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Jan 312012

Some Indian startups get off on a wrong footing with customers even before their commercial launch.

Take for example Mela.

An online Indian movie and TV services provider to desis in the U.S., Mela is supposed to roll out its paid Indian movie service on February 1.

But even before the launch the fledgling has started earning the ill-will of customers through double billing and early billing problems, iPad issues and inadequate customer service.

With offices in California and Bangalore, Mela offers customers Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Marathi and Bengali movies online via the Roku box or on the iPad and live Indian TV channels through its set-top box.

Mela Movies

Here are some issues we encountered with the Mela movie service.

Billing Problems

* Billing is supposed to start only on Feb 1 since the service is free through January 31 (that is today). But it seems the company got itchy to see some dollars and billed customers a couple of days before the free trial expired. Such cheap practices leave a nasty taste in the mouth.

* As if early billing was not bad enough, Mela compounded the problem through double billing. To make matters worse, the company did not care to proactively address the issue and waited for customers to complain. Mela blames the double billing on technical glitches and promises to ‘fix it’ within two days.

Given these billing snafus, we were not in the least surprised to receive a call from Citibank’s early fraud detection department a little while ago to warn us about the $4.99 charge on our card.

iPad Issues

Besides the billing issues, Mela customers are also grappling with problems on the iPad. Continue reading »

Jan 302012

Aha! After searching high and nigh we finally found one place where Droid/Android scores over the iPhone/iOS.

Hold your breath nose now because that place is the toilet.

A new survey has found Droid phone users are more likely to use their mobile phones in the loo compared to iPhone owners.

No kidding, folks.

The survey by integrated market marketing agency 11mark notes that:

Droid users are slightly more likely to use their phones in the bathroom overall; 87 percent have used their phone while indisposed, versus 84 percent of BlackBerry users and 77 percent of iPhone users. BlackBerry users are most likely to answer a call in the bathroom. 75 percent of BlackBerry users report they have done so, versus 67 percent of Droid and 60 percent of iPhone users. But, Droid and iPhone users are more likely to browse a social network or use an app (in the bathroom) than their BlackBerry colleagues.

As always, the wise souls at SI have the explanation for this anomaly – You see, iPhone users really, really care about their mobile phone compared to Droid users.

Can you imagine your sexy lil’ iPhone floating with the remnants of last night’s Pongal, Dahi Batata Vada or swimming in the, God forbid, Paani Puri. No way!

Droid users couldn’t care less if their mobile phone is covered with poo because it looked no different before. ;)

Anyway at least now, the Droid owners have one reason to cheer. ;)

Great American Download Story
In other highlights of the 11mark survey of 1,000 Americans:

* Neither men nor women are going to the bathroom alone today – 74% of men and 76% of women report using their mobile phone in the bathroom

* 63% report they have answered a phone call and 41% initiated a phone call

* Many (67%) have read a text, and 38% have surfed the Internet

* Men are a bit more attached with 30% reporting, “I don’t go to the bathroom without my mobile phone,” versus 20% of the distaff sex

* Men also work more from the bathroom – 20% say they have participated in work-related calls versus 13% of their female colleagues

* Gen Y respondents are heaviest toilet users with 91% using their phone in the bathroom

* 80% of Gen X report using the phone in the bathroom, 65% of Boomers and 47% of the Silent Generation

* 59% of Gen Y, 43% of Gen X and 22% of Boomers have used an app in the bathroom. While online, it seems they are doing more than just surfing; 16% of Gen Y report making an online purchase while in the bathroom

* iPhone users are particularly likely to browse and buy in the bathroom – 22% have made a purchase, versus 10% of Americans with mobile phones overall

SI confesses to checking for your comments in the bathroom with the iPhone 4. ;)

Jan 302012

“Indian guys in the States,” Millie explained. “They’re the sickest perverts. They spend all day in the lab, then they spend all night on the Indian marriage sites. They’re so fucking horny, they invent computer problems just so they can be patched through to Bangalore and talk to an Indian girl. They don’t know we have their name and credit history and previous calls on our screen as soon as they call in.”

Bharati Mukherjee, Miss New India, p.92

Ha ha ha, what the fuck was all that nonsense (above)?

And y’all believe the drivel that Indian guys in the U.S. are so priapically desperate for the desi choots back home that they call tech support to speak to a Meenakshi Iyengar pretending to be Mandy Smith from Fremont, CA or Chandra Singh from Patiala feigning an American accent and calling herself Cindy McAuliffe from Nashville, TN.

