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Archive for the ‘milliondollars’ Category

Based on Vikas Swarup‘s Q&A, Slumdog Millionaire is a masterpiece created by director Danny Boyle with lesser known actors in lead roles. The movie, set around Mumbai slums, revolves around a ‘slumdog’ who wins the top prize by answering all the questions right in the game show Who wants to be a millionaire?

Slumdog Millionaire - Dev Patel and Freida Pinto

Slumdog Millionaire - Dev Patel and Freida Pinto

Jamal Malik, played by Dev Patel, who works as a chaiwala in a call center answers all the questions right and the suspicious host, Anil Kapoor, who also runs the show, asks for a probe. Mumbai cops, lay their hands on him and the story evovles as Jamal explains how he knew the answers to the questions asked. The story, though not extraordinary with drama, fantasy and love, has been well handled to keep you interested.

The mesmerizing city of Mumbai has be beautifully captured even though it mostly showcases slums. The story could have given rise to a perfect masala bollywood movie, but Boyle has made it an interesting flick. The screenplay gives a subtle touch of documentary style of film making, nicely portrayed in a commercial movie story.

Characters are developed wonderfully. Kid Jamal, played by Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, and middle Jamal, played by Tanay Chheda have got meaning ful screen presence. Jamal’s brother, Salim, also portrayed as a trio, makes an impressive character. Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, playing the youngest Salim needs a special mention. Jamal’s love interest, Lathika, is played by Frieda Pinto, Tanvi Ganesh and Rubiana Ali. The adoloscent Lathika, played by Tanvi Ganesh, known as Cherry in Pila street leaves a lasting impression. All the actors have done justice to their role.

Finally, background score and music. AR Rahman has given the soul to the movie, especially in the sequence where slum kids playing cricket in a private place are chased away by cops. Rahman’s composition is mesmerizing, although you can readily identify it to sound Rahmanic at times.

Definitely worth a watch, and a lesson to bollywood filmmakers as how to make a movie out of a masala story in a different way. I go with 4/5 stars for the movie and wish it wins an academy award.


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High price of crude oil, touching nearly $150 a barrel, has alarmed every nation across the world but the ones producing. Is it really the excess usage of non-renewable source of energy causing its depletion or a mere speculation using the threat of depleting resources for their ulterior motives? Really hard to say, but i tend to go with the latter.

We know, for ages, that western countries have higher energy usage per person. USA consumed 340.5 million Btu of primary energy per capita in 2005, which was roughly the same in 1980 (343 mBtu). Interesting to note is the rise in per capita energy consumption of Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., and China. The middle eastern countries have a very high per capita consumption, probably needed for the continuously running air conditioners. Saudi Arabia’s consumption has increased from 166.3 mBtu in 1980 to 252 mBtu in 2005, an 85% increase. U.A.E has increased its consumption from 267.2 to 563.6 mBtu, a whooping 110% increase!

In South-East Asia, China has topped India by a significant margin. From 17.8 mBtu to 51.4 mBtu in China as against 5.9mBtu to 14.8 mBtu in India. Though the percentage increase of India is high, the per capita consumption is minuscule when compared to western, middle eastern or Chinese counter parts. Per capita consumption of oil, barrel per person per year is 2.18 for India, one of the lowest in the world (world avg: 12.52) whereas it is 78 in Saudi Arabia.

Oil consumption per capita across the world

Oil consumption per capita across the world.

These are the stats in 2005. The increase by 2010 or 2015 would be phenomenally more for reasons obvious below. Why has the consumption in middle eastern countries increased so much over the years? I’d say because of whimsical spending.

Al Burj, Dubai

Al Burj, Dubai is growing on what you pay for fuel

Nearly 25% of the construction cranes in the world are in Dubai. Wonder why? Two of the world’s largest sky scrapers, one under construction, Burj Dubai, and other, Al Burj, in proposal, are coming up in Dubai along with numerous other multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects. Artificial Palm islands, three man-made islands in Dubai, is the largest land reclamation projects in the world, and would be the world’s largest artificial islands. Besides this, there are several other highly ambitious projects to shell out billions of dollars like Hydropolis – world’s first underwater luxury resort, The World islands – artificial islands shaped like world map, and Dubailand – under-construction entertainment complex bettering Orlando’s Disney world. There are several high rise super luxury residential properties, and malls coming up along with Dubai Metro system, and world’s largest international airport.

The construction of transportation network, good shopping malls, and residential properties are, no doubt, ‘necessities’ of prosperous nations but projects like Ski Dubai, to ski in desert, is a whimsical idea, i would say, to splurge money made by selling oil to other countries. So are the projects like Al Burj, Palm islands, and Hydropolis. I remember another project to grow corals in the unnatural corrosive habitat in the coast of gulf by modifying the sea to assist coral growth. What next? May be they want to have Alps or Mount Everest artificially made!

About 80% of the world’s readily accessible reserves are located in the Middle East with 62.5% coming from 5 Arab countries: Saudi Arabia (12.5%), UAE, Iraq, Qatar and Kuwait. Such huge spending can result in ever increasing price of oil as they have no other source of income. The concept of income tax does not exist as they are already making too much money by selling oil.

Supposedly there are more construction workers than citizens in UAE! What will happen to these people once these projects are completed in, say, another 10 years? Thousands of civil engineers, electrical engineers, and laborers would be jobless. Some of them might settle with hospitality sector for running and maintenance of these super luxury palaces of the rich, but the fate of rest is scary. Most of the workers are from developing countries like India. They would promptly be sent back home, and the unemployment would be rampant along with sky-rocketing fuel price.

