bollywood obsession

What’s with these non-Indians reviewing our movie trailers?

Indian visitors flock to Western reviews of trailers and movies on YouTube. Do we enjoy the validation?

There seems to be a surge of non-Indians reviewing Indian movie trailers – a concept that several Indian YouTubers are lapping up with glee. Is this reverse-fascination feeding our attempts at first world acceptance?

Jaby Koay is one such YouTube user. Based out of California in the United States of America, Koay is a filmmaker who reacts to American movies and trailers and shoots some of his own work. But it is his reviews of Indian movie trailers that earn him YouTube views in the thousands and a dedicated list of subscribers. Supported by two Indian women, Moumita and Akeira, who mostly function from behind the scenes to aid “comprehension,” Koay invites several other American guests to pair up with him on camera for twice the amount of awkwardness that can be faced should the reaction goes awry.
Jaby and Moumita review ‘Udta Punjab’.

While Moumita and Akeira do feed Koay the latest titles, his increased popularity has resulted in movie recommendation requests from his Indian fans. Apart from reviewing the trailers of Fan or Udta Punjab, Koay can also be seen digging into the past with the trailers of such films as Rang De Basanti, Agneepath and Commando. The result? Kay’s YouTube channel is full of enthusiastic Indians who throng the comments section, correcting Koay’s mistakes (should there be any), affirming the quality of the film whose trailer he just reviewed, and fighting over superstars.

It helps that Koay is incredibly affable and mindfully respectful and responds almost enthusiastically to every trailer, from the very bizarre ones to the genuinely good films. But what purpose do these videos serve and who are they intended for? Koay and his guest attempt to explain whatever it is that takes place in the trailer and the story they may have deduced from it – an endeavour that horribly misfires when the trailers have no subtitles. If the endeavour is aimed at American audiences keen on exploring Indian cinema, it’s potentially useless. However, if it is an attempt at self-deprecating humour — the “Look at us failing at your culture” — who is cracking up?

Koay is one of the better ones on YouTube. Several other popular channels such as The Reel Rejects, Toma Puck, TravelTura, and Grissle’s World, regularly update their feed to showcase their eager impressions of the latest Indian (particularly Hindi) cinema offerings. Most of these videos offer insipid commentaries with the only novelty being reverse sycophancy. For a change, it is foreigners fawning over what we have to offer. They seem genuinely delighted by the song-and-dance routines and enthralled by the over-the-top fight sequences. And should non-commercial fare come across their way, they are surprised and ready to applaud.

Toma Puck’s reaction to the trailer of ‘Hate Story 3’.

The point that causes most wonderment is the number of Indian users visiting these channels. The reactions from many users seem banal at best and derisory at worst. For a country that year after year produces impassioned reactions to the Academy Awards rejecting our representations, does this even need explanation?

For a long time, Indian cinema’s refusal to comply with the aesthetics of world cinema made it a standalone industry that was unique in its treatment. We scoffed at the Oscars for refusing to comprehend our vibrant spirit, but the scene has changed over the past few years, with filmmakers looking to make rooted and realistic dramas. Our craving for an Academy Award is now stronger than ever. We celebrate our movies that are showcased at Cannes and pride ourselves on festival wins.

Technically, these YouTube channels are making money by reacting to videos created by other users. As Jaby Koay recently explained, Indian film companies who find their trailers on his site are eager to make some money off the exchange. This has forced Koay to split his trailer reviews into a reaction and a review so he could at least make money off the latter while getting monetised for the former.

Despite the Oscars ignoring us, we’re appreciative when American audiences enjoy what we have to offer. And as long as American YouTube channels have great things to say about our work, they will have our subscription.

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Behind the garb of wealth and success, white collar criminals are hiding in plain sight

Understanding the forces that motivate leaders to become fraudsters.

Most con artists are very easy to like; the ones that belong to the corporate society, even more so. The Jordan Belforts of the world are confident, sharp and can smooth-talk their way into convincing people to bend at their will. For years, Harshad Mehta, a practiced con-artist, employed all-of-the-above to earn the sobriquet “big bull” on Dalaal Street. In 1992, the stockbroker used the pump and dump technique, explained later, to falsely inflate the Sensex from 1,194 points to 4,467. It was only after the scam that journalist Sucheta Dalal, acting on a tip-off, broke the story exposing how he fraudulently dipped into the banking system to finance a boom that manipulated the stock market.


