Cutting the Chai has moved to a new domain:
You can get in touch with Soumyadip at

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

CNN-IBN India at 9News organisations try to sell themselves in the garb of delivering the truth to their readers/viewers/listeners. Those are associated with the news industry are aware of the degrees, deviations and definitions of that truth (the public does too).

There are fabricated stories which popup occasionally and then rest peacefully in the archives. Then there are some untruths (though trivial) that we face daily. And these irritate. One such is the opening visual of CNN-IBN's primetime bulletin.


The voiceover triumphantly announces, "This is India at 9 and broadcasting live from the CNN-IBN headquarters at New Delhi with..."

As far as I know CNN-IBN (Global Broadcast News) is located at the Express Trade Tower (the building shown in the video) which is situated at Sector 16-A Noida, aka Film City. Noida isn't even a part of Delhi, leave alone New Delhi. It is Uttar Pradesh, a different state. New Delhi ends on the western bank of the Yamuna.

The logic of NCR (National Capital Region) also doesn't work, NCR isn't New Delhi, New Delhi is just the centre of it. And for all practical purposes the concept seems to be applicable for only the mobile phone networks and advertisers for realty developers.

Ideally the NCR (consisting of Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Faridabad...) should be treated as a special zone with no restrictions. Autos from Delhi don't venture into UP or Haryana; if they do they fleece you for the bribe that they have to pay to the cops. Delhi Transport Corporation stopped its services to UP and the two states have been battling over the rights of inter-state routes.

CNN-IBN's website also seems to be self contradictory. At one place it says, "Headquartered at a world-class facility in New Delhi," elsewhere their address reads, "Global Broadcast News, Express Trade Tower, Plot No. 15-16, Sector-16A, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India - 201301."

The idea of Noida being a part of New Delhi is welcome to some. So let us be aware of the ground realities and attempt to present or viewers the same. Even if "Broadcasting live from the CNN-IBN headquarters at Noida," might not sound chic.

Click here for the complete post...

Friday, February 23, 2007

Indibloggies 2006: The Results

Stats - Best Topical IndiblogThe verdict's out. And Cutting the Chai got 41 votes (seventh amongst the 19 in the 'Best Topical Indiblog' category). Nine people had confirmed that they did vote for this blog (I expected at the most 17 votes). Thanks to them and the other 32. Four blogs that I voted for, won in their respective categories.

The Great Bong is the 'Best Indiblog of the Year' and also the 'Most Humorous Indiblog.' And Digital Inspiration is the 'Best Science/Technology Indiblog.' For the rest of the list go here.

Since they didn't have any badges for the nominees to show off, I made one for myself.

[Click on image for detailed view]

Click here for the complete post...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Archived Title Images

[Click on image for a larger view / download options]

I'm enjoying putting up these slide shows. So thought of doing away with my (obnoxious) practice of putting up a separate post for title images which I 'retire.' Instead will have this single post with an updatable slideshow featuring all the images that adorned the title space of this blog.

[Slideshow powered by Slide]

Click here for the complete post...

Fatehpur Sikri: A Few Photographs

[Click on image for a larger view / download options]

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Fathehpur Sikri was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in honour of the Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chisti {and also his conquest of Gujarat). It is believed that it was by his blessings that the Emperor got a son, Jehangir. Constructed in the sixteenth century, Fatehpur Sikri derives its name from Fatehpur (literally the City of Victory) and Sikri, an adjoining village where Salim Chisti resided. The red sandstone structure houses the tomb (dargah) of Salim Chisti, the humongous Buland Darwaza and the Jama Masjid.

Fatehpur Sikri was abandoned about a decade-and-a-half after it was built, purportedly for the lack of water (one woe that continues to ail modern India). We (four of us) visited Jalaluddin Muhammad's short-lived capital on the eve of the New Year. No partying for us, it was basking in history centuries old.

[Slideshow powered by Slide]

Click here for the complete post...

Monday, February 19, 2007

2007 - The Year of the Mobile?

