Sunday, February 28, 2016

Movie Review: Aligarh

The Story Frame:
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Aligarh is based on true events linked to a 64 year-old man Dr. Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras who taught Marathi at Aligarh Muslim University. A sting operation conducted by a local TV channel showed him engaged in carnal pleasures with a friend (a rickshaw puller). He was removed from his position of Reader and Chair of Modern Indian Languages on charges of homosexuality. He was an acclaimed writer, poet and a recipient of Maharastra Sahitya Parishad Award for his contributions to Marathi literature. Though, he won the case against the unlawful act of Aligarh Muslim University, destiny had something else in store for him. Unfortunately, a good soul, a man who believed in love and compassion was found dead in his flat under mysterious circumstances.

Aligarh is a biopic made by Director Hansal Mehta and it is written by Apurva Asrani. Manoj Bajpai plays the role of the protagonist and Rajkummar Rao essays the role of a scribe. It deals the subject of love through the eyes of a homosexual, it raises some pertinent questions about our prejudices, biases and notions of morality. It also places the spotlight on the controversial and much debated Section 377, IPC that criminalizes homosexuality.  

Cast: Manoj Bajpai (Professor Siras), Rajkummar Rao (Deepu Sebastian), Ashish Vidyarthi (Advovate Anand Grover), Dilnaz Irani (Namitha), Sukesh Arora (Tahir Islam), Balaji Gauri (Nita Grewal), Divya Unni (Reporter), Sumit Gulati (Tashi), KR Parmeshwar (Professor Sridharan), Ishwak Singh (Arvind Narayan), Nutan Surya (Anjali Gopalan), Suman Vaidya (Shadab Qureshi)

Genre: Biopic /Drama

Direction: Hansal Mehta

Written by: Apurva Asrani

Produced by: Sunil Lulla, Shailesh R Singh

Production Company: Eros Entertainment, Karma Pictures

Story idea and Research by: Ishani Banerjee

Cinematography: Satya Rai Nagpaul

Screeplay: Apura Asrani

Music: Karan Kulkarni

Film Editing by: Apurva Asrani

Theatre Release: 26th February, 2016

Language: Hindi

Duration: 120 Minutes
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Reviewer's Thumb Mark

Hansal Mehta's film Aligarh is a lyrical expression of a man's loneliness. A man whose name is Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras (Manoj Bajpai), who is the only Marathi Professor amongst a Urdu speaking majority Aligarh city and single in a residential area of married people and conservative families. He is a man of letters with a flair to write poems in his mother tongue (Marathi), who in his solitude find solace in the company of  Lata Mangeshkar's old melodies while he down a couple of pegs of his chosen spirit daily and occasionally seeking a partner who just happens to be of the same sex to make him feel wanted to soothe his soul. What is his offence? His offence is his choice of partner. A choice that does not fall within the moral frame determined by the so called moral watchdogs of the society. And, therefore, the voyeuristic society who often find pleasure playing peeping toms sends their mercenaries armed with a video cam in the middle of the night to Professor Siras' 21 Medical Colony flat of Aligarh Muslim University, where he and his partner is filmed while they are engaged in carnal love. They are beaten up, humiliated, made to pose in different manners to be clicked, and are threatened. Their right to privacy is breeched not only by the hired men but also by the university officials namely the Proctor, Deputy Proctor, PRO and the Media Advisor who joins them in a few minutes as they act in connivance with them. 

Fooled by the University authorities that the matter will remain confidential, the photos of Professor Siras along with the juicy story of  a pervert's sexcapade with a rickshaw puller is released to the media which forms the headlines of newspapers the next dawn. What follows is unpleasant, ugly and painful. He is hounded by the media, pried by his colleagues, ostracized socially and suspended from his job. He frets even at a feeble voice on his door or outside his flat. His basic amenities like electricity is snapped and is rationed to him only for four hours late evenings; he shifts houses from one alley to another as a nomadic clarifying and assuring landlords and agents that he is married but stays alone because his family is away from him; and he is influenced by his colleague and friend Professor Sridharan who teaches Malayalam  to tender an apology letter to the authorities expecting that this will mellow the university authorities against Professor Siras, which actually goes against him initially in the court as he conceded that he is guilty in the letter.  The vulnerability and loneliness of the sexagenarian is played so well by Manoj Bajpai that you are in awe of him. He is par excellent. Manoj Bajpai's Professor Siras makes you feel hurt, vulnerable, sad, depressed, lonely and poetic with him. His act makes the audience internalize the agony of Professor Siras.

