Dear PepsiCo India Boss, Please Read This.

To

The Boss
PepsiCo India
3B, DLF Corporate Park, S Block
Qutab Enclave, Phase-III
Gurgaon – 122002
Haryana, India

Dear PepsiCo India Boss,

For a moment, please stop dissecting the Coca-Cola sales data and read this letter, because, Pepsi’s latest Television Commercial (TVC) ‘Oh Yes Abhi’ in Kannada is screwed up, big time.

Yes, it’s awesome in its original self, in Hindi. The music is likeable, the narration and lyrics are good and the concept, though not new, is still nice. Priyanka, Ranbir and Dhoni are ideal brand endorsers and like me, I’m sure the TVC has impressed everyone at PepsiCo. Congrats. But whoever approved the Kannada version for telecast needs to be fired, Oh Yes Abhi!

Oh_Yes_Abhi

Image Source: PepsiCo India Facebook Page

The poorly translated narrative and lyrics in Kannada are hideous. Actually, they don’t make any sense. Every time I watch Oh Yes Abhi! TVC in Kannada, it makes me cringe. Equally, the shrill voice of lead vocalist feels like million bees stinging straight into my brain. And it hurts, terribly.

Priyanka_Oh_Yes_Abhi

(Image Source: PepsiCo India Facebook Page)

The Hindi TVC, like its global predecessor ‘Live for Now’, is entertaining. I’m sure the advertisement is NOT meant to sell Pepsi directly, but instead, expected to increase the brand recall value. Your expert distribution network tentacles have already infiltrated deep into the corners of Karnataka and I believe, by now, every Kannadiga and Kannadathi is aware of your premium brand. Besides, music is a global language and the TVC uses it skilfully. Even in Hindi, without understanding the language, everyone in Karnataka can easily associate the commercial with Pepsi. So, either you can telecast the original Hindi TVC on Kannada Channels or produce one for Karnataka, in Kannada. But please DO NOT dub or adopt. They are horrible.

With best regards,
A Pepsi drinking Kannadiga

CC:
The Ad Agency Responsible for the TVC: Congrats, it rocks! But you shouldn’t be paid for the Kannada version. Never.
Person Responsible for Kannada Translation: You need to look for an alternate career,Oh Yes Abhi!
Kannada Lead vocalist: Next time, please spare us.
Dhoni: You need to dance more. We love it!

Dhoni_Dancing

Oh Yes Abhi!    (Image Source: PepsiCo India Facebook Page)

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Mithun & Sharma at Coorg – The Elephant Hazard Episode!

Mithun and I had plans to spend a midweek holiday at Kanthur, a tiny village near Murnad. I started at 11AM from Bangalore and later in the day, he joined me at Mysore. I was riding a CBZ and Mithun was on his black Pulsar. The Sun was bright, the cool breeze was pleasant and the roads were empty. It was a fine day for biking. We both are passionate bikers and right away, we started to enjoy the drive. Mithun was leading and I was following his Pulsar. By early evening we entered Nagarahole National Park and soon, the disaster struck.

Much before Aane Chowkur, the elephant training camp, a Jeep was parked and nearby, its passengers were crowded in an animated huddle. It was a Kerala registered vehicle and the young travellers looked delighted. They had spotted something interesting in the jungle and everyone eagerly gazed deep into the forest. Naturally, this was exciting and we slowed our bikes. Like the Kerala group, even we wanted to witness the wildlife in its natural habitat.

I was close behind Mithun and as we slowed to a crawl before stopping, our eyes were fixed on the woods. We were not disappointed. Some 100 feet from the road in a clearing, we spotted a herd – 2 huge female elephants, a massive tusker and a young bull. Immediately, I also spotted thick chains lashed around the legs of 3 adult animals and only the young bull was free from the shackles. These were clearly domesticated elephants from the Aane Chowkur camp. Let free to feed in the nearby jungles, they were grazing the easily accessible roadside foliage. There was no need to stop our bikes for these domesticated creatures and I wanted to tell this to Mithun. Still fixing my gaze on the herd and without realizing that Mithun had already stopped his bike, I accelerated. Predictably, my CBZ’s front tyre hit his Pulsar’s exhaust and along with our bikes, we both were knocked down – I onto my right and he towards his left.

I had ignored the very basic rule of driving – never take your eyes off the road. It was my mistake and clearly, it was stupid.

