HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2015

 

This was a wonderful and got to interview interesting folks from the world of technology, startups, films, food (yes, food startups is a big trend) and authors. This collage is a sample of the various guests on our show about life, people and ideas.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement. And, if you like what you saw or listened, do share and feel free to send us a comment or feedback. We love hearing from you.

Have a wonderful year ahead.

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NO PODCAST INTERVIEWS THIS WEEK

Quick note to let you know there will be no podcast interviews this week. Will be back next week with a new podcast interview. You can listen and download our podcast interviews from our website, iTunes and some of them are available on our YouTube channel.

If you like what you hear, do share and leave a comment or send your feedback. It is always fantastic when we hear from you. It makes the day so much better and happier. Thank you.

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Subscribe to The Kam

 

Every Thursday you can catch a new interview on my YouTube channel. We feature interviews with entrepreneurs, technologists, filmmakers and other news from in and around the San Francisco Bay area. These interviews air in various TV channels in the Bay area, Los Angeles and in Cambridge, MA.

Here are a couple of playlists that you can explore and discover for yourself an eclectic set of interviews and conversations.

Women in Science and Technology

Silicon Valley

Films

Authors and Artists

And then there are playlists that focus on Bangalore and travel.

If you have not, do subscribe to our YouTube channel. To subscribe – look for the big red button that says subscribe.

And if you like what you see do leave a comment and share the interview. Thank you!

 

FILM NOTES: BAJIRAO MASTANI

Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s latest Bollywood film Bajirao Mastani appears to be a hit in the San Francisco Bay area according to an unscientific poll I conducted. The first few days were sold out explained the ticket sales person at the local Silicon Valley theatre when I went to see the film. I, of course, waited for a few days before catching the show on a weekday and was surprised by the turn out. Bajirao Mastani needs to be watched on the big screen someone pointed out, and I agree.

Bajirao Mastani is Bhansali’s magnificent obsession. For over a decade he tried to make the film and finally succeeded in directing the film starring Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, Tanvi Azmi, Milind Soman and others. The film released on Dec 18, 2015 in a handful of theatres in the San Francisco Bay area.

This historic period film is set in 18thc India when the country was a patchwork quilt of different kingdoms with the Mughals ruling in Delhi and the Marathas ruling from the western state of what is Maharashtra today. The film opens with a discussion on electing a new Peshwa or Prime Minister for King Shahu (Mahesh Manjrekar), the Maratha King. The conflict is resolved when Bajirao (Ranveer Singh), a brilliant military strategist is chosen. Selecting the new Peshwa is a minor conflict compared to what unfolds next – a love conflict, where Bajirao ends up loving two women – Mastani (Deepika Padrone) and Kashi (Priyanka Chopra). The story of Bajiao and Mastani is mostly a footnote in Indian history books, but in the hands of Bhansali the story morphs into a grand tale of love and betrayal.

In one of his early military expeditions Bajirao falls in love with Mastani, a princess from Bundelkhand, who is of mixed heritage. Her father is Hindu and her mother is Muslim. He ends up marrying Mastani, who follows him to Pune, where Bajirao lives with his mother Radhabai (Tanvi Azmi) and Kashi. His mother has a hard time accepting Mastani since she is partly of Muslim heritage. She simply refuses to accept Mastani into the family and uses various ploys to severe the ties between Bajirao and Mastani. Radhabai fails miserably.

The uneasy relationship between Bajirao’s family and Mastani continues for a few years. Mastani lives in a separate home with her son and gets to meet Bajirao on rare occasions. Things take a turn for the worse when Bajirao and Kashi’s son Nana actively plots to eliminate Mastani. In a tragic turn and unrelated turn of events Bajirao and Mastani die.

The film was an absorbing watch, but every now and then a dialog box would pop in my head with a question or comment. Before that ephemeral thought melts from my mind I’d frantically scribble them on a piece of a paper. Here are my observations in no particular order. Ranveer Singh’s performance is powerful and riveting. For some inexplicable reason I was reminded of Sohrab Modi, an actor, who was famous for his performance in films like Pukar, Sheesh Mahal and others. Modi had a way of grabbing your attention right from the first frame of his film.  I am not sure if Singh has watched any of Modi’s films. The way Singh strode into the first scene of Bajirao Mastani reminded me of Modi.

