Our Obsession With Steve Jobs – “The Man In The Machine”

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

We are obsessed with Steve Jobs. We just can’t seem to get enough of him. There is a new book out about Jobs and two different films about the iconic Silicon Valley entrepreneur. This is not including the 2011 book by Walter Isaacson and the 2013 Hollywood film “Jobs,” with Ashton Kutcher that did not do well at the box-office.

Jobs” was the book Isaacson wrote with inputs from Jobs himself. The story goes that Jobs reached out to Isaacson to write this authorized biography. Released in 2011 right after Jobs passed away, the book became an instant hit. Folks made a beeline to buy the book, and so did I. This was the book to read to find out the story of Jobs, and his obsession with technology, fonts and his trip to India.

What we have come to learn since the publication of Isaacson’s book is that folks in Apple were not exactly happy with it. Earlier this year Sir Jonathan Ive had this to say in an interview with Ian Parker of the The New  Yorker magazine:

“In a later conversation, Ive said that he’d read only parts of the book, but had seen enough to dislike it, for what he called inaccuracies. “

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook seems to share Ive’s feelings about Isaacson’s book. This is what Cook says in a new book on Jobs, excerpts of which were published in Fortune.

“I thought the Isaacson book did him a tremendous disservice,” says  Cook, speaking out three years later. “It was just a rehash of a bunch of stuff that had already been written, and focused on small parts of his personality.”

So, now there is a new book on Jobs with inputs from key people in Apple and Laurene Powell-Jobs. “Becoming Steve Jobs,” by Rick Tetzeli and  Brent Schlender was released last month. You can read reviews of the book here and here.

Besides this new book there are two new films on Jobs. The first is a film by Academy Award winner Danny Boyle who just wrapped up the shooting of the film in San Francisco bay area. Boyle’s film is due to release by the end of this year. The film stars Michael Fassbender, Seth Rogen, Kate Winselet and others. The film is based on  Isaacson’s biography on Jobs.

Then there is a new documentary by Alex Gibney called “Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine,” that made its debut at South By South West earlier this year. This film looks at Jobs with a critical eye at his leadership and legacy.

Steve Jobs: The Man In The Machine,” has created quite a bit of buzz here in San Francisco bay area. It is the opening night film for the 58th San Francisco International Film Festival, where Gibney will be in attendance. This is the film I am looking forward. What new dimensions of Jobs will we discover in this film? Jobs changed our world and how we experience the world in so many different ways. But, how did he do that? Perhaps that is what this film is about. I don’t know. I will find out tomorrow when I watch the film.

And one more thing – if  you want to see every Steve Jobs video there is a YouTube channel for that. Here is a candid interview with Jobs on his legacy from a 1994 interview.

 Photo: Jon Snyder/Wired.com
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PODCAST: Dr. Salman Akhtar on History of Bollywood Cinema Part-3

Dr. Salman Akhtar

Dr. Salman Akhtar

Dr. Salman Akhtar talks about Bollywood or Hindi cinema’s 100 year old history in this multi-part interview. In Part-3 of our conversation he talks about female sexuality and the angry young phase of Hindi cinema during the 1970s.

“I will tell you a very interesting story about female sexuality in Hindi film,” he says. And he shares the story of a 1973 film called “Prem Parvat.” Directed by Ved Rahi the film starred Hema Malini, Rehang Sultana and Satish Kaul.  His father Jan Nisar Akhtar wrote  Raat Piya Ke Saangh, an erotic song for the film. The song reflects the sexual tension of the film at a critical juncture explains Dr. Akhtar. Initially India’s Film Censor Board objected to the song and questioned his father on why he wrote such an erotic song. It is interesting to hear Mr. Akhtar’s explanation of how he wrote the song and the alternative lines he could have used that was far more erotic. The song was approved by the censors.

A major strand in Hindi cinema was the “angry young man” phase. Javed Akhtar and Salim Khan collaborated under  “Salim-Javed” and wrote the screen play of many of the films in the angry young man genre like “Zanjeer,” “Deewar,” “Don” and other super hit films. Why did these angry young man films resonate with the audience in India? Why did Salim-Javed write such film scripts?  Why was Amitabh Bachchan repeatedly cast as the young angry young man in these films? There was a sense of betrayal by the government to its people explains Dr. Akhtar. These films came during India’s 25th anniversary as an independent nation and it was at a time when the country’s economic growth was sluggish. The socio-political environment in the country was reflected in these film scripts.

