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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Up in the Air

Finally, I got a chance to see this movie yesterday. And well, I had heard a lot about it for the right reasons. However, this is not a review. It’s just a collection of some thoughts that entered my head on watching it.

First, I’ve been in a situation where I’ve had to tell people that they were being let go of. As a trainer, I’ve had to tell some trainees that due to poor academic performance, they would have to seek ‘re-fitment’, or ‘re-deployment’. I tried to use the Clooney-esque method of being polite, firm and giving the person options on what to do in life, rather than stripping people of their dignity.

Not many people understand this, but layoffs/retrenchments don’t always make the axe fall on the poor performers. Sometimes, it is the ‘cream of the crop’ who may have to be ‘right-sized’. But, at such a tough time, it is easy for any employee to be bitter and devastated, and have issues with self-belief.

Moreover, someone who handles the situation has to ensure that he/she is empathetic, and not condescending or patronizing. That’s a tough one.

In fact, the first time I had to tell someone that he would have to leave, I couldn’t even walk into the room and had to ask a senior colleague to take charge. However, the colleague was sensible enough and encouraged me to handle what was surely my responsibility. Also, I owed this much to the people who had spent nearly 2 months with me in training, hanging on to most of what I had to say.

I never liked asking anyone to leave, though I had to. And now, as an MBA in HR, I might be faced with scenarios where I have to ask people to leave. Frankly, it’s a morbid thought. But, after watching the movie, I wouldn’t really look upon myself as a butcher, if I have to do the same job.

I guess the only thing I might hate is the living out of suitcases bit. :)

P.S. If you haven’t seen the movie, do so! It’s worth a watch.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon

For the uninitiated, this is not an actual manual on training dragons. (Yes, I have considerable experience in the training industry, but well, I’ve never offered training in handling mythical creatures so far. Such programs are best left to Mr. Hagrid, Mr. Dumbledore, and co.)

Ok, let’s get on with thoughts about the movie - ‘How to Train your Dragon’

There’s this total loser chap, who manages to mess up everything, and craves for the adulation of his peers and his father. No one trusts him with anything, but he is determined to make it big. And make it big he does! Much to the admiration of his peers, his father, and oh the girl he has a crush on.

Sounds familiar, you say? (You bet!! It sounds just like my story. Except that umm, I haven’t made it big yet, and umm…. there is no girl at present, that I have a crush on. Everything else is picked from my life. Hey, hey, hey!!)

On a serious note, how many movies have we watched with the same plot? I’ve lost count.

So, you know that the scrawny loser, imaginatively named ‘Hiccup’ is born in the mighty Viking clan, destined to battle fearsome dragons who attack the clan and carry away their livestock, and burn down their huts. But, Hiccup manages to mess up every single thing that he meddles in. So much so, that his father ‘Stoick the Vast’ (voiced by Gerard Butler of ‘300’ fame) is ashamed of his son.

Meanwhile, during a dragon raid, Hiccup manages to sneak out and shoot down an unseen dragon of the most fearsome kind – the Nightfury. But, no one believes him, and he almost gets himself killed.

What next for a teen who doesn’t obey his parents? He’s grounded, of course.

It is with great scepticism that Stoick allows him to undergo dragon training. But, the kid is more interested in looking for the dragon he thinks he shot down. He locates the dragon in a forest clearing and is unable to kill it, seeing the same fear in its eyes that he himself feels.

And from then on, it’s a lovely relationship between ‘Toothless’ the dragon, and boy-hero Hiccup, who beats all odds to become the saviour of the Vikings.

I don’t think the film is too different from many of its peers. I don’t think the CGI is exceptional, or brilliant. I don’t think there’s anything pathbreaking about the movie. But somehow, the overall package is endearing and guaranteed to make you smile. I am fairly critical of movies, and I did enjoy the movie, so I guess that’s saying something.

Suggestion: Don’t look for messages or interpretations. (There are lessons that can be learnt from the movie, but in my opinion it is best to steer clear of those for now and just have fun.) Don’t compare the movie with others because it would be unfair. Just lean back, relax and be transported to a land where ‘it snows for 9 months, and hails for the other 3.’

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5

Saturday, May 1, 2010



Statutory Warning: This post is (even more) pointless than some of the earlier ones. So, read at your own risk.

An online conversation with a friend led me to generate the following gem:

Q. What if Sauron from LOTR had been a mechanic repairing car suspensions?

Ans: Why, he’d be the “Lord of the Springs!”

And then, there were many spinoffs. Some of the less injurious ones are listed below:

Q. What if Sauron had been born as Joe Satriani?

Ans: Simple, he'd be the "Lord of the Strings"

If Sauron had been the CEO of Tehelka, would he be the "Lord of the Stings"?

Q. What if Sauron ruled over Punjab instead of Mordor?

Ans. He'd be the "Lord of the Singhs"

Q. What if Chandler got a chance to be Sauron?

Ans. He'd be the "Lord of the Bings"

Q. What if Sauron were Tiger Woods?

Ans: He'd be the “Lord of the Flings” (This one is credited to Ramaa Ramesh)