Tilak Rishi's weblog

Musings on writing, expression, world politics, journalism, movies, philosophy, life, humour...

My Photo

Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Birthday Tribute To Rajiv Gandhi

Dear Amitji,

August 20, on late  Rajiv Gandhi’s birthday, may I use this pious platform to pay  tribute to his memory, to the extent I remember him as my most respected Prime Minister of the country:

If credit for modernising the country by creating institutions of scientific advancement goes to his grandfather Pandit Nehru, if winning crucial war against Pakistan in 1971 and as a consequent birth of a  new country, Bangladesh,  on the map of the world is credited to his grandmother Indira Gandhi, then Rajiv Gandhi deserves to be decorated with the honor of initiating automation in India by passionately pursuing expansion of studies in computers in the country. An interesting offshoot of his approach on the issue was his message to our son, Alok, then studying computers at the University of San Francisco, to come back immediately after completing his courses in computers to help India  advance in automation. It so happened that the Prime Minister of Morocco, on state visit to India, during a conversation with Rajiv Gandhi mentioned that his son’s roommate at USF is an Indian student who too was majoring in computers as his son was. Rajiv asked him if he knows the name of that Indian student or any information on his parents in India, and on receiving the reply in negative, he requested the Moroccan Prime Minister to convey his message to the Indian student through his son. His son, instead of directly telling Alok, put the message on the notice board, to give a surprise to Alok as well as to convey to all the Indian students at USF what their Prime Minister wants them to do after studying in computers at the university.

Sir, an important chapter in Rajiv Gandhi’s life was his long friendship with you right from your childhood days when you, Ajitabh, Rajiv and Sanjay used to have great fun playing together in the lawns of Teen Murti during the time when his grandfather Pandit Nehru was the Prime Minister. In Mohammed Khalid's To Be Or Not To Be, Amitabh talked about the Gandhi-Bachchan family ties, and said: “Rajiv and Sanjay studied in Doon School, Ajitabh and I were in Nainital... But our holidays fell around the same months. We'd hang out and swim every day at the pool of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The friendship continued. After school Rajiv went off to Cambridge. Whenever he would be back home, we'd get together and exchange notes... When he started flying, I'd go with him to provide ballast at the Flying Club of Delhi. I'd glide there for hours... Panditji died. Mrs Gandhi became PM and the family moved to 1 Safdarjung Road, which was close to our home at 13 Willingdon Crescent. Rajiv, Sanjay, Ajitabh and I formed a closely knit group of friends.” (Mohammed, Khalid, To Be or Not To Be)

By Amitabh's own admission, it was Rajiv and Sanjay who exposed him to avant-garde cinema at a young age through the European films that were specially screened for the Gandhi family at Rashtrapati Bhavan. “Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi and I would attend screenings of The Cranes Are Flying and Czech, Polish and Russian films, which often packed an anti-war message,” Amitabh recalled.

Actor Mehmood's biographer, Hanif Zaveri, has many interesting and anecdotal accounts of young Amitabh and Rajiv. When Amitabh was a struggling actor, Mehmood, the comedy king of that era, became his patron. Both Mahmood's brother, Anwar Ali, and sister, Zubaida, became close pals of Amitabh.
In Mahmood: A Man of Many Moods, author Hanif Zaveri reminisces: 'Just before the release of Bombay to Goa, Amitabh had brought a very fair young friend (Rajiv) to Mumbai. The friend had accompanied him from Delhi. Mehmood was on a high after taking Calmpose tablets, a drug to which he was addicted.
Anwar introduced the young man to Mehmood, but in his state, he was unable to understand what was said. Mehmood took out five thousand rupees and handed them to Anwar to give to Amitabh's friend.
A puzzled Anwar asked what the money was for. Mehmood said the young fellow was fairer and smarter than Amitabh. He could become an international star. The money was the signing amount for taking the young man in Mahmood's next project.'  

As much your friendship was famous as souring of it infamous amongst the people, though no one knows the inside story how it became sour, if at all it did:

Bachchan has opened up about his relationship with the Gandhis in an interview to Headlines Today. Bachchan has said the rapport between the two families remains intact. But he also said that he can't see himself going out of his way to reach out to them.

"It's not a question of reaching out. So long you understand, I don't have to necessarily meet you every day to tell you I am your friend. We have spent time together. In a relationship these things don't matter."
When asked if they were still friends, Bachchan asserted, "Of course. In my mind there is no change. I will always respect them."
Bachchan then added, "We meet them sometimes at public functions. There is no anger, no angst. We're still pretty normal."

With regards and best wishes
Tilak Rishi

Thursday, August 18, 2016


What does it take to be an entrepreneur? Dedication, timing, sacrifice—lots of sacrifice, but most importantly, the right support!

