Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quiz time again !!

Prologue: A dry spell loomed in the arena of television quiz shows after the end of Sports Ka Superstar, a sports quiz show on DD. This show specially crafted to enthuse audience before Delhi CWG 2010 kindled abundant interest in me on topics related to sports trivia and I enjoyed every episode thoroughly.
KBC season 4 cast away this dry spell and renewed my television interests. The new season of KBC has Big B - Amitabh Bachchan donning the role of a host. It commenced on Oct 11, 2010 - Big B's 68th birthday. The show is aired on Sony TV, every Mon-Thurs from 9-10pm.
There are minor changes to the format -
1) 50-50 lifeline does not exist anymore. There's an expert advise lifeline instead.
2) A double dip lifeline (4th one) comes into existence when a participant crosses Rs 3,20,000 mark. The contestant is bound to play if he/she chooses to use this lifeline and cannot quit. This lifeline allows a contestant to answer twice to a question.
3) The number of questions has fallen to 12 from earlier 15.
4) An additional jackpot question for Rs 5 crores appears when one has won 1 crore.
5) Questions 1-6 (Rs 5000 - Rs 1,60,000) are timed. The time limit is 30 sec for questions 1 and 2, 45 sec for others. The timer stops when a lifeline (audience poll, phone a friend, ask the expert) is used. Questions 7-13 do not have any associated timeline.
6) The show has a new logo that bears the new rupee symbol.

The creative head/director remains the same for this season - Mr.Siddartha Basu. I am sure every Indian student will attribute a share of his/her interest in quiz/trivia to this great guy. Amitabh Bachchan, unquestionably, is the biggest strength of this show. His immense and unparalleled fan following, his poignant personality, his powerful diction in crisp, baritone voice, his affable manners, his decent and enjoyable sense of humor remain the erstwhile ingredients for making the show a huge success. The show has revived my quiescent interests in quizzing, driven me to buy a copy of the first official edition of KBC Quiz Book. This post is a brief note on the book and its contents.

The book and its overview:
Donning a brilliant blue cover, published by Rupa and Co, priced at Rs 95 per copy, Kaun Banega Crorepati - The Official Book, edited and compiled by quizmaster Siddartha Basu, on stands, in the Reliance Timeout Store, Cunningham Road, Bangalore, attracted my attention. The book begins with a Foreword written by Big B, he quotes two lines penned by his father, reiterates the spirit of human nature and endorses the fact that there are many questions each one of us face and no question is small - Koi bhi sawaal chotta nahin hota. The preface section by the quizmaster hands out a token of thanks to all who have contributed to the questions set. He writes to stress the popularity of the TV show given that it formed the baseline of the Oscar winning movie - Slumdog Millionaire, conceived from the novel - Q&A by Vikaas Swarup.

The book has 100 questions in Fastest Finger First section, 120 each in Rs 5000 section Rs.10,000 section, 100 questions in Rs 20,000 section, 90 in Rs 40,000 section, 80 questions each in Rs 80,000, Rs 1,60,000, Rs 3,20,000 and Rs 6,40,000 sections, 45 questions in Rs 12,50,000 section, 40 questions each in Rs 25,00,000 and Rs 50,00,000 sections and a set of 15 questions in the final, big, Rs 1 Crore section. The questions in different sections procuring increasing money rewards are of increasing complexity. Answers to all questions are provided in the book for reference. The book facilitates its readers to play the game - KBC with its questions as options like audience poll and 50:50 find suggestions/stats in the end of the book.
My Review:
I would'nt say that this official book of KBC will help one in getting to the hot seat, the writers of this book too do not lay the claim. Also, it is not the exhaustive compilation of trivia and quiz questions. If you expect the complexity of questions in this book to be in tandem with Siddartha Basu's Mastermind TV quiz show, then you will be terribly let down.

Upon reading through its contents, I suggest, this book is apt for anyone interested in KBC and in quizzing - it is a fun exercise. I loved it thoroughly. The book is a good read during travel/lone time and even at home when with a group of like minded friends/children/elders.

The book, definitely, offers many things for us to learn and remember and the question set compiled in here is no cakewalk. After all, koi bhi sawaal chotta nahin hota - no question is small.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pune's CadB, now in B'lore

How would you like a Friday evening stroll down Brigade Road, a sumptuous meal at one of its many food joints and end it with a drink of thick, dusky chocolate shake. Perfect ten!!

This blog post is about the serendipitous discovery of one of the most delectable drinks I have ever had. Friday brings immense respite to me; the fervor with which I wait for it has only surged with time. A stroll down Brigade road and MG road on a Friday without hurry and worry of next day’s chores, watching people unwind from their sphere of flit and flutter, refreshes one immensely. Brightly lit shops doing brisk business, multiple eateries teeming with young crowd, cars and bikes honking to get into Rex Theatre for a night show of the latest release, all this and much more, in this part of the city, pumps a new lease of energy into lackadaisical souls weary from the week's toil. Viswa and I had a meek dinner at Stars and Stripes, a small restaurant, opposite Eva Mall, on Brigade Road last Friday. After the meal, we needed something to rejuvenate our sweet tooth.

