Friday, July 18, 2008

Day 33: Freedom Writers/ Our Change of Course

I saw one movie twice in two days. This must be counted as an achievement, specially for me, as I most certainly suffer from Attention Deficiency Disorder, and being able to see a movie twice end-to-end is surely exceptional. I would sometimes do that as I managed to see it only partially - as I have done recently for Lives of Others [which is a brilliant movie based in the erstwhile East Germany], and also seen National Treasure: The Book of Secrets some five times in two months [Did not have much choices on the Emirates Entertainment, the alternative would have been to watch The Independence Day!] - but this one I saw end to end, twice.

All of this started with Hillary Swank. She is surely one of my favourite actresses. She makes things come alive. I thought she looks a bit like Julia Roberts and that's why, but that's not at all true - she does not project JR's femininity or sexiness, and does not have any of her million-dollar smile. I found The Million Dollar Baby very touching, though I wanted to see that for Clint Eastwood. I must also say that I am not yet an unquestioning fan. But I liked most of what I saw of her, especially Boys don't cry and even P.S.: I love You [though I absolutely dreaded the novel, a very tiring one from Cecilia Ahern].

The movie I saw was The Freedom Writers. This is about a post-Rodney King riot, special integration classroom, where a group of kids from different ethnicity have been put together. The white establishment of the once-A-List school, Wilson High, absolutely dreads them, and wish they could go away. The destitute kids forced together in the classroom are doing their part - carrying guns, peddling drugs and importing gang violence inside the class. It was against this complete breakdown of the system, Hillary Swank plays the role of the inspirational Erin Gruwell. We learn that Erin Gruwell is a real-life character, who did what the film says she did. The smart two-hour flick tackles the subject of education - and its transformational impact - with belief and sensitivity, and I thought my four-hour commitment [saw the movie twice!] was every minute worth it.

Meanwhile, there is a lot happening on the English training front in India. The English training business in India also has its own transformational agenda - reaching out to millions of people and empowering them with the ability to speak and understand English, and thus transforming their world - but I shied away from being so ambitious all this while. I defined the objective of our business to be 'to teach English to those who know English'. I did not think we can do more than this given the prices and the structure of the business. However, I had to come through a learning process to learn the obvious - in India, you either do things in volume or you don't do anything. There is no point in creating a luxury brand for English training. But there is enormous value in taking a globally accepted learning system to everyone, at an affordable cost. That will be transformational. I shall spend all my time now making this happen.

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"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

- Theodore Roosevelt

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Will be to arrive where we started
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