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Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Indibloggies Are Here Again

Indibloggies 2008India's desi blog awards - The Indibloggies - are back after a year's hiatus. This blog - Cutting the Chai - had somehow made it to the final nominations for Best Topical Indiblog category, the last time around.

The last time I didn't file my own nomination (was a bit shy). Thanks to Amit who noticed this li'l blog. A couple of years after and with some of the hesitation lost, I didn't waste time and nominated myself.

Do send in your nominations here. And don't nominate Cutting the Chai, as I've already done that myself and the rules seem to imply that multiple (though no figure is mentioned) nominations may be interpreted as spam and could result in disqualification (you could if you desperately want this blog out of the race).

These awards are a great way to discover some great blogs. May the best blogger win. Hope CTC makes it to the nominations, multiple ones would be better. A win or two could make me a Rahman. Or some lobbying could atleast make me an Aamir (I'll then only post once every year).

But my biggest problem was that the nature of this blog doesn't exactly fit into any of the pre-defined categories. How would you classify Cutting the Chai? I settled for Personal Blog.

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Katrina Kaif in New Aamsutra Ad

Katrina Slice Aamsutra New AdThis Slice Aamsutra TVC appears to be an U-rated version of the Kaamsutra/Kamasutra, with some mango nectar involved in a sensuous play with one of Bollywood's most dazzling beauties - Katrina Kaif.

I found it to be quite... erotic. The Rasiya Aaja number in the background is quite pleasant to the ears.

Download video [00:00:37 FLV 833 KB]
Download hi-res video [00:00:37 AVI 3.60 MB]
Download for mobile [00:00:37 3GP 713 KB]

An older version of the Slice Aamsutra ad

Download video [00:00:38 FLV 825 KB]
Download hi-res video [00:00:38 AVI 2.69 MB]
Download for mobile [00:00:38 3GP 715 KB]

Katrina is the ultimate trophy heroine (could term it as an 'item heroine' as different from an 'item girl'). She doesn't need to act or even mouth lines (things that exactly aren't her forte), she just needs to be there in the frame with some closeups (including the extreme ones).

I think that Katrina can't ever look vulgar. Even in Boom - that scare of a movie - which incidentally was Katrina's debut and where she wore the skimpiest outfits of her entire film career, she looked pretty (Potentially NSFW). That's what Katrina is and therefore she is the hottest keyword on the search engines.

Many people are landing on this post looking for the Slice Aamsutra Rasiya Aaja MP3/ringtone. Just to ensure that they don't return disappointed, here's the audio version:

Download ringtone [MP3 546 KB 00:00:35 128kbps Stereo 44 kHz]

Related posts:· Katrina Kaif in surrogate ad for Old Admiral Brandy

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Power of Knowledge

The Economic Times - The Power of Knowledge
The Economic Times
The Power of Knowledge

Knowledge is man's (in this case a cat's) most valuable asset. And this is what this cat=and-a-leashed-dog ad for The Economic Times attempts to stress upon.

This is from the early 2000s and I had clipped and stored it in a file. It probably appeared in The Sunday Times of India.

Agency: Enterprise Nexus

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Best of AR Rahman

Mesmerising. That's the music of AR Rahman. His Oscar nominations wins have brought his music to a bigger world stage. But is Slumdog Millionaire Rahman's best? You don't even need to think for the answer.

As a salute to the Mozart of Madras, I've picked up some of his best works and compiled them into a single video.

Since it is very difficult to be selective about songs from Rahman's oeuvre, I followed a simple procedure (though technically faulty):

Only his Hindi songs, or songs dubbed into Hindi, have been included. Because that's what I've listened to the most.

One song from each selected movie. With the exception of Dil Se, arguably Rahman's best work yet. How can you choose between a Chaiyya Chaiyya and a Dil Se Re?

Video - The Best of AR Rahman

The videos are in no particular order. If you disagree with my list (which I believe many would) please leave your suggestions (the songs that I've missed out on) in the comments.