Last year everyone was all gaga about the Moto RAZR. I was too, looking at the ads and reading the reviews. Until I got my hands on one. It's good, but not as good as I had expected it to be, given the widespread extolment. Its lwasn't exactly the stunner that it pretended to be. It should have been a little slimmer. The guys at Moto overheard me (all my great ideas get lifted this way) and came up with the KRZR, over a centimetre narrower than its predecessor. But now it looks anorexic (usually happens with stolen ideas).


At the Global Mobile Awards 2007, the awards winning phones were:

Samsung's SGH-D900 (Best GSM Mobile Handset or Device)

Samsung SGH-D900

and Sony Ericsson K800 Cyber-Shot phone (Best 3GSM Mobile Handset or Device)

Sony Ericsson K800 Cyber-Shot

As the seventh year from the year that many celebrated as the beginning of the new millennium (but the Cubans didn't) began, the horticulturists at Apple unveiled to the world the hybrid of a mobile phone, an iPod and an internet communications device.



If you were all ogling that the sexy thing (expectedly) called the iPhone, LG and Prada delivered a sexy babe (the mobile, not the girl).

The Prada phone by LG

The Prada phone by LG

The drool session isn't over yet, here's a Swede bombshell - Neonode N2 (it supposedly can give the iPhone a real scare).

Neonode N2

Neonode N2

And there'll be many more. It's only February.

Click here for the complete post...

Friday, February 16, 2007

The MP3 Wars - How Music Companies Can Emerge Victorious

I had written about it a long time ago (September 13, 2005 to be precise):

Online piracy has been for long a nuisance to the music industry. Much publicised battles have been fought on the web and in the courts, but with limited success. What escapes the attention of the media is the deluge of offline MP3s. The large scale proliferation of home PCs and dirt-cheap MP3 players have only magnified the malice. A little bargaining can get you a CD loaded with 150 'superhit' songs for Rs. 20 (45 cents). The sidewalks of the metros and the mofussil towns are stacked with the stuff. Neighbourhood rental shops also rent them out - Rs. 10 only. Downloading the equivalent from the net would have cost many times more. Purchasing the original CDs - forget it.

The quality might not be great, but it is more than worth the price paid. The customer is happy. He no longer has to empty his wallet or inflate his credit card bills at the cash counters of music stores.

The music industry does not seem to have learnt its lesson. They are concentrating only on the ethical and legal aspects. Their anti-piracy blitzkrieg is limited to an ad here and a raid there. After a few days of lull the pirates are again back to business. What they should have realised is that the advantage the pirates have is in the price. Low priced original movie DVDs and VCDs have dented the pirates' market-share. Its now the turn of the music industry to go for competitive (read pirate unfriendly) and consumer friendly pricing.

One fact that I fail to comprehend. A CD costs less to produce than an audio cassette. Then why does the same music on a CD cost at least three times than that on an audio cassette?

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Dum Mast MastAnd a few days ago when I stepped into a music store and I found out exactly how music companies can win in this battle. Most of the MP3 albums that music companies (the legit ones) release are either instrumental or cover versions of popular numbers. The original is still relegated to the overpriced audio CDs. Therefore I was surprised to find a huge number of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's MP3 CDs on the rack (there were others too). They were from T-Series. I looked at the price; it was a very pleasant Rs 35 (around 75 cents). The number of songs, 35. That's merely a rupee a song!

The 35 songs might occupy only 236MB of the disc space and you'd say what a waste of 464MB. Could have fitted in 90 more numbers. Even the packaging looks cheap. But at a rupee a song you just can't ask for better. And T-Series' MP3 bouquet of original music is increasing. Other companies should take a lesson from the company which gave them a run for their money since it began operations two-decades ago. The alleged pirates of the 1980s are showing the way to fight the pirates of the 2000s.

I didn't hesitate a moment before purchasing the CD. Not will others, given the price and the choice available. I would rather not waste half-a-day looking for 'free' stuff on the net and another half downloading it. Is anyone else hearing me?

