be ‘hain’ or ‘hai’.

Anyway, I have finally managed to (hopefully) eradicate all such mistakes and sent the manuscript back to my publishers – leaving behind about 50 lines from the book, which have hain/hai in them. To make the best out of a tiring situation, I thought I will transform these lines into a Bollywood Dialogue Quiz!

12 fill-in-the-blank type questions on some famous and some not-so-famous lines from Bollywood!

1.      Fill in the blanks: Iss story mein ­­_____ hai, _____ hai, _____ hai. (You have to give it in the correct order.)

2.      A landmark (* T&C apply) line from a Subhash Ghai film. Again, fill in the blanks: ____ khilakey pass pass aane ki koshish kar rahi hai.

3.      Somebody said this about Aamir Khan. Woh achha chhokra hai but he is not _____. What isn’t he?

4.      Which film had these lines: Aaja Honey / Mausam hai funny / Charo taraf sannata / Koi na marega mainu chnaata. Bonus point: Who said it?

5.      The answer is: Ek aisi machine jo har sawaal ka theek jawaab deti hai. What is the question? And who asked it?

6.      Sitter. Fill in the blanks with two words: Aaj zindagi mein pehli baar _____ ki sher se takkar hui hai.

7.      Name the character to whom this is addressed: Ishwar ka ashirwaad hota hai ek chutki sindoor. Suhagan ka sar ka taaj hota hai ek chutki sindoor...

8.      Fill in the blank: Naam hai mera ____, baby humein tum nahin jaanta. Bonus Point: Name the two institutions which collaborated on this song.  

9.      Bachpan se hai sar pe Allah ka haath, aur ______ hai apne saath. – Whose saath?

10.  Daaru ki botal mein kahen pani bharta hai / Phir na kehna _____ daaru peeke danga karta hai. Who creates a ruckus after drinking?

11.  Harpreet Singh Bedi said, “Mere ____ kum hain, ____ nahin...” Complete his confident statement.

12.  And finally, a lesser known line from an all-time classic: Aurat apna farz nibha chuki. Ab _____. What?

You know where to find the answers… except that it is not coming out till June!

UPDATED TO ADD: Just to clarify, you will not have to wait for the book (ahem) for the answers to this quiz. I will publish the answers by Sunday evening IST.

1.   Iss story mein ­­emotion hai, drama hai, tragedy hai. – Veeru (Dharmendra), Sholay.
One point for the words. One point for the order.  
2.   Pass Pass khilakey pass pass aane ki koshish kar rahi hai. – Isha Puri (Kareena Kapoor), Yaadein.
The Movie with the Worst Product Placements Ever. When they were not plugging Coke, they were plugging Pass Pass Mouth Freshener.  
3.   Woh achha chhokra hai but he is not an Iyer. – Mr Iyer, Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke.
Vaijayanthi’s father was very impressed by his daughter’s suitor but felt that he had one major flaw!
4.   Sardar Makkhan Singh (Rajendranath) said these lines in An Evening in Paris.
One point for the film. One point for the speaker/actor.
5.   Yeh computer-computer kya laga rakkha hain? – RK Gupta (Sanjeev Kumar), Trishul.
This is probably the first time a computer was mentioned in a Hindi film. I have given points to all who have identified the film/situation correctly.  
6.   Aaj zindagi mein pehli baar Sher Khan ki sher se takkar hui hai. – Sher Khan (Pran), Zanjeer.  
7.   Ramesh Babu is the person to whom these lines were addressed. “Ek chutki sindoor ka keemat tum kya jaano, Ramesh Babu…”
8.   Naam hai mera Fonseca, baby humein tum nahin jaanta.Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar
Queen’s College and Rajput College performed this number at the Inter-college Music Competition  of Dehradun.
One point for the names. One point for the names of the colleges.  
9.   Bachpan se hai sar pe Allah ka haath, aur Allah Rakha hai apne saath. – Iqbal (Amitabh Bachchan), Coolie.
10. Daaru ki botal mein kahen pani bharta hai / Phir na kehna Michael daaru peeke danga karta hai. – Michael (Pran), Majboor.  
11. Mere marks kum hain, dimaag nahin. – Harpreet Singh Bedi (Ranbir Kapoor), Rocket Singh: Salesman Of The Year.
12. Aurat apna farz nibha chuki. Ab maa apne bete ka intezaar karne jaa rahi hai. – Sumitra Devi (Nirupa Roy), Deewaar.