Fortunately, it was a minor mishap, a slow speed collision. Yet, Mithun’s Pulsar lost half of its clutch lever and my CBZ’s rear brake pedal was bent. Physically, a slight bruise on my shoulder and a small scratch on his palm needed no attention. For a moment, everything appeared alright, but right away our trouble emerged in the form of an unchained bull. The commotion had startled the elephants and it had attracted their attention. Immediately, the young and the curious elephant did what every youthful adult does – it decided to check out the accident.

As the elephant walked towards our bikes, the Kerala youths clambered onto their vehicle and sped away. All this occurred in such a hurried flash that as the elephant was crossing the road towards us, we both were still trying to figure out what exactly had happened. It was a moment of obscure confusion. But the very next second, it turned out to be the clearest memory of our trip.

We both lifted our bikes and before we could climb on them, a trunk was trying to feel my cheeks. It was soft, it was pink and it was smelly. Slowly, it moved towards my head and then, it turned its attention on my rucksack.

Compared to three other elephants, this bull was small in size. But still it was at least 7 to 9 feet in height and in such close proximity, it looked gigantic. In a hasty confusion, somehow, I had parked my bike ahead of Mithun’s. We both were dazed with terror. I could clearly see the awful fright on Mithun’s face and I’m sure he saw the same dread on my face as well. Scared to our wits, we just stood there, clearly paralyzed with terror.

At any instant, it could go berserk. A quick swing of its trunk could instantly smash our skulls. Or, we might get trampled.  Even worse, the young tusks can easily gouge us. The possibilities of getting killed by an elephant seemed endless.

We both were cornered. We were threatened. And we were terrified.

Mithun and I never expected to face such frightening encounter. At least, not while riding bikes in Coorg. Unlike Bandipur, I had never heard of elephants killing inquisitive travellers in Kodagu. This was clearly a startling discovery.

Standing next to my bike, the young elephant was blocking the road. I could not climb on my bike and there was no way Mithun could ride his bike past the bull. Amidst such panic, I got an idea. If I could start the bike, the noise from the engine could scare the elephant away, giving us ample time to escape with our bikes. I tried the self-starter and to my dismay, the bike didn’t start. And unfortunately, so did Mithun’s.

As the elephant was sniffing my backpack, I realized that it was just probing us and not trying to hurt. It looked as if the curious bull was searching for some eatables in my rucksack. It was domesticated and clearly, it was used to people. More importantly, the other 3 elephants ignored us. They didn’t even bother to look at this wayward tyrant. This was a welcome revelation. This herd was harmless. These fresh thoughts gave me some strength and for the first and the last time in my life, so far, I spoke to an elephant. I told him that I had nothing to offer and my backpack only had few cloths. I promised him to get Bananas next time. I coaxed him. I pleaded him to leave. And with apprehension, I caressed his trunk. But he was persistent.

With no other alternative, I pulled my water bottle from the rucksack and threw it aside. To my relief, this caught his attention. The elephant went towards the bottle and at the exact second, I opened my bike’s choke and hit the electronic starter. To my delight, the engine came to life. I opened the throttle and let the engine roar and seconds later, Mithun followed it with his bike. This scared the bull and it ran towards the safety of its herd.

Now the tables were turned and it was his turn to experience the terror of the alien panic. I felt as if we had won a hard-fought battle.

With an ecstatic feeling of a triumphant psyche, we safely reached our destination. But that day we learnt our lesson the hard way and it was a lesson that will be remembered in our hearts forever – never underestimate the power of Mother Nature and never fool around with wild animals. Even if they are domesticated, they can still make you feel intimidated and obscure. It was our good fortune that the elephant didn’t harm us. It was our sheer luck that we came back in one-piece, literally.

Super!

Last Sunday, I happen to watch Super, a Kannada movie on MS Channel, a local channel available in parts of Yelahanka and neighbouring districts.

My immediate reaction – I felt guilty of not watching it in the theatre.

Yes, it’s an awesome movie and it deserves to earn a good deal of money. I’m sure it did ring the cash register for producer Rockline Venkatesh. After all, it was Upendra’s comeback-as-a-director-after-10-year movie and it didn’t disappoint. Not a bit. But more importantly, the large Silver screen and no ad breaks would have enhanced my cinematic experience immensely.

Rajani_Super

Upendra, Rajinikath and Rockline Venkatesh attend the special screening of Super

Apart from writing the story, screenplay and dialogue, Upendra has directed the movie and his ingenuity is apparent right at the title cards. This movie has no name, so to speak. Instead, it just has a symbol or a mudra

upendra-super

” Super “

that translates itself into the spoken word ‘Super’, or so I believe, like everyone else.