I had got my very first Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan album back in the mid-nineties for Rs 27 (an audio cassette), and that too was from T-Series. Titled Mera Piya Ghar Aaya, it had Madhuri Dixit (performing in the lifted number) on the cover.

Click here for the complete post...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Black Friday - A Late Review

Black Friday
Producer: Arindam Mitra
Director: Anurag Kashyap
Music: Indian Ocean
Lyrics: Piyush Mishra
Cast: Kay Kay Menon, Aditya Shrivastava, Pawan Malhotra
Cinematography: N Nataraja Subramaniam
Editor: Aarti Bajaj

Black FridayA couple of years back my brother called me up and asked to courier him Indian Ocean's latest album. It hadn't reached the music stores in faraway Shillong. I got it and when as the strains of Aare ruk jaa re bandeh... started flowing from my desktop speakers, I sat on the ground. Indian Ocean was just getting better and better.

To experience a similar experience, I waited for the movie to release, and stopped myself from getting a pirated copy which was selling and circulating quite well since the ban. Yesterday as I sat in a 3/4th empty mosquito infested hall at a multiplex in Noida and the opening scenes had a similar spellbinding effect. Marvellous! But that was the highpoint of the movie. You see the best as soon as the film begins and you expect better as the film progresses, but that is a tough task, which Anurag Kashyap couldn't perform, so he again brings back the film, through the series of flashbacks and flashforwards, to the blast at the Bombay Stock Exchange.

This is an edited version of the official trailer
Download [FLV 1.89MB 00:01:29 320X240]

A docudrama, Black Friday gets us into what happened before and after Friday, March 12, 1993. Someone who is not really clued into the details of the blast would at parts be left clueless trying to comprehend what is happening. Some scenes towards the later part of the movie do not gel into the whole frame and I was left thinking from where did these characters come from and who are these guys. Maybe I should read S Hussain Zaidis' book and then go for a second helping.

Black Friday stillsTalking of performances, it was excellent. Kay Kay, as usual, was good, but he seems to lack in versatility. He appears similar in all the movies. Kay Kay doesn't deserve to go the Nana Patekar way (you've seen one, you've seen all). But the best is Nawazuddin, playing the role of Asgar Muqadam (Tiger Memon's secretary manager). You have to see him act to understand what I mean, especially in the interrogation scenes. Naseeruddin Shah was supposed to play the role of Tiger Memon (played by Pavan Malhotra) and Irrfan was to be Badshah Khan (played by Aditya Srivastava), but both backed off as they didn't want to play a Muslim terrorist. Irrfan was comfortable playing Rakesh Maria, but Anurag insisted on Kay Kay. The cast is long and even Anurag makes a cameo (we thought so). And yes, there's Dawood Ibrahim (Gajraj Rao) too. The scene in which Dawood makes his first appearance is beautifully shot.

There were light hearted moments in between the blood and the violence, especially a long-drawn realistic but hugely hilarious chase sequence where the police try to catch Imtiaz Ghavate. The book and the movie might have been about the Bombay Bomb Blasts and doesn't shy away from taking names. My friend who accompanied me to the film, asked, "Where was Sanjay Dutt?" Dutt as the court verdict said wasn't directly linked with the blasts, but the AK56s were there (even in the film), and the public wanted a glimpse of the man who kept the news channels so uselessly busy of late.

My complaint, Indian Ocean's excellent music was not used well.

Rating? Do I need to come up with a rating system for my inconsistent reviews?

A synopsis of the film is available here
Cast and crew details can be found here

Click here for the complete post...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cutting the Chai at Indibloggies 2006

Vote for me!It might not be the Oscars, but is surely close to a blogadesh Filmfare (given the public polling and the little controversies). And the news is that Cutting the Chai is in the final nomination list (the vote me badge on the left panel is explicit enough). Thanks, Dwaipayan for letting me know.

