Saturday, June 26, 2010

DORK - The Incredible Adventures of Robin Einstein Verghese

I whole heartedly recommend DORK to anyone who loves humor writing. In fact, to me, it is the best fiction writing in humor in Indian Writing English in all the books that I have read so far and definitely compares with some of the best in the world. Sidin Vadukut cooks up a wonderful dish with Mr. Robin Verghese, as the happy-go-lucky management trainee stumbles from one misadventure to another, never losing his enthusiasm nor nerve, always coming up with a new idea, always hoping for the best. Whether it is the girl, the job, the top position, the flat, the assignment or anything else, Einstein has a unique way of solving it as readers will find out.

Easy to read, easy to identify with and laced liberally with some really wonderful moments when the reader has to break up into loud laughter, DORK is a must read. Sidin Vadukut writes in a style that is entirely his own and sustains the joy of knowing Robin Verghese's secret thoughts, throughout the book.

Great Insight By Noel David

While sharing his impressions of how champions like Sachin, Rahul Dravid, Laxman, Anil Kumble and others prepared, Noel gave a valuable insight into the mind of champions. He said that they were so focused and they so loved what they were doing (in this case, playing cricket), that they always, always spoke cricket. At dinner, at nets, after the game, in the bus, they would always be talking about the game. 'Others, like me for instance, would get bored of all this talk and talk of something else, but not them,' he said.

This indicates a new habit worth cultivating for the champion, and the best part is, that it has some attendant benefits as well. It is best to keep our focus on what we want. It is also best that we talk about it as much as we can because we could pick up some useful tips and support in the process. Come to think of it, all people who achieve things are like that, always talking about what they want - even in circumstances where there are people who may not fit.

What this does, apart from keeping your focus on what you want is that it clearly demarcates the kind of people you tend to move with. You will soon shift to people who can appreciate your talk and who can help you in your endeavour in one way or another. It will quickly keep away people who do not have focus or who do not support your seriousness. Even in teams, I feel this kind of talk should be encouraged as often as possible to keep the seriousness and the focus on what needs to be achieved.

Thanks for the tip Noel. Invaluable indeed.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Follow-up for the Champion's Mindset

As follow up for the Champion Mindset workshop these are things to bear in mind, exercises to do:
1) Do one thing out of comfort zone every day and write it down in a journal
2) Create and remember to write down as many YES factors as you can during the day
3) Act on every thought - it is the act that makes the experience, not the thought alone
4) Take ownership for every act, thought
5) Remember that champions may not be popular but they are respected
6) Focus on the positives even when things go wrong, build up the positives and make this a habit
7) Measure improvement each day, whether it is weight loss or adding a new skill
8) Get comfortable with your strengths, with yourself, add more if you can from other sources
9) Fine tune your detailed action plan, just add a few lines everyday, sometimes just look at it until it makes sense to you. make more plans for dreams in other areas and journal down your progress
10) Set targets for yourself, raise expectations from yourself so you live up to it
11) The more you act, the more you grow, and the more you grow out of your comfort zone the more you participate in life
12) List down things you'd really like to do, which you have been postponing and start doing them right now
13) Figure out things that are not working in your life and take one step towards taking more ownership on it
14) Do things that make you smile, laugh
15) Be with people who help you on the path, support you

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Champions Mindset at COD - Hectic 2 days

Developing the Champion's Mindset program at COD
The Champions Mindset workshop at COD went off very well. I was quite surprised to find that we had 19 registrations - I expected about 15. There were 4 nominations from Singareni Collieries (Joseph, Appa Rao, Venu Gopal and Biswanath Rano), 5 from Naandi Foundation (Rekha, Narasimha Rao, Narasimha Chary, Murali and Rajesh Patel) 3 from Ybrant Digital (Pawan Wankhede, Ramakanth and Sreedhar), 2 from Midhani (Gurulingam and Ramavadh), 2 from APITCO (Sanjay Das and Srinivas Raghu), 2 from HIL (Pankaj and Ananth Reddy) and Dhanalakshmi, a young professional who came on her own.

