The white stuff is whipped cream... had it after lunch and dinner on all days during my stay at Mahabaleshwar
Watched a movie on the first day of release after a long time. Couldn’t help myself but review it for the two people who visit this page.
First things first. It is Dhirubhai’s life story. A bit changed here and there but it involves a village born uneducated youth, his foreign trip, his polyester mills, opposition by a parsi business family to his business, a paralysis attack and his wife and two children behind him at the shareholder meets (a la warrior brothers in 80s). It also shows the corruption endorsed by the man to get his way around in the license raj. However, adequate sugar coating is applied in the end to appease all parties.
About the movie and direction – Movie is very gripping in parts but songs often obstruct the flow. On hearing the album, it seemed that the movie had just a handful of songs (the music company gave a free disc to make up for the lack of songs) but these were enough to ruin the movie. The songs are thrown in abruptly and irritate the viewers. Even the actors in these songs are listless and look like they were forced to perform. How many times have you seen an actress stand in front of a waterfall on the top of a big rock and dance? Even the masti of Bhapi da’s bhang number is lost on screen. More about this later. Except the placement of songs and missing a few details (rear defogger in a 80s car!!), Mani sir does fine. However at times it looks like that some parts of the movie have been chopped off to fit the movie in the three-hour show time.
Rajeev Menon disappoints. To me, he is the king cinematographer. He can make barren landscapes look beautiful. In this movie he had a lot of scope. He had Turkey, a beautiful village, Bombay in 80’s to show, but he disappoints. All he does is move the camera up and down. There is a scene where camera moves up in the frame and for a fraction of a second you can see the sun in the camera. The steam of the engine wets the lens once. The biggest letdown to me was the village temple. It was in a cave of a mountain with a lake on the side. A lot of shots were in front of the cave overlooking the lake but never once Menon could capture the beauty of both the cave and lake in one frame. Perhaps this was the place where he needed a higher angle!
The actors – Mani tries to capture the Roja magic with Aishwarya Rai. Same locale, similar character and with the similar song for the entry - the village lass singing at the village waterfall. She fails when compared to Madhu. Aish gives the feeling that she is being made to do this against her wishes. She tries to show emotions but nothing comes out. Although she improves as the movie goes on.
It could have been Abhishek Bachchan’s movie. He is there in every frame of the movie. In the first half he is fantastic. All the scenes come naturally to him. Just before the second half starts, it seems that the ghost of Vijay Dinanath Chouhan came and bit his brains off. From that point onwards, small B copies the big B shamelessly. The droopy lips are formed, the hand is rested on the side of the waist and every dialogue has a ‘haih’ in it. Not that he has done it badly. He has done a fine job copying his dad but misses out on the scope to do something original and perhaps something big.
He has gained a lot of weight to portray the middle age businessman and he makes sure that the viewers get to know that the weight has been gained and it is not the padding by going topless and showing off his paunch. So much for showoff. No subtleties involved.
Mithun da shines. He has a significant role and he portrays it magnificently. Shows us glimpses of the actor that he once was. He easily outshines all other actors in the film.
Vidya Balan has been wasted. She plays the insignificant character that has been created just to tie all the main characters together. She is adequate in whatever she has been made to do. Madhavan has a small role and most of his screen space is shared with Mithun. I was so overawed by Mithun that I hardly noticed Madhavan in those scenes. The rest of the support cast is good, especially Manoj Joshi as the faithful friend. He has been growing as an actor since Sarfarosh and hopefully will get more significant roles soon. Just a word about the child actor that plays Abhishek Bachchan. He looks nothing like what small B would have looked when he was a child and moreover that boy lacks the energy that Abhishek brings on the screen. A very very poor choice. Bring over Mayur’s son J.
The music is good. Rehman does the usual and impresses again. Maybe Gulzar can get a little less aka Galib and make the lyrics more coherent. For a moment I thought that PK Mishra is back.
Overall, a larger than life story, well told. Mani Ratnam is known for making good films and this one was meant to be a movie that inspires the viewers, and at some level, it does. Definitely a once watch. The movie would be known for Abhishek Bachchan’s missed opportunity and Mithun da’s comeback.