Both Padukone and Chopra were very good. Padukone has developed an effortless way of portraying her characters and she did the same in this film. This is perhaps one of the more polished performances of Chopra. Her portrayal of Kashi had lot a lot of quiet depth, empathy and conflicted emotions. Tanvi Azmi as Radhabai was very convincing. Others that need a special mention are Milind Soman and Mahesh Manjrekar.

The costumes, color palette and the sets grab your attention. Anju Modi needs a special mention for her wonderful work on creating a rich and brilliant wardrobe for the actors. Grand costumes with gorgeous color palette is a hallmark of Bhansali’s production. And then there is the music that is composed by Bhansali.

I am not sure whether it was just me or if others saw the fleeting influence of Chinese cinema in Bhansali’s directorial style. For instance, the sword fight between Mastani and Bajirao reminded me of Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon. And then there were a couple of scenes that distinctly reminded me of Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s films like  Raise The Red Lantern. There was a scene in Bajirao Mastani where red Chinese looking lanterns are lit  that brought back memories of Yimou’s films. And then there were shots of the Peshwa’s home, courtyard and rooftops that once again had that tantalizing Chinese influence.I was puzzled on why I was reminded of these Chinese influences. Could it be that Bhansali was trying to reach his Chinese audience through these references? Bajirao Mastani released in China in 600 theaters. Perhaps that explains the Chinese influences in the film? Or, am I reading way too much into it?

And now for the quibbles. What is it with Bhansali and love? Why does he focus so strongly on the tragic elements of a love story? What is his fascination with unrequited love and portraying women as having limited choices? I’d be curious to find out what Bhansali has to say about love. Why does loving someone have such drastic and dramatic consequences in his film? What draws Bhansali to make films on a grand scale?

Bajirao Mastani is worth watching on the big screen at least once. And by the way, Bajirao Mastani is just 10 minutes longer than Spectre. So, are Hollywood films catching up with Bollywood films in terms of the length of the film? You be the judge.

  • Title:BAJIRAO MASTANI (Rated R)
  • Running Time: 158 minutes
  • Status: Releases DEC 18, 2015
  • Country: INDIA
  • Genre: BOLLYWOOD/ROMANCE

PODCAST: SHY MUDAKAVI ON BUILDING SAFARI KID

Shy Mudakavi

Shy Mudakavi

 

Meet Shy Mudakavi founder and CEO of Safari Kid headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area. How Mudakavi built Safari Kid is a fascinating story of one woman’s determination to succeed in her mission and how she hired the right resources to expand. What drove her to build her school was her  belief, passion and committment. Safari Kid “not happening was an option,” she says.

LISTEN TO SHY MUDAKAVI OF SAFARI KID

Mudakavi did not have a business plan when she started her afterschool program for kids. How did she start her school without a business plan?  If you think too much you will never do it is something that she heard from her father when growing up in Mumbai. We spoke to Mudakavi on how she got started and expanded Safari Kid from a one room operation in a mall to a franchise with schools in the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Dubai, Malaysia and India. She credits her husband for his unwavering support in her journey of entrepreneurship.

This interview was originally aired on TV in the San Francisco Bay area. Here is the video interview

 

VIDEO: SAFARI KID’s SHY MUDAKAVI ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP, PASSION & BUILDING HER SCHOOL

Shahdokth “Shy” Mudakavi is founder and CEO of Safari Kid, a preschool and kindergarten school that started in San Francisco Bay Area. America is a land of opportunities and this is where dreams come true points out Mudakavi. What did she do right? “I believed in it. There was 100 % belief and they say when you believe you are half-way there.”

Mudakavi  was all set for a career in the networking industry when she moved to the Bay area. But, her heart was not in networking and she decided to explore other alternatives. She enjoyed working with children and ended up tutoring kids and set up an afterschool program.

About 10 years ago, she established her first preschool in a small room in a mall. It took  4 months before a student enrolled at Safari Kid and by the end of the first year she had 10 kids. Since then Safari Kid has evolved and has  preschool and afterschool programs for children under the age of 12 years old.

Today, there are 40 schools in the US and most of them are in California. Safari Kid has expanded its footprints globally with schools in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Dubai and India.

Mudakavi grew up in Mumbai, India and now lives in San Francisco Bay area with her family.

This interview aired on TV in the San Francisco Bay area and in Cambridge, MA.