The misconception and prejudice towards LGBT and their sexual orientation people have in general is questioned subtly but quite poignantly in Aligarh. India is a country where homosexuality is against the law of the land (Section 377, IPC, 1860). This section was later reversed by an amendment done by the Delhi High Court on 2nd July 2009. Aligarh story tells us about Professor Siras and his ordeal after this judgment in 2009. The story of Aligarh propels further with the entry of a Keralite, Deepu Sebastain (Rajkummar Rao) who is a journalist for Indian Post Newspaper. Deepu happens to find Professor Siras' story in a local newspaper and expresses his keenness to cover the same but his boss Namitha (Dilnaz Irani) hands over the task to another colleague of his because Namitha finds his colleague more experienced in covering sex scandals. Deepu even questions his boss with whom he has a good rapport by asking her that how can she belittle such a happening which cause pain and humiliation to a man of repute as sex scandal? Deepu's insistence and his take on his colleagues report on the story she wrote as a mere gay-right article he finally gets the nod by his boss to pack his bag with his photojournalist, Tashi (Sumit Gulati - who was much noted for his act as compounder Krishna in the movie Talwar) head to meet Professor Siras to tell his story with a human angle to the world. Deepu Sebastian's initial encounter with Professor is unwelcomed by the sexagenarian when he comes to know that he is from media and thinks that he is yet another journo who is part of yellow journalism.

Deepu Sebastian's patience, sensibility and persistence makes Professor Siras to open his home to him. There are so many beautiful and soulful moments shared between them in Aligarh that makes you sensitive, sensible and responsible towards people, their life, emotions and choices. It makes you think and understand human beings beyond the so called man-made boundaries of gender, caste, region, language, sexual orientation and religion. In one such conversation when Deepu asks Professor whether he is a 'gay'? Professor very philosophically counter him that how can anyone restrict and define a blissful feeling of love in just three words. Their talk on poetry and Professor Siras telling him that poetry lies in the silence and space you find between words and lines are touchy. Their bonding reaches a high when Professor Siras blushing when he agrees for a selfie with Deepu. The last scenes with Deepu and Professor tugs at your heartstrings.
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Professor Siras is urged and convinced by his well wishers, activists and Deepu to fight a case to revoke his suspension, regain his dignity, challenge the unlawful discrimination for being a homosexual and his right for privacy. His fight receives an ammo when his case is taken up by a noted lawyer Anand Grower (Ashish Vidyarthi) who is known for his stance for the rights of the LGBT community. But Professor Siras dislikes to be labeled, and is too meek to hold cudgel against his tormentors. This is so true and evident when the audience find him either dozing or translating his poetries in English during the court proceedings. His attendance in court is a mere representation for a cause for people who are like him but then he is beyond all these technicalities and legal nuances. His love for life is pure and beyond mortal definitions and understandings.  
Image Courtesy: (Manoj Bajpai with Hansal Mehta)
The choice of Aligarh's release is significant at such a juncture when the debate and deliberations around  Article 377 has gained public attention and momentum. The July 2nd, 2009 ruling decriminalizing homosexuality was a welcome relief for many and then the Supreme court of India washing it's hands saying that amending or repealing this section  lies with the parliament and not with the judiciary on 12th December, 2013  had disheartened the LGBT community and their well wishers.  Nevertheless, the constant and persistent efforts by the LGBT community and many activists have made the Supreme Court recently state on 2nd February, 2016 during the hearing of petitions submitted that all the curative petitions submitted will be relooked and reviewed again by a five-member constitutional bench. 

