2000-2015: How we changed & things that changed us
PIC OF THE LOT In 2002, Nokia launched its 7650…
PIC OF THE LOT
In 2002, Nokia launched its 7650 mobile phone. At about Rs 56,000, it was more a lifestyle accessory than a phone, but it was a hit regardless, mainly because it had something hitherto unavailable in India — a built-in camera, all 0.3 megapixels of it. The Sony Ericsson T68i, on sale at the time, also had a camera, but it was a separate module that had to be plugged in. What was once considered a luxury is now a standard feature, and the advent of mobile phone cameras in India (as, indeed, in the rest of the world) has ushered in a photography revolution of staggering proportions. Standalone compact camera sales have plummeted, and with a mobile phone camera in your pocket, you can be whatever you choose to be — citizen journalist, fine art photographer, amateur pornographer, whistleblower, anarchist and, most importantly, Poonam Pandey.
Rs 650 – The average cost of a mobile phone with a 0.3 MP camera today
Rs 37,800 – The cost of a Nokia Lumia 1020, with a 41 MP camera
On the 31st of July, 1995, Jyoti Basu and Sukh Ram were the parties at either end of the first ever mobile phone call made in the country, between Delhi and Kolkata. At that time, many thought that mobile phones would be a passing fad; at most, they would be playthings of the rich. Needless to say, they thought wrong.
The number of mobile phone subscribers in India, the 2nd largest in the world after China
Rs 16 per minute
What outgoing and incoming calls cost, at peak hours, in 1995. Off-peak charges were Rs 8 per minute
50 paise per minute
Average prepaid outgoing rate today — the cheapest in the world
The year when incoming calls were made free
Cost of a Siemens S4 handset (one of the first in India) in 1995. It could store 50 numbers, had no features and had a 1350 mAh battery
The cost of a Motorola WX180 handset today – it has more features than the Siemens S4
4G, 13MP camera,
64GB storage, 5.5-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, GPS, music/video player, 4k video recording, 3100 mAh battery some of the features in the OnePlus One smartphone, which costs Rs 21,900 today
BOOZING IT UP
Admit it, you old soaks – as much as you whine about how expensive it’s become to get a drink pretty much anywhere in India, you’ll have no choice but to admit that the last 15 years have been a drinker’s bonanza. Could you ever have imagined Indian single malts making a mark on the international market (think Amrut and Paul John), or brewpubs springing up and producing world-class beer? We thought not. 15 years ago, when you were failing to pull off the sandals-and-ponytail look, you’d pop around the neighbourhood dive with your unwashed pals and pretend to enjoy the high-grade horse piss that passed for beer; last night, you lot were downing quantities of Belgian, Italian, English, Japanese and (good) Indian beer, at a chic bar (one of the many that have opened in your neighbourhood), served to you by a witty bartender who actually knew his shit. In fact, for all you know, the bartender owned the place – maybe it was Yangdup Lama of Cocktails and Dreams, or Prahlad Sukhthankar of Black Sheep Bistro. In the early 2000s, you could count on two hands the number of decent liquor brands available at the average booze shop; now, you’ll need a calculator. Heck, today you can buy your preferred tipple from a department store, and let’s not even head the Duty Free way – in shelves where you would once have been lucky to find a forlorn bottle of JW Black Label, you’ll now see some of the finest single malts in the world, at prices that are amongst the lowest in the world. Ergo, quit your first-world moaning and crack open that bottle of Ron Zacapa, because you’ve never had it so good.
RAISING A STING
Tata Motors beat Mahindra & Mahindra to the indigenous SUV title, with the Safari, but it was the latter’s Scorpio that really set the ball rolling for SUVs in India. Launched in 2002 (for a global market, not just India), the Scorpio was everything an SUV aspirant wanted – big, butch, capable of handling bad roads, reasonably comfortable and affordable. It was an instant hit, and it set up the space for others to follow. Today, the latest edition of the Scorpio is as popular as ever, and the SUV market, across price points, shows no signs of slowing down.
For the Scorpio, Mahindra provided the overall design, the money and the car’s specifications – all the major systems were designed and engineered by suppliers, leading to a lower development cost.
The last 15 years have seen an explosion in the number of shopping malls in India, forever changing the way we spend our ill-gotten. First we went to gape. Then we went for the free airconditioning. Now, we go to fill our shopping carts with both Gucci and bhaji, while taking in a movie and a gourmet meal in between.
Spencer Plaza, Chennai
The oldest shopping mall in India
Lulu Mall, Kochi
India’s largest mall, with a 25,00,000 sq ft floor area
Delhi and Mumbai
Cities with the highest concentration of malls
108 million sq ft
Projected built-up area of malls in metro cities in 2017
THE IDIOTS IN OUR BOX
Since Kaun Banega Crorepati was launched in 2001, there’s been no end to reality and talent shows. In the hope of finding India’s best singers, dancers and abusive assholes, the shows went crazy. We list the only people who have stood out.
The show scraped the bottom of the barrel, and we’re not even referring to its host.
