A tale of two love stories in Bollywood

The mid-1980s were the best of the times, they were the worst of the times for Bollywood.

Amitabh Bachchan - In and As 'Mard'

At one end, it was going through a terrible phase Рthe era of Amitabh Bachchan was on the wane and his favorite team of producers-directors, in a desparate attempt to recapture his lost magic produced terrible movies such as Mard, Shahenshah, Giraftaar etc. To make matters worse, a bunch of Amitabh wannabees such as Govinda,  Mithun Chakraborty, Chunky Pandey were busy creating their own cacophony of movies with bad storylines, lousy music and terrible production values.

At the same time however, Bollywood saw the rise of two whiz-kid directors, both with a deep sense of destiny and a strong pedigree. Sooraj Barjatya came from the strong tradition of Rajshri Productions, while Mansoor Khan was the son of famed producer-director-writer, Nasir Hussein. The similarities did not stop there. Both the production houses had seen better days, although the financial situation of Rajshri was way more precarious. And both sought to revive the fortunes of their legacies through marquee love stories that redefined Bollywood forever. And both of them introduced two stars that still rule Bollywood, although in different ways and degrees. Yes, we are talking about Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Maine Pyaar Kiya.

Both movies were huge hits, although Maine Pyaar Kiya really took the nation by storm. At the same time, almost everyone who came of age during that period had a strong favorite. People watched both the movies, loved both of them but had a visceral following for one of the other, starting from songs, the actors, and the movie itself.

Two decades after the movies were released, I watched them again recently in quick succession and realized that my own opinion still remained the same Рthat Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak was a better allround movie overall Рit was better scripted, had better production values, was better acted and as Bollywood movies go, was less over the top compared with Maine Pyaar Kiya. And those qualities have allowed Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak to become a classic that can be watched multiple times even after two decades, while Maine Pyaar Kiya comes across as too loud, too card-boardish, too amateurish, and way over the top.

The trajectories of the two directors later on vindicates this judgement. Mansoor Khan carried on to make another all time classic called Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. His next two movies unfortunately were copies of Hollywood movies (Akele Hum Akele Tum based on Kramer v/s Kramer and Josh based on The West Side Story) and pretty mediocre ones at that, but no one can accuse him of having shoddy production values, or having cartoonish, over the top characters. Sooraj Barjatya however went on to make travesties such Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, Hum Saath Saath Hain, Main Prem Kee Diwani Hoon and Vivah. Several of these movies were major hits and Hum Aapke Hain Kaun is one of the biggest Bollywood hits ever but these were some of the most regressive, unrealistic movies ever made in Bollywood (which is saying a lot) with some terrible production values and acting. In some sense, they were the non-violent equivalent of the formulaic, later stage Amitabh Bachchan, or Mithun/Govinda movies – the wheel had come full circle for Sooraj Barjatya.

The 10 conservative principles

The 10 guiding principles of present-day conservatives (in no particular order):

  1. State and local rights are great – until those rights go against my beliefs. Thus, it is conservative to have local gun control laws be trumped at the federal level but it is liberal to have federal government mandate gay marriage rights.
  2. Government is bad – until it is used to enforce beliefs that I like. Thus, it is conservative to have the government peep in my bedroom, but liberal to enforce gay rights.
  3. Deficit spending is bad – until it is done to reduce taxes or pay for unneeded wars.
  4. It is not judicial activism if the conservative judges do it.
  5. Reagan could do nothing wrong – in fact, he was the one who proved that deficits don’t matter politically, as long as they can be spun the right way.
  6. I am righteous and you are a moron.
  7. “I heard Rush Limbaugh say it” ought to end any argument where you and I disagree.
  8. Melting ice-caps and glaciers are hoax – “I heard Rush Limbaugh say it”.
  9. Entitlement spending is bad – unless they are my entitlements.
  10. Down with high taxes – even though most conservative states end up taking in more dollars per capita from the federal tax base than they pay in.

Do you have suggestions for other principles that guide present day conservatives?

He helped raise two kids

We are planning to buy a minivan and last weekend I went to test drive a few. Now, you don’t expect a lot of profound thoughts to come from your car salesman but then, you never know where you might pick up nuggets of wisdom. While driving the van, we started talking about why we need a minivan and I told him about my daughter, and my dog at which point he reminisced about his dog as well which he had to put down at the age of 17. “Can’t complain though”, the guy said, “I have two teenager boys and the dog was with them from the time they were born – he helped raise two kids, he did his job.”

Mojo

What a way to describe what his dog did for him and his family and most likely, there wasn’t an iota of exaggeration. I think only people with dogs in their family can related to what he said and I immediately thought of Mojo and how he is already helping to raise our daughter. He sits at her feet, he is always protective of her, he is restless when she is not around. I can see her becoming a more humane and responsible person because she will be taking care of a loving creature right from her childhood. I am so looking forward to Mojo help raise my daughter as well.

Fun!

I love the colorful and rich print ads in Indian media. So much more fun than the bland American ones.

tedahaiparmerahaifull3

Banker Compensation!

We expected to find that changes in incentive systems, especially executive incentives, would be highly correlated with making the leap from good to great. With all the attention paid to executive compensation – the shift to stock options and the huge packages that have become commonplace – surely, we thought, the amount and structure of compensation must play a key role in going from good to great. How else do you get people to do the right things that create great results?

We were dead wrong in our expectations.

We found no systematic pattern linking executive compensation to the process of going from good to great. The evidence simply does not support the idea that the specific structure of executive compensation acts as a key lever in taking a company from good to great.

Where is this blurb from? Not from a left leaning economist or columnist but from the book Good to Great, written by former Stanford Graduate School of Business faculty member Jim Collins. How does this fit in the current brouhaha over executive compensation of bankers? We’ve been told by many smart people that these investment bankers, and traders, and myriad other professionals in the finance industry are the best and the brightest and that they need to paid very highly if you want to create winning companies. But that’s not what Jim’s data says. In the same section, Jim further elaborates:

Most importantly, when we analyzed executive compensation patterns relative to compensation companies, we found no systematic differences on the use of stock (or not), high salaries (or not), bonus incentives (or not), or long-term compensation (or not). The only significant difference we found was that the good-to-great executives received slightly less total cash compensation ten years after the transition than their counterparts at the still-mediocre comparison companies.

So what’s going on here? Who’s right and who’s wrong? Why do smart people keep claiming that bankers need to be paid those astronomical bonuses to keep them motivated when clearly, leaders in well managed, great companies did not? I can think of only one reason – the job of a banker does not have any built in job satisfaction, no reward for building a great product, no reward for improving the lives of other people, no reward for making people happier. After all, these people getting into the banking business are really smart, they have to be and they could have designed the next iPhone, discovered the next bio-tech breakthrough, created the next generation of hybrids. But they are busy creating credit default swaps, or collateralized debt obligations, or buying and selling stocks all day long. At the end of the day, what value have they created to bring them job satisfaction? That job satisfaction needs to come from somewhere – and that apparently comes from those outsized bonuses. If you cannot impress your girlfriend or wife by talking about what you did during the day, atleast you can impress her by ordering the most expensive wine at the restaurant. If your child cannot explain in front of his class what his or her dad does, then you can try to buy that disappointment with the most expensive toy.

And that in my opinion is the secret behind the banker compensation – the only way in which you can have really smart people commit to a life of CDSs and CDOs.