Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why Do Many Indians Not Eat Beef?

[caption id="attachment_454" align="aligncenter" width="300"] One Cow - Different Perspectives[/caption]

Once I was in Seoul.  Our host had planned a special dinner at a speciality beef barbecue restaurant. Excellent barbecue was arranged at the table, courteous staff, great ambience.... One problem - I did not eat beef.
"Why?", one of them exclaimed, "It's perhaps the tastiest meat in the world".
I did not bother to answer this. But they were in no mood to give up. "By religion or choice", another gentleman chipped in. This is a typical south east Asian question. In Malaysia and Indonesia , most Muslims don't eat pork so usually people in this region are aware of relation between religion and meat.
"religion" I answered, I also wanted to see how far this goes.
"Muslims consider pig to be unclean animal hence they abstain from it. What is your reason?", this was really getting interesting now.
"We consider the cow to be  the God" I could hear some sighs, suppressed laughter and hushed voices. I looked around unsuccessfully for eye contacts.
"Being a well educated, rational individual do you really think cow is a God?"
I hated the patronising tone. I hated the attempt to draw relationship between education or rationality and religious beliefs. But I ignored all of this to take the debate forward.
"No" I continued to march on.
"Does your religious book Geeta, specifically mention that cow is a god?", by now all side conversations had stopped and everyone was absorbed in this debate.
The question marks on their faces overflowed on rest of the body parts.
There was a long pause which I interpreted as "Then why the hell you guys be practical and start eating what rest of the world eats?"

At that moment, several things were running randomly in my mind. My processor was going to unchartered regions in my brain to look for any possible data, sayings, learnings, connections which would help me answer this without evading it. All I remembered was my grandfather told me cow has gods inside her stomach, which I knew at age of 5, wasn't true. I loved milk since childhood, I liked all the derived products like curd, buttermilk, butter and ghee. When I visited my ancestral village, I saw dried cow-dung being used as fuel. In one such trip, I also saw a cow giving birth to a male calf, who later worked at the farm. I did not have any memory that linked cows to godhood. After this, my processor went berserk again. There was nothing more to add to this.

Hang on....I thought, are these not good enough reasons. People were about to give up on me and get back to their beef barbecue. Time was running out.
"There are reasons", I threw the  hat back in the ring.
"and what are these?" the voice was full of astonishment, curiosity laced with sarcasm.
"there are several things cow gives, which otherwise won't be available if the cow is killed". Then I rattled out milk based products, cow- dung, male calf etc etc. There was interest but no excitement as I stated the obvious.
"the farmer makes a lot of money with all these by-products", I continued to gain grounds.
I realised that most of my audience were from corporate, banks and finance departments and always talked about bottom line, profits and ROI. ROI - return on investment - that was the word I was looking for. Bingo!!
"ROI of a live cow far exceeds dead cow" Boom. Here came the clincher I was looking for. The shape of question marks changed. The new shape now meant "why the hell I did not think of this before"

Soon I had some friendly appreciative faces around. Whether they agreed or not was a different matter but they ran out of arguments.
While I am not sure if this was the actual reason for making cow a god,  it sounded extremely logical to me. Interestingly, I also read that cows are almost as polluting as cars. Cows emit methane which is as dangerous as CO2. Keeping cows alive, who produce bulls to run farms is a much greener solution than having cow farms.

Now if someone asks me "why don't you eat beef. Religion or choice?"
I smile and say "logic".

Read extended short story version of Why Do Indians blogs with a few more interesting indian inscrutable ways in Why Do Indians..? - The Book

Friday, May 11, 2012

Why its unlikely to have Indian movies without songs... Ever?

Songs were inherited from musical dramas, fair enough. But now, after 99 years why are they still integral part of Indian movies? Most of the urban customers also watch English movies and also appreciate them. Then why their taste is so different between Indian movies and English movies. The question is would we ever see commercially successful Indian movies?

My answer is NO.

Firstly, songs which started off as an add-on to the story, have now become integral part of the movies. The story warps around the music, story moves ahead thru songs. Hit songs is one of the essential ingredients of a hit film. There are some actors like Shah Rukh Khan , who owe their success to hit songs.