POINTS (out of 15) 
Excuse errors since it is done very sleepily, at the fag end of the KKR match!
Khalil Sawant – 4.5
Keeping it Simple – 9
Amit – 10
Anonymous – 1
Plaban Mohanty – 5.5
Kittam Kittu – 8
Sumit – 6
Rahul – 4.5 5.5
Abhishek Mukherjee – 9
Anon (2) – 1.5 and to answer your query, we will have a Kindle edition.
The Quark – 8 (though I would like to see the version of Sholay in which Veeru says 'kahaani’ and not ‘story’!) 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chapter 1

This is the first chapter of an intended novel I started to write in mid-2007. It went nowhere, probably because I did not have a plot. Okay, I had a plot which did not have an ending. Writing chapter after chapter of banter inspired by F.R.I.E.N.D.S. was not going to become a book anyway. 
A recent conversation on Facebook with a friend on why-I-cannot-write-a-novel reminded me of this. 

* * * * * 
“Why would Abhishek Saxena invite me for his birthday?” Gaurav Lahiri asked his roommate as he plonked down on the sofa opposite him at the Carter Road Barista.
“Do you think all these hot babes stay in Bandra?” asked Atul Dandekar – his roommate – in return.
There was a brief pause.
“Yaar, what did I say? And what the fuck did you say?”
“Fuckface, I just hate it when you just intrude on my thoughts. Actually, you just pulled the chain on my train of thoughts.” Atul chuckled happily at his disgusting joke.
As Gaurav brought his cold coffee to the table, Atul asked, “Didn’t Zen’s wife work in your office?”
Zen was the b-school nickname of Abhishek Saxena, for his Zen-ish tranquility in the face of tough exams.
“Yes, yaar. But I avoid her like the bubonic plague.”
“Yaar Gorilla, why do you Bongs use big words for no reason? Have you ever seen a bubonic plague?”
Gorilla, BTW, was the nickname given to Gaurav Lahiri in b-school, derived by abbreviating his name and surname. 
“Bloody hell, everybody knows about the bubonic plague. You get it when a rat bites you.”
“Haan. Then half of India would have got the bubonic plague. Why do you avoid her, but?”
“Because she is a pain in the ass, yaar. She is the not-tonight-darling-my-pubic-hair-will-get-messed-up kind of girl.”
Atul gaped for a second while he assimilated this description.
“Yes, I think I know the types. So, he called you and invited?”
“No, yaar. Sweety invited me. She said…”
“Ab yeh Sweety kaun hain?”
“Sweety is Zen’s wife, yaar. Who else? And why do people not have a more formal name than Sweety?”
“Because only you Bongs have all the time in the world to keep five names for everybody. One for school. One for work. One for the mother’s side of the family. One for the father’s side. All the world has one name only. Oh fuck – isn’t that Deepika Padukone?”
“No, it isn’t”, said Gaurav without even turning around. “Deepika Padukone is shooting for ad films in Phuket. She is not going around Baristas giving darshan to horny Ghatis like you.”
“Eh bhai. Just because Zen’s wife annoys you doesn’t mean you will abuse me… so, she invited you? Why?”
“Because she doesn’t know any of his batchmates. And I am the nearest bakra. And I have a lusty voice to shout SURPRISE. And I am tall enough to switch on the mains when Zen enters the flat in darkness.”
“God, she told you all that?”
“No, idiot. Only the switching on the mains part. I was like totally flummoxed, yaar. She is planning an elaborate surprise party with like Zen entering flat in complete darkness. All guests hiding under the sofa types. Suddenly lights come on and Haaapppy Birthday to youuuu.”
“She so looks like Deepika that it’s not funny.”
“Deepika? She is your chaddi buddy or what?”
“No yaar. But I can pretend, no? Better than having Sweety Saxena as your bosom pal! So practice switching the mains on and off so that you can do it with a flourish! Aisa na ho ki everybody jumps with a scream and it is still darkness because you slipped…”
