Category: Lists

Random Questions I Ask Myself

These are the questions that I shouldn’t be asking myself because I almost never get an answer. I figured I should start asking my friends but then I still want them to be friends with me. So, here goes to the Internet…

  • Why in my four years in the organization have I never bumped into that person (male) in the washroom who sits on the end of the left side of the forth aisle from the entrance?
  • Why do some people press the call button of an elevator even when it clearly has been pressed before by someone who then thought it’s better to take the stairs? (More related.)
  • Why are work meetings still a thing?
  • Why don’t Mumbai local train travellers buy an ATVM Smart Card instead of having to stand in long lines to get a ticket?
  • Why do some people get up as soon as the aircraft hits the tarmac?
  • Do air hostesses ever NOT get the lecherous stare while on duty?
  • Why do some people think that seats in Mumbai local trains can accommodate four adults?
  • Why do bus conductors/drivers and some general public in Mumbai address entry/exit points in buses/trains as ‘gates’?
  • Where do auto-rickshaw drivers gather the courage from to refuse a passenger a trip?
  • Why is it so difficult for some people to follow traffic rules? (More related.)
  • Why do people still get offended by expletives?
  • Why is charity not compulsory?
  • How many successful organizations were/are there in the world that do business ethically?
  • How to address a stranger on the street who is of almost the same age as you? (Excuse me? Excuse me?)
  • Where do you draw the line when it comes to separating the art from the artist in the era of #MeToo?
  • What to do when you accidentally offend a stranger?

I have many more questions to ask but those can be saved for later. TN.

Featured image courtesy: Unsplash/danielcgold

Types of People Per the Number of Tissues They Use

There’s an interesting message placed on top of the tissue dispenser in the washroom at my workplace in Lower Parel. It but it goes something like this:

One tissue is enough to wipe your hands. Three tissues are enough to wipe your ego.

Urmi estate bathroom message
The message put up inside the washroom at my work place in Lower Parel, Mumbai.

I need to find the person in my agency’s HR/Admin department who was behind this message and congratulate them. While I gather the time and courage to do that, I thought I’ll point your focus to how this little placard and its holy message has been received by the people who use the washroom.

I don’t think I have seen anyone – at least when I’m in the washroom too – respect the underlying point of that message. It’s like almost invisible to them or they have reached a point where they have started to ignore it with the help of the workings of their ego. Whatever it is, all I know is that the number of hand tissue strips that one uses can help us identify the type of person they are.

(Note: This article counts a paper napkin of the size of approx. 18 x 22 cm as one tissue strip. The type that comes off a dispenser near the hand wash area which is now being slowly replaced by electric hand dryers. For the worse.)

So, here’s a list of types of people according to the number of tissue strips they use. It is possible that you might realize you are one of these people. Apology not delivered.

  • Zero Tissues – Does not mind that their folded handkerchief has created a slight protuberance over their pocket. Does not get annoyed when they accidentally step on a watery surface with socks on. Is okay with stuffing the wetter version of their handkerchief back to where it came from. Will die by age-related complications.
  • One Tissue – Knows that climate change is not a hoax. Takes part directly or as an armchair activist in discussions involving waste management, land fills, and environment conservation. Aspires to switch off the fans and lights in Mumbai local trains when they are not in use but forgets or has not yet been able to do so. Does not get offended when the server at a McDonald’s outlet does not automatically gives tissues along with the order.

I am between these two types of people.

  • Two Tissues – Uses a lot of water to wash their hands and face. Keeps a kerchief handy but does not use it because they don’t like the feeling of a wet cloth living in their pocket. Thinks their use of things made out of paper over those made out of plastic almost qualifies them for an “environment conservationist” prize. Would be categorized as the next type (on this list) if they had three hands.
  • Three Tissues – Has a rich first-generation family member. Does not have a tissue dispenser at home. Makes use of all the free stuff at work religiously. Is usually one of the first five people to arrive at a party. Did not follow the news when the Maharashtra government banned single-use plastic materials in mid-2018.
  • Four Tissues – Bad at statistics. Does not greet people before a meeting. Still uses a saucer to drink tea but does not use a coaster when the cup does not come with it. Suffers from some kind of ailment that limits their performance on bed.
  • Five Tissues – Can be seen shouting at an empty tissue or soap dispenser. Fought with their school management and failed to get all the washrooms equipped with mirrors when they were in 9th grade. Abhors opinion articles like this.
  • Six or More Tissues – Monster.

