Monthly Archives: September 2006

Pehchaan Kaun

The other day Sharmila aunty called at our residence number. Arrey wahee, Soha’s mom. Can still not place her? Ok, considering that Saif’s more popular – his mom as well. But it’s good that I did not receive her call. I would have been all over myself trying to talk to her and would not have been putting up a faux front like this. I don’t even remember how she introduced herself. But I am sure, had I or my parents picked up that call, we would have started bombarding her like those overwhelmed fans of Amitabh Bacchan on KBC.

Hello, mein Amitabh Bacchan bol raha hoon Kaun Banega Crorepati se.
FOP (Fan on phone) : Hello sir, jee sir, yes sir. I am a BIG fan of yours sir. I have seen all your movies sir.
You have a great influence in my life sir. Can I recite a poem in your honour sir?
[quick recital of lines from Madhushala followed by polite reminder by Amitabh Bacchan]

It’s good that my sister picked up the call, for it was intended to be for her. There was some documentary that was being shot and they needed a scriptwriter to translate the English script into Hindi. And they zeroed in on my sister of all people? I mean the sorts who insert all kind of random hindi words anywhere in a sentence without knowing what they mean? The sorts who tell a shopkeeper ‘mein aapka vikreta hoon’ thinking that vikreta = customer. Well even I didn’t study Hindi beyond 10th standard (and I so regret it), but certainly my command over that language, my understanding of shuddh hindi and my usage of grammar, tense and even sandhi vicched/samaas etc is ahem..I would like to think, quite remarkable. (Contact Lazy lump or Bhavna or Amit or Mamta for a verification – after all no one else can translate ROTFL into hindi as well as I did).

Oh, I digress all over again. So Sharmila aunty basically wanted my sis to work on this documentary and work she did. Even went out of station with her. When she had called home, my father and I instantly started competing with each other over who could chauffeur my sister to Sharmila aunty’s Vasant Vihar home. Oh! even the polite conversations we would have with her about generally everything or even about her and Parimal (Dharmendra) had started germinating in our minds. Nothing doing. My sister went alone via public transport. No nonsense and no bhaav when it comes to these bollywood types. After she came back, she was thoroughly interviewed by the rest of the family.

How’s her house? How’s the decor? Does she have starry airs? Was Nawaab Pataudi there? Oh, Sharmila aunty was on the exercycle? Oh, Soha was there too? (RDB had not released as yet) Oh, she got scolded by aunty as a regular kyonki maa bhee kabhee beti thee pair? Oh, they were having Daal roti? Oh, so they are normal ppl after all.. phew what a relief.

But I am sure if auctioned, our phone would definitely fetch a big price at least within our relatives. After all Sharmila Tagore doesn’t call everyday.


One of the “creativity” gimmicks used by ads is to do with showing how the product is being used worlwide. Transcending all geographical and linguistic barriers, all kind of cultural influence, these ads try to show that their product has universal appeal. Not everyone gets it right though. For example Toyota corolla. In an ad being broadcast here, they show how Corolla is the choice in various cities like Paris, Newyork, Tokyo etc with someone in the respective cities saying something (Welcome) in the local language. They finally show Rahul Khanna emerging out of a Corolla with a backdrop of some palaces. He also concedes to the car being well accepted globally. But don’t the ad makers forget one tiny little detail? Since when did cars in Paris and Newyork come with the drivers seat in the right hand side? Shouldn’t the car also be changed appropriately, if they want to show a still from a particular city, where a substantially native looking person says something in the local language? Or did they think that Toyota = Japan = Right hand drive everywhere!

But some others do get a perfect ten when it comes to the same concept. For example Nivea. The Nivea ad, which shows ppl across the world applying Nivea after shaving, on chapped lips, on skin, on babies – achieves whatever it desires. Somehow that ad fills one, with a warm fuzzy feeling about how the cream is multipurpose and is universally used. A large part of this effect is perhaps from the accompanying song by Asher Lane – New Days, which goes something like “Here comes the sun, it’s for everyone, I feel the sky is all mine’. Wonderful combination.

Another nice ad is the Videocon campaign, which shows the Gaytari Mantra being mouthed by not Indians but all kind of people in other countries. A very smart way of showing that finally everyone is recognising stuff “Indian”. Ultimately no product is complete without an equally smashing ad campaign.

