Thursday, May 23, 2013

Anand - Memorable Dialogues

Whenever one thinks of Anand (1971), one cannot help but feel a tinge of sadness. A dying young man teaches his friend a valuable lesson about life and living it to the fullest. In addition to the movie's songs and the characters of both Rajesh Khanna & Amitabh Bachchan, what stayed with me most about the movie were its wonderful dialogues. No surprise that these were written by Gulzar. Gulzar won the Filmfare Best Dialogue Award in 1972 for this movie; the movie also swept most of the other awards at Filmfare.

Following are some of the memorable dialogues which struck a chord with me:
  • Anand mara nahin; Anand marte nahin.
  • Kya har hasi ke peeche khushi hoti hain; kabhi kabhi gam bhi toh...
  • I LOVED the way Rajesh Khanna calls Amitabh Babu Moshai throughout the movie. So much so that I started calling a Bong colleague of mine that :)
  • Babu Moshai, zindagi lambi nahi badi honi chahiye
  • Zindagi aur maut toh upar wale ke haath main hain jahapanah
In the climax when Rajesh Khanna dies and Amitabh is crying & pleading with him to start speaking again since he has got used to his constant chit-chat and Anand's voice plays in the background, I am sure not a single person could have avoided crying.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Book Review: When You Look Like Your Passport Photo, It's Time To Go Home by Erma Bombeck

I chanced upon this book on my visit to a local library. I have been a huge fan of Erma Bombeck's primarily because of her quotes but have never had the opportunity to read any of her books. Being fond of travel and hoping to travel the entire world one day, this particular book interested me immensely.

The book talks about her travels across countries; about travelling with her husband, with kids, with parents, etc. It also talks about the various activities one undertakes in the course of travelling - a cruise, rafting, etc.

Erma's style of writing is humourous and the way she puts across her experiences is amazing. You cannot but help laugh at her (mis) adventures as she plans her travels and actually undertakes them.

However, the book is not all comedy; there are quite a few poignant moments as when Erma realizes how much closer travel has brought her family and how women all over the world share certain key worries pertaining to their families and kids.

The book takes us through quite a few exotic places such as Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Istanbul, Mexico and Russia (the nation-to-visit-before-I-die on my bucket list).

Erma's wit shines through each and every chapter in the book. Sample her thoughts on flying: "After the attendants have given them the evacuation procedures in the event of loss of air pressure and demonstrated how to use the life jackets in the event they ditch over water, they're free to relax." Doesn't each one of us feel this way whenever we fly? I wish I was half as able to express it as beautifully as she has.

On her visit to Russia, she says, "The religion, the ideology, and the government may be different, but the dreams are all the same."

Erma is quite vocal about her love for shopping and for wishing to get back souvenirs for friends & family back home. At the same time, her husband is shown to be quite passionate about actually wanting to see historial sites and knowing about their history!!!

If you are a travel-addict (like moi), read this book. It describes all that we actually experience on our travels but never reveal. Even if you aren't a travel-addict, read this book - it will help you better explain to your fellowmen why you don't travel :)

Deven Varma: The Unsung Hero of Bollywood

I happened to watch the following movies consecutively over a period of four days: Golmaal (1979), Angoor (1982), Andaz Apna Apna (1994) and Dil Toh Pagal Hai (1997). Other than the fact that these are all fabulous movies which I can watch over and over again, especially Golmaal, the other common factor which came through was the presence of Deven Varma in all the four movies.

And it’s then that I realized that he is one of the unsung heroes of Bollywood – he is like salt in cooking; you don’t appreciate its presence but you definitely miss its absence.

In Golmaal, he played himself and Ramprasad Dashrathprasad Sharma’s best friend who helps him out of the moustache crisis.

In Angoor, he played a double role along with Sanjeev Kumar. He was Bahadur who served as Sanjeev Kumar’s double roles’ servant/caretaker. Varma was hilarious in the movie and it came across as no surprise that he won the 1983 Filmfare Best Comedian Award for his role. The movie got a huge boost from Varma’s presence as Bahadur who is faced with two Sanjeev Kumars and does not know why his master is behaving so funny all the time.

In Andaz Apna Apna, Varma played Aamir Khan’s dad who runs a small saloon to help meet the family expenses. Though he had a small role in the movie, his character as a strict dad who is irritated with his son’s ways and wants him to improve stood out among the host of roles peppered throughout.

In Dil Toh Pagal Hai, Deven Varma was Akshay Kumar’s father and Madhuri Dixit’s guardian. Though a small role again, he played it with panache. His character was fond of music and if it were not for his wife’s discouragement, he would definitely have turned out to be a singer. He is shown to be a happy-go-lucky character who makes his driver and watchman his audience which hears him sing.

My favourite? Definitely Angoor. Go watch the movie if you have not already. Varma is a revelation and holds his own against Sanjeev Kumar (who was himself a fantastic actor).

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tribute To Mom

The word Mom evokes very strong feelings in all of us. The word is a recent development since we mostly refer to mothers as “Aai”, “Mummy”, “Mumma”, “Amma”, etc.

How can you write a tribute to someone who carried you in her womb for 9 whole months; who gave birth to you and has been taking care of you ever since? Elizabeth Stone once said, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

When we are infants and kids, we are entirely dependent on our mothers for everything and anything. As we grow into teenagers, we are embarrassed about her in front of our friends. As young adults, we confide in her about our troubles and desires and once we become mothers ourselves, we understand her travails.

According to me, the best tribute for mom would be to imbibe and live by the values she has taught us. Most of these are not by words alone but by actions. For instance, my mom is the world’s friendliest and most helpful person. And the best part is she helps others without ever being asked to.

