Recently, Aamir Khan had a spat with Chetan Bhagat over the story of his latest flick ‘3 Idiots’. I have been an ardent Aamir Khan fan (I have even watched his disastrous movie ‘Atank Hi Atank’, which I am sure even Aamir would like to forget about!). I would also like to mention that even though I have read Bhagat’s ‘Five Point Someone’ and ‘2 States’ (which were a good read esp. 2 States), am not a huge Chetan Bhagat fan. Unfortunately, though in this particular controversy I agreed with Chetan Bhagat. Anyone who says the movie ‘3 Idiots’ is not heavily inspired and based on ‘Five Point Someone’ is fooling either himself or others. The scriptwriter of ‘3 Idiots’ Abhijat Joshi, has added to and modified the story but using the basis of what the book has to say. Abhijat Joshi in an interview criticised Chetan’s story saying ‘The boys in the movie steal the question papers and blame it over the girl, what is so noble about it. We changed that and have put up a better story’. Well, two things here – One – what is nobility in a story especially the one inspired by real life, its just realistic, how can anyone question the nobility of a character in a story? Its not only weird but silly. Two – The one problem with ‘3 Idiots’ in fact is the over simplification of virtues and being too idealistic. I mean, who can really identify with the noble Phunsuk Wangdu, he is larger than life unlike a common man. The first thing that came to my mind when the controversy began was that Chetan Bhagat is right in saying he has not given due credit, as I had made a conscious effort to check the credits for his name, and could not find one. Ideally, the makers of the movie should have given right in the beginning of it, that the movie is inspired by Chetan’s novel ‘Five Point Someone’. By denying, the due credit to the author of the book Aamir Khan has played a spoil sport once again. Earlier it was with Amol Gupte for ‘Taare Zameen Par’, no doubt it was an excellent movie, but the story and idea belonged to Gupte.

In addition, the most recent are his comments at the meeting of Lyricist-Writers and Producers forum. He said that a song is a hit because of the star and not the lyricist. These comments coming from a know-to-be professional actor like Aamir Khan was quiet disappointing. He was suitably replied though by the very straightforward and witty Javed Akhtar who said “Your first big song was Papa kehte hain. Did it make you a star or did you make that a song run”. Well said Mr. Akhtar!

Why is it that our film industry is so reluctant to give the due credit to writers? Especially, when most of our movies flop ‘coz they do not have a decent storyline. In Hollywood, for example if a movie is based on a book, they will always publicise it so. And why not, a book and a movie are two entirely different mediums, even if a movie is completely based on a book it does not take away the movie makers credit ‘coz to make a movie requires and different set of skills and vision. Both the book and the movie based on it have equal credibility. This is a simple fact, and if actors who are at a commanding position in the industry like Aamir Khan do not support the cause of writers and lyricists contribution then who else is to take responsibility. Well, if Aamir really thinks that songs and movies are successful because of a star and not the lyricist and writer than we can expect from him more ‘Ghajanis’ than ‘3 Idiots’ in the near future!

The Smiling Curve: Stan Shih

February 10, 2010

By Definition: ‘Smiling Curve’ is an illustration of value-adding potentials of different components of the value chain in an IT-related manufacturing industry (Source – Wikipedia).

Stan Shih, who is a business tycoon from Taiwan, put forward the concept of the Smiling Curve. As per the concept, in the product life cycle, the stages –
Product conceptualization, research and development, branding the product, design, distribution, marketing and after sales service add the real value to the product. On the other hand, manufacturing the product, this seems to be a more time and labour consuming job scores low on the value addition of any product.

Smiling Curve

That sounds surprising. Think about it, how different Coca Cola is from Pepsi and Mirinda from Fanta, how different the ingredients of these drinks can be, still people have their brand loyalties. The trick lies in conceptualizing new ideas, branding, marketing, and distribution of the product effectively.

You could be on a trekking trip climbing a hill to reach some point where the only other means of transport is on horseback, you would not be surprised to find a bottle of ‘Coca Cola’ waiting to greet you at a single tea stall at the hilltop. This is ‘Distribution’.

You are hungry and enter a shop to by something to munch on, you have the choice between ‘Lays’ and ‘Balaji’ wafers, and you pick up ‘Lays’. This is ‘Branding’.

Ever heard of ‘Inventec Appliances’, it is the company that manufactures iPods! Of course, Apple owns iPod, but Apple does not manufacture it. In fact, along with Inventec which really only assembles the iPod, there are many other companies which manufacture several other electronic components of the iPod. So why do we know only Apple, reason is, Apple conceptualized, researched and branded the iPod and holds its distribution worldwide.

What the Smiling curve essentially shows is the success of a product is dependent on the concept, research, branding, marketing, and distribution. These areas thus require specialized and highly skilled personnel. People working in these areas are thus highly paid and so are the countries more profitable who engage in the activities on the higher side of the Smiling curve. Countries like America have been on the higher side of the Smiling curve while Asian countries like India and China were stuck with the low level manufacturing jobs. So if the Asian countries want a higher economic growth they need to be on the higher side of the Smiling curve, which in turn means more analysts, researchers, brand image developers are required in these countries. This goes to say, that Asian countries to be able to compete equally with Europe and America require a well-trained, skilled and intellectual workforce. This in turn requires government investment in basic and higher education in Asian countries. Being just the manufacturing countries of the world will not suffice to sustain economic growth levels in the long term. Asian countries need to be on the higher side of the ‘Smiling curve’ to become the developed countries of the world.

Here, I would like to give a further introduction of Mr. Stan Shih. He was a manufacturer of computers for brands like IBM and Compaq, who outsource the manufacturing to countries like Taiwan. Soon, he realized the reason why the big companies were getting more popular and richer while companies like his remained unknown. He invested in research, analysis, branding, and distribution and today we know his company as ‘Acer’. Yes, he is the founder of Acer and today Acer is one of the top selling computer brands worldwide.