List of songs included in the video (in order of appearance):

1. Dil Hain Chota Sa (Roja)
2. Humma Humma (Bombay)
3. Kabhi Neem Neem (Yuva)
4. Saathiya (Saathiya)
5. Azeem-o-Shaan Shahenshah (Jodhaa Akbar)
6. Mangal Mangal (Mangal Pandey - The Rising)
7. Roobaroo (Rang De Basanti)
8. Ye Jo Desh Hain Tera (Swadesh)
9. Rut Aa Gayi Re (1947 Earth)
10. Chaiyya Chaiyya (Dil Se)
11. Maa Tujhe Salaam (Vande Mataram)
12. Yai Re (Rangeela)
13. O Re Chori (Lagaan)
14. Tu Fiza Hain (Fiza) (This isn't a Rahman composition, as pointed out by Lyrical Craziness Personified)
15. Hum Hain Is Pal Yahan (Kisna)
16. Dil Se Re (Dil Se)
17. Masakkali (Delhi-6)
18. Jaage Hain Der Tak (Guru)

Related posts:· The Best Bollywood Love Songs Ever

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sony Pokes Fun at Netbooks, Then Launches Its Own

Sony Vaio P Series and ad for Sony Vaio Z seriesSlim legs of a girl clad in jens tower over the traffic. And she's trying to tuck in into her rear pocket a netbook - the Sony Vaio P. Though Sony slots it as a "Lifestyle PC" and is promoting it as "the world's lightest 8" notebook".

When I first came to know about Sony's netbook plans, a Sony ad for the bigger Vaio Z series came to my mind.

The ad made fun of the ultra-portable laptops, showing a man using a magnifying glass to work on it.


But the ways of the market and the needs of the consumer make even the high and mighty stoop. The phenomenal success of the netbook genre (and rightly so) has forced everyone to scamper aboard.

But Sony being Sony, it comes with a steep price tag $900. The price of the Sony Vaio P in India is reported to be Rs 50,000 and Rs 65,000. But I must accept, it is the best looking one around.


Asus also seems to have taken Sony's que at promoting the netbook as a lifestyle statement. Received this via email a while ago:

Asus EeePC

Yesterday, a friend got an Acer Aspire One - I tinkered with it for a while and came to the conclusion that my Asus EeePC 1000H was a better buy.

Related posts:· Review: Asus Eee PC 1000H

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Did the pirates return Anurag Kashyap a favour?

Dev D PiracyAnurag Kahsyap is unlike most directors (eleboration not necessary) and it seems that movie pirates have a liking for the maverick moviemaker. And they have good reason to.

About a year ago on Zoom channel's show Director's Cut Anurag revealed to Kabir Bedi, the host, "I like piracy," and went on to stress that "I'm here because of piracy."

Anurag's reason was that if it hadn't been for piracy, a small-town guy like him wouldn't have been exposed to the best of world cinema.

With Dev D releasing the week before last, the much maligned pirates seemed to have returned Anurag the favour. Unlike most movies (some bootleg versions get leaked even before the actual release) Dev D's pirated print took a long while to hit the markets (atleast that is what my research says). The first prints were available on the torrent networks a good week after the film's release. This is important because movies tend to make a bulk of their collections in the first week itself.

Moreover, the prints that are circulating on the online torrent and video sharing websites are sloppy cam-rips. It isn't even worth the effort to download them. Intentional? I wonder.

The Sunday following Dev D's release I was taking a stroll at Delhi's Daryaganj (looking for old magazines and stuff). Though on that Sunday, there wasn't any Sunday Market, but the pirated DVD sellers were omnipresent.

"Dev D hain kya? (Do you have Dev D?" I enquire.

"Haan! Haan! Bahut hain (Yes! Yes! There are lots)," comes the pat reply.

"Dikhao (Show me)"

"Khud hi dekhlo. Bahut DVD hain (See for yourself, there are lots of DVDs)"

"DVD, par Dev D ki DVD (DVD, but Dev D's)."