The current increase of fuel price is funding these crazy spending spree of some of the oil rich countries. The effects of the completion of these projects would be felt all over the world, the cost of maintenance of these would sky-rocket the already high oil prices. Global warming might not reduce if the non-producing nations limit their usage when these oil rich nations are blowing up non-renewable energy sources for maintaining snow in desert or having underwater resort!

Source: EIA (Energy Information Administration) – Official energy statistics from the U.S. government for statistics on per capita primary energy consumption.

P.S.: I’m back!

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Facebook’s 3rd party applications, orkut’s incremental approach to this, and recently the launch of Google’s OpenSocial to provide APIs to third party application developers to develops ‘social applications’ for social networking sites like LinkedIn, Friendster, Plaxo, MySpace and many more. These social networking sites are amassing millions of net users providing the features enjoyed by a collective group of users, and networking them. This essentially is the essence of these sites, but they have developed the tendency to kill the startup websites wanting to cater to a specific set of users.

If one wishes to start a website providing a platform for netizens of a particular interest, these social networking sites form a roadblock by giving out these privileges. This would curtail the opportunity for web 2.0 application developers, and other budding entrepreneurs. The roadblock is in the from of a mind set of the users in going for another site, when you can get similar stuff all at one place, even though the ‘other’ site may cater your need better.

facebook event

The pic shows Facebook’s press/developer event in San Francisco. Orkut, and MySpace may be excused for it’s not using 3rd party developers (until now) to develop its features but facebook to me is the real culprit, using some smart ebullient web developers to develop the site for its advantage. Zuckerberg, CEO of facebook, says his move is similar to what Microsoft did decades ago. Rightly so. Who was benefited with that? Microsoft or the 3rd party developers? The answer is evident. Bill Gates move propelled him as the world’s richest man for many years. The Sybase story is evident in the development of SQL, now a Microsoft product. Looks like Mark’s the new one in the making.

Google being the dark horse, looks to have tricked Microsoft in their foray to social networking site. Microsoft finally bought 1.6% stake in facebook for an exorbitant sum of $240 million, taking the net worth of facebook to $15 billion. Did Google have any hand in bluffing Microsoft to overpay for facebook? Read it here.

Google’s launch of OpenSocial is to lessen the dent facebook is making with the third party application development strategy in social networking site space. MySpace which initially was reluctant to open its ‘space’ to third party developers has now accepted OpenSocial with open arms, probably realizing it may soon lose out to others if it doesn’t. Google has the strategy of providing a common set of APIs for social applications across multiple websites with OpenSocial. This would attract developers to use these APIs to develop application for any website or blog. Also, an interesting thing Google has come up with is not to make it mandatory to use a server of the application developer, unlike facebook. LinkedIn, Plaxo, Hi5, Ning, and few others have already accepted to allow third party applications in their sites using these common APIs. OpenSocial blog is here.

I agree that the base of over 50 million users, now over a 100 millions users with the use of OpenSocial, is an invaluable asset facebook, or Google provides, which is hard to reach otherwise. But i think the probability of reaching this user base is only a tad bit lesser if you weren’t on facebook, being just another site in the abysmal Internet. No doubt marketing would be easier on facebook or any of these sites but the price one pays for it is not worth. Just by providing a platform, one should not make a fortune over the one who is actually providing the entertainment to the people coming there. You are there because of the entertainer, not the stage, ain’t it?

Social networking sites seems to become a sub-www within the Internet. But unlike ‘nobody owns the Internet’, these sites are owned, and run (if you can say that in real sense) by some ‘one’. The major benefactors of the growth of these sites is only that group of individuals who have a share in the firm, not the third party application developers. This also deprives the third party developers a sense of ‘Identity’. Now, who would know the person starting FSX(Fantasy Stock Exchange) on facebook? But many would know Mark Zuckerberg, and he would be the billionaire, not these application developers.

My solution to this? I would like to see a network of these startups providing a ‘different’ features/services connected together with a common login. The owners of these individual ‘applications’ would get their share depending of the traffic to their application. Obviously the servers would be of the individual developer. Who are game for this? The hype and brand of Google or facebook would make a fortune from these over enthusiastic web developers.

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What do i wish to choose depends of what i can get out of this for myself and others. Inept scale for weighing the two makes the choice more difficult. Though the choice is not clear cut, i’d choose a million dollars over knighthood.

Funding a small innovative technology business, nurturing it, and help it grow would make the choice of a million dollars more appropriate for me. A seed capital of million dollars is a huge sum to invest in any one business and the risk involved is uncalled for. Budding entrepreneurs with innovative ideas don’t need more than a hundred thousand dollars for any activity, initially at least. The entrepreneurs could be college students or the ebullient graduates. The lack of entrepreneurial instinct in India is due to the risk involved in such a venture. The risk is mainly the money but playing safe would kill the killer idea of a youth. Giving a support by empowering them to achieve what they really want to would give immense joy for me, which even the knighthood would fail to give.

A million dollars is enough to fund at least ten such entrepreneurs. Be it the idea of providing property classifieds over Google earth in real time, or development of a seamless audio transmission network, all it needs is a little encouragement and some capital. The benefactors of such an activity is not only the group of people involved in it but also the one who are using the technology for their convenience, and there by taking India from being a destination for cheap labor to land of entrepreneurs with innovative business development models and ideas.

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