Monthly Archives: February 2015

20 movies with no love from Mr. Oscar 2015

“To get an Oscar would be an incredible moment in my career, there is no doubt about that. But I don’t make films for Oscars, I make them for the audience.” – Peter Jackson

In the midst of the Birdman flying high with the big Oscars, here’s a compile of movies (my favourites) that never stood a chance of getting any love from Mr. Oscar last year. I am in fact getting more and more inclined to agree with some who say that Oscar movies are pre-dominantly the arty farty types. Which is not to say that I don’t love most of them and I would be hard pressed to label them such, I am failing to find reason in Mr. Oscar’s prejudice against ‘Blockbuster Entertainers’

Anyway, I digress. This topic shall be broached another sunny night. I’ve picked 20 movies that I thoroughly enjoyed from last year. They aren’t ranked strictly in order of favourites, but higher up in the order would mean that I’m showing it a bit more love than the long tail. I’m also throwing in my tweet from after the movie to get you to follow me in case you like them – @sandy00014

1. Fury – A 5 man crew, including a rookie soldier, in a tank, behind enemy lines, against an              entire army.                                                                                                                                                      (‘Tank’ you Brad Pitt for your Fury is all I want to say. #iLikeMuch)

2. Lone Survivor – Story of four Navy SEALs on an ill-fated covert mission to neutralize a high-         level Taliban operative who are ambushed by enemy forces in the Hindu Kush region of               Afghanistan.                                                                                                                                                   (At times it’s best not to be alone #iLikeMuch)

  1. Edge of Tomorrow – It’s Groundhog Day in an action movie avatar starring Tom Cruise & Emily Blunt… and if you haven’t watched Groundhog Day then I’d rather you watch that first before you even read the rest of this post.                                                                                     (I’m still on the edge. Go watch, enjoy, repeat. #iLikeMuch)
  1. The Fault in our Stars – Two teens who have cancer fall in love. (Don’t start thinking ‘mush mush’).                                                                                                                                               (Didn’t find much fault with these stars. #iLikeMuch)                                                                   Bonus Tip: My favourite music album from last year.
  1. Chef – A chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.                                              (I’m still smacking my lips, second helpings banta hai #iLikeMuch)
  1. The Lego Movie – An ordinary Lego construction worker saves the world (Lego World) from an evil tyrant.                                                                                                                                        (All I can say is ‘Everything is Awesome’ #iLikeMuch) 
  1. X-Men: Days of the Future Past – Wolverine goes back in time to change history to prevent.                                                                                                                                                     (I had a blast, tip, go watch it fast #iLikeMuch)
  1. Guardians of the Galaxy – A group of intergalactic criminals are forced to get together to save the world.                                                                                                                                      (All I can say is ooga chaka ooga chaka ooga ooga chaka #iLikeMuch)
  1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Finale of The Hobbit trilogy.                                 (If all battles were so beautiful, poets would write about war & not love. #iLikeMuch. Action Jackson, please learn from Peter Jackson).
  1. Begin Again – A young singer-songwriter’s (Keira Knightley) love for music, love for her estranged musician turned celebrity boyfriend and the discovery of her talent by a washed out record label executive.                                                                                                                    (I won’t mind watching this again #iLikeMuch)
  1. Maze Runner – First part of a three book trilogy. Trapped in an unknown place with memory wiped out and a maze that changes every night, stands in the way of their escape. (I wasn’t a-mazed. But I didn’t mind the run while my popcorn was done #iLike) 
  1. Oculus – A psychological super-natural horror film in which a young woman is convinced that an antique mirror is responsible for the deaths in her family.                                        (Mirror mirror on the wall, this is the deadliest mirror of them all #iLike #scary)
  1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – The second installment of the superhero dedicated to defending America’s ideals.                                                                                                               (I won’t end up reciting “O Captain My Captain’ for him, but I’ll give him a feather to put on his captain #iLike)
  1. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – The first part of the last part of the series.                    (It’s darker, less action, more brooding, still gripping #iLike)
  1. The Amazing Spider-man 2 – Superhero saves the world (New York city) from evil villain.      (I guess I won’t grow up #iLike)
  1. The Raid 2 – Picks up directly from part 1. Rama goes undercover to bring down the syndicate and uncover the corruption within his police force.                                               (Action choreography that rivals the grace of ballet dancers #iLike)
  1. Pride – U.K. gay activists work to raise money for the miners despite the prejudices they faced from the miners during their strike in 1984.                                                                           (If you thought gays had it hard but never quite comprehended how hard watch hard, watch this. #iLike)
  1. Big Eyes – A true story about painter Margaret Keane life as an oppressed wife and her journey to freedom.                                                                                                                              (A look at art with fresh eyes and a marriage with unfiltered lens #iLike)
  1. Skeleton Twins – Reunion of estranged twins.                                                                      (Phoolon ke taron ka sabka kehna hai, ek hazaaron mein meri behna hai #iLike)
  1. Nightcrawler – A driven man desperate to excel in his work as a crime reporter blurs the line between what can be crossed and what should not.                                                            (The twisted thriller trend continues #iLike Gyllenhaal crawls and creeps under the skin. Think he’ll stay there 4 a bit)