If you haven't seen this....
Just didn't want Indian MJ to be left alone, so here comes the Indian superman with... ahem.. spideygirl!!
Marnie Alexis Friedman
“Again? Howie, no, really, I don’t think that’s right.”
“Of course it is, Miranda. It was a unanimous decision.”
“Howie, it’s been me for four years running. Surely there’s one other person at the company who’s made some bit of difference.”
“Everyone else’s job is pure rote, nowadays. Sure, some of the members of the actuarial team are still calculating weighted-average rates for ‘just-in-case’ scenarios, but that work has been entirely theoretical, because your model is never wrong. Face it – your work is the most significant thing this company – this industry – has ever seen.”
“But I didn’t do anything this year. The first year, sure, I guess I deserved it; that’s when
I built the model. But since then, all I’ve done is tweak it a little, optimize things, automate a bit more. Nothing substantive.”
“Miranda, the decision is final. You are the 2021 Employee of the Year, whether you like it or not.”
* * *
“So…would you mind? He really wants to meet you – you’re like a rock star to him.
He’s the only kid I know who said he wanted to be an actuary from the time he was six years old.”
She choked back a snort, remembering how actuarial work had been her last choice, a field she’d chosen only when it became clear that her ailing parents would need more monetary support than the meager stipend offered to graduate students. “Of course. I’d be delighted. Let me know what’s a convenient day.”
“Umm…well, he’s…he’s actually here right now,” Drew stammered.
She paused. “Well then, come on over. I’ve got a meeting in an hour, but nothing pressing till then.”
“Great! Thanks! Really, thanks.”
A few minutes later, Drew and his son appeared in the doorway of her office. She rose to greet them. “Hi, come on in, I’m Miranda Stayton.”
“Miranda, this is my son Andrew.”
“Andy,” corrected the young man. He shook her hand. “It’s, like, really great to meet you.”
“Thanks,” she answered, sitting down and gesturing to him to do the same. “I understand you’re majoring in actuarial studies?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Which pretty much means I’m majoring in ‘Miranda Stayton’s Amazing Model.’ Of course, it’s all proprietary so we can’t analyze it at all, but mostly we talk about how it’s changed everything for actuaries.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “But you’re still covering the basics, right? Life Contingencies, Theory of Interest…”
“Oh, yeah, sure. But they told us we’ll only need it if we work for one of Duckrene Life’s competitors.” He laughed. “But your only competitors are the companies you don’t want to buy, right? So it’s, like, hardly worth learning.” He noticed her expression and anticipated the interruption she was about to make. “No, no, I’m totally learning it. Gotta pass the exams, right? But I mean, that’s all it’s for. I’m out in two years, and hopefully Duckrene’ll hire me straight outta school.”
She nodded, smiled briefly. “Good luck to you. You know we won’t hire actuarial students who haven’t demonstrated exam success. But we also won’t hire people without a firm understanding of the material on exams they’ve already passed. After all, we’re constantly refining the model. Can’t update mortality assumptions without understanding joint life probabilities, right?”
He grinned. “Alright, I’ll start paying better attention. But can I ask you one question?”
She restrained herself from pointing out that he already had. “Certainly.”
“I’ve been wondering about this a lot…Me and my friends have talked about it a little, but when we asked the professor he said he didn’t, like, waste time on impossible questions. But I was wondering…”
“Yes?” she prompted, knowing what would come next as he trailed off.
“Well…I was wondering, what happens if your model is ever wrong?”
“Andy!” Drew cut in angrily. “Her model is never wrong.” He glanced at Miranda apologetically. “Sorry…kids, you know?”
“But I’ve heard it was off by a few days a few different times!”
“It’s alright, Drew,” she said. “Three times. Three times, the model has been off by one day.”
“Isn’t that, like, bad?” He was clearly nervous, but his relief upon asking the question that had been plaguing him was evident.