Giving me company in the 'Best Topical Indiblog' category are quite a few familiar blogs which I frequent and that makes me feel overawed. Well there's the typist Dilip D'Souza; the anonymous (not exactly) K; the crusade against the eve-teasing menace Blank Noise Project; the Bombay Addict (who sways between Mumbai and the older name and puts up a question on the URL only to answer it in the title); TA Abinandanan who is researching on 'computational modelling of microstructural evolution during phase transformations, grain growth, sintering and high temperature deformation' (not that I could make much of that); Anant Rangaswami, who got me thinking of pigs with wings and multi-religious cigarettes; Rashmi Bansal always preferring her curry without Eye Eye Pee Em adulterants; and, ahem! eM.

While going through the list, I found that an overwhelming number of nominees blog on Blogspot, a very few from the WordPress domain and a respectable number own personal domains. The much touted (but massively unsuccessful) desi blogging platforms are nowhere.

There were more than 700 nominations, the jury then came up with a shortlist of 175 for the public to decide. I haven't voted yet, but will before February 20, 2007, the last day of the polls.

Click here for the complete post...

The Best Bollywood Love Songs Ever

Well... not exactly. The title of the post is a bit misleading. In fact it is the best Bollywood (Hindi / Hindustani) love songs that I could recall and also find the videos of. Which makes it a compilation of convenience rather than a comprehensive one.

Anyway, befitting the mood of the day (though I never did 'celebrate' this day, but it being associated with love, I'm all for it) here are The Best Bollywood Love Songs Ever* (*conditions apply) (A list of included songs is at the end of this post).

Download video [00:14:52 FLV 24.2 MB]

The Best Bollywood Love Songs Ever

(In no particular order and with many notable omissions. Reasons mentioned above)

* Aaja Sanam Madhur Chandni Mein (Chori Chori)
* Aankhen Bhi Hoti Hai Dil Ki Zuban (Haasil)
* Abhi Na Jao Chod Kar (Hum Dono)
* Ae kaash ke hum (Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa)
* Aye Mere Humsafar (Quayamat Se Quayamat Tak)
* Aye Uri Uri Uri (Saathiya)
* Baahaon Ke Darmiyan (Khamoshi)
* Chalo Dildar Chalo (Paakezah)
* Chehra Hain Ya (Saagar)
* Chookar Mere Man Ko (Yaarana)
* Dil Ka Bhanwar Kare Pukar (Tere Ghar Ke Samne)
* Do Dil Mil Rahein Hain (Pardes)
* Dil Tadap Tadap Ke (Madhumati)
* Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua (Shree 420)
* Humein Tumse Pyar Kitna (Kudrat)
* Jo Wada Kiya Woh (Taj Mahal)
* Khoya Khoya Chaand (Kala Bazar)
* Ehsaan Tera Hoga Mujhpar (Junglee)
* Ek Ajnabee Hasina Se (Ajnebee)
* Ek Ladki Ko Dekha (1942 A Love Story)
* Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya (Sarfarosh)
* Pehla Pehla Pyar Hain (Hum Aapke Hain Kaun)
* Hum Hain Is Pal Yahan (Kisna)
* Jiya O (Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hain)
* Karvate Badalte Rahen (Aap Ki Kasam)
* Khwaab Ho Tum Ya (Teen Deviyan)
* Lag Jaa Gale (Woh Kaun Thi)
* Mein Shayar To Nahin (Bobby)
* Mein Yahan Hoon Yahan (Veer-Zara)
* Mein Koi Aisa Geet Gaaun (Yes Boss)
* Mere Sapno Ki Rani (Aradhana)
* O Re Chori (Lagaan)
* Phoolon Ke Rang Se (Prem Pujari)
* Raat Akeli Hain (Dev Anand)
* Suraj Hua Madhyam (Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gum)
* Tere Mere Milan Ki Yeh Raina (Abhimaan)
* Tere Mere Sapne (Guide)
* Tere Mere Beech Mein (Ek Duje Ke Liye)
* Tujhe Dekha To Yeh Jana Sanam (Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge)
* Tum Aa Gaye Ho (Aandhi)
* Tum Bin Jaaon Kahan (Pyar Ka Mausam)
* Tumse Milke Aisa Laga (Parinda)
* Dil Cheez Kya Hain (Umrao Jaan)
* Kabhi Neem Neem (Yuva)
* Pehla Nasha (Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar)
* Chura Liya Hain (Yaadon Ki Baarat)
* Jab Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya (Mughl-e-Azam)

Love, the mainstay of Indian cinema and film-music (over 95 per cent of film songs would be love-based. Maybe I'm underestimating) cannot be relegated to a list of 47 songs. What's your favourite love song (that this list missed)?

