21 September 2014

Movie Review: Finding Fanny

I have no idea why I went to watch a movie named 'Finding Fanny'. It must have been the review. The movie felt different and refreshing in the review. 
Still, there were aspects of this movie that made me hesitate about watching it. Its name for instance. I don't know if the producer checked the dictionary meaning of the word 'Fanny' before naming the movie. My guess is he did and knew that it was naughty.
Since I rarely watch any movies, at the movie theatre, I had to decide which movie to watch. The choices were between Mary Kom and Finding Fanny. Both the movies had good reviews. In the end I decided to bestow my patronage on Deepika Padukone.
So I went to watch FF.
Big mistake.
Every movie should have a raison d'etre. It should have an interesting story line and it should have a basis for asking people to pay their hard earned money to watch it.  I have no idea what is the basis of this movie. I can imagine the following dialogue between Producer(P) and Director(D).
P: Boss, I want to make a movie.
D: Ok, what's the story
P: No story. I want a few people to drive around in car through Goa. Government is giving some subsidies for promoting tourism.
D: You want people to just drive around?
P: Yes, just drive. Around.
D: For what? 
P: Why should people drive around? Searching for something or someone. Make up a story. It is your job.
D: (Chastised) Shall we make the movie about an old man searching for his childhood love? We can call it 'Searching for Sarah'.
P: OK, what is the love angle? 
D: Fernandez (Ferdie) is looking for his childhood sweetheart can be the love angle. He can go driving through Goa looking for Sarah.
P: But by the time Fernandez finds Sarah, the movie will be over. Who will want to watch an old man seeking love?
D: Oh (rubbing his chin in deep thought)
D: (Suddenly energized), why can't he have some local lady to help him in search for Sarah? We can also get a local young man to drive them around. They can fall in love.
P: Good idea. We could easily insert a few kisses here and there. That will give'em.
D: Ok, We have the overall plot. We have an old man Ferdie, who is in search for his childhood sweetheart, Sarah. Why should Ferdie be looking for his sweetheart all of a sudden?.
P: (mutters in his breath so that I can claim the Goa Government Subsidy). (saying aloud), lets say that he got back his proposal that he sent to Sarah 40 years ago. He finds that it was not delivered to her. So he wants to find Sarah and profess his love for her.
D: 46
P: What? 
D: Let us say that he sent the letter to her 46 years ago. 40 is a round number. It doesn't grip the audience. 46 will stay in their minds. Other thing is with the word 'Search'. It is better to use simple word 'Find'. Let us call our movie 'Finding Sarah'. 
P: That do not rhyme. Also Sarah is not a Goan name. 
D: Why not Finding Flora? No? Finding Frances? No again? Finding Franny? No? OK. What about Finding Fanny? It has a nice rhyme to it
P: That is good. But isn't 'Fanny' a bit naughty?. 
D: Yes, but its ok. Indian audience will not even know. Even if they know, they won't care. All the men want is a pretty actress and a few kisses and all the women want is a handsome hunk and a few kisses. 
P: I have an idea? Lets have Deepika Padukone.
D: Why? She is hardly Goanese, if you see what I mean. We should have someone like Sunny Leone.
P: Our film is a low budget film and we need audience to see so that we can make money. I read somewhere that Deepika has about one Crore Twitter followers. All of them will come to watch the movie. Throw in Ranveer Singh also. With news about their real life hot romance all over the media, a few of his followers will also come to watch. This, coupled with Goan Subsidy, will payback my investment quickly.  
D: Boss, you are a genius. So our movie is called 'Finding Fanny'. I have one more question.
P: What?
D: Assume that they find Fanny. Chances are that she is dead already. Then what? All this drive through Goa for nothing. Audience will throw shoes...
P: (thinking), add 'Six Months Later'. Make something to happen after Six Months. Like lovers getting married or some such stuff.
D: Boss, I say again. You are a genius.
Director leaves
6 months later, Director and Producer meet again.
D: The movie is ready. Deepika is playing a girl who is taking Ferdie through Goa in search of Stephanie (Fanny) who was his childhood sweetheart. To bring in Ranveer Singh, I gave him a cameo and got him married to Deepika in the beginning of the movie and had him choke to death on his wedding cake 10 minutes later. That should bring the Ranveer fans.
In their journey to find Fanny, Ferdie (Nasseruddin Shah) is accompanied by Angie (Deepika), Savio (Arjun Kapur), Angie's mother-in-law Rosie (Dimple Kapadia)  and Pedro (Pankaj Kapur) a painter who is fascinated by Rosie and her backside (Fanny). They go through the villages of Goa in Savio's dilapidated car which had been bought by Pedro. I have beautifully picturized the amazing lure of Goan Inlands, so you should have no problems in getting that money from Goan Government. It is a boring journey, but I have tried to embellish it with some kisses between Angie and Savio. At the end of the journey, I used 'Six months later' and got Ferdie married to Rosie and Angie to Savio and neatly tied up the movie.
P: Brilliant. I can't wait to see the movie.
D: But I had a couple of challenges. I handled them somehow. I hope you will approve my approach.
P: Challenges like? 
D: First challenge was how they will actually Find Fanny. After all the movie is about Finding Fanny and we will look stupid if they did not find her after all this road trip. In my enthusiasm and focus on the road trip, I did not give much thought to how, when and where they will find Fanny. So I took the easy way out. Somewhere in their trip, they come across a funeral procession. Conveniently Fanny had died that morning and it was her funeral procession. No jamela of kahan, kab aur kaise (where, when and how).
P: Beautiful. 
D: In one of the scenes, these people run out of Petrol. I send Ferdie with a white petrol can. But when he came back he brought a Navy Blue Can. No explanations. It is like he got an exchange offer on the can or something. I hope the audience do not notice.
P: What is the time difference between these two scenes?
D: About 30 minutes.
P: Have you inserted some kissing scenes in this 30 minutes? 
D: Yes, I have got scenes of Angie kissing Savio, Pedro feeding Brandy to Rosie, I have shown a sexy Rosie lying down....
P: Then no problem. Audience will not notice. In general, kisses act as amnesiacs. Audience forget what happened before that.
D: The next challenge is that they recognize that they are low on Fuel but still do not take any steps to fill petrol. If I am travelling, as soon as my petrol tank becomes half empty, I become frantic. In this movie despite knowing that they are about to run off the fuel and that they are in some god forsaken village in Goa, they are not making any effort to fill petrol before tank runs empty or to keep some in the can. Won't audience note this anomaly?
P: Kisses?
D: Yes.
P: Then no problem.
D: Another anomaly is the answer to the question, how did Ferdie get the letter from Stephanie that started the whole movie. Since he is the Post master of the village post office, the easiest way for him to get the letter is by post. But I wanted a twist. I got someone (who turns out to be Savio, whose father was a post master. Apparently all elders in the village are post masters) to drop the letter through the door at night and then vanish. Audience may wonder why Savio did not hand it over to him in the day time or why Savio vanished after pushing the letter thru the door (after all it is not some letter bomb or something, it is a 46 year old letter) or why Ferdie did not get it since he was the post master.
P: Kisses after this?
D: Plenty
P: Then no problem. No one will ask any questions....
The Director leaves, a happy man
And finally, what is with the' relieving' guys? Whenever director do not know what to do next, he buys time by asking you guys to relieve yourselves. Then and there. There is a scene where Savio is talking to Angie and suddenly he turns around and viola ! he lets it go. (to say Angie was surprised and nonplussed like a 'dear caught in the headlights' is an understatement. Imagine you talking to someone and he just turns around and starts going off in just the same spot? No warning, no control, nothing. It is like talking to the rain god frantic about the delayed monsoon. Dashed embarrassing), 

