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Sambhar Mafia - Cooked To Kill!

Monday, August 28, 2006

What Keeps Them Going?

New Indian Express has a feature on the food and fitness regime of India's senior politicians. How did they miss Karunanidhi?

Does Online Piracy Affect Kollywood?

The latest issue of Kumudam Reporter (free registration required) has a cover story on how online piracy is affecting Kollywood. It goes on to say that such sites are hosted overseas and even WHOIS information is not available, which makes it difficult for the cops to proceed against such offenders. It stops one short of naming the chief perpetrator. It just says that the site has a heavy Srilankan tinge to it and offers all the latest movies.

When Google Video was launched, there were reports about how Hindi films were available for free on Google Video. Top banners like Yash Raj Films took this up with Google and they immediately cracked down on such things. The Indian movie fraternity has not had much success in combating internet piracy. New sites (promoted by anonymous people) offering free movie and music downloads keep cropping up from time to time. With the recent spate in launch of video sharing sites like YouTube and Metacafe, producers are going to find it increasing difficult to police the net. Even recent releases like Something Something Unakkum Enakkum and Thimiru are available easily on the net.

In the movie trade, the box-office collection in the first 2/3 weeks determines the movie's fate. Although online piracy will eat into the producer’s profits (especially in overseas markets where high-speed internet connections are a common thing), I still feel that it might not alter the fortunes in a big way. The availability of a pirated VCD on the 10th / 15th day is not going to mean much, when a hit movie is expected to break-even before the second weekend.

Do you agree?

Friday, August 25, 2006

What's India Listening?

With Google now tracking the music trends (through GTalk), we are in a position to see the real Top 10/20. KANK features prominently in the list and some are duplicate entries because of the error in the artist information. This is mainly because the downloaded tracks sometime feature the downloaded site's name in the artist field. Those who don't the source of the download would be wisely rewarded with a visit to sites like Papuyaar.com. Newyork Nagaram from Sillunu Oru Kadhal also figures in the India Top 20. One can also view the trend by genre. I saw Tamil listed as a genre yesterday, but that doesn't seem to be the case now. There are some more Tamil songs listed in the Unknown category.

If more people take to this, the data might get even more meaningful.

India's Blogging Capital

BlogStreet India, a flawed and ineffective blog measurement tool keeps getting more mileage as more MSM use it mainly because there is no other alternative offering city-wise statistics. The latest in this series is the news report on CNN-IBN which quotes Blogstreet India for the number of bloggers in Chennai.

Blogstreet India has a little over 4000 blogs listed in its directory and is by no means comprehensive. IMHO, it is better to refrain from quoting BlogStreet India rather than quoting wrong / misleading info. Inspite of the recent makeover, Blogstreet India has no claim to fame other than the fact that it was one of the very first directories in India. It's new feature also featured Digg style page where users can submit their favourite articles.

The CNN-IBN article talks about the forthcoming BlogCamp in Chennai and also interviews few Chennai-based bloggers who incidentally happen to be co-ordinators for the Blogcamp. Few snapshots from this blog were also featured in the video clip.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Lyric Writer's Day Out

It looks like Director Perarasu has lot of competition in the lyrics department. Sample this from the movie Nee Venunda Chellam (Lyrics by Pa Vijay):

eppadiyum oruththankitta kazhuththai niittappoREn
ippavE nii EththukittA muzhusA ennai thAREn

eppadiyum oruththikku nA purushanAgappoREn
unnudaiya purushanAnA thappEyillai vaaREn

எப்படியும் ஒருத்தன்கிட்ட கழுத்தை நீட்டப்பொறேன்
இப்பவே நீ ஏத்துகிட்டா முழுசா என்னை தாறேன்

எப்படியும் ஒருத்திக்கு நா புருஷனாகப்பொறேன்
உன்னுடைய புருஷனானா தப்பேயில்லை வாறேன்

I thought Pa Vijay can do much better than this. Pa Vijay would have probably thought that the viewers would be more keen on watching Namitha than following the lyrics :-)

If you are a Perarasu fan and are missing him badly, do listen to his latest offering from the movie Vallavan. It has lot of thought-provoking lyrics:

yammAdi aaththAdi unnai enakku thariyaadi?