"Woh kya hain? (What's that?)"

"Nayi film hain. Parson hi release hui hain (New movie. Released the day before yesterday)."

"Hero kaun hain? (Who's the hero?)"

"Abhay Deol"

He gives me a confused look

"Sunny aur Bobby Deol ka bhai (A brother of Sunny and Bobby Deol)"

He shuffles through the DVDs and hands me one.

The title reads "Victory".

Defeated, I gave up.

PS: Anurag's Black Friday is still hot on the torrent network.

Related posts:· Emosanal Attyachar 'X-Rated' Version
· Music for a Song
· The MP3 Wars - How Music Companies Can Emerge Victorious
· Black Friday - A Late Review

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Why Do They Even Have an Internet Connection?

Messages employees at an Indian workplace get to see on their browsers when they try to access websites on the internet from the office:

Blocked Websites

Blocked Websites

Blocked Websites

Blocked Websites

Blocked Websites

Blocked Websites

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Join the Pink Chaddi Campaign

The Pink Chaddi Campaign

Details here.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

MTNL 3G Jadoo: Rs 75 for a YouTube video

MTNL Jadoo 3GMTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd) was running a shoddy DAVP-type teaser campaign. There was no surprise at the end of it [MTNL Jadoo 3G press release], it was for the commercial launch of MTNL's 3G service. All that I was curious about was the tariff for India's first 3G service and as expected, it's not for me. Yet.

The initial service is limited to the NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Council) area of Delhi and most of Delhi stays outside that area (and that includes me. Even my current workplace is outside the NDMC periphery).

The tariff is 'promotional'. Here are the details:

MTNL 3G Jadoo Tariff

Activation charge: Rs 500
Fixed charges: Rs 599 per month
Local voice call on own network: Rs 0.60 per minute
Local voice call on other networks: Rs 1.00 per minute
Local video call on own network: Rs 1.80 per minute
Local video call on other networks: Rs 3.00 per minute
- STD video call: Rs 3.75 per minute
- ISD video call: Rs 30.00 per minute
Data - GPRS/3G/UMTS/HSPDA usage rate: Rs 5.00 per MB
Data HSPDA rental: Rs 149 per month

Which means that even if I just get a Jadoo connection and do not use it, I'll be paying atleast Rs 748 a month (that's about my average mobile bill a month, including GPRS usage).

And data usage rate is @ Rs 5.00 per MB. That means that if I want to watch an average YouTube video of around 15 MB, it'll cost me Rs 75! Don't know how many people can afford that. Atleast, not me.

This is more like the mobile phone rates in the mid-1990s and will surely fall. I'll then start active blogging, with all frills attached from my mobile device. Till then, I'll have to do with the Eee PC.

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Strepsils - MGM Lion Ad

Rooa...meow (says the lion)
Hhhh.. hhhh...
Gaale mein kharash
Mazedar Strepsils
Char mazedaar zayekon mein
Orange, lemon, ginger lemon, regular

Download video [00:00:10 FLV 474 KB]
Download hi-res video [00:00:10 AVI 1 MB]

This ad was based on the famous Leo the Lion - the mascot of the Hollywood film studio MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).

From the late 1970s, it should be one of the earliest animated commercials on Indian television.

One of those ads from early childhood that is still etched in my memory.

This reminds me of a story from my childhood:

The lion lost all his skills (I don't remember the reason why) and went to his aunt (the cat) to teach him.

Being a good maasi (maternal aunt), the cat taught the lion all that it needed to survive.

On regaining his skills, the lion turned arrogant. When the cat tried to make him understand the lion chased her with the intention of killing her.

The cat climbed up a tree, but the lion couldn't. Because the cat didn't teach the lion this one thing, intentionally. And the cat lived on to shed hair on my favourite chair.

Moral of the story: Knowledge is most powerful when others do not possess it.