Any movies you enjoyed that didn’t get any Oscar love and isn’t on this list?

Secret to the impossible

I don’t wake up for early morning flights but I’m up for the Oscars @ 5:30am. Love makes you do impossible things #MondayMorningWakeUpCall

And I’ve been waking up (happily) for the Oscars since they started getting telecast live here.

We inherently know that when we do things we love (or even for someone we love), work doesn’t feel like a chore and time goes into hiding. Yet, more often than not we tend to forget the simple truths and we end up chasing our non-existent tail.

Thought a reminder to ourselves would be good on a day when the quality of art is celebrated and not the quantity of money it rakes in.

The meaning of ‘meaning of life’

Meaning of Life

“Ya, it’s Greek to me!”

“People have enough to live by but nothing to live for. They have means but no meaning” – Viktor E. Frankl posits in his book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. In the book, he narrates his life as an inmate in the Aushwitz Concentration Camp during World War II and his theories on what made some people endure the atrocities and come out alive while so many others just gave up.

He says “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” However this ‘why’ is not always an easy answer. This ‘why’ has been a source of existential angst from Siddhartha Gautama to Calvin, not necessarily leading to enlightenment or even peace of mind for most people.

This ‘why’ could be for reasons as varied as love or revenge, accumulating wealth and power or changing the world for the better, fame or family, unabashed hedonism or spiritual enlightenment.

As varied as the reasons could be, we still find people from 7 to 70 wondering what their purpose in life really is. Some even make it their purpose to find their purpose.

But I think obsessing over it isn’t as helpful as obsessing over ‘to be or not to be’ or which lingerie to wear on your date. The attitude that’s helped me not go insane while trying to figure ‘why the fc*!’ am I here’ is to keep looking for the answers but not seeking them, questioning even the most mundane but not getting hung up on finding the answer.

Doing this with an open mind has led me to intuitively traverse Tony Hsieh’s (CEO of 3P’s Pyramid which he spells out in his book Delivering Happiness (A book I’d highly recommend for entrepreneurs and all humans too).

According to Tony Hsieh, there are 3 types of happiness or the 3P’s Happiness Pyramid (Fig. 3.pee)


Tony Hsieh's Happiness Framework, 3P's of happiness

Fig. 3.pee

If there’s one thing in common between all the 6 billion homo sapiens in the world, it’s probably that we all have a common purpose of looking for ways to be happy. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I’m no different.

My happiness chasing started at the bottom P for ‘Pleasure’, ‘Pleasure’ being synonymous with girlfriends and money, thinking hedonism is the ‘soul’ purpose of my existence. Soon realization dawned that hedonistic pleasures were all short lived. Like Tony says. “The moment the stimuli goes away, the happiness levels drop immediately. In other words, this type of happiness is the shortest lasting.”

I sensed this even more so in my first corporate role. I was blessed to be working with a company many in my B-school batch would’ve happily traded their porn collection for. I was also blessed with a couple of clients who sucked blood for a living in my first year itself. While I was busy trying to stop the blood sucking, the pleasures were somewhere getting sucked out of my life.