Alok Rishi (MS '09) always dreamed of attending Carnegie Mellon University. He knew of CMU's reputation for excellence in artificial intelligence and robotics. However, due to his career and location on the west coast, the dream to attend CMU went unfulfilled for many years. He continued to work and build his career in the software industry for more than 20 years. Although he thought he was finished with academics, much to his surprise, he discovered CMU Silicon Valley and made the decision to join the MS in Software Management program in the Fall of 2007.
Rishi says, "I did not enter the program with any preconceived notion of being an entrepreneur; however, the practical nature of the courses allowed me to see that it was possible to create a real product and helped me envision starting a company. In my position at a large IT systems company, I was involved in producing complicated technologies to sell to other large organizations. During my time at CMU, I began to notice that the cloud movement was taking hold and I became curious about how it could be utilized within an enterprise moving forward. The consumer world had already embraced it."
Technology was moving from the brick and mortar realm where one purchased shrink-wrapped software to an internet-based software-as-a-service. Rishi was interested in how this new venue could benefit large enterprises such as his employer. "The courses at CMUSV offered a means to conduct focused research on segment markets, produce competitive analyses, all while going to school. It helped me to organize my thoughts, and mid-way into the program, I was already formalizing and idea for a company and developing a prototype," explains Rishi.
By the end of the summer in 2009, Yun Teq, a provider of cloud orchestration software for public and private clouds, was born. Yun Teq allowed larger enterprises to create their own "cloud." In a typical enterprise setting, allocating the physical hardware necessary for launching business applications can take weeks or even months. According to Rishi, "The software developed by Yun Teq takes the hardware; computers, network devices, storage equipment; and turns it into a virtual world, or the cloud. This allows the enterprise to request resources that can then be provisioned in seconds." IT resources can simply be served as flexible services on demand over the internet. Businesses can focus on their core competency rather than spend enormous sums of money and time, maintaining their own IT infrastructure.
Once Yun Teq was launched, it gained the interest of companies that produced hardware and software needed to build clouds. Coraid, who offers an inventive cloud storage solution for enterprise and federal clouds, became interested in the software developed at Inteq. In a recent press release, Kevin Brown, CEO of Coraid stated, "Modern data centers are moving to automated cloud architectures, but legacy storage lacks the flexibility and scalability to get there."
The acquisition of Yun Teq provides Coraid with the software to make it simple, allowing for the instantaneous provision of storage. According to Rishi, "The partnership makes Coraid very attractive because it can basically provide storage on tap, easy to consume, with fully automated management."
Gaining the software was one step in the process. Coraid also needed the innovators behind the software to build out the combined product vision. Therefore, the team and talent were a crucial piece of the acquisition. Rishi says, "It was exciting for the team to be able to tap into the added resources of Coraid. The team is now able to grow and hire additional team members to accelerate the product roadmap and offer much higher levels of quality and support to our customers. We were very impressed with the track record of the Coraid executives, board, and venture firms funding the company. Coraid recently closed another round of funding at $50M. In this short time on board, it feels like we made the right decision to jump off our raft and onto a speedboat."
Rishi has experienced the ups and downs of entrepreneurship first hand. He fully embraced the challenge even giving up his job security to risk the venture. His advice to others, especially CMU students and alumni is, "The importance of maintaining the relationships with the CMU faculty proved crucial to our success. It was a surreal experience for me; to think that even after graduating, I could reach out to the CMUSV community and receive continuous support for our start-up. Without these relationships, I am convinced that our idea would have fizzled."
Rishi concludes, "Do not view your time at CMUSV as just a degree! Rather, experience it as an alive and active relationship that will continue throughout your life. The value of these relationships outlasts the degree. These relationships must be nurtured, not just retained as a link on a social site. There is real value to remaining an active member of the CMU community. Come back! Often to be a guest speaker in a class, mentor, share your lessons learned with other students. Enrich their experience. Hire them!"

Work Is Workout!

Dear Amitji,

“Work is not worship it is a workout .. !
So said AB a short while ago on that birdie socialite medium maaa !! (DAY - 3048 (!))”

Sir, what you said may not have been appreciated by many or  not understood by them, but for my son Alok and his cousin Arjun it is literally true. Their two years of hard work for day and night at last ended up in inventing  Khaylo Workout, the world’s first Personal Trainer Assistant for the iPhone. Personal trainers can create workouts, send workouts to clients, and monitor workouts in real-time. Users receive workouts from personal trainers and voice guides the user through the workout. As the workout is performed, the app automatically detects and tracks each activity and updates the personal trainer on the user's progress. Khaylo Workout detects exercises, cardio machine, and cardio activities.
The app displays 1) Steps and 2) Heart Rate (BPM) in the Timeline. Automatically detects cardio activities such as Walking, Running and Cycling and provides real time coaching and stats as the activity is in progress. Calculates calories burned for any exercise/cardio activity it tracks.

Apple has highly appreciated  the Khaylo workout application and integrated it with the Apple Health App/HealthKit:
Category: Health & Fitness
  • Updated: Aug 02, 2016
  • Version: 2.0.1
  • Improved exercise detection.
  • Listen to music while working out.
  • Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

However, Alok is too humble and shy to take credit for his patented invention and is happy to pass on the honor to Carnegie Mellon University, where he studied last for Master of Science and Software Management:

"The MS-SM program served as the training ground and launchpad for my first start-up, Yuntech. It helped me navigate the complex triad of technology, business, and people challenges in starting a tech company. Building a product at lightning speed, while raising funds, forming the team, finding and serving customers, fending competitors...requires a strange mix of delusion and foolhardiness. This is where the program's 'learn by doing' approach fused principals from multiple disciplines and brought real-world experiences from faculty, entrepreneurs, VC's, lending confidence and de-mystifying the 'startup' ecosystem for me. Every aspiring entrepreneur should take a close look at this unique program... before stepping out into the melee and magic of Silicon Valley."
Alok Rishi (MS SM '09)
Co-Founder & CTO, Khaylo Inc.”
  • CMU Magazine - Alumni Testimonials
Of course, we, as his parents, feel proud and happy on the well earned honor and achievement of Alok and his cousin Arjun. God bless all parents to see their children achieve great success in their career, as nothing can bring more happiness and honor for parents than  their children making them proud with their achievements.

