Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Mall a Mall - the social revolution

Recently I met a friend whose mom had developed the cramped funnelsyndrome. It was due to the constant stretching of arms to reach the product with the largest discount in malls. Another friends mom was turning into a discomaniac. She kept buying the best deals products even though she didnt need them. Some women have been recommended by their doctors to inhale the mall air everyday through an evening mall walk to ensure good health(of their spouses perhaps?). But the other key trend is that men have been able to play the much touted role reversal with greater finesse due to these malls. Hence this has increased the depression of women further since one of their pet peeves has been tackled. In fact some men are so happy to do housework nowadays as they dont have to haggle for the extra dhaniya with the bhajiwala. This is the silent social revolution malls sweeping across the country. As malls evolve men will flaunt their trolleys to attract the opposite sex just like a peacock displays its feathers.

But malls can do lot more to get up the social agenda. First they can reserve some days for specific communities. Gujjus will need 3 days since they consume 40% of GDP, Punjabis 2 days and South Indians 1 day, Sunday would be cosmopolitan. There will be complex algorithms that will predict the inventory to be stocked and discounts to be given. Plus there will be full-time dating and marriage services running. Like the popular speed-dating program, a gal and boy of the same community would be given a shopping trolley each and 30 mins to shop. Statistically, shopping habits are the best indicators of pedigree,fit and outlook in life. And the crowds would provide enough moments to sample chemistry. Plus the gal can see the number of credit cards the guy has for a secure indebted future. At the end the couple can decide whether they want to go ahead with the relationship or not. Marriages can be made in heaven, but for a taste of reality after marriage, what better than a mall.

This phenomenon has now spread to the TV channels, the last to grasp anysocial revolution. True to their tribe, they are now planning a reality show based on shopping. Kaun banega trolleypati,anyone ?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Mall a Mall - All this week

The Great Mall Mania is on. As soon as a big retail mall like Big Bazaar opens in a locality, swarms of consumers swoop on it like locusts in a cane field. TheIndian consumerist soul repressed for decades finds its nirvana in the wide array of choices and freebies. This modern day Kumbh Mela goes beyond shopping and has significant social impact. Shivaji and I plan to dig deep into the mall culture and come up with our views and findings the whole of this week.
So stay tuned all this week for this unique attempt at colloborative blogging.
Why are malls so popular ?
How has our country suddenly changed from being one full of spiritual individauls who at the drop of a hat quoted ancient texts to scorn at the materialistic instincts of the rest of the world? Well, for the first time, so many of us can really afford it. But there are several other factors also. For instance, India is getting increasingly fashion conscious. Girls have stopped wearing their dad's shirts and trousers. Salwars are no more made for kangaroos but for homo sapiens. And the lettuce, broccoli and aspargus has made a quiet entry into the Indian kitchen through asparagus parathas and broccoli sambhar. The malls also offer the highest ratio of attractive faces per square feet compared to any other public space in India - so "Lech Mans" and "Lech Crofts" can have a ball. And for some, its just the pleasure of passing time in a clean air-conditioned place without being questioned.
But along with this gain comes the pain . See the complete post on ChutneySpears for the pain part.

Wisdom on bullshit: A new book

From what started as a little-noticed lecture on a subject as improbable as bullshit, has ended as a pamphlet type book after twenty years. Written by a Yale University prof, "On BullShit" is a brief (67 pages) essay on the phenomenon of bull shit. This must be a great product of intellectual masturbation if not anything else.
It starts off as "One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, or attracted much sustained inquiry.In consequence, we have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. ... "
Some of the reasons I could think of are
  • The emergence of so many media options, 100+ channels, websites, blogs. Shekhar Suman is an expert on so many issues. Sidhu moving from cricket to a comedy challenge.
  • So many me-too products thanks to availability of cheap capital and labour. Bullshit has become a key marketing differentiator.
  • Over-influence of fad oriented management thinking and over-supply of MBAs on everyday management. Adding value as usual.

"Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about," he writes. "Thus the production of bullshit is stimulated whenever a person's obligations or opportunities to speak about some topic exceed his knowledge of the facts that are relevant to that topic." Does that ring a bell for some most-hated professions where BS is a professional hazard. I mean nobody loses conscience for BSing ones way through client meetings etc. Thats the only way nowadays to earn the reputation of a smart employee.

"Our natures are, indeed, elusively insubstantial - notoriously less stable and less inherent than the natures of other things. And insofar as this is the case, sincerity itself is bullshit."