Related posts:· Nataraj Phir Champion
· Vicks and the Khich Khich

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Do You Tubaah?

Tubaah.comMany years ago when I first started this blog, I wanted to put some videos here and it was a pain. Then a friend told me about this website called YouTube - and I uploaded my first video there [Reference post]. But I didn't have the patience to wait for my videos to be online (it took a while on YouTube then). I tried and tested many alternatives, finally settling down with

Today the online world is a lot different, YouTube is no longer a startup and there are zillions of clones out there. Video is big on the net and is getting bigger and better.

Yesterday, NDTV Convergence launched (I like the name) and it isn't another YouTube clone. To begin with there are 50,000 (and growing) of NDTV videos out there. Though it is difficult to arrive at a consensus, NDTV is India's most credible news source.

The site is still in beta and you should expect many new features being added as the product develops and stabilises. Currently, isn't any provision for user-generated content. So don't expect the world now, it will be delivered in a while.

Sanjay Trehan, CEO NDTV Convergence Ltd, envisions Tubaah as "India's largest video marketplace".

This is what the website says:
The finest collection of videos, from the NDTV network, to begin with. Now in one place for you.

DISCOVER more than 50,000 news clips, programmes and shows.

CREATE your personal tube of favourite videos and share them.

FOLLOW your friends to watch what they are watching.

My tube on Tubaah. Create yours.

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Emosanal Attyachar 'X-Rated' Version

My favourite song of the year yet - Emosanal Attyachar from Dev D. The Brass Band version. Didn't fancy the Rock version much. Recommended listening.

Find it here - it also gets saved in your browser cache ;)

Music director Amit Trivedi has almost done a Rahman - given us a new sound (though the sound itself isn't new, the application is). The first time ever I actually loved listening to the otherwise cacophonic wedding bands - that for some inexplicable reason don't fail to play Yeh Desh Hain Veer Jawano Ka. And Amitabh Bhattacharya delicious lyrics and Bony Chakravarthy's vocals add to the experience.

And now to cash on the 'naughty' (or is it raunchy?) nature of the movie, there is a video on YouTube posted by UTVMotionPictures, with dollops of desi gaalis.

But the viral spread is yet to take off. At the time of posting this there were about 2000 views on the video.

Caution: Explicit lyrics (and some text on the video). Viewer discretion is advised.

Related posts:· Experiences with the Profane Tongue

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Best Men's Magazines in India

Everyday's an endless stream
Of cigarettes and magazines...
[Homeward Bound, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel]

Cutting the Chai - The Best Men's Magazines in IndiaOn cigarettes, I've posted before and magazines are a recurring theme on this blog. Since I shouldn't be ranking the best cigarettes in India, I thought of arranging at least the men's magazines in the right order, especially since almost all of them in one way or the other claim to be the best Indian men's magazine.

After a drought that spanned for almost the entire history of magazine publishing in India now there is a deluge of mainstream men's magazines on the newsstands. The only monthly drizzle in this waterlessness was a monthly called Gentleman, which after decades of well appreciated presence ceased publishing in 2001.

The vacuum left behind by Gentleman was for a few years filled by Man's World, which first hit the stands in 1999.

Gentleman magazine covers [10 images]
Courtesy: Subhadip Choudhury

Larger image slideshow

Drawing up the list wasn't that difficult (but ordering them was). It was to include only the mainstream general interest men's magazines and therefore those (don't know if all from my growing up years still exist) of the adult's only variety have been excluded. Anyway, they wouldn't have been much of a competition.

The initial list had eight names (in alphabetical order):

1. Debonair
2. FHM (For Him Magazine)
3. GQ (Gentlemen's Quarterly)
4. M
5. Maxim
6. Men's Health
7. Man's World (MW)
8. The Man

A little thinking, shortened the list by two for the final nominations.

Debonair - though it no longer features topless female models and has also toned down its content - is yet to regain some of the class. The issues that I flipped through didn't appeal much.