Long before he was a sperm donor, he was a Roadie on season 2. He is easily the only redeeming thing about the “my-god-will-it-never-end” MTV Roadies.
He didn’t win Indian Idol in its third season, but the sweet-faced Chang went on to star in a movie, anchor many TV shows and even win the fourth season of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. Considering we don’t even remember the names of those who won, he is OK in our books.
The Great Indian Laughter Challenge
Since he won the third season of the Great Indian Laughter Challenge, Sharma has gotten his own comedy show, the biggest Indian stars as guests and a new hairpiece.
Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa
No one, absolutely no one in the audience is looking at anyone else.
Sa Re Ga Ma Pa
The one singer to have made it to the big league who also deserved to.
SEX IN INDIAN CINEMA
MASTERS OF SEX
There would have been no Sunny Leone if there had been no Mallika Sherawat. While we’re all for more sex in our films, we’d also like better taste. But, hey, whatever floats your boat. If Leone in a frilly pink bikini does it for you, we’re no one to judge. Listed here, in order of seniority, our ladies’ biggest accomplishments.
Mallika Sherawat: Making kissing OK onscreen. Seriously, we needed that as much as we did sex ed.
Sherlyn Chopra: Doing a Playboy shoot. Full points to her — not many would have been able to pull it off.
Poonam Pandey: Nobody displays their breasts better on Twitter.
Sunny Leone: Getting housewives to like her. How did she know Indian housewives hadn’t figured out Google yet?
Bipasha Basu: Why is she on this list? For making horrex more mainstream than it needed to be.
ACTORS BECOMING PRODUCERS
THE RING MASTERS
When Aamir Khan was approached for Lagaan, he’d asked Ashutosh Gowariker to not tell potential producers that he’d agreed to be a part of it. He wanted them to agree to back the film on the basis of the script, not his star appeal. Well, no producer said yes. Khan, hesitantly, agreed to produce the film — his first. Lagaan released in 2001, and Khan went on to back some risky and truly fine films. Other actors like John Abraham (Vicky Donor, Madras Cafe) and most recently, Anushka Sharma (NH10) and Ranbir Kapoor (Jagga Jasoos), have donned the producer’s hat to be able to tell the stories they like. And, then, there are actors such as Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn, who see this as another vehicle to print money. In either case, more producers mean more films. One can only hope that actors are more governed by aesthetics than greed.
THE INDIAN TELEVISION SOAP
MAYHEM. MURDER. SOAPS.
With Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, in 2001, Ekta Kapoor changed how Indian soaps were written, acted and shot. Housewives bitched and gossiped about storylines endlessly. Characters being bumped off caused a thousand protests. One show changed Indian television so much that it wasn’t until Zindagi channel that we realised what we’d missed out on — tenderness, silences and an eloquent use of language. Kapoor, instead, started trends such as:
– The longer the title of the show, the better the chances of recall value
– Reaction shots to be at least three commercials long
– Garden Vareli’s rejects are the wardrobe department
– Vamps to be decided by the complexity of their bindis
– Nightwear to be in-placement ads for Joyalukkas
– Men are inessential to the plot. Babies are gifts of god
– Who runs the world? Mothers-in-law
VOICES IN OUR HEAD
India’s first private FM radio station was launched in 2001, in Bengaluru. In the ensuing years, a lot on our radio channels tends to irritate rather than entertain, but the few ideas that do wouldn’t have worked in any other medium. Radio personality Suresh Menon (also MW’s neighbour) picks his best radio fillers.
1) Kamla ka Hamla on 93.5 Red FM
A eunuch meeting celebrities at signals was a unique concept, and yet, so simple and hilarious. It was almost like a common man’s take on the antics of celebrities — also one of the most popular segments on radio till I was with Red FM. The best part was there was never a script written for any of the Kamla spots, for all the years that it was on air.
2) Actor Calling Actor on 92.7 Big FM
It has superb mimicry and truly funny interactions between a fictional Javed Akhtar and Farhan Akhtar.
3) Bollywood ke Rakshak on 92.7 Big FM
A brilliant concept by José Covaco, in which we actually defend celebrities from the rubbish that is written about them in the entertainment sections of various tabloids. Our indignation in those links is brilliant.
4) Hansi ke Phuware by Sud on 98.3 FM Radio Mirchi
It was really funny, with the silliest jokes being read out in a deadpan manner.
5) Pradeep Shetty from Comedy Number 1 on 93.5 Red FM
One of the best film review formats, which additionally never hurt anyone. It had billions of patal bhaji given, instead of stars, and the ‘itna’ was so catchy and fun. And, yes, Shetty always said he never took any money for giving reviews.
Thirteen years ago, ‘Khallas’, in Company, became the dummy’s guide for the treatment of guest appearances. A sexy woman (and, eventually, man) would drum up some enthusiasm for the film by moving their Michael Jacksons. The lady who started this trend, Isha Koppikar, says, “In the history of [Indian] cinema, this was the first time a special appearance was promoted so largely. I was on the hoardings of Company. That was an eye-opener for the industry. I almost became the female protagonist of the film, because people came to the theatres to see the song.” What was the shoot like? “I remember the brief Ram Gopal Verma had given me then. Before ‘Khallas’, I was doing movies in the south as the girl next door. I had a lot of inhibitions and I was a little scared. But, he was pretty convinced. He said that because of my vulnerable face, the song will look classy. He said, ‘Isha, this pub belongs to your father. That is the attitude you must exude.