Ishani Banerjee's story idea and research has done wonders and reflects throughout the film. The background music by Karan Kulkarni is good. Apurva Asrani's editing and Satya Rai Nagpaul's Cinematography are worth mentioning.

Hansal Mehta's treatment of a sensitive, not so comfortable and socially taboo topic is commendable.  His choice of two high-octane actors like Manoj Bajpai and Rajkummar Rao  makes Aligarh a delight to watch. The deadly duo - Hansal Mehta and writer Apurva Asrani takes the viewers through an exploratory journey within, to feel and understand what it means to be alone at the autumn of one's life and that too when you are perceived as the 'other' by a majority in the society just because your sexual orientation doesn't toe the line. Hats off to Apurva Asrani for an honest and compelling story. Hansal Mehta's Shahid, City Lights and now Aligarh will be always remembered in the history of Indian cinemas for sure.

Go and watch Aligarh to bulldoze the naysayers who says that such movies doesn't appeal a larger audience. While I am writing this review it is sad to now that the film had quietly been banned in Aligarh city. It is being reported by a major daily that the city mayor and some local group, mounted a protest against its screening. She felt the film would 'link the city with homosexuality', which would be nothing short of a defamation. Director Hansal Mehta told TOI (as reported in 27th feb, 2016 edition) that "This is a homophobic decision". The scriptwriter Apurava Asrani in his media interaction (as reported in TOI, 27 Feb, 2016) has said that "the decision reeks of homophobia and that the opponents of the film will have to come to terms that 2% of India's population is from the LGBT community" At a time when jingoism, communalism and unwarranted censorship are posing real challenge to the democratic fiber of our nation, freedom of expression and unity in diversity, Aligarh is a must watch.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 4.75/5

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Movie Review: Puthiya Niyamam (Malayalam)

The Story Frame:

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Puthiya Niyamam is a family crime thriller. The story hovers around a happy family comprising of Louis Pothen an Advocate (Mammootty) and an all rounder in many terms, his wife Vasuki Iyer an acclaimed Kathakali artist essayed by Nayanthara and their school going daughter Chintha. It takes the audience through the happenings in this family which is quite unpleasant and how the lady in the family goes through the trauma and find ways to sail through difficult times. Puthiya Niyamam is about family bonding. It's message to the world is even the silence of the dear ones in your life conveys a lot. So listen to the untold!

Cast: Mammootty (Advocate Louis Pothen), Nayanthara (Vasuki Iyer), Baby Ananya (Chintha), Sheelu Abraham (DCP Jeena), Rachana Narayanankutty (Kani), Aju Varghese (Romanch), S N Swamy, Sadiq

Genre: Crime Thriller

Direction: A K Sajan

Produced by: P Venugopal, Geo Abraham

Production Company: V G Films International

Written by: A K Sajan

Cinematographer: Roby Varghese Raj

Music: Background Score by Gopi Sunder, Songs by Vinu Thomas

Film Editing by: Vivek Harshan

Distributors: Abaam Moviews, Popcorn Entertainments (Asia PAcific)

Theatre Release: 12th February, 2016

Language: Malayalam

Duration: 133 minutes
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 Reviewer's Thumb Mark

Puthiya Niyamam positioned as a crime thriller is quite natural to draw parallels with the much applauded film 'Drishyam'. It does match the acting skills and caliber of the cast of Dhrishyam but then falls flat in making it gripping and thrilling. The filmmaker and his crew have done an excellent paper work to make it look a thriller but the execution of the script on screen makes it appear forceful. There is a kind of desperateness in making the film and the events appear mind-boggling.

Puthiya Niyamam is a story about a happy family comprising of Louis Pothen Narimadan (Mammootty) who is multitalented - he is a movie critic who anchors a show called 'Kathrika' on TV, an Advocate specialized in divorce cases and is also known for his socialist leanings;  his wife, Vasuki Iyer (Nayanthara) is acclaimed as one of the best Kathakali artist; and their school-going daughter Chintha ( Baby Ananya) is much grown-up than her age.