யம்மாடி ஆத்தாடி உன்னை எனக்கு தரியாடி?

Chennai Dosa and CNN-IBN's Chutney

To coincide with Madras Day, CNN-IBN is running a special series called Chennai Chutney. One of the stories is about dosa, which is being billed as the most popular South India dish.

"Kara Dosai, paper rava, dry fruit dosai, paper masala, vegetable dosai, paneer dosai, family roast, ghee roast, ghee rava dosai and some seven varieties of uthappam,” a server at restaurant Saravanabhavan, Selvam said. Nowadays, one can find many more of those on your dosa menu card.

With new ways of marketing and innovation the name of the game, dosa perhaps is now the most famous south Indian dish around the world.

There were some more interesting MSM pieces on the occasion of Madras Day. This article by Venkatesh Chakravarthy looks at the North-South divide in the city:
A split city is not something split into two halves but a dynamic living entity that abounds in ambiguities and contradictions in its several layers. North Chennai is both spatially and temporally split off from its counterpart South Chennai. With its narrow and crowded streets, aged factories, bursting drain ways and rotting dump yards, it has become a fossilised museum piece frozen in the modern times that created it. While South Chennai has jump-started into postmodern times with its IT corridors, amusement parks, global multicuisine restaurants, shopping chains and a multinational agency to keep its streets dust free.
Another article by Sushila Ravindranath urges people to preserve heritage buildings in the city.

Plagiarism the Rediff.com way

Karthik of Milliblog has a unique style of reviewing music albums and the best thing about his reviews is the fact that a majority of them are under 100 words. Some of you might know him as the person behind ITWOFS, a site which tracks plagiarism in the Indian music industry. Karthik became a victim of plagiarism after he realized that his music review of Emdan Magan was rehashed and presented as an article by S Sudha of Rediff. Rediff has taken off the article after this was brought to their attention. S Sudha has been covering lot of Tamil movie and music reviews for Rediff recently. It remains to be seen whether Rediff will continue to use the services of S Sudha.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

You Too Can Be A Talk Show Host

Eventhough podcasting has failed to take off in a big way, voice based citizen media holds lot of promise. Blog Talk Radio is one such new medium where bloggers / individuals double up as Talk show hosts. Since this medium is instant and interactive, I'm sure some of the enthusiastic Indian bloggers would experiment with it. IMHO, voice based medium has more potential for content creation in Indian languages.

Oz of Desitrain is one of the first Indian bloggers to experiment with this medium.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Doormen In Demand

It is not just the hotel rooms that are in short supply, the impressive doormen also seem to be hard to find. Business Line reports about the sudden shortage of hotel doormen. With the job requiring the doormen to stand all day, it is quite understandable that people are shying away from such jobs.

According to industry peers, there is no `perfect candidate' for this post, as the desired criteria for appointing a doorman cannot be adhered to the point.

Doormen should essentially be tall, well above 6 ft, and well built. They should have a very warm disposition (and that even includes a good `white' smile) and an impressive posture. Indian hotels such as Taj, Oberoi, Ambassdor and Leela prefer bearded doormen. This helps them to be very `Indian' at the first point of reception, they say.

The job profile of doorkeepers is very ornamental in nature. It is one of those very few vocations where a chair is not offered.

Talking of doormen, I'm reminded of a similar looking doorman at Sri Krishna Sweets in Pondy Bazaar, T Nagar. Do you know whether the guy is still around?