As Malcolm Galdwell says in the Blink "most humans have a story telling problem, they want to convey reasons for behaviour when none exists in the first place" . That coupled with the above brilliant line from this book sums it all. Humans intrinsically love to tell a story and what better than BS to spice it up and customize it for the occasion and audience.

In fact BS is so all-pervasive that hunt for truth is almost inconsequential or like Eddie Clontz said truth should never interfere with a well-told story. Hats off to the authors prescience for writing this 20 yrs back.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Monsoon Menace: The Revenge of the Pit

After the 'Coming soon this Summer's are over, the Monsoon Menace is about to begin. If potholes scared you last year when you were Zinging on the streets of Mumbai, this year is going to be The Revenge of the Pit.
As "MMRDA Road widening in progress, Inconvenience is regretted " remains the only traffic sign visible nowadays and the well intentioned projects are no way close to completion, this years monsoon in Mumbai is going to be a ride in space. Andheri near the flyovers should be renamed Chaanderi, as the roads would resemble the craters on the surface of the moon. Dadar could be named Daraar and so on.
Every inch of roadspace and every minute would be fought for as man and machine fight the elements and MMRDA as the monsoon hits in two weeks. The home as we know it will never be near again.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bunty Babli aur Woh

One is a movie about dreams of small-town people and another is a car for people who till now dreamed small. Interestingly these two have a co-promotion agreement.

I am talking about Bunty aur Babli and the Suzuki Swift.

Bunty aur Babli has a mass appeal written all over it except for the rap song shot with AB. As the junior B mouths chote chote shahron se , kaali bhor dopharon se hum jhola uthake chale (lyrics that typify the small town spirit) and dances gawkily on the train, and Rani rambunctiously sizzles in the fields in garish clothes, one is totally enthused for a joy ride cum chase caper the movie promises to be. Add to it, the gags the couple use to con , Big B's chase and touches like the replay of the Sholay motorcycle sequence with Junior B matching the denims his baap had worn. Add to it the near lack of competition the movie faces and the summer holidays, its a winner all the way unless Shaad Ali was smoking dope while making the movie.
Suzuki Swift provides the dil maange more for Indian small car owners. A good design, a more spacious car without a boxed look ( Getz asked too much premium for a better box) at a price which any small car owner would feel worth the premium. Plus it comes at a time when the average B segment car is 2-2.5 years old, an ideal time to ride the replacement cycle. If this car succeeds and is priced at Rs.4 lakhs, then by year end the Santros of the world should be selling for Rs.3 lakhs.
Sometimes Indian markets prove that the only P of marketing is price. Cross a T, timing and dot an I, insight, Dhadak Dhadak, Hum chale Hum chale yeh ramchandr re .....!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Yet another consulting yawn

Managed to read the lead chapter on a new upcoming book on consulting "The Art of Consulting: Gaining loyalty, Achieving profitability and Adding value as a consultant". What a bad title to begin with.

The lead chapter is "Dare to be different". Three factors(Why always 3 for consultants) are highlighted. "Fresh advice, lasting impact and constructive challenge" . Destructive challenge is probably shredding all those ppts once the client meetings are over. It has also defined a new five Ps for consultants " portfolio, productivity, pricing, pay and people'. How obvious. I wonder why such books should even be published.

Some fresh concepts with lasting lines please ?

Completely Cluless 2

If only the paranoid survive, are the rest just living?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

happening weekend syndrome II

Thanks to the writers forum Caferati at Ryze , the third and most pleasurable option of the weekend has a nice name. If you are not ticking or happening (refer my earlier post) , then u can be cocooning.
Cocooning is used to describe a weekend where u get up late, laze around reading ur favourite author, have a perfect brunch listening to the music you like, see a movie on DVD for the nth time, etc etc.The activities would vary from person to person but essentially chill out, unwind, conjuring up cuddly images of enjoying in our own homes doing the stuff one loves with the people one loves.
That completes the standard 3 options...

