A Wednesday – Bollywood is growing

I have been watching movies since a long time now, but I must tell you that in the last month or so I have seen bollywood growing. The movies that have come in the past one month have been exceptional. It all started with Mumbai Meri Jaan and Phoonk, then last week it was Rock on and today “A Wednesday”. Newer stories are slowly finding their way into plexus of India. The best part about these films is that their powerful content did the talking. And mark my words, this has been the most powerful month to come out of Bollywood till date, leave aside 2008.

The latest trend has been of small budget movies with limited advertising and strong, and appealing, story line and direction. Acting has been superb and marvelous. When I say that bollywood is growing then I don’t mean that we are making profits, but somehow I feel that we are narrowing the gap that was there between hollywood and bollywood in terms of the stories that were directed. I guess gone are the days where people used to take inspiration from hollywood movies to make movies. I know we cannot eradicate this but at least we are making some efforts.

A Wednesday – few words to describe this is “Remarkable”, “Amazing” and “thought-provoking”. A 100 minute movie seems to be a perfect value for money. After seeing it, I wanted it to be of atleast 3 hours so that I can appreciate it more. Anupam Kher and Naseeruddin Shah have been impeccable and immaculate. Every performance in A Wednesday is charged. Go and watch Indian Cinema at its best.

Also, if you haven’t already watched changing face of bollywood, then I will strongly recommend you to watch all the three movies (Mumabi Meri Jaan, Rock on and A Wednesday) as soon as possible that too only in movie halls as some movies deserve to be seen on big screens. All these movies deserve 4 to 5 star ratings.

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MBA – Marketing!

What is marketing? What is it that a B-school will give me? What is it that I really want? These are the questions that should haunt a candidate who is really interested in marketing and want to join IIM-A (Everybody do want to join it irrespective of the fact that whether they make it or not). I somehow didn’t think of these questions when I was preparing for IIM A, but would like all others to give it a thought.

Is marketing only about advertising, making your product sell, like hot cakes, and creating brand? The answer is a big “NO”. Think about a product which is good as far as the company is concerned, but didn’t actually made an impact on Indian consumers and failed miserably. Marketing is about understanding the consumer base and their needs and wants. It is a job in which you don’t have to find right customers for your product but to find a right product for your customers. Take an example of Dell computers, it got successful because it gave an option to customize the features that you desire in your computer. There have been many Indian companies that came and went in a matter of months as they didn’t understand the consumer. So, the expertise lies not in identifying customers but to identify a product. This is one reason why many MNCs which have great products in US and other countries don’t come with same set of products in India.

B-school will teach you the theoretical concepts and will give some knowledge about the past disasters and historical stories, but where do you take it from there is in your hands. A good B-school, in top 15, might give you more opportunities than others to do the same. It is your thinking that can change you and do wonders for you. Do you think while roaming on streets, watching a movie or eating in a restaurant as to why the advertisements have been put there? What is good in that advertisement? Does it have the information you want? Is it placed at the right place? These are the questions that you should start thinking if you are interested in marketing and take my word for it; this inquisitiveness will take you places in this corporate world.

Answering to the last question that is “What is it that I really want?” is as tuff as climbing a mountain. You need to do your SWOT analysis and dive deep inside yourself to find the answer. Many people do MBA only for lucrative salaries and white collar jobs, but eventually they take longer to grow than a person who has a vision and determination. If you have to grow then you will have to find satisfaction in your job so that you perform well, if you want to find satisfaction then you have to like it, for liking it you will have to get interest in it, for getting interest, it has to align with your vision.

So, take out sometime of your busy schedule and give about a day or two just thinking about various things and then you will realize your real worth which will give you a clear cut direction that has to be followed. Thereafter, you will appreciate an MBA degree.

Discipline – Thanks to Gurgaon Toll bridge

Wondering as to why am I saying thanks to Gurgaon newly opened toll when in fact it is making holes in our pockets? Don’t worry; you will get to know the reason as you go on reading this post.

Noida expressway was a big success when it was launched a long time back. On similar lines government started Gurgaon expressway which, after a long delay, opened this year. Initially there was chaos near the toll as it was launched in a flash without giving any intimation to the regular commuters. The habit of not making lines and not doing the work systematically added to this pandemonium. The smart tag which was also introduced instantaneously wasn’t good enough. First, it didn’t give commuters any discount, second a tedious form was required to be filled with photocopies of the RC, which doesn’t make any sense, and lastly it was not available everywhere. Also, there was no demarcation for various lines on the toll bridge.