With regards and best wishes

Tilak Rishi

Bollywood's Period Of Parallel Cinema

Dear Amitji,

As I was pondering over India’s, particularly Mumbai’s, parallel cinema, I observed that your entry and rise in Hindi cinema as the ‘Angry Young Man’ during the 1970s and the 1980s coincided with parallel cinema entering into the limelight of Hindi cinema to a much wider extent. The term "parallel cinema"  started being applied to off-beat films produced in Bollywood, where art films  began experiencing a resurgence. Ever since Chetan Anand's Neecha Nagar won the Grand Prize at the inaugural Cannes Film Festival in 1946, Indian parallel cinema films frequently appeared in international fora and film festivals for the next several decades. This was led by such directors as Gulzar, Shyam Benegal, Mani Kaul, Rajinder Singh Bedi, Kantilal Rathod and Saeed Akhtar Mirza, and later on directors like Govind Nihalani, becoming the main directors of this period's Indian art cinema. Mani Kaul's first several films Uski Roti (1971), Ashadh Ka Ek Din (1972), Duvidha (1974),  were critically appreciated and held to high esteem in the international spotlight. Benegal's directorial debut, Ankur (Seeding, 1974) was a major critical success, and was followed by numerous works that created another field in the movement. Kumar Shahani, a student of Ritwik Ghatak, released his first feature Maya Darpan (1972) which became a landmark film of Indian art cinema. These filmmakers tried to promote realism in their own different styles, though many of them often accepted certain conventions of popular cinema. Parallel cinema of this time gave careers to a whole new breed of young actors, including Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Amol Palekar, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Pankaj Kapoor, Deepti Naval, Farooq Shaikh, and even actors from commercial cinema like Rekha and Hema Malini ventured into art cinema.
Ironically, Sir, while you and the parallel cinema entered the hindi cinema almost together, though entirely in different arenas, it is often believed the parallel cinema could not withstand the onslaught of action movies, especially yours, because of their tremendous success at the box-office. The distributors and exhibitors tried to keep at bay from the new wave films as they found them too slow and boring to attract audiences. As a result the parallel cinema did not enjoy long life and kept breathing somehow with the help of  government financial support and international critical acclaim.  

Here are some interesting movies from Hindi cinema, which simply shows the daily life issues, philosophy of life and society, human psychology, beliefs , thoughts and an idea of seeing the nature. Puts a light on some grass root issues that Indian soul faced, facing and healing of it. Gives a good seed of thought. And puts a beneficial instance of morality.

Bhuvan Shome (Mrinal Sen, 1970): Directed by master craftsman of indian films, Mrinal Sen, the film is a psychological drama on how life should be lived. Bhuvan Shome, a lonely widower, a proud old man and a disciplinarian, a thoroughly unenchanted man, takes a day off and walks into another world - a new world of simple uninhibited village folk. Off to duck shooting amidst the sand dunes, suddenly everything lights up, that changes his lifestyle and his philosophy of life. Utpal Dutt, a brilliant actor, portrays the role of Bhuvan Shome, to perfection. The location of the film is breathtaking. The film, with an austere style, sardonic humor and expressionist exploration of the politics of class, is a landmark in modern Indian cinema, and became highly influential for the New Wave Hindi cinema. Bhuvan Shome won National Award for Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor (Utpal Dutt).

Ankur (Shyam Benegal, 1974): Shyam Benegal's unforgettable debut in Hindi, Ankur, was nominated for Golden Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival (1974). Surya (Anant Nag), the young landlord, sent against his will from the city to look after the family fields, seems more bored than cruel. But his public humiliation of Kishtayya (Sadhu Meher), his deaf mute servant, for a petty theft, shows by the manner of its casualness how the ownership of people is assumed as a birthright both by the oppressor and the oppressed. Later events, like his sexual relationship with Kish Tatum's wife (Shabana Azmi), underline how deep the habit of subjugation has become; this is no tyrant imposing his will by force of personality, this is tyranny by inheritance. But at the end of the film, a little boy throws a defiant stone at the house of the landlord. This is 'the seedling' of the title, the first small expression of revolt by the oppressed. It may be a futile gesture, but it suggests that however deeply entrenched the inequities, the process of change is about to begin. In her debut film, Shabana Azmi's performance is moving and heart-wrenching, that won her the Silver Lotus Award of the National Film Awards (1975).

Nishant (Shyam Benegal, 1975): Shyam Benegal has a well-deserved reputation for making hard hitting social dramas which tell true Indian stories in a realistic manner. He seems to be ever pre-occupied in supporting the forces which are taking India from tradition to modernity, from a deeply conservative and rigidly hierarchical society to a more open, democratic and egalitarian one. In Nishant the oppressed revolt openly against the long reign of terror let loose by a family of landlords. Significantly, the revolt does not come from the land, it is brought about by the middle class - the school teacher and the priest- representing the potent combination of education and enlightened religion. The plot is brutal and compelling which reveals how people's lives play out in the many parts of the world where civilization is still primitive and brutal. Yet another brilliant film from Shyam Benegal's, Nishant was nominated for Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival (1976).

Mrigaya (Mrinal Sen, 1976): One of the most artistically made movies, Mrigaya won the Golden Lotus - National award for the Best Film, was nominated for the Golden Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival (1977) and won Filmfare (Critics) award for Best Film. The film's lead artiste, Mithun Chakraborty, won the Best Actor (Silver Lotus) National award. He plays the role of a tribal boy Chinua, whose job is hunting. It is an imaginative story set with the Santhal tribal rebellion (1857-58) as the backdrop. There is a Santhal couple and two white couples in the film, and Mrinal Sen juxtaposes their lives beautifully. It also brings out the political and social tensions of the time. Arguably, it is Mrinal Sen's best movie ever.

Manthan (Shyam Benegal, 1976): Manthan is an extraordinarily powerful and intense depiction of social change. Set against the backdrop of Gujarat's fledging dairy industry, Benegal addressed the viewer in a strict cinematic language. The earnest youngman (Girish Karnad), prodding the local farmers into resistance, finds them overcoming their fatalism and fear because first, that it is possible, and second, that there is direct and gettable economic benefit to be obtained by putting up this resistance. In the end the forces for change may be defeated but you see that the society is changing and sooner or later, the oppressed will fight their own battles. Half a million farmers in the state, each of whom contributed Rs. 2, raised the then princely sum of rupees one million to produce the film. They came in truckloads to see 'their film' once released, thereby making it extremely successful at the box-office. Is there a parallel for this anywhere in the world?