The best argument against this list will come from people who say the number is need-based. I tend to disagree with that unless they are dealing with a post-vomiting session.

Also check out these wonderful messages (Hinglish language in English script) I found on the tissue holder at the popular roadside snackbar Blossom in Khau Galli, Ghatkopar.

  • Comic strip #3 at Blossom in Khau Galli, Ghatkopar
  • Comic strip #2 at Blossom in Khau Galli, Ghatkopar
  • Comic strip #1 at Blossom in Khau Galli, Ghatkopar

In another part of the world, I wish someone created a version of this list involving the length of toilet paper one uses after answering any one or two of nature’s calls. TN.


Image courtesy: Pixabay/bluebudgie

Update: Added my identification + description of a tissue strip. Fixed typos. (22 March 2019)

Update #2: Added image of the message + a gallery of comics related to the cause of less tissue usage. (31 March 2019)

Indian Websites Take the #10YearChallenge

Flipkart.com in 2009

Although I’m a little late to the meme party of the viral #10YearChallenge, I have an interesting list to present. How some of the most popular Indian websites changed in the last 10 years. It’s fascinating to see how and what these websites have transitioned into.

Of course, this list if inspired by an article of the same type by US-based designer Arun Venkatesan. It contains universally popular sites like IMDb.com (with which I share a great bond), Amazon.com, and Facebook to name a few.

Here goes! In no particular order. And best viewed on a wide screen, possibly a desktop or a laptop.

You can directly view the images in this slideshow below or go through the entire article and read my comments.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Flipkart.com

Flipkart.com in 2009
Flipkart.com in 2009

In 2009, Flipkart, like Amazon.com in its infancy, just sold books. Who knew it would raise funds and turn into an ecommerce behemoth? The text logo as well as a strictly HTML interface look so ordinary compared to the extravagant consumerist UI that it boasts of now. (Note: Alia Bhatt appears twice on this list.)

Flipkart.com in 2019
Flipkart.com in 2019

Cricbuzz.com

Cricbuzz.com in 2009
Cricbuzz.com in 2009

Not much has changed for Cricbuzz in the last 10 years except it finally realized the power of visual media. In a way, it shows how little has changed in the world of cricket (in India), except for a few odd incidents that forcibly blur the line between the players’ professional and personal lives.

Cricbuzz.com in 2019
Cricbuzz.com in 2019

IRCTC.co.in

IRCTC.co.in in 2009
IRCTC.co.in in 2009

It is good enough for me that the IRCTC website loaded quickly both in 2019 and in 2009 through the Wayback Machine. The minimalist approach at the moment is a welcoming gesture. So is the overall confident look.

IRCTC.co.in in 2019
IRCTC.co.in in 2019

Jeevansathi.com

Jeevansathi.com in 2009
Jeevansathi.com in 2009

With an ad copy that goes “India’s most trusted site, easy to use for parents too…”, Jeevan Sathi really tried hard to market itself to parents looking mainly for brides for their sons. See the default selection back in 2009 and then compare it with the sleek, cleaner look of the website right now. Would be interesting to see how, if, and when the matchmaker mostly does away with gender specifics.

Jeevansathi.com in 2019
Jeevansathi.com in 2019

Jio.com

Jio.com in 2009
Jio.com in 2009

With Jio all I am thinking of is the fat paycheck the original owner of the domain must have received from Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries.

Jio.com in 2019
Jio.com in 2019

Yatra.com

Yatra.com in 2009
Yatra.com in 2009

Yatra’s website looked like it took notes from the IRCTC of 2009. And it amazes me to see that the default site loaded for the US market with an option on the top navbar for the Indian version. (Note: Wayback Machine wouldn’t give me a snapshot of the Indian website.)

Yatra.com in 2019
Yatra.com in 2019

99acres.com

99acres.com in 2009
99acres.com in 2009.

Apart from the iconic logo, 99 Acres also changed its interface. This one for good. The highlighting for ‘NRI Home’ back in 2009 is reminiscent of a period where NRI folks toiled in a foreign country (the Gulf, anyone?) to invest in real estate in India.