Cheque check 3

Ah, The sweet smell of putting someone in their place. Customer care is one thing that definitely falls under the category of providing exactly the opposite of what they promise. Be it any commodity or service. As if life isn’t tough already, the things one buys, ensure that ones hands are full with the associated PITA’s (pain in the a$$ for the uninitiated) that come totally “free”. I finally got some respite from ICICI’s customer care. I have been their customer now for more than 7 years now – savings account, home loan, demat account, bonds and what not. Or it could have been even earlier by virtue of my parents having bought some bonds in my name when I was a kid. Anyhow in this particular episode, the problem was that I had tried to make some partial prepayment towards my home loan sometime last year. Since I wasn’t in the country, I had asked my parents to make the payments using the cheques from our joint account. My mom signed a cheque and went through the formalities of partial prepayment. ICICI quietly rejected the cheque without even informing us that it had bounced. When substantial time passed, we realised that the amount had not been deducted from the account and found that the cheque had been supposedly bounced due to signature mismatch. This was most ridiculous. My mother’s signatures were on the postdated EMI cheques too and they had no problem whatsover. Moreover everyone in our family is ultra careful about such procedures. I asked my parents to try again. This time my dad signed a cheque from the joint account and went through the formalities of partial prepayment. Again, ICICI repeated the same saga and rejected the cheque (quietly again) with no reason. No one bothered to inform us that it had bounced in the first place. I went around asking my savings account branch what was the reason for dishonouring the cheque, which they were able to provide to me much later after personal intervention. Again it happened to be “signature mismatch” which was most ridiculous.

Finally I went to the Jhandewalan branch of ICICI to discuss the issue with them. Due to two cheques having bounced, they wouldn’t even entertain any loan prepayments till a fine was paid for them both. I paid an exhorbitant fine of 757/- for 3 cheques (one was dishonoured many many years back and we didnt even know about it). I told the customer care that I just didn’t believe that the cheques would have bounced due to a signature mismatch and this seemed just a strategy to mint money on the side, more so because I didn’t have any proof of the cheques with me and I was just expected to take their word for it! After paying the fine for the bounced cheques, I made a 3rd payment which fortunately ICICI’s signature matching officials didn’t have anything against this time. I also lodged a complaint with them, demanding to see the bounced cheques and really confirming how the signatures on those didn’t match the counter signatures stored with the bank. As expected this was a lengthy process (god damn their mumbai headquarters). The cheques and everything had been sent to the mumbai branch and would take some time procuring. Even before this I had already been harassed enough to shuttle between their home loan branch in Jhandewalan, New Delhi and my savings account branch in Gurgaon – with both of them putting the onus of producing cheques on the other! Eventually I managed to put in the complaint and I was told that I would be called when the cheques come in. 4 months passed and no cheques ever came in. I eventually visited the bank again and told them off. I showed them the receipt I had of the complaint and the signatures of the employee who was to get back to me. She tried selling me some crap like “I forgot it that day and then my machine got some virus so I lost all the data of that day’s customers”. I gave her a piece of my mind about how she could be that non-serious and how she even expected me to believe that her machine, belonging to one of the biggest banks here, dealing with precious data like people’s money and finances, had some local data which was not even backed up?!! That was utterly preposterous. To top it all, the cheques could not be procured at all, since 6 months old cheques were purged anyway. So there was supposedly no way I could have even set my eyes on the cheques to actually see whether the signatures mismatched or not. I made yet another complaint and demanded that they refund me the money which was charged as fine, emphasising at the same time, that the amount they owed me was much more due to the additional loss incurred with my partial prepayment not being made on time due to some supposition that had been imposed on me. This time I wrote to the customer care of ICICI through the web and escalated this issue. I was told that scanned copies would be made available to me. But after some days I was told that since they were not able to get scanned copies either, they would refund me the extra fine charged. Finally I got back the fine that I was charged. And I decided to forget the losses incurred due to late partial prepayment (something to the amount of 6K or so), since the judicial system here can not really help me quickly. Had this bank done something like this in maybe US of A they would have been sued left, right and centre.

My tips to other grieving customers – as far as possible, make sure that you are told/given everything within your right and as long as you are not losing your sanity trying to get it. A lot of companies have such bad customer care that they just get away due to the sheer ignorance of the customer. But if they continue getting used to this, we will never be able to improve the seriousness that’s required in providing good customer care.

Jhalak dikhla ja

Not the imbecile song by Him who shall be Silky. The new dance show that launched today, in fact just now. The format seems to be straight out of the previous “popular” dance show – Nach Baliye, which sent the whole country watching just one program during those days. So much so that sitting in Finland I got reports that this show was rather popular. When I returned back to India midway in the series and saw the furore with which families, friends, colleagues discussed the goings on of the show beamed into their bedrooms, I realised that Indian television had a “formula” at hand. I digress, but then a tribute had to be paid to the first one (in India that is, since it was also copied from an international format).