LISTEN: DR. SALMAN AKHTAR ON HISTORY OF BOLLYWOOD CINEMA PART-3

In case you missed here is Part-1 of our conversation where Dr.  Akhtar talks about his family and what got him interested in the history of Hindi cinema. Dr. Akhtar is a Psychiatrist and a professor at Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He has has written extensively on  psychiatry, psychoanalysis and about poetry and films. And in Part-2 Dr. Akhtar talks about the profound sexual angst in the films from the 1950s and 1960s.

And here is a scene from “Deewar,” one of the angry young man films of Amitabh Bachchan.

 

Photo courtesy of Dr. Salman Akhtar

 

Earth Day, John Muir And America’s National Park System

Muir Woods

Muir Woods

This week as you celebrate Earth Day, you may want to remember the California naturalist, who played a key role to help create awareness and advocate the preservation of America’s natural wilderness. If it were not for him, we would not be paying our annual pilgrimage to the various National Parks of America from the Grand Canyon to Yosemite National Park.

That man is John Muir, a naturalist, conservationist and co-founder of the Sierra Club.  April 21, 1838 is the day John Muir (1838-1914) was born in Dunbar, Scotland. When he was about 11 years old his family moved to America and settled down in Wisconsin. In 1868 he travelled to California and visited Yosemite, and two years later he wrote his first article on Yosemite Glaciers. He spent a lot of time exploring Yosemite over the next few years and traveled extensively on the west coast and other parts of the world.

Muir was in some ways responsible for drawing the attention to help preserve these vast swathes of natural forests in California and other parts of America. Muir eventually settled down in Martinez, not far San Francisco and became a passionate advocate to preserve the natural wilderness of America. In 1890 Congress passed acts that created Sequoia National Forest and Yosemite National Park.

President Teddy Roosevelt came to visit Muir in California and the two of them spent a few days walking around Yosemite. Roosevelt is supposed to have listened to Muir on how to help conserve America’s natural wilderness. A couple of years later Roosevelt introduced an Act for the Preservation of American Antiquities,

Muir died a disappointed man in 1914. He was opposed to the building of O’Shaughnessy dam dam at Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. His opposition fell on deaf years and the dam was built to provide water to San Francisco area, and continues to be the main source of water to this region.

Recently, we visited Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. Our goal was to hike up to Wapama Fall, which is a round trip of about 5 miles form the entrance of the reservoir This is where the O’Shaughnessy dam was built over 100 years ago

 

 

Over $10 Billion Invested by Venture Capitalists In 2015

In last night’s episode of HBO’s Silicon Valley, you watched the good folks at Pied Piper struggling to raise their first round of funding from Venture Capitalists (VC). This, after being chased by VCs, who were eager to invest in the startup in last week’s episode. You may have fleetingly wondered how much was actually invested by VC’s in the first quarter of 2015? Well, the number are out.  $13.4 billion was invested according to this press release from The National Venture Capital Association.  This amount was invested in 1,020 deals.

So what is the pattern? Which sector got the most and which region got the maximum dollars you ask? Unsurprisingly, the software industry ranks first when it comes to those investment dollars, and the biotechnology sector ranked second. When you break down the investments by region it should come as no surprise that Silicon Valley ranks first.

Here is a link to a nifty info graph  about the investment dollars, sectors, regions and other useful information from the MoneyTree report about VC investments in the first quarter of 2015

VIDEO: Noah Cowan on 58th San Francisco International Film Festival

 

San Francisco Film Society (SFFS) is gearing up to host the 58th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 23 – May 7, 2015). This is the longest running film festival in the Americas points out Noah Cowan, Executive Director of SFFS.

What is different about this year’s festival I asked Cowan. The actual festival itself won’t feel different to long time film festival audience he points out. What is different is they have reorganized the programming to reflects the tastes of the audience. “You can find your own tribe,” is how he puts it. If you like bigger movies, you may prefer the Marquee section. Or, if you like beautiful films from around the world, you may like the World Visions section he adds.

What is the long term strategic direction of the festival? “There is no other place like San Franciso Bay area in the world,” he says. In the past they ignored San Francisco Bay area values and are acknowledging it this year’s festival. These bay area values include an interest and curiosity in technology and innovation, lifestyle, environment and food among other things. So, this year they look at film styles that reflect San Francisco bay area values on technology, innovation and lifestyle he adds.

This video is a highlight of our upcoming extended interview with Cowan.

Here is a trailer from Stanley Nelson’s “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.”

