The Language of Aliens is Bhojpuri

I am not sure if I have got your attention, but I tried. There are other ways to get attention – like standing nude with a perfect body, by just covering your vital organs with a quirky radio. After you have got the attention, you can give your message. Or a horde of messages.

I am not sure if you still got my attention, but I really tried. PK gets your attention very well with this.

PK

Any Aamir Khan fan, or a die-hard ex-fan (like me), got the attention, in either good ways, or bad ways. The movie loses no time in what it wants to talk about – it wants to talk about everything that’s going wrong. Everything. There’s no particular message, but it’s a medley of degraded human behaviours, especially the humans of India. Bribery. Wearing helmet when riding a bike. Ticket for black. Peeing in public. Showing the warmth of prostitutes. Bogus news. Stealing. No value for Gandhi if it’s not on currency note. India vs Pakistan. Religion. Et cetera. All the issues are picked up together and tied very loosely. Even if you decide to keep aside your brain, and watch it, you cannot really do that. Because the movie wants to force you to think. When I was forced to think, I thought about these things:

  1. It’s almost like an overwhelming projection of Satyamev Jayate
  2. Aamir, and Vidhu Vinod Chopra want to use art for a cause, and I respect that. They use the right techniques, for the right audience. But you could have tried not to mix all the things, and also introduce a love triangle.
  3. Why Rajasthan, and so many colours? You seem to be very ambitious with your audience, and you definitely want to try to get nominated for the Oscars.
  4. Why the bombing scene? Really, why?
  5. I was expecting a really good debate between Tapasvi Maharaj and PK. I was all pumped up for the scene. It was a true anticlimax, with what they showed. It beat logic in every way possible, and killed a great platform for what could have been a great debate.
  6. Why alien, I thought. I got a range of ideas – they did not want to be left behind with all the sci-fi movies getting all the attention, they wanted to extend their target audience to aliens, etc. But then I realized, that it was indeed a smart move. Talking about religion, and challenging sticky old beliefs needs guts. Lots of it. With smartness. You cannot challenge blind believers by calling them stupid, and their beliefs dumb. PK, an alien, is a blank slate. He has no clue what religion is. He is innocent and cannot see until the end that Tapasvi is a cheat. Like the fellow believers. He challenges everything innocently, without knowing what he is doing. Very very smart approach.

All in all, I am not impressed with the movie. Boman Irani is wasted as an actor, by reducing his presence to mere suit with PJs and chappals, and a Trishul mark on his left bum. Saurabh Shukla’s potential is not fully utilized either. Sanjay Dutt seems fine. Anushka Sharma’s acting would have got noticed, had she not injected her lips that covered most part of the screen. Almost everything screamed for attention in the movie. When someone tries hard to be quirky, it shows. In not such a good way. Also, I don’t think the movie did a good job challenging people’s beliefs, if that was the core objective of the movie. The only thing I appreciate is the guts. Vidhu Vinod Chopra seems to have given away the reigns in Aamir’s hands, succumbing. Aamir? He continues to disappoint. It seems like a point of no return to me.

Uber Is Not Uber-cool After All

Just after my first ride with Uber, they blocked me for no reason. I had Lyft app too on my phone, and I never bothered to correct the situation with Uber. Well, it was not due to laziness, though a lot for the reason that I had started liking Lyft’s service, and detesting Uber because of a lot of hear-say things, facts, experiences, etc. which I could not ignore after a point. There is a lot of legal stuff that Uber is trying to juggle with. I am not going to bite my tongue for having used the word “hear-say” because it’s mostly from the horse’s mouth – the drivers of their competitors.

  • Uber is banned from operating in Delhi, India: Would I like to feel safe when using a cab service (or sharing a ride, whatever in the hell it means)? Hell yes, I would. If I have to pay to a service that says that they are “safe”, I would expect not just a careful driver, but also someone who does not make me feel unsafe for being a girl, especially when I am travelling alone at night. I could be taking a ride back from my school, or from a club. That does not matter. I have at many occasions felt completely unsafe with some obnoxious drivers, and even reported them. Does a reason like that warrant Uber’s ban in India? May be, may be not. They might have looked into their operational facts before taking the decision. I just hope that Indian Police Service does not get away with this one, playing the blame game.
  • Uber vs others: Uber probably got into trouble in some European countries because cartels seemingly attacked them where they tried to give the cheapest rates ever, just enough to run their business. Will I always pick a service that is unbelievably cheap, just because it is unbelievably cheap (to try to monopolize its business), and turn a blind eye to all its other aspects? May be if I am completely broke. Even in that case, I would try to bail, to use public transportation. So would other informed citizens, I believe.
  • Customers rate drivers, and drivers rate customers too: That’s sweet. But do I see the drivers representing the company, especially when they are scared of getting low rates from the customers and become extremely chatty (if they get very low rates, they are banned from driving with Uber, or penalized in some way), customers who themselves can be obnoxious, and when drivers think they are in it just for money, and not because they love driving people from one place to another? Well, these may sound like first world problems, but anyway, my answer to this is – no.
  • Uber may be treating customers fine, but how are they treating their drivers?: I happened to get a ride from a Lyft driver, who claimed that he was Uber’s first driver in Boston. After that he told me that Uber treats their drivers like shit, and a lot of Uber drivers are moving to Lyft. Uber app is pretty good, but if you have used Lyft app, you will know that it is pretty good as well. A lot of drivers get to appreciate it, because it contacts drivers in the vicinity and if they are not close, it simply does not send them. Well, a person waiting for a cab might suffer because of this. But this is what happens on the other end – drivers have to travel all the way if they get picked by the app. They hate this. They also hate going to certain areas where they expect the customers to be obnoxious. Also, Uber has reduced rates so much, that it becomes difficult for these drivers to sustain themselves. They have evolved against their own wish to cheat the system – keep the app off when you want to avoid a ride. Keep it on at prime time. Some Lyft drivers have told me that Lyft customers are better than Uber customers. You see, it works both ways.
  • Uber helps driver buy a car: Is that a good thing? Not necessarily. It does not care so much about the credit history of the applications, and it advertises so openly. Is that a good thing? Be the judge. About the interest rates on loans – they are definitely a little shady.
  • Uber is unethical at many levels: When Lyft had entered the market, Uber would book the Lyft cars, only to cancel them at the 11th hour. They did this a lot of times to create false traffic, until they got caught. Way to go.
  • Uber and Lyft are not taxi services, but transportation network companies: That is fine. If a business or technology is disruptive in good ways, it’s great. It will definitely face a lot of problems from the existing systems that it is trying to replace, true. But here’s what: these companies do not consider themselves to be in taxi service. But that is proving for them to run into legal issues. Uber has been audacious enough for asking the laws to fix themselves up. The problem is, an Uber of Lyft driver, when on the job, has rendered his car insurance void. Technically, the driver is on business, and no one is going to cover for their insurance. I have no words for that kind of risk.