And, if you want you can ask these people to leave.’”
The song, though, started a trend that’s more titillating than classy. “It’s sad that after so many years, there’s just skin show in the name of item numbers. I just wish they could have maintained the class that Aishwarya [Rai] had in ‘Ishq kamina’ and Lara [Dutta] in ‘Aisa jaadu’. And, me, of course, in ‘Khallas’. The song was not treated for girls who are there for you know what. It all depends on the film-maker. In ‘Ram chahe Leela’, she [Priyanka Chopra] is wearing a small bra kind of a top, but it’s shot so beautifully it doesn’t look vulgar. It looks hot, it looks sensuous. I think the dignity and the integrity of the woman has to be kept intact.” Is she comfortable with the tag of the ‘Khallas’ girl? “I enjoy it, as not everyone gets a tag like that. Madhuri [Dixit] was known as the ‘Ek do teen’ girl; Hemaji [Malini] was known as the ‘Dreamgirl’. Not everybody gets that in their career or in their lifetime.”
In the last decade and a half, multiplexes have brought a superior viewing experience to us, as well as idiotic ticket prices. Manoj Desai, who owns G-7 (the first multiplex in Mumbai) as well as the iconic Maratha Mandir says, “Multiplexes in the beginning were very nice. But, after having so many multiplexes, chains of PVR and Fame Adlabs and Fun Republic, I don’t know. Earlier, we used to have silver jubilees and golden jubilees. Now, if a movie runs for two weeks, it’s a big thing. We’ve run Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge for 20 years in Maratha Mandir. Twenty years is a long time. But, for that you have to look after your prices. You don’t want to say this, but the truth is the truth. So many shows are cancelled. Sometimes, the movie is not doing well at all and nobody wants to spend Rs 300 for it.” G-7 was built in 1972, and its first film was Seeta aur Geeta. “I have completed 42 years here,” says Desai. “At that time, multiplexes didn’t exist. But, any number of theatres you wanted, you could have it. I applied for six theatres and I got permissions for all. The biggest theatres were Gaiety and Galaxy, which were 1000 seats each; Gemini was 300 seats; Gossip was 105 seats; and, Glamour and Gem were 50 seats each.” Many shows at G-7 continue to run with full houses because of its nominal prices. “AT first, our prices were Rs 2.20 and Rs 3.30, of which 20 paise and 30 paise were taxes. At present, we have Rs 80 and Rs 100. Our theatre is for the lower middle-class and the middle-class. This is the reason I had to sacrifice one of the biggest films of my life, which was PK, because they asked us to increase the prices and I said, ‘No, sorry.’ So PK wasn’t released in Gaiety-Galaxy and Maratha Mandir. We want the masses in our theatres, not empty seats.”
Scraps, posts, forums and yes, testimonials
Ultimate cool..A gr8 care taker….cant bear to c anything going wrong for her frens especially if its me..rite ?Woww ye uske car chalaane ki adaa!!!hahaha not jaanlevaa…Learnt many things frm her…zindagi mein khush kaise rahe aur ye ‘YO MAN’ bolna abhi isise sikhaa…Looks gr8 in anything….she has got masst attracting ways of ornating….mujhe bhi sikhaa de… Widout her no party is fun…Love u a lot n vry lucky to find a fren like u!!!
Mark Zuckerberg, you genius bastard!
I have 3567 friends, 2378 photos in 156 albums, 78 notifications, 22 messages, I am attending 15 events and have declined 21, 18 game invites, 52 page invites, my last post had 30 tags and 15 hashtags, my profile picture has 250 likes and 78 comments (make that 251, just got another like), I checked-into 15 places in the last 48 hours including my washroom and closet. Have you changed your cover photo yet?
Dis is y u did précis in englsh grammar classes in skul
2009 – 2012
GRINDR – TINDER
Swipe right. “Hey. Show pic. Wanna fuck? Time?Plc?Pref?”
#Lunch #SelfiesWithBesties #Pout #Workout #BeastMode #Abs #FML #YOLO
2 0 1 4
GOSSIP QUEENS (AND KING)
RENDEVOUS WITH SIMI GAREWAL
It all started with her. The Evil Queen in Snow White garb, she poked and prodded celebrities in a voice dripping with honey, enjoying herself as they spilled their darkest secrets on national television. She oohed and aahed and fake-sympathised, and the country got its first sneak peek into the human lives of silver screen gods.
KOFFEE WITH KARAN
A most incestuous affair. Industry darling and self-confessed gossip girl, KJo, invited his besties on to his couch (pun unintended) and discussed love lives and encouraged bitch fights. Inhibitions dropped and with claws out, dudes and divas shared details about people they hated, dated and wouldn’t mind taking home. The last season saw Karan reaching out to erstwhile enemies, Alia Bhatt making her life’s biggest goof up and Sonam promising to never talk in public again (we are really glad about the last one, though). Also, Karan should definitely TM ‘rapid fire’.
