Sunday, August 7, 2011

The power of Three (DNA After Hrs)

It does not take much to notice what’s common between The Three Stooges, Dil Chahta Hai, 3 Idiots and the latest Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Yes, the ‘three’ factor.

Have you ever wondered why a cast of three protagonists is so popular in movies? We have always been flooded with trios not just in movies but also in novels and fables like The Three Musketeers and Three Little Pigs. Well, the rule of three—the principle of things that come in threes being more effective than any other number—may be the rationale behind the characterisations, but does the theory work in real life and if yes, in what ways?

Shankar Mahadevan, who makes a very successful musical trio with Ehsaan Noorani and Loy Mendonsa feels there are merits in being a trinity. “It is a much better model for decision- making,” he tells After Hrs on phone from Mumbai. The trio, Mahadevan believes, is able to arrive at decisions by voting and applying the majority rule. There are no deadlocks here, he says.

Melven Castelino, the vocalist and keyboard player of the band Cool Boyz comprising three guys, buys Mahadevan’s argument. In times of dispute over anything from rehearsal timing to the order in which songs are performed, they are able to reach a majority on account of being an odd number.

Being three even enables a “better interaction” than being part of a duo—a process, which precedes decision-making.

While a threesome makes sense for logistical reasons for Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Cool Boyz, 3Ds (Teen Dost) employ division of labour and the specialisation approach to their advantage. For Rajan Jain, Jai Ahuja and Jayant Kam- lani who run the restaurant 3D’s in the city, the result is a strong synergy.

“If one plus one makes eleven; one plus one plus one makes a hundred and eleven,” Ahuja says. Jain, he elaborates, is adept at operations, while Kamlani takes care of fund- management and he is the pub- lic face of the business.

Alpana Kedia, Priyamvada Raniwala and Renuka Kedia of Ada also credit the allocation of work to their success. The trio has been organising exhibitions in the city for the last seven years. It is said that a family that plays together stays together. But they are a family that works together!

But what is it particularly about three? Dr ID Gupta, a psychiatrist, dismisses the occurrence of trios on screen as a mere ‘coincidence’. However, Dr Nimish Mittal, who himself has two close friends, guessti- mates, “Maybe two is too less and four is too much.”

Although it is said that ‘two’s company, three’s crowd’; for some having two close friends is like having a back-up. For example, Swati Dhariwal says, “When I was newly married, only one of my two best friends was in the same boat,” she says. She adds that she is grateful the rule of probability worked for her and she had at least someone to relate to rather than having just one friend, who could have been unmarried to boot!

Exemplifying Dr Mittal’s second hypothesis of four exceeding needs is Cool Boyz. Castelino says that in addition to him, a drummer and a guitarist in the band fulfil their musical requirements adequately. Other than redundancy, there is a certain phase for in- vesting in relationships, says Ahuja, 34. He says a staunch no to a fourth member joining their group. “Our phase to experiment has passed,” he laughs.

Call it aversion to adjacent evens or some other logic; three seems to hit the sweet spot for many. ‘Rhythm, vibe and sound... Three individuals meant to be together’ goes the legend on Shankar-Ehsaan- Loy’s website. And it certainly seems to hold true.

While Dhariwal and her two girlfriends have been together for 18 years; Castelino attributes their being in the industry for 20 years to the tri-power they are. “Even the Beatles did not last that long,” he exclaims. Touché?

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My rendezvous with royalty (DNA After Hrs)

On our second day in the city, my husband and I were excited to try this restaurant ‘X Mahal’ as part of exploring the city and its culture. While food may be my husband’s motivation; I had clearly visualised the golden gates of this palace. Then, I imagined, a durbaan— wearing a turban and thick moustache—opening the car-door. After being welcomed with tilak and sweets, I anticipated we would be given a tour of the property: its sprawling lawns, its 108 suites, and of course, the pristine pool. Then, I thought, we would be escorted to the dining area to sample traditional Rajasthani delicacies.

My day-dreaming was interrupted by frequent stops—to find our way to the ‘Mahal.’ I told my husband, “It’s a palace, darling. We can’t miss it.” When people on the street directed us to go through patli galis, I laughed to myself, “What do they know about the Mahal.” After going back and forth and left and right, our wheels landed in a stinking swamp surrounding the restaurant. Jumping across to the pavement, we arrived. On entering the restaurant, a waiter wearing chappals emerged. His first words were “Abhi sirf South Indian milega.” My husband, who had come in with pure culinary expectations, asked to be seated. “Kahin bhi baith jao,” came the bored reply from the waiter. At least, we had the luxury of space.

After a couple of days,we were invited to a distant relative’s house, name of which was affixed with ‘mansion.’ “It seems we have really wealthy relatives here, darling,” I said. I was hoping to
make connections in this city of many palaces; palaces which make the entire city carry that burden of heritage. It turned out that the ‘mansion’ was a dilapidated apartment building which was apparently built when elevators were not invented.

Why do people name their establishments the way they do? Is it to fool tourists or their own selves? Or ‘Mahals’ and ‘mansions’ are so weaved in their conditioning that such exaggerations in nomenclature are built into their sub-conscious? Or is it a competition they know they have lost but their spirit is not allowing them to accept so?

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