Sunday, May 22, 2005

one month and raring to go

Hurray! Its one month since I started blogging. Although one month is still a short time, atleast this hobby has not died a premature death after a few posts. At a decent average of one post in two days (still have to hit one a day), writing about my topics of interest and observations of the world around me has provided a good respite from the doggedness of corporate life and the heat of Mumbai. Would have liked more comments on my posts though. But its still early days and I am still figuring out the best options to increase this node's influence on the blogging network and also improve my writing.
Of course what influenced me to blog was the cover story in Fortune where Blogging was rated the top tech trend and what prompted me to act was the Businessweek's cover story on blogs. Well the influence of mass media is still there! Plus read one of the best pieces of writing on technology " The Long tail " at Chris Andersens blog. Then our own Indian press like the policemen in Hindi movies have covered it late (Business Today and Rajesh Jain's article in Business Standard). Over the last two weeks have gone through almost 80-100 blogs by Indians and foreign business writers and it has been enjoyable, informative and insightful. Although because of this my reading of the financial dailies has come down, that just proves the influence of this new mode of information dissemination has (already talked about in many articles).
Time to be a fast follower if not an early adopter....

Saturday, May 21, 2005

corporate caprice gems

Financial times reported that managers of Cadbury Schewppes have been given a booklet titled " Leadership Imperatives, a Guide for Improving Performace". This booklet has some of the gems which go beyond even open source strategy. Here are some of the 144 rules running into 19 pages.

" Aim to make the impossible happen " ( In some corporations simple things never happen, forget impossible)

" Work together to achieve the impossible" ( Make sure you are not the only fool, call a meeting atleast)

" Get the impossible done through others " ( Vow the ability to pass on shit ..delegation in other words)

" Create value by leveraging the dynamics of effective teams " ( classic OSS)

" Insist on radical alternatives within the Value Based Management process" ( bounded reality or clouded?)

Dilbert is real and kicking... long live corps...

Thursday, May 19, 2005

More of the same?

" The more things change, the more they remain the same". Look how this phrase makes its impact felt in social and business domains.

The industries which have done well in recent times have been good old commodities. Steel is now sexy and oil is orgasmic. In the hunt for digital nirvanas like watching video on mobiles, the world underinvested in these sectors and now when infrastructure creation like demand has picked up in countries like China and India, the commodities for which wars were fought in the past are back in the reckoning.
Online networking sites like Ryze, Orkut, Linkedin etc are creating small communities grouped by tastes in music, books and movies (AB fans), professions(Programmers) , locality (South Mumbai), hobbies and even castes(Palakkad iyers). Wasnt globalization and connectivity about bringing the world together. Or is it bringing smaller communities grouped by seemingly parochial interests together? People always seem to want more of the same in a better effective manner. The Bengali would love Rabindra Sangeet and Tamils would insist on A.R. Rehman, whether they are in Chennai or California.

Viral marketing has become mainstream marketing. The amount of influence that the Amazon review by a fellow buyer has on the purchase of a book is well established. Similarly blogs are influencing brand and product reputations so much that companies have started investing in creating and combing blogs to listen to consumer feedback. Soon companies might pay a fee to be reviewed in a popular blog. Spread the buzz in the right places and they will come. Reminds one of the village katta where the heads of families used to meet, discusss and take decisions over a hookah and tea. Or the trading ports of yore which used to be a hotbed for commercial ideas. Does anyone need mass media anymore? Good question.Probably yes for low involvement, yes for initial blitzkreigs.... answers will emerge soon...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Is page 3 now page 1 ?

Well this is one of the tongue in cheek messages that stares at us from many a billboardof DNA , the newspaper to be launched by Zee and Dainik Bhaskar in Mumbai . And true to form, the newspaper which popularized Page 3 has done it. Yesterday on the front page of the oldest English newspaper in the country, we were treated to a snap of Mallika Sherawat in Cannes exposing a well endowed body. Fine we should celebrate the triumph of big over small, desi skin over videsi freckles, globalization of bodies ( why only give IT cos the privelege?) but do we have to do it on page 1? ..Beats me.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

points about powerpoint

It may be fine to think of a presentation like a screenplay but the limitations of ppt will hit you like a bad climax sequence especially if you want hardhitting animation. I mean after 15 years, the present version of ppt still leaves a lot to be desired in spiffiness.