ON THE COUCH WITH KOEL
What do ex-models-cum-failed-actresses do best? Start a talk show with a risqué title. Koel Purie started a main-bhi Koffee with Karan on her daddy’s news channel, Headlines Today. The show has run into many seasons, has featured every recognised celebrity, but no one gives a damn about it. Sorry Koel, Karan rules the talk show roost.
THE FRONT ROW WITH ANUPAMA CHOPRA
Anupama Chopra celebrates cinema. She invites actors and directors to appear on her show and promote their upcoming films – while pretending to have an intellectual conversation about cinema, auteur theory, diagetic sound and a little of Godard- Truffaut-Tarkovsky-Other Foreign Film-makers Whose Names You Haven’t Heard thrown in. She makes movie making sound like a serious business, and everyone is prim and propah on her couch. Kangana Ranaut was the only exception. She dropped all pretence and clearly stated that she did some shitty films just for the money. You go, girl.
THIS IS WHAT OUR DESKTOPS LOOK LIKE NOW
In the 2000s, Indian men became obsessed with smelling good. The deodorant market grew to over Rs 2000 crore by 2014, and 60 per cent of that was sales to men. In most parts of the world, women consumed much more deodorant than men, but Indian men clearly bought into the idea that using a deodorant would cause women to fall into your lap. These are just some of the things deodorant brands told us we could do if we used their product:
Axe effect: Have hundreds of women run through forests, climb over hills and swim through rough seas to get to you first
Garnier Men Absolute Dry anti-perspirant: Play volleyball and go rock-climbing without sweating at all
Denver deodorant: Sync the seductive movements of a bikini-clad blonde to the movement you make with your deodorant spray
Lynx Pulse: Start dancing uninhibitedly to Room 5’s ‘Make Luv’ at a bar and have the two hottest women there join you
Wild Stone Thunder: Attract a woman from a neighbouring terrace by flying a kite and exposing your wonderful-smelling armpits in the process
Axe Blast: Get more women to notice and flirt with you than Ranbir Kapoor
Axe dark temptation: Turn into a chocolate boy who every woman wants to take a bite out of
Axe boat party: Have a bunch of European models beg you to party with them on a yacht
Adiction Deo: Be the one Sunny Leone picks on her day out at the beach
Divache: Get pressed up against a rack of deodorants by a woman in a red dress and have her lift your shirt up and whisper in your ear, “Don’t let your mind play, let fragrance play.”
Zatak: Get a new bride to abandon all thoughts of her groom, to the point at which she takes off her ring, when you “just Zatak her”.
A CLICK AWAY
In the noughties, the online shopping market in India was hamstrung by a resistance to share card details online and an overall consumer distrust of buying products they couldn’t physically see and touch. All that changed in 2010, when Flipkart, then a small online platform selling books and a few other products, began offering customers the option to pay in cash when a product was delivered. By the end of 2014, Flipkart was valued at over $11 billion. Amazon made a major investment in their Indian operations, and several other online shopping portals, selling everything from furniture to sex toys, began to thrive. Suddenly, anyone buying books, music or electronics products from a physical store was looked at as if they were crazy. There was a far wider range of products available online, including some that could only be bought on the internet, and they were cheaper too. Online flash sales became an integral part of the calendar, and some products began to sell out within minutes.
THE BEST-SELLER WAS REDEFINED
THE CHETAN BHAGAT EFFECT IS BEST REPRESENTED IN THESE NUMBERS:
1,56,142 The number of results on Amazon if you search for books under Rs 100 in the literature section.
2.4 crore The amount in rupees Flipkart paid for a first-page advertisement in the Times of India to launch Chetan Bhagat’s book Half Girlfriend, for which Flipkart had the exclusive online rights.
3 The number of months it took for Bhagat’s Revolution 2020 to sell a million copies in 2011. Before the 2000s, a book that sold around 5,000 copies was considered a best-seller.
5 crore The amount in rupees Amish Tripathi was paid for the rights to his next series after the huge success of his Shiva trilogy.
GLAMOUR IN CRICKET
In the 2000s, cricket in India grew from a sport into an industry, and the men who ran that industry were determined to find a wider audience for their product. That meant revolutionising cricket broadcasting, so that viewers had more to watch than just the action on the field. Navjot Singh Sindhu’s entry into the commentary box in 2001 signalled the beginning of cricketainment, his creative metaphors causing as much joy for new viewers as it did frustration for purists. When actor Mandira Bedi was made co-host for Sony Pix’s coverage of the 2003 World Cup, there were as many news reports about the cut of her saris as about India’s progress in the tournament. Nothing, though, could have braced cricket lovers for the Indian Premier League, which burst onto television screens with cheerleaders, celebrity team-owners, massive advertising blimps, half-time performances, after-parties and screeching match announcers in 2008. By 2014, it was nigh impossible to watch a cricket match played in India without the camera panning to a Bollywood celebrity seated in the audience.
