Monday, November 10, 2014

‘And then one day’ – we got an autographed autobiography

And then one day- a memoir’, the autobiography of Naseeruddin Shah is storming up the bookstores across the country.

At the Bangalore launch last Saturday, Shah traced the years of his growth as an actor and a human being. “You will waste total five years to study acting?”, was his father’s remark when Shah told him about his decision to join the Film and Television Institute of India after completing his study at the National  School of Drama. The father-son had a love-hate relationship, and the book shares painful incidents of being compared with his more academically inclined brothers.

Apart from his struggles in the film industry, Shah also recounts his love for the gentleman’s game cricket, equations with co-stars such as Om Puri and the problems he had with his first wife.

“It took me many years to finally come out with my autobiography; some of its thoughts had been penned down years ago” he said.

Naseeruddin Shah with his wife Ratna Pathak Shah and son Vivaan at the release of his autobiography.

The intelligent and quirky Shah declared his “love” for Bangalore and Kannada theatre, adding “the stage was, is and will be my first love”.

A thrilled crowd at the jam-backed Landmark bookstore had the pleasure of hearing eminent historian and writer, Ramachandra Guha who was also the moderator of the event. Guha called the autobiography as a ‘fun, in-depth and a brutally honest work’.

His actor wife Ratna Pathak Shah and son Vivaan who is an upcoming actor joined him as the audience jostled for selfies and autographs. We got an autographed book, and were amused to see that it was a ‘stick-on’. 

By Sreeraj TK
For Raintree Media Features

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Much Ado about Adakkam

Poile Sengupta with Inga
In Malayalam, just one word is enough to tell a woman what she should or should not be doing. It’s this word that had writer/ playwright and teacher Poile Sengupta in full theatrical flow at the recent launch of her book Inga.
Inga focuses on the feudalistic, deeply patriarchal and oppressive towards women in Indian society, more specifically in Kerala and the Malayali diaspora. As a writer who loves to play with words and effectively uses colloquial slangs, Poile gave a humourous demonstration of her usage of Adakkam, the Malayalam word in a satirical manner.

Having written books for children earlier, city-based Poile Sengupta says that she felt, “that to be a complete author, one must write for adults despite the fact that writing for children is way tougher”.

Inga is her debut novel for adults, but Poile has in the past written hard-hitting plays for adults: Mangalam, ‪Body blows, A woman speaks, Vikramaditya's Throne and others, all of which have been staged to appreciative audiences. She has also penned Sliced Balls, a rip-roaring comedy on golf, married as she is to golf-addict retired bureaucrat.

With Inga, Poile enters “the crowded compartment of writers for adults” in the words of Sahitya Akademi award winner Shashi Deshpande, who released the book. While Deshpande likened the book to "a thick strong coffee", Chiranjiv Singh, retired bureaucrat and former ambassador to UNESCO, who is a popular figure in the city’s cultural circles, preferred to call it "strong liquor".

Veteran theatre artist Ashish Sen read out an enthralling poem on alphabets from the book while Lekha Naidu brought in her experience in women-centred work, in reading out the dialogues of the female characters Inga, Rapa and Aunt Kuppai from the book.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wild'less' Wildlife experience in Masinagudi

A herd of Cheetals (Axis axis) oblivious of the human (homosapien) presence 

Visiting a wildlife sanctuary had been always on my to-do list due to my immense fascination for jungles and wild animals. But my visit to Mudumalai National Park, Masinagudi last month was a disappointment. I had expected that I would be out in the wild and will get a chance to catch a glimpse of tigers, elephants, leopards, bears and what not. Sadly, all I could see were homosapiens. The primary habitat of these ‘creatures’ is cities where they are found in abundance. But these creatures were seen all over the forest reserve. They had come in huge numbers along with their fellow beings. As I was myself coming from a big city, I was sick of their sight. Determined, I decided to go on a wildlife safari. I was expecting to meet new friends from the wild there but I found none. All I could see were these homosapiens who were moving in their fuel guzzling and noise making vehicles.

Waiting to catch a glimpse of some feathered friends
I went to a homosapien who addressed himself as a forest guide and asked about the absence of ‘wild’ animals in the forest area. He replied that the alarming presence of homosapiens had scared away the ‘wild’ animals which made them go deep into the forest. I became disappointed again. In short, my highly anticipated trip was nothing but a ‘sit back and relax’ resort stay with homosapiens. While returning back I saw a board which prohibited homosapiens from wandering in the forest area as it may be ‘dangerous’. I laughed at it and recalled a signboard which I had seen in a zoo few months back. The signboard simply stated that it is us, the homosapiens who are the world’s most dangerous creatures. 

