The World of Thomas, James and Percy
Is there a way in which I can rewind my life back to childhood so that I can enjoy these small pleasures?
At a time when RmKV Silks has been rising the ranks due to its successful launch of the 50,000 colour saree and other popular collections, we get to hear the news about the tragic death of the brainchild behind all these accomplishments.
MR K. Viswanathan (48), Partner, RmK Visvanatha Pillai & Sons, died in a road accident near Tirunelveli. His approach to marketing the traditional silk saris and the silk `pavadai'(long skirt) made RmKV a household name, not just in Chennai and Tirunelveli, where RmKV has stores, but in all places that silk saris are worn.
RmKV created a buzz around the traditional Kanchipuram sari by setting a Guinness Record for the longest silk sari in 2004. Last year, RmKV came out with another Guinness Record, a special check patterned sari with 50,000 colours woven into it.
Mr Viswanathan's branding of the traditional silk pavadai with fairy tale themes such as Cinderella and Snow White brought it back into fashion.
What better way to launch a magazine than a controversy surrounding it? I hadn’t heard about MAXIM till Khushboo came out with a statement objecting to some morphed pictures in MAXIM India’s inaugural issue. The curiosity factor generated out of this issue would have probably resulted in more people buying the mag.
The publishers of Indian Maxim have clearly calculated that 20-something men in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad are just as puerile and inane as their counterparts in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
More curiously, they believe they have identified a new demographic: the Indian Lad. So who do they have in mind?
Apparently, a call centre employee who is earning more in his mid-20s than his father was being paid in his mid-40s; a young man with small-town roots but big-city ambitions.
A social climber keen to sample the best food, wine, clothes, movies and machines; an image-conscious trend-follower with enough disposable income to afford the latest gizmos and gadgets; a guy with his finger closely on the pulse and the latest mobile phone in his palm.
It is the personification of the new, metro-centric India.
I hope the Western world doesn’t get an impression that India is a land full of snake charmers at one end and call center employees at the other end.
South Indian screen icon Rajnikanth will be the star of a new full-length animation feature. Being produced by Anil Ambani's Adlabs in collaboration with the Chennai-based superstar's production house, Ocher Studios, the film will mark Adlabs' first foray into the world of animation.
With the way Dhanush’s career is progressing, it’s better he also gets himself involved in such animation films.
Even a bad guess would have helped you in spotting this dangerous star.
Madhu Balakrishnan shot to fame with Parthiban Kanavu. In terms of sheer numbers, he has not sung that many songs to get noticed. Madhu Balakrishnan’s Oru Kili and Thangakkili (both from Paramasivan) are definitely worth a try.
With very little to differentiate between them, there is a possibility that one of them will lose out in the long run.
Vidyasagar gets inspired by Mudhalvan
Inspiration is not new to the music industry. Vidyasagar might not be as bad as Deva but he doesn’t have a clean slate either. He had directly lifted a piece from the string quartet Bond for a song in the movie Parthiban Kanavu. His recent release Thambi is not devoid of such inspirations. The song Sudum Nilavu seems to be strongly influenced by ARR’s Azhagaana Ratchasiye (Mudhalvan).
Just realized that SUN TV has changed the time of its programs (for S’pore viewers) to suit Singapore timings. Sometime in April 2005, I had cribbed about the lack of separate feeds for different geographies in Asia (ANZ, South East Asia and Middle East). Looks like people don’t need to stay up till midnight to watch their favourite (?!) mega serial.
A literal translation of a national ad may not necessarily work in the Tamilnadu market. Ramanujam Sridhar writes about how ads need to be customized to suit the TN market. Some excerpts:
Many of my friends and contemporaries grew up in an environment where Hindi was an alien language. Thanks to the politicians who had been behind the `anti-Hindi' agitations, many of us could not read or write Hindi, including myself. Our understanding and appreciation of the language was limited, to say the least.
In the '80s and '90s, commercials used to be conceptualised in English and posed several problems in translation, but today they seem to be primarily conceived with the Hindi belt in mind.
Translations turn out stilted and are almost laughable in their execution. Some of the situations too are completely alien to the average Tamilian - the Chevrolet Optra ad featuring Karva Chauth, which is a way of life in the rest of India, means very little to Chennai notwithstanding the Dilwale Dulhania Lejayenges of this world.
I think where advertisers and advertising agencies come to grief in translation is where the creative thought is essentially Hindi — Chinta Mani — or has a clever turn of phrase, like "Cheetah Bhi Peeta Hai" for Mountain Dew. The challenge for agencies is to create advertising that is not dependant on a clever turn of phrase but on the power of an idea that cuts across languages and cultures.