Immediately after the titles, a finger pointing towards audience while director credit is revealed, you are taken into the future – literally. I don’t know if any other movie starts with such eccentric and yet remarkable set of texts – ‘After 20 years’!

Super_Direction

Yes you!

Here in future, the year 2030, we are exposed to a new India – a country like never before, an India that you can never imagine to have shaped. This concept and vision of projecting India in a new eye was possible only by one man – Upendra, and remarkably, he does it with ease and conviction. I am sure you will love it. In fact, you don’t have any choice but to adore the grand view and incredible novelty of Super.

super-02

Who else can dare this in Kannada cinema industry?

Gradually, with deliberate awesomeness, the movie unfolds in flashbacks after flashbacks and in the process; you are treated with some of the most impressive pieces of celluloid drama in recent Kannada cinema history.

Nayanatara Super Kannada

Nayanatara at her traditional best

The story has no loose ends and the screenplay compliments the strongly backed script. The actors, both the lead pair and all the character artists have done an incredible job. Upendra is at his usual best. Apart from first 20 minutes, for rest of the movie, he is here, there and everywhere and he manages it with style. Nayanatara is charming. She has a well authored role and she shoulders the responsibility without much effort. For that alone, you need to applaud her. Easily, she matches Upendra’s self scripted near perfect role. Luckily Sadu Kokila has let go his habitual over-acting histrionics and instead he delivers a subdued comical relief with good results. The Telugu comedy actor Ali does a fair job and so is the veteran actor Sudarshan, as Upendra’s dad.

Sadu_Kokila_Super

Shocked!

The cinematography is impressive and every frame captures cameraman’s efforts and talent. Editing is flawless. The highlight of the movie is its music. The songs are excellent and the lyrics are noteworthy. Even the background score is extremely good. Harikrishna sure knows what kind of music is expected from an Upendra’s movie and he delivers it.

Overall, Super is a must watch movie. If you haven’t watched it yet, go buy a DVD. You will thank me later.

The Real Stars of ‘Bollywood Golden Era’!

Yesterday morning on Sony Max I saw Parveen Babi dancing to Raat Baaqi Baat Baaqi, a groovy tune composed by Bappi da for 1982 multi-star blockbuster Namak Halaal. Draped in silky black, she looked ravishing. Her every sway oozed hotness and each step, she seduced Shashi Kapoor like no one else ever did.

I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my day!

However, it’s not just Big B’s splendid comic antics, Shashi Kapoor’s playboy looks, Parveen Babi’s excessive oomph or Smitha Patil’s subtle sultriness that made Namak Halaal a super hit Bollywood flick. There was more to it than just the lead actors. Waheeda Rehman, Om Prakash, Ram Sethi, Kappu, Ranjeet and many other character artists played significant roles in the success of Namak Halaal. It was produced during the golden age of Indian cinema when the likes of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Manmohan Desai, Satyajit Ray, Basu Chatterjee, Shakti Samanta and Gulzar directed movies. It was a period when character artists played as key role as the hero. It was a period when sensible movies were made. And it was a period when such movies were watched and encouraged.

Here are my choice of favourite character artists from the grand era of Bollywood – early 1970s to late 1980s. It’s neither a numeral ranking, nor an alphabetical listing. Instead, it’s purely random. I know there were more fine actors in the same period, but these five are MY favourite.

Om Prakash

In a career spanning 50 years, Om Prakash was the King of Hindi cinema character roles. A dedicated theatre artist, he graduated to movies in 1946 and until his death in 1998, he was active in the industry. With his unique mannerism and trademark dialogue delivery, he became the most successful character artist in Indian film industry. Be it an affectionate father, a drunken husband or a law protecting Police Officer, he has acted in variety of character roles in more than 300 movies. Some of my favourite Om Prakash movies are Chupke Chupke, Padosan, Pyaar Kiye Jaa, Chameli Ki Shaadi and Namak Halaal.

David

He was soft, he was caring and he was a man with the golden heart – both on and off the screen. Therefore, he was everyone’s favourite uncle. David Abraham Cheulkar was a Mumbai born Jewish actor who started experimenting in theatres and gradually, shifted to movies. In 1954 his depiction of John Chacha – a bootlegger with an honest soul in Boot Polish turned him into a national icon and until his death in 1981, he remained an essential figure in Bollywood industry. He acted in more than 100 movies, he was awarded Padma Shri and won a Filmfare award. Some of my favourite David chacha’s movies include Baton Baton Mein, Khatta Meetha, Chupke Chupke and Khubsoorat. 