A few feet away from this restaurant, after Kanti sweets shop, diagonally opposite to Eva Mall (Brigade Road) and directly opposite to St.Joseph’s college of commerce, existed our new find - the CadB outlet. The shop had alluring pictures of chocolate shakes and everything super-yummily chocolicious. These pictures provided a warm promise of a sweet surprise in store for us.

The menu card bore names like CadB - a thick brown chocolate shake and CadM - a thick white chocolate shake, the major highlights in the outlet. Their exotic variants were walnut topped CadB, Coconut blended CadM, Hazelnut CadB (Ferrero Rocher), Roasted almond CadB, Dry Fruit CadB, all available in both medium and large quantities. The shopkeeper politely explained that these thick, creamy shakes offered a unique taste.

We ordered a CadB (medium) priced at Rs 50. Topped with crushed, rich chocolate flakes, this dark brown beauty enticed us thoroughly with its divine but sinful taste. The shopkeeper was true to his word and the drink was truly one of its kind. In just one attempt, the dark temptation seemed irresistible. We ordered a CadB Hazelnut (medium) priced at Rs 80. An opulent offering of finely ground hazelnuts atop grated chocolate, floating on thick, dark chocolate potion provided a magical experience that enriched our taste buds.

From our conversation with the shopkeeper, we inferred that CadB is a highly popular chain in Pune with 20-30 outlets meeting demands of many who queued up to relish its yummilicious offerings. CadB’s sole outlet in Bangalore is on Brigade Road, the one we visited and is about four months old. The menu also lists 30 flavors of thick shakes and mastanis (thick shakes with lavish topping of ice cream) – mango, butterscotch, roasted almond, custard apple to name a few. There are chocolate sandwich and cheese-corn sandwich for people who to intend to take a quick bite along with a drink. Strategically located opposite a college, the outlet already has its share of loyal customers and is beginning to get popular amongst others.

From my first experience at CadB, I would award it a neat 100. The residents of Pune are definitely gifted to have indulged in CadB for longer than us in Bangalore. While I have earmarked a Friday, about 2-3 months from now, to pamper myself with another CadB, I only wish time flies fast (the way it normally does) to expedite another sinful indulgence.

A plunge into a tall glass filled with thick, creamy chocolate is sheer BLISS !!!

Note -
Contact details of CadB outlet –
Shop #1, St.Patrick’s Complex, Opposite St.Joseph’s Commerce College,
Kanti Sweets lane, Brigade Road, Bangalore
11 am to 11 pm (open on all days)
Ph: 8147543894, 8088810816

Monday, November 8, 2010

Kollywood’s gift to Isaac Asimov

After witnessing an extraordinary hype for over a month since its release, exorbitantly, yet sustainably high prices of tickets, reading innumerable articles on Rajni, the Superstar and soaking up the essence that he undoubtedly has a Midas touch, I watched Enthiran, the super blockbuster Tamil movie, during Diwali 2010. I got my turn for this interesting rendezvous with Kollywood’s work on science fiction, on Nov 6, 2010.

I put my share of Rajni frenzy under control for a month and waited for the price of the ticket to fall from the range of Rs 1000/Rs 500 to a meek Rs 70. I am still aghast at multiplexes in Bangalore screening the movie for no less than Rs 200 per ticket, for even the earliest show of the day. That, in short, suggests the kind of boffo this movie is, at the box office.

Date: Nov 6, 2010
Time/Show: 6 pm
Venue/Theatre: Single screen, Cauvery Theatre, Sankey Road, Bangalore
Ticket Price: Rs 70 per ticket

The film opens with Dr.Vaseegaran (Rajinikanth), a robotics scientist, researching and creating an andro-humanoid robot out of ten years of dogged diligence. His robot, his look alike, christened as Chitti, functions at a speed of 1 Terra hertz, has humungous memory, possesses ability to understand multiple languages, cook dishes from world cuisine, perform different martial arts, dance to classical, rock, jazz and techno tunes and grasp details from a dozen books in a single scan – be it medical literature or telephone directory records. Chitti performs all tasks as instructed by its master, Dr.Vaseegaran, blissfully devoid of emotions and any reasoning derived from them. The inability to comprehend human emotions and apply those drives Chitti and its creator to face varied problems. Chitti’s rejection by Professor Bora, played by Danny Denzongpa, in a conference held at research centre, drives Dr.Vasee convincingly into a compulsive urge to make his robot emote and take decisions based on emotional reasoning.

It is a treat to watch Danny don the role of a villain after a long span. When Vasee proudly announces to Professor Bora that Chitti can now emote, infer human emotions and is not merely a dumb machine that executes orders blindly, Bora laughs sheepishly and cites unfathomable problems are just about to begin.

Sana, Dr. Vasee’s long time girl friend, played by Aishwarya Rai, is cordial with Chitti right from the start and completely awestruck by his abilities. With human emotions newly activated in the robot and a hormone like mechanism topping its original neural schema, the closeness between the two lets love blossom in Chitti for Sana. All hell breaks loose. There is so much pandemonium that Vasee is forced to destroy his most cherished creation.