Aakrosh (Govind Nihalani, 1980): Brilliantly directed and acted, Aakrosh is one of the best movies ever made in India. Govind Nihalani made a compelling debut as a serious filmmaker with this film and took the establishment head-on in his very first film. This unpretentious and inexpensive film is about a small tribal community - the exploitation they are subjected to and the hopelessness of their case. The film serves as a strong indictment of the administration as the custodians of law are shown to be complicit with the oppressors. The film delves right into the question of basic existence - exactly what should the poor, uneducated tribals do to live with dignity? Nearly all performances in the film are brilliant. Naseeruddin Shah, as the idealist lawyer, is completely immersed in his character. Om Puri is remarkable as the tribal man framed in the murder of his wife (Smita Patil). The agony on his face is haunting. And Amrish Puri is extremely effective as the public prosecutor. The film won Filmfare (1981) awards for Best Director, Best Actor (Naseeruddin Shah), Best Supporting Actor (Om Puri), Best Story and Best Screenplay (Vijay Tendulkar) and Best Art Director (C. S. Bhatti).

Ardh Satya (Govind Nihalani, 1983): Ardh Satya commercial success showed that people were ready to accept New Wave cinema steeped with realism - dark film about rampant corruption, hooliganism and police atrocities. Anant Velankar (Om Puri), a sub-inspector in Mumbai is an honest cop. He tries his best to bust goons belonging to a local gang-leader Rama Shetty (Sadashiv Amrapurkar) but comes up empty because of the latter's political influence. Frustrated by the turn of events, he turns to alcohol, and there onwards has trouble connecting with anyone except his sympathetic boss Hyder Ali (Shafi Inamdar) and his girlfriend Jyotsana (Smita Patil). The crux of the story is Anant's quest for virality. The highlight of the film is Nihalani depicting ordinary life in its complete richness, allowing us to be part of the experience. Ardh Satya is an example of a film that is real, somewhat dry and detached, but packs tremendous emotional resonance. It is richly layered and full of great performances. Om Puri plays a flawed and tragic hero with great verve and simplicity. There are moments of blistering intensity in his performance. Smita Patil is equally impressive in a supporting role. Sadashiv Amrapurkar plays his role with a quiet menace. Its a measured performance that mirrors the characteristics of a scheming politician. Ardh Satya won Filmfare (1984) awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay (Vijay Tendulkar), Best Story (S. D. Panwalkar) and Best Supporting Actor (Sadashiv Amrapurkar).

Footnote: I must thank our dear Ef Vishan Lalji for motivating me to write this brief write up on parallel cinema:

Vishan Lal Tilak Rishi • 2 days ago
Great write up as always. I also feel Abhishek deserves more work and exposure.
Do you have something to say on parallel cinema or art cinema which did not give stars but fine actors and real world cinema?

With regards and best wishes

Tilak Rishi

Delegation At Work Place

Dear Amitji,

“.. delegation is a good sounding managerial substance .. which each head of department understands .. its execution though is personal and individual .. delegation is easy … following up on that which has been delegated, comes back to the individual .. it needs and requires monitoring .. so who does it ..?” (DAY - 3057)

Sir, you are absolutely right, especially - ‘its execution though is personal and individual.’ As we all working in corporate sector or having worked in it know that delegation occurs when a manager assigns some of his duties and responsibilities to his subordinates. In addition to removing some of the burden from the manager's shoulders and allowing him to focus on his most important duties, delegating can also provide subordinates with a sense of empowerment. However, what actually happens is that often when managers think that they are delegating tasks to employees, they are merely dumping tasks on people to make their own corporate career more comfortable. I give you an example from my own personal experience and observation while working in just my very first job in Godrej:

On the first day of my working there, the Manager introduced me to the senior staff like the assistant manager, accountant and salesmen, leaving me to meet others working in the office and know them while introducing myself. After meeting about a dozen of them, like cashier, sales assistants, typists, dispatcher etc., when I went to the last person present, typing some document, I introduced myself and asked him what was he in the organisation. “I’m the Doer”, he answered as a matter of fact but I was very surprised as I had never heard of this designation existing in any office. On my request he elaborated on his reply, “the manager assigns some task to the assistant manager, who assigns the same task to supervisor, who calls me and asks me to do that task immediately and efficiently, and thus I’m ultimately the doer of the task. This is invariably the position everyday, so I have self designated myself as the Doer. This simple looking middle aged employee was addressed as Masterji, whatever his name may be. Could be, he was a teacher before he joined the company as a clerk. Years passed by and I was in a position to select a steno-typist for myself from amongst the typists already working there and I immediately made my preference known to the manager which he granted without a second thought. Masterji became my steno-typist, happy to be free from the tedious task of doing duties of the Doer.
Sir, some more years passed in the company, and I come across another example of delegation of duty, to put it correctly, delegation of responsibility at the workplace that directly involved me. My manager, who appointed me a decade ago and under whom I learnt basics of business management, a lot more than what I learnt doing 3-years MBA course at the prestigious Department of Business Management at Delhi University, was promoted as General Manager at the company’s headquarters in Mumbai. The new manager took over at the Delhi branch, strangely no Parsi official promoted from Mumbai office, but a local person of Bengali origin, a first time in the Parsi company.  Turned out because he had a very high connection - brother of Home Secretary, Government of India. Shows another aspect of private sector in India. A smart executive, he took no time to find out that I was the blue eyed boy of the earlier manager, who often delegated to me important responsibilities. He too followed suit and started giving me great responsibilities, but in his own individual way - taking all the credit for the work well done and holding me responsible if the results were not to the satisfaction of Head Office. It is common, especially in corporate sector - bouquets for the manager and brickbats for the juniors. But what was different here is while he would delegate to me to attend very important meetings with high government officials for grant of contracts, he himself would be away from office, relaxing at the Gymkhana Club, presumably improving public relations for the benefit of the company!         

