Friday, December 29, 2017

Pleasanton Rose Show

Every year, generally around May, Pleasanton organizes a Rose Show. This year, 2017, was the 77th annual show! Here are some of the photos. Yes, these photos are from May, and we are at the end of December, but hey, at least I am posting it in the same calendar year :-)


First, some solo performers presented in a water bowl.

Now, other solo performers on their stems.

Simple elegance!

Very unusual color.


What a beautiful marbling!

Simple stunner!

Another marbling

Unassuming beauty.

This deserves staring at it for a long time!

Now some group performers.

One of my favorite colors for roses

This was so delicate, even taking a photo might have hurt it :-)

Magical marbling!

Just white!

Too delicate

Another candy!

Riot of colors

The next ones, if I remember correctly, were some of the final winners.

Hope you enjoyed it.

Friday, December 22, 2017

My thoughts on : Tax Cuts And Jobs Act Of 2017

This is not a review of the new tax law (See full PDF) signed by President Trump today. This is just what I feel about the things that matter to me, and things that I feel are important.

Full disclosure on political views. I am neither a Republican, nor a Democrat and one of the “Never Trumper” guys. I had to vote for Hillary Clinton because of Trump’s candidacy. My views can generally be categorized as “social liberal, fiscal conservative”, but that’s not very accurate either. For example, I strongly oppose “Sanctuary Cities”, and I do want near-free college education for all. So there you go. Whatever prevalent label you attach me, will likely be wrong.

Full disclosure on fiscal views. 

Taxes are necessary. Duh, yes. The point is, “some” taxes are necessary. I do not know what the ideal tax rate should be, and that's not the point of this post.

Simple is good. Duh again, but important to list. Not just because of tax filing headaches, but also for cost of enforcement.

Deductions are unfair. Yes, including, mortgage interest deductions, and even 401K deferred taxes. Due to tax brackets, higher income people get more out of these deductions that lower income people. Most deductions and credits are not universal, they favor one group over another.

Double taxation is unfair. Yes, even when it happens to rich people. 

Now about the things that directly affect  me.

Mortgage interest deduction. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where housing prices are, and have always been in the stratosphere. Now mortgage interest only up to 750K can be deducted. It most likely will slow down the increases in home prices. That’s good. My house value may not go up as much, but it’s good for future home buyers. Affordable homes are good for the society. Primary residence is not an investment, or a lottery ticket to retire rich. I support this. 

Changes to AMT. I wish they had repealed AMT. But at least the new law takes a large section of the population out of AMT. My problem with AMT is not the actual taxes paid, but it makes taxes complicated. If higher taxes is what’s needed, increase the tax rate. Don’t complicate the tax code. Again, even if my effective taxes hadn’t changed, I would still support repealing AMT. Well, that didn’t happen, but this is still a big positive.

Changes to SALT deductions. The new law significantly limits how much state and local taxes can be deducted. This one hurts me. It’s very possible that due to AMT changes, tax rate reductions I might come out even. Regardless of the impact on me, I support this. Federal taxes are paid for services received from federal government. Why should state taxes be deductible any ways? Now this will get Californians angry. But I do think California taxes are too high, the state government is too big and there is a huge waste of taxpayers money. Maybe now, people will get more conscious about the taxes paid to their state government and demand lower rates, and more efficiency. It might make California less socialistic, and that would be a good thing. This kick in the gut was needed, and my only complaint is it does not go far enough.

Rolling back of tax rates. The tax rate reductions for individuals is not permanent. If deficit was an issue, then why cut taxes on high income earners? Why not make the tax rate cut permanent for lower income people? Maybe it’s political game of kicking the can down the road, and future congress may make the rate cuts permanent. With the current wealth gap, and a booming economy for the wealthy, the rate cuts should have been done only for the lower income people. I view this as a big negative in this tax law. 

Now for changes that do not directly affect me.

Corporate tax rate cut. Lowering corporate taxes is a good thing. I wish it was tied to job creation, or increased pay for lower salary grades. Especially considering the trillion dollar deficit that’s being added by this law. As it stands, companies most likely will return cash to shareholders via dividends, buybacks etc. That’s perfectly fine from shareholders’ point of view. The issue is these shareholders are mostly in the wealthier section of population. So the country as a whole gets a trillion dollar increase to the already high deficit, and the majority of the population gets nothing much to show for it. That’s my current feeling. If it does spur job growth, pay growth, well, that’s what the Republican congressmen and Trump’s team are promising. Only time will tell. So I am neutral on this right now.