Added to that, I realized that there was no way I could survive more than a leap year reading Gartner and IDC reports (“I barely managed to not flunk my Engineering Exams and now you want me to learn about ‘not so tasty chips’ all over again!”).

Somewhere I became clear that I definitely didn’t want to spend 50% of my waking hours sans passion. I did however love just about everything about movies and music. A little bit of introspection and a little help from the Universe later (she works in mysterious ways, not always like-worthy, in the short run at least), I transitioned to the entertainment industry where I spent a decade ‘not working’. ‘Passion’ outlasted ‘Pleasure’ by 10 years.

The Universe has ways of making the uncomfortable comfortable as well as the comfortable uncomfortable. There was a phase in one of my companies where I was lucky to work under a Hitler incarnate. Even though the experience turned a dream role into a nightmare, I say lucky because it was probably the genesis of my questioning existence.

I became certain I wasn’t born to be a slave. We are all born free and freedom is what we all intuitively seek. Armed with this thought I started my quest for entrepreneurship. Somewhere along this quest it became clear to me that I want to make a difference in as many ways as possible, to attempt to change the world for the better. This ‘Purpose’ has stayed with me and is what drives me to create value in what I’m building.

And if we were to believe Tony Hsieh or Viktor Frankl then this ‘higher-purpose’ (life revolving around something bigger than yourself that has meaning to you) type of happiness is the longest lasting.

While it’s still early days for me, I would tend to agree. This also in no way makes me (or anyone driven by a higher purpose), holier than thou. No pseudo modesty here, it just truly doesn’t! Some of the most interesting people even at seventy have never known why they graced this world. All it means is that the chances of longer lasting happiness is higher if there’s a purpose behind your raison d’être

This also doesn’t mean one needs to live sans ‘Pleasure’ or ‘Passion’. Pleasure will still exist. It just means one needs to question the need to chase ‘Pleasure’. It’s something like what Viktor Frankl quite eloquently describes about ‘success’. He says, “Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it.”

It doesn’t end here for me though. Like Calvin says, “Happiness isn’t enough for me, I demand euphoria.”  

Happiness isn't enough for me, enlightenment

Enlightenment the answer to euphoria?

The more I explore, the more it points me in the direction of spiritual enlightenment. Which in simple Pali means finding out ‘Who am I?” and ‘What am I here for?’ So my search for the meaning of ‘meaning of life’ continues. I also suspect this is the mother of all ‘Meaning of Life’. If we can find the answer to this then…


Your clients, customers, boss, better (or worse) half, everybody including Calvin believes in magic. It’s time you did too. #MondayMorningWakeUpCall

Magical World

“You can see it if you look for it”

“My delivery needs to reach before 6:47am.” (I live in Leh)

“This presentation has to get done in the next 2 hours.” (There are 77 slides)

“Sandy, our house help isn’t coming today. Can you be a sweetheart and do the cooking and cleaning please? And ya, take Mel to her dance class. I want to watch the Ind-Pak match.”

Everybody believes you can magically do the impossible. Look back at your life and you’ll see they aren’t wrong. How you arranged for money for your higher studies, lived alone in a foreign land, created a company from nothing that’s now putting a smile on million faces, beat that disease or simply win her heart.

So the sooner you learn the magic words ‘I can do it’, the faster you’ll see magical things happening – building a self-dependant, self-sufficient city for the poor, buying a house over-looking Marine drive, being the next Tolkien or travelling the world with your family.

Yes, it is a magical world!

And the 2015 non-Grammy winners are…

There’s more to the Grammys than meets the ears. I mean there’s a ‘shazam’ of music and talent that doesn’t get any Grammy love. Can’t really fault the Grammy Academy though. There has to be a cut off somewhere, right?

I on the other hand don’t have any obligations or desire to chop or rank. So I’m sharing some of the music albums from outside the Grammy list (that haven’t been nominated either!), in no particular order, that I’m happy I stumbled upon.