After a while, thankfully authorities understood their mistake and tried correcting them. They started with demarcating the lines using roadblocks for about 0.5 kilometer, which came as a relief as everybody was forced to make lines. Thereafter, eradicating the tedious paper work required to get the smart tag and making it more accessible and cheap (it now starts from Rs500) which lead to more people opting for smart tags and reducing the rush in other lanes.

Now after around 5 months, people have started recognizing true value of making lines and some sense of discipline. Now I see people making lines, extending to 0.5 to 1 kilometer, without any roadblocks in between. The major challenge was to get this done for cab drivers which I thing has been achieved by Gurgaon expressway. I know these steps were initially taken to reduce the chaos but in fact they have been like a boon to the society. Authorities still have to go a long way to get things in right places but at least the start has been good.

I hope whenever next expressway gets launched – don’t know when and where – people will stick to this discipline.

Lay Offs !!

Everyone in the corporate industry will be aware of this word called “Lay Off”. A decade ago, when parents used to say that government job promises security then children used to laugh, but now the same children, while working in some big corporates, know exactly what “security” means.

Layoff is the temporary suspension or permanent termination of employment of an employee or (more commonly) a group of employees for business reasons, such as the decision that certain positions are no longer necessary or a business slow-down or interruption in work.

Company love profits and not people, some companies say that people are DNA for them but in real terms they are nothing more than a resource which is dumped when not in use. There are hundreds and hundreds of example of people getting laid off when economy is not working properly or company itself does not fair well. In majority of the cases, this happens because of lack of vision, bad management and going a bit extra aggressive on growth in good times.

Some companies attribute their layoffs as performance measures while some come out with real reasons. I personally, if at all I had to choose, will go for a company which actually state the real reason and kicks me out rather than performance measures. After all, which company will want to take a person who has been kicked out because he / she didn’t perform well?

I am not in favor of companies taking this strict action but I guess if at any point in time I reach a stage where I will be managing a company, I myself might take this action if and only if there is no alternative.

Understanding Crime!!

We all know that Delhi is the rape capital, Mumbai is the crime capital and India is one country which has its own standing in terms of economy, crime and war. But, still we don’t know why the hell crime exists, rape happens and history is made.

One of my close friends rightly said that we punish the culprits but do we really understand as to what made him/her do the crime or rape. Rape not always happen because of lust and frustration but sometimes because the person doesn’t want any kind of retaliation from the victim which forces the person to do rape of children with an average age of 5-7 years. Crime (apart from rape) on the other hand has lot many reasons which range from illiteracy, dying need for money to killing a person for money (known as “supari”).

What we need to do as a society, and I guess ministers can play a helping hand in this, is to identity the root cause and deal with it in a way so that we sustain a healthy environment for the future. Identifying root cause is a major challenge but I believe we will get a breather once we go to jails and talk to people (so called criminals) over there and understand their plight. This will help us focus on the areas which should be dealt with first. The results will not come instantly but steadily and slowly.

I believe that as citizens of India, we should look around and identify the areas which need to be addressed. Talking doesn’t lead to results but action does. I myself has been a witness to it. Just to site an example, the place where I live has ample parking space but due to some unplanned work done by government agencies, 6 months back, now there are pits in that area which have drastically squeezed the parking space which lead to an argument between 2 gentlemen. In this case, the root cause of the argument is not the parking space but the pits which have not been closed for over six months. Now, I am trying to get them closed by pulling in some laborers and by doing it I might diminish the arguments.

I strongly believe that by doing small things we can and we should help not only our society but our country.

How IPL Works?

As the players from across the world are walking with the tags around their neck, the BCCI, the franchise owners and the other stake holders are busy making things commercially feasible and economically sustainable. The billion dollar question is – Will IPL work? if, yes then how?

Irrespective of whether it is a success or a failure, the mastermind of IPL, Mr. Lalit Modi has played his mind in such a way that it will keep the BCCI’s cash register ringing. It is set to pocket around $723.6 million through the auction of eight big Indian city teams to some of India’s biggest business houses like GMR, India Cement, Reliance etc. It has already sold television rights for $918 million to Sony and World Sports Group (WSG) for a period of 10 years. WSG has also been sold the marketing and promotional rights for another $108 million. Most of this ($1.06 billion) will be distributed amongst the franchise owners, but BCCI still will be making money. IPL has also raised $72 million from giving title sponsorship to DLF ($50 million) and title co-sponsorship to Hero Honda ($22 million).