Leave aside my personal experience of delegation in my company, there is no doubt that Managers need to delegate because they are not supposed to do all of the work themselves.
They are responsible for developing their employees to ensure that they are well trained, to identify future leaders, and to prepare their own successor when they move up or move on to other organizations. Delegating responsibility is a powerful statement to employees about how much they are trusted and how competent and valued they are considered to be to the company.
“If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.”  – John C. Maxwell, American author

With regards and best wishes

Tilak Rishi

Kailash Surendranath - Master Of Ads

Dear Amitji,

“this is the ad., i did for Dr Fixit the waterproofing wala’s .. great fun and intelligent scripting .. my admiration therefore for this world and these people and artist is great .... it would be of great interest for some of you to come to one of these work points and observe the detailing and concern and discussion and debate that goes into each shot that is taken, each word that is spoken, each clothing that is worn, each property that is used on set and eventually what the final edit consumes for the final presentation to the masses .. ” (DAY - 3056)

Sir, your above post unlocks memories of brands one grew up with, bringing a smile and a chuckle as you recall the humour of the day. Tracing the growth of Indian advertising, till the 1960s
there was very little brand advertising, except for some old venerables like Lifebuoy, Dalda, Singer and some public service advertising, which were shown in theaters before the start of the film. In the mid-1960s with the creation of an iconic utterly butterly Indian brand in Amul, began the advertising era in India. It was also the heyday of the stumpy, moustachioed, bowing Air-India Maharaja. Who can forget, Karen Lunel, the Liril girl in the waterfall, who was discovered behind a sales counter in a Mumbai boutique by Ad. film-maker Kailash Surendranath in a countrywide search. Cascading down a steep valley in Ootacamund, it was its best in winter when it took real courage to plunge in and emerge smiling. The 1970s also saw the blockbuster Sholay, which redefined the movie industry and also saw the ‘bollywoodisation’ of the ad industry. Britannia cast the villain Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan) in a Glucose D ad. The ad was a roaring success and helped Britannia open a breach in the Parle glucose biscuit fortress.The decade also saw some memorable ads that are seared into the collective memories of that generation: ‘I love you Rasna’; Jenson & Nicholson’s ‘whenever you see colour, think of us’, the ‘Only Vimal’ sarees campaign. There’s even a poster reproduced of actor Rekha in an ad for Gold Spot with the lines ‘Livva litte hot…sippa Gold Spot!’ The 1980s were the dawn of the age of aspiration! Asiad, television and India’s World Cup victory happened and transformed the ad landscape forever. It was also an age when many brands were born: Maruti, Ind-Suzuki, Hero Honda, Titan, Videocon. Pepsi entered India by the end of the 1980s. And, Andhra Bank launched India’s first credit card. It was also the decade when a Johnny-come-lately brand Nirma shook Hindustan Lever’s Surf, till the ‘empire’ struck back with the ‘Lalitaji’ campaign. Other immortal lines emerged: ‘Taste the thunder’ for Thums Up and two-minute Maggi and those Coke/Pepsi immortal lines: Thanda Matlab Coca Cola and Dil Maange More! And, who can forget the loveable zoo-zoos.
The 1990s till now... aha, free at last! Liberalisation opened the floodgates to new brands. International brands, spanking new malls and lower duties seduced the buyer. International advertising networks came a-calling to India and Indian advertising reached out to the world. Winning at international advertising festivals, it stood on the Riviera and said, “We Cannes!”

Sir, while tracing the history of the ad-film industry in India, I cannot restrain myself from writing about my nephew Kailash
Surendranath, best known for producing Mile Sur Mera Tumhara (unity-in-diversity) song in 1988 and directing revised version of the same in 2010, Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara. In an attempt to rejuvenate the magic and the response the original received, 22 of India’s biggest superstars, 18 renowned musicians, 13 of our best artistes and singers and 15 of India’s most recognised icons shot for over two months across 15 cities to recreate the magnum opus. Sir, you were not only the  guest of honour at its launch but also part of the project again. Abhishek and Aishwarya, are part of the video, too. Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan is joined by his sons Amaan Ali and Ayaan Ali while Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma appears with his son Rahul. Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor represent the next generation.
At the age of 17, Kailash began his career into ad-film making and has directed around 3,500 ad films since then in his 40 years career span, and still continues to dominate the industry - “My dad was in movies and he had a little production company. He had been an actor for a long time and eventually decided to have a production company, because his acting career was tapering out. Working with him, I took over the reins at a very early age, because I was very interested in cinema and films. My most enjoyable work has been those early Lyril films, which I did because they were always an adventure. We used to go down to Kodaikanal with three cameras, one for special effects, one for slow motion, one regular camera. We used to trek down a mountain and into a valley, into a waterfall, because those days, it was not considered feasible to make a set of a waterfall. It was ice-cold weather. I actually started making Ads… directing and producing them. I did Al Kabeer. There was also a biscuit Ad that we did. We also did one with Lisa Ray for some spices. We did Fair and Lovely in those days with Aishwarya Rai. She did her first ad for us, for a talcum powder in the Middle-East. It was a short step from that to Pepsi and Palmolive back in Mumbai. There was also the Brooke Bond tea campaign.  Long before Sooraj Barjatya happened in Salman Khan's life, it was me  and my wife Aarti who discovered the budding talent of Salman Khan for our Campa Cola ad. Since then we made a lot of other commercials together.” Salman went to meet Kailash who was not so impressed at first sight. 'He is a kid' he told Aarti. Not one to give up, Aarti asked her husband to ask the lad to take off his shirt! Impressed with what he saw, the Ad was filmed and Salman has never stopped taking his shirt off ever since!