Singapore's Raffles Hotel has gone one step ahead and is offering some merchandise related to doormen.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

From Yuppies To Gossips

Trend watchers are phasing out the word YUPPIE and have come up with the term GOSSIPS to replace that.
An iPod and two mobile phones are the latest must-have accessories along with sushi for the status-conscious British office worker, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

The poll, conducted for recruitment firm Office Angels, found 67 per cent of 1,500 respondents considered so-called “micro-gadgets” like Blackberrys, laptop memory sticks and small mobile phones to be the ultimate status symbols.

Office Angels branded the people in the survey as GOSSIPS (Gadget Obsessed Status Symbol Infatuated Professionals), a morphed version of the archetypal 1980s Yuppie — Young Urban Professional.

Almost half (45 per cent) of those questioned thought any ambitious worker should own at least two mobile phones — one for work calls and the other for social chit chat.

Even though an individual might aspire for two phones, he/she can only use one at a time. Hence I don't get the point about normal people thinking of owning two phones. I also feel that the chances of losing the phone are much higher if you have more than one handset.

NBA - Protest Of A Different Kind

As far as Chennai is concerned, Landmark Quiz is synonymous with 15th August. Eventhough The Hindu was a co-sponsor, it has not done any post-quiz coverage in the last 2 days (Do point me to the relevant link if it has missed my eye). At last, New Indian Express covered it today. As always, there were some wacky team names and Namitha Bachao Andolan sounds really funny.

BTW, Namitha is getting serious about her career and hints that she won't be doing 'item numbers' anymore. Let's see how long she is able to hold on to this statement.

Will PMK Come To My Rescue?

Like most of you, I am not a big fan of PMK. Even though I hate them, I wouldn't mind using them to get some stuff done. The Tamil music industry always welcomes new talent and it has always had good representation from the rest of South India (mostly Kerala and AP). In recent times, we have noted the sudden increase in singers from other parts of India. IMHO, the most impressive of the lot (among the non-Southie singers) in terms of pronounciation and voice is Shreya Ghoshal. Sadhana Sargam would also come a close second. Even if they make small mistakes, we can tolerate it as their voice is so appealing.

There is a bigger headache when we talk of male singers (Udit Narayan, Sukhwinder Singh). I wouldn't mind if the PMK cracks down on some of them if they continue to cause damage to Tamil. Some say that Udit Narayan has learned over time. There might be some truth in it. The lyricist, music director and the singer have equal responsibility in ensuring that the lyrics are pronounced properly. If the singer doesn't understand Tamil, the MD and the lyricist need to come to the rescue of the singer and ensure that the final product doesn't get affected. It is in this area where stalwarts like ARR and Vairamuthu score over the others. This particular complaint can be extended to situations where a non-native speaker sings in an alien language (I'm sure Southie singers also face similar issues when they sing in Hindi).

A recent song sung by Sukhwindher Singh was one of the main reasons for this post. The movie in question is Simbhu's Saravanaa and the Music Director involved is Srikanth Deva. Do listen to the song titled Unnoda Purushanaaga / Ennai Mattum Venaam Solladhey.

The original lyrics (pronounced the right way):
என்னை மட்டும் வேணாம் சொல்லாதே (ennai mattum vENaam sollaadhE)

The original lyrics (pronounced the Sukhwinder way):
ஏனா மாட்டும் விணாம் சொல்லாதே (EnA maattum viNaam sollaadhE)

It took me quite a bit of time and research to decipher what Sukhwinder Singh was singing. I now request the good souls at PMK to issue a red card (from a Kollywood perspective) to Sukhwinder Singh in the larger interest of the Tamil population.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

DVC Clones

Why is it that every second / third new fiction book should bear a resemblance to the cover of The Da Vinci Code? Most of the similarities are related to the font or the colour combination in the book's cover. It is a bit irritating to see many popular publishing houses imitating DVC to get instant recognition. In sharp contrast, the plain white cover of J D Salinger's Catcher in the Rye still stands out in the book shelves.

Guess Who?

It shouldn't be too difficult to guess as she's all over the news.