Justdial.com

Justdial.com in 2009
Justdial.com in 2009

Justdial is the one of the few websites on this list that did not change its logo (apart from doing away with the trademark and beta signs). But it did change its Google-like interface to move to a more visual one similar to how all the ecommerce websites that it now competes with do.

Justdial.com in 2019
Justdial.com in 2019

OnlineSBI.com

OnlineSBI.com in 2009
OnlineSBI.com in 2009

The digital boom really did some good to SBI’s Net Banking portal. In 2009, it had to list its products and services in the menu. And today? It is more about convenient banking and digital applications. No need to even talk about Yono SBI ads of which are just about everywhere on the internet.

OnlineSBI.com in 2019
OnlineSBI.com in 2019.

Rediff.com

Many people still don’t know why Rediff exists except for its email service. Both in 2009 and in 2019, its homepage hosts a list of links that will take you to anything and everything available on the internet including info about stocks. But the SEO guys handling Rediff.com will tell you that the heatmap is currently focused on the first option beside its logo that has silently changed from just ‘rediff’ to ‘rediff.com’.

Shaadi.com

It’s interesting to see how the ‘world’s largest matrimonial service’ did away with an orange sindoor from its logo and adopted a heart sign to express its focus on lasting, romantic relationships than about the conventional institution of marriage. Not much has changed except the homepage now boasts of a cleaner look, just like its competitor Jeevansathi.com and other in-vogue Indian websites.

Naukri.com

Job portal Naukri.com maintained its relevance by not changing anything from its key homepage design. From the logo to the sections – everything look reminiscent of a time when BPO jobs were all the shiz. Look how the focus shifted from streams of professions to ‘best places to work‘. Hints at how the employment-wanting public think. Today, Naukri.com is not just for people looking for jobs. It’s much more than that with all these spammy-looking links below the first visible space..

MakeMyTrip.com

In 2019, the ad-less interface is taken up by MakeMyTrip’s brand ambassador (Alia Bhatt again, here without her beau) talking about wanderlust and discount offers. Not so crazy to see how the aggregator focused on flights more than anything in 2009. And they had to put a splash screen for people to guide to the US/India website. Web technology has evidently advanced but still no change in the website’s draconian cancellation rules and ridiculous processing fees.

BookMyShow.com

In 2009, BookMyShow (BMS) was just an infant with an interface that looked like a college dropout had got it designed for $5 from Fiverr.com. No huge posters of popular films running in theaters, no flashy ads about Sunburn, no other choices than movies, sports events, plays, and parties. And they had to mention ‘it is SAFE to transact with us’ at the bottom. All hinting at how far BMS has come. It’s good to know that all the internet handling fees that we paid over the years helped.


What other websites do you think demand a feature on this list? Let me know in the comments and I will try to add them. TN.

List: Why Do People Honk

traffic noise in india

There’s a simple mantra that I use to avoid honking while driving. It is to assume and believe that everyone on the road at a given point of time is eager to reach their destination. No one – especially the ones in front of you – is voluntarily trying to delay their movement. It’s just that one of many external factors is influencing them at that specific point of time, be it a bratty auto-rickshaw driver or an illegally parked car or pedestrian traffic or a lost member of a bovine family (who apparently are safer in India). The mantra is basically about exercising self-control and is a trait that I think should be mandated by Regional Transport Offices (RTO) across the country as part of the tests for obtaining licence. Along with the reintroduction of and when to use indicators.

But it’s not an ideal world we live in. And self-control is not easy to master, particularly in Mumbai traffic. So, here’s a hypothetical list of reasons why I think people (in India) honk while on the road. Some of these may sound ridiculous but I assure you they are based on my own experiences ever since I got myself a driving licence in 2014.

People in India blow their vehicle’s horn while on the road because…

  • The button is right there in front of them
  • When they learned driving/riding, it was taught to them that honking has properties similar to that of nitrous oxide
  • They think the person/vehicle blocking their way is trying to settle down at that particular place on the highway/road
  • Of muscle memory
  • Telling a person to do something by irritating them almost always gets the job done unless you are in Gurugram. There, you just get shot
  • It’s a privilege
  • It is easier than exercising patience
  • The person behind is doing it too and they can’t let the chain break or else seven years of curse. Duh!
  • Everyone does it
  • They have a fancy/loud horn
  • It makes them look important/busy
  • They have nothing better to do (because the person on the other side of the phone call they are on just does not shut up)
  • The green light is just 30 seconds away
  • They think they own the road

There are more but I don’t want to extend this list because I think I have driven the point home.