Careful dude. A lady is standing next to you. Have some shame.

Same is the case with Pedro and Rosie. Pedro is drinking brandy with Rosie and suddenly Ferdie butts in. Pedro is pissed off (literally !), moves a few meters and starts going off. 

With all that flat land extending miles around them, these dudes have to relive themselves just meters (in case of Savio, one meter away) from where the ladies are standing. Why can't they move off about 50 meters or so? It is not like they have some great urgency to attend the UN General Assembly session or something, These dudes have nowhere to go and got nothing to do but wait for the movie to end. 

I cringed while watching these scenes. 

The final challenge that the Director faced was how to handle the extra person. There were two ladies and three men. 'Six Months Later' four of them can be hitched to each other,  who should be the fifth person and how he should be disposed off ? 

Director decided that Pedro is the best person to be disposed off since he is a foreigner who is a tourist in Goa. Normally in Hindi cinema, there are two ways of disposing off a character. One is to send him to 'Foreign Country' (Mein Pardes Ja Raha Hoon) or the other simple option is to bump him off.

Since they were in the middle of (nowhere) Goa, sending Pedro to Pardes would have incurred expenses, hence the best course of action was to bump him off. But it is difficult for a couple of women and old men to bump off someone especially when bumping off was not in the original agenda. Bumping off someone needs a weapon and an occasion, there should be no witnesses, and if there are witnesses,  it should look like and accident....

Its complicated, this bumping off business. Especially in the middle of nowhere.

Director gets a bored Rosie to open the box in the dashboard. And lo and behold ! a gun ! (Coincidence 1), it is loaded ! (Coincidence 2) and it accidentally fires and kills Pedro (Coincidence 3!). 

To ensure that no one in the car sees that Pedro is dead, the car suddenly goes into a tailspin, the rear door miraculously opens and the car is near the sea (It is Goa, remember?) and Pedro is thrown off into the Sea. Conveniently he was sitting on the side where the door gave way.

And no one saw this happening.

And '6 Months Later' the marriage.

Everyone lived happily thereafter.

There my friends, you have the best of Hindi Cinema.

02 September 2014

The power of compounding in Life

This an article that I posted in LinkedIn Pulse. You can either read it here, or if you prefer, you can read it from the horse's mouth
I am currently in a self-created project of reading 50 books on Finance, Investment and Wealth creation and writing their reviews in my blog. So far I have covered twelve books.
You can read the reviews HERE
One of the biggest benefits of this exercise for me has been the knowledge and the value add that I am gaining. Since the field of Finance deals with money and money influences behaviour, a good book on Finance can add a lot of life lessons to your repertoire. Especially if they are based on the lessons learned by highly successful investors.
My LinkedIn post on 'Sitting Tight' was based on one such lesson that I had learned from the Book 'Reminiscences of a Stock Operator'
This post is about another lesson that I learned from a book that I just completedreview. It is about the power of compounding and the opportunity cost of inconsistency.
To set the tone, let us start off with some math on Investing.
Assume that you started off with three portfolios A, B and C investing 10000 in each. Your holding period for all the three portfolios is 30 years and they are expected to return 10% annually. Portfolio A gives you consistent 10% returns over your holding period, portfolio B gives you Zero returns in the years 10, 20 and 30. Portfolio C gives you negative 10% returns in years 10, 20 and 30.
At the end of 30 years, you would have;
About 171000 in Portfolio A
About 131000 in Portfolio B and
About 96000 in Portfolio C.
Even though your absolute loss is about 17000 in Portfolio C, the power of compounding has ensured that your holding period loss is about 76000. While each of the losses in Portfolio C were meagre, about 2000 in year 10 for example, the cumulative effect is humongous.
Lesson? Consistency pays. In finance.
And in life...
In my school and college days, my performance was inconsistent with a big I. I will perform exceptionally well in one year and exceptionally bad in another year. For example, till class 10, I was very poor academically and in Class 10, I did exceptionally well, then did very badly in Class 11 and performed exceptionally well in Class 12....
Each of those years when I performed poorly, were all non-evaluation years. The examinations were perfunctory. For example, Class 11 exams did not mean much, but Class 12 exams decided your career direction. So I lost focus in class 11 and regained focus in class 12.
What I am saying is that I considered the cost of each of my poor performance to be very low. I could always make up if I want to, I justified my inconsistency to myself. I was like Portfolio C in the above example, doing well sometimes, and doing badly at other times.
That pattern has been followed in most of my adult life. Give me a challenging job, I do well. But I go through the routine work at a very slow pace. I love working on projects since they are time bound and are filled with a lot of intellectual and interpersonal challenges. However, I don't do that well when it comes to routine activities, which are also very important.
Another example. My weight fluctuates between 80 and 87 Kilos. Every time it touches 87, I go to gym, I diet, I walk a lot.... Past experience has shown me that these strategies will be successful and my weight will ultimately reduce to 80, which it does. The problem is that once it touch 80, I stop the activities. Though I don't binge and all that, I go slow on all those strategies that helped reduce my weight from 87 to 80.
If you are a reader of one of MY BLOGs, you will see this inconsistency in action. My month-wise number of blog posts reads like Virat Kohli's test match scores in England ("Kohli's scores in the past 11 innings including Wednesday's blip read, 1, 8, 25, 0, 39, 28, 0, 7, 6, 20 and 0"). In some months I have written more than 30 posts and in others Zero.
This pattern is as regular as a clockwork. How is this inconsistency affecting me in the long-term? I have never even tried to analyse.
After reading the above math, I have come to realize the tremendous cost of my inconsistency. They (inconsistencies) pile up, they compound and I am sure that they have cost me huge opportunity costs over the long-term.
It is said that awareness is the step before change. While I was always aware of my inconsistent behaviour, the above example helped me become aware that I may be paying significant opportunity costs for the inconsistency.
I am sure that I am not alone. Many of us perform with inconsistency, and still may be successful in what we do. We get lazy, we are not in the mood, we lose our mojo, we procrastinate....reasons abound. This post is to help all of us see how better we can perform, how huge our returns will be, if only we were to add consistency to our recipe.
Wish you a consistent life.