It was a heterogenous group with 55 year old DGMs from Midhani to young pros who have started out on their careers, a Director of Business Development in a growing company to an ISB graduate and I knew it had its challenges in getting them all on the same plane. However, it all went off very well.

Noel David, my good friend, was kind enough to come at the end of the first day to share his experiences on how champions think and develop champion traits. It was very interesting to hear him recount stories about Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Azharuddin and Laxman apart from his own experiences.

The 2 day program was quite hectic as usual. Amar helped me in the program by taking care of all the backup stuff and supporting me through the program and that gave me enough space to deliver the program more efficiently. The interactions from the group were good and I was particularly satisfied to see animated involvement from the senior professionals in the program just as I was glad to know that Bhagyalakshmi was enjoying the program and getting what she wanted from it. Since she actually paid her own hard earned money and came voluntarily I was more keen to see how she was faring, and her feedback in the end was especially satisfying. The overall feedback at the end was good and it made it all worth it. I just about dragged myself off  in the evening and Amar and I went off to Odyssey for a cup of coffee.

Thanks Amar, Madhavi, Siddharth, Naresh, Vijay Nair, Majid Khan and all the staff at COD and all the participants. I enjoyed the two days, gave it my all, and am now going to take a well earned rest over the weekend.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Short Visit by Satish

Satish flew in from Pune last Wednesday morning and flew out on Thursday. It was a packed couple of days. We reached home just in time to drop Anjali off for her first day at school. She looked quite eager to get into the school and away from us. We returned and then went out to get Anjali back and also to get some shopping done. Watched a bit of a movie, drank some beer, ate a nice heavy lunch and slept. Went out in the evening to Koni's house to watch a soccer match on his big screen television and returned late at night.

Next day was scheduled for breakfast at Taj, Secunderabad, followed by tea at Bhave's. I had to rush back to go to a function. Dropped Shobha, Satish and Anjali at Westside and went on my way. After I returned, we had to make another trip to pick up his clothes at Westside. I dropped in at Landmark to see both books of mine well displayed, signed some copies and returned home. We left for the airport rather late but made it in good time.

It rained nicely all along the way and the ride was good fun.

Champion's Mindset - Workshop With the COD

Pleased to announce a 2 day workshop 'The Champion's Mindset' being facilitated by me on 23rd and 24th of this month. The program has got about 16-20 participants as of current indications. Amar Chegu is helping me with the program. I am quite pleased with the number of registrations and I think it should benefit the individuals and thereby the organization's they represent.
On Day One we have invited Noel David for a chat on the 'Champion's Mindset'. He has shared the dressing room with some of the great of the modern day game including Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Azharuddin, VVS Laxman to name a few and it should be interesting to hear him speak.
Am currently preparing for the workshop. Will be relieved once it is over. It has been going on for a long time.

Column with the Indian Express

Good. Got an offer to write a column with the Indian Express for their Sunday magazine. I am really pleased because this will keep me focused on some serious humour writing. I have not written humour for a long time nor have I written seriously for publication. This assignment should do me a world of good. Will provide a link to the article once it appears.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

K.K. Senthil Kumar - A Passion for Excellence

I am always intrigued by people with a passion for excellence. It shows in their work, in their talk, in their attitude and in their entire demeanour. So when I first saw Senthil, a couple of months ago, I sensed a groundedness about himself despite his success at a young age (he is cinematographer for 3 of the biggest hits in Telugu, Magadheera, Arundhati and Yamadonga, not to mention a fabulous body of work). He has an uncompromising quality when it comes to work, works very hard (in heat that was constantly around 44 degrees for most of May 2010), constantly improvises, has great attention for detail and a great enthusiasm for his work. Ever smiling with kind and compassoniate eyes, Senthil is someone you'd love to have on your side because he comes across as a wonderful, honest and forthright human being as well. I decided to dig deeper to know more about him and what makes him tick.
K.K. Senthil Kumar, Ace cinematographer