My Chennai neighbour told me earlier (about 5 years ago) that she joined Mettur Beardsell (remember Igloo hot packs?) from campus and was his colleague at that time. The only thing he could recollect was that she used to bring curd rice for lunch most of the time. She must have figured out that curd rice and Pepsi form an impressive combination :-)

Commenting on the developments, SAJA goes on to coin the word Madras Mondays as a result of the Madras related news flow in the last 10 days.

Related Reading: A dated piece in Madras Miscellany which talks about her roots.

Monday, August 14, 2006

South Leads The Pack In Non-Veg

A recent survey by The Hindu and CNN-IBN on the food habits of Indians has revealed that only 40% of the population are vegetarians (for the purpose of convenience, I have clubbed the eggeterian population with the vegetarian figure). The survey goes on to say that coastal states have a significantly higher percentage of non-vegetarians. Since the four southern states happen to be coastal states, the percentage of meat eaters in these states are among the highest in India. The survey also gives numbers under two units - families and individuals.

The survey confirms the widespread impression that the popular image of a vegetarian India is off the mark. The late Professor Kumar Suresh Singh analysed the data of the People of India project to show that a majority of our communities are non-vegetarians. The present survey fixes figures not only for communities but also for individuals and families.

The findings show that only 31 per cent of Indians are vegetarians. The figure is 21 per cent for families (with all vegetarian members). Another nine per cent of the population is `eggetarian,' or vegetarians who eat eggs.

Vegetarianism has a predictable pattern: women are more likely to be vegetarian than men and so are those above the age of 55. But there is no broad correspondence between age and vegetarianism. Among the young, the figure is only slightly below the national average.

The findings show that vegetarianism is a function of inherited cultural practice rather than individual belief. Religion and community matter: as many as 55 per cent of Brahmins are vegetarians. The corresponding figure for Adivasis is 12 per cent. Hindus who worship every day are more likely to be vegetarian, but the majority of all Hindus are non-vegetarian. Interestingly, eight per cent of Christians are also
Some more stats could have thrown some light on the trend in the eating patterns. Some data on the percentage of first generation non-vegetarians (converts from veg to non-veg in the last few years) would have been interesting. They could have also presented the data on the converts from non-veg to veg in the recent past. There are a bunch of people who don't get to eat non-veg at home as family norms don't permit non-veg to be cooked in their homes. These people end up eating non-veg either at a friend's place or in some restaurant. The frequency of their meat intake would help us in classifying the non-veg category so that we can get some insight about the 60%.

Finally, if the above figures are true, I would be curious to know if someone has tracked The Hindu rental classifieds over the years and whether owners are more willing to rent their place to non-vegetarians given the changing trend in food habits.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Story Behind The 14 Floors

After reading The Unfinished Journey, I got to know a bit of history about Chennai’s original skyscraper. M Ct Chidambaram, the founder of IOB and United India Insurance had wanted to build an impressive premises for his group’s headquarters and had identified the location to construct an 18-storey building on the lines of the then famous UN building in New York. The building (which later became the LIC building) took shape during M Ct's time. Since M Ct passed away during this period and insurance was also nationalized (1956), the building’s construction went into the hands of the government (LIC) and babudom curtailed the height of the building to 14 floors. The building was finally unveiled in the year 1959.

BTW, which the tallest (residential / commercial) building in Chennai now? Is it Hotel Residency Towers (which has about 20 floors) or Arihant Narayanas Ocean Tower by any chance?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Property Site Under Construction

I came to know about a property site / portal focussed on Chennai and tried to visit the site to see what it offers. The site says "Site Under Construction". I think it is pretty common for people in the real estate / construction industry to market something even before it is fully complete and they have done it yet again with this website. On a serious note, 99acres, PerSquareYard and IndiaProperty occupy this space right now.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Book Titles That Impress

Something tells me that authors spend more time in coming up with an appealing book title than the time spent on writing the book itself. One example that comes to mind is Robin Sharma's The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. Most of the reviews have been quite critical and I fail to understand how this book has hogged the limelight. I even noticed that Tamil comedian Vivek presented this book to President Abdul Kalam recently.