Of the many high profile celebrities they’ve worked with, both give their unequivocal thumbs up to you, Sir. “In one of the recent ads we did together, Amitabh Bachchan was supposed to chant some relevant Sanskrit mantras. We brought in a real pundit on the sets to coach him, which proved futile as Mr Bachchan knew all the mantras better than the scholar himself!”
(Boroplus ad - Amitabh Bachchan - Kailash Surendranath)

With regards and best wishes

Tilak Rishi

Teji Bachchan's Lahore Days

Dear Amitji,

“It is past the hour .. it is now with Mother and her birth ; 12th August !” (DAY - 3055)

Sir, allow me to pay my respects to Maaji, though belated due to time difference between India and the U.S.:

“Maa Tujhe Salaam
Yahan vahan saara jahan dekh liya
Ab tak bhi tere jaisa koi nahin
Main assi nahin, sau din duniya ghooma hai
Naahi kaahe tere jaisa koi nahin
Main gaya jahan bhi, bas teri yaad thi
Jo mere saath thi mujhko tadpaati rulaati
Sab se pyaari teri soorat
Maa tujhe salaam, maa tujhe salaam
Amma tujhe salaam
Vande maataram, vande maataram
Vande maataram, vande maataram
Vande maataram, vande maataram
Janam janam tera hoon deewana main
Jhoomoon naachoon gaaoon tere pyaar ka taraana
Main jeena nahin soch nahin duniya ki daulat nahin
Bas lootunga tere pyaar ka khazaana
Ek nazar jab teri hoti hai pyaar ki
Duniya tab to meri chamke damke maheke re
Tera chehra sooraj jaisa chaand si thand hai pyaar mein
Vande maataram, vande maataram
Vande maataram, vande maataram
Vande…” - A. R. Rahman

Sir, throughout my life I have always been proud of my beloved city of birth - LAHORE - as all our dear Ef know, but never so much as after knowing that Maaji spent most part of her life in Lahore before marriage to Babuji in the 1940s:

“Teji was the youngest of the four daughters of Sardar Khazan Singh Suri. He had no sons. After three girls the parents had put all hopes on the coming fourth child being a boy, and when it turned out to be another girl, she was looked on as an honorary male. The ancestral home of this Sikh family was Kallar, Rawalpindi - a place famous for the beauty of its girls. Sardar Khazan Singh had studied Law in England and practised as a barrister in Lyallpur, which is where Teji was born. Later he became Revenue Minister for the princely state of Patiala, before settling in Lahore in retirement. Up to Matriculation, Teji was educated at the Sacred Hearts Convent in Lahore where she started at such a young age that the Sisters used to carry her around in their arms; she did her Inter and B.A. the Lahore College for Women, and her Teacher Training at the Lady MacLagan College in the same city. When she was qualified she taught at Fatehchand College for a little over a year.”
  • Hari Vansh Rai Bachchan - IN THE AFTERNOON OF TIME - An Autobiography - Edited and Translated from the Hindi by Rupert Snell.

Interestingly, Lahore College for Women where Maaji did her Inter and B.A. was very familiar name in our family when living in Lahore before the Partition, because my elder sister Satya Behn had been a student of  the college for studying up to M.A. in Psychology. Since they were both around the same age when studying, may be Maaji senior to my sister by a couple of years, there is every possibility that they knew each other, at least my sister must have known her well because Maaji was a very popular student, participating prominently in all the extra curricular activities, especially staging plays and concerts. And what a coincident, both had Bollywood connection after their marriage - my sister getting married to singer-actor Surendra in the 1940s and Maaji being the proud mother of Megastar of the Century.


With regards and best wishes

Tilak Rishi

Indian Independence Day In SF Bay Area

Dear Amitji,

August 15 - Happy Independence Day!

Sir, Members of the San Francisco Bay Area's thriving Indo-American community didn't let the 8,000-mile distance from the motherland stop them this Saturday - Sunday from celebrating India's Independence Day. The San Francisco Festival of India & Parade is an annual celebration of Indian heritage and culture for the entire Bay Area featuring a variety of fun activities for revelers of all ages. Attendees  enjoyed an Indian cultural and musical extravaganza as well as a health fair, grand parade, a film festival, an arts & crafts bazaar, a bevy of yummy food options and much more. Fremont’s annual Festival of India showcases India’s rich culture and heritage with a wide variety of dance and food. Activities included a health fair on Saturday, a festival on both days, and a parade on Sunday. Over 5000 people participated in the parade and festival. The homespun parade capped off the 10-day Festival of India. It included a film festival, fashion show, dance competition and other events. The festival will continue next Saturday, August 20, in Cupertino city with Mile Sur Mera Tumhara Team.

Two decades ago, Indian-Americans started changing the story of Silicon Valley's Asian community. Now, they have rewritten it.
In the most striking example of the growth and growing diversity of the Bay Area's Asian-Americans, the spiking Indian-American population has fanned out from familiar beachheads to affluent towns offering excellent schools, from Cupertino in the heart of Silicon Valley to San Ramon in the East Bay.
The trend -- revealed this week in the latest snapshot from the 2010 census -- is surfacing in tabla drumming and Sanskrit classes offered out of living rooms, Indian markets and world-class cricket fields.
Every Asian group, from Indians to Vietnamese to Filipinos, saw their numbers grow markedly from 2000 to 2010. But among Asian groups, none grew more rapidly than Indian-Americans. Their numbers in Santa Clara County jumped from about 67,000 to nearly 118,000 in a mere decade. It's hard to imagine now, but there were only about 5,200 Indian-Americans in the county in 1981. In California, the number of Indian-Americans grew by 68 percent to 528,176 over the decade, and in the nine-county Bay Area the number grew by 53 percent to 244,493. Indian-American community, though so far away from their homeland, have their hearts in India, as was apparent from their energetic and enthusiastic participation in India’s Independence Day Parade and Festival this weekend.