Secondly, songs don't just stay on silver screen. They are omnipresent. Music channels live and breathe because of them. They make traffic jams bearable, long drives enjoyable. Boring ring tones have given way to personalised songs for the callers. Pubs and discos dance to their tunes. School entertainment programs or family functions are incomplete without them.

Lastly, songs are an integral part of the revenue streams of Indian movies. They generate about 10-12% revenues for the movies. The song rights are sold even before movie is produced. They are the teasers for upcoming movies. ...and what can they do to upcoming movies... Well ask Dhanush who viral-ed the Kolavari. This song recording video of upcoming movie went viral and millions of netizens saw it minutes after release. Movie is yet to be released but the singer and actor Dhanush is not only a celebrity but also considered the most successful viral marketer. He addressed IIM students about key success factors of successful viral marketing... All before release of the movie.

How could you have Indian movies without such a great business proposition? Or form of entertainment that creates super-stars? Or plays an integral role of people's lives?

(This rounds up the movie-series. Coming up next Food-series. Why are so many Indians Vegetarians? Why they don't eat beef? etc)

Read extended short story version of Why Do Indians blogs with a few more interesting indian inscrutable ways in Why Do Indians..? - The Book

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Why lead actresses are always beautiful and lead actor's looks don't matter?

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"] Rajnikanth with Aishwarya...[/caption]

This is another peculiar thing about Indian movies. You could have a movie where lead actor (hero) may have average looks but lead actress (heroin) would always look beautiful. The top actress is dream girl for the nation. Starting from Hema Malini to Madhuri Dixit to Aishwarya to Kareena the top actresses have to look beautiful. The same rule does not seem to apply to heroes. Rajnikanth is not just a hero but a phenomenon. He started as a bus conductor in public bus, got noticed by a movie director, rest his history. He broke all records when he romanced Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan aged 30+ when he himself was aged about 60. His looks were never his strengths, still he is one of the most successful actors. Current leading heroes - the 3 Khans- Shahrukh, Salman and Amir - look great but Hrithik, John look better. But 3 khans rule the industry. Whenever the glamour quotient falls below a threshold, the director summons the most explosive beauty for an item song. The actresses summoned to do this suggestive, explosive, sexy songs feels flattered and assured about her beauty-credentials.

Why are Indian movies so obsessed with beautiful girls on screen?

The answer became very clear after I read "Why men need sex and Women want love". This book differentiates male brain from female brains. Male brain is wired to be activated by visual signals. Men are visual animals and looking at beautiful looking girls is controlled by hypothalamus - the primitive part of brain controlled by genes.

The commercial success of movie depends on ticket sales which contributes to about 80% of revenue. Bulk of this revenue is contributed by a mythical animal called "the average Indian". He exists everywhere but it is difficult to pin-point him, it is difficult to typecast him. Every Indian is different in his own own ways but this average Indian lives in every Indian. He leads a life which is far from perfect. There are struggles, frustrations, unfulfilled dreams.

Movies are a perfect getaway . He really gets involved in movies. It is not just an entertainment but part of his life where he can accomplish . He subconsciously relates to the protagonist. In those 3 hours he is transformed to the onscreen hero. So the hero has to look as close to him as possible. The average Indian knows he is not too handsome. Heroes with killer looks makes the transformation difficult. Once transformed, the Hero has to get the most beautiful looking girl. This average Indian subconsciously romances the most beautiful girl, dances with them, sings for them. Heroin has to look beautiful, average looking heroin is not OK. The average Indian already has a average looking girl. In movie he wants the best looking girl.

What about female audience? Why don't they demand the most handsome hero? Why do they settle for next-door looks? The same book provided an answer. Women have to feel, they don't select their partners based on looks but based on mental connection. Thats where heroes in Indian movies score well. Irrespective of the looks Hero in Indian movies always connects with the heroin. He is the nicest person around and connects well with all female characters. Even if he is playing criminal, he always wins sympathy of the audience, predominantly female audience. His looks therefore don't matter, mental connection does.

Movies for average men and women in India are not just entertainment. It is a mental process, a paid illusion, 3 hours where they can accomplish things which are not possible in real life.
Read extended short story version of Why Do Indians blogs with a few more interesting indian inscrutable ways in Why Do Indians..? – The Book