By T K Sreeraj/ Raintree Media Features

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Nokia's Asha was to empower young women.

The first telecom MNC to set up a full-fledged handset manufacturing facility in India, global communications leader Nokia had been connecting people to progress. By empowering women factory workers and creating community improvement initiatives, it had engineered economic transformation in Sriperumbudur.

Sriperumbudur’s economic landscape had undergone a complete transformation with the setting up of the Nokia Telecom SEZ in January 2006. While its recent decision to stop production of the poignantly named ASHA (hope in Sanskrit) and to shut down the plant itself soon, we recall the hopes of the young women who at one point, composed 70 percent of its workforce.

Our story in the BEST OF CHENNAI had chronicled the heydays when Nokia seemed to be a direct catalyst for economic growth in the region.

Ed: Nokia sold its devices and services business to Microsoft, but it could not include the Chennai plant in the $7.5 billion deal as the Indian government has demanded taxes on software downloaded on handsets manufactured at the unit since 2006.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

The hills are alive…with the crackle of plastic

The Queen of misty mountains, Kodaikanal, might soon vie for the title of Queen of garbage hills. The lovely green slopes of the Palani Hills are paying the toll for the popularity of the hilltop getaway, and how.

Tourists throng waterfalls (or stalls)
in scenic Kodaikanal.
Tourists leave a growing trail of litter – water bottles, empty packets of chips, biscuits and every thing they can possibly want to dispose off through the windows of buses and cars.

Plastic is banned in markets and around the popular lake, shopkeepers keep a stock of paper bags made from recycled newspapers. But fruit vendors are prone to slip in a banned plastic cover to keep the fruit from getting squashed. Other hawkers dish out food and drink on plastic or paper plates and cups, all of which fall all around and everywhere but in the trash cans, which are very often seen looking forlorn even as the pile of rubbish around them grow.

What is it with the tourists’ seemingly insatiable urge to munch? Go up Coaker’s Walk and you see them, with their backs firmly turned on the tendrils of mist that cloak the mountains, the far off views of distant peaks and the verdure along the edge. No, what interests the hordes that have spent sums of money and time to travel nearly 7000 ft above sea level, is the row of footpath vendors. From henna tattoos to woollen clothing and of course various eatables, the tourists can’t keep away from the hawkers. Scenic walkway? No, thanks.
Ditto on the route to any of the waterfalls. After the idiotic race to the spot, all they seem to do is to rush to the nearest vendor, eating ceaselessly, bargain vociferously and leave the place in a horrific condition.
None question them; a few valiant signs adjure people to Keep Kodai Clean, and most often these are hidden and obviously unheeded.
- Sandhya Mendonca

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bombe Habba: Dasara is the time to doll up in Mysore

One of the highlights of the Navaratri Dasara celebrations in Mysore is the bombe habba or the festival of dolls. 

In the days when the city was ruled by the Vijayanagar kings, the rulers showered their benevolence on their subjects, and the people reciprocated by displaying dolls decked up in regalia, and offered prayers for their well being. Over time, animals and prominent people have been to the doll display, including of course cricketers. 

Like this information? Read on in Marvels of Mysore & More: available in all Sapna bookstores in Bangalore & Mysore, Gangarams and other leading book stores in Bangalore.  For the ebook, Click here 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A thrilling holiday read: Sentinel House ebook

Lots of long weekends to catch up on your reading and we are rolling out juicy ebooks with our tie up with magzter, the cool digital store. Just click, download and enjoy on your tablet, smartphone or kindle! If you want the paperback copies, please write to

With antics of powerful media houses making as much news as the Mars orbiter, you can’t miss Sentinel House, an insider’s account of media barons and their power crazed shenanigans. The plot moves at a crisp pace and the lyrical prose transports readers through time. Allen Mendonca’s novel is a wicked cocktail of fact and fiction that will keep readers hooked to the last word.

Anita Nair, best- selling novelist, calls it, “A racy read… a novel in the tradition of Arthur Hailey and Jeffrey Archer.”

Mrinal Pande, journalist, author & chairperson of Prasar Bharati, “A searing novel about the intrigues within the Indian media.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Did you know that Karnataka has India's second largest milk co-op ?

The Karnataka Milk Federation is the second largest in India after Amul, and the largest in South India. Its milk is in the coffee served at numerous CafĂ© Coffee Day outlets and its ghee is in the famous Tirupati laddoo.  Its milk products power the Indian army and are exported to several countries including USA, Russia, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Nepal, Bangladesh and other countries. Read more in the BEST OF BANGALORE Innovation edition. Click here to buy online.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Priority class for Karnataka tourism

The tourism sector in Karnataka is looking positive: about 300 places across the state have been identified for their tourist potential and are to be developed in gradual stages with private sector involvement. The sector is expected to generate four million jobs and Rs. 85,000 crore in revenue.