Here's another book that caught my eye. I haven't heard about the author Kathy Lette and hence can't vouch for the book or the author.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Sunsuna's New Voice

Sunsuna, one of the Indian blog directories / aggregators has undergone a revamp. In its new version, Sunsuna provides the option of listening to the posts in an audio form. This would be a boon for those who wan't to give a well deserved break to their eyes. Given the increasing usage of Tamil / Tanglish, Hindi/Hinglish words in the blogosphere, one would probably need to introduce a feature in the automated text-to-speech conversion software so that the non-English words can be pronounced in the right manner.

Feel Important.......

.......by scheduling a fake incoming call. This is currently available only in the US :-(

Latest Spammer in Indian Blogosphere

If you run a blog, there is high likelihood that you would have received a spam comment from the famous Harry offering attractive fares from the US to the rest of the world. During the Sulekha spam episode, we atleast knew who was behind it. How will we ever go after Harry of Cfares?

Ethics and Disclosure in Media Reporting

In his latest column, The Hindu's Readers' Editor touches upon the topic of media ethics and the checks and balances which The Hindu has in place to ensure that there is fair reporting during sponsored trips. I had written about the same topic during an earlier post covering the media reviews during the inauguration of the Hong Kong Disneyland sometime last year. My point was that the MSM should probably mention the fact that the trip was sponsored by the tourist attraction (Disneyland / Hong Kong Tourism Board in this case). This disclosure would help the reader in forming his/her opinion about the review. Since the MSM doesn't provide this information in majority of the cases, we might even wrongly assume that the trip was a sponsored one, when in reality, the MSM could have paid for the trip.

At the cost of sounding monotonous and repetitive, I must refer to another fact of life. Corporates — and for that matter, politicians or anyone in public life — look for "good coverage". When a corporate sponsors a trip by a journalist, it expects some space given for its activities.

The reference the reader made was to an article by Mumbai correspondent Oommen Ninan on a seminar organised by Michelin, the French tyremaker, in Paris. In all such cases, the trip is cleared at the highest level in the paper. And what is published is generally about the work and activities of the firm and not a plug or puff for its product/s. Nobody tells The Hindu's journalists what kind of coverage or assessment they must provide. If the sponsors do not like the coverage that results from the trip, they are under no obligation to invite anyone from the newspaper again.

Product launches, and workshops and seminars on corporate issues are routinely covered as they have news angles. Similar considerations govern reports that are the result of a company-sponsored trip. The correspondents are expected to stick to the paper's policies when they write. There is a further check at the editing stage. Those are the safeguards against "manipulation."

And, after all that, if something slips through the gate, there are hawk-like readers to pounce upon the newspaper!

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Elusive Black Trouser

I never knew that searching for a black trouser could be such an arduous task. A visit to most of the big retailers in Chennai (Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle, Globus etc) reveals that sizes 28 – 30 are quite difficult to find. The reasoning given by the shopkeeper is that a person with waist size of 28 / 30 is likely to pick up more than one such trouser (in different shades), as he knows the value of such a trouser. I initially thought that this was a marketing gimmick to force me to pick up multiple trousers from the available range.

I decided to try my luck at the retail outlet of a prominent homegrown apparel brand (which traces its origins to Chennai but has now been taken over by another domestic apparel brand) on the ground floor of Spencer Plaza and the result was the same. The retail assistant then suggested that I should try my luck at one of outlets of their parent company. Luckily, the parent company had an outlet just opposite Spencer Plaza.