Utpal Dutt

Utpal Dutt

Utpal Dutt was a true genius. He is an ideal example of multi-talent – he was a playwright, producer, director and accomplished actor. He established contemporary theatre culture in Bengal and his plays were the epitome of Marxist beliefs and ideology. In Bengal movie industry, Utpal Dutt portrayed diverse characters, whereas in Bollywood, he was known for his comic roles. He was part of very few Hindi movies, but every role he enacted became famous among the audience.  Some of my favourite Hindi movies in which he acted include Gol Maal, Naram Garam, Guddi and Shaukeen. In Bengali, I loved his portrayal of Manomohan in Agantuk, Satyajit Ray’s last movie.

Dina Pathak

Like Utpal Dutt, Dina Pathak was a multi-talent icon  of Gujarati and Hindi theatre circuit. Between 1946 and 2002, she formed her own theatre group, performed as a lead actor in many plays and acted in more than 100 movies. Across her career, Dina Pathak acted in varied roles that required talent, fine understanding and absolute dedication to portray such characters. Be it a strict housewife in Khubsoorat, a helpful socialite in Gol Maal or a over protective mother in Chitchor, Dina Pathak always won our hearts. She is a recipient of famed Sangeet Natak Academy Award for enriching theatre culture in India. 

Mukri

Mukri was probably the shortest character artist I have seen on Bollywood screen. But his talent in performing any given role was much larger than most of his contemporary leading artists. He started acting in 1940s and was active till early 1990s, before old age and failing health forced him to retire. His small stature, trademark smirk and perfect comic timing won him many roles. In his 50 years of cinema experience, he acted in numerous movies. He was known to sketch variety of comedy roles to perfection.  I loved him in Bombay to Goa (South Indian traveller), Amar Akbar Antony (Taiyyab Ali), Padosan (Banarsi) and Sharabi (the legendary Nathulaal).

[Bonus]

Tina-Munim

This picture of Tina Munim has nothing to do with the current post. But, she joined Bollywood in the same golden era, she stole hearts and quietly, she married Anil Ambani and retired.

Satish & Sharma at Coorg – The 51 Hour Intense Rain Experience

Unlike previous trips, this one was different. It had all the similar characteristics of earlier Coorg escapades – absolutely unexpected, slightly unnerving and exceptionally blissful, but, with an added twist of adventure – the 51 hour furious marathon rain!

I had never experienced such intense rains in my life, not even in Coorg.

On a lazy Tuesday afternoon in June 2011, Satish called my mobile. He had spoken to Bennett Achaiah, our friend in Coorg, who had invited Satish to spend few days at his place. Satish asked if I was interested in the trip and gladly, I agreed. Bennet, his dad Roy and mom Tharu are excellent hosts. They grow coffee, cardamom and pepper at Parakatageri – a remote, serene and scenic little village in South Coorg. Satish and I were in high spirits. It’s not every day that you get to spend holidays in Coorg with such wonderful people amid picturesque landscapes. After a short discussion, we decided to start early next morning.

On a sweaty summer dawn, the notorious street dogs of Bangalore were in deep slumber, the paper boys were cycling with soft huffs and the infamous Call Centre cabs were busy racing imaginary traffic on empty roads. As we crossed Kengeri, Bangalore was still waking up to unravel yet another traffic clogged noisy day. We stopped at Kamat Upachar to savour steaming hot Idlys served with freshly grind Chatni and mildly spiced Sambar. Situated after Channapattana on Mysore highway, this drive-in vegetarian restaurant has huge parking space, maintains clean environs and serves delicious food.

By 11am near Hunsur the fiery summer Sun started to recede behind slightly overcast clouds. This was a welcome relief from blazing highway hues and it uplifted our mood. Crossing Hunsur, we bought mangoes from farmers who setup roadside stalls and trade seasonal fruits to travellers. On a dull backdrop of parched terrain, the vivid display of green, yellow and red shades of succulent fruits were alluring.

At Panchavalli the grey skies turned pitch-dark and suddenly, it started to drizzle. In this region close to Coorg, sporadic summer rains weren’t unusual. Here we stopped to buy few gulps of intoxicants, water and soda for the road. The man across the counter cheerfully volunteered to blend our swigs and in minutes, handed us carefully filled bottles.

Happily, we set out towards the distant hills.