PODCAST: MARTIN COOPER “FATHER OF CELL PHONE”

Martin Cooper

Martin Cooper

Martin “Marty” Cooper is often described as the “Father of the Cell Phone.” Cooper along with his team worked on creating the first cell phone or wireless phone as it was known at Motorola. The very first call Cooper made in April 1973 from the streets of Manhattan was to his counterpart Joel Engel at Bell Labs and told him that he was making a call from a real, portable phone.

Cooper demonstrated their first “shoe phone” in New York in April 1973 and dazzled the world. John Mitchell of Motorola was his mentor, who told him about the importance of portability. “Mitchell had taught me if you want to catch people’s attention you want to dazzle them.” And that is what Cooper and his team did and they got coverage from The New York Times and The Washington Post. These were the two publications that Cooper and his team were interested in getting coverage and they succeeded.

It took 10 years to release the commercial version of the cell phone, and today the cell phone has revolutionized our world. Is Cooper surprised by it? He is not. People want to be able to move around and for hundred years people had been tied to the copper wire he points out. Liberating people from the copper wire was his goal and they achieved their goal.

In our almost hour-long interview we spoke with Cooper on a wide range of subjects starting with the first demo of the cell phone in New York and the first call he made to his counterpart in Bell Labs, who were also working on a prototype of the phone. How did Marty work with his team to create the first cell phone in a period when there were no personal computers? What did he have to do behind the scenes to help accelerate the process to create this prototype?

LISTEN TO MARTIN COOPER THE FATHER OF THE CELL PHONE

We also spoke to him about his Ukrainian roots, his grandfather’s decision to migrate his family from Ukraine to Canada nearly 100 years ago  his childhood in Chicago, teachers that influenced him, his curiosity and his penchant for dreaming. He says that as long as he can remember he always wanted to be an engineer. He has not lost that intense curiosity to find out how things work. We talk to him about privacy and how the mobile phone has revolutionized so many cultures and countries around the world.

Tune in to find out what Cooper has to say about failure and reaching out to help if you want to succeed.

This interview was recorded in 2013 in San Jose during the Cinequest Film Festival, where he won a Maverick Award.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

HAPPY HOLIDAYS

 

Space X Creates History With Successful Launch of Falcon 9

ORBCOMM-2 First-Stage Landing

ORBCOMM-2 First-Stage Landing

On Monday, Dec 21, 2015  Elon Musk’s SpaceX made a brilliant breakthrough that had people talking about it for quite sometime. To say a little bit of space history was created with this breakthrough would be an understatement.

For the first time Space X’s Falcon 9 rocket made “a successful ground-based landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,” as Popular Mechanics put it.

Here is what Musk tweeted:

 

WINERIES OF SANTA CLARA VALLEY

Santa Clara Wine Trail

Santa Clara Wine Trail

Santa Clara county is not only home to many Silicon Valley companies, but is also home to some of the oldest vineyards in California. Some of the vineyards in Santa Clara Valley are over 100 years old. Surprised? So was I when I discovered the Santa Clara Wine trail, which is literally a few miles south of San Jose. Thanks to the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley Wine 2015 Fall Passport program I discovered a clutch of vineyards right in my backyard. And in the process also discovered a California champagne made from almonds.

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

Santa Clara Wine Trail

 

Nestled in the towns of Gilroy and Morgan Hill are a string of vineyards, where you can taste a range of red and white wines and champagne. Armed with maps and our passport booklets we drove down south to Gilroy in a fancy Tesla car for some wine tasting. No, the Tesla was not mine. This was a fun expedition and we hit the first vineyard within 20 minutes into our trip from San Jose. How cool is that?

 

Santa Clara Wine Trail

Santa Clara Wine Trail

 

The first one we visited was Solis Winery that took us by pleasant surprise with its selfie spot. Whoever came up with that “selfie spot,” knows the power of social media and our penchant for taking those selfies and posting them on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Did we take a selfie? You betcha, we did!

 

Selfie Spot

Selfie Spot

 

We then visited Sarah’s Vineyards, Kirgin Cellars, Fortino Wineries and Guglielmo Wineries that was founded in 1905. We planned to visit more wineries, but ran out of time. What this means is that there is another trip that we need to make south of San Jose and explore the other wineries in Santa Clara wine trail. Stay tuned for that trip.

If you plan to visit the wineries of Santa Clara Valley do check out Gilroy Welcome Center and Santa Clara Wines for timings and other information. Plan on spending at 4 to 5 hours for your trip.

Disclosure: We were invited as guests by the Gilroy Welcome Center to the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley 2015 Fall Passport event.