Some crucial management concepts still are best shown in powerpoint. For showing value chains, competitive analysis, elucidation of complex concepts, product portfolio analysis and implentation plans, nothing beats Powerpoint. Sometimes a good ppt really ensures that a lot of work is synthesized well for the benefit of senior management time and is appreciated. Mckinsey and other consulting firms have converted this tool of presentation to a one for management manipulation. And masters of this tool use it to create a semblance of lot of work having been done when actually nothing much has been accomplished. The status update presentation is a classic example. Thats why lot of companies are refusing to use it as it provides a convenient smokescreen to seduce senior management. Slideware as vapourware.
The key thing is if the ppt is good, it also has to be presented well with gusto and passion. Some sales people really do it well. Not sure of management consultants, because sometimes by the end of the five hundredth iteration, most good points are removed from the presentations or lost in the minions minds . Then one really is left with a strange combination, a presenter who half knows the ppt and a ppt which half reflects its original intent. I have seen some of my good ppts going down this route and believe me the sight is quite frustrating.
Add to all this the sheer oversupply of MBAs, each trying to outdo one another in ppt skills. The origin of these bad habits is sometimes the b-schools where case study presentations turn into wars of ppt animation rather than ideas.
I guess like any other tool, user discretion is advised and tools cant replace human qualities of eloquence, presence of mind,people management and charisma. Otherwise monkeys with ppts would have replaced consultants long time back.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Why this blog is so aptly titled (BSP)

My occupational hazard 'the bullet point' is now a subject of furious debate in management and academic circles, a fact that I discovered by sheer serendipity or harmless web browsing. (Ok the BSP,Blatant Self Promotion part of this post is over).
Strategy&Business, the magazine of Booz-Allen and Hamilton, has an interesting article on "Point or Shoot" where it debates the effectivenes of PowerPoint as a tool for management persuasion. At the core is the problem of how to present complex information persuasively, a routine task for consultants, strategists and marketers and not so routine task for others. Here are some brilliant phrases from Prof Tufte, a Yale Professor who hates powerpoint.
"Powerpoint is a cognitive straitjacket of presentational constraints"
"PowerPoint promotes a seductive laziness of thought that is anti-rigor, anti-elegance, and — most damaging — anti-audience".
"Once you give a manager a laptop running PowerPoint, the world becomes a claustrophobic sequence of bullet-point builds featuring 14-point Palatino and Monaco typefaces".
"An overreliance on PowerPoint is as unprofessional and unappetizing as the arrogant belief that one’s unassisted natural charisma is more than enough to charm an audience"
The other view is of Mr.Atkinson who is a Powerpoint consultant and has a bizblog. He has some templates to think beyond bullet points. Most of the downloadable stuff on his site resemble script preparation toolkits. His main premise is to think of a ppt as a screenplay of a TV. As a matter of sheer coincidence, I told my first managing consultant that I visualize slides like how I would write a movie.(sorry BSP again). Anyways the truth as usual should be somewhere in between (statistically proven to be the most common option chosen in management meetings if shown 3 options) .
So is one of the skills that I have assidously cultivated in need of a pardigm shift from thrift to drift. I would soon post my own detailed views on this, but I feel vindicated in a strange sort of way for calling my blog booletpoint.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Kool? crass,corny and comic definitely

The anti-heros (refer my earlier post) have done it !! Kya Kool Hai Hum works at a sort of slapstick double entendre Dada Kondke level. Great dialogues made out of routine tapori and guy humour, good situations,amazing comic timing of Riteish Deshmukh (phattu has a future in Bollywood) , Tushar suiting the role to a T, Isha Koppikar delivering a knockout performance as Urmila Maartodkar which reminds one of vintage Madhuri Dixit with the full ghatiness. Strictly recommended for erstwhile fans of Govinda and David Dhawan. This movie outdoes Masti in its use of colloquial slangs like Popat, etc. Total timepass paisa vasool.

Spot on

It is not often that one finds a firm in India executing a marketing/promotion plan or product launch which captures Indian consumer insights well. I do not know the exact reason why it is so difficult to find such examples, although I have my theories on that (will be posted sometime on this blog). Coming to the examples.
One is Food Bazaars (retail chain owned by Pantaloon) which captures the Indian housewife's favourite shopping habit of asking dhania (coriander) for free if she buys a lot of sabji (vegetables) from the vendor. Food Bazaar has used a smart ploy of giving a shopping bag (albeit a small one) FREE for anyone who purchases more than Rs.1000 worth in their shop.The shopping bag can be filled with as many vegetables as one wants or fits in the bag without tearing the bag.. One has to see it to believe the success of this ploy and the real fight the housewives put in getting maximum vegetables into that bag. Kudos ...
Second is Maggi's decision to launch veg atta noodles. This is not any new insight but listening to a continous refrain of moms who felt Maggi with its Maida was bad for stomach and rightly so. This was leading to a lot of substitution of this favourite evening snack with other healthier alternatives. Although the wheat changes the colour of good old Maggi a bit, its slightly brown not the bright yellow.
Third is ITC Sunfeast Pasta Treat. It aims to create a new home snack categort a la Maggi noodles. Pasta is already popular but not eaten regularly by families due to the high prices charged by the designer restaurants. Aptly branded the advertising brings a sense of a treat, plus the goodness of wheat in the pasta and the convenience of making it at home at just Rs.15 a pack. This would just heat up the action in the foods market and challenge Maggi which already costs a high Rs.11 a pack...