Jai Hind!

With regards and best wishes

Tilak Rishi

Why The Boundaries?

Dear Amitji,

“.. history is filled by incidents similar to the questions that arise .. the desire to capture another, to rule it, to take away its glory and wealth, to subject it to systems that are dictated, not by your own, but by them that are alien ..We, species, made boundaries .. we designed limits and borders .. we stated ‘theirs’ and ‘ours’ .. we demarcated the fence .. the fence defines limit .. ”
(DAY - 3059)

Sir, this is, perhaps, your most thought-provoking post, appropriately posted on India’s Independence Day. The questions you have raised are relevant for any period of time in history and have remained unanswered for ever, or if attempted to answer, the replies only reflected the viewpoint of the invader, the victor in the wars, without ever trying to know what went on in the mind of the invaded. Sir, I’m reminded of my history teacher in high school in Lahore, Jagan Nath, famous for writing the best selling book on history for students, The Golden History Of India. He said the ‘greats’ in history are not the ones who really were great, but became to be known as such after victoriously invading territories beyond their own borders, the greatest example being, Alexander the Great. His invasion of India in 326 BC, during his ambitious campaign to conquer the entire known world of his time, and ending the campaign in India and returning without reaping any rewards of the invasion, remains the most bewildering mystery for even the biggest of historians.

Sir, it is, perhaps, the most  perplexing irony of Indian history that Alexander, who came all prepared with well equipped huge army to conquer India could not achieve his most ambitious mission, and yet the British monarchy who never invaded India or even intended to, ruled over the country for over 200 years, and so easily. It has been said that the British Empire was picked up in a "fit of absence of mind."  Nowhere was this more true than in the case of India which gradually came under British rule, not by the efforts of Britain's government, but by those of the British East India Company, founded in 1599 by a group of merchants in search of nothing more than "quiet trade."  However, circumstances would thwart these peaceful intentions, and over the next 250 years the British would find themselves more and more in the role of conquerors and governors than traders.  Things came to a head with the Great Indian Mutiny in 1857.   The  mutiny developed into a serious rebellion that the British finally managed to put down.  However, this was the final straw as far as the British government was concerned, assuming direct control over India in 1858 and eventually dissolving the British East India Company.  Just as one British queen, Elizabeth I had signed the charter forming the British East India Company some 260 years earlier, so another queen, Victoria, signed it into extinction. For the next ninety years, direct British rule would prevail in India.

Sir, the concluding part of your quote - “..We, species, made boundaries .. we designed limits and borders ..” -  brings to memory the most beautifully written and melodiously sung song from Abhishek’s movie, REFUGEE (2000):

Panchhi nadiya pawan ke jhonke, koi sarhad na inhe roke... (2)
Sarhad insano ke liye hain, socho tumne aur maine kya paya insan hoke

With regards and best wishes
Tilak Rishi

Happy Navroz - The Parsi New Year

Dear Amitji,

“But most importantly tomorrow is the Parsi New Year .. and a happy new year to all the Parsi’s, some of them my first and oldest fans .. and of course Dr Udwadia from Breach Candy Hospital who saved my life in 1982 ..
The largest Industrial houses, the Corporates, sportsmen and women of distinction, the army ( the only Field Marshal that India had was Gen Manekshaw, a Parsi ) eminent doctors and contributors in all the walks of life .. respected and admired for their integrity and dedication ..” (DAY - 3060)

Sir, your above post takes me back to the early 1950s when I joined my first job with Godrej, after doing my B.A.(Hons.) and Law, and spent the first 20 years of my career in the most prestigious Parsi company after Tatas then. I remember celebrating Navroz, the Parsi New Year, with, undoubtedly, the most chilled out and fun people around for all the years I worked with them - talk to them, spend time and they will make your day better off.  That beautiful time continues till today, even after 40 years of my leaving the compa, thanks to our best friend Mani from those great Godrej days. We still enjoy talking of those days whenever we are together, most recently when she came to California to spend some quality-cum-fun time with us. We, also cherish the memories of her late husband, coincidentally my classmate from Lahore, a non-Parsi, to marry whom Mani broke all barriers in their community on marriage outside of their community. Inter community marriage is not tolerated in Parsi community and one marrying outside of the community is treated as outcaste and anti their religion. Not because they are an extremely orthodox community, on the contrary they are the most modern community in India, but because with their population decreasing by the day. they want to save their small community from extinction. That is why they try to remain a well knit community.

The Parsi community has always been immensely influential in Indian business. Starting as agriculturists clustered around the Surat-Navsari area of Gujarat, the Parsis metamorphosed into a business community as they moved to Bombay in the 19th century. Amongst them there's one Parsi family that has weathered the forces of time and carved a unique place in the annals of Indian business history. And that's the 107-year-old house of Godrej. While most Indian business houses have suffered splits, the house of Godrej has remained united over three generations. This may partly be because the group's two flagship companies, Godrej Soaps and Godrej Boyce, remained closely held through most of their history, whereas most other business houses took them public.

There is no way I would write about Parsis and not mention their Bollywood connection. Here are some of the popular Parsi names that made a name for themselves in Bollywood:

Sohrab Modi: Born in Bombay, Sohrab Modi was a stage actor of Parsee Stage. Theatre was his first love. In an attempt to take it to a wider public in the aftermath of talkie films, he set up Stage Film Company in 1935. Plays were filmed and shown- Khoon Ka Khoon (1935), an adaptation of Shakespear's Hamlet, marked Naseem Bano's entry into filmdom. He launched Minerva Movietone in 1936. His early films at Minerva dealt with contemporary social issues such as alcoholism in Meetha Zaher (1938) and the right of Hindu women to divorce in Talaq (1938). Though the films did well, what attracted Modi was the historic genre. Minerva Movietone was famous for the triology- Pukar (1939), Sikander (1941) and Prithvi Vallabh (1943).


