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Sambhar Mafia - Cooked To Kill!

Friday, October 31, 2008

How The Wealthy Cope With A Downturn?

Tabla! is a newly launched free weekly paper in a tabloid format and it reaches out to the growing Indian (expat) community in Singapore. Run by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), Tabla! is a welcome addition to the Singapore media space. The latest issue has a cover story capturing the agony an Indian American family is going through in the US as a result of the global financial turmoil. A closer read reveals that the article is a syndicated news item from LA Times.

For months, Mona has anxiously awaited daily calls from her husband while he is at work. They live in Edison, a comfortable suburb in central New Jersey and a 90-minute commute by train from her husband's office in Manhattan.

For the last two years, Amar, 36, has run a technology unit in the capital markets division for Lehman Bros. until it went bankrupt and was bought in part by Barclays. He's still there, adjusting with the change in management. His salary at Lehman's was $400,000, including a bonus and restricted stock options. Amar's base salary, about $200,000, remains the same, but there are no reports yet on what will happen to 2008 bonuses and options. (Link)

While the problems highlighted in the article are real, I'm not sure whether the case would find sympathy with the larger audience at a time when even people not related to the banking industry are suffering the pain in the form of retrenchments, investment losses etc. Most reactions would be similar to what Finally Frugal says in his blog:

Truly, though, I don't think I can stand to read too many more articles about Wall Street wives (or employees, or whatever) who were making upwards of $200,000 and more a year, who are now forced to (gasp!) clean their own houses and make their own meals. (Link)


Monday, October 27, 2008

Spell Checker on a Deepavali Break

Too many typos in a front page article that appeared in The New Indian Express today. Expand image to view the full article.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Diwali Dampener?

With only a handful of Tamil movies releasing this weekend, this Deepavali could turn out to be one of the dullest year for movie fans. You do have Ajith’s Aegan, but there is hardly any competition to the Thala movie. Hari’s Seval is mostly targetted at B & C centres and can only catch on through word of mouth if the reviews are good.

ToI has rightly pointed out that box office fight has actually spilled over to the TV space with Sun TV and Kalaignar TV upping the ante by offering new movies.

Diwali has become a metaphor for big movies. The hype and hoopla surrounding it has to be seen to be believed. Whether it is the star cast, music or just the filmmakers, there is a tremendous buzz about Diwali releases. The fans and trade, to a certain extent, believe that a release during the festival of lights will determine the star power of a hero when he is pitted against other stars.

However, sadly this year, Gautham Menon’s magnum opus with Surya — Vaaranam Aayiram, Madhavan’s comedy Guru En Aalu, Prakash Raj’s Abhiyum Naanum and Silambarasan’s Silambattam have been postponed at the last minute due to various reasons.

To a certain extent, Diwali has lost its lustre due to the invasion of satellite channels. This Diwali, Tamil television channels are beaming super hit films. The market leader, Sun TV, is premiering Rajinikanth’s all time big 2005 blockbuster Chandramukhi while arch-rival Kalaignar TV is going to telecast Ajith’s all time big super hit Billa, released last December!

The trade is worried as they feel the real Diwali battle is on television and not in theatres. Rains all over Tamil Nadu and particularly in Chennai and surrounding areas ahead of the festival are also a worrying factor.

I was under the impression that cable channels can’t telecast movies released within the last 2 years. Maybe the rule might have undergone a change after the entry of Kalaignar TV. 

Vaaranam Aayiram holds lot of promise and its music has already made a mark. The movie also made news in the last couple of days after it was announced that MK Azhagiri’s son Durai Dayanidhi has purchased the distribution rights for the movie. This follows the entry of MK Stalin’s son Udayanidhi into film production. Durai Dayanidhi’s film company is called 'Cloud Nine' while Udayanidhi’s production company goes by the name of 'Red Giant Movies'. It looks like their affinity to Tamil is only used to garner votes but not displayed in their own business initiatives.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Sad State of Tamil Lyrics

It is quite fashionable to put lot of catchy English words (Shankar style) in Tamil songs. This has now gone to an extent where one has to search for the Tamil words in such English songs. Sample this song from the movie Rendu:

Mobila Mobila
நான் உந்தன் post paida pre-paida சொல் சொல்
நெஞ்சுக்குள்ளே கேட்குதே நம் காதல் ringtonea
காதுக்குள்ளே பேசுதே உன் பேச்சு voicemaila
என் குட்டி இதயம் தவிக்கும்
என் பிஞ்சு விரலும் துடிக்கும் 
உன் numberukku phone பண்ணுதே 
phone பண்ணா
Subscriber cannot be reached at the moment

There will be a day when the TN govt. will have to give tax incentives to promote Tamil lyrics. Till such time, the promise of Tamil preservation will be just an eye-wash.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Deccan Chargers up for sale

Deccan Chronicle, the majority owner of IPL Team Deccan Chargers has decided to exit the space and sell the team to a new owner. Deccan Chargers was on the wrong side of the action during the IPL and this might have made Deccan Chronicle rethink its strategy regarding IPL. Although Deccan Chargers had a prolific line-up including Andrew Symonds and Adam Gilchrist, the team failed to deliver the odds. The team also had problems at the top and VVS Laxman has since been replaced by Adam Gilchrist.


Monday, October 20, 2008

WorldSpace Goes Bust

WorldSpace Inc., a pioneer in the field of Satellite Radio has filed for bankruptcy. WorldSpace carved a name for itself providing quality music devoid of commercials. It targetted a premium audience and charged an annual subscription fee. Listeners also had to buy a compatible radio set to enjoy their programmes. The Carnatic music channel offered by WorldSpace was quite popular as there were no other competing offerings in Radio (FM etc) in this niche space. KL Radio, a Tamil channel from the stable of Dinamalar, was also available on WorldSpace. WorldSpace also caught the attention of the public by roping in ARR as their brand ambassador. ARR’s signature tune brought instant recognition to WorldSpace.

Digital satellite radio broadcasting company, WorldSpace Inc, has filed for bankruptcy protection in a court after failing to obtain new financing.

WorldSpace is present in over 130 countries worldwide. It launched its India services in 2000 with over 35 free-to-air channels. In 2002, it converted a few of its channels to pay and went completely pay in 2004. 

As at the end 2007, it had a customer base of over 1.6 lakh in India — over 93 per cent of its world-wide subscriber base.
It beams over 45 channels in India, most of which are branded ‘WorldSpace’ though a few are owned and operated by other players such as BBC, CNN, AIR and KL Radio. (Source: The Hindu Business Line)

From the beginning, I had my own reservations about the viability of a paid subscription model for commercial radio broadcasts in India. The hardware requirement was another drawback. In a market where FM channels reign supreme and where the FM feature is ubiquitous in mobile phones and car stereos, WorldSpace should have known that the writing was on the wall.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Introducing Side Middle Berths

Stupid idea which augments Railways revenue at the cost of passenger comfort.
(Photo Courtesy: Times of India


Prison Diaries – The other side of Dr. Prakash

Dr. Prakash, the doctor from Chennai who is serving a life sentence for his involvement in online pornography is back in the news again. He is apparently churning out bestsellers sitting behind bars.

A convict sentenced to life imprisonment is causing a stir in Tamil publishing circles. Dr L. Prakash, an orthopaedic surgeon sentenced for, among other counts, Internet pornography, has spent the last seven years in prison churning out 80 books on every subject under the earth— thrillers, prison diaries, Vedic wisdom, the Mahabharata, short stories, self-improvement. His publisher claims his prison diary alone—Other Side of the Prison Bars—has sold 1.4 lakh copies in Tamil translation. But the biggest triumph for the doctor: his publisher claims Playboy has accepted his short story! (Source: Outlook).

At the height of the investigation, Dr. Prakash was the hottest topic in town with the Tamil crime magazines devoting lengthy columns about the case. Even comedian Vivek poked fun at him in some of the comedy sequences.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

From Sathya Sai Nagar to Thalai Nagar

(Pic Courtesy: New Indian Express)


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Datuk Ilayathalapathi and Datuk Thala

When Shah Rukh Khan can be knighted with the title Datuk by the Malaysian State of Malacca for promoting Malaysia in his films, Billa Ajith and Kuruvi Vijay should also queue up for their Datuk titles.


And the Booker goes to

Ever since the Booker nominations came out, Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger was mentioned as the dark horse in the race. Amitav Ghosh was