Estate Tax. I will never be impacted by this, but just repeal that thing. If you need higher taxes, just increase tax rates. Do not double tax. The new law does not repeal it, but at least increases the threshold. It's not enough, but still a positive.

Questionable deals. There is a nice provision for pass through businesses, which may be needed. But the way it was added, raised lot of conerns. There is lot of information available on the CorkerKickbacks. Similarly there is a nice concession for private jet owners. That’s what politics has become today. People who write laws, make sure they get benefits out of it.

There is lot more in the tax code, but these are the points on which I have an opinion.

Summary. There is lot to like about this law. Whether the expected economic expansion happens and if it justifies the deficit or not, only time will tell. I am optimistic at this time.

What would be the political implications? This is definitely a great legislative victory for President Trump, and he has delivered on a big campaign promise. It’s also an accomplishment for both Rep Paul Ryan and Senator Mitch McConnell. It would very likely help the Republicans in 2018 midterm elections, because there will be a short term boost to the economy. The deficit concerns are much longer term concerns. The Republicans have taken a calculated risk, or a gamble if you will. I hope they are right and the benefits of this are reaped by lower income people as well. If not, there are always elections where we can vote for candidates that will undo these policies. Just like what the current administration is doing.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Bosch : Season 1

Review : Bosch Season 1
Aired on : Amazon (2015-)
My Rating : 7 out of 10

How many more police dramas do we need? Based on the success of the shows in past, and currently going on, I guess a lot more. There is a lot of appetite for this genre. And how many of those should be focused on serial killers? If you combine all the serial killers that have appeared so far in all the books, TV shows and movies, together their victim count perhaps exceeds a quarter of US population. But the books keep coming, and the Movies and TV shows keep exploiting the same genre over and over again. As long as it makes money, this will go on.

Once in a while, some output in this steady pipeline is worth writing about. Amazon Prime’s Bosch is one of them. If I had to write a single sentence review, then I would have chosen the phrase “Cliched, but solid”. With that summary, let’s look at the details.

Bosch, the series, is based on a few novels by Michael Connelly, in which Detective Harry Bosch is the central character. I haven’t read many novels by Connelly. On my book reviews, there is a review of his one novel, Brass Verdict,  but that features his other creation, Lincoln Lawyer. Connelly is a very successful writer, and a good writer. He is deeply involved in the TV production as well.

The series begins with Bosch being investigated, and eventually cleared for fatally shooting a suspect. Then the main story begins with the discovery of bones in a remote wooded area. The death, of a young boy, appears to be a murder happened more than a decade ago. While Bosch (Titus Welliver) starts to work on a cold case, a person named Reynard Waits (Jason Gedrick) gets picked up by police when they discover a dead body in his van. By all indications, Waits seems to have a lot of past secrets, and lot of darkness. These two threads, the murder investigation and Waits get linked via Bosch. While this is happening, Bosch gets romantically involved with a subordinate, a rookie officer Julia Brasher (Annie Wersching, from 24). Bosch has an ex-wife and a daughter, who also feature in the story. Incidentally, Bosch’s ex-wife Eleanor is played by Sarah Clarke, another 24 alumni. All these plot lines around Bosch make the cliches far more interesting than the run of the mill police shows. His past is explained well, and was essential to completing his character, and is very relevant to the story.

Not to forget, there is department politics, and interesting alliance between the police chief and a politician who wants to be the next mayor. As interesting as that is, the word that will come to a viewer’s mind, is “filler”. Those scenes are orthogonal to the story and if not for a lengthy TV series, would have been completely eliminated.

I am of course not going to divulge any more details about how the investigation proceeds. But I will say this. It’s a combination of mostly good and a bit of bad, things that mostly make sense and occasional things that don’t. Some coincidences and stupidity from characters was needed to advance the plot. Fortunately, this is a minor flaw, and overall the story doesn’t have many flaws.

As a mystery it works really well. Keeps you guessing for most part. All the lead characters have acted well. Titus Welliver of course gets the most screen time in the title role. His portrayal is very believable. This Harry also does not entirely play by the books, but is much more realistic than Dirty Harry. I enjoyed the Clint Eastwood movies as well, this is just a comparative statement on the style.