Men's Health was excluded because of it's name and content. Though the magazine might not have only health-related content between its covers but the primary focus didn't match with the criteria of this ranking.

Left with six titles, and evenly matched too - three of Indian origin (The Man, MW and M) and three Indian editions of foreign magazines (Maxim, FHM and GQ). Only if Gentleman hadn't shut shop and Bennett & Coleman had continued with GT (It's a Guy Thing) it would've been even more interesting.

Other Indian men's magazine covers [10 images]

Larger image slideshow

Before the final ranking, the hors d'oeuvre:

Cutting the Chai's 10 sexiest Indian men's magazine covers

10. Maxim, September 2008. Featuring Gul Panag

Maxim, September 2008. Featuring Gul Panag

9. Maxim, August 2006. Featuring Celina Jaitley

Maxim, August 2006. Featuring Celina Jaitley

8. Maxim, April 2007. Featuring Mandira Bedi

Maxim, April 2007. Featuring Mandira Bedi

7. Maxim, June 2007. Featuring Koena Mitra

Maxim, June 2007. Featuring Koena Mitra

6. Man's World, March 2007. Featuring Nina Manuel

Man's World, March 2007. Featuring Nina Manuel

5. The Man, Quarter III, 2006. Featuring Nina Manuel

The Man, Quarter III, 2006. Featuring Nina Manuel

4. Maxim, November 2007. Featuring Yana Gupta

Maxim, November 2007. Featuring Yana Gupta

3. Man's World, March 2005. Featuring Mallika Sherawat

Man's World, March 2005. Featuring Mallika Sherawat

2. FHM, May 2008. Featuring Nina Manuel

FHM, May 2008. Featuring Nina Manuel

1. Man's World, March 2006. Featuring Celina Jaitley

Man's World, March 2006. Featuring Celina Jaitley

This proves that for magazine covers that are sexy all that you need is a Nina Manuel and a bikini. And women make for hotter magazine covers (this doesn't need any proof though).

[The information - besides my comments - provided in the listing is according to the January issues of the magazines]

The Best Men's Magazines in India (believe me it was tough)

6. The Man
Periodicity: Bimonthly
Price: Rs 50
Pages: 176 (excluding covers)
Provenance: India
Editor: K Sunil Thomas (Issue Editor); Philip Mathew (Managing Editor)
Company: The Malayala Manorama Co Ltd
Place of publication1: Ernakulam

The Man magazine covers [11 images]

Larger image slideshow

Though The Man offers the best value for money amongst the competition, it doesn't rank high on other counts.

We need our monthly dose of content and a bimonthly amidst all the monthlies isn't very exciting - especially when the content served isn't something worth waiting 60 days for. To make things more complex for the reader the people at Malayala Manorama (the company behind the magazine) do not even seem to get a freeze on the periodicity. It was once a quarterly, then became a monthly only to hastily turn into a bimonthly.

The layout is unimaginative and boxy and the humour quotient is low (though humour alone doesn't make a good men's mag - as this list would reveal). And their website too doesn't add any value.

5. GQ
Periodicity: Monthly
Price: Rs 100
Pages: 194 (excluding covers)
Provenance: United States of America
Editor: Che Kurrien
Company: Conde Nast India Pvt Ltd
Place of publication1: Mumbai

GQ magazine covers [4 images]

Larger image slideshow

Being an internet person, I take offence on not being able to easily locate the website address on the print edition especially when one exists. The Indian edition of i is one such. But their website isn't the reason behind the ranking (this after all is a ranking of the magazines and not the websites).

The first copy of GQ that I bought and spend a while reading resulted in a yawn. I never had access to the international editions of GQ (unlike Maxim and FHM's videshi editions that were sold by kids at Delhi traffic lights), but expected some excitement from the newest kid on the block in the Indian men's mag market.

There are too many men between the covers. I think that straight men still have a larger share in the demographic pie. And too less humour. The presentation too is insipid.

