Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Trademark of a Celebrity.

These days it’s no longer enough to own a Vertu Diamond phone, a luxury yacht, an IPL team or a holiday home in Jumeirah Palm Island to qualify for celebrityhood. The ‘Big Kahuna’ test is whether you can trademark your name or not.

Shah Rukh Khan learned about this new licence for stardom a little earlier than most of our twinkle types. He filed for an application with the Controller General of Patents and Trademarks on 26th September 2008. Thanks to that masterstroke, the name ‘Shah Rukh Khan’ is a protected property under Class 41.

What that ‘protection’ means is: there can be no other Shah Rukh Khan on TV, Radio, Animation and Entertainment in India till 2018. Incidentally, SRK was not the first celebrity in the sub continent to trademark his name. Oscar winner AR Rahman beat him to it by filing his application on 29th April 2008!

Mallika Sherawat, Sachin Tendulkar, Kajol, Baba Ramdev, Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and cardiologist Naresh Trehan are the only others who’ve exercised the option of converting their name into an intellectual property. Surprisingly the ultra narcissistic Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Vijay Mallya have refrained from trade marking their names.

While one might be tempted to lampoon the TM trend, let’s be very clear that it has its practical uses. Kajol, for instance, can leverage it in three ways: she could generate revenues by loaning her trademark to a product within the realm of entertainment; she could theoretically nip all potential misuse of her real & virtual identity with defamation suits; and most importantly, she can earn royalties from all future commercial deployment of her name.

Recently, BeyoncĂ© Knowles and Jay-Z pushed the celebrity stakes one notch higher when they approached the USPTO for trade marking ‘Blue Ivory Carter’ - their new born baby’s name! It is to be seen if Abhi & Ash mimic this strategy.

Even if they do, they might hit a roadblock if the name is as commonplace as ‘Abhilasha’. The key is to be distinctive. My take is, ‘Aaradhya Bachchan’ may stand a better chance of making a mark with the patent office.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Namewala Algorithm

If a mystic meteor were to crash into our planet and wipe out our collective memory of names, we’ll still have the wherewithal to rename every single person. The species we call ‘Mad Bawas’ deserve all credit for empowering us earthlings with this lifesaving technique which shall henceforth be referred to as the ‘Namewala Algorithm’.

The ‘Namewala Algorithm’ posits that anyone can generate a name for oneself by following the F + P formula. F here stands for any random first name and P is the profession you’re enamoured with or the craft that’s traditionally associated with your family. The beauty of the formulation is that it can create the most logical names custom-made for all earthly and unearthly languages.

So if you happen to be a tailor and Urdu is your mother tongue, you get Darzi as your P-name. Just append a meaningless Arabic sound like ‘Alkaza’ as your F-name and ta-da, you get Alkaza Darzi as your identity! Following this train of thought, if you were English, your name could be Ashley Taylor. If Spanish, make that Alfredo Modisto and if you were Swahili, you could opt for, say Mbsili Mshonaji.

Such an elegant method was invented by the refugee Parsis of the 19th century when they decided to give their faceless selves, a facelift. The first set of pioneers in a fit of nostalgia preferred their P-names to reflect Place of Settlement. Broacha (from Bharuch), Bilimoria (Bilimora), Khambhatta (Cambay) and Jhunjhunwala (Jhunjhunu) are some famous examples.

The latter day Parsis carved out their own distinctive personas by picking aptronyms (aptly suited names) based on professions. Mistry, Zaveri, Ustad, and Shroff were the bold precursors. Tijoriwala, Sopariwala, Daruwala, Lakdawala, Bandookwala, Furniturewala, Screwwala, Treasurywala and Sodabottleopenerwala followed suit with their semi-obvious surnames. Then came the, ultra anglicised Merchants, Bankers, Pilots, Doctors, Engineers and Lawyers. Today we have folks with surnames like ‘Winemaker’, ‘Writer’ and ‘Reporter’.

Given the penchant of Gen Y to be more innovative than the previous generations, I won’t be surprised if we get to see ‘DJ’, ‘Coder’, ‘Actor’, ‘Magician’, ‘Guitarwala’ ‘Tattoowala’ and ‘Bikewala’ soon. Any which way, we’re ready for the festival of the thousand walas!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Judge a book by its cover.

