Spreading the love – and profit

first_imgJennifer SternThere’s never a dull moment at Vida e Caffe. Never a quiet one, either. This trendy coffee chain is characterised by big smiles, loud laughter and rapidly shouted orders as the perfectly brewed espressos and giant muffins move over the counter at a rapid pace. On the other side of the stream of delicacies patrons enjoy a quick espresso with friends or linger for ages over a double mucho cappuccino while penning that bestseller on their laptops.It’s been accused by devotees and detractors alike of being too trendy by far, but there really is more to this runaway marketing and business success story than the beautiful life and clichéd European-style sidewalk coffee culture.Started in 2001 in Cape Town’s trendy Kloof Street, Vida e Caffe was an instant success. With a simple formula of really good coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice and a range of huge and delicious sweet and savoury muffins, Vida hit the spot. While the queues are seldom unbearably long, it is almost unheard of to walk up to the counter and find yourself first in line.Room for improvementIn 2005, Grant Dutton, William Dutton and Shaun Bond joined Vida as joint venture partners in three new stores. Before the year was out they had bought the company, all five-and-a-half stores (the Green Point store was still being built). Today, there are 36 Vida stores across South Africa.They had bought a successful business built on serious marketing savvy and clever strategic relations, but there is always room for improvement. And the one place they decided they could make some real improvements was in their staff. They figured that happy staff meant happy customers so they work hard to keep those guys in the hip Levis jeans and funky T-shirts smiling.Almost all their workers live in the townships and struggled to get to work at 5:30am to start baking those yummy muffins. So the first thing they did was buy a few of houses – one close to each store – that could operate a bit like a student digs with staff members going back to their families on their days off.While almost every aspect of the staff relations in this chain is – well – just a little different, it’s the training that really sets it apart. Every staff member – absolutely every staff member – starts off clearing tables and mopping the floor. Yes, potential marketing managers – and even shareholders – start off doing what they call “meze,” which is Portuguese for “table”.Each new staff member will have a “buddy” who guides him through the learning curve. Before we continue it’s probably a good idea to explain the apparently sexist language. There are virtually no female employees at the shop-front at Vida – quite a few in head office, but none in the stores. The few that started only lasted a couple of weeks so any female job applicants are encouraged to work at their sister store (no pun intended) O Sumo. O Sumo is a new brand focusing on healthy wraps, salads and soups with fresh juices and smoothies. And the staff at O Sumo is exclusively female.  It may sound a bit weird, but it works for the staff in both stores.Back to the training. Each new staff member starts off cleaning the floors and clearing tables and eventually moves on to washing dishes, baking, making coffee and running the till. And every step of the way he is supported by his buddy, who is often an old friend, brother or cousin. Yes, that’s the other interesting thing. Most new employees are friends of existing ones – another way of keeping that happy family going. With the pace of work, the frenetic high energy and the constant need to be friendly and to smile, there is just no place for personality clashes, petty jealousies or rivalries.It takes about three months, on average, to get someone trained up as a barista and to a point that they can handle the till, do the baking and generally put a hand in wherever it’s needed. The good thing about this is that if there is a staff shortage in one store, they can call on staff from another and they will slot in effortlessly.The mystery shopperBut let’s be honest, most people don’t go to work in the morning because they get on with their colleagues. The motivation is usually far more pragmatic, and Vida employees are paid better than average. And there’s also a good bonus scheme. If they keep waste to a minimum, they get a bonus and – this is a sneaky little one – if they pass the “mystery shopper” test, they get another bonus. A mystery shopper that no-one (not even management) knows visits each shop once a month and, if every aspect of customer service is in place – voila – a bonus for the guys.But, of course – regardless of how much fun it is – an ambitious lad does not want to stay a barista for ever. So, another way of keeping the staff happy and working hard is to make it clear from the beginning that the sky