His story - A Tryst With Destiny
Senthil's story could well inspire several others. Born and brought up in a normal middle class family in Secunderabad - his father was in the defence services, he did his schooling in Valerian Grammar School, Alwal, subsequently went to Arts and Science College, Secunderabad, (now PG College, Secunderabad) and graduated in Bachelor of Science, Electronics. After graduation he worked as a teacher in a school, teaching Maths and Science, while he wrote exams for various jobs. 'I decided to write whatever exams came my way and attempted everything - from the NDA, to Civil Services, to bank PO jobs - I wrote every single exam,' he reminiscences. It was then that destiny chose to follow him. 'My friend Ram Mohan, who was interested in films, had got an application for the FTII, Pune for himself,' he says. ' I had no interest in movies or the FTII, but since my friend was ineligible that year (being an under graduate) and I was eligible, I signed the form, ticking cinematography for no particular reason. In fact he filled up most of the form himself and sent it off'.
'I was pleasantly surprised to get a call for the interview and went to Pune,' he said. ' Walking into the institute was itself a wonderful experience, with all its sylvan settings. And to top it all the selection process was very impressive. We had a week long introductory course in film making, with group discussions in the evening. During this course I enjoyed learning about the craft and art of film making, and when I watched Kurosawa's 'Red Beard'  I was totally seduced by the medium. In the final interview I was asked about a movie I had seen and a scene that I liked and I described a scene in 'Bombay'. I don't know if what I said was anywhere close to what Mani Ratnam conceived,' he chuckles in that boyish fashion of his. 'Anyway, I did not expect to make it because there were so many seniors and I was the youngest ad most inexperienced of the lot. There were many from the industry, many who had written the exam several times before. I was really surprised when I got the admission into FTII,'
'I started to seriously believe in destiny after that. How someone with no film background, no connections, no interest even till that pint, also got this opportunity due to chance is incomprehensible.'
Senthil, me and Mohan, last day of shoot

It's not hard for me to comprehend what Senthil would have done after he got the admission. He must have gone after the course with the same seriousness that he takes everything. ' I actually topped my course in the first semester,' he laughs. Ever the sportsman, he remembers playing a cricket match with ex-FTIIians led by Tom Alter.

'Anyway apart from all the fun and games, I enjoyed the course thoroughly and when the time came to choose between Bombay and Hyderabad I chose Hyderabad. I am glad I made that decision,' he says. I am sure the Telugu film industry is glad too.

The Dark Period
'After I returned to Hyderabad I went to Prasad's Labs to meet someone I knew to get some work. He told me to work with someone who does a lot of work as in quantity. I started out as an assistant to Sharath garu for several movies. After a while as an assistant I decided that I had better strike out on my own whatever happens. This period was the darkest period because I got no work. I was clear I did not want to do TV, and I did not want to compromise. I got no work. It used to be so frustrating those days. I remember going for a job in Ramoji Film City where my only job was to switch on the camera while a weather report was being read and switch it off. I refused of course. It was then that I gave myself a time frame to either make it in cinema or do something else.'
'Sometime then I got a call from Chandrasekhar Yeleti who wanted a camera person for a TV serial (Amrutham) but one who had no previous TV experience. I took it up because it was interesting and offered some scope to use my craft. And then 'Aithe' happened. A small budget movie but it got noticed by many which really surprised me. And then, just when I was getting my hopes up, I got branded as an art film maker which was tough to shake off.'

Big Decision
'I took up a project with a well known cinematographer. I had lots of hopes on that project because I needed work and the money but I had to give it up after 2 days. I just could not compromise on the work. After Aithe came Rajamouli with Sye, a sports film with rugby. And then came 3, Yamadonga, Chatrapathi, Arundhathi and Magadheera and my work was soon recognized. In terms of work, I enjoyed the Chatrapathi experience the most.'