Friday, May 06, 2005

Bhala uski weekend mere weekend se happening kaise

This is the latest race in yuppiedom, young India and corporate life. My sympathies to people who still work on Saturdays (half or full).
By Thursday, people will pop that dreaded question " what is your weekend plan". As you try look the other way and mumble something , they would have broadcasted their plan of trying out racing with lions in the Gir forest or going fishing on the Ulhas river or how their long lost friend from Tahiti has come and they are having an African barbecue at their new farmhouse. Welcome to the new twist in the rat race. You cannot just sleep your weekend anymore. Or just take a walk or shop for some groceries etc. Weekend has to be happening and has to adorn the conversation before the coffee you have on Monday morning to beat the blues.
Otherwise you should atleast do the stuff which have 'tick value'. Tick value is what some properties inherit because they are the buzz of that weekend. For instance last week Kaal had tick value. And the value of that property declines exponentially after that weekend. Been there, ticked that. Doing stuff which has tick value would atleast ensure you would be close to the mean in the ratings of how you spent your weekend.
So what are you doing this weekend, ticking, happening or ...........

The return of the anti-hero

Back in the 90s, the anti-hero was a very popular term for a hero playing a key protagonist with negative shades, the key beneficiary being Shahrukh Khan for his roles in Baazigar, Darr and Anjaam.

Now the anti-hero is back in a different avatar. This anti-hero does not show any hero type characteristics unlike the bulging biceps of Hrithik or the smooth confidence of SRK.
This anti-hero is more of a 'phattu' and normally like a majority of the youth possesses very ordinary looks and importantly no girlfriend. Phattu is epitomised by heros like Ritesh Deshmukh in Masti, Tushar Kapoor in Gayab, Aftab in Awara Pagal Deewana.

It would be interesting to see how the latest Phattu movie "kya cool hai hum" fares with Ritesh and Tushar. Promos dont look very exciting and Balaji Telefilms the producers have been unable to work the small screen soapy magic on the big screen. In fact to leverage their core competence there are large number of scenes in the movie shot in the bathroom with the actors covered in lot of soap lather. Thats one way (aargh!!) of reliving the soapy success ....

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Accountant Ver 2.0

In his book on Career Warfare, D Alessandro had given a cavemen analogy for the corporate world. He called accountants as the cavemen who would believe that they should spend more on accurate weighing equipment so that the food brought by the hunters could be rationed among cavemen better rather than spears to hunt for prey. Here are some good accounting related comments I found at the New Yorker website

"We are neither hunters or gatherers. We are accountants. "

"New from accounting, sir. Two and two is four again."

"The only thing that can save us this quarter is an accounting breakthrough"

The worst combination can be when accountants excel sheets set BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) during budgeting and then company executives get a BFO (Blinding flash of the obvious). That would then lead to quick fix solutions that would finally translate into action items like use less toilet paper or travel economy class.

Moreover regulations like Sarbanes Oxley have given this much maligned corporate species a fresh lease of life. You now have to fill forms like Vendor approval form for even buying pens or staplers. Hence accountants now have an extra aura of danger because they now represent this critical link between strategy and operational risk management. As organizations get sucked into a new deluge of forms and guidelines, I believe the fun that good IT systems took away from accountants is back. Hope to see more cartoons on them.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Would Shahrukh be the last Indian superstar?

If you believe that popular cinema represents the collective aspirations and ambitions of a large cross-section of the viewing public then read on.

Circa 1970. Rajesh Khanna represented a surging wave of optimism in the country . Nehruvian reforms and the agricultural revolution of the 1960s was bearing fruit. People finally had a taste of rice and wheat compared to the rationed stuff they had to eat in the 60s ( those were real bad times ). Enter Kaka with his zest for life and romance. The quintessential harbinger of goodness, he serenaded women with equal elan. But however this joy was shortlived, as India become a synonym for Indira and her policies caused wide-spread unemployment and institutionalized corruption. So the romantic Rajesh had only tears for Pushpa and the youth of that generation.