However, like a phoenix, from the garbage, with Professor Bora’s help, Chitti rises, with bouts of negative qualities injected via a red chip. A new stylish look is imparted to Chitti, the terminator, with insurmountable abilities to destroy and devastate. Intense love for Sana still lingers, forcing Chitti to abduct her from her wedding and confine her in quarters, run and managed by robot clones like itself. The remaining story is on how this mayhem leads to incalculable damage to life and property. Anyone/anything coming in way of Chitti’s love for Sana is ravaged completely without the slightest hesitation, not even Prof.Bora is spared.

The climax is stupendous as man takes up the extremely difficult and nearly impossible task of terminating the machines awfully gone wrong, he had created. It is a heap of special effects perfectly crafted and executed that leaves the audience spellbound and in complete acceptance of the fact that Enthiran is better than likes of English movies like I, Robot.

Good prevails over evil always; the red chip is ejected from Chitti, thanks to Dr. Vasee’s efforts. Chitti, the robot Vasee created and held close to his heart, becomes adorable again. It dismantles itself completely upon instructions issued by the court of law. Vasee and Sana marry. Chitti is lodged in the Robotics museum, available for millions to view and is hailed as a man-made marvel even 20 years later.

The film is 100% special because Rajinikanth stars in it. For audience who has seen Rajni in negative shade years back, in movies like Avargal and Apoorva Raagangal, Chitti with a red-chip in this movie is a gentle reminder that Superstar a.k.a Thalaiva is indomitable even as a villain. Like all Rajni movies, Enthiran too ends with a message – human beings across the world are infested with many red chips with negative emotions like anger, jealousy, lust etc. Robots are only machines and can be dismantled with ease, but how to handle human beings ?

Enthiran has true strengths apart from Rajni, the Superstar. The story is interesting, a concept each one of us can relate to. We are living in an era where scientific spirit tends to overdominate, man is trying to create life; artificially tweak and interfere excessively with many natural phenomena. The movie clearly points out the stark reality behind all these human excesses – complete devastation.

Special effects in the climax are stunning, thanks to posse of technicians from the West who helped Tamil film industry scale such heights. AR Rahman’s music is catchy only in two songs in my opinion – Kilimanjaro and Irumbiley. Even here, the brilliance is largely because of beautiful locales like Machu Pichu, Peru and excellent choreography. Aishwarya Rai is a beautiful lass, comes out pretty in all costumes and grooves well to all tunes.

There is a hero about whom I have not yet uttered a word, more appropriately, the true hero. It is the movie’s director – Shankar who dared to dream so big and ensured that his dream thrives in minds of millions, world over. His zeal to experiment and provide a genuinely refreshing movie to the audience, deserves unlimited accolades. I am sure, Isaac Asimov, the renowed sci-fi writer will be content with this small Indian gift from the kitty of Sun Pictures.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Diwali !!

Diwali 2010 was truly different for me in that Viswa and I were in Bangalore. Diwali 2007-9 were spent in Chennai in company of our parents. Bursting crackers and digging into sweets and great food were the major activities then.

This Diwali, we purchased an assembled PC/desktop for our home on Nov 5, 2010. Both Viswa and I needed a desktop to surf Internet, edit documents, download and upload stuff. We both detest gaming to a great and equal extent. Therefore, we came up with a no-frills/minimalistic configuration and completed the deal for Rs 16,600

Details of PC configuration are as below -
Processor - Intel Pentium Dual core E5500 (2.8 GHz clock, 800 MHz FSB, 2 MB L2 Cache)
Mother board and chip set - Intel G31 express chipset with Gigabyte Mother board (Taiwanese make - GIGABYTE G31M-ES2L) that supports DDR2 memory. The motherboard has 4 USB ports at back and 4 on the front panel.
Memory (RAM) - Transcend 1 Gb DDR2 memory at 800 MHz
Hard disk - Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 (7200 rpm SATA hard disk drive) 500 GB capacity
SMPS - Mron (450W)
Cabinet - Zebronics basic cabinet (similar to model - Raunak)
Keyboard and Mouse - wired keyboard and mouse package from Microsoft (Microsoft wired keyboard and mouse 500 series)
Monitor - DELL 18.5" TFT

Purchase details are as below -
Date: Nov 5, 2010
Place/Shop details: IT Gain Computers, #1, AM Lane, SP Road, Bangalore - 560 002. Ph 080-42108651
(SP Road in Bangalore is fanous for multiple shops trading in electronic goods, computers and accessories, mobiles etc. The market is similar to Richie street, Chennai)
As for other activities during Diwali, we watched Endhiran movie in Cauvery Theatre, Sankey Road, Bangalore. We happily devoured samosas with sweet/sour tamarind chutney, sheera (a sweet dish made of chiroti rava), paneer bhurji, cucumber raitha, vegetable pulav, potato smileys, rava dosa with coconut chutney that I made at home. We had a brief, namesake session bursting crackers - 4 boxes of sparklers and 2 lar crackers at night and lit some diyas to decorate our house. It was a very quiet and simple Diwali.