On his work ethic
'I cannot remember who said it but I always believe that my next shot is the best shot. I am always trying to give my best to every shot within the constraints that I have. I remember a meeting with Ganga Raju Gunnam while shooting the song sequence for 'Aithe'. Time was running out and I had no idea how we were going to do it. Then I told him that if he gave some more time we would do a perfect job, he asked me in return 'what is a perfect job?' I had no answer. And then he said, 'if I give you 15 days you'll do a better job, and if I give another 15 you will better that. But that is not important. What is perfect for us is what we deliver in the time frame we need to'. I always remember that.'

On his philosophy of life
Make the best use of the opportunities you get and always give your best.

On his future
'I would love to direct of course. Film making is a director's medium.' And when I ask him if he was ready for direction he smiles and says 'yes'. Mohana Krishna Indraganti who was sitting next to us added, 'There's no time like I will be ready in a few years. You either have it in you to direct or not.' Senthil smiles and agrees. 'My only confusion is about what kind of a film I would like to do. An out and out action film or a romance. If I had to remake a movie I would love to remake 'Devi' and change the end.'
Passionate about cricket - Senthil with the high elbow, the perfect straight drive

Senthil loves playing games and sports - he was an avid footballer and cricketer in his college days - and plays well. Leave a bat or ball in his vicinity and he gets into playing mode or kicks the football in the few minutes between shots. There was a moment when I saw a bunch of young footballers kick their football towards the equipment and the set boys confiscated the ball. Senthil intervened immediately and made them give the ball back to the boys. He speaks easily and honestly about his past, his love for the game and the medium. He listens reverently when Baig saab speaks. He laughs easily at the jokes that fly around. His commentary during the one off game we made the boys play was hilarious, and one of the highlights of the shoot. His eyes shine with passion when he talks of good cinema with Mohana Krishna. There was a lovely discussion about Ray, Kurosawa and other greats that they both admire that I thoroughly enjoyed listening to. But most importantly, he sticks with his camera team - they look like a family, more like a solid mass, moving together in the heat of the location, cracking jokes, pulling up on another when someone slips up. He checks each shot for perfection. And being a cricketer, his inputs in each shot make life much more easier for the rest of us.

There is no reason why Senthil will not scale great heights and make wonderful, honest movies in the years to come. I wish him him all the best in his journey and Senthil, I will be eagerly watching out for your movies, as I am sure, many more are.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Noel David - Fielding Drills

Just as Gajanand gave us his time and expertise, Noel David, my dear junior from All Saints days, a delightful character in my book and an India International who was one of the best fielders for India in his playing days (now the Ranji Trophy fielding coach for Hyderabad), readily agreed to conduct a drill for fielding. Luckily for us Sumanth was around and he joined the drills which we video taped.

To begin with Noel took out his impressive fielding kit with a pugg, mitt, wicket, bat, soft balls...all of which were specially made for Noel and his fielding drills. First he set up six cones in two straight lines of three cones each about 5 yards apart from one another and 10 yards apart while facing one another. He made six of the boys take their places at the cones and throw the ball to one another. This was a warm up routine.

Then he made drills for close fielding where the players lined up one behind another, caught the ball and threw it back to the pugg. Other drills included slip catching, taking catches off the flat surface, throwing at the wicket on the run, backing up, hitting the wicket over arm, hitting the wicket under arm, taking high catches, throwing from the deep, attacking fielding in the deep, defensive fielding in the deep etc.

It was a very interesting one hour session indeed and we all tried our hands at all the material that Noel had bought with him. This should look good on the screen if we manage to pull it off. Noel promised to come around on the day of the shoot and I hope it will happen.
Thanks Noel, for coming and helping us out with your expertise. It would go miles for us.