Tamil Nadu is an important market with its own characteristics. And yet it is changing, perceptibly and imperceptibly. It is not made up of the "Hindi down down!" consumers of the '70s though it is not entirely comfortable with Hindi concepts. The average Tamilian is not a diehard conservative as the Khushboo bashers would like us to believe. Advertising agencies must try to "push the envelope."
It looks like banks are targetting all and sundry with a No-frills savings account. Some of the charges are exorbitant and I would be surprised if this becomes a success. These customers might be better off sticking to public sector banks.
Technology is expected to bring down costs, but ICICI Bank is charging an annual fee of Rs. 100 for usage of Internet Banking / Mobile Banking. Few years ago, a Malaysian bank (can’t recollect the name now) proposed an access fee for Internet banking transactions and this move received flak from the customers. The bank had to withdraw it’s proposed pricing for Internet transactions.
New Indian Express captures the confusion in the minds of the Chennai public:
Condom vending machines installed at various spots in the city have been drawing inquisitive looks as many people are not aware of their usage. Many mistake the machines for telephone booths. And those who identify the machines feel shy to use them.
Randeep Ramesh writes in Guardian about the reform process in West Bengal. I don't understand the statement about the impact of Metro in Kolkata. The CM's statements mentions that Metro would only cater to 5 Star hotels and restaurants. Wouldn't Metro sell to other wholesalers as well? Is Metro going to sell only food products in Kolkata?
West Bengal's increasingly warm embrace of foreign capital has paid off. The state has just sold 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) of agricultural land to an Indonesian group in a $10bn deal for a software park and industrial zone building motorbikes, across the river from Calcutta. The state says investors from Singapore are keen to fund and build a new airport. Last year West Bengal signed a $235m contract with P&O to build India's first private port.
Strikes are banned although trade unions did disrupt IT workers last September with street demonstrations. Buddha was furious. "We are totally discouraging to this type of agitation. It's dogmatic and sectarian," he said.
Mr Bhattacharjee bridles at such claims. "I met with Wal-Mart. They wanted to set up a big shopping mall here in Calcutta but I said that we have farmers, fishermen, consumers and lots of small vegetable markets in the city. All would be out of business if Wal-Mart came in." Instead the state will allow the German company Metro to set up shop to provide wholesale produce to five-star hotels and haute cuisine restaurants. "We are not categorically against retail investment but we need to build up a market mechanism. We have to be selective."
I have been a spectator in two of the earlier editions of the tournament and I can definitely say that the atmosphere at the Nungambakkam stadium was quite electric. I understand that the current event has lost its sheen. The two prominent reasons being the lack of top-notch sponsors and the lack of top-notch players. Chennai Open clashes with Adelaide and Doha ATP tournaments, which offer attractive prize money. One should congratulate the TN State government and the Tamilnadu Tennis Association for putting up a brave effort in ensuring that Chennai plays host to this prestigious event every year. The authorities have somehow roped in a group of sponsors till the year 2009. The group consists of PSU banks and some Chennai-based family managed business houses. My only wish is that the authorities and the tennis enthusiasts should work together to revive this event so that it can regain atleast some of the past glory.
ATP has launched some player blog to create some buzz about the tournament. Ivan Ljubicic blogs about his experiences in Chennai. Some excerpts from his blog:
We had the opening ceremony at 4 pm. I was there with Moya, Stepanek and Srichaphan. There was a little bit of rain but it didn’t interrupt us.
Then I did some long, long interviews until 6. 15 pm with lots of newspapers and TV. Everyone was interested in my past season and my goals for the next month. India is a huge country with a lot of people and media, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised with all the questions. I’ve never done so many interviews at one time, but there were lots of interesting questions, so it was fine.
One thing I hadn’t thought of in India is the need to avoid putting ice in your drinks. People have said to me that you never know what type of water was used to make the ice and it could carry some health risks.
Tomorrow my wife will get out and see some of the city. The hotel is really beautiful but it’s not the real Chennai. She wants to see what everyday life in Chennai is like. I hope to be able to take a look around on Wednesday.
Driving from the Chennai airport to the hotel, one of the first things to strike you is just how chaotic the traffic is. While it’s similar to what you find in China and Croatia when you’re off the main highways, I said to my wife ‘I wonder what Americans would make of this?’ It’s hard to comprehend the volume of traffic on the road and the chaotic way people drive. Most of the time there aren’t any traffic lights or lines on the road. People just weave in and out I’m amazed there aren't more accidents.
And, picture this: It’s common to see a man driving a humble motorbike with his wife sitting sidesaddle on the back, holding an infant (or two!) in her arms. No-one is wearing a helmet!