But GQ seems to have improved by the issue, though not by much. Hopefully by their first anniversary issue, I'll look forward to becoming a regular reader.

4. M
Periodicity: Monthly
Price: Rs 75
Pages: 164 (excluding covers and the Kajol pull-out)
Provenance: India
Editor: Pranav Kapila (Executive Editor); Amitabh Taneja (Editor-in-Chief)
Company: Images Multimedia Pvt Ltd
Place of publication: New Delhi

M magazine covers [20 images]

Larger image slideshow

Much like The Man, M too had its share of periodicity pangs. For a better part of its existence it was a bimonthly and to my liking it turned into a monthly (from July 2008). It its bimonthly avatar the magazine used to be an unwieldy behemoth. Now it is comparably more manageable.

In some of the pages there are interesting experiments with page design. There's some food for thought, but not much of fun. Too much space is wasted on full and even double-page images of men!

A name like M isn't very search engine friendly too.

3. FHM
Periodicity: Monthly
Price: Rs 100
Pages: 136 (excluding covers)
Provenance: United Kingdom
Editor: Tushar A Amin
Company: Next Gen Publishing Ltdxt
Place of publication1: Mumbai

FHM magazine covers [15 images]

Larger image slideshow

Overlying the FHM masthead on the cover the text says, "Voted the Best Magazine in the World", pity this list doesn't give the magazine similar reverence.

FHM tries to mix everything that a man would need, including those silly personality profile tests. But rival Maxim manages to package things better. Like Maxim it has the advantage of content from sister editions the world over, but there is still something missing - a little bit of salt.

2. Maxim
Periodicity: Monthly
Price: Rs 100
Pages: 164 (excluding covers)
Provenance: United Kingdom
Editor: Anup Kutty
Company: Media Transasia India Ltd
Place of publication: New Delhi

Maxim magazine covers [39 images]

Larger image slideshow

Maxim is funny and also makes fun of the people involved in making the magazine. That builds a personal relationship with the readers. But sometimes the effort shows.

The magazine has quite a lot of goods - in all senses of the term. There are women practically overflowing from everywhere and gadgets, jokes, cars, accessories manage to elbow in some space. The worst part is that it ends too soon. There isn't enough to read, the focus is on the visual pleasures.

While M and The Man had periodicity problems, Maxim took a while to get the price right. They even tried packaging in digital editions and other stuff in CDs to lure readers. But in India the MRP is the biggest bait.

1. Man's World (MW)
Periodicity: Monthly
Price: Rs 100
Pages: 132 (excluding covers)
Provenance: India
Editor: Murali K Menon (Managing Editor); Nair Radhakrishnan (Publisher and Editor); Anuradha Mahindra (Editor-in-Chief)
Company: MW.Com India Pvt Ltd
Place of publication1: Mumbai

Man's World magazine covers [66 images]

Larger image slideshow

The oldest of the lot. And uses experience to its advantage. It recently (January 2008) went for a makeover for what they termed as a bigger, bolder look. Look it does better, but the size is a bit too big. Man's World is an inch longer and wider that the much better proportioned Maxim. And yes, it's preferably MW - like JLo, JFK... (or because of GQ, FHM?)

Now what would be the proper name to call the magazine by? MW or Man's World - both names are registered with the Registrar of Newspapers. But the registration number printed on the back cover corresponds to MW whiile the website's title reads Man's World. We should get a fix on this once and for all.

The print is small, the page is big, photos many but not oversized... takes hours to reach from one cover to the other. And the journey is worth the time. Amazing regular line-up of contributors. No other men's magazine in circulation manages to even come close. Beautiful hot women, but not an overdose (actually it isn't possible to have an overdose of beautiful women). Men also get cover space. Both the brains and the things down under are taken proper care of. In short the best than an Indian man can get.

Hope no one sues me for any not-so-complimentary observations ;)

1 According to information on the Registrar of Newspapers for India website

Related posts:· Top Indian Internet Scandals
· The Best Bollywood Love Songs Ever

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