Thursday, February 23, 2006

Calling for tenders

Degreecopy had earlier reported on the rot that had crept into the supari system. While the scandal has hopefully led to supari firms restructuring the whole process, prospective supari clients are also doing their bit to bring in more transparency to the process.

Uttar Pradesh Minister for Haj, Mohammed Yakub Qureshi and the Hindu Personal Law Board have led by personal example, in trying to clean up the supari system, by publicly inviting tenders for the assassination of elements with a high nuisance value. “By publicly announcing their dislike for certain elements and a hefty reward for the disposal of said elements, the Minister and the Board have taken a very clear stand, “ sources in the ministry told degreecopy. They were also quick to point out the advantages of this method: firstly, it is open to all. No backward or minority status quotas will be granted to select anti-social elements. Secondly, payments will be made only on completion of the project to the satisfaction of the client, in this case the Minister and the Board. So, half-murders will not be accepted. Thirdly, it’s an all-cash deal: No hanky-panky about bounced cheques, or shares in the sahara parivar group of companies.

Aspiring goons and talented freelance professionals have welcomed the new scheme. ”It has created a level playing field for all of us. Merit and satisfaction of client should be the only criteria. I fully endorse it!”, said a Mumbai-based freelancer to degreecopy. A Bihar-based veteran toughie said that the new scheme will also eliminate discrimination against lesser-known firms. “It was demoralizing to see Mumbai-based supari firms being preferred over moffussil units like ours. I thank the minister for creating a level playing field,” said the grateful goon.

Not that the mumbai-based firms are worried about taking on the competition. “Our executives have handled similar assignments before. It is a perfect blend of youth and experience. We are not worried at all,” said a new business head of a prominent mumbai-headquartered firm.

While the actions of the Minister and the Hindu Board are certainly based on good intentions, one can only wait and watch whether the move actually raises professional and ethical standards in the much stained supari business.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Deccan Herald Theatre Festival -II

on hindsight, it turns out that the weakest link of the festival was the first play. days 3, 4 and 5 saw plays presented by CFD, topcast and Art.

CFD presented Hollywood Boy meets Girl. the centre for film and drama is one of bangalore's more talented and experienced groups, and it showed on stage. the play is a comical take on hollywood in the 1930s. an insecure star, a harried studio executive and two scoundrels for writers: perfect ingredients for a rip-roaring comedy. the cast led by prakash belawadi pulled it off to perfection, and had the audience in splits all through.

top cast staged 'the theft' on saturday. it's about how a theft reveals the skeletons in the cupboard of a couple. the lies, the hypocrises, the insecurities they go through. topcast had a brilliant script on their hands. yet, one left the theatre feeling that the cast didn't go for the kill. the script provided the team ample opportunities to up their performance a notch or two. it was a decent performance, but did they let a chance go abegging? to use an anology from cricket, top cast scored a single off a juicy full toss.

the deccan herald theatre festival saved the best for the last. jagdish raja and nandini rao teamed up to perform Valley Song. it's a story about the clash between the enthusiasm of the young and the cynism of the old. well, it could also be the story of a south africa in transition, when apartheid had just been outlawed. it was a treat to watch a seasoned veteran like jagdish raja in action. however, what was equally interesting was to watch young nandini rao match her much senior partner every step of the way. it was, by far, the best play of the festival.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Deccan Herald Theatre Festival -I

been on a theatre-going binge recently. the newspaper my wife works for has asked her to cover the theatre festival they're sponsoring. so she gets to review five plays over five days. all the plays are being staged at the chowdaiah hall, in bangalore, from the 15th to the 19th of feb.
while she got a pass, i had to buy a ticket to watch these plays. but, guess what, my wife very generously offered to buy the tickets for me!:-)

so as of today, we've seen two plays, and there are three more to go. on wednesday we saw theatre group Kamayaa satge Boy Gets Girl. the first thing that comes to mind about that play is its duration: a full two-and-a-half hours! it was about this girl who stumbles into a blind date, and spends the rest of the play trying to get the persistent guy out of her life. she was drained at the end of it. so was the audience, i suspect! as for me, i didn't think much of it. the problem with it was that it was an american play, being staged by desis for namma bengaluru. the call-centre american accents were jarring. it felt like i was watching a bunch of very big school kids performing at a 'parents' day'. some of the actors on stage weren't entirely comfortable playing their american characters, and it was showing.

yesterday's play, on the other hand, was refreshingly good. Gnatak performed a French play (translated into english, and discovered by sean connery, it seems!) called Art. it's about this dermatologist who buys a plain white 'painting' for two hundred grand, and how it tests his friendship with his two friends. while one of the friends absolutely hates it, the other chap, a gentle soul, tries hard to be appreciative of it. it was hilarious. but sandwiched between the side-splitting lines, was the pathos of the soft guy: his inability to actually have an opinion on anything. instead, he spends his waking hours trying to build bridges with all around him. it was a great play, and the audience was roaring with laughter all through the play. so did they lose sight of the pathos amidst the hilarity, my wife wondered. i suspect the actors themselves had the same question on their minds at the end of the play!

Today, it's Boy Meets Girl presented by Centre for Film and Drama (CFD). hope to post about it in the near future.

ps: for tickets to saturday's(18th) and sunday's(19th) plays, call 25880179, 98458 24426 or 98454 52882.
all shows start at 7:30pm, Chowdaiah Hall, Bangalore.

Friday, February 10, 2006

descent from 'commanding heights"

a fine article by nandan nilekani on how the successful decision to privatise the Delhi and Mumbai airports, despite the hoo-haa by the Left-led unions, could be a pivotal moment in determining how much control the state exercises over markets.

nilekani himself was involved in a similar endeavour through the bangalore action task force (batf), a few years ago. until the comatose combo of dharam and deve gowda dismantled the task force. i believe it is much more beneficial when the government hands over infrastructure development to those who can do the job. for one, as in the case of batf, there's greater accountability, which results in greater benefits for you and me.

secondly, the man on the street no longer cares whether it's the state or a private company in charge of the job.

and that's probably because markets and consumer attitudes have changed over the past few years. take air travel, for example. unlike a few years ago, when it was considered elitist, now low cost carriers have introduced air travel to a new category of customers- the middle class. always a dangerous bunch of customers to rub the wrong way! and when such mostly middle class travellers are caught in the cross fires between the left-led unions and the government, they need an ass to kick. which, more often than not, belongs to the dillusional prakash karat.

while the go-ahead to privatise the mumbai and delhi airports is definitely a positive signal for the reforms process, it's only the beginning. i think manmohan and co. would do well to ignore the comrades on such issues and accelerate the reforms process. or join the comrades waving the red flag in front of the bull of public ire, which before long, will run them over.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Keeper of great thoughts

"History will not forgive you when you appeal again inzy" and other gems from Moin, the Enlightened.
My compliments to the Sports Editor at DNA for having gotten this fountain of wisdom to write for his paper.

the copy drinkers