She smiled, reassuring him. “Having the model off by one day throws off my actual-to expected ratios in the eighth or ninth decimal place. We only track six decimals. So no, I don’t think a few anomalous results are so bad. Mortality never used to be measured out to the day, anyway – that’s only been possible because the PIDs transmit a signal directly to our databases upon the death of their owners. You’ve heard of IBNR, claims ‘incurred but not reported,’ right?”
“But you’ve only heard that in the context of health claims. There are no more IBNR life insurance claims, because the Personal IDs report death as soon as it’s…‘incurred.’ But Andy, to answer your question – if the model ever turns out to be wrong, we’ll fix it. That’s all. That’s why it’s so important to remember all the material from the exams – the only way to fix the model is to understand where it went wrong, and you can’t do that without a firm background in all the material.”
Andy nodded, apparently placated. Miranda could see him formulating another question, the logical follow-up, but then he glanced at his father and apparently thought better of it. “Thanks,” was all he said. “I don’t want to bother you too much; it was really nice meeting you.”
“Nice meeting you, too,” she said, standing up and shaking his hand again. “Good luck with your studies. I’ll look for your name on the pass lists.”
“Thanks again, Miranda,” said Drew, propelling his son out of the office.
Miranda sat down again at her desk, thinking of the three heart-stopping moments Andy’s question had recalled to the forefront of her memory.
Betsy Coble, languishing in the cancer ward of a top-rated hospital, her 56-year-old body not quite as feeble as the model had projected it to be. Adrian White, lawyer by day, dare-devil motorcyclist by night, whose luck had held out longer than the model predicted. Nathan
Reynolds, a nondescript man in a nondescript job whose life was notable only in that its length defied the model.
Each of them had caused her stomach to churn and her palms to sweat, had forced her home early with an excruciating migraine. And each died by the end of the day following the model’s projected date of death. Betsy had faded away painlessly as she slept. Adrian’s notorious lack of attention to detail in his nightlife meant that it came as no surprise that his brakes, the pads nearly worn away, had failed at a critical moment.
And Nathan was found in his nondescript bed, suffocated, presumably by a nondescript burglar who’d taken a nondescript television.
Miranda could hear Andy’s unasked question: What happens if you can’t fix the model? She pushed the disquieting question and the unsettling memories from her mind, then busied herself preparing for her meeting.
* * *
“Thanks, Tim. Glad to see Marketing’s on track for the new product roll-out. Alright, so that leaves…Actuarial. Miranda?”
“Things are on track. We’ve validated all the assumptions for the new product, and we’ll review actual-to-expected beginning one month after launch.”
There was a slight snicker at the word “assumptions,” and a larger one when she finished speaking.
“Great. And what are the actual-to-expected for the First Pioneer UL? It’s been a year since that launched.”
“Actual-to-expected are one, across the board.”
A few eye-rolls, one appreciative long, low whistle. “Your model’s deadon even for mortality in the Moon colonies?”
“Of course, Chuck,” cut in Toni, a twenty-year company veteran. “The model is never wrong.”
“Yet,” corrected Miranda automatically. “But it could be, and that’s why we’re tracking actual experience.”
“Alright, thanks, Miranda.” Howie regained control of the meeting with the practiced aplomb of a COO. “Anything else?” His direct reports shook their heads, glancing around. “No? Alright, you’re dismissed.
Don’t forget about the Employee of the Year dinner on Thursday.”
* * *
Returning to her office, she began writing her speech for the dinner. She looked over her speeches from previous years, and began with the same platitudes: “I’m so honored, I’m overwhelmed that the model has proven to be so useful to our company, I’m grateful to the members of my department who have improved the model in ways I would never have thought of on my own.” She wondered, briefly, if it sounded stilted always to refer to it as “the model.” On rare occasions, she called it “our model,” but she never, never referred to it as “my model” in front of anyone in the insurance industry, or the media. She hardly used the phrase at all, in fact.
She outlined her speech, focusing, as she had the previous three years, on the value of teamwork and the importance of having a staff unafraid to criticize and correct. Writing somewhat by rote, she was jolted back to her senses when the computer gave a distinctive set of beeps. An alert message popped up on the screen, simply a number: “410136788.”
Toggling her screen over to the always-running terminal for the model, she entered the policy number, adjusting it with her own personal code of adding one to the first digit, two to the second, and so on.