I’ve listed my favourite albums from last year (with artists in the brackets) and linked my favourite tracks from the albums. Give them a listen. After all, “Where words fail, music speaks.” – Hans Christian Anderson


  1. Queen of the Clouds (Tove Lo) – You’ll Love Tove. Love her ‘Habits’, her ‘Moments’, her ‘Talking Body’ and even her ‘Gun’

Strange Desire (Bleachers) – Throwback to the 80s music, how can I not like it!

  1. I Never Learn (Lykke Li) – She’s being humble here. I think she’s learning pretty well.

  1. Don’t Kill the Magic (MAGIC!) – I believe in MAGIC too.

5.  Islands (Bear’s Den) – I guess if Mumford & Sons were to blend with Of Monsters & Men, it would sound something like this. Happy to take a holiday on these Islands any day.

  1. Fault in our Stars OST (Various Artists) – There’s no fault in these stars at all. My favourite album from 2014.

  1. Begin Again OST (Various Artists) – That’s exactly what I did, after listening to the album.

Bonus tracks: Throwing in a couple one hit wonders

1. Come With Me Now (Kongos) – The accordion does it for me!

2. Prayer in C (Lily Wood & The Prick & Robin Schultz) – For purists out there, listen to the original and then this remix.

So what else got missed. Share some tracks/artists/albums that rocked you last year.

I wish I had met Mark Twain

“A man who doesn’t read has no advantage over a man who can’t read” – Mark Twain #MondayMorningWakeUpCall

As obvious as this seems, I don’t think this is so obvious.

And reading the newspaper doesn’t count here. If anything I believe if newspapers were banned it would make the world a better place.

Does it really matter? I mean reading? Does it help in any way once we leave the ‘learning’ era of our school and college days? I don’t think I can get away by making sweeping aphorisms like Mark Twain, but I can speak for myself.

For one, I believe if we live in the delusional world where learning stops on graduation day then we will soon celebrate graduation day as dooms day.

In college I hoped that to be the case. Graduation day meant no longer having to pour through books to make sure I don’t flunk exams. But little did I know that life itself was a mega-exam inundated with pop quizzes every single day. Both professional and personal life bowling googlies.

The funny thing is, even though there have been no score sheets, I, and I suspect many out there, still want to score well. While the benchmark and the parameters of scoring well vary from individual to individual, my simplistic measure is ‘am I stagnating’ professionally or ‘am I any wiser’ on the personal front.

Life experiences make even people living with their eyes wide shut wiser, but we can’t and don’t want to experience all possible permutations and combinations of life. Exposing myself to varied reading (and lots of pop culture) has helped me understand more about life, the universe and everything more than Arthur Dent could do so even by Hitchhiking through the Galaxy. While I’m a far cry from being wise, a claim which only Yoda and the haloed enlightened deserve, it has definitely given me ammunition to fight the demons in my head and the strength to be myself.

Similarly, I can’t over emphasize the confidence reading has instilled in me to stay true to my vision professionally. In fact sometimes I even wonder how some people get through an entire lifetime with learning only ‘on the job’. It is quite possible that they would be naturally quite insightful, a talent I’m probably lucky not to have, but I think I would’ve gotten along with Mark Twain better than them.

What are working for?

Are we grooming for life or are we brooming for life #MondayMorningWakeUpCall

And God said to Adam “By the sweat of thy brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken”

But did he really say it? (I’ve so far had luck with mostly one sided conversations with the invisible almighty)

Are we really meant to toil day and night and night and day only to swallow what we’re going to excrete the next day? While I’m ‘hyperboling’ here, it doesn’t seem too far from reality where we spend our lives toiling in vain to make the impermanent permanent.

What is worse is that it doesn’t end with self-flagellation. I still see so many parents whiplash (maybe not literally, but you get the idea) their kids with the intent of grooming them to enslave the holy trinity (Money, Power, Fame) when in reality it is they/we who become the slaves with a broom.

So I do think it’s worth taking a step back to ponder why we are working like slaves (if we are) only for joys (which we think are joys) which are ephemeral, if not for us, at least for the innocent ones.