One day I will invest in a startup that makes horn-less vehicles. And the day the startup becomes profitable is when I will retire this list from my website. Till then let us all exercise patience while driving and riding. TN.

PS – I recently also created two similar lists here (about seat belts in Uber cabs) and here (about helmets). Thank you.

Featured Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Best of Malayalam Cinema in 2018 (Critics’ Choice)

Although over 150 Malayalam films released in 2018, only a handful of those were deemed watchable by industry critics at large. Out of this handful, 15 titles were selected based on their cinematic brilliance and without considering their box office success.

Ee Ma Yau poster
Ee. Ma. Yau is the best Malayalam film of 2018

This is a list of the 15 best Malayalam movies of 2018, as selected by eminent critics of the Kerala film industry.

  1. Ee. Ma. Yau (dir. Lijo Jose Pellissery)
  2. Sudani from Nigeria (dir. Zakariya)
  3. Sexy Durga (dir. Sanal Kumar Sasidharan)
  4. Varathan (dir. Amal Neerad)
  5. Kayamkulam Kochunni (dir. Rosshan Andrrews)
  6. Koode (dir. Anjali Menon)
  7. Carbon (dir. Venu)
  8. Eeda (dir. Ajithkumar)
  9. Aami (dir. Kamal)
  10. Swathanthryam Ardharathriyil (dir. Tinu Pappachan)
  11. Njan Marykutty (dir. Ranjith Sankar)
  12. Aalorukkam (dir. V C Abhilash)
  13. Padayottam (dir. Rafeek Ibrahim)
  14. Poomaram (dir. Abrid Shine)
  15. Maradona (dir. Vishnu Narayn)
Varathan Malayalam film poster
Varathan has polarizing reviews but still came in at #4

The method of selection as well as other details about individual titles can be found over at my IMDb list here. My annual tradition of creating best-of lists/video was not possible because I could not catch all the films in 2018. (A punishment for not living in Kerala.)

Carbon film poster
Carbon stars Fahadh Faasil and Mamata Mohandas in the lead

Most of these are available on DVD or VOD. If none of these interest you or if you have already seen them, consider my personal favourites:

  • Ente Mezhuthiri Athazhangal (dir. Sooraj Thomas)
  • Uncle (dir. Gireesh Damodar)
  • Theevandi (dir. Fellini T P)
  • Kuttanpillayude Sivarathri (dir. Jean Markose)

Or, go for some of the underdogs of 2018:

  • Bhayaanakam (dir. Jayaraj)
  • Kaly (dir. Najeem Koya)
  • Joseph (dir. M Padmakumar)
  • Lilli (dir. Prasobh Vijayan)
  • Kammara Sambhavam (dir. Rathish Ambat)
  • Njan Prakashan (dir. Sathyan Anthikkad)

While you decide which film to catch this holiday season, also check out my list of the best posters of Malayalam cinema in 2018. A few of my other similar lists related to Malayalam films can be found here (best of 2017), here (best of 2016), and here (best of 2015). TN.

Best Posters of Malayalam Cinema in 2018

I am a sucker for posters. They are one of my favourite design objects to look at. As an Engineering student, I used to design posters for my college’s annual cultural events and would spend a good time working on them. Because I used to heavily depend on stock images while grabbing ideas off the internet, I understand how difficult it is to design them. And when it comes to films, it is often out of just an idea. First-look posters have to attract a film’s target audience while depending on that tiny idea sitting only in the director’s head. That is why talking about their beauty and appreciating the best ones as well as their creators are important.

Here is a list of posters that were created for Malayalam films that released in 2018. In no specific order; and images sourced from IMP Awards, IMDb, or the film’s respective Facebook pages, with proper credits attributed wherever expected.


