16 October 2011

Top hindi soundtracks of the past decade

I have been wanting to create this list for some time now. Listen anytime, anywhere albums which are contemporary yet evergreen and with no duds, meaning all (well most) songs in the OST are worth a listen with some obvious megahits.

Who are the winners you ask? The usual suspects - Rahman and SEL, clearly our best musicians of the decade along with new recruits Amit Trivedi and Shilpa Roa. Aamir and Farhan Akhtar dominate in terms of star power.

So without further adieu, here's the list: (in descending order of release date)

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)

Music director: Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Best song: Khaabon Ke Parinday
Dark horse: Background score
Listen online: Google music, grooveshark, gaana.com
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Udaan (2010)

Music director: Amit Trivedi
Best song: Aazaadiyan
Dark horse: Naav hai teri
Listen online: Google musicgroovesharkgaana.com
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Wake Up Sid (2009)

Music director: Shankar Ehsaan Loy, Amit Trivedi
Best song: Iktara
Dark horse: Ikatara (male version)
Listen online: Google musicgroovesharkgaana.com
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Rock On!! (2009)

Music director: Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Best song: Tum ho to
Dark horse: Phir Dekhiye
Listen online: Google musicgrooveshark
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Delhi 6 (2009)

Music director: A.R. Rahman
Best song: Arziyaan
Dark horse: Dil Gira Dafatan
Listen online: Google musicgroovesharkgaana.com
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Life In A...Metro (2007)

Music director: Pritam Chakraborty
Best song: O Meri jaan
Dark horse: Baatein Kuch Ankahee Si
Listen online: Google musicgrooveshark
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Dev D (2007)

Music director: Amit Trivedi
Best song: Duniya Ye Duniya Badi Gol
Dark horse: Dhol Yaara Dhol
Listen online: Google musicgroovesharkgaana.com
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Rang De Basanti (2007)

Music director: A.R. Rahman
Best song: Luka Chuppi
Dark horse: Khoon Chala
Listen online: Google musicgroovesharkgaana.com
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Taare Zameen Par (2007)

Music director: Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Best song: Taare Zameen Par
Dark horse: Maa
Listen online: Google musicgroovesharkgaana.com
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Lakshya (2004)

Music director: Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Best song: Lakshya
Dark horse: Kitni Baatein
Listen online: Google musicgrooveshark
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Swades (2004)

Music director: A.R. Rahman
Best song: Yes Jo Des Hai Tera
Dark horse: Saawariya Saawariya
Listen online: Google musicgroovesharkgaana.com
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Dil Chahta Hai (2001)

Music director: Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Best song: Dil Chahta Hai
Dark horse: Akash's Love Theme
Listen online: Google musicgroovesharkgaana.com
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Lagaan (2001)

Music director: A.R. Rahman
Best song: Mitwa
Dark horse: O Rey Chori
Listen online: Google musicgrooveshark
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Roja (1992) 
(This one's purely for old time sake, 20 years...still good enough to make the cut!)
Music director: A.R. Rahman
Best song: Yeh Haseen Vaadiyan
Dark horse: Bharat Humko Jaan Se Pyara Hai
Listen online: Google musicgrooveshark
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Notable mentions: 3 Idiots, Chak De India, Anjaana Anjaani, Jab we met, Omkara, Jodha Akbar, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Jaane tu na jaane na, Delhi Belly, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Saathiya, Kaminey, Namastey London

07 October 2011

One more thing on Steve Jobs


My first smartphone was a Sony Ericsson P990i which I bought in 2006 on eBay. It was cutting edge, best in class had a massive touch screen with a qwerty keypad and I was proud of it. It was a bit bulky, but what the heck, with tech like that it would have been silly to hide it in the pocket anyways. This ofcourse was before I bought the iPhone.

The phone that was the apple of my eye suddenly looked like an ancient artifact, a big and bulky stone hedge, much like how the Motorola DynaTAC looks now. Two years into it, I still love and use the same iPhone (which sadly is also dying now) and planning an upgrade to the iPhone 4S.

The iPhone was not my first tryst with the Jobsian magic though. I had wanted that thing right from the day I saw the magical keynote from Jobs in 2007 where he announced the iPhone amidst the oohs and aahs of the audience. The thing just looked insanely futuristic, yet felt so simple and obvious to use. It came to India at an insane price, so i settled with the iPod touch. A device I quickly fell in love with and which now is Apple's biggest selling product in India.

Within all this time, I've had the great pleasure of following Apple and Steve Jobs closely (and being paid for it!). First as a product manager for an iOS app and now as an analyst obsessed with tracking their every move. To witness the kind of impact that both of them have had on virtually everything in the past few years has been a humbling experience. He and his team took a product, pushed its technology years into the future, overturning entire industries in the process. Behemoths like Sony, HP, Acer, Nokia, RIM, Microsoft, Intel and countless others who banked on fake premiums and past laurels were left napping and forced to change strategies, management and mindsets. Thanks to Apple and Steve Jobs, our daily devices are much more sleeker, powerful and user friendly today than they were some years ago.