“Yaar, your juvenile jokes are killing me.”
“Haan haan, if my jokes are juvenile, then your jokes are puerile.” Atul declared almost with a regal air.
“What is the meaning of puerile?”
“How do I know? The guy next to me on the local was reading a GRE prep book. I saw this one – and I knew it was a bad thing – because all the answer choices were like that. And I also learnt phantasmagoria. Though I have no clue about the meaning, I think I will still use it sometime.”
“Look I know for some seven years now, I don’t think you can use phantasmagoria in a sentence without people around you collapsing!”
“Chal chal. Bloody intellectual Bungali. Go and buy party hats for your best friend.”
“Somehow, she felt from the way Zen speaks about me that he is very fond of me.”
“What are you saying? Zen is fond of people other than himself?”
“He apparently said that if I had studied a little bit more, I could have topped the batch.”
“Boss, if all of us had studied more, all of us could have topped the batch. So, what’s the fun? At the end of the day, only Zen topped and now he has a babe wife and we are still bachelors.”
“You think we are bachelors because we flunked OB 3?”
“Not exactly but you know what I mean.”
“BTW, how do you know she is a babe?”
“Easy. Why else would you give a sex metaphor to describe her touch-me-not attitude?”
Gaurav smiled at the guy, who probably knew him better than his own parents.
“Shall we make a move? What has she cooked for dinner?”
Atul stood up, stretched his arms and arched his back enough for his shirt to come untucked. “How do I know?”, he yawned. 
“Achha – what can I give Zen for his birthday?”
“Buy him a tie. Ideal for consultants. In fact, we can go to Shoppers Stop. While you are finding the cheapest and most disgusting tie, I will try out a few perfumes from that Dishika babe.”
“What kind of despo would remember names of salesgirls?”
“I am not despo. You are a fucking frustu. She wrote her number behind that flyer and gave me. That’s why I remember.”
“Yeah right. You badgered her…” Gaurav stopped mid-sentence when he realized that they were both standing and the uncle on the next table was listening quite intently to their conversation.“Let’s make a move”, he said and moved towards the exit.
“Bloody hell. She IS Deepika Padukone. People are taking autographs.”
Now, Gaurav turned around and looked at the leggy lady who was now the center of attention at the coffee shop. One look at the high cheekbones and that hint of a dimple – and he knew he had to catch Om Shanti Om first day. 
“Hey. That Stephen Covey book you got at the sales conference…”
“No, I haven’t written my name on it. You want to give that book to Zen?”
“Yeah.” Gaurav smiled. “It’s so easy to live with you, Dandy. Will you marry me?”
“Chutiya, you had to ask me that question while I am looking at the most beautiful woman in India?”
They walked towards Gaurav’s car parked across the road. 

* * * * * 
Okay, so don't tell me whether you liked it or not. There's nothing to go by. 
Tell me what you think the plot was going to be. What was I thinking? Where were the characters named in this chapter headed? 
Better still, why don't you write the second chapter? Not much, just 1000 words to take the story a little forward. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yudh ka ek hi niyam... Vijay!

It has been a very long time since I wrote a post on sales. But then, it has been an even longer time since I did sales. I sit in an air-conditioned office and watch adrenaline flow around me, occasionally pooling near my ankles and getting me to design some pitches for braver people to deliver.
I discovered some old files in an old laptop and thought I'd put them up... so that those emotions don't get lost and I can come back to them once in a while.

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting some of my thoughts from the time I was a trainee and an ASM...