Enter Amitabh, the angry young man. He represented the collective angst against the establishment and the man who could constructively channel this anger against the criminals, politicians and scheming businessmen. He championed an escapist form of cinema which although signified nothing but the triump of good over evil. It covered the entire diaspora ranging from the cop in Zanjeer, businessman in Trishul, coal miner in Kala Pathar to the Coolie. He was sometimes the harmless bootlegger on the other side of the law in Amar Akbar Anthony and whenever he justified crime like in Deewar he met an end. Of course, the film ecosystem aided this through great scripts by Salim Javed, mediocre but catchy music by Laxmi-Pyare and Kalyanji, crisp editing by Waman Bhosle. But the message was clear anti-establishment and people loved the anger and the escapism. And the love story was second fiddle.

The 80s was probably the worst phase of Bollywood. Creativity dropped, beginning from the happy aping of South Indian movies where Jeetendra and Sridevi used to dance to ribald lyrics of Indeevar in the early 80s . The late 80s belonges to the Bachchan wannabes Anil and Sunny but both lacked impact and universality. They also had too much body hair. The stories were just rehashes of the crime vendetta routines with more villains then ever(Thanks to Rajiv Rai). And even Bachhan's movies flopped due to lack of good scripts and themes (Jadugar, Ajooba etc).

Enter the 90s. Liberalization had finally begun. Ambition and Positivism on the future was emerging again. The big theme was that India the underdog was finally going to take on the world. And there was a large section of youth that was cramming in the universities and schools to surge ahead. Everyone wanted to struggle and get ahead. This was a generation of strugglers who had tasted both the Mandal reservation regime and the gory riots which cleaved the country. Slowly but surely this generation found its hero... and the hero like themselves typified the struggler. He was Shahrukh Khan, the man who stole a march over the main protagonist in the serial Fauji. In his struggle to change his father's dying circus business in Circus, he had endeared himself to a vast majority of fans. He was the underdog par excellence in Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman , Chamatkar and Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. And as the underdog gained ambition he set the rules of the game which allowed bending of the law, a theme espoused in Baazigar " haar kar jeetne walon ko baazigar kahte hai". But when the dil maanged more, Shahrukh Khan scripted a new form of escapism, the NRI. As hordes of engineers were leaving the shores of the country to court the sheer mathematical magic of converting everything by the exchange rate , the NRI typified uber cool. DDLJ in 1995 was the movie which elevated SRK to superstar status. As it celebrates the 10th yr in Maratha Mandir, it typified the aspirations of the Indian wannabe yuppie. The NRI stories championed balancing modernity with tradition, the true joy of unbridled romance and the now well established metrosexual traits of the hero who would weep to express his emotion. The sartorial taste of SRK, the sets of Sharmishta Roy, light hearted melodies of Jatin Lalit and Farah Khan's choreography removed the guilt from consumption to millions of viewers who started getting aspirational just as the fruits of economic liberalization were reaching far and wide. Romance was finally back on the superstar agenda unlike the AB times. More movies which celebrated this theme were released which kept emphasising the true hold of SRK. It also opened a vast new overseas market for Hindi movies where SRK rules. SRK also set new commercial norms for awards, where shaking two legs equalled two awards. This rollicking wheel has now completed full circle with the release of Swades which promotes the common feel of the now born again NRI ' aa ab laut chalen'. Thus SRK the star of the 25-40 'struggler' generation needs new relevant ideas and themes to continue be the superstar.

None of the newcomers in the 2000s like Hrithik, Abhishek or Vivek have managed to capture mass market appeal. Hrithik in fact looks more like a hero for kids after Koi Mil Gaya. I think at this stage there is no unifying force for the youth currently. They are very individualistic and having been born mostly post liberalization are not strugglers by any length of imagination. Easily available BPO jobs have helped. I am not saying that any of the newcomers lack in talent. I doubt if there is one common theme which they can convert to superstardom. In fact, like in Hollywood where due to evolved audience tastes there is no superstar status bestowed on anyone. Maybe Bollywood hunt for a superstar is just not valid. Till then one would love to see SRK break new vistas which represent problems of the struggler generation. Stories where an over achieving executive has to choose between job and family etc. A more mature and older SRK ... rather than subjecting us to a horrendous Veer Zaara and a creatively vapid Main Hoon Naa...