Having been weaned on a literary diet of 25 text books, 4.5 novels, 3 dictionaries and 1 epic facebook account, I can authoritatively declare that titles are like newspaper headlines. Their tone and tenor reveal the soul of the book

If the title is deliberately soporific like a daily we know, then the book will be pretentiously intellectual. ‘The Wealth of Nations’ by Adam Smith, ‘Development as Freedom’ by Amartya Sen and ‘Class War: The Attack on Working People’ by Noam Chomsky, are telling examples.

Pulpy paperbacks prefer something tabloidy. Think ‘Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter’, ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ and ‘Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus’ to appreciate my point better.

And the truly sidey ones use a yellow journalistic sleaziness to tease your senses. I’ve spent a considerable amount of my wasted life in hunting down such kitschy book titles. Here’s the best of the worst:

On top of my list is ‘How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art’ by Kathleen Meyer. Apparently the book is awash with heaps of advice on relieving oneself while camping out. It beats me how anyone can write or read such crap.

Carl Japikse’s breathtaking spiritual parody ‘The Zen of Farting’ ranks a close second. I wonder if anyone will sit next to you if you were carrying this 104-pager on a flight!

‘Pornogami – A Guide to the Ancient Art of Paper-Folding for Adults’ by Master Sugoi is an equally baffling book to chance upon. The kinky pleasure of transforming pieces of paper into objects of erotica is the premise of Pornogami. Don’t ask me who’ll buy it. May be Shiny Ahuja or Dominique Strauss-Kahn?

If you couldn’t handle that one, how about leafing through ‘If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs’? tells us that it’s a love-guide for women from a been-there-done-that guy. Can’t imagine who’ll want to order such poppycock.

‘Living with Crazy Buttocks’, ‘The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories’ and ‘101 Super Uses for Tampon Applicators’ offer further evidence for my theory that the more pick-me-up the title, the more put-me-down it will be.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Understanding the Albert Pintos

Quick quiz! What was Bobby’s surname in the Raj Kapoor blockbuster ‘Bobby’? What was Kareena Kapoor’s surname in the recently released rom-com ‘Ek Main Aur Ek Tu’? And final question: Archana Puran Singh played a flirtatious college professor in ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’. What was her moniker in that movie?

If you are as clueless as Manmohan Singh now, let me reveal the solution. The answer to all the three posers is: Braganza!

See, as always Bollywood has turned out to be utterly predictable. If you talk to people from Goa, they will reel out many more instances to showcase the limited imagination of our screenwriters. Here are a few samplers: when in doubt, it’s either Albert or Anthony Gonsalves; if it’s a brother, it has to be Fernando; a sidekick always means Fonseca or Mendonca; and all licentious Goan women get labelled as Julie.

Fortunately, the tapestry of Goan Christian names is far richer than we can imagine. So may be next time when some ‘Anurag Kashyap Type’ sits down to write a screenplay, it might just help to mull over the nomenclatural beauties on offer before freezing on a suitable name.

For instance, if the character is a wily fox, he could be called Lobo (meaning ‘wolf’). A sailor can be a D’Costa (Portugese for ‘from the coast’). A wild guy can be a D’Silva (‘from the forest’). A pastor can be termed a D’Cruz (‘from the cross’). A mine owner can be a Ferreira (‘one from the iron mine’) and a thirsty-for-success bloke could be a Sequeira (‘from arid land’).

In case, the hunt is for a little exotic surname, the choice could be between Simoes (‘son of Simon’), Couto (‘from an enclosed pasture’), Brito (‘from Brittany’), Miranda (‘wondrous or lovely’), Saldanha (‘from Saldana, a town in Spain’), Correa (‘one who trades in leather fastening goods’), Perreira (‘surrounded by Pear trees’), Carvalho (‘Oak tree’) and Moraes (‘living among Mulberry trees’).

When none of the above works, try Dias (‘son of Diego’), Gomes (‘man), or just gulp some Feni and your pride, and settle for the evergreen Gonsalves (one who fights without weapons) or simply Pinto (‘the speckled one’)!