Like Nach Baliye (which has a sequel coming up anyway), this show too has the 3 judges format. One dance director, one movie director (why do they have those I dont understand) and one oomphy actress who’s better at dancing than acting. So Saroj Khan has been replaced by Farah Khan minus the histrionics. Farhan Akhtar has been replaced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali (again sandwiched between the two females). Malaika has been replaced with Shilpa Shetty (can we ever forget ‘Chura ke dil mera’). The pair anchoring the show has been lifted straight from Nach Baliye and happens to be one of the popular pairs – Archana puran singh and Parmeet Sethi. Thankfully Parmeet isn’t heading over towards Shilpa at every opportunity to hug her like what he did with Malaika. The only way in which Jhalak Dikhla ja, seems to be different is that it has one celeb dancing with his/her choreographer instead of a celeb couple dancing. The choice of celebs is again, people who are not professional dancers and in some cases are rather surprising like Sanjeev Kapoor the chef!

Surprisingly I didnt see much promotion for the show, or is it because I hardly watch any of the Hindi serial channels?

Anyhow the first episode seemed to be executed just the way Nach Baliye was. Adequate hugging by the judges was there though no distribution of chillad or a guru/shishya bhashan. Since this is the first episode, the extra emotion, teary eyed people or the drama factor seemed to be absent. But I am sure it would follow once the show gains momentum. To start with, Ajay Jadeja strode in along with his choreographer. From hurling balls on the cricket field, he seems to have come down to hurling balls.. err..come down to gyrating his pelvis. Not very impressive. Then came Rati Agnihotri with a gusto, trying to recreate the “tere mere beech mein” effect that too with a costume that looked like she forgot her antlers and the tribal gong. Though I didnt see that 25 yr old effect, the judges were all praise for her effort, keeping in mind her age. Then entered the bad meanie of the KKKKKKkingdom – Aakashdeep Sehgal, sans the long hair, beard, moustache etc. He almost looked gay. He showed a lot of passion, physical strength and chemistry but forgot that he was here to dance. All that he did was twirl or swirl his choreographer around whereas everyone expected him to do something, what with those expressions and that agile body. Ended up being the lowest scorer of the day. Incidentally he was the only male dancer wearing white, all others turned up in black (is there some rule?). Then came one of the finest performances. Sultry Shveta Salve. She had the right movements, the right facial expression, the synchronisation, the enjoyment writ on her face. And needless to say she has a great figure (not that it matters, what with dilnaaz and gang coming up tops). Easily the topmost scorer of the day.

Then surprises of all surprises, we had Sanjeev Kapoor out of the kitchen for once, and onto the stage. He came dressed as a chef complete with the cap and then shed off his layering as if peeling an onion. Out came a black dress (what else) which somehow reminded me of Phantom comics. And out came even the fake moustache, peeled off yet again, like them veggies. Though he still stuck to salsa – if not in the kitchen then on the stage. And surprisingly again, he danced quite well, handled his partner well, had the right facial expressions too! Then it was Pooja Body err..Bedi, in an eminently forgettable dance number. Nevertheless she got complimented by a relieved Farah Khan who had been through the nightmare of directing her in “Jo Jeeta Wahee Sikander” and all the dance that she could manage then was, her lying on a car with the fan on. Mahesh Manjrekar strutted in with his partner. He looked like he could just stand around with a pistol blowing smoke. Surprisingly he danced well in a combination of salsa with tapori dance. He almost gave a Dev anand look while dancing in fact. And just before I thought that dancing on salsa was perhaps a requirement of the day, Jassi came in with her Babaji’s blessings and did a nice jive number. Again, she had the right dance, the right expression, the right everything. Though on a slightly lesser scale than Shveta Salve. And like all other couples, this one too ended the dance with the female falling onto the guy whilst he held her.

Like earlier reality shows, this one too gives the audience the kind of power to decide the winners, which they expect would decide their TRP’s too. Though the quality of the dances is mediocre compared to Nach Baliye. The show caught attention alright, but what with Nach Baliye’s sequel releasing soon, we would have too much dance everywhere. It still remains to be seen if these shows are gonna die out like India Idol 2 or move on to something more spectacular.

Zilly big

The title, though it doesn’t make much sense, is so, because most of the “Silly Pic” meme victims happen to be simbly southindeeyan suddenly. So from “Silly Pig”, I have graduated to “Zilly Bigg”.
Zilly Bigg?
Here’s one such “Zilly Bigg” that I have been forced to share by virtue of being tagged by Patrix. Please note, the picture is actually not mine. That is someone else. But the reflection which I tried capturing in her goggles, during a photography workshop cum DBM we had at Humayun’s tomb is the candidate here. Though I have a propensity to have silly pics taken (mostly by having my eyes closed at the exact moment the pic is clicked), such pictures are not readily available with me right now. Another pic of mine (?), can be seen here.