Gaz - Training parts for the movie

This morning I had our good friend Gajanand Reddy, or Gaz, as we affectionately call him, come over and put us through some physical training drills for cricketers that we could use in the movie. Gaz came directly from Gymkhana where he was training youngsters - he is now the physical trainer for the Hyderabad Ranji team - and well in time. Gaz, superbly fit, was kind enough to make time for me despite having to leave this very evening to Australia to attend a course.
After a light breakfast at the location, he picked a bunch of kids and started his routines. First he made the kids warm up with a 60 yard jog in a straight line, to and fro, a couple of times. After that, the boys were made to walk and get their breath back. This was followed by a session of stretches - locking fingers and stretching upwards, arms, chest, sides stretching, hip rotation, toe touching - until the body is suitably warmed up and stretched.
Then he made the boys do a series of 70 yard sprints. The first two at 60%, the next at 80% and the last one at 100%. Then Gaz bought out his bag of cones to show a few drills after that to improve agility and speed.
The first drill was to divide the boys into two teams. He made them stand one behind another. Then he placed 3 cones at distances of 5 yards, 10 yards and 15 yards from the boys. The first boy had to run, touch the first cone, return, touch the base cone, run and touch the second cone, return and touch the base cone, run and touch the third cone and stop. This, the shuttle run, had to be done at maximum speed and in a relay motion to ensure that your team wins.
The second drill was a T drill where a cone was placed at 5 yards in a straight line and two other cones were placed 5 yards on either side of it. Another cone was placed 15 yards ahead. The boy has to sprint and touch the center cone, turn left and move sideways to the left most cone, move back to center in the sideways shuffle, run back to start point in a back run, sprint ahead again, turn right in a sideways shuffle to the rightmost cone and return to center cone and then sprint like crazy to the cone in the front.
The third drill was a diamond drill where a diamond was formed with 5 yards a side and another cone placed about 20 yards from the tip of the diamond. Players had to start shuffling sideways fast, from the left of the diamond to the next point, shuffle facing outwards to the next, shuffle facing inwards to the next and shuffle back to the start point facing inwards before sprinting to the far cone.
The last drill was a 3 run drill where the players had to run between two cones that were kept in a straight line some 15 yards apart. The player runs from cone one to cone two, turns and runs back to cone one, turned again and runs back to cone two and turns and heads right past cone one on to the steps behind.

After this drill, he showed us a few strengthening exercises for the back - the thinker's pose where he said after 40 seconds one will find the back strengthening considerably and the cobra which is more pronounced. Then we did abdomen strengthening exercises where the players lie on their back and do crunches, holding their position to a count of five, then with legs stretched upward at 9 degrees, then with leg folded so that the right leg touches the left knee and small crunches are done by lifting the body in that direction.
As warm down he suggested that players stand beside steps and put up their legs on the steps and reach down to touch the heels.
The exercises were interesting and aimed at improving flexibility, agility, speed, balance and coordination. I am sure that they will look very good on screen once we shoot them and also provide good material for any youngster watching the movie.
Thanks Gaz, for taking time out and coming over to help. It was a huge help. Wishing you well in Australia and by the time you return we can show you what we have done.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Super Review of 'If You Love Someone' - Financial Express

Check out this link. It has a review of If You Love Someone (someplace near the bottom) in the Financial Express with a 4 star rating as well. The 'romance ka badshah arrives'!

For those who want to read only the review of 'If You Love Someone...' (the article titled Summer of Pulp reviewed several other books), here it is.

"If You Love Someone..."

Harimohan Paruvu


Rs 195, Pp 234


An intense love story that revolves around Meghna Mathur, an erstwhile successful career women who sacrifices her career, ambitions and her life to make her husband's business successful. In her search for perfect relationship she is drawn to Aditya, her first love. And its her promise to Meet him again on her 50th birthday that draws her out of her monotonous life and Aditya from the jaws of death.


Meghna Mathur:A beautiful, intelligent and complex women whose passion for life gets suppressed because of her marriage

Aditya: An intense and enigmatic character, completely in love with Meghna.

Pankaj: Meghna's husband who is totally dependent on her for all the little things in life, but refuses to give her any credit


It's the character of the protagonist that one can easily identify with. And for those that have been on a staple diet of mush, this unconventional love story, the intensity will be rivetting.

Pulpmeter :****

Check out the four star rating!! Made my day for sure.