Louis Pothen is a family man at heart and strongly beliefs that married life is all about sharing, mutual admiration and togetherness. He is a man who visits his family even when they didn't own Vasuki who is an Iyer by caste and not a Christian.

Louis Pothen is being appraised about Vasuki by Chintha that her mother these days behave very strangely. She is aloof, lost and is going through symptoms of forgetfulness. Though, Louis Pothen brushes aside his daughter's concern about her mother the viewers are taken repeatedly to different events where Vasuki behaves weirdly which at times appears unfounded initially. The whole first half is wasted on Vasuki's silence, fits of anger and mysterious paranoid looks. The audience are left to draw shapes in the darkness and are led to speculate while an old man (S N Swamy) often walking across Vasuki's colony road with a suspicious look and sometimes sitting in his balcony with a telescope pointed somewhere. It takes ages to understand what this man has to do with Vasuki's silence and when we come to know his side of the story it seems to be far-fetched and difficult to digest this man's weird silence. Let me restrain myself divulging much because I would like you to understand how botched the scenes are.

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Vasuki the protagonist has something to hide from her family   (which I don’t want to reveal) especially from her husband Louis Pothen because she fears that she will fall from grace. The mental trauma and the bottled anger in her finds solace in the newly transferred DCP Jeena Bhai IPS, who is the talk of the town and the new fancy of the print and electronic media because of her feministic leanings and her law abiding attitude. Jeena’s telephonic conversations with Vasuki accelerate the unfolding of events in the second half.

The youths in question in the plot are wayward and one of them is the son of a reputed and highly regarded school teacher (Sadiq) who is recently awarded for his outstanding services in the field of imparting value based quality education to his students. How is Vasuki connected to these youths? Do they actually have anything to do with Vasuki’s mysterious moves?
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Vasuki as a character in Puthiya Niyamam has many things to worry about viz: the seemingly growing proximity of Kani, a TV anchor and Louis Pothen’s colleague towards her husband; the talks of the local fish monger, fruit vendor and the apartment’s laundry man laden with highly sexual overtones; the hurriedness displayed always by her daughter’s school bus conductor in helping children physically to board the bus; and her nose to find out that people come to the apartment’s terrace to smoke weed.

What is the role of Louis Pothen in this whole seemingly not connected events? Is he in the dark? What happens to the youths in the end? These are some of the questions you would like to explore and find answers while watching the movie.

The climax of the movie for me was very unconvincing. The writer and the filmmaker try hard to justify the unraveling of events and people by bringing it on a single string by beading it together. It is so foolhardy of a character to use a software on mobile to imitate the voice of a senior police official and that too repeatedly; can anyone take instructions and execute multiple crimes without even meeting the well-wisher even once face to face; is it so easy to use a beacon, a siren and a police van and reach a colony where already people recognize you; how often can events and incidents coincide always timely and appropriately as per the plan; is it possible for habitual sex maniacs, drug addicts and repeat offenders to be driven to take extreme steps that may eventually lead them to death in a short span of time; how come a lone witness who is already scared of divulging the details in public be part and parcel of a crime though justified and glorified in the name of seeking justice outside the so-called constitutional procedures? What happens to the crime and the accused DCP Jeena Bhai mentions in the movie that she has zeroed in; isn’t it the responsibility of the storyteller to close the events mentioned in the film logically for the viewer’s sake?

Well, there are so many pertinent questions to ask and answers to derive, which I would resist to attempt to do just because it may not be fair on my part as a reviewer.

Puthiya Niyamam is a badly written script with excellent performances from the lead actors. Superstar Mammootty as Louis Pothen has the wit and humour intact. He is at his best. Nayanthara as Vasuki Iyer plays her role very well. She is one actor whom you can vouch for. Aju Varghese as Romanch, a divorce seeking husband is a waste and has nothing in particular to offer or add value to the plot. The background score by Gopi sunder is ok.