Owner: Burlock, Taylor, Mr.
Address1: 117 Cardinal Circle
Address3: Liliorat, MA 02384
As she’d feared – well, known, based on the distinctive computer beeps – the policyholder’s projected date of death was yesterday, but he wasn’t actually dead yet.
A quick inquiry on the policy documents revealed that the not-yet-late Mr. Burlock was a senior executive at Pharm Phresh, a leading drug manufacturer. Miranda hurriedly Net searched the company, and found that it was in the midst of a battle royale with its leading competitor; each company had accused its rival of corporate espionage. Dirty, underhanded tactics had been used so much in the long-ongoing fight that the NewsNet hardly bothered reporting on it anymore.
* * *
She buzzed her assistant, complained of a migraine, grabbed her purse and briefcase, and left the office. Stepping into her transport, she tapped the “Home” icon and let the craft propel itself through the mild, prerush hour traffic. Minutes later, she walked into her bedroom, took her anti-migraine medication, and hoisted a different black leather briefcase over her shoulder. As she got back in her transport, she switched to “Manual Entry Mode” and typed in the address she’d memorized from the computer screen.
In half an hour, she was approaching the front door of Taylor Burlock’s split-level house. She rang the bell, and a balding man opened the door momentarily, peering at her suspiciously. “Mr. Burlock?” she asked unnecessarily, having verified that he was recently estranged from his wife and lived alone.
Even as he answered, she was opening the briefcase, closing her hand around the cold metal, pulling it out, aiming it directly between his eyes.
She whispered the words she’d only said aloud three times before.
“My model is never wrong.”
And squeezed the trigger.
I believe in god. I really do. I also used to think that god has a reason for everything. He makes no mistakes. I have changed my opinion. He makes big mistakes. Really big ones. How do you justify a 26 year old going to sleep next to his wife and not waking up in the morning? There is always somebody to blame. The errant truck driver or the irresponsible doctor. Who is to be blamed for this? Just god. Nobody else. He made a mistake and I’m not gonna forgive him soon.
Keshav and me go back a long way. We first met when I was in 7th standard. I was the one who joined school in the middle of year and he being the class topper. Our teacher introduced us. We were friends for the next 14 years. Sharing our lives. All the fun, happiness and sadness.
Everybody I talked to and told about this news, just one thing came to his or her mind. Friend. Keshav could go up to anybody and talk. Make conversations. I think this was the reason that made him popular. I introduced him to my college friends when he was in Delhi for a short time after his engineering. He was in touch with most of them till last week. Nobody called him a friend’s friend. He was a friend. A good friend.
Another thing that I would remember him by was that he never gave a hard thought before doing something. His heart ruled over his mind. Whenever he felt like doing something, he never discussed it with anybody, just went ahead and did it. I used to admire him for that.
Today, when this news is sinking in, I can’t imagine the pain that his wife would be going through. After all that they went through, it had been just 8 months since their marriage.
What his parents would be going through?
Nobody deserves this. This should not happen to anybody. I still blame god for all this. What is he trying to prove by showing me this?
The things that I learned from this would be – Give time to people you love. Tell them you love them. They might not be there tomorrow to hear this.
Don’t work too hard. You work just for the job satisfaction and to earn money. Don’t do it on the expense of your loved ones. Don’t take time out of their time to spend in office.
Think about the future but plan for tomorrow also.
Insure yourself. So that if you are gone people aren’t financially wrecked along with emotionally.
Live your life to fullest. Do whatever that comes to you mind as long as it does not harm others or yourself. This was exactly how Keshav lived his life.
I cannot think you're not alive somewhere.
I think of you just as I did before.
No sudden gust of wind has closed the door
Or made your presence vanish in thin air.
I write you this because I know you're there;
That even after death there must be more.
So does faith one's inner sun restore
After bitter darkness few can bear.
My mind and heart have not yet lost a friend
Even though my senses are bereft,
For you remain the witness of my soul.
No mere accident our love can end
So long as I have will and memory left,
And you lie silent on some unknown shoal.
You are Spider-Man
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