In India, they might not be doing huge numbers but its app store has created thousands of jobs here with one-tenth of its 500,000 app strong App store filled by apps built by Indian developers.

While Jobs is best known for turning Apple into the most valuable and revered brand worldwide, as a great leader, visionary, and for his mercurial management style and eye for perfection, his own life is no less than extraordinary. Put up for adoption on birth, dropped out from college, kicked out of his own company, its quite amazing that he came back and churned out the iPhone, the iPod Touch , the MacBook Air and the iPad, all while he was battling with cancer. The man who at the age of 13, cold-called the head of HP and cajoled him into giving him free computer chips is also considered the greatest salesperson and orator of the time. Not to mention, Steve the inventor - the man also has over 300 patents to his name.

The stature of the man is evident from the sheer volume of tributes that have flown in since yesterday, from Obama to our very own Manmohan, over 6000 tweets per sec, and in front of Apple stores worldwide. Such is the respect that among Apple's biggest foes, Google put up a link to apple.com (which ofcourse is dedicated to Jobs) on google.com and flags at Microsoft flew at half mast for the entire day yesterday.

Its weird for me, and perhaps millions worldwide, to be affected so much by the loss of somebody that they've never met. It reminds me of what he told the CEO of Pepsi when he wanted to lure him to into joining Apple -“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?" And that is exactly what Jobs did, he created products that made our lives immeasurably more easy and fun.

Oh, and one more thing....Thank you, Steven Paul Jobs. RIP. #FanforLife

Some selected links for further reading:
Steves' bio
Steves' best quotes
Steves' anecdotes
Steves' stanford speech


04 August 2011

A robot that flies like a bird, literally



Plenty of robots can fly -- but none can fly like a real bird. That is, until Markus Fischer and his team at Festo built SmartBird, a large, lightweight robot, modeled on a seagull, that flies by flapping its wings. A soaring demo fresh from TEDGlobal 2011.

One could wonder if this thing had any usefulness, apart from the fact that it brings a smile to your face everytime you see that thing flapping its wings. Or we can think what this Smart bird can evolve to in the future.

Unfortunately, the first thing that comes to mind is spy birds, surveillance and military. Moving beyond that, this refreshes the debate about how we design our own airplanes with massive propellers, which is not quite the way nature does it. Can a passenger airplane be designed on principles of nature? A bird was designed to fly alone while a modern plane carries passengers, flies at incredible speeds and faces extreme wind and weather conditions, something that this design has not been perfected for. A personal flying car perhaps then, that could work, right? Go imagine yourself flapping away to office among the pigeons and the sea gulls.

Whats interesting is how the real seagulls reacted when this guy took to the open skies later on during the TED conference. According to a by-watcher, "At first he flew alone in the sky but not after too long hundreds of seagulls flew in from around the city and greeted this oversized foreigner with vocal bewilderment. As they circled curiously, many of them swooped in with intensity to get a closer look as the mechanical seagull flew gracefully through the sky. It was an awe-inspiring experience and very surreal to see nature interacting with science."



20 July 2011

Apple's best ever quarter. Again - Highlights from Q3 2011 earnings

Apple announced its Q3 2011 results yesterday, and as we all are quite used to by now, folks at Cupertino just dished out another blow out quarter. Basic upshot - Highest quarterly revenue and profits ever. Record iPhone and iPad sales and highest non-holiday quarter Mac sales ever.


Overall highlights
  • $28.57 billion in revenue (+82% Y-o-Y) with $7.79 billion profit(+120%). That's up from second quarter's $25 billion in revenue and $6 billion in profit respectively.
  • Over 222 million cumulative iOS device sales ever, compared to 130 million Android devices
  • The iPad is now the number 2 business for Apple behind the iPhone, overtaking the Mac
  • International sales now account for 62 percent of Apple's quarterly revenue. Sales in greater China, which includes China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, accounted for $3.8 billion for the quarter.
  • Apple now has $76 billion in cash. That’s a nearly $10 billion surge in three months.
  • Using this quarter’s net profits alone, Apple could buy the bottom 16 countries of the world outright. Its total cash can now buy bottom 40
Read below for more business wise highlights:

13 July 2011

Darwin's orchid and moth and the fascinating world of evolution

Darwin's theory of evolution has always intrigued me. I remember when I first read it in high-school, it looked so intuitive and obvious that I questioned the need of even spelling it out. Little did I know then of the prodigious implications of that simple hypothesis.

Recently while watching a TED video, I came across this fascinating story of Darwin's orchid and the moth which presents a intriguing insight into how nature has uniquely evolved over the years.

So the picture on the left is of Angraecum sesquipedale, commonly known as the Darwin's orchid. When Darwin first saw this flower, he was surprised by one defining characteristic of this species - the astonishing length of the whip-like green spur containing the nectar in each flower.

From his observations, Darwin surmised in 1862 that in order for this flower to pollinate and survive, there must be a pollinator insect with a proboscis (tubular nectar sucking organ of insects) long enough to reach the nectar at the end of the spur.


Obviously the the notion of a pollinator with a 35 cm long proboscis was ridiculed and generally not believed to exist for the longest time. Though all of this was about to change 41 years later.