RAKING IT IN
In the 2000s, Indian cricketers joined the list of the world’s highest-paid athletes. It all began when Mark Mascarenhas, the WorldTel CEO, decided to turn Sachin Tendulkar into a brand. Here are some numbers to chew on:
25 CRORE the value of the five-year contract Mark Mascarenhas signed with Tendulkar in the 1996. At the time, Tendulkar’s biggest advertising deal was around Rs 16 lakh a year. By the 2000s, several brands were paying Tendulkar more than Rs 1 crore a year to endorse them.
100 CRORE The amount Mascarenhas guaranteed Tendulkar in off-field earnings between 2001 and 2006, making Tendulkar the first rupee billionaire cricketer in history.
15 The spot MS Dhoni occupied on Forbes magazine’s list of the world’s highest-paid athletes in 2013. His total earnings that year were close to Rs 200 crore, 90 per cent of which came from endorsements. Dhoni has been in the top 50 on Forbes’s list for the past three years.
21 The number of brands Dhoni endorsed in 2014. He charged brands up to Rs 13 crore per annum.
A TIMELINE OF FIXING IN CRICKET IN THE 2000s
April 7, 2000
Delhi police charge Hansie Cronje with fixing South Africa’s ODIs against India.
Pakistan cricketers Saleem Malik and Ata-ur-Rehman are banned for life for fixing .
South African players Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams admit to accepting money from Cronje to fix games. Cronje accepts taking money from bookies and is later banned for life. Cronje says Mohammad Azharuddin introduced him to bookmakers.
Indian income tax officials raid the houses of Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja, Kapil Dev, Nayan Mongia and Nikhil Chopra. Dev had earlier cried on national television over allegations of fixing against him.
A host of big names – Brian Lara, Dean Jones, Alec Stewart, Arjuna Ranatunga and Martin Crowe among them – are investigated after an Indian bookie names them in a CBI report.
December 5, 2000
Azharuddin and Jadeja both receive bans for fixing. Jadeja is ruled out for five years while Azharuddin is banned for life
New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming says he was offered a large sum to join a match-fixing syndicate
Marlon Samuels, the West Indies batsman, is banned for two years for accepting money from a bookie
Danish Kaneria and Mervyn Westfield, players for England’s Essex county, are arrested as part of a fixing investigation. Both players were later found guilty of spot-fixing. Kaneria was banned for life while Westfield had to do jail time.
Bangladesh allrounder Shakib Al Hasan says he was approached by an unknown person who wanted him to manipulate the result of an ODI against Ireland.
A report in The News of the World reveals that a bookmaker named Mazher Majeed orchestrated the bowling of two deliberate no-balls in the Lord’s Test between England and Pakistan. Salman Butt, the Pakistan captain, and fast bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir are suspected of having fixed the two no-balls.
Butt, Asif and Amir all receive substantial bans from the ICC.
All three Pakistan players are sentenced to jail by a London court, with Butt receiving a two-and-a-half year sentence.
The Indian Premier League is hit by a massive betting and fixing scandal. Three players, including India fast bowler Sreesanth, are arrested. Later, Gurunath Meiyappan, son-in-law of then BCCI president N Srinivasan and an official of the Chennai Super Kings franchise, is also arrested over allegations of illegal betting.
Reports are leaked that New Zealand players Lou Vincent and Brendon McCullum have spoken to the ICC’s anti-corruption unit about fixing and have named a player X, believed to be former New Zealand allrounder Chris Cairns, as being involved in corruption.
Former Bangladesh captain Mohammed Ashraful is banned for eight years after pleading guilty to charges of fixing in the Bangladesh Premier League. A franchise managing director and Sri Lanka legspinner Kaushal Lokuarachchi also receive bans after a probe into corruption in the BPL.
Former New Zealand batsman Lou Vincent publicly admits fixing games in county cricket, the Champions League T20 and the BPL. He had already been banned for life by the English Cricket Board.
Since 2007, the Indian alternative music industry has seen a major shift, with new bands and new sounds taking shape. In 2010, the first edition of NH7 Weekender set the benchmark for music festivals across the country. The number of festivals is inversely proportionate to the number of local crowdpullers, but we’re optimistic this will grow too.
Boom Year: 2012
Music Festivals: 30 (not counting college fests)
Top Venues: 15 (pan India)
THE REBIRTH OF THE MUSIC VIDEO
If you thought TV killed the video star, the internet gave videos a brand new lease of life. Balconies, living rooms and even office desks transformed into performance spaces for concert videos, and bands took to the streets and terraces to make lo-fi music videos that went viral. At last count, at least 10 Indian band videos are released every month online.
RAHUL KHANNA: The posterboy of music television circa 1997
KAMAL SIDHU: Queen of the scene on MTV India
CYRUS BROACHA: Who can imagine MTV without Bakra ?
LUKE KENNY: Programmed international music on Channel [V]’s Luke’s After Hours
INDIA BECOME THE LAND OF CALL CENTRES
FIVE WAYS BPOS CHANGED OUR LIVES:
– When asking a 20-something where they were working, you had to ask a follow-up question: day shift or night shift?