Daisy Irani: One of the oldest Parsi stars, Daisy Irani was a popular Bollywood child artist in the 50s and 60s. She generally played the role of a little boy with curly hair, along with her younger sister Honey Irani. Some of her most remembered movies, include Jagte Raho, Naya Daur, Hum Panchi Ek Dal Ke and Musafir.

Farooq Sheikh: One of the finest actors in Bollywood, Late Farooq Sheikh was half-Parsi, born to Muslim father Mustafa Shaikh and Parsi Mother Farida. He is popularly known for his roles in Noorie, Chashme Buddoor, Umrao Jaan, Kissi Se Na Kehna, Biwi Ho To Aisi and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani.

Boman Irani: Born into a Parsi family, Boman is a professional photographer and actor. He started with advertisements for Fanta and Krackjack biscuits and later featured in movies like Munnabhai M.B.B.S., Main Hoon Na, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Dostana, 3 Idiots and many more.
Founder and CEO of UTV Group, Ronnie Screwvala has produced various hits. His filmography includes Rand De Basanti, Life In A… Metro, Chup Chup Ke, Jodhaa Akbar and many more.

Ronnie Screwvala: Founder and CEO of UTV Group, Ronnie Screwvala has produced various hits. His filmography includes Rand De Basanti, Life In A… Metro, Chup Chup Ke, Jodhaa Akbar and many more.

John Abraham: Born as Farhan Abraham to a Malayali Nasrani father and a Parsi mother, John Abraham is a popular model, actor, and now a producer. He made his film debut with Jism, followed by Dhoom and Water, to name a few. John has also produced critically acclaimed flicks like Vicky Donor and Madras Cafe.

To all our Parsi Ef Happy New Year!

With regards and best wishes
Tilak Rishi

Delete All The "I"s!

Dear Amitabhji,

“DELETE ALL THE ‘I’s’ from the entire text, please .. please .. that is not me .. the I’s .. that is another within me .. it is him that I despise and dislike .. just overlook and ignore this specimen of egomatic subconscious ailment .. such a joy to construct words and forms instantly .. hahehahaa .. !!!!” (DAY - 3061)

Sir, we all know that is certainly not you, not even another within you. On the contrary, you are the greatest example of the human who has humility and humanity at its highest in his heart and soul. There is absolutely no doubt that the ‘I’s in the text are just your inimitable way of enjoying the ‘joy to construct words and forms instantly’. Having said this, I may now progress with my response to your above post.

Sir, A man said to the Buddha, “I want Happiness.”
Buddha said, first remove “I”, that’s ego,
then remove “want”, that’s desire.
See now you are left with only Happiness.

Ego is defined as the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.

As we in the U.S. are in the midst of presidential election campaign at its feverish peak, there is no better way to illustrate and elaborate on the ego defined as the “I” than to follow the campaign trail of one of the two main contestants in the race for the White House, an  ego-driven politician, marked by impairments in functioning due to exaggerated self-image, lack of empathy and trouble forming deep relationships. It makes sense that the people drawn to politics would be supremely self-confident and able to brush off the criticism sure to come their way. But the ongoing current  campaign shows something else: Presidents have been getting more egoistic over time. And in that sense, this particular contestant  may just be the logical conclusion of an ongoing trend. In general, this trend is becoming more acceptable to Americans than in previous generations. No wonder his popularity appears unblemished amongst his supporters, that includes one of our dear Ef, despite brash statements, personal insults thrown at his opponents and rampant speculation over his perceived egoistic tendencies. The contestant surely displays enormous self-regard; at one time, for example, he boasted that he'd be "the greatest jobs president that God has ever created." At another, he promised, "We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with winning." Egoism is a trait the presidential candidate seems proud of, in fact. In 2013, he wrote in a Facebook post, "Show me someone without an ego, and I'll show you a loser.”

Sir, as is expected of me, at least by our dear Ef, I cannot do better than to bring in Bollywood to put in my point of view more clearly and convincingly on your post. So, here I am to refresh our memory with your all time classic on the theme of ego, ABHIMAN.
A media report on the film:

Sigh... What does one say about Abhimaan? We all know this manifestation of Amitabh Bachchan (Subir), a man who assumes his sulks convert into a word bubble, and that telepathy exists. Subir is a popular and successful singer, who meets, falls in love with and marries Uma (Jaya Bhaduri), a classical singer. He cajoles her to start singing with him but is gutted when she becomes more famous than him. His ego drives her away and the film ends with a tentative reconciliation. The early scenes of the marriage are fabulously shot by Hrishikesh Mukherjee— the chemistry of a young couple trying to discover themselves. The chemistry of tension between the husband and the wife, as ego becomes an insurmountable wall between them both, is also fantastically portrayed by both actors. The film has a fantastic soundtrack and, like most of Amitabh Bachchan’s films of that era, had a fairly grown up theme.
As “Abhimaan” completed 42 years since its release, megastar Amitabh Bachchan went down memory lane to reminisce about the film, which narrates the tale of how a couple drifts apart due to ambitions and ego hassles.
The actor feels it’s not only the striking storyline about the dark side of stardom, but its endearing music that injects an eternal quality to the 1973 film, which also stars his wife and actress Jaya.
“There is the completion of several years of ‘Abhimaan’, a most poignant film with some of the most haunting music by the maestro and genius S.D. Burman, the father of R.D. Burman…and the most delicate handling by Hrishi Da, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, the director with whom I have worked in the maximum films of my career,” Big B posted on his blog.

With regards and best wishes

Tilak Rishi