 

Steve Wozniak and Stan Lee Teaming Up To Bring Silicon Valley’s Comic-Con

Comic-Con

Comic-Con

Steve Wozniak has joined hands with Stan Lee to launch Silicon Valley Comic-Con 2016. And the announcement has created a lot of buzz and you don’t have to look into your crystal ball to predict that this will be a successful event.

“I’m teaming up with friends to make this happen because I want to give Silicon Valley it’s very own kind of Comic Con where everyone can have fun enjoying what they love,” Wozniak wrote on the event’s website. “There are lots of fans like me in San Francisco and the Valley, and I’m excited that now we’ll have a Comic Con with our very own flavor.”

Wozniak is the co-founder of Apple Inc. Lee is the legendary figure associated with co-creating Marvel super heroes like Spider-Man, The Hulk and Iron Man. You can follow Wozniak and  Lee on Twitter

Silicon Valley’s first Comic-Con will be at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose on March 19-20, 2016.

The first Comic-Con was held in San Diego in 1970. Today, it is a 4-day event attended by  comic fans, entertainers, filmmakers, gamers and others.   Besides San Diego, there are other places that host their own Comic-Con, including one in India.

Video: Star Wars The Force Awakens

Take a look at the new trailer of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” directed JJ Abrams. The screenplay is by Lawrence Kasdan and JJ Abrams. The film stars Harrison Ford, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega Lupita Nyong’o and others.

This much anticipated film  releases on December 18, 2015.

Earlier this year, I got a chance to interview Kasdan at Silicon Valley’s Cinequest film festival. Here is that interview, where we spoke about Star Wars, writing and George Lucas.

PODCAST: MIKEY McCLEARY ON CREATING MUSIC FOR BOLLYWOOD

Mikey McCleary

Listen to Mikey McCleary on The Kamla Show

Meet Mikey McCleary, musician, composer and music producer.He has been kept busy creating music for Bollywood films and Indian advertisements, and lately he has branched out to score music for Indian-American filmmaker Shonali Bose’s “Margarita With A Straw”

If his name is unfamiliar, his music must certainly be familiar to most of us. You might have heard his track from “Bombay Velvet” that releases later this year; or, his Tu Hi Tu from “Nautanki Sala.” Perhaps this track from “Shanghai.” or Khoya Khoya Chand from “Shaitan” is a favorite. Then again, you probably would recognize the catchy jingles he put together for Vodafone or Levi’s?

We spoke with McCleary last month on a wide range of topics ranging from his early years in India to his teenage years growing up in New Zealand, the music and bands he listened to, and how he came to compose music for Bollywood films and for Bose’s “”Margarita With A Straw,” his first international film.

McCleary’s musical  taste is eclectic, and this is clearly reflected in the music he is creating in Bollywood. As a teenager he listened to a wide variety of music, his favourites being David Bowie, Dire Straits, Queen, Bob Dylan and Cure.  He enjoyed classical music as well. He studied music and composition in New Zealand before moving to London to work in a recording studio. It was during his stint in London that he helped his former brother-in-law (an Indian)  produce his first album. They ended up working on 3 albums.

About 7 years ago McCleary relocated to Mumbai, the entertainment capital of India and home to Bollywood, the biggest film industry in the world. McCleary first worked in the advertisement industry and produced some memorable jingles. He then got a break making music for Bollywood films.

“India has a way of becoming addictive,” he says. It is not just India that is addictive, but also those vintage classic Hindi film music. His wife Diksha Basu introduced him to Hindi classic songs and he seems to have a special fondness for Geeta Dutt songs.

McCleary is reimagining some of the old Hindi songs in new ways. Often, he introduces a swing element to the the music, and the re-invented songs have found a new audience in India. In fact it is just such a re-worked version of Dutt’s song that is featured in “Bombay Velvet.”

He has produced 3 albums under The Bartender series that pay homage to old Hindi songs; one of the albums is devoted entirely to songs from Amitabh Bachchan’s films. A hallmark of his music is the manner in which he encourages his singers to be inventive with different styles without being tied down to the customery renditions traditional to Bollywood. “I like to encourage my singers to push their voices, to explore different sounds”. For instance he encouraged one his singers to cultivate an ‘Amy Winehouse’s vibe‘ in her voice. Anushka Manchanda, Shalmali Kholgade, Mauli Dave and Rachel Varghese are some of the singers he has worked with to nurture their innovative atistry.