I was in for a pleasant surprise as soon as I entered the parent company's showroom. The retail assistant told me that they were having a special discount of 25% for sizes 28 – 32. Upon further investigation I got to know that the fast moving sizes are 34 – 40 (Indian men are generally fat!). The shop was running a promotion for odd sizes (28, 30, 32, 44), as there is not much demand for these sizes. I then told them that I would have come directly to their shop if they had advertised this offer in any of the prominent newspapers. These guys had not even put up a poster outside their shop. The actual reason is that the discount is not a company approved discount and other fellow retailers (and franchisees) will be up in arms if they come to know that another outlet is selling these merchandise at a discount. So this particular outlet had decided to offer the discounts in a silent manner to clear the stock in these sizes. I don’t have any regrets as I managed to get the black trouser (that too at a discount!). I was all the more surprised with the way this retailer handled this brand as this brand never wanted to be associated with the discount tag.

(The author realizes that such discounts are likely to be one-off and the best way to solve the trouser problem is to put on weight so that he can look for some trousers in the fast moving range).

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Metro Monkey

The Delhi Metro seems to have hired a monkey in order to scare away other monkeys along the train route:

The Delhi Metro authorities say they have employed a large black-faced langur monkey to frighten away other monkeys who were worrying passengers.The monkey was kept on leash for a month at one of Delhi's biggest stations in the Kashmere Gate area. Its owner was paid $150 for its services. The step was taken after a couple of incidents in June when monkeys boarded the trains, scaring passengers. Thousands of simians roam the streets and are considered a public nuisance.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Just like Child Bear, we have many more typos which can put a laugh on your face.

Top 20 Clichés in Indian Media

I didn't know that we have study / surveys capturing some of the oft-repeated terms in the Indian media. D Murali of Business Line does a good job of covering this story in the right tone and also comparing this with the experience in other countries. Along with these terms, they should also add 'Exclusive' and 'Breaking News' as the most misused terms by the news channels.

As told `time and again', `fly by night' won't help, if you want to laugh `all the way to the bank'. Nor is waiting with `bated breath' of any avail. `Better late than never' that you became aware of the formula lines.

Happily, we aren't alone in the use of sapped-out words. Factiva's analysis presents the list of `top 20' for media around the world. Down Under, what comes at the very beginning is `at the end of the day', with 2,183 press citations from about 6,000 articles. `In the red' and `in the black' occupy the next two slots, followed by `level playing field' and `unsung heroes'.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Plagiarism Charge on IIPM

An USA Today article on the increasing incidence of plagiarism on the internet and blogosphere states that IIPM had featured an article written by Jack and Suzy Welch (for BusinessWeek) without giving any credit to the author or the magazine. Next time IIPM invites Jack Welch for a guest lecture, you know what would be the answer.

A July 3 column written for BusinessWeek by former General Electric CEO Jack Welch and his wife, Suzy, was posted on the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) site from New Delhi. There was no attribution to either BusinessWeek or the Welches, only a photo that appeared with the column of professor Arindam Chaudhuri, a business guru and best-selling author in India who works for IIPM.

When USA TODAY tried to contact Chaudhuri by e-mail on July 21, the e-mail was forwarded to Naveen Chamoli, dean of IIPM's Centre for Planning and Entrepreneurship. Chamoli e-mailed back saying that Chaudhuri was traveling, inaccessible and had nothing to do with the Welch column being posted beneath his photo.

Chamoli said in his e-mail that IIPM has rights to the Welch column through the New York Times News Service/Syndicate. Chamoli said in a subsequent e-mail that a Welch byline was added after the USA TODAY inquiry because, "others could be confused."

Jack and Suzy Welch, on vacation, had no comment.

Copy Cat Dhina

Music Directors get inspired from time to time and we normally take pride in pointing out such ‘lifts’. Dhina might have shot to fame through Manmadha Raasa (Thiruda Thirudi), but he has a long way to go before he can really make a lasting impression. Right now, he is more like a one-song / one-film wonder. A piece from his recent movie was a direct lift from a popular jingle of yesteryear. You can listen to the copied piece here (from 1:28 - 1:43).

Did you manage to guess the jingle?