Tourism Minister RV Deshpande receiving the
book from 
Raintree Media Director Aditya Mendonca
Bangalore will also get a world class MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions) facility on a 435-acre plot near the airport. The plan is to make this a ‘Go To’ destination for events, with adventure, heritage and wine trails in the area around Nandi Hills and Devanahalli fort and wine tours for visitors. Read more in the BEST OF BANGALORE Innovation Edition. CLICK HERE to buy online.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bangalore's scientific eco-system

Three institutions in Bangalore are charting new territories in understanding biological science. This cluster of research institutes with the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) as the nucleus, are adding to the city's scientific eco-system. Working at the forefront of biology across several levels, they follow diverse models, and promote innovation and entrepreneurship in this field. Read more in the BEST OF BANGALORE Innovation edition. CLICK HERE to buy online 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

“A good entrepreneur in Bangalore will find money" - Pradeep Kar

Pradeep Kar, Founder, Chairman & Managing Director of Microland  and serial technology entrepreneur

The entrepreneurial climate of Bangalore created legendary start-ups in the 1990s. Today, the city is abuzz again with successful start-ups across diverse verticals and starting a new business has never been easier here.

Read more in the BEST OF Bangalore Innovation Edition, which Kar describes as “very relevant to Bangalore”. CLICK HERE to buy online

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

“Not a Kodak moment: Innovation has to be pervasive” - Ashok Soota

Ashok Soota
“Innovation is a lifetime survival strategy. If you are not adopting the latest disruptive technologies, you will be disrupted”, said Ashok Soota, Executive Chairman of Happiest Minds.

Speaking about ‘Innovation as a key business differentiator’ at the launch of the international book BEST OF Bangalore Vol. 2 Innovation Edition, Soota asserted that innovation was not just marketing or product strategy.

Nobody would know better: He worked in the manufacturing industry before leading the growth of Wipro’s IT business from a run rate of $2 million to $500 million. He then co-founded MindTree and led it to a run rate of $350 million, before starting Happiest Minds which is on course to becoming the fastest Indian IT services company to achieve $100 million in revenue. Soota is also an industry leader; he was President of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and also President of Manufacturers' Association of Information Technology. He has served on the Prime Minister's Task Force for IT and on the Advisory Council for the World Intellectual Property Organization, Geneva.
According to Soota, “The only reason why, in a city of mushrooming IT companies, Happiest Minds has been successful is because of innovation”.

To underline the pitfalls of lagging behind, he cited the example of Kodak. Though the company pioneered digital cameras, the new technology was a one-off development for Kodak which did not follow through on innovative thinking. Eventually, the company stagnated due to the inability to ‘catch the next wave’. Similarly, Nokia that had led the mobile phone market, completely missed the smartphone wave and is now playing catch-up, he said.

Soota talked about the two main types of innovation – Technology Innovation and Market Innovation. The former is about adopting the latest design and architecture while the latter is about mobilising data and services through the use of disruptive communication and storage media like Cloud and Social Analytics. “It is a pervasive process and must become part of the company’s philosophy,” he said.

He wrapped up his speech on a high note, reminding the audience that Bangalore is one the top 5 entrepreneurial hubs in the world. “There is always a sense of adventure and courage to the businesses founded in this city and that is going to be the key differentiator in the times to come”, he said.

For more on disruptive technologies powered by Happiest Minds, read Connecting happiness in the BEST OF Bangalore Vol. 2 Innovation Edition: available in leading book stores. To buy the book online CLICK HERE

Monday, August 04, 2014

“For the people, of the people and by the people” – Sakala Egovernance

Unbelievable as it might appear to people who have waded through years of red tape, the Government of Karnataka has introduced an online system that addresses problems and helps resolve them within a fortnight. What’s more, it is a single-window system that spares people of the ordeal of running between different government departments.

Dr. Shalini Rajneesh
Dr. Shalini Rajneesh, Principal Secretary of the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms, Government of Karnataka spoke about ‘Innovation in Governance’ at the launch of the international book BEST OF BANGALORE Vol. 2 Innovation Edition. “Innovation is the need of the hour in industry and government alike”, she said.

In particular, Dr. Rajneesh spoke about the Karnataka Guarantee of Services to Citizens Act, 2011, popularly known as Sakala. Meaning ‘in time’ in Kannada, Sakala is a new system of empowerment that  stands true to the three fundamental axioms of democracy: for the people, of the people and by the people.

It also enables entrepreneurs and corporate businesses to obtain licenses quicker and without having to bribe anyone. “People are happily surprised to find ‘helpful’ government employees,” she quipped as she summarised the reach and efficiency of the programme.

Over the past 25 months, 53 million people have availed of the services in Sakala – a number that in itself proves the need for such a system. Currently, Sakala spans across 50 departments and 669 services. It is a herculean effort, and it has already won the Google Innovation Award for its novel approach to governance. Dr. Rajneesh urged the corporate world to work closely with the government in bettering the society and urged that CSR initiatives should prioritise women’s empowerment in the state.

For more on Sakala, read Transforming governance in the BEST OF BANGALORE Vol. 2 Innovation Edition: available in leading book stores. To buy the book online CLICK HERE

Saturday, August 02, 2014

How does Bangalore fare as a business hub?

"The spirit of innovation is the most important aspect of the city" according to Sandeep Maini. He is the Chairman of the Maini Group of Companies, which was started in 1973 by his father, the pioneering industrialist Sudarshan Maini. A premier engineering and manufacturing entity, the Group has a global presence in sectors like Automotive & Aerospace, Plastics and Composites, Material Handling Equipments, Storage Systems, Electronic vehicles and All Terrain vehicles.The Maini Group has made history by producing India's first electric car, REVA.

Sandeep Maini is also Chairman of CII Karnataka State Council which works to create a better industrial climate in the state. “Bangalore is ideally suited for business, with its vibrant social and cultural environment”.

Sandeep Maini

Maini was speaking on the topic of ‘Bangalore as a Business Hub’ during the launch of the international coffee table book, BEST OF Bangalore Vol. 2 Innovation Edition on July 23 in Bangalore.

“The secret behind Bangalore’s success is that it is the most congenial city in the country,” said the long time Bangalorean. Bangalore has had a history of being a land of opportunity, he said, and cited the example of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), India's premier aeronautical complex as embodying the city's spirit of innovation .

Tracing HAL’s origins, Maini said that it was founded in Mysore during the pre-Independence era as part of the Royal Indian Air Force. The Second World War drastically changed the face of this organisation and during the war, it served as a major repairing hub for United States Air Force (USAF). When the war ended, HAL emerged as one of Asia’s largest and renowned aircraft repair centres. From then on, HAL has continued to redefine itself.

The Reva electric car that the Maini Group had built (it has been acquired by the Mahindra Group) and said that the “Reva is our best example of adopting innovative thinking”.

The city undoubtedly has several challenges and there has been a noted degradation of civic values, but he was optimistic that citizens could overcome the hurdles if they pooled their resources together and take responsibility. Harking back to the growth of the Mainis, he said, “I can honestly say that we have grown with the best of Bangalore".

For more On Doing Business in Karnataka, and detailed interviews with Soumitra Bhattacharya, former Chairman of CII Karnataka State Council about the Agenda for Business and with Sandeep Maini about CII as a Business Enabler, read the BEST OF BANGALORE Vol. 2 Innovation Edition : available in leading book stores. To buy the book online CLICK HERE

“The Best among the Best – Best of Bangalore Innovation Edition.”

“This is the best among the best,” said Mr Ashok Soota, Executive Chairman of Happiest Minds at the launch of the latest in the BEST OF series of international books, and the fifth in the series in India.

Ashok Soota with Sandhya Mendonca

Fittingly for a book that pegs itself as setting the benchmark for books on Bangalore, the launch was a statement of both substance and style. It was an evening of understated elegance and unaffected affirmation of accomplishment.

Kicking off with two sets of short contemporary dances that were specially choreographed for the book launch by Natya & Stem Dance Kampni, the event moved seamlessly to an audio visual journey of Raintree Media’s journey of consistent growth and innovation.

The original number 'Ocean Flute' by CHAKRAFONICS, a world music band, playing in the background set the mood for a book launch like never before.

Dancers of the Natya & STEM Dance Kampni 

Sandhya Mendonca, Managing Director & Editor-in-Chief of Raintree Media, spoke without a prepared text, stating, “The AV has said it all, and the rest is for you to read in the book”. It was a moment to give warm thanks, and her speech was brief. In fact, brevity marked the company’s presenters, Aditya Mendonca and Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan saying just enough.

The focus was after all on the panel of eminent speakers who had been assigned, after much deliberation, topics that drew out the best from them.

Some of the Founders & CEO's of the organisations featured in the book
The first of the illustrious speakers of the evening was Mr. Sandeep Maini, Chariman of CII Karnataka State Council & Chairman of Maini Group of Companies. Heading the company that pioneered many engineering products, including, the Reva EV, he was the perfect person to speak on Bangalore as a business hub. He has lived through the various changes of this dynamic city and he intertwined that invaluable experience into his speech. An eternal optimist, he outlined the challenges facing companies today and how they are currently being overcome.

Dr.Shalini Rajneesh, Principal Secretary for the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms and two other departments, spoke on ‘Innovation in Governance’. As the Project Director of Karnataka’s pioneering e-governance initiative Sakala, she stressed the importance of cooperation between the government and the corporate world.

From L-R: Sandhya Mendonca, Ashok Soota, Dr. Shalini Rajneesh, Zubin Songadwalla & Sandeep Maini 
Mr. Ashok Soota, Chairman of Happiest Minds, spoke about “Innovation as a Key Differentiator” to an audience eager to lap up his words, gleaned from years of valuable experience. Having worked in both manufacturing and information technology, Mr. Soota had excellent insights into what makes an organisation tick. “Innovation has to be pervasive and permanent”, he said, citing several case studies to reinforce his point. *A more detailed report of the three speeches are in the next post.

Following those enlightening speeches, the chief guests unveiled the elegant, red case-bound books and were joined on stage by CEOs and Founders of companies that have made their mark with innovative thinking. These are the superstars of the business world and it was a proud moment for everybody present, as these illustrious Bangaloreans came together to celebrate the launch of the book.

Enthralling World Music by Aneesh Vidyashankar
The final act was as fitting as it was beautiful. A musical performance by Aneesh Vidyashankar and his accompanists, the trio of young and very talented musicians; they expressed their imaginative interpretation of innovation. Fusing Western and Indian classical music, they created a lilting confluence. From Bach to Thyagaraja, their knowledge of music was evident as they weaved through their performance with ease, breaking conventions to create magic. It was the perfect end to a perfect evening.

 By V Rajagopal

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Music under the moonlight ( Under the Raintree concert)

Once upon a time, the civic authorities paid bands to perform weekly at neighbourhood parks; the bandstands in Lalbagh and Cubbon Park had Police or Military bands playing on Sundays and holidays; talented young musicians gathered for informal jams in the parks too.

Just like that, they vanished. And were banished too from public memory. All we have is the stress of urban life; with public amenities over-stretched and under- powered, life for the average Bangalorean is a pain. We decided we needed assuage senses that have been assaulted and get a reprieve, brief as it may be, from the drudgery of existence.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man; and so did Vasanth Rao, the person who has achieved the near-miraculous by restoring to us the much-loved bougainvillea boulevard. This General Manager of Namma Metro has also worked hard to create a beautiful public space on MG Road, and a clean and safe environment for performances has become available.

Ram Nagaraj’s melodious voice extracts every ounce of meaning from the ghazals

We took the opportunity to host the latest Under the Raintree event there on May 14, boldly deciding to hold it at 9 pm mid-week. Our aim was to have the event open to anyone who liked music, and particularly ghazals. To our delight, not only did our personal invitations to music lovers of our acquaintance elicit a favourable response, several people who knew about the event from the posters in all the metro stations and the media turned up.

There were plenty of walk-ins: people out for their post-dinner stroll or driving back home; children out for late night ice cream skipped up too. There were heartening sights of waiters, drivers and so on, who were delighted to happen upon the music session after work and stopped to rest their weary selves. They were welcomed and seated on chairs alongside invitees.

Ram Nagaraj seemed set to sing until dawn.
The evening started with a surprise for the audience, with the lovely Madhu Vijay singing a bhava geethe, 'yaava mohana murali kariyithu’ (which can easily be called a Kannada ghazal).

After that Ram Nagaraj held the audience spellbound for hours with ghazals from musical greats like Ghulam Ali, Mehdi Hassan, Jagjit Singh, Pankaj Udhas, Talat Aziz, Anup Jalota and Roop Kumar Rathod. There were repeated requests for favourite numbers from the enthusiastic audience of 175. People were reluctant for the night to end, and we don’t blame them.

Audience soaking in the melodious music in the beautiful ambience.
Vasanth Rao has worked passionately to revive the MG Boulevard and make it an urban cultural centre.

Under the Raintree is a non-profit forum to promote the Arts. This concert is part of its continuing efforts to promote various forms of arts; it is also an initiative, in association with Namma Metro, to provide Bangaloreans an alternative nightlife in a clean and safe environment.”

A high five from Innovate Publishers

If you needed to meet the most brilliant minds in Bengaluru, well, you had to be at the Innovate Bengaluru Festival on 11/4/19, at WeWor...