Gradually, the drizzle  turned in to torrential rain and in astonishing swiftness, coldness replaced the summer heats. Satish was driving and as a rule, he abstained from tasting the golden liquid. But sitting next to him in the car, I shamelessly started to guzzle mouthfuls. In this hurried chilly weather, I desperately wanted the stimulant.

This was the beginning of an intense rain experience which, astonishingly, was to end in the same place, Panchavalli, during our return journey. And that was still 51 hours away.

Before long, we entered Coorg district and went past Aane Chowkur elephant camp and tribal settlement inside Nagarahole forest. Slowly the heavy downpour subsided into drizzle and continued to pelt against our windscreen. Coldness prevailed in the air and as we approached Thithimathi, it got worse. The winding roads tucked in-between thick foliage offered splendid views of rain soaked coffee estates. Even under the fading daylight, the tall Silver Oak trees with their distinctive ash shade limbs gleamed amid dark green layers of coffee plants. Gripping to lofty Silver Oaks, leafy pepper creepers soared high into the skies and water dripped from soggy moss clinging to giant trees. The empty roads offered pleasant drive and misty clouds surrounding the tranquil hilly terrain rejuvenated our travel weary mind. The atmosphere was soothing and mile-by-mile, the coldness was mounting.

Right in the middle of such magnificent settings, Satish stopped his car. The chill was unbearable and he wanted his share of stimulant. Gladly, I passed on the bottle!

We stocked more golden liquids at T.Settigere and by lunch, we reached Bennett’s house. All the while, rains never stopped. Every time we visit his place, it brings out the same surprise emotion in us – blissful astonishment. Nestled on the foothills of Brahmagiri mountain range, Roy’s estate is sheltered with unruffled tranquillity that’s hard to describe. Giant trees loom over neatly maintained estate floor, every coffee harvest produces rich beans and all along the valley, cardamom and pepper grow in abundance. Rich aroma of vanilla drifts in the air and slim areca nut trees sway in the wind. Scattered across the land, orange, mango, guava and sweet lemon trees produce array of fruits. The rich soils help pineapples grow in plenty, passion-fruit creepers rise over vast foliage and bright anthurium flowers adorn the backyard. A highly pungent Bird’s Eye Chili grows next to juicy citrus lemon tree and all along the porch lined with terracotta pots, bright flowers bloom in colourful vibrancy. A mountain stream provides continues water for domestic use and built over the hilly ridge, the house offers splendid views of a large paddy field.

The coffee estate sits on the fringes of the forest and in this secluded place, the mobile signals are scarce. On such a rainy day, the whole vicinity was hushed and nothing could be heard except the rhythmic patter of raindrops. By late afternoon the power was cut. By early evening, thanks to the downpour, even the landline was out-of-order. Suddenly, we were disconnected from the outer world. The experience was intense. Sitting on the porch with a mug of steaming hot coffee, we felt divine.

As the night followed, the rains increased and by 10pm, a Jeep approached the solitary house. In such stormy nights, a visitor meant a carrier of bad news. And indeed, it was. A distant relative had passed away in Bangalore and Roy and Tharu had to start early next morning to attend the last rites. Exchanging hurried good nights, we tucked into the comforts of warm sheets. Long into the night, we could hear the downpour and early next morning, we got up to the familiar sound.  Braving the same drizzle, Roy and Tharu had left for Bangalore at 3.30am and they were planning to come back the same day. It seemed difficult, but they managed.

Satish, Bennet and I had a long soggy day. Negotiating uprooted trees, fallen power lines and over flowing roads, we visited famed Mruthyunjaya temple in Badagarakeri, a distance of 20 kilometres. Accompanied by the deluge, we performed rituals that were supposed to grant us long life. Outside, a small crowd was trying hard to push out a Government bus that was stuck in the slush. Nearby, the temple kitchen was getting ready to serve customary lunch for the devotees. By 2pm we were back at home. With a bottle of stimulant, we sat on the porch to try and entice our rain soaked souls. In the paddy fields, few estate workers were fishing with bare hands and surprisingly, they were gathering a good catch. The overflowing streams had flooded the fields with plenty of fish.

Rest of the day was spent watching rain Gods fly across the valley in thick sheets of powerful watery gale. By nightfall, Roy and Tharu came back with their own experiences of uprooted trees, broken power lines and water clogged roads.

Next day, Satish and I left Parakatageri at 10am and around mid noon, the rains started to recede. As we reached Panchavalli, a long gust withered the last droplets, thus ending our 51 hour marathon rain experience.