Thursday, January 15, 2015

Creativity (or complete lack of it) in Indian TV Programming

For the last few weeks, I have been watching, for the umpteenth time, my favorite TV series - Everybody Loves Raymond (ELR). Every time I watch it, I find it even more hilarious and simply brilliant.

For the first time yesterday, I watched the making of the finale of ELR - "The Last Laugh". The interesting part was that the crew (production crew and the cast) narrated their experiences over the course of 209 episodes and 9 seasons. Phil Rosenthal, the producer of ELR, said one very interesting thing - he said that the show was about "nothing" and they had only 2 guiding principles - can this happen and will people relate to it?

I find this "Can this happen and will people relate to it?" so so powerful. Come to think of it, why will people like a show about a family, its internal bonds and discords, the power struggle between the daughter and mother-in-law, the sibling rivalry unless they can relate to it? But people did like the show, so much so, that even today, we can see re-runs of ELR on various channels.

I remember, in the 80s and 90s, the quality of programming on DD was very high. The best of TV producers used to compete for a slot on DD. "Wagle Ki Duniya", "Kakkaji Kahin" et al were some very good serials.

In the late 90s, after the opening up of the TV world, we all have been witness to the innumerable "Saas Bahu" serials or SOAPs that run forever. Completely devoid of any story. I wonder how people can relate to such shows. I haven't seen a TV show based on short stories for years now. Every channel has more crap and now we can pay more money and watch this crap in HD

PS: The only exception is "Sarabhai-vs-Sarabhai", which was exceptional in my opinion.

Indian cinema is actually worse. They have always made formula films and now they have discovered a formula for making 200 crore films and they are milking it. It doesn't matter whether the movie has a story or not, but it must have an "item number". Very few films are great. I can't fathom how somebody can pay to watch these crappy movies and make them a box-office success.

This reminds me of the "Why, What and How" argument. People appreciate the "what" if they can relate to the "why". The "how" comes much later. If Indian TV and Cinema has to become better (and yes by my standards), they better start thinking about the "Why"...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Back to Blogging

After a very long hiatus, I have decided to revive my blog. Any followers still out there?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Employee Morale : The recruitment phase

This is the first in a series of posts about employee morale (or rather lack of it) in an organization, which does not necessarily need to be a software company. Since I come from a software background - specifically product companies, my assessment is based on what I have seen so far.

Disclaimer: This is not directly related to my company, but based on what I have gathered from observation.

In the first article, I want to focus on the campus recruitment which happens to be the starting point of ones professional journey.

I have been part of many campus recruitment events. Most of the candidates in India, who appear for campus interviews do not have any prior experience. When companies come and blow their own trumpet, these unsuspecting gullible candidates start dreaming about the quality of their job, work profile right from that moment. Everybody is so eager to get a job that nobody even thinks of finding out whats under the hood. Nobody ever questions - what am I really going to work on - what is going to be my profile. Everybody looks at the company, what it does, how fat the pay packet is. That's it.

When these candidates finally join the company after day dreaming about their profile, work etc for many months, they find themselves doing something they were never interested in. For example, a person who is interested in development of features and products find themselves doing QA work or solving some bugs. Hold on -

* Is there something wrong with QA work?
* Is there something wrong with solving bugs?

Here is my take on it. There is nothing wrong with either of them. Both are essential functions in an organization. Solving bugs is a nice way to understand the product, but its a creativity-killer if that's the only thing a person is supposed to do for the rest of his tenure.

This in my view is a simple case of expectation mismatch. Who is responsible for it - I would blame both - the employee and the employer. It is a candidate's duty to find out what is in store for him, and it is an employer's duty to project the correct image and give appropriate information to a candidate. Wouldn't this be the ideal scenario?

What happens to the employee morale? It plummets on day 1. He had dreamed of implementing what not in the product, and now he finds himself doing something he doesn't like.

Well... This is not that bad a scenario because he still has hope. Hope that if he does well in this job, may be he will be moved to something better, or something that he finds interesting. The guy recovers from this morale abyss that we was in on day 1.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Baap Ban Gaya - 3 months back

As the title says, I have become a baap of a very cute son. The fact of the matter is - woh mera baap hai. I don't control anything. When I sleep, when I get up, what I do (the same applies to Richa too) is all dictated by him.

Initially, Richa had to face a lot of problems because of the epidural anesthesia. Fortunately, she has recovered from it. During this period, which lasted approximately 1 month or so, things were very hectic for me; but I enjoyed every aspect of it - making my child burp, changing his nappies, putting him to sleep etc etc.

Initially, he would sleep all day, and remain awake all night. My eyes would close, and his would remain wide open. At times, I would plead with him - so jaa mere baap. Nowadays, he sleeps by 12 and wakes up around 5 in the morning. That gives us a good 5 hr sleep.

My kid sleeps between me and my wife at night, and when I get up, he gives me his beautiful smile. Can there be anything more beautiful than that?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Infertility treatment - new incentive by software companies

This morning, when I got into my cube, I saw a paper listing the employee benefits being offered by my company. The list contained the usual ones - ESOPs / ESPPs / RSUs, Doctor on call, in house gym, stress management, medical insurance of 7L.

The thing that caught my eye was 'Additional 1L for infertility treatment'. Now this is something new and definitely worth debating. Lunch and post-lunch sessions were spent in debating 'why infertility treatment'.

There could be multiple reasons why this figures in the list -
  • The occurrence of stress induced infertility is on the rise among software professionals, so this can be categorized as an occupational hazard.
  • Husband and wife are not co-located because of on-site opportunities.
  • People do not have enough time - that means - no action and no reaction :-).
  • Last but not the least, it might just be a one off thing and the number of people willing to come forward for this might be very few; so the actual payout from the company might be very very less.
It might be worth asking the HR their reasons for including 'infertility treatment' in the list of employee benefits.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Book Review: Men Who Killed Gandhi

Just finished reading "Men Who Killed Gandhi". What I like about the book is that it is pretty neutral in its tone - something very difficult to do on such a sensitive topic. The author, Manohar Malgonkar, has done a good job in describing the circumstances, the plot, the thinking of the "men" behind the plot, and the lacunae in the ensuing investigation.

What I didn't like about the book was the convoluted construction of sentences. At times, the punctuation marks were either missing or wrongly placed, and certain typos such as "gut" instead of "put". In short, lackadaisical editing.

If one reads this book with an open mind, it is definitely an interesting one.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Book Review: In the Line of Fire

Just finished reading "In the Line of Fire". I read it just to see his side of the story. I am not an expert on any of the topics that he has written on, so I will not comment on the specifics mentioned in the book.

One thing that I find strange is that he has ways and means to justify all of his decisions and actions. He only agrees to a few juvenile mistakes, but nothing else. There are interesting insights on social reforms and national reconstruction.

On the whole, I think one should read the book to see his side of the story, but take things with more than a pinch of salt.