Saturday, February 24, 2007

New Website

I now have my website at You can see what I've been doing as a masters student in human computer interaction design in the Portfolio section. Do tell me what you think about the site!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Telugu film at Berlin

Vanaja, a Telugu film directed by Rajnesh Domalpalli, won the best first feature award at Berlin film festival. He happens to be an engineer who did his bachelors in IIT Bombay, and a Masters from SUNY, SB, and he had written the film while studying film at Columbia University.

In recent times, Telugu film makers who've won acclaim happen to be engineers turned film makers. Sekhar Kammula, Nagesh Kukunoor for example. And Telugu film makers have been winning acclaim for first films. Sekhar Kammula and Mohankrishna I. won their best first feature national awards for their first films Dollar dreams and Grahanam, but thereafter haven't been noticed much. It remains to be seen if the Telugu film will move beyond Andhra Pradesh, the state where the language is most spoken. There is a film industry that produces mostly insipid fare, as the directors aren't very inspired, and all the producers are after is money. This new crop of film makers has the distinction of having an education in film, unlike the others who came up the ladder beginning as nobodies in the film industry.

Sekhar Kammula and Mohankrishna I. have moved into the industry, and while they have made only a few films to comment on, the films are only a minor improvement over the insipid films of the industry in terms of their content. There's of course the issue of money. Who would fund films that do not find an audience among the people who're willing to pay to watch insipid fare, but would not watch a more seriously made film, dismissing it as an "art film". The issue is about finding an audience, and I am sure there is one for serious films even in Andhra Pradesh, leave alone the entire world (and that's not very unreasonable given how videos find a worldwide audience on Youtube). What must be done is to make a viable business plan for such films, and more than that convince the people involved in producing the films that these "art films" can work financially.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Last week I went to see the Broadway Musical "Hairspray". I loved it. It was the first time I saw something like that, and was amazed at the quality of the production. The music was great too. The story was about how a Baltimore girl in the 60s who's overweight and has unfashionable hair, or not good looking in the conventional sense, goes on to win a TV dance show, and how that leads her on to another adventure. The characters were all based on stereotypes and might not have made the audience think, but make us laugh they sure did. With a two and a half hour duration, a break between and plenty of song dances, it was more like the films back in India.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


The shortlist of the ACM Computer Human Interaction Conference (CHI) Student Design Competition has been announced and in the top 12 teams, 5 teams are from our program. Our team made it too ! The next round of the competition would be at the conference in April in San Jose.

The problem was to design a solution to encourage people to use public transit. We took the social networking route, linking transport options to the networking site Facebook, allowing people who plan events on Facebook, to also plan their transportation options. On Facebook, a person's activities are made available for all his friends to see, and when they know that their friend is taking the bus, our argument was that they would be inclined to do so too. Our studies on college students here suggested that people don't take public transit because there is a notion that public transit is for those who can't afford a car or because they didn't like traveling with strangers. Our solution with social networking would allow friends to plan their transport together, thus solving the problem of traveling with strangers, and since everybody is aware of who's traveling by public transport, any wrong notions are removed.