is the limit. Every trainee who comes in at the bottom cleaning the floors can see people who’ve been there a year or so working their way into management positions.Papa Charles Masara is just one such person. Having emigrated to South Africa from Zimbabwe some time back, he started working at Vida three years ago. He did the whole progression from meze to baker, barista, cashier, assistant manager and store manager. But he didn’t stop there, and is now a senior regional manager overseeing 18 stores in the Cape Town area. Once he was financially secure, he brought his family out of Zimbabwe and then – spotting a good gap, helped them to set up a business doing laundry for Vida e Caffe, as well as other clients.Global expansionMost of Vida’s 36 stores are in Cape Town and Johannesburg, with a few in Durban, one in Pretoria, one in Bloemfontein and one in Knysna.  “We’ll never go above 45,” says marketing director Shaun Bond. Then he smiles and adds, “Never say never.” But they do intend to stay small and manageable. “We don’t want to be Starbucks,” Bond says, laughing. “But we are in the process of opening our first two stores in London – one in Regent Street, and one just off Carnaby Street.“It will be a great opportunity for the guys,” he adds, saying that they will take 12 baristas to London for between six months and a year to work in their UK stores. They’ll have all their transport and accommodation paid for and they will get to earn pounds, some of which Vida will insist they deposit in a bank account back in South Africa. It seems like a great opportunity to see some of the world and, if they exercise some fiscal discipline, they can come home with quite a nice little nest egg.So, next time you need a quick caffeine fix and you head for the bright red Vida e Caffe logo, you’ll know why your service comes with a smile. Some good news for anyone flying out of OR Tambo International is that Vida e Caffe is opening a branch in domestic departures beyond the security barriers, so you can get a coffee and muffin served with a smile and take advantage of Vida’s free Wi-Fi while you wait for your flight.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at [email protected] articlesSouth African foodA walk on vibey Vilakazi Street SA chilli sauce bites the world Wine: South Africa’s French connectionNando’s blazes into the US Useful linksVida e Caffelast_img read more

The everyday beauty of Soweto

first_imgThis article originally appeared on the frontpage of South Africa Now, a six-pagesupplement to the Washington Postproduced on behalf of Brand South Africa.(Click to enlarge.)South African photographer Jodi Bieber has a special ability to bring out the beauty in the ordinary, even the disfigured.The now-iconic and shocking early August Time magazine cover, featuring the mutilated face of 18-year-old Afghani girl Aisha, was brought to the world through Bieber’s lens. The photographer explains on the Time website that she wanted the portrait to show that Aisha was still beautiful, even though her nose and ears had been cut off at the Taliban’s behest.Bieber does something similar in the photographs in Soweto, her latest book. These are a compassionate but honest look at South Africa’s largest township, bringing out the subtle beauty of everyday life – children in the public swimming pool, a wedding entourage, a motorcycle club, a mother-and-daughter domestic scene powerfully emblematic of the old and new South Africa.These are not the first images that spring to mind when one thinks of Soweto. Yes, it is the birthplace of struggle heroes, the crucible of the 1976 students’ uprising and the scene of late 1980s anti-apartheid violence, but it is also a hub of diversity, culture, music and business, a place where people live normal lives.In her foreword Bieber talks of Sowetans’ friendliness, and her feeling of complete safety working there during the three-month project. But it made her sad, she says, that residents assumed she was a foreigner as the only whites who visit are tourists.Soweto by Jodi Bieber is published by Jacana with the support of the Goethe Institut.Download South Africa Now in PDF format (2.2 MB), or read selected articles online:Powering towards a green economySouth Africa plans to build a massive $21.8-billion, 5 000 MW solar park in its semi-desert Northern Cape province as part of an aggressive push to grow its highly industrialised economy without increasing its carbon footprint.The everyday beauty of SowetoSouth African photographer Jodi Bieber has a special ability to bring out the beauty in the ordinary, even the disfigured. On the cover of Time magazine she made a mutilated Afghani girl look beautiful, and in her latest book Soweto she makes everyday township life shine.Launchpad to a billion consumersBy offering to acquire Massmart for some $4.2-billion, Wal-Mart has joined the parade of global companies looking to South Africa as a springboard into what is increasingly seen as the world’s last great investment frontier.A trek to the start of timeIt will probe the edges of our universe. It will be a virtual time machine, helping scientists explore the origins of galaxies. It’s the Square Kilometre Array, and South Africans are at the heart of its development.Brewing up a global brandMiller Lite. Tastes great. Less filling. And brought to you by world-beating South African company SABMiller.Looking south and east for growthAs the shift in global economic power gains momentum, South Africa’s trade is moving eastwards and southwards in a pattern that both reflects the worldwide trend and helps drive it, writes John Battersby.More than just a celluloid MandelaThere is a special bond between Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman and the man he played in the Clint Eastwood movie Invictus, South African statesman Nelson Mandela.Africa in the new world orderKgalema Motlanthe, South Africa’s deputy president, looks at how African economies’ resilient performance during the global financial crisis points to the continent’s new place in a changing world.Mining history for new solutionsMark Cutifani, CEO of the multinational AngloGold Ashanti mining company, examines why South Africa’s past is key to successfully doing business here in the future.Turning up the media volumeSince 1990, South Africa has been a noisy place. After decades of apartheid censorship, the lifting of restrictions on the media led to a cacophony of debate. For the first time in centuries, everyone could be heard, and it was sometimes deafening, writes Anton Harber.A joule of an energy-efficient carSouth Africa, which builds BMWs and Mercedes Benzes for the US market, is in the thick of the race to deliver a truly practical – and stylish – electric car. Meet the Joule.South Africa: Time to believeThe forgiving philosophy of “ubuntu” helps explain how South Africa managed to transcend its turbulent apartheid past and create a unified democracy, writes Simon Barber.Finding sound real estate investmentSouth Africa’s post-apartheid transformation and new middle class are fuelling demand for affordable homes. For private equity fund International Housing Solutions, that means opportunity.My normal, crazy, mixed-up countrySouth African hit movie White Wedding is now showing in the US to rave reviews. Jann Turner, who directed and jointly wrote and produced the film, writes about the place that inspired it – South Africa.Bring on the braaiAll South Africans love it – including Nobel peace prize-winning Desmond Tutu – and its rich, smoky smell floats over the country every Sunday. Celebrate the braai with our great recipe for making boerewors, traditional South African farmer’s sausage.last_img read more

Fair and 4-H season has arrived

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Matt ReeseWith summer here it is time for Ohio’s youth to shine through the many opportunities afforded to them through 4-H. The meetings, projects, camps, leadership roles, and other activities through 4-H can help set the stage for a bright future for young people.As I get older and see more young people grow up involved with 4-H (and not in 4-H), it becomes easier to see the difference that the program can make in their lives. That difference shows up in maturity, work ethic, respect for others, leadership, and many other positive qualities that can be hard to quantify, but extremely valuable. As the home state of 4-H, the program has certainly instilled those qualities in generations of Ohioans.Fair season kicked off this month and it is always exciting to see 4-H exhibitors rise to the occasion when competing at the county and state levels in a wide array of projects. At OCJ/Ohio Ag Net, we truly love highlighting these opportunities, and providing them.Earlier this week I enjoyed a fun way to kick off the 2018 fair season when I had the opportunity to visit the Pickaway County Fair with the Wild About Animals 4-H Club from Fairfield County. We had a chance to talk with Dale Minyo (who was doing a remote at the fair that day) and then we talked about composition of photos. We looked through some photos from past OCJs and discussed what was good — and not so good — about them.After that, groups of the 4-Hers and their parents went to different parts of the fair to try to get some good photos of what was happening that day. Each group then emailed me their favorite photos. The 4-Hers and their parents got to see a neighboring fair in a unique way as photographers. They had to find good photo subjects, compose an appealing format, and talk to the subjects to get caption information.I was impressed with their work and I got to take a break while they did my job for me! Dale and I even went and got some ice cream while the group of young, roving photographers spread out across the fairgrounds.Here is the winner:Fair season has arrived! Here is the winning photo from my little 4-H contest: Chicken exhibitors listen attentively as the judge announces a class winner at the Pickaway County Fair, one of Ohio’s June fairs. Photo by Henry Hoisington, Wild About Animals 4-H Club.Here are some of my other favorites from their work at the Pickaway County Fair. Claire Alphin from the Wild Wild West 4-H Club had the Grand Champion Market Duck. Photo by Brin Leigh Hoisington. Sawyer Dumm (left) and Mavric Radcliff (right) enjoyed a ride on the giant slide. Photo by Charlie Sponseller. Alyssa Steel from Amanda showed some love to her Quarter Hoarse Bleu. Photo by Sophia Schumm. Alex Warthman climbs on the Crazy Ladder. Photo by Beth Warthman. Everyone crowds in to look at example photos on my laptop. Photo by Amber Hoisington. Little brother checking out the tractors. Photo by Alison Sponseller. Carl Rader serves of some delicious (as Dale and I can attest) Rader’s Old Fashioned Homemade Ice Cream. Photo by Alex Warthman. Judge Trevor Kirkpatrick eyes the 2018 Pickaway County Junior Fair hog showmanship exhibitors. Photo by Cameron Malone.last_img read more

So Far, Push Notifications on the iPhone are a Letdown

first_imgWhen Apple launched the iPhone 3.0 update, we were pretty excited about a number of the new features in the OS, but push notifications, which Apple billed as an alternative to battery-draining background processes, were on the top of our list. After a few weeks with the iPhone 3.0 OS, however, only a very small number of push apps have made it into the store, and even some of the best ones, like BeeJive IM (iTunes link) and the AP Mobile app (iTunes link) suffer from major drawbacks.IM Works, but What About Those Timeouts?BeeJive, for example, is a great IM app – and so are eBuddy (iTunes link) and IM+ with Push (iTunes link), two other push-enabled IM apps that were released in the last few days. These apps are intuitive, connect to most popular IM networks, and work just as advertised. But when it comes to push notifications, there are just too many little things that are holding these apps back.By default, BeeJive, for example, will log you out of your account after just 20 minutes. So once you have finished a chat session, you will just be offline again and no new messages will be pushed to your phone. You can push this timeout limit up to 24 hours, but this setting is buried at the bottom of BeeJive’s long list of options. The eBuddy IM app doesn’t even have this option and just automatically logs you out after 30 minutes.There are probably good technical reasons for this, but this behavior just isn’t what we expected when we first heard about push notifications.News Updates are Nice, but What About Customization?While the AP Mobile app (iTunes link) does push out news updates regularly, it is also a bit of a letdown. There is, for example, no way to customize when you want to get alerts and which alerts you want to get. You can’t just subscribe to tech news, for example, or updates about the latest celebrity deaths. Still no Twitter Apps with PushWe are also still waiting for the first Twitter apps that support push (at least for replies and direct messages), better calendar apps (Remember Milk is the only one in the App Store so far, and it requires a pro account), apps that can push out alerts when an RSS feed updates or when new email arrives, or apps that are simply innovative and beyond our current exepctations.Maybe Push Just Isn’t the Solution?While getting the current updates is nice, compared to having to open the app and see what is new, there is so much more that could be done with this technology. But for the time being, either Apple is holding back the most interesting apps, or developers just aren’t able to use it in really innovative ideas. We have talked to a number of companies that are producing geo-aware apps, for example. But because these developers aren’t able to remotely wake up an app and pull in data about your current location, there really isn’t much that they can do with push notifications at this point.If only the phone could also run cron jobs, for example. Then that could start an application at regular intervals, in addition to push notifications, and developers could do so much more with this technology.Of course, we are still in the early days of push on the iPhone, but so far, we have been quite disappointed with the current crop of apps. Hopefully, this will only be a stopgap solution anyway, and by the time the next generation of iPhones comes around, Apple will just allow apps to run in the background. Tags:#Apple#Features#NYT#web Related Posts A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hostingcenter_img frederic lardinois Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Can Music Save MySpace?

first_imgYesterday, amid all the news of Twitter’s arrival into both Microsoft’s Bing and the Google search engine, another major announcement was being made. MySpace is giving up on trying to be a major social network. According to MySpace CEO, Owen Van Natta, Facebook is no longer their competition. “We’re focused on a different space,” he says. That “different space,” as it turns out, is music…and it really isn’t all that different, especially considering MySpace’s roots. If anything, this major overhaul of the social network is an attempt to return the site to becoming the popular entertainment hub it once was. MySpace: Remember When it Was “A Place for Music?” When MySpace hit the scene back in 2003, local bands – especially indie rock bands – were among the first to create profiles on the social network. Their presence immediately began to attract a young, hip crowd of users who were interested in following pop culture, and, in particular, the up-and-coming artists they discovered while browsing through the network. Only eight months after its launch, MySpace began to experience exponential growth, as its users created profiles and friended others who would then, in turn, invite more users to join the social network. Thanks to the “network effect,” MySpace soon became the place to be online. Everyone was there. But at the same time that MySpace was having its heyday, another social networking site was being created. Although still in its infancy in 2004, a Harvard student named Mark Zuckerberg began writing the code for what would eventually become Facebook, now the world’s largest social network. Over recent months, we’ve seen the mass exodus from MySpace to the more popular – and more populated – Facebook. Studies have shown that those left actively engaging on MySpace now tend to be younger, lower-income users. Researcher Danah Boyd pointed out, somewhat controversially, that the differences between the two networks, MySpace and Facebook, went further than age and income – they involved your “social class,” too. Tired of being compared to Facebook in this way and certainly tired of hemorrhaging its users, MySpace CEO Van Natta has plans to turn the sinking ship around. After taking over the company six months ago, he’s been busy arranging new partnerships for the one-time king of social networks. These partnerships aim to bring the focus back to music, and less on socializing. New Music Initiatives: iLike, Videos, Artist DashboardsOne of the most notable new initiatives involves MySpace’s iLike integration. After being acquired by MySpace in August, many wondered why iLike wasn’t becoming a part of the MySpace network. Actually it was, but Van Natta didn’t want to disclose that information at the time.But now, the iLike acquisition is beginning to make sense. Through iLike music video widgets, now popular installations on other social networks like Facebook and Orkut, the videos – and, most importantly, their ads – can be streamed on other sites while the revenue generated returns to MySpace. Even though many of the users watching these videos now may be lost forever to MySpace, they’re helping the company regain its footing through their streams.MySpace’s entire music video vault, one of the most popular features on the social network, has also been integrated with iLike. In August, comScore reported 45 million people watched 340 million videos during the course of the month. It only makes sense for MySpace to capitalize on that activity, which is why the company has now launched MySpace Music Videos, an online video archive where users can not only watch videos from their favorite artists, but with a click, purchase the song or ringtone from Amazon or iTunes. Meanwhile, pre-roll, post-roll, and overlay ads help to monetize the content. In addition, to cater to the musicians, bands, and labels who make MySpace their home, the network has also launched “Artist Dashboards.” These online analytical tools track the fans’ demographics by age and location, the total number of plays per song, profile views and more. Every artist with a MySpace profile is given free access to these tools. Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… Related Posts Is it Enough?The question that remains, of course, is whether or not MySpace’s re-branding efforts will be enough to keep the site from going under. Although MySpace still had a healthy 64 million users in August of this year, that number is 12 million fewer than it did at the same time last year. Meanwhile, Facebook climbed to 300 million worldwide that same month. Can MySpace entice people to come back to the network through its new music-based initiatives? It’s too soon to tell at the moment whether the strategy will work or not, but it’s definitely the network’s best shot. By capitalizing on what remains the most popular activity on MySpace to date (music and video), the company hopes to become more of a niche site for socializing around music instead of a site for just socializing. The newly launched features are just a part of the company’s overall efforts in this direction, too. Still to come are concert ticket and merchandise sales, although no details or launch dates have been given for those features as of yet. While these efforts may not ever allow MySpace to reclaim its status as the number one social network – that ship seems to have sailed – they could definitely help the network maintain profitability. And at the end of the day, that’s all that’s really needed. It’s not about how many users you have, it’s about how much money you can make off of those that you do. Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verificationcenter_img The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Tags:#music#social networks#web sarah perez A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Auditlast_img read more

CES 2018: First Look at Panasonic’s New Lumix GH5S

first_imgAt CES 2018, Panasonic unveiled its new Lumix GH5S with an updated sensor, new Cinema 4K capabilities, and additional improvements.Fresh off the CES presses, Panasonic’s new Lumix GH5S has leaked online after much much rumor and fanfare. The predecessor to Panasonic’s popular Lumix GH5, the antecedent’s update looks to be a truly video-forward mirrorless camera that will compete with Canon and Sony in 2018. While the GH5 was a strong offering at its price point (currently around $2,000), the GH5S should stay competitive with updated capabilities at a similar opening price point (rumored to be around $2,500).New SensorWhile the GH5 boasted a powerful 20.3MP Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor, Panasonic has announced that the GH5S will feature a new 10.2MP multi-aspect sensor, which should improve max ISO capabilities up into the 51,200 range (while the GH5’s ceiling was around 25,600). The new sensor will also provide sufficient margin to get the same angle of view in 4:3, 17:9, 16:9, and 3:2 aspect ratios.Record Cinema 4K at 60/50pPerhaps the biggest headline for the GH5S’s advanced capabilities is the camera’s ability to record Cinema 4K footage at 60/50p. This is a major improvement and certainly a first in the market at this price point. The GH5S also now offers better color reproduction with new internal 4:2:2 10-bit recording capabilities with pre-installed V-Log (no longer an add-on purchase). Full HD and 4K video recording compiles with 4K HDR video with Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) for unlimited recording capabilities as well.Full List of ImprovementsFor those interested, the lightweight body will remain the same, but several other updates and improvements (many the result of the new sensor), will increase the GH5S’s capabilities for both video and photography as Panasonic’s affordable 4K play will undoubtedly send ripples throughout the industry well after CES ends.Atomos recently got their hands on the new model, testing its new capabilities.Enjoy saturated colours and capture sparkling shots even when shooting in V-Log format in the dimmest conditions. Colours are rich and deep even in super low light and reds are really red. Huge amounts of colour information are retained with 10-bit. This technological advance puts paid to the widespread assumption that you should never shoot Log in low light with mirrorless cameras because of excess noise. Now you can get the full benefits of a wider dynamic range and punchy colours and enjoy a clean image while staying in Panasonic’s V-Log, giving you a greater ability to manipulate your image in post-production.Specs:10.2MP multi-aspect sensor4:3, 17:9, 16:9, and 3:2 aspect ratios4K 60/50p recording in Cinema 4K (4,096 x 2,160)Max ISO 51,200 ceilingInternal 4:2:2 10-bit recording with pre-installed V-LogDual Native ISO TechnologyThe 225-area AF arrangement and light levels as low as -5EVReported Price: $2,500 (body only)last_img read more

Insurance firms holding up claims, say Gujarat farmers

first_imgFarmers across Gujarat have launched State-wide protests demanding immediate disbursal of crop insurance claims for damage to their standing crops due to unseasonal rains in October and November. The protests have been launched against crop insurance companies, which are apparently not passing claims filed by farmers in more than 20 districts, which were lashed by the unseasonal rains that left damaged crops like groundnut, cotton, pulses and paddy. After the protests, Nitin Patel, Deputy Chief Minister, warned of action against insurance companies if they did not process claims and compensate farmers who paid premiums to insure their crops. “We have received several representations and even complaints against insurance companies. The government will be forced to take actions against insurance companies if they don’t act and compensate the farmers,” Mr. Patel told media persons in Gandhinagar. Some insurance companies are indulging in malpractices by curtailing claim amounts to just 20-30 % of what farmers have claimed, he added. Before Mr. Patel, senior BJP leader and former agriculture minister Dilip Sanghani also slammed insurance companies for not settling farmers claims. “I have come across several instances where crops have completely been destroyed but insurance companies have approved only 20 % of the total claim amount. This is not acceptable and government should hold them accountable,” Mr. Sanghani said. This year, Gujarat witnessed a prolonged monsoon with total rainfall touching 146 %, leading to extensive damage to crops in Saurashtra, North Gujarat and Central Gujarat districts. “Gujarat farmers have suffered extensive damage but are not getting compensation from insurance companies,” said Gujarat Congress farmers’ wing Pala Ambalia. Gujarat Congress has supported protests that are being organised at taluka level in affected districts. Meanwhile, the State government has announced a financial package of ₹3,795 crore for the farmers whose crops were damaged between the October 15 and November 20 during which several parts of the State received unseasonal rains. “The package will cover almost all the 56.36 lakh farmers whose crops suffered damage due to rains after the (south-west) monsoon (retreated),” Mr. Patel told media persons.Farmers in areas where rains were recorded in excess of 100 mm will get compensation at ₹6,800 per hectare up to two hectares, as per the package.last_img read more

‘Let’s hope Devdas sets the box office on fire’

first_imgThe Big Picture”Devdas was made for Rs 50 crore, Lagaan for Rs 25 crore and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham for Rs 40 crore. Does a poor country like India need such dear dreams?”-SHEILA KUMAR, on e-mail Old as GoldAudiences and critics alike are eagerly awaiting the release of Devdas, for,The Big Picture”Devdas was made for Rs 50 crore, Lagaan for Rs 25 crore and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham for Rs 40 crore. Does a poor country like India need such dear dreams?”-SHEILA KUMAR, on e-mail Old as GoldAudiences and critics alike are eagerly awaiting the release of Devdas, for its success will mark the arrival of period films and of cinema based on literary works (“Devdas: Bollywood’s Biggest Gamble”, May 20). Let’s hope Devdas sets the box office on fire.-STUTI SINGH, on e-mail Indian cinema may be getting international attention at the Oscars and at Cannes but it is undeniable that there is still a lot of room for improvement. Devdas and Lagaan are only occasional releases that make it big on the global scene. Out of around 800 films released every year in India, only a handful are competent in terms of technical expertise, directorial excellence, depth of characterisation and quality of script. However,  Lagaan and Devdas prove that Indian cinema is slowly but surely unleashing itself from the drab world of mainstream commercial movies and coming of age on the global arena.-SAIRAM SANATH KUMAR, on e-mail It is sad that in a country with a population of more than 100 crore-and where half the people are illiterate and live below the poverty line-a film on an alcoholic megalomaniac has been made for a whopping Rs 50 crore. The media is calling it an artist’s pursuit of perfection, a laudable attempt to create a magnum opus. It is hard to believe what message a mothballed, 85-year-old story could pass on to today’s highly materialistic generation. And who is going to be the beneficiary even if the gamble pays? The underprivileged and uneducated people of India?-G. SWAMINATHAN, Chennai It is surprising that Bollywood can afford to produce a movie on such a vague theme with a budget of Rs 50 crore. With the country passing through a terrible time on each front, the huge amount could surely have been invested in a better cause.-RAKESH BAHUGUNA, on e-mail Earlier your magazine used to provide an in-depth study of important issues on subjects of national interest. Now such articles are few, sprinkled between film gossip and the lifestyles of the rich and the privileged. I really wonder who is interested in knowing about the weight of Madhuri Dixit’s ghaghra and how much money has been spent on the extravaganza.-UDAY M. LELE, on e-mail It is sad to note that Bollywood filmmakers have had to fall back on a story that has been filmed eight times already in an attempt to produce a hit at the box office. They would have done well to have invested Rs 50 crore in a novel plot rather than present old wine in a new bottle-and a very costly bottle at that. I doubt if Devdas will prove to be the “elixir of life” for the sinking Bollywood industry.-BLESSON GREGORY, on e-mail Chief WorryYou rightly point out that K.P.S. Gill has a Herculean task ahead of him (“What can Gill Do?”, May 20). Will he be able to bring peace to Gujarat as he did in Punjab? My apprehensions are that as security adviser to the Gujarat Government he won’t get the wholehearted support of Chief Minister Narendra Modi who has been unable to control the communal violence. As it is, Gill has already got an initial jolt-the denial of the services of Punjab Police personnel.-ONKAR CHOPRA, Delhi Cynical StanceYour editorial was shockingly malicious and unnecessarily biased, targeting K.P.S. Gill instead of focusing on Gujarat (“Gill in Gandhinagar”, May 20). This kind of misrepresentation by sections of the media and power-hungry leaders is largely responsible for the continuing carnage in Gujarat. Do you know how much Gill did to maintain order during the worst days of the All Assam Students’ Union movement in Assam? You should have at least given him credit for having brought peace in Punjab.-B.K. BHATTACHARYA, on e-mail Future TenseI agree that the pressure on students during board exams is a serious problem (“Board Games”, May 20). But then how does a college having 25 seats for a course decide which “25” it should admit when it gets 400 applications, all having the grade “A” ? The solution is to broadbase the examination system by having continuous evaluation so that one exam does not become a matter of life or death. Marks can still be awarded but only in a continuous manner. One should not play with a time-tested system without completely solving some of the problems.-DR B. PURNIAH, on e-mail Students study hard for class XII board exams to get good marks which will guarantee them admission into a reputed college. What they don’t realise is that most good colleges and universities admit students on the basis of entrance exams. Your survey of the top 10 engineering colleges itself reported that eight of the top 10 institutions conduct entrance exams for selecting students. Similar is the case in the fields of medicine, law, etc. So why this two-pronged approach-boards and entrance exams-making life difficult for the students? The Government must direct all colleges to admit students on the basis of entrance exams. Colleges can group together to form a university that will conduct a single entrance test for all colleges under it and thereafter do away with the boards. The use of schools then? Preparing the students for entrance exams.-SUDHANSHU MALHOTRA, on e-mail Has anyone in our revered cbse looked at the course content for the social sciences paper for the Class X? It consists of history, geography, civics and economics, with a weightage of 40 per cent for the first two, 20 per cent for civics and 10 per cent for economics. But the syllabus for each is as vast as for the other. It must rank as the most confusing exam in the world.-AJAYA CHAND, on e-mail Throttling TalentMohun bagan is indeed in a sorry state of affairs (“Club in Confusion”, May 13). Behind all the talent it possesses lies the selfish interests of some administrators and industrialists. This is why sports in India is more about politics than talent. No wonder the Indian football team cannot find a place in the top 100 in the world.-ARYA C., on e-mail  Facts FirstTavleen singh is spreading canards against the Income-Tax Department just because her accountant asked for certain details for filing her annual returns (“Paying for Honesty”, May 20).Let the readers know that there is no expenditure tax in India and her auditor does not need those details for filing her tax return-provided she had maintained the details of her income. She is wrong in writing that every Indian tax payer is being subjected to this inquisition. Only 2 per cent of the tax returns are subjected to scrutiny.Singh has shown her prejudice and ignorance by saying that tax inspectors are the most corrupt officials in India. As an insider who worked for 25 years in a managerial position, let me tell her that the Income-Tax Department contains as many good officials as any other cross-section of Indian society. S. SENDAMARAI KANNAN, Commissioner of Income Tax, Hyderabad Singh has the pulse of the honest income-tax-paying middle class fully at heart. The practice and policy with regard to income tax in India lack direction and political will. Instead of finding a better way to ensure efficiency, the authorities want to harass the middle class by limitless forms and formalities. V.B.N. RAM, on e-mail advertisementadvertisementlast_img read more