It’s a very good series to watch, not great. Since it’s available on streaming as 10 episodes of 45 mins each, it’s quite binge-able. It’s not for kids and is correctly rated TV-MA.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Marathi Rubaai - 6


भगिरथच मी जणु, अशी अस्मिता
घेईन ओढुन तव प्रीती सरिता
आहे मी पण एक कवी सक्षम
असशील तू जरी रूपगर्विता

Hindi translation

न हारूंगा मानिंद-ए-कोहकन, है यह ग़ुरूर
उतारूंगा जू-ए-इश्क़ तेरे दिल में ज़रूर
आज़मालो, के हूँ मैं भी एक शाइर काबिल
चाहे हो कितनी भी तुम कोई हसीं मग़रूर

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Secret Superstar

Movie Review : Secret Superstar
Released : 2017
Language : Hindi
Director : Advait Chandan
Genre : Drama
Starring :  Zaira Wasim, Meher Vij, Tirth Sharma, Aamir Khan, Raj Arjun
My Rating : 7 out of 10

Amir Khan, as a producer, definitely thinks outside the formula. I have made it a point to watch his movies in a theater, even when I have lost almost all interest in Bollywood movies. His latest production, “Secret Superstar” is another feather in his producer cap.

The story is as straight-forward as it gets. Insia (Zaira Wasim) is a 14 year old living in Vadodara. She has no interest in studies and dreams of being a superstar singer. Her father Farookh (Raj Arjun) has no appreciation of her talents and aspirations, and only offers apathy at best, and downright mean opposition at worst. Without her ever supportive mother Najma (Meher Vij), she stands no chance of ever achieving her dreams. Her mother risks a lot, suffers a lot, including physical violence, as Farookh is an angry abusive husband. Insia is old enough to understand and wants her mother to file for divorce, but there is really no practical way out for them. In order to pursue her dream without being recognized and stopped, she records her songs wearing burqa and releases them on YouTube. The songs go viral, and even though it’s anonymous Insia gets an opportunity to sing for a fallen-from-grace music director Shakti Kumar (Aamir Khan). She has dual hopes from this, one to become a star and second to help her mother get free. There is no suspense here, and no spoilers. This is a feel good movie. The emotional impact is from incidents of daily life, and I have not disclosed any  of those details, on purpose.

As you can see, the movie is tackling two themes. The family story, focuses on domestic abuse and mother-daughter bond. The other just glosses over the meteoric rise of an anonymous singer. This inconsistent handling of two important elements of the storyline is a major shortcoming of the movie that stops it from being a great movie like what “Dangal” was.

Dangal was fantastic as a both an achievement story, as well as family bonding story. Secret Superstar is fabulous as a mother-daughter bonding story. Many of the emotional scenes are potent without being melodramatic. This part manages to effectively comment on surprisingly many social issues. Domestic abuse, discrimination against girl child, women empowerment and neglecting non-traditional aspirations amongst others. The mother-daughter friendship is beautiful and touching. But there’s much more. The support Insia receives from her much younger brother is innocent and heartwarming. And the adolescent love story is amusingly cute, and doesn’t distract from the main theme of mother-daughter relationship. This all is high class movie making, and Advait Chandan must be complemented for both direction and script.

As an achievement story, it falls flat on its face. There are some elements of the Disney show, “Hanna Montana”. But the lack of any real excitement in the trajectory of Insia’s super stardom is just painfully bland. One song upload and she is famous. Worse, we get to hear maybe two songs of her supposedly superstar talents. Fame, opportunity and success just arrive at her doorstep, like an online pizza order.  The talk about her songs on TV, and the reaction of characters to it feel completely fake. Even the character of Shakti Kumar, and his antiques, although humorous are still just superfluous. The complete blame of this failure falls on the shoulders of the script and the direction, meaning Advait Chandan. Because the actors are just phenomenal.

Zaira Wasim and Meher Vij are in the focus of the camera for the most part, and their fantastic performances will keep you glued to your seats, and be emotionally invested in them. The cast is mostly unknown but capable actors. Raj Arjun does justice to the unenviable role of the abusive husband. Tirth Sharma as Insia’s true friend Chintan is adorable. Aamir Khan tries best with whatever material is offered to him, but cannot hide the fact that he is playing with an obviously inferior hand. Again, this is Zaira’s movie and Meher’s movie, everyone else is secondary. Fortunately their acting is exemplary.  

My recommendation is that, the family story alone makes it a “must watch” movie. But tone down your expectations for the movie as a whole. It’s very safe for kids, and enjoyable for the whole family.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Evolution Underground

Book Review : The Evolution Underground
Author : Anthony J. Martin
My Rating : 4 out of 5 stars

The complete title of the book is “The Evolution Underground : Burrows, bunkers, and the marvelous subterranean world beneath our feet”.