Overall, Puthiya Niyamam is a onetime watch only because of these actors’ spectacular performances, who to a great extent is successful in hiding the flaws of the script and its execution. The director, AK Sajan has taken the audience for granted and has tried to cash in the success of Drishyam and refurbishing it in a different way. And it seems his gamble has worked in his favor to an extent.
Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 2.75/5

Movie Review: Neerja

The Story Frame:
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Neerja is a true hijack story of Pan Am Flight 73 way back in 1986 that happened in Karachi, Pakistan. The film depicts the presence of mind and the bravery displayed by a 23-year-old head purser Neerja Bhanot of the said flight to save 359 passengers on board from the clutches of international terrorists. Neerja is the youngest Indian to be awarded the Ashoka  Chakra, India’s highest gallantry award for bravery in facing the enemy during peace time. She was also awarded Tamgha-e-Insaaniyat (Awarded for showing incredible human kindness), Pakistan.

Cast: Sonam Kapoor (Neerja Bhanot), Shabana Azmi (Rama Bhanot), Yogendra Tiku (Harish Bhanot), Shekhar Ravjiani (Jaideep)

Genre: Biopic

Director: Ram Madhvani

Producers: Atul Kasbekar, Shanti Sivaram Mani, Bling Unplugged, Fox Studios

Written by: Saiwyn Quadras, Sanyuktha Chawla Shaikh

Screenplay: Saiwyn Quadras

Music by: Vishal Khurana

Cinematography: Mitesh Mirchandani

Edited by: Monisha R Baidawa

Production: Fox Star Studios

Distributor: Fox Star Studios

Release Date: 19th February, 2016

Duration: 122 Minutes

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Reviewer’s Thumb Mark

Neerja  is the story of that brave girl who looked deep into the eyes of fear and kept reminding her the values her parents have taught her . She didn’t blink even once to lay down her life for her passengers on the Pam Am Flight 73  in which she was the head purser– flying from Bombay to New York via Karachi and Frankfurt – which was hijacked by the dreadful Abu Nidal organization ( a Palestinian terrorist group) on 5th September, 1986 at Karachi airport in Pakistan.

The film Neerja is a reminder to all – to those who  don’t know her and to those who have  forgotten her and  her sacrifice.  Sonam Kapoor as Neerja has done a fantabulous work. She is highly successful in essaying the role of Neerja’s trial, grit, commitment towards life and her profession. There are times where you see less of Sonam and more of Neerja. Neerja the ‘Laado’ of her parents and siblings soon becomes the audience ‘Laado’ too. Sonam Kapoor as Neerja this time has given a befitting reply to all her detractors who often doubt her acting skills.

Neerja comes as a sigh of relief to many cinema lovers who had to go through a string of highly disappointing films (Sanam re, Sanam Teri Kasam, Mastizaade, Kya Kool Hai Hum 2) in the near past. These films not only dampened the spirit of valentine’s week but also shamelessly lowered the standard of the visual story telling medium ‘Cinema’.

The movie begins by depicting Mumbai’s trademark Kaali Peeli taxi (Black & Yellow) entering Bombay’s Navjeevan Society with Neerja  a die-hard fan of Rajesh Khanna in it delivering one of Kaka’s iconic and legendary dialogue –“Babu Moshai, Zindagi Badi Honi Chahiye, Lambi Nahi” to her old taxi driver who too is a movie buff. A bubbly and cheerful Neerja and her love to live life happily set the tone for the rest of the movie. Though, as audience we know what awaits the fate of Neerja, still the movie makes us sit at the edge of our seats to know the last two days of this good soul.
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Director Ram Madhvani has gifted Bollywood a biographical drama film worth enough to watch and get inspired at the same time.  This biopic leaves your eyes moist and makes you walk down the aisle of the theatre with a heavy heart.  Neerja reminds us that humanism, love to live and let live should take precedence to jingoism and communalism. Neerja as the head purser acts beyond the conservative mind set of nationality and leaves no stone unturned to save the lives of everybody on board be it  - Indians, Pakistanis, Americans and Brits. Her presence of mind and her training to deal with such crisis helped her to alert the pilots to get off the plane through an overhead cockpit hatch leaves the hijackers baffled how to proceed further.
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The bonding she has with the people in her life viz: her father (Yogendra Tiku), mother (Shabana Azmi), her brothers, and her good friend Jaideep (Shekhar Ravjiani) are very touching. The flash back amidst the hijack drama reveals many phases of Neerja’s life – an arranged marriage gone awry, her relationship with her ever supportive father and her loving and caring mother. The climax of the movie is riveting. The scenes in the flight portraying the old, middle-aged, young and children terror stricken are heartrending to watch. The scenes back home in Mumbai is painful to see – Neerja’s parents consoling each other, her mother hurrying to a tailoring shop to get stitched a yellow salwar kammez for Neerja’s birthday etc.  Shabana Azmi, Yogendra Tiku and Sonam Kapoor have given powerful performances.