I try and emulate that in my day-to-day living. I try and help others without their ever asking me to. I do it because it gives me great pleasure to do so.

Another thing that I wish to imbibe from my mother is her patience and tolerance. She always gives others the benefit of doubt and is a very patient woman; something I find extremely difficult to do.

Also, she is one of the most positive persons I know. Come what may, she is never scared and always willing to face whatever challenge life has to offer.

My tribute to her would be to live by the points which I find attractive in her.

Some people feel I look like her; others feel my voice resembles her. While these thrill me no doubt, I would find that my life has been truly worthwhile when someone says to me, “Your actions and behaviours are exactly like your mother’s.”

‘I am writing a Tribute to Mom in association with‘

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Engaging Employees the "Never Grow Up" Way

My story is about Asif Upadhye, a first-generation entrepreneur, and the employee engagement firm that he founded when he was just 30 years old. As a concept, employee engagement is still pretty new in India. Other than the routine Human Resources formalities and a few basic training programs that most organizations have, there are no specific steps taken to motivate and engage employees.
I have known Asif since the time we went to college together (more than 15+ years and counting). Asif along with his wife, Dr. Shazia Upadhye, founded a company called Never Grow Up – an employee engagement firm – in January 2010. You may wonder at the strange name of the firm. Well, according to Asif, “When we are children, we are less inhibited but as and when we do actually grow up and become adults, we surround ourselves with layers of perception and prejudices that we carry with us at all times including our workplace. We pine for our childhood and miss those days. So I thought why not call our company that.”
You may wish to know Asif and Shazia’s background and credentials. Asif is an MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune, and has also completed an Entrepreneurial course from S. P. Jain Institute of Management, Mumbai. Post-MBA, he worked with three financial institutions – HDFC Limited, HSBC and Barclays Bank which gave him good exposure to the banking industry in general and product specific knowledge in particular. He is the Chief Fun Officer at the company. His wife Shazia is a qualified dentist; she is the Chief Fun Advisor and Director.

While, in the corporate life, Asif observed that a lot of employees were unhappy at work; they had several suggestions on what their organization or the Human Resources department could do. Alas, these were never accepted or acted upon. Unlike the rest of us who only grumble and do nothing, Asif, who always wanted to do his own thing and become an entrepreneur, thought “employee engagement” would be a great business idea. As he was approaching 30 years old, one fine day, he turned around to his wife and said, “Hey, what do you think about this idea? Would you join me in the journey to create more focussed and productive employees?” Once he got her consent, he quit his job and plunged headlong into the world of entrepreneurship.

They say the grass is greener on the other side. In his case, it was actually true. As a working professional, one is occupied 12-14 hours 5-6 days a week; as an entrepreneur, one is occupied 24 hours 7 days a week. But Asif did not mind – he was doing what he loved and making a difference in the process. Well, when Asif started off, it was not all smooth sailing. It was almost 6 months before they got their first client. Similarly, their first workshop had only 8 members. But, that did not deter them. Their determination and perseverance paid off when Never Grow Up broke even in 18 months.

“What is it that Never Grow Up exactly does?” I can hear you ask? Well, Never Grow Up believes in making work and life a lot more creative, balanced and eventful. Their services range from consultancy to building communication, devising reward programs to customized workshops (But none of those boring lecture-type, powerpoint sessions which have us yawning throughout, mind you) and even designing workplaces and creating merchandise that will enhance organizational culture and make people feel like coming to work.

As adults, we miss out on the hobbies we pursued due to time constraints and lack of opportunities. Never Grow Up organizes unique weekend workshops for the same. Till date, they have organized writing workshops, mocktails making, photography sessions and drama classes. These have found a high level of acceptance across several people for the primary reason that people have the opportunity to meet like-minded people and pursue the activities they like. In fact, I have had the opportunity to attend two of his workshops – a creative writing workshop and an evening photography workshop around South Mumbai. These workshops in addition to enhancing my knowledge made me shed my inhibitions about actually going out there and meeting new people.

Fun Stuff:
The company has introduced a concept called Cube Farm – they have tied up with companies that manufacture and promote fun products such as Chumbak, Happily Unmarried, Pyjama Party, etc. The offerings include a host of fun and utilitarian products such as work magnets, stress balls, piggy banks and what have you. Can you imagine how it would be like if your workstation actually stands out from the rest of your colleagues?

A product/service is only great if it sells and makes money in the process. When I asked Asif about his client list, he smiled and said, “Well, I do not mean to brag and boast about us but if I do not then who will!” He told me that their 25+ clients include Shoppers Stop, Accenture and Group M.

Awards & Recognition:
Zee Business & Franchise India nominated it as one of the top Professional Service Businesses of 2011 at the Small Business Awards. Their work with a retail client also got a particular employee initiative in the Limca Book of Records in January 2013 and also won them the ET Now Talent & HR Leadership Award for Organization with Innovative HR Practices. They are regularly quoted in leading media such as The Economic Times, Business Standard and for their views on employee engagement ideas.

The End
Or rather, the beginning. Never Grow Up recently celebrated its third birthday. And, as any three-year-old, they are super active and excited about the time ahead.

Asif has inspired me in so many different ways. It is not like he was born with a silver spoon or into a business family. He had one clear idea which he stuck to and made an enriching business out of. He is passionate about his work and his passion shines through in what he does. He does not shy away from working hard or asking for help when needed. His networking is outstanding. At the same time, his company is changing employee and corporate mindsets bit by bit. I, too, hope that like Asif, I am able to find out what is it that makes me click (sooner rather than later) and do something about it.

Well, I hope you had as much fun reading about Asif’s adventure as much as I did bringing it to you. You can find out more about it at

I wish to get my story published in Chicken Soup for the Indian Entrepreneurs Soul in association with