Click here for the complete post...

Friday, February 09, 2007

Tera Husan Mujhe Bahut Bhaata Hain...

Peugeot's India story didn't have a happy ending. Differences between partners, cash crunch, labour unrest and mounting losses led the Italian French automaker take the exit route from India. But one of its ads shot in India did stay, in email attachments, video sharing sites and a few blogs.

Download video [FLV 1.3MB 00:00:34]

"Tera husan bahut mujhe bhaata hai, Tere sang naachun jee chahta hai..." the catchy song in the ad (which re-emerged later in many hit remixed avatars) was composed by Dutch musicians Niels Zuiderhoek and Jeroen den Hengst. A free downloadable file [MP3 3.74 MB 192kbps 44 kHz 00:02:43 Stereo] of the song can be found here.

Click here for the complete post...

The Megapixel Hoax

Jackfruit TreeDon't go for megapixels I tell everyone and even had written about it in a tech column that I used to pen for a youth magazine. But given all the guru gyaan and the advertising blitzkrieg that digicam companies have embarked upon, very few people had taken my advice seriously.

About a year later I find a voice of support, from New York Times columnist David Pogue.

"But one myth is so deeply ingrained, millions of people waste money on it every year. I’m referring, of course, to the Megapixel Myth.

It goes like this: “The more megapixels a camera has, the better the pictures.”

It’s a big fat lie. The camera companies and camera stores all know it, but they continue to exploit our misunderstanding. Advertisements declare a camera’s megapixel rating as though it’s a letter grade, implying that a 7-megapixel model is necessarily better than a 5-megapixel model.

I own a 4.1 megapixel camera, but I hardly shoot any photos using the highest resolution, most of my photos are shot at 1 megapixel, and the results are as good. In fact a few of my best photographs have been shot at VGA resolution (640X480) and the prints are as clear as the rest. Unless I need a humongous print of my pics (which is a 1 in 100,000 possibility), what would I do with a 10 megapixel camera?

Most of us hardly get prints of our pics and when we do we get at most a postcard-sized print. That's many thousands of rupees of worthless megapixels down the drain. I would suggest that you put your money where it matters - the lens. And no digital zoom please. That's another hoax.

[The accompanying pic was shot at VGA resolution (640X480)]

Click here for the complete post...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Isspecial Cutting Chai - January 2007

San has been scribbling on her blog since April 2005 and she had 32 posts in the first month itself (I managed only three). She's into film reviewing (though her profile states that she's quite fussy about her choice of films) on her blog nowadays, but also writes about haircuts, matrimonial woes, love, cricket (yes, women also write about cricket) and gymming. San has a liking for Indian writing in English, her blog's good to look at too (I've a weakness for the darker backgrounds in blogs) and her slippers are fluffy.

For the reasons cited above (and more) the Tenth Isspecial Cutting Chai (January 2007) is offered to San of Sanny's Scribbles.

Sanny's Scribbles
Previous sipper: VKpedia (December 2006)

Click here for the complete post...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sarabhai Versus Sarabhai: Select Shots

One of the best comedies to hit Indian idiot boxes of late, Sarabhai vs Sarabhai...

Sarabhai vs a sitcom set in a quintessential Malabar Hill family. Sahil, the protagonist, is a cosmetic surgeon, a guy with a golden heart who can never say 'no' and gets caught between his mom and wife. Monisha, Sahil's wife, is a middle class girl, is a 'nosey' daughter of a detective.

Sahil's father, Indravadan, is a retired director of a multinational company and is really a child at heart. He often plays Narad Muni between his 'uppity' wife and bahu. Sahil's mom, Maya, likes only the crème de la crème in every aspect of her life and her family. Her bone of contention - daughter-in-law, Monisha, who is middle class.