These are the best Malayalam posters of 2018:

Carbon film poster
Produced by Poetry Film House

Designed by Oldmonks, the posters for Venu’s adventure drama film Carbon perfectly encapsulates the hidden meaning behind the title as well as the central character’s selfish odyssey. Note the elongated hexagonal outline of the poster as well as the geometrical shapes in the title font and then read the tagline.


Ee Ma Yau poster
Produced by RGK Cinema

I am not a fan of posters that are not vertical (portrait) in shape, yet I cannot resist raving about this poster designed by Oldmonks for Lijo Jose Pellissery’s sombre drama Ee.Ma.Yau. In the film, the titular character dreams of being sent to the Gods on a gigantic coffin with pomp and circumstance. And with this striking first-look poster, we exactly know how big (“breaching a coastline” big), while giving you a bad taste of death and horror along the way.


Dakini Malayalam film poster
Produced by Universal Cinema and Urvasi Theatres

Rahul Riji Nair’s zany crime comedy drama Dakini certainly switched ON the hype through its series of vibrant posters designed by digital artist Prathool N T. I love the title font so much that I just cannot decide between it and the poster’s magnificent colour scheme. Nowhere has a team of four grandmas looked old, lovable, and wicked at the same time. But I don’t think I can forgive the makers for the missing Oxford comma. (Just kidding!)

Trivia – What is surprising to me is that the artist also developed the publicity designs for Rosshan Andrrews’s period crime drama Kayamkulam Kochunni. Which are better than the ones designed by Thought Station that went live.


Lilli Malayalam film poster
Produced by E4 Entertainment

Prasobh Vijayan’s crime drama Lilli ran a pretty successful campaign before its release, thanks to ample help from Oldmonks who only raised the bar if we compare this with their first two designs on this list. Giving the central and titular character a bouquet of lilies to hold, a crown of thorns to wear, and an aura, and then framing her as a character in a High Renaissance painting makes me want to print it (frescoed, if possible) and gift it to a friend so that he can expand his own Sistine Chapel collection of movie posters.


Varathan Malayalam film poster
Produced by Fahadh Faasil and Friends

The neon colour scheme, especially in the title font, made me spit out my coffee the first time I saw the Oldmonks-designed first poster of Amal Neerad’s uppity crime drama Varathan. And then I stopped having coffee for some time because with each poster coming out (even the character ones), I was getting this strange, negative vibe – something bad is going to happen to the lead characters that will unshape their relationship. That is exactly what the film wanted to convey. And it is.


Padayottam Malayalam movie poster
Produced by Weekend Blockbusters

Another poster designed by Prathool N T, the rusty, neon-induced shades added more fun and expectations to Rafeek Ibrahim’s gritty crime comedy Padayottam. It is when you realize that the character (played by Biju Menon) you see in the poster is not as terrifying as he seems to be in the film is what makes this more interesting. (Like an anti-promotion stunt, if you will.) Posters so colourful like these for films like these make me secure my faith in Malayalam cinema.


Ranam Malayalam film poster
Produced by Yes Cinema

With Nirmal Sahadev’s crime drama Ranam (also known as Detroit Crossing), Oldmonks add some Western touch to their design (and rightly so), which makes this poster featuring the ensemble cast look like that of a potential Hollywood blockbuster. Do note the neonized font for the title in Malayalam text.


Iblis Malayalam film poster
Produced by Ichais Productions

Designed by nologomedia, this charming poster for Rohith V S’s fantasy love story Iblis has not only a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL title font but also fantastical factors etched into each and every one of its pixels, which gives you every bit of a hint about what to expect. Iblis is also the third film on this list so far to feature its actors’ names on the posters, which surely is a welcome move by Malayalam cinema at large if you ask me.


Neerali Malayalam film poster
Produced by Moonshot Entertainments

Oldmonks give Ajoy Varma’s slipshod survival drama Neerali (or Nieraali) a more direct reference to its title (which means Octopus) than the director himself gave to the film. The immensely likable designs with a heavy dose of honey yellow scattered across the posters, and an intelligent hue spectrum on specifically the one above, made me go gaga.


Thobama Malayalam film poster
Produced by Radical Cinemas and Thekkepat Films

Designed by 24AM, the poster design for Mohsin Kassim’s ode to romance Thobama gives out a peculiarly oldies vibe (of a time) when you used to hang out with your colleagues on the madhil and whistle at the beauties of your college (which, at the moment, is a type of eve-teasing). It’s supposed to be nonchalant and nostalgic and it very well is, with some amazing use of the watercolour effect.