God, who’d have thought the Bong babe Bharati Mukherjee, still a sexy, hot-looking babe at 71, would be so high on weed that she’d fling such bilge at readers!

Blame it all on the lax California pot laws and the unanticipated effects they have!

After all these years in the U.S. and countless hours of idle banter with our fellow desis here, all we can say is that Indian guys here have only one idee fixe – how to move their brown hockey stick into a White girl’s goalpost.

The Indian obsession with White pussy is a strange beast that can easily be explained (yes, most Indians are racist and abhor Blacks).

For desis, the draw of the White gals is likely a combination of color,  well-endowed assets of the girls nourished on a lot of milk and cheese and the allure and mystique of a White pussy (more so, if it sports a blonde beard).

A Sikh friend was drooling as he described the process and culmination of dribbling his way into a White goalpost as the highest of all heavens.

No kidding!

And here comes this Bengali babe Bharati Mukherjee telling us that our Indian guys are so desperate for desi choots that they call home to hear a stranger’s voice.

Bharati – Old Acquaintance

As best as we can remember, we first made our acquaintance with Indian-American writer Bharati Mukherjee sometime in the 1980s.

Those days, we still called that Incredible Shithole home.

We had a Loose Paiya Tamil Iyengar friend who purchased the book and lent it to us.

No idea what the book was titled but we vaguely remember not being disappointed with the book.

Time passed and we relegated Bharati to the category of forgotten acquaintances.

She gathered dust in the far recesses of our brain.

Well, the other day as we were idling browsing through the collection in New Books shelf of our local library, who should we stumble upon?

Yes, Ms. Mukherjee again.

And her new work – Miss New India stared at us with a plaintive look pleading with us to take it home.

That we did.

And gave all 328 pages a good reading.

We were not enamored of the book.

One would expect a 71-year-babe with decades of writing behind her to produce a better work.

The book details the story of Anjali aka Angie, a girl from Gauripur, a small town in Bihar who moves to Bangalore to make a career in the call-center business.

Miss New India started off all right.

Gauripur kinda seemed like an interesting place. The small town, Anjali’s family, Peter and his lover all seemed to have a verisimilitude that had us engaged.

It’s only after Anjali arrives in Bangalore that the book became a caricature.

Sure, Bangalore has changed. Which big city in India hasn’t.

But to make Bangalore seem like it’s a transplant from some weird unrecognizable alien civilization robs the book of any charm.

Given what we know of our people, we also found the gay romance between Peter and Ali as well as the ‘adoption’ bit on the last page unconvincing.

In our not-so-humble opinion,  Miss New India is a waste of time.

Jan 302012

Guilty – Tamil Peeping Tom Dharun Ravi

Dude I hate poor people.

– Tamil youth Dharun Ravi in a text message/e-mail to his friend.
Source: New Yorker magazine, February 6, 2012

The most infamous Tamil in North America, Dharun Ravi, who used to drive a BMW while still in high school, is now standing trial in a New Jersey court after his Rutgers University gay roommate Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge under tragic circumstances last year.

Related Stories:
Escaped! Dharun Ravi Gets Just 30-Day Jail Term
Dharun Ravi’s Parents Blast Media for Crucifying Son in Tyler Clementi Case
Guilty – Tamil Peeping Tom Dharun Ravi
The Story of a Suicide
One Way or the Other, Dharun Ravi is Screwed

Jan 302012

Folks, Agneepath’s box office numbers are out.

We mean the U.S. box office numbers.

And they are not good.

At least, not as good as the assaulter Khan’s Don 2.

Here’s how Agneepath fared at the box office in its opening weekend compared to a few prominent Bollywood films:

Agneepath U.S. Box Office Report

Related Stories:
Agneepath Review – A Blazing Bollywood Bonanza

Jan 262012

By Sonny Chatrath
Occasional Actor

If you have been noticing, remakes of successful Bollywood movies from the 80s and 90s is on the rise. Some are extremely successful, and some are terrible flops.

If you have watched RGVs Sholay, or the new Umrao Jaan with Aishwarya Rai you know what I am talking about.

Some films are just painful to sit through in part because of the poor script and the rest because the new actors can’t hold a candle to their peers. Don is an exception to the rule.

New Agneepath Debuts

I was looking forward to the new Agneepath with Hrithik Roshan, Sanjay Dutt, Rishi Kapoor, Zareena Wahab, and others.