I was instantly attracted to the curious title. Of all the popular science books that I have read so far, none had discussed anything about animals that choose to spend most of their time underground. This book guaranteed new information, so I had to read it.

I am quite ignorant of the field, but it clearly seems that the author has impressive achievements, one of them being a co-discoverer of the first known burrowing dinosaur. He has a passion for the field, and it shines through.

The book covers a very wide variety of burrowing creatures. From turtles, alligators, dinosaurs, birds, many mammals, insects, sea animals and so on. The author argues, and demonstrates that the burrowing had a distinct evolutionary advantage. Especially when it came to mass extinction events. It’s recurring theme throughout the book. Consider for example, the mass extinction caused by the hellish conditions resulting from by a meteor strike. This event killed almost every living thing on the surface. Some creatures survived these unimaginable conditions, because they could hibernate and/or live comfortably underground. The explanation by author is very lucid, and understandable to a layman like me.

There is more to the story of creatures living underground. The author also explains very successfully, the impact these creatures have on the entire ecosystem. All this information is fascinating, and kind of an eye opener.

It seems to me that that author is writing for two types of audiences, for both laymen and the scientific community. This didn’t quite work for me. At times, the witty narration made me chuckle at multiple place. The speculative stories explained a lot to me and held my interest. But at other times, the information overload was simply too much to handle. I cannot even pronounce the names of most of these species, and digesting this amount of scientific detail is beyond me. It’s meticulous, detailed with 100+ pages of references, but I am afraid, other readers may feel lost like me.

With that caveat, I will recommend the book. It’s an interesting topic. You will end up being amazed by the knowledge about how life can survive, and how vital the underground world is for our ecosystem. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Song number 6 : Haakewari Aahe Gaav

With great excitement, on behalf of the entire team, I present to you our latest song. This has been a superb team effort. 

For me, the song always starts with the words, and this is a great poem by a very prominent Marathi poet, Indira Sant. In my interpretation, it describes the restlessness one might feel in the evening stages of life. It’s not sad, but solemn.

That’s the mood we have tried to convey. Most of the team is repeat names. The fantastic music arrangement is thanks to Aniket Damale. For the melody, it fits perfectly like a glove. Rhythm is arranged by Amey Thakurdesai and Hanumant Rawade. Flute accompaniment is by Pranav Haridas.

To top it all, the singing by Neha Kale is just perfectly on the mark. Her voice and emotive singing has taken this song to an even higher level.

The stunning sketches for the video have been provided by my multi-talented friend, Anita Limaye.

Considering the words, I thought Pooriya Dhanashree would be the perfect raag to carry the emotions and hence I have used it for the melody.

I hope you enjoy the song as much as we all enjoyed making it. Please listen and share! 

हाकेवरी आहे गाव, ह्याच आशेने चालले
गेले दिवस महिने, वाटे युगचि संपले

दूर दूर तेवणारा दिवा कसा तो दिसेना
डोंगराच्या पायथ्याशी रेघ धुराची वोळेना

ऐकू येईना पावरी आणि घुंगुरांचा नाद
राउळींच्या घंटेचाहि उमटेना पडसाद

कुठे असेल ते गाव, जिथे आहे पोचायाचे
कुठे असेल ते घर, जिथे आहे थांबायाचे

कुठे असेल तो स्वामी त्याही वास्तूचा महान
ज्याच्या पायापाशी आहे टाकायाचे तनमन

-- इंदिरा संत

Following translation is courtesy Archana Gupta

इस उम्मीद में चलती जाऊँ बस अब दूर नहीं वो गाँव
कितने सालों, नहीं युगों से, मेरे थमे नहीं हैं पाँव

दूर तलक रौशनी का कोई ज़र्रा भी क्यूँ अयाँ नहीं
क्यूँ दूर वादियों से उठता घुंधला सा भी धुआँ नहीं

घुंघरुओं की आवाज़ कहाँ है, बोल कहाँ हैं बंसियों के
साफ़ सुनाई दें न कहीं भी शब्द मठों की घंटियों के

है किस सिम्त वो गाँव जहाँ जा अपना धर्म निभाना है
कौन सा है वो घर जो मेरा अंतिम एक ठिकाना है

कौन महात्मा मालिक घर का किस का ताना बाना है
तन मन कर के अर्पण जिस के दर पर सीस नवाना है

Thursday, August 24, 2017


Movie Review : Manjha
Language : Marathi
Director : Jatin Wagle
Genre : Thriller
Starring : Ashwini Bhave, Sumedh Mudgalkar, Rohit Phalke
Released : July 2017
My Rating : 5 out of 10

Sometimes it’s about expectations. I was happy that a Marathi movie is venturing into a relatively uncharted territory of the thriller genre. The trailer was promising. I really hoped to like it, but in the end I came out disappointed.

Samidha (Ashwini Bhave) moves to Lonavala with her son, Jaideep (Rohit Phalke) to escape from her abusive husband. Jaideep is an introvert, understandably, and is emotionally traumatized. Samidha as a mother is modern, understanding and determined to rise out of the situation. She starts working at a friend’s resort. At school, Jaideep is befriended by Vicky (Sumedh Mudgalkar) who is what Jaideep is not - flamboyant, confident and charming. Vicky’s friendship starts transforming Jaideep, but soon he starts sensing a sinister side of Vicky. The rest of the movie deals with who Vicky really is, and how Samidha and Jaideep face the challenge, and counter Vicky’s plans.

As you can see, this is not a very novel idea. That’s OK. Lack of novelty is not the main drawback of this movie. I think it is the lack of genuine suspense. The movie does not keep you guessing. Even the surprise at the end, can be seen coming from a mile across. There are so many hints, right from the beginning, as to what Vicky is really after that only a very novice movie-goer would fail to anticipate it. 

That’s a serious drawback for a movie aiming to be a gritty thriller. There are other positives and negatives as well. Without any doubt, the biggest positive is the acting, of both Sumedh Mudgalkar, and Rohit Phalke. They get the most screen time, and really shine. Sumedh especially, considering that this is his first major role. He seems like a seasoned confident actor, and is able to display many different shades. The script gives him very little to work with, and he still manages to bring creepiness and fear to the screen.

Sumedh succeeds quite brilliantly, till the final scene, where the movie just deflates. This is not the fault of the actors, but mostly of the director and the scriptwriter. I suspect, the intentions were good, to not cross the boundaries of decency. I get that. But for a theme that’s trying to push the envelope, the ending was exact opposite of a crescendo of tension. The movie is never “on the edge of the seat” thriller in the first place. It’s slow, overly talkative, and has very little action. As a result, even at two hours, it feels long. Whatever tension it manages to generate, evaporates in the end.

I want to applaud, encourage and support the team for trying to be bold and different than the pack. But I can only give a lukewarm recommendation for this movie. In my opinion, it’s not for kids.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Marathi Rubaai - 5

Rubaai number 5. With a rough translation.

एक रुबाई श्रावणी
मेघ दुःखांचे गर्जती, विजा वेदनेच्या झळकती
सिंचित नित मनाची माती, अश्रुधारा वर्षवर्षती
हवामान हे कुंद बघुनी, अंदाज सोप्पा अगदी 
भरपूर पीक ह्या वर्षी, येणार कवितांचे नक्की
It's hard to translate this. Here is a very rough translation. 
Clouds of sorrow are roaring, lightening of pain keeps striking
Tears keep raining down, irrigating the soil of imagination
Considering the gloomy weather, it's an easy forecast to make
That this year, there will definitely be a bumper crop of poems

Friday, August 4, 2017

Better Call Saul : Season 2 and 3

Review : Better Call Saul (Season 2 and 3)
Aired on : AMC (2015 - )
My Rating : 8 out of 10

Please note : This is a review of Season 2 and 3, and may contain spoilers if you have not watched Season 1. Please click here for season 1 review.

I completely loved the first season of “Better Call Saul”. The second and third seasons are as wonderful as the first season, almost. Almost.

Season 2 picks up the story right where season 1 ends, and the arc continues through Season 3. This time, Saul/Jimmy McGill doesn’t have to go through so much professional struggles. He is moderately successful, ends up having his own practice and even manages to have a stable relationship. The story this time is less about his struggles to be a lawyer, and more about his relationship with the person he loves and respects, his brother Chuck. It is an interesting, complex, multi-dimensional and realistic relationship.

At the beginning of the Season 2, Jimmy takes the job with the law firm in Santa Fe. This is the continuation of the thread about the class action suit against Sandpiper that began at the end of Season 1. This thread continues to run through the end of the Season 3. Jimmy is very uncomfortable in this job. His employers are even more uncomfortable about the legality or lack thereof, of Jimmy’s methods. Eventually Jimmy starts his own practice in partnership with Kim. Kim’s efforts to help secure the Mesa Verde contract, and Jim’s way of helping her, forms a major plot element throughout the second and third season. 

Along the same lines, the story threads involving Mike, Nacho and related characters span both Season 2 and 3. Most of the threads get proper closure, if not all. End of Season 3 indeed feels like the end of a book in a longer series.

That brings me to the “almost” part. As captivating the storytelling is, as fantastic the character portrayal is, the pace of the story is slower than what was in Season 1. These 2 seasons could have been combined into one season. A lot less details would have seen the light of the day, but I think that would have been fine. This is one complaint I have against most series. The desire to extend episodes often wins over compactness of narration. 

In spite of that complaint I still give very high rating to both these seasons. Because they are full of artistic brilliance. Acting, directing, script writing, character development, dialogues, editing, everything is top notch. Even the camera angles are worth admiring. To me, this is how television should be. Series like this is why I hardly watch any movies and allocate most of my non-sport TV time to long series. The investment of time in Better Call Saul is absolutely worth it.

I expect a lot more nominations, and frankly it’s high time Bob Odenkirk wins the Best Actor category, at the Emmy’s or the Golden Globe. Other wins are certainly possible too. There is a lot diverse talent packed in this series.

I cannot recommend this series enough. It’s perfectly fine for older teenagers. The complex characters and their complex interactions, presented in a slower quirky manner would be a welcome change from most of the two dimensional stuff out there. As a final note, it’s worth stressing how un-formulaic the series is. There is no action, no edge of your seat suspense, no gory violence, no unnecessary twists, no profanity, no nudity, no sex, no romance, no crude humor, no in your face controversy and no shocks of any kind. In spite of that, it’s gripping and addictive. Watch it.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Chi Va Chi Sau Ka

Movie Review : Chi Va Chi Sau Ka
Language : Marathi
Director : Paresh Mokashi
Genre : Romantic Comedy
Starring : Lalit Prabhakar, Mrinmayee Godbole, Bharat Ganeshpure, Sharmishtha Raut, Supriya Pathare, Pradeep Joshi, Sunil Abhyankar, Purnima Talwalkar
Released : May 2017
My Rating : 8 out of 10

Marathi movies have a long relationship with successful comedy. From Raja Gosavi, to Dada Kondake, to Laxmikant Berde to movies produced by Sachin. It’s a long list. I am sure there are more number of utter failures than the successful ones. But the point is, there are comedy movies that will be remembered, recommended, discussed and watched more than once. To that list, add the latest movie by the very capable director Paresh Mokashi.

It’s near impossible to give you a synopsis of the movie without revealing a major plot element, which occurs very early in the movie. I watched the movie without knowing much about it. That’s how I prefer to watch. In that same spirit, I will reveal as little as possible in this review. This is not a suspense movie, but still it matters. You will understand why I am saying this, when you watch it.

The two main characters are Satya (Lalit Prabhakar) and Savitri (Mrinmayee Godbole). Satya is an engineer, and is passionate about saving water and energy. Savitri is a veterinarian doctor, and her passion is animals. Their passions are of course most of us would agree with, although in the movie these are deliberately portrayed to extremes for the comedic effects. I must stress it here, these passions are absolutely not the real subject of the movie. In fact, Paresh Mokashi steers clear of propaganda or any dogma.

The real focus of the movie is somewhere else. It is on how human relationships are evolving with changing times. It’s tackled in a masterful way - with high class comedy, that makes social commentary while generating chuckles and laughs. 

So comedy is the vehicle here by which a message is delivered. I will admit, I was a bit worried about the quality of the comedy when the movie began, with the introduction of the characters and the loudness that accompanied it. Fortunately, that mellowed down fairly quickly. Nevertheless, the movie remains over the top for most of the time. Subtlety makes only rare appearances. That’s a perfectly fine approach for a comedy, as long as it’s not overdone. There were a few places where I felt it was overdone, but in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter much.

The other minor quibble I have is about recycled jokes. It’s done only a couple of times, but I felt it was unnecessary when everything else is so much original content. Again, didn’t matter much.

The strength of the comedy resides in the dialogues, and the timing and delivery by actors. The movie is extremely strong in those aspects. The dialogues are funny, and the actors give you countless moments for laughing out loud. Another big strength of the movie is the crisp screenplay. Scenes generally don’t linger around, and multiple characters participate in most scenes to keep it moving briskly. Works very effectively. There are also a few unusual and superb camera angles along the way that are worth admiring.

This is a very enjoyable movie which I highly recommend. There are some scenes and dialogues that I will remember for a very long time. Just like other Marathi comedy movies that are now considered classics. It’s quite safe for kids. The current generation of teens and twenty somethings will perhaps like it more.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Song Number 5 : Tere Dil Ki Nigaahein

Presenting song number 5!

On behalf of all the artists involved, I am very happy to share this new song with you.

For many, Urdu poetry is synonymous with the image of a lover who is dejected, lost and heart-broken. This doesn’t have to be the case. This song is written from the point of view of a very confident lover. I hope you all like this attitude :-) This was actually the very first song I wrote, but it took a while to realize it fully. I have kept the melody in Raag Bhoop, which is the first raag everyone learns.

As always, I received tremendous support from many talented musicians. Most of the team is repeat names!

Just like my previous two songs, this song is also sung by Ketan Patwardhan in his pleasant mature voice. Rhythm is masterfully provided by Ameya Thakurdesai and Hanumant Rawade. Amogh Dandekar played the guitar perfectly.

The arrangement by Aniket Damale is just wonderful, deliberately reminiscent of the previous era of bollywood music. Thanks to him and everyone else for their support.

Hope you enjoy the song. Please support it by sharing with your friends.

तेरे दिल की निगाहें, ढूंढे जिसे, हूँ मैं वहीं, और कोई ग़ैर नहीं
तुम मानो या ना मानो, मुझे देखो या ना देखो, मुझे फिर भी है यकीं  

कर लो, चाहे जितनी भी,
मुझ से, यूँही बे-रुख़ी,
चाहत कम ना होगी मेरी

कोई शिक़वा, ना गिला,
मुन्तज़िर जो रहूँ सदा,
तेरी दिलनवाज़ी का

की है मुहब्बत, जैसे इबादत
हो जाओगे मेरे ख़ुदा, मेहरबाँ

फ़र्माती है रूह की निदा
रहूँ तेरा आशिक़-ए-जाविदाँ                            

तेरे मेरे दरमियाँ,
छोटा सा है फासला,
मीठे से एहसास का

मिट जाएगी जो यह दूरी,
मेरी सारी बेक़रारी,
हो जाएगी तुम्हारी

फिर गूंजेगा, मेरे ही दिल का
पुरसोज़ तरन्नुम, सीने में तेरे

ग़ाफ़िल इन जज़्बों से हो अभी
होगा तुम्हे भी आज़ार-ए-आशिक़ी

Meanings of words

बे-रुख़ी = indifference
शिक़वा, गिला = complaint
मुन्तज़िर = one who waits
दिलनवाज़ी = kindness
इबादत = worhsip
निदा = calling
आशिक़-ए-जाविदाँ = eternal lover
एहसास = feeling, experiecne
बेक़रारी = restlessness
पुरसोज़ = full of burning
तरन्नुम = song
ग़ाफ़िल = unaware
जज़्बा = feeling

आज़ार-ए-आशिक़ी = illness of love

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

No ifs, no nulls

I have always been a strong proponent of clean code that's written with maintainability in mind. It's my firm opinion that performance should be addressed with proper architecture. In most applications, code trickery contributes very little to overall performance. What exactly causes code to be less or more maintainable? Simplicity and clear semantics are two main important things that contribute to this aspect.

What makes the code simpler to understand? Code with many execution branches is harder to understand and to test. Personally, I dislike deep nested if-then-else conditions. Even having overly complicated boolean expressions as part of if conditions, makes the code harder to understand. Straight-line code without explicit branches and loops would be ideal. But can non-trivial code be written like this? It's quite possible.

Keeping the semantics completely unambiguous requires some thinking. In last few years, I have also developed an acute case of "null-phobia". In Java (and many other languages), usage of "null" can be problematic. Especially while describing semantics. What does a return value of null mean? Is something not present, or is present and empty, or did something go wrong? There are ways to deal with this dilemma. Documentation, exceptions are part of the solution. Now Java 8 has borrowed the Optional from other languages that makes it very easy to deal with this.

In this post, I want to explain one simple measure that can be employed to eliminate some branching and null-checks.

Consider a common service layer pattern. The service layer needs to provide an API to read the business objects from the database. The database layer provides a similar API to return the record from the database associated with the id given.

In the above only the code relevant to this discussion is shown.

Even with this simple structure, it is clear that the usage of null is problematic. Each layer needs to check nulls, and forgetting to do that and passing the result around would generate a NullPointerException in some other part of the code. The programmer must read the documentation in order to understand that null values might be returned, there is no help from the compiler. These are some of the reasons for potential bugs in future.

It's very easy to replace this with the new Optional and remove any ambiguity, and provide a very clear semantics.

That's much better than using nulls as a return value. With the Optional as a return value, it provides a clear signal to the users of the method that they have to check for the existence of the actual result. The compiler enforces the usage of an explicit get() call, and most likely your IDE will warn you if use the get() without the isPresent() method. Now it takes willful ignorance to cause a NullPointerException. That's a win.

Of course the code as written, is nothing but a glorified null-check. The Java 8 Optional allows you to refine the code even further by using the streamlike fluent API. The Optional has much more than just isPresent() and get().

The Optional::map() method is smart. It can be used to convert Optional of one type to another. The isPresent() check is handled for you. It accepts a lambda which will be executed only if the Optional is not empty.

Of course, with a simple lambda like that it can be even further simplified using the new method references.

This is not code trickery at all. This is the correct usage of Optional. The unfamiliarity of the lambdas and the new Java 8 APIs will eventually go away.

This was a small snippet to convey the idea. I strongly argue that such concise straight line code is much easier to understand. It's also extremely easy to maintain due to lack of branching, and lack of the need to keep performing null-checks. To be precise, the branching and null checks have not disappeared, but they have been moved from our code to the JDK library code. That's still a huge win for maintainability.

I am also aware that lambdas, if not used in such concise manner, suffer from the same issues of anonymous classes. My rule of thumb is, lambdas should be simple one-liners, just a method call with descriptive name. Nothing more.

There are many such simple measures that can be employed to write code that has minimal branching, and clear semantics. More in future posts.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Song number 4 : Gaate Kon Manaat

Presenting song number 4

On behalf of the entire team, I am very happy to present the latest song. It's an old poem, written by late Vaa. Raa. Kaant. I liked it because it's simple, lyrical and at the same time meaningful. I am sure all artists have felt this poem in their heart, and the question it asks. Who is really driving the inspirations? The poem doesn't answer that question. Instead it reminds the artists, that they are not really creating the art, rather it's the other way around. It's the art that's shaping them. I believe this is true for all art forms.

I am very fortunate to have received support from very talented artists to shape this song :-)

Aparna Nimkar lent her sweet, melodious voice and sung this beautifully. After composing, I knew I wanted her to sing this song, and I am so glad that it materialized. Her voice gives a nice, pleasant and calming effect to this song.

The rhythm is excellently handled by the duo, Amey Thakur-Desai and Hanumant Rawade. This is the third time, Ameya has helped me with the rhythm.

The superb flute interludes are thanks to Pranav Haridas and guitar is played by Amogh Dandekar.

Finally, the music arrangement, mixing and mastering is done by Aniket Damale. His perfect arrangement is soothing and blends seamlessly with the main melody. Without his enthusiastic support, the song wouldn’t be this good.

I have kept the melody in the contours of Raag Jaunpuri. Hope you enjoy the song as much as we all enjoyed making it. If you like it, please support it by sharing. Thank you!

गाते कोण मनात, कळेना, गाते कोण मनात ?

जरी शतावधि कविता लिहिल्या
शंभरदा वाचिल्या गायिल्या
शब्द कुणाचा, सूर कुणाचा, अजुनि मला अज्ञात

पुशिले त्याचे नाव फुलाला,
गाव तयाचे उषे निशेला
मिचकावुनि कुणि डोळा जातो, काळ्याभोर जळात

अभिमानाने कधी दाटता
“रचिले मी हे गाणे” म्हणता
“गीतच रचिते नित्य तुला रे” फुटे शब्द ह्रदयात

My feeble attempt at translation ...

कौन गाता है मेरे मन में, पता नहीं, कौन गाता है मेरे मन में

सैकड़ों कविताऐं लिखी, सौ बार गायी, पढ़ी
है शब्द किसके, सुर किसके - हूँ इससे अबतक अंजान मैं

पूछा उसका नाम फूलोंसे, पता सबा से, रात से
मटका कर आँखे बस चला जाता है कोई काले गहरे पानी में

अभिमान से कभी कहुँ, “गीत लिखा यह मैंने”
“गीत ही लिखते है नित तुम्हे”, उठता है जवाब, अंदर दिल में

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