In her book ‘The confidence game’, Maria Konnikova observes that con artists are expert storytellers - “When a story is plausible, we often assume it’s true.” Harshad Mehta’s story was an endearing rags-to-riches tale in which an insurance agent turned stockbroker flourished based on his skill and knowledge of the market. For years, he gave hope to marketmen that they too could one day live in a 15,000 sq.ft. posh apartment with a swimming pool in upmarket Worli.

One such marketman was Ketan Parekh who took over Dalaal Street after the arrest of Harshad Mehta. Ketan Parekh kept a low profile and broke character only to celebrate milestones such as reaching Rs. 100 crore in net worth, for which he threw a lavish bash with a star-studded guest-list to show off his wealth and connections. Ketan Parekh, a trainee in Harshad Mehta’s company, used the same infamous pump-and-dump scheme to make his riches. In that, he first used false bank documents to buy high stakes in shares that would inflate the stock prices of certain companies. The rise in stock prices lured in other institutional investors, further increasing the price of the stock. Once the price was high, Ketan dumped these stocks making huge profits and causing the stock market to take a tumble since it was propped up on misleading share prices. Ketan Parekh was later implicated in the 2001 securities scam and is serving a 14-years SEBI ban. The tactics employed by Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh were similar, in that they found a loophole in the system and took advantage of it to accumulate an obscene amount of wealth.


Call it greed, addiction or smarts, the 1992 and 2001 Securities Scams, for the first time, revealed the magnitude of white collar crimes in India. To fill the gaps exposed through these scams, the Securities Laws Act 1995 widened SEBI’s jurisdiction and allowed it to regulate depositories, FIIs, venture capital funds and credit-rating agencies. SEBI further received greater autonomy to penalise capital market violations with a fine of Rs 10 lakhs.

Despite an empowered regulatory body, the next white-collar crime struck India’s capital market with a massive blow. In a confession letter, Ramalinga Raju, ex-chairman of Satyam Computers convicted of criminal conspiracy and financial fraud, disclosed that Satyam’s balance sheets were cooked up to show an excess of revenues amounting to Rs. 7,000 crore. This accounting fraud allowed the chairman to keep the share prices of the company high. The deception, once revealed to unsuspecting board members and shareholders, made the company’s stock prices crash, with the investors losing as much as Rs. 14,000 crores. The crash of India’s fourth largest software services company is often likened to the bankruptcy of Enron - both companies achieved dizzying heights but collapsed to the ground taking their shareholders with them. Ramalinga Raju wrote in his letter “it was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten”, implying that even after the realisation of consequences of the crime, it was impossible for him to rectify it.

It is theorised that white-collar crimes like these are highly rationalised. The motivation for the crime can be linked to the strain theory developed by Robert K Merton who stated that society puts pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals (the importance of money, social status etc.). Not having the means to achieve those goals leads individuals to commit crimes.

Take the case of the executive who spent nine years in McKinsey as managing director and thereafter on the corporate and non-profit boards of Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, American Airlines, and Harvard Business School. Rajat Gupta was a figure of success. Furthermore, his commitment to philanthropy added an additional layer of credibility to his image. He created the American India Foundation which brought in millions of dollars in philanthropic contributions from NRIs to development programs across the country. Rajat Gupta’s descent started during the investigation on Raj Rajaratnam, a Sri-Lankan hedge fund manager accused of insider trading. Convicted for leaking confidential information about Warren Buffet’s sizeable investment plans for Goldman Sachs to Raj Rajaratnam, Rajat Gupta was found guilty of conspiracy and three counts of securities fraud. Safe to say, Mr. Gupta’s philanthropic work did not sway the jury.


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The arena of white collar crimes is full of commanding players with large and complex personalities. Billions, starring Damien Lewis and Paul Giamatti, captures the undercurrents of Wall Street and delivers a high-octane ‘ruthless attorney vs wealthy kingpin’ drama. The show looks at the fine line between success and fraud in the stock market. Bobby Axelrod, the hedge fund kingpin, skilfully walks on this fine line like a tightrope walker, making it difficult for Chuck Rhoades, a US attorney, to build a case against him.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.