– The word Bangalored entered several online dictionaries. The definition was: laid off due to outsourcing, especially outsourcing to India or other parts of Asia.
– Every reference to India in American movies and television shows was about a hapless call-centre employee struggling to understand a Western accent.
– Young Indians had Western-sounding pseudonyms to make them more personable to the people they were calling or receiving calls from.
– If you heard someone was working for a well-known MNC, such as JP Morgan or Mckinsey, your first thought was: “back office?”
A LOT CAN HAPPEN OVER COFFEE
From the first CCD in 1996 to Starbucks entering India in 2012, we eavesdrop on various conversations overheard in the country’s favourite coffee shops
CAFÉ COFFEE DAY
Brewing since: 1996
Pocket pinch: The cheapest of the lot. Student-friendly.
Kind of crowd: College kids. School kids trying to be fancy. Anyone who has no clue about good coffee.
USP: Free Wi-Fi.
“We have an hour till submissions. I still have 10 pages to finish. F**k!”
“Me too, man. You wanna hang here or…?”
“Abbey! Order another blue soda thing and stay put. Wifi mil raha hai.”
Brewing since: 2000
Pocket pinch: A little more than CCD.
Kind of crowd: Everyone who thinks they are too cool for CCD.
USP: Not-bad coffee. Good muffins.
“So, how much is a latte here?”
“A little more than CCD.”
“Do they have that Chilli Cheese Toast that CCD has?”
“They call it something else, I think…”
“The couches are more comfortable than CCD’s.”
“CCD should have muffins like Barista.”
Brewing since: 2005
Pocket pinch: Moderately priced. Expensive for students and young freelancers.
Kind of crowd: TV celebs, wannabe models and actors, scriptwriters and Shanoo Sharma.
USP: Wide variety of cold beverages. Delicious desserts. Good-looking people to ogle at.
“So, ma’am, this is my portfolio…”
“Psst! OMG! That’s Karan from Dill Mill Gayee!”
“Who’s that hot chick with him?”
“Imagine a long shot of the beach…only the girl standing…looking up…the camera closes in…it is the dog’s POV…”
“I will do anything sir ji, bas ek chance de dijiye, please!”
THE COFFEE BEAN & TEA LEAF
Brewing since: 2008
Pocket pinch: Expensive.
Kind of crowd: Townies and Bandra kids.
USP: Plush interiors and an expansive menu which is really good, actually.
“<Insert bored silence or excited gabbing about the last family holiday to Australia or the shopping trip to NY here>”
Brewing since: 2012
Pocket pinch: Expensive.
Kind of crowd: Office-goers, execs, main-bhi Wolf of Wall Street, The Devil Wears Prada and loves her Starbucks (and because we are a fashion magazine, we have to love it too)
USP: The slice of America we always craved for.
“So the stocks have been going haywire since yesterday…”
“Did you get the copy in for the shoes story?”
“She’ll kill me if I don’t! Make mine to go, please.”
“Low-fat cream, soy milk, no sugar, extra banana…”
“ONE TALL CARAMEL WHITE CHOCOLATE LATTE FOR NANCY!”
BOLLYWOOD AND FASHION
FASHION FAST FORWARD
This was the era of supermodels – the story of their lives, those debauched parties, their gossip and the confused beginnings of an independent fashion industry. ‘Showstoppers’ like Mark Robinson, Milind Soman, Noyonika Chatterjee and Sushmita Sen were still considered ramp favourites. But, by the latter half of the decade, things started changing. Lakme and IMG joined hands to bring together India’s best known fashion talents in what we now know as the Lakme Fashion Week. Suddenly, supermodels were not celebrity enough for the fashion industry. Established designers like Ritu Kumar, Neeta Lulla and Manish Malhotra gave in to the Bollywood craze and ventured into costume designing, wooing movie stars to endorse them. “Who are you wearing?” finally became every film party’s favourite question.
In the late 2000s, India warmed up to the idea of fashion magazines as fashion bibles. International fashion magazines finally had Indian editions, and people became more aware of what was happening on international ramps. A new breed of tabloids, fashion writers and critics was born and soon, international brands started showing interest in the Indian market. In India, brands and celebrities have always been BFFs, so fashion shows were being opened and ended by Bollywood stars. People started talking about the front row, who attended whose show, and how Manish Malhotra and Rocky S had become Bollywood darlings.
With the #InstaAge, there has been a democraticisation of fashion. Fashion blogging has become a popular trend and everyone has the opportunity to voice their opinions. The concept of supermodels does not exist any more, and Bollywood celebrities are rabidly followed on Facebook and Instagram. Indian designers have been swapped for international favourites. People have become more conscious of how they look and everybody is in tune with swiftly changing trends. Apps, e-commerce sites, online shopping and easy deliveries have made fashion more accessible. The sense of ‘unattainable’ is fizzling out.
FLIRTING WITH THE INDIE LENS
The ‘90s were the dark ages of Hindi cinema. Massy potboilers and commercial tropes won over intelligent cinema, driving a deeper abyss between the mainstream and “arty-farty”. Small-budget indie films tried to make their presence felt from the turn of the millennium. Rajat Kapoor definitely remains one of the most respectable icons of Indian indie, while Anurag Kashyap, the poster boy, has now moved into commercial studio setups and big-budget movie making. Other film-makers who are still as indie as it gets are Dibakar Banerjee and Vikramaditya Motwane. The young band of merry movie-makers like Anand Gandhi, Bejoy Nambiar and Ritesh Batra are also worth looking forward to.
We catch up with Anurag Kashyap and talk about 15 years in the past and future:
It’s been almost 15 years since you made Paanch. How have you changed as a film-maker over these years?
I still love film-making as much as I did at that time… I enjoy it the most. It’s the paraphernalia around it which bothers me now. The whole pressure of releasing and marketing is a bit much for me to handle.
How has the industry changed? Is Indie still a niche genre or has it, thanks to you, become more mainstream?
I don’t really think so. Most of the true indie films are still finding it difficult to get a decent release. Marketing and distribution requires a lot of money, as releasing a film has become more expensive than making the film. But it has improved over the years.
How has Anurag Kashyap changed as a person?
My perspective about movie making hasn’t changed. The only change is that I look up to the films that are being made abroad, and I hope to make films like that soon.
You are friends with some of the who’s who of the Hollywood film-making fraternity. Which of your Hollywood friends has been an inspiration?
(Martin) Scorsese is an all time inspiration for me. Apart from him, directors like (Alejandro) Innaritu, Damian Szifron and a lot of fresh film-makers inspire me… first time directors like Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler).
15 years from now, what will Anurag Kashyap be doing?
I don’t know, really, but yes, as of now, this changed scenario and this edginess upsets me. So, yes, I will be making films, but I am not sure whether it will be here or somewhere else.
Describe Bombay Velvet in one sentence.
It’s my next film.
YOGA GETS COOL
SWEATING IT OUT, ASANA-STYLE
2000 saw an upsurge in the popularity of Yoga around the world. Yoga gurus and sexy yoginis (and ‘Get Abs With Yoga Workouts’ videos) mushroomed in every suburb, with combinations of Yoga+Pilates+Sauna+Tai Chi+Taekwondo doing the rounds. Power Yoga, Praana Yoga, Integral Yoga, Kundalini Yoga and the infamous Bikram Yoga became fads with men and women. We bring you snippets from 2003, when the Yoga fever was at its height, from Surat to San Francisco.
“Yoga has unfortunately come to be associated with bodily contortions, and exotic visuals of naked sadhus standing on one leg for years, arm pointing to the sky, are common fare in glossy coffee-table books. But asanas are just one aspect of yoga philosophy…Yoga believes that stress is disease – and stress includes road rage and also jealousy, envy and suchlike – and relaxation is health. Yoga believes that we can cure ourselves by getting to the root of the problem in the mind, instead of grappling with its symptoms at the physical level… Increasing numbers are getting interested in yoga. The flip side of this interest is that now you can buy yoga T-shirts and yoga pillows online…” – Mahesh Ramchandani
“Praana Yoga is by nature, a dynamic style of yoga. It is an unbeatable form of exercise, combining fitness training with stress release in a single dynamic workout. Its scientifically-devised sequence of postures brings one to the peak of one’s physical and mental powers.” – Deepika Mehta
“Bharat Thakur is a rising star on the yoga terra firma, with his brand of ‘artistic yoga’. He also smokes, drinks and parties hard. Between soliloquy and solipsism, he spouts wisdom and yoga, enough to have all the “firangi women want to sleep” with him. Thakur is not flashing diamond watches or limos yet, but he is particular about his “no-saffron-robes” mantra. He prefers his pair of black adidas exercise shorts and vest. But barring that, he looks a lot like the New Age gurus – the battery of mobile phones, the bevy of smitten and spiritually-inclined young, living life king-size, the unabashed name-dropping…” – Shameem Akhtar
“Think of it as yoga meets extreme sport. The price in this case: gallons of sweat that pour out of every pore as you perform 26 asanas twice, in an airless room heated to 105 degrees. That’s the essence of Bikram Yoga…” – Geeta Rao
THE RISE OF LUXURY BRANDS
India is the fastest-growing emerging market for luxury goods. Indians have warmed up to global luxury brands over the past decade to such an extent that brands like Chanel, Jimmy Choo, Hermes and Christian Louboutin have special collections made specifically for the Indian market. Amongst the initial fashion brands to set foot in India during the early 2000s were Louis Vuitton, Tag Heuer and Trussardi. By 2008, we had Emporio Mall, UB City and Palladium Mall, which opened doors to the names Christian Dior, Fendi, Canali, Hugo Boss, Salvatore Ferragamo, Canali, and Emporio Armani. Luxury brands were just a novelty for the rich and wealthy, now, luxury retail is moving out of five-star hotels into malls, with a mix of luxury and non-luxury stores. So yes, India’s market for luxury goods has been growing, but whether it can surpass China as the world’s top luxury consumer is open for debate.