In short, Neerja is a must watch. Watch for the spirit of a girl who is ready to give a second chance to her love life, watch it to see a girl who was brought up with values and principles, watch for a girl who loved humans more than their color, creed and nationalities, watch it to salute India’s brave daughter ‘Neerja Bhanot’.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 4/5

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Mahindra BLAZO: The Game Changer (Auto Expo, 2016)

Mahindra BLAZO: The Game Changer (Auto Expo, 2016)

A game changer is who has the power and ability to 'Preempt' the competition and act 'Swiftly'. The home-grown auto giant Mahindra & Mahindra by unveiling its new range of medium and heavy commercial vehicles named 'BLAZO' has cemented the above mentioned statement.

Being part of the unveiling of BLAZO at the Auto Expo, 2016, Greater Noida was exhilarating. Stall no 10 was buzzing with excitement. Guests, Auto enthusiasts, bloggers and the Media both electronic and Print personnel were armed with their questions and equipments to capture the much awaited talk of the town Mahindra BLAZO in all its glory hidden behind the huge curtains.

The brightly decorated dais was ready we were waiting and amidst thunderous applause the Chairman M&M Anand Mahindra; Nalin Mehta,  MD and CEO, M&M Trucks and BUs Division; Pawan Goenka, President of Automotive and Farm Equipment Sectors of Mahindra; and Rajan Wadhera, President Truck & Powertrain Division, Head Mahindra Research Valley; graced the occasion. Nalin Mehta introduced his colleagues and also shared the it was a proud moment for the company and as well as the Auto industry to get introduced to India's first smart truck -"The New Mahindra BLAZO". Nalin Mehta said: "We have developed the new range over the last two-and-a-half years with significant investments. We guarantee that if the customer is not happy with the fuel efficiency, we will take the vehicle back. This itself is a testament of our confidence in the new range and it truly will be a game-changer. It's a guarantee that's never been given before". He requested Anand Mahindra to share his joy on introducing ' BLAZO' to the Auto Sector.

The inaugural Session

In his inaugural speech Anand Mahindra thanked and appreciated his team in coming up with one of the most fuel efficient smart truck and said that M&M's priority had always been the convenience of its customers. Mahindra BLAZO comes at a time when the industry demands a fresh change and a product that truly answers their needs. Whether its customized features, FE, smart truck, better mileage, lower TCO, less maintenance or anything else; the answer today is BLAZO. And he repeatedly and emphatically added in his signature style that "We have a Right to Win".

Following Anand Mahindra, Pawan K Goenka and Rajan Wadhera shared their experience and views on BLAZO. They added that market is not aggressive but the players are and hence would say that the time for introducing a game changer like BLAZO is mature and it is ripe. And that they see a significant change in what their customers need and hence created BLAZO. They also said that they are happy and proud to continue the initiatives to transform Indian transport inside out.
The unveiling of Mahindra BLAZO

What followed was amazingly incredible! The curtain went up and with bright dazzling fireworks  the 'Game Changer' - The Mahindra BLAZO emerged from the background with deafening thunderous applause and cheers from the Auto Enthusiasts, Guests, Media and the Bloggers. Under the flashing camera lights of the media and its fans BLAZO looked confident and proud of the attention it was getting.
Mahindra BLAZO TVC Starring Ajy Devgn