I was so anxious, that I arrived at the theatre about 10 minutes before showtime to make sure I didn’t miss even a second of the film.

Once inside the 200-seat theater I was relieved to see that I was one of just two souls in the theater. But given that today was a working day, and a rainy, dull, boring one at that, it made sense.

Or it may be that people were expecting someone like me to review this film so that they could save their precious $8.50. ;)

For those who are planning on downloading and watching this, I would recommend just bite the bullet and go watch it in a theater.

Blows You Away

I promise you the experience will blow you away. Not that the producer is paying me to make this statement.

For the benefit of our readers, I won’t draw parallels between the old Agneepath with Amitabh Bacchan.

Let’s treat this film as a whole new film, because most of us were too young back then to remember the original and bias is not always a good thing.

I will be honest, I am a big fan of Hrithik, Priyanka, and Sanjay Dutt because they are fine actors, and bring their own unique qualities to the screen.

Rishi Kapoor did his first negative role as the girl-trafficking, drug-pushing Rauf Lala and he did a phenomenal job.

It is sad that women in Indian cinema always play second fiddle to the male leads.

Without further ado I present my review of Agneepath.

School Master Dina Nath Chauhan lives with his family in Mandwa, a small coastal village where he teaches primary school kids. He is popular with the locals, and about to start his own salt mill.

The Local Zamindar/former ruler of mandwa hates his guts and wants him dead. He calls his son Kancha (Sanjay Dutt) from Mumbai to come and help him get rid of Dina Nath. They frame him for raping and killing a disabled school-girl and hang him immediately.

Vijay, his son, knows his dad is innocent, but can’t save his father. He leaves Mandwa with his mother and lands at Mumbai by boat, where he commits his first crime by killing a cop.

From that point the film picks up speed, and several new characters are introduced into the film.

Rishi Kapoor plays Vijay (Hrithik Roshan’s) mentor.

There are several plots, and sub-plots running simultaneously. Some of them don’t make much sense.

I will let you watch the film instead of giving the whole story away.

I did have several issues with continuity of the film.

In my opinion, they cut Vijay’s childhood part short, and also failed to show the part where his mother disowns him.

Also, the young neighbor Kaali (Priyanka Chopra) is introduced without telling us who she is; it does take a while for people to figure that she is the neighbor’s daughter who has been in love with Vijay right from the start.

Kaali’s outfits look like they came out of one of those premium designer stores, she doesn’t look like she lives in a chawl.

Sanjay Dutt Rocks, Hrithik Intense

Sanjay Dutt shines as a villain.

I think Kancha will go down in history as one of the best villains in a Bollywood film.

He is Scary, Ruthless, and Ugly.

This is the first time I have seen him do a negative role.

Hrithik is one of the best actors in Bollywood, because he is always in character.

It is rumored that he locks himself in a room two days before the shot so that he stays in character.

His intensity is unbeatable.

Priyanka Chopra brings charm to the screen, but for some reason her existence doesn’t make any sense.

I wish they came up with more meaningful roles for women in Indian Cinema.

This film like other Bollywood films is Male Centric.

Zareena Wahab is perfect as Vijay’s mother.

The supporting cast also deserves recognition, especially the kid who plays Vijay as a child is gifted.

Chikni Chameli – Hot

Lately all Bollywood films are promoted with an item song.

This film had “Chikni Chameli” which was a pleasant distraction, and Katrina Kaif looks hot as hell.

I am sure the producers spent a pretty penny on that song.

The whole Agneepath album is very melodious.

Melodious Music

Ajay-Atul have done a good job composing the music.

The director did take some cinematic liberties, like the time when Vijay Picks up Kancha,  (I mean all the way over his head) after being stabbed multiple times and throws him on the ground.

I am sure you will watch that scene and chuckle. Sanjay Dutt is like a mini mountain compared to Hrithik, yet Hrithik whips him like miracle whip.

And then there are the tear jerking moments of the film, which are an integral part of any Bollywood film.

It is moments like these that make Bollywood films family friendly. After all they have to think about all the unclejis, and auntijis who will sob, and sniff.

The cinematography is above-average, and Mandwa village looks beautiful.

Indian Cinema has really come a long way from those over the top films of the 80s and 90s in the sense that level of acting has improved tremendously, and even with the few flaws in continuity, and script the overall product is great.

I highly recommend the new Agneepath. It has the potential of becoming one of the biggest releases of 2012.

Related Posts:
Old Agneepath Review