If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgaum...
It all started with the the Management Trainee stint - a cross-city, cross-state hike across some state of India. And one followed the never-ending routine of Catch Bus at 10-Sleep (or try to) on Bus-Reach Town-Freshen Up at Hotel-Meet distributor-Do Secondary-Destroy Damaged Stocks-Collect Draft-Eat Dosa for Dinner-Catch Bus at 10... ad nauseum!
It was almost out of a George Orwell novel that ALL the towns had one Shanthi International Lodge (where Channel 1 on the TV invariably was FTV!) and one Hotel Krishna (all of whom invariably charged extra for the second bowl of sambhar!). All this made the task of town-distinction all the more difficult...
And the object of this hike was to get sales orders from distributors. 
Simple, no? 
But just to make it interesting, the distributors did not speak any of the languages that you did! I always knew all those prizes at Dumb Charades would be of some use at some point of time! But who would have thought one would have to act out thus... Tamil, Eight Words, “Two Lakhs Demand Draft Consumer Offer On Soap”. 

What Bengal Thinks Today... Bihar has already invoiced!
I spent the first two years of my sales career in the two adjacent states of East and it was quite... umm... well... err... unadjectivable.
What can you say about guys who demanded to buy a truckload of stock at the highly discounted staff sales rate? And then wanted to know if Staff Sales operated on credit!
What can you say about guys who ranked RSMs solely on the basis of their entertainment potential? And their favourite was a RSM who scared CFA staff with rubber snakes at the month-closing!
These two teams cribbed a lot, haggled even better – and finally made the numbers... at least, most of it!
And when I am asked to name the better team, I quote a team member, who put it very aptly, “Boss, Bengal mein team ASM ke liye jaan de sakte hain. Aur Bihar mein team ASM ke liye jaan le sakte hain...
Though I am still trying to figure out which is better! 

And why do you think the chicken crossed the road?
From the points of view of the different departments in a MNC, this age-old question got completely divergent answers. From my (then) position as a lowly ASM, all of them sounded very logical and very unfair. Now with my substantial experience and perspective, I find them to be... very illogical but completely fair.     

Marketing (Bullet points from Presentation at Launch Conference):
·         Estimated market size of chicken crossing: Rs 2300 crores
·         980% increase in advertising spend
·         4% discount on all crossings this month
·         We Aim to be Number 1 in this category by Day after Tomorrow

Sales Training: In order to formalise a process for chicken crossing, which can be followed nationally, we have prepared a 61-slide presentation to be cascaded down to all Pareto chickens. This needs to be rolled down with immediate effect and a member from Category Support/Sales Training will be present at the programme. 

Distributor (To Sales Supervisor): Sir, 3000 peti chicken thel diye they launch ke liye. Ab uske upar cheque bhi laga diye hain… kuchh chicken wapas na cross kiya to kaise chalega? 

Sales Representative (To ASM): Boss, competition chicken pe bhayankar scheme chala raha hain… 200 peti chicken bechne par Bangkok trip pe bhej raje hain! Hamara chicken kaise bikega? Aap bhi kuchh fund nikaliye… phir dekhiye usse teen guna chicken agar thok nahin diya to mera naam bhi…

Metro-ASM (Silent Prayer): Oh God – finally a chicken of the ’05 batch has crossed! Hopefully, NOW they will send me to Marketing!

Upcountry RSM (Silent Anguish): Shit – 17.5 weeks stock of chicken! 

Sales Commercial (Memo to all ASMs): Since the chicken has crossed the road for the third time this year, as per Benckiser policy, we are putting the chicken on draft. In order to reduce debts >60 days, we are reducing the credit days of all the uncrossed chickens to 21. Your cooperation is solicited.

Logistics (Memo to the CFA): We have received an update from the sales teams that chickens are being crossed. Please note that if all the chickens don’t cross by the deadline of 5 p.m. on the fourth Saturday, we will have no option but to reverse all uncrossed chickens. 

HR (Memo to the chicken): In view of the Non-Compete Clause that you had accepted as part of your employment contract, it is our duty to remind you that you may start crossing but you may not reach the other side of the road within 18 months of the date of termination of your employment.