Roshesh, Sahil's younger brother, is a mama's boy, a wannabe actor who is waiting for his mom to find the right bride. Sonya is Sahil's sister. She is deeply into tarot.

Set in this dysfunctional family, Sarabhai vs Sarabhai is a classic comedy that brings together veterans Satish Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah with Sumeet Raghavan and Rupali Ganguli.

And they (including the awards jury and the critics) find the noisy, unimaginative and slapstick Hum Paanch funny?

Deven BhojaniSarabhai vs Sarabhai is directed by Deven Bhojani, who many of us will recall as Karima from another classic comedy, Dekh Bhai Dekh. He also plays the role of Dushyant, Mara Sarabhai's son-in-law in the serial (friends say that I often act like the character). Here's some select shots from season one.

To share/embed this video click here
Download video [00:04:53 FLV 6.44 MB]
Download for mobile [00:04:53 3GP 5.44 MB]

Eagerly awaiting season two. Still wondering why they took it off air in the first place?

Complete episodes are available for download at The introductory episode is available for free (though you need to feed in your credit card details)

Related posts:·

Click here for the complete post...

Now This is What I Call Vintage

Not exactly from the eighteenth century (they too will be here one day) but the early 1900s.

Pears' Soap 1910

A Pears' Soap ad from 1910. The Times of India.

Reads, "Good Morning! Have you used Pears' Soap."

According to Pears, Inc. for the USA there now exists only one manufacturing facility in the world for Pears Soap and it is in India. That Indian company now owns all the rights to the soap, it formula, and its package, etc. Accordingly, there is no longer any Pears Soap made anywhere on the planet except in this one single factory which all of us hope will never shut down! NOTE: Pears Soap is still made exactly according to the original recipe in all ways.

Hand-pulled rickshaws Calcutta 1902

A 1902 ad for hand-pulled rickshaws in Calcutta.

Reads, "Japanese Jinrickshaws, very light, strong and easy runnin..." and the specifications follow.

Colgate's Cashmere Bouquet Toilet Soap

A 1925 ad for Colgate's Cashmere Bouquet Toilet Soap.

Colgate's Ribbon Dental Cream

Another early Colgate ad. This time for Colgate's Ribbon Dental Cream.

Chevrolet 1920s

Fancy a Chevrolet for Rs. 2700? Well there's the Coach for Rs. 3600 and Sedan for Rs. 3900. But then it was in the 1920s, else I would've had one for each day of the week.

Click here for the complete post...

Friday, February 02, 2007


Since it seems to be a season of kids in ads at Cutting the Chai. Here's another classic.

[Kid at a railway station.]

Bablu: Ramu Kaka!
Ramu Kaka: Aare Bablu yahan kya kar rahe ho? (Bablu! What are you doing here?)
Bablu: Sab gussa karte hain. Main ghar chor ke ja raha hoon. (Everyone gets angry with me. So I'm leaving home)
Ramu Kaka: Magar ghar mein to Mummy ne garma garam jalebiyan banayee hain! (But at home, Mummy has prepared hot jalebis!)
Bablu: Jalebee!
Ramu Kaka: Hm

[Ramu Kaka takes Bablu home on his bicycle.]

Mummy: To kya tai kiya aapne? (So, what have you decided?) Hm?
Bablu: Mmmm... Jana to hain... magar.. (Have to go, but...)
Dad: Haan magar bees pachis saal baad (But after 20, 25 years)
VO: Vishudha Dhara. Ankokha asar. Dhara (Pure Dhara. Unique effect)
[Agency: Mudra]

Enough of reading. Now to the real stuff (the video).

Download video [FLV 3MB 00:01:02]

Pity, I never ran away from home (though did a lot of searching for people who did. Hope you idiots are reading this). Once I thought of it, but the darkness outside and the stories of the lurking snakes, foxes and ghosts put cold water over all my plans. Anyway, it's too late now.

Click here for the complete post...