Now let’s look at things from the franchise owners, Sony-WSG and players point of view.  Sony-WSG will be paying only $350 million in the first five years and rest (about $550 million) over the next five years; hence Sony-WSG will be paying IPL $70 million in the first year. Sony is banking on the TRP which it might get for the inaugural season. The tri-series in Australia – which was a great success because of both on field and off field news – saw ESPN-Star cash register ringing; they got whopping $62 million for 14 ODI matches, out of which 2 were rained out. Now balancing out the equation will mean that the number of advertising spots in an ODI match will be equal to that in around 3 Twenty-20 matches. If above numbers are to be believed then Sony will be making near about $60 million in the inaugural season. That would mean that only a drastic increase in the popularity of IPL will mean profits for Sony-WSG. Also, Sony has around 12744 ten second spots, for 59 matches that will be played, which it can sell for around $5000 to $7000 and can get around $60-65 million.

Coming to franchise owners, bids ranged from $117 million (Reliance – Mumbai Indians) to $67 million (Emerging India – Jiapur) for eight teams, totaling to 723.6 million for ten years.  This means the owners will be spending anywhere between $7 – $11.7 million per year in owning a team and another $7 – $10 million in maintaining staff, building team and other activities. This translates to a expense of $15-21 million in the first year for every franchise. IPL will be giving a share of 8% to each team (i.e. total of 64%) from the $918 million that it got from Sony-WSG, which translates to an earning of $7 million for each team. Also, another 8% will be distributed according to the rank a team gets when they finish the league. Each team will play at least seven matches at their home ground and the money coming out of the sale of tickets will go to the home team’s owner. Assuming attendance of 12.000 for each match (which is least) and Rs 500 as an average price, owner will get approximately $1.5 million from all seven matches. Another $2-3 million from the local team sponsorship deals. Another take away will the of 7% share that teams will get from the IPL sponsorship deals which currently stands at $ 72 million but can go much more. Also, each team will have to pay 20% of local revenues to BCCI. Taking in account all the above expenses and earnings, a franchise will earn about 12 million and let’s not forget the winning prize of $5 million. Hence, if franchises manage their teams and other details nicely, they will break even and make profits in the ten year period. Some of the franchises apart from the profits are more interested in creating a brand image for their companies such as UB group, Reliance, emerging India etc. This will also make launch of new products and services easier for them as IPL is a national phenomenon.

Players are the root of IPL and they are the ones who are actually bringing cash to BCCI. Each player has to sign a contract with BCCI. IPL has two type of contracts – under first, called the firm agreement, the player will get a fixed sum from BCCI and the difference between the bid amount and the fixed fee will be earned by BCCI, on the other hand the second, called the basic agreement, gives a player freedom to take home the amount he has been bid for. The average amount of money each player will take home is whopping Rs 80 lakhs.  IPL also makes it mandatory for franchise to spend at least $3.3million annually for player fees and give $100 as per day per player daily allowance. International players will be immediately released to attend their international matches if they clash with IPL whereas for domestic boards, which rely heavily on the players, will have to give way to IPL as players need to decide where they want to play, and a player who gets Rs 80 lakhs for 45 days will not leave IPL anyhow. Hence, it will be a loss to domestic boards but a great opportunity for youngsters who don’t get chance to perform in national and international leagues.

Some of the figures stated above are well researched and analyzed but there is no surety that it will happen. If everything falls into place, IPL will be remembered for its glamour, money, cricket and opportunities for young cricketers.

Euthanasia – makes death simpler

I am not here to debate as whether we shall practice euthanasia or not. I just wanted to express my views on it.

Everyone has to go through the God made life cycle in which the last stage, which is death, can come to you suddenly or in a prolonged manner in which you die every day for days, months or even years. Some people in their 80’s or so, unfortunately, get the latter one; my grandfather was one of them.

I still remember that he was the one who used to teach me, play with me, and give me gyan (knowledge) about the way life should be lived. He never would have done anything bad, or for that matter thought anything bad, for anyone. He was a person full of determination, passion and positivity. In his last days, he was as quite as a lake, waiting for his demise.

He was going through pain for last one year, he was bedridden and you cannot be sure at any point in time on seeing him that whether he is sleeping or awake. Finally, the day comes for which he was waiting, and he quietly falls into the hands of god. As soon as I heard the news, for once I was happier for him than sad. I would have liked this day to arrive months earlier, which would have been possible only by practicing euthanasia. If my person was in a coma, I would let him be kept alive, but if in a lot of pain I would want what is best for him.

After a long happy and fulfilling life, he will rest within the womb of the Goddess, either to reincarnate or to remain in perfect peace. May the Goddess and the God always protect him.