M & M has repeatedly and consistently taken great leaps to get rid of the limiting beliefs that this type of manufacturing and sales based on Demand Creation Approach can’t happen – not in my territory, with my customers, or with my company’s product and services. They have proved that once those limiting beliefs are removed, which is not an easy task, the process of moving from a so-called automaker (who ends up competing on prices) to a “Resource” your customers and prospects genuinely helps build value. Once the customers understand and believes your main goal is to help and not to sell, they will give you the keys to their business to allow you to help them. Armed with Mahindra BLAZO, it is strongly and confidently looking forward to gain more market share in the segment which is dominated by Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland.

Q & A with the Bloggers and Media Personnel
Powered with FuelSmart technology developed by Mahindra to provide businesses a competitive winning edge, the FuelSmart switches let the customer choose between superior mileage and unmatched power as and when the business demands. The BLAZO by this technology provides drivers with options between turbo, heavy and light modes. Each mode squeezes the maximum efficiency from the mPower FuelSmart engine and gives unbeatable mileage.

By locating a pre-existing need and filling it through such smart technologies M & M has made a statement that they are truly a customer-centric driven organisation that understand the needs that a customer hasn't yet realized. It showcases a wide range of customer convenience features like 4-vent AC System, Music System, FuelSmart Switch, 6-Speed Gear Shift, 9-Speed Gear shift, Tilt & Telescopic Steering, Comfortable Sleeper Berths, Factory-fitted Fans, Anti-lock Braking System, Driver Information System, Comfortable 3-way Adjustable Seats and service guarantees like on road breakdown technical service within guaranteed 48hrs and if not, ready to pay penalty of Rs. 1000/- a day in case the truck doesn't come back post-servicing within the stipulated time. Fully loaded with innovative and modern features in BLAZO, the company is proud to convey that they are the only one around who really understands the need.

The new range of medium and heavy commercial vehicle is being manufactured at the new green field plant at Chakan. The plant, which spans over 700 acres, has been set up with an investment of over Rs. 4,000 Crore and is producing other Mahindra products as well. This helps Mahindra group to leverage the benefits of synergies of an integrated manufacturing facility.

To ensure a happy delightful customer experience they have also setup a 24 x 7 call centre with staff speaking multi languages. The most important feature of this call centre is that unlike others who have call center trainees, these call centers will be backed by a team of engineers who will address the queries directly to resolve the issues by providing live guidance and thus ensure a better post-product service. The company offers 5 Years or 5 Lac Km transferable Warranty, which is an industry first and a cost effective AMC.

My highest experiential moment in the Auto Expo with BLAZO was to get an opportunity to be behind the wheels of BLAZO. I thank BlogAdda for giving m this wonderful opportunity to be part of Auto Expo2016 and moreover to share the joy M&M of launching BLAZO.   In short, BLAZO is uniquely and indigenously Indian and is  vouched as the most compatible reliable companion for Indian roads and Indian transport. By its recent range of products M & M has once again maintained its 'Make in India' stance. M & M says -  'Consider the critical results your clients are striving for, identify the problems they have not identified yet or don’t understand, which are preventing them from achieving those results or holding them back from even better results' - this will win the customers on your side. It seems that it has preempt the competition this time boldly with the dazzling, colorful, and smart monster ' BLAZO ' on the Indian roads.
Watch My Mahindra BLAZO Experience

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Movie Review: Saala Khadoos

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The Story Frame:

Saala Khadoos is the story of a mentor-mentee relationship. Lao Tzu aptly says: "To see things in the seed, that is genius.” This is what a Mentor do. To me this means nothing else as being able to form a personal vision for something. Genius for that matter, is to see the potential in something or someone, although not realized yet (“in the seed”). It is the essence of forming a vision of what might be and then going on making it real. Adi Tomar (R MAdhavan) as a coach does exactly what I mentioned above with his new found raw talent Madhi (Ritika Singh) from the slums of Chennai.  The rise of Madhi from a fish monger to an international boxing sensation and thereby Adi's redemption from his past is what Sudha Kongara's Saala Khadoos depict. The movie is produced under the tutelage of Raj Kumar Hirani and R Madhavan.