STAND UP COMEDY
Who’re you laughing at?
We have been laughing, a lot, for the last decade. And these men (and some more) are to blame.
AZEEM BANATWALLA: We have the Gujarat tourism ads these days. They have Amitabh Bachchan as the brand ambassador. Which is so poetic. It is essentially a man from UP telling you to go and mess up another state. And what does he know of Gujarat, anyway? He’s from UP, he lives in Juhu – the closest he has been to Gujarat is Mithibai College.
ANUVAB PAL: The most important person in 1980’s India was not the Ambani building a house the size of Zambia…it was the customs officer. He was the main fucker. You went to Singapore and your dad bought you a pair of jeans which said ‘Levis’s’…and your dad says, “Hide it! Hide it!…we have to go through the red channel, pay duty, hide it!” Also, there’ a profession that died with the 1980s – that of the smuggler. He would walk through wearing 8 watches, 5 Lacoste shirts and 4 jeans…He didn’t give a fuck. He went through the green channel with 7 Panasonic Tvs. The customs guy goes, “Where are you coming from?” “Family holiday.”
PAPA CJ: You know what the difference is between a leech and a lech? A leech is a parasite that feeds off the blood of other people. A lech is a male resident of the city of Delhi. I’m serious, a Delhi man can have an entire conversation staring at your breasts. He will not even look up to check whether it is a man or a woman.
TANMAY BHATT: Karan has given so many helpless actors a chance in the industry, so many actors who have no connections – like Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan. Karan you are Robin Hood. You are uplifting the already f***ing uplifted! What is wrong with you? You meet Ayesha Takia and give her a push-up bra?
SORABH PANT: Women think the Taj Mahal is romantic, but it’s not. Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal for his fourth wife who died while giving birth to their fourteenth child. After that he married her sister. He was not romantic, he was the world’s first Delhiite.
In the last 15 years, Indian private airlines have seen more turbulence than Vijay Mallya’s foray into the sector
The first private airline to take off was East-West Airlines. Its promoter, Thakiyudeen Wahid, was shot dead, allegedly by underworld elements, near his Bandra, Mumbai office.
The man behind Raj Aviation, Lalit Sheth, too met an untimely death. The owner of Raj Travels jumped to his death from Mumbai’s iconic Bandra-Worli Sea Link on August 1, 2012.
Apart from East-West and Raj Aviation, a dozen other aviation outfits have gone belly-up in the last 15 years. Monopolised by Indian Airlines, the Indian skies were thrown open to private players as part of the government’s privatisation programme of 1991. Competition forced Indian Airlines to provide warm and cold towels in business class, with a new menu and cutlery. Kingfisher Airlines was the first to offer back-of-seat inflight entertainment.
To Air Deccan goes the credit of many firsts, including e-ticketing, buy-on-board meals and selling tickets through a call centre. The aviation business has attracted all types. Damania Airways was promoted by a poultry farmer. It holds the distinction of being the first private airline to serve liquor on board.
The `Never Say Die’ award goes to the Tata Group. Two attempts to enter the sector – in the 1990s at the invitation of then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao and a Tata Sons-Singapore Airlines joint attempt in 2000 – came to nought. Finally, early this year, Vistara took off. It is a 51-49 joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines. Tata Sons also holds 30 per cent in AirAsia India, which commenced commercial operations on June 12, 2014. Till the Tatas came along, the now-defunct ModiLuft was the only other airline to be promoted by a big business house. It leased Boeing 737-200 aircraft and was started by SK Modi, in technical collaboration with German carrier Lufthansa.
There have been numerous bankruptcies in the Indian aviation sector – and then there has been Kingfisher Airlines. When it folded up in October 2012, it left behind dues of Rs 6,200 crore. The interest keeps mounting and the errors have now bloated up to Rs 7,000 crore.
SpiceJet was also headed the Kingfisher route, but its original promoter Ajay Singh recently bought shares worth Rs 400 crore from the Marans (of Sun TV) fame. And went on to declare this headline: ‘We intend to pay everyone, unlike Kingfisher’.
A consortium of banks led by the State Bank of India (SBI) is slowly but surely closing in on Vijay Mallya’s former pride. Kingisher House, a prime property in north Mumbai, was taken over by the SBI late last month.
Mergers and re-branding has been the name of the game. Air Deccan was merged with Kingfisher Airlines and became Kingfisher Red. Damania Airways became Skyline NEPC post-takeover. Air Sahara was transformed to JetLite. With balance sheets of most private airlines in the red, you would have thought the wise businessman would stay away from this business. You couldn’t be more mistaken. Doctor-turned- Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma recently informed Lok Sabha that since 2011, 19 companies had applied for the launch of air services. What lures the new players? Future potential. India has a fleet of only 422 aircraft for a population of 1.2 billion, compared to China’s 1,981 aircraft for its 1.3 billion population. Dwell on this too: the number of domestic airline seats per capita is very low in India – just 0.07, compared to 3.35 for Australia, 2.49 for the US, 1.38 for Canada and 1.05 for Japan.
Rise Of The Metrosexual Man