Category Support Team (Memo to IN-HQ-Sales): To monitor the rapid changes in the market place, one needs to keep track of indicators like chickens crossing the road. In the attached format, please fill (on a weekly basis) the beat-wise details of the chicken-crossings and send it to the Regional Office. The ZSM/RM can collate the data CFA-wise and send it to Corporate Office no later than the afternoon hours of every Tuesday.

Global HO: In accordance with the Global Integration Policy, we have decided to align the branding across all markets and call the chicken Air-chick from now on. All marketing & field communications, product graphics and advertising should incorporate this change with immediate effect. 

BTW, the title of the post comes from Shah Rukh Khan's then magnum opus - Asoka. A perceptive colleague once told me that every month-closing in sales is like the Kalinga War. There is bloodshed and gore when it is on. Repentance and mourning once it is over. 

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Yunus Parvez: A Retrospective

Lazing around at home, one thinks of those unsung heroes who have contributed to the richness of Indian popular culture and the lack of recognition they endure.
One of Hindi cinema's most durable character artistes - Yunus Parvez - died in Feb 2007. Since Twitter hadn't become a rage then, he did not get any RIP hashtags and passed on with a cursory mention on Zee News probably. I did not even realise that he had passed away till I searched today and was mighty impressed by the fact that he has acted in 277 films in between 1963 and 2005. That's a longer time in the industry than Amitabh Bachchan.

As a tribute to this unsung hero (and many like him, whom I had written about earlier), I thought I will list out ten of his roles I remember (and since I am completely jobless AND mindblowingly benevolent, I have dug out most of the screenshots as well)!  

This was probably the first role where he got noticed, even though I have no recollection of him speaking any lines but as the screenshot shows, he shared space with two of Bollywood's most illustrious police officers.

As Bhandari, he had a properly formed role (complete with a backstory). He was the slimy office minion with a mistress - leading him to divulge tender amounts of RK Constructions to Shanti Builders.
He was also there in a similar role in Kaala Patthar, as a 'Head Engineer' of the mines.

He was the crooked hotel owner - a cameo to announce the entries of Amitabh Bachchan and Shashi Kapoor. He got conned by a trick played by the duo, thus proving the adage 'you can't cheat an honest man'.


I was reminded of this role by a commenter (The Quark) in the earlier post on Tej Sapru as a gem-cutter with a perfect command over the delicate nuances of Urdu.

Mr India
As Maniklal, he was the landlord of the sea-facing mansion Arun Verma and his orphanage occupied. He tried to evict them when Mogambo wanted the mansion but his pan-chewing threats came to a naught when an invisible man and a crime reporter came to the party!

He was the director of the film within the film. His film has an established heroine (Sonam) and a debutant villager (Naseeruddin Shah) singing the biggest hit of the year. Oye oye!


He was the editor of a newspaper that employed Raveen Tandon who ran a campaign on the front pages to release a unfairly convicted do-gooder. Initially, he seemed livid at this campaign and deliriously happy the very next moment when a phone call informed him that the sales of the newspaper have gone up because of it!

COMMERCIAL BREAK: For a longer listing of newspapers and films within films, do buy Kitnay Aadmi Thay? Completey Useless Bollywood Trivia, soon to be released by Westland Books. 

He was Anees sahab, editor of the publishing house that brought out young poet Saagar's nazm. He praised the young poet generously, forwarded him fan mail and donated the royalty money to an orphanage. And he had a turn of the phrase - "Shairi ki kasam..."

As Bade Babu of Urmila Corporation, he was a poet of sorts too. He came up with the anthem of procrastinators - "Aaj kare so kal kar, kal kare so parson / Itni jaldi kya hain bhaiya jab jeena hain barson?" He maintained files of experienced people to recruit from and disgusted the receptionist by his habit of pulling out his nose hair.

As Rahim Chacha, he had a momentous role. He explained to Vijay why billa number 786 was something he should never let go. And one of the most explosive dialogues in the film was addressed to him - "Rahim Chacha - jo pachchees baras mein nahin hua, woh ab hoga. Agle hafte ek aur coolie mawaalion ko paise dene se inqaar karne wala hain".

So, did I miss out anything significant?