Cast: R Madhavan (Adi Tomar), Ritika Singh (Madhi), Mumtaz Sorcar (Luxmi), Nassar (Punch Pandian), Zakir Hussain (Dev Khatri), Kaali Venkat (Saamikannu), Baljinder Kaur (Damayanthi)

Genre: Sports drama

Direction: Sudha Kongara

Produced by: R Madhavan, Raj Kumar Hirani

Production Company: Y NOT Studios, UTV Motion Pictures,

Written by: Sudha Kongara

Cinematographer: Sivakumar Vijayan

Music: Santhosh Narayanan

Film Editing by: Sathish Suriya

Distributors: Raj Kumar Hirani Films, Tricolour Films

Theatre Release: 29nd January, 2016

Language: Hindi (Irudhi Suttru in Tamil)

Duration: 109 minutes

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Reviewer's Thumb Mark

"When the student is ready, the Master appears"! - Buddha. Saala Khadoos is the story of a reluctant student and a coach who is determined to be patient to wait to see the student to be ready. Saala Khadoos of Sudha Kongara is inspirational like any other sports movies. It has the required elements like - the spats between the mentor and mentee, the unruly mentee, the reluctant learner, a difficult past, lack of resources and more over a bagful of hurdles to accomplish the coveted position etc. Having said this, Saala Khadoos had all the possibility of finding a place in the league of Iqbal, Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal, Chakde, Mary Kom, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag but then it falters in fleshing out its characters well and treats the theme peripherally. 

Adi Tomar (Madhavan) a professional boxer with lot of personal hurt and emotional backlogs is aggressive, blunt and a rebel because he has many reasons to be so. One, he was ditched by his own coach Dev Khatri (Zakir Hussain) who is now the National Women's Boxing Head Coach; two, his wife left him for another man; three, he feels he didn't get the due glory as a pugilist; four, now back to the arena as a coach of the neglected and under-rated Indian women's boxing team he wants to ensure that his mentees doesn't fall prey to Dev and his manipulations.

Madhavan as Saala Khadoos is successful in his image makeover from a sweet, calm lover boy  or a docile husband roles he has played in the past to a real khadoos. It seems he has worked very hard to look and act like a khadoos but appears to struggle hard and put lot of effort to raise to the expected level of performance as a coach who is deeply hurt, aggressive and humiliated. There are many instances of encounter with Dev and his mentee where he could have created the magic by a stellar performance but fall short.

Madhi (Ritika Singh) as a fish seller from the slums of Chennai is impressive as a trained kick boxer but needs further grooming in acting. She doesn't look like a fish seller, rather looks like an imported lot to do the act. Having said this, it is quite appreciable to know that she was selected by the filmmaker after auditioning roughly around hundred boxers. Ritika, a national level kick boxer definitely woos you in Saala Khadoos and is partly successful in leaving her mark on screen.

The versatile actor Nassar as a junior coach is good but is underutilized. As a fatherly figure and a considerate coach, Nassar's role has not been explored much. Mumtaz Sorcar as Luxmi, a mediocre boxer and sister of Madhi, has played well in enacting the camaraderie between the two sisters. Luxmi's sacrifice, love for family and her need to get into police force piggy riding a sports quota, she feeling jealous of her sister and her guilt later are not carved out well. All these developments are too quick and it seems that the director is in a hurry to pack up soon. 

The songs Saala Khadoos by Vishal Dadlani, Jagaa Khunnas and Jhalli Pataka of Sunidhi Chauhan are commendable.

Saala Khadoos could have been much better; we missed a great movie come alive. What one should understand and realize is that when you make a movie which is toeing the line of some great movies in the same genre one need to be cautious of not delivering a half-baked product. Still I would recommend you to go and watch Saala Khadoos for Madhavan and his image makeover.

Life Connoisseur Movie Rating: 2.75/5