Trivia – 24AM rose to instant popularity when their butterfly logo on the posters for Alphonse Putharen’s Premam went viral.


Aabhaasam Malayalam film poster
Produced by Spire Productions and Collective Phase One

Designed by artist Pavi Sankar, the posters for Jubith Namradath’s social satire Aabhaasam are as raunchy and vivid as the film’s characters and the central theme. There would be no one person who will look at this piece of art and not want to consider consuming the full content. I remember the publicity team had also released a slightly risque-y poster on social media once the film was certified by the CBFC after much controversy. And it was equally awe-inspiring. Just bravo!


Eeda Malayalam film poster
Produced by Delta Studio and Collective Phase One

One of the best Malayalam movies of 2018, B Ajithkumar’s powerful romance story narrated against a political backdrop Eeda really took the rawness and realism of its theme to a higher level with this poster. Not only does it adopt the “put the ensemble” route – like Dakini, Ranam, and Aabhaasam – but also takes its title font so seriously that it evokes memories of a certain political theory popular in Kannur (and Kerala, in general) where the film is set. It is designed by Oldmonks.


Aami Malayalam film poster
Produced by Reel and Real Cinema

Last on this list is – for the eighth time – an Oldmonks design where they give a subtle nod to the film’s primary subject (legendary writer Kamala Surayya) and her ink-y writings that not only wreaked havoc in her own life but also kicked up a furore in the sensitive literary, political, and religious spheres. What better use of the smudge tool than on a poster for a film that talks about how a person is oppressed by the society because of their outspoken writing. This is for Kamal’s hard-hitting biopic Aami.


These are the 13 best posters that helped Malayalam cinema go the extra mile in its promotions in 2018. I wanted to list more posters (considering around a hundred fifty films released this year) and write about their designers to give them more exposure but I feel doing that would take the focus off from these pieces of remarkable creative art. TN.


Did you find this list interesting? If yes, consider buying me books.

Rethinking Movie Disclaimers

I was watching V A Shrikumar Menon’s Malayalam-language thriller Odiyan (2018) last day and I couldn’t help but think about the disclaimers that flashed on the screen. While I have noticed the disclaimer “Violence against women is punishable under law” in plenty of other recent films, it is only now that I thought about it in length.

I understand why there is a need to add that particular disclaimer (added to a scene where Prakash Raj’s character is forcibly holding Sreejaya Nair’s character’s jaw by his hand) – especially in today’s sensitive landscape where violence against women has shot up unnaturally – and how it satisfies and suggests the country’s various art control and regulation boards into believing that their job is done, but what stumps me is the singularity of it all. Why do we restrict the disclaimers to only certain elements? Why only women, cigarette smoking, and animals?

Why do we append these less-than-useless disclaimers in movies when we know that there are other bigger reasons that cause these very things that we are trying to eradicate? Why do we think that these disclaimers will have a considerable impact when no one even takes them seriously other than those who mandate it who, by the way, I’m told, often look at these disclaimers when they don’t have access to porn? 

Plus, we all know that not a single smoker has kicked the butt after watching that horrendously produced anti-smoking disclaimer, now starring Indian cricketer Rahul “The Wall” Dravid in the performance of his lifetime.

So, here’s a list of common disclaimers that we all have seen and got irritated by when at the movies and how they should be if we were living in an ideal world.

Movie Disclaimers in an Ideal World

If there is a need to add disclaimers in movies (restricted to Indian movies), I would love to see these versions over the current ones:

  • Not all characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is not purely coincidental.
  • No one was harmed during the making of this film.
  • Culpable violence against all genders is punishable under law.
  • Smoking, much like living in a polluted city and other 87 acts, is injurious to health.
  • Intoxication is injurious to health.
  • Not following the rules underlined in The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 is punishable under law.

I know for a fact that as long as we are sensitive about art, this new edition of movie disclaimer texts will never be accepted. My future son already knows this. But I’m still hopeful.

What are some other disclaimers that takes the fun out of your movie-watching experience? Let me know and we will edit it a bit. TN.