These things might seem secondary, or unnecessary for a business to worry about. Especially for someone as aggressive as Uber. But these are exactly the things that go a long way. They are a giant, and it’s very difficult to budge one. We have examples in history. But there are things to learn, from these examples. Also, we have all sorts of examples for stupid arrogance as well.

Marketing Gone Too Far

So now Kalashnikov (popularly known as AK-47) is being rebranded. Any wild guess as to what they are doing about it? It’s rebranded to be projected as a weapon of peace. I don’t see the need to do this. This weapon, when used to shoot, is still going to kill.

If there is agendum that is truly noble, something that is not sinister, I fail to see it. Here’s the complete article – http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/europe/Kalashnikov-rebrands-AK-47s-as-weapons-of-peace/articleshow/45367702.cms

All I have to say to this is – seriously?

Indian Advertisements

For my Consumer Behaviour class, I have to present something, that showcases what we have learned in the class. My professor loves to know what is happening in countries other than the US, so I thought of picking up Indian adverts. I have not really watched TV in a year, but back home when I did, I used to criticize adverts more than the actual stuff that I was watching. There are many stupid ones, and quite a few are impressive, smart. Here are some that I have picked for my class. My list was longer than this, but there is time constraint. I hope they will show some aspects of India, in terms of norms, values, taboo, and other societal and cultural things attached with India, and how marketing people have made use of those.

1. Arranged marriage – A guy’s family sees a girl’s. The guy just looks at her, and agrees. She is beautiful, and that’s enough for him. His dad has a list though. Can she sing is what he asks. She sings, and says that she can do more, and dances too. Mirinda, as a brand, in India, is about doing what you feel like doing, fearlessly. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65DbA-baZYA The language spoken is Tamil.

2. Office humour – Camlin is a lot about creative adverts. This is just a build-up for the next advert to come. I might have to cut this out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiHUw-Hz3BU The language spoken is, of course, English.

3. This advert speaks for itself – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKthceSGlyM Language spoken is Hindi

4. India-Pakistan war – The never-ending war, where we have only tried putting each other down. Airtel has always used some good adverts, and this is just one of them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLLc0mJyAic Language spoken is Urdu

5. Bollywood – This advert is a funny take on a typical Bollywood romantic dance number – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mS2BXagtFc

6. Norms and values – The song in Hindi says that we are changing, advancing, but we still respect our culture. In India, if your foot touches someone by mistake, they touch you, and then touch their forehead, a way of saying sorry. Some such other norms and values – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIGAniJxmds I might get rid of this one, because I don’t personally like a lot of those “norms and values”. But I might even retain it, because it is not about my feelings, it is about showing to the class what’s what.

7. Cricket. Cricket. Cricket. It’s a religion in India, that almost everyone follows. Cricketers are stars, Gods. IPL seasons are mad, and there have been some amazing adverts that have gone viral during cricket seasons.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXYK-KivZWg This is a very old advert that every Indian can still watch and enjoy. Brings goosebumps. I might have to cut this out though. But it’s very cute, so I might keep it.

ZooZoos, who are actually masked ballet dancers, took India by storm in the season two of IPL. They were a marketing campaign by Vodafone networks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0xUpr3RH0w

and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plCZ8HtiOb8 They speak unintelligible launguage

8. Diversity – India is so diverse, that it is really difficult even for an Indian from one part to understand one from another. Unity in diversity is one of India’s mottos, and a lot of brands have used it beautifully.

Nike has used cricket and diversity – Bleed Blue – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52tY338hhdg

Amul, unarguably the favourite dairy brand of India – British brought it to India, and called butter “utterly butterly”.  Even Indians in the US look for Amul butter everywhere – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mndv6gdZ7M0

CocaCola – It says that we are all the same. We look different, but our favourite cold drink is the same – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFXb6a301DE

Last but not the least, an advert by Incredible India, a marketing campaign by Indian Government, to promote tourism in India. It covers the snow-capped mountains, deserts, backwaters, nodding head sideways when meaning “yes”, ayurveda, yoga, Atithi Devo Bhava (Sanskrit for “Guest is God”), etc. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qBE_Z8JbzY

I was going to include Raymond suitings adverts too, because they have proven that babies, puppies, a sweet husband, a reliable son-in-law, can never go wrong. They have mostly used modern Indian households to show these. But it would have been kind of a drag. I was also going to add the Fevicol Moochwali advert. You live the story of a poor girl stuck with a moustache, and just as you fall in love with the character, she dies. But there’s rebirth 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUc4iKIAPV8 I might keep this, depending on the time left, and how the class will have responded to all of the above.