 

LISTEN: MIKEY McCLEARY ON CREATING MUSIC FOR BOLLYWOOD

 

Besides the 3 albums devoted to Hindi classic songs, McCleary produced his first album “TV Dinners” in English. The album features songs from his popular jingles, except he extended them into full fledged numbers. There are 5 music videos that he has made featuring some of the tracks from his new album.

What is next in store for Mikey? He is working on two new projects. He is writing a story for a musical film and working on producing a new album.

 

And, here is a short playlist of McCleary’s music.

Songs featured courtesy of  Saregama

Photo credit: Mikey McCleary

VIDEO: HOLLYWOOD ACTOR TIYA SIRCAR

 

Meet Hollywood actor and TV star Tiya Sircar. We caught up with her at this year’s Cinequest film festival in Silicon Valley. She was here for the world premiere of her new film “Miss India America.”

A couple of years ago Sircar spent time in Silicon Valley filming for “The Internship.” Naturally one of the first questions we asked was about her role as an Indian-American nerd at Google. What was it like to film inside Google headquarters or Googleplex as it is know?  Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan play 30+ interns at Google this film.

What was it like to work for  “Miss India America,” where she plays the central character of Lily Prasad, an intense and driven young Indian American woman who has her entire life charted in her “Lily Plan.” Sircar shares she normally gets to play “ethnically ambiguous role,” and in general does not get to explore the familial dynamics of a South Asian community in her film or TV projects. So playing an Indian American was a change for her she says. “I kind of felt a kinship with Lily Prasad,” she adds.

We then switched gears to find out what changes she sees in Hollywood for South Asian actors?  For example, how has the emergence of Mindy Kaling changed the perception of South Asian actors in the entertainment industry? Kaling writes and stars in “The Mindy Project,” a very successful TV show. Sircar says she sees tangible changes and maybe it is because of “The Mindy Project.” Kaling is funny, smart and empowered and writes her own material. “She is the whole package,”” she says and that has opened up the possibility of playing a South Asian lead. Roles are specifically being written for Indian American and we are “right on the brink of pushing those barriers and hopefullyyou don’t have to ask this question in 5 or 10 years,” Sircar says.

“Bollywood or Bengali films?” was our final question. You will have to tune in to find the answer.

Sircar has acted in films like “The Internship” (2013) and  “Friends With Benefits” (2011) and on TV shows like  “Star War Rebles,” “Vampire Diaries,” “Witches of East End,” and “The Crazy One.”

Bollywood or Bengali films?

Podcast: Dr. Salman Akhtar on History of Hindi Cinema or Bollywood Part-2

Dr. Salman Akhtar

Dr. Salman Akhtar

Dr. Salman Akhtar talks about the 100 year old  history of Bollywood or Hindi cinema in this multi-part interview. Dr. Akhtar comes from a family of poets and writers in India. His father Jan Nisar Akhtar worked in Hindi film industry as a lyricist and poet. His mother Safia Akhtar was a talented writer & poet.  His brother Javed Akhtar is a well-known writer and lyricist in Bollywood.

In Part-2 of our conversation Dr.Akhtar talks about the roots of Hindi cinema that is an amalgamation of Parsi theatre and other traveling theatres in India. During the early period Hindi films were predominately about mythologies and then in the 1950s there was shift to family oriented and love triangle stories.  Dr. Akhtar says there was a profound sexual anxiety theme in many of these films and women were split into 2 categories: the good woman and the vamps. Men did not exhibit comfortable sexuality towards women during this period and neither was it acceptable.There was a false understanding of women during this period he says.

Therefore when a man got married in Hindi films, the picture ended. There was a reluctance to go into the intimate side of a marriage or a relationship. Raj Kapoor was probably the one exception when it comes to exploring female sexuality he adds.

As an example Dr. Akhtar looks at the iconic song Roop Tera Mastana from Shakti Samanta’s “Aradhana.”  The song is in a man’s voice and there is not one active affirmation of female sexuality he points out. He explores the theme of female sexuality in Hindi cinema in Part-3 of our conversation.

This interview was recorded in 2006.

LISTEN: DR. SALMAN AKHAR ON HISTORY OF HINDIA CINEMA PART-2

In case you missed here is Part-1 of our conversation where Dr. Salman Akhtar talks about his family and what got him interested in the history of Hindi cinema. Dr. Akhtar is a Psychiatrist and a professor at Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He has has written extensively on  psychiatry, psychoanalysis and about poetry and films.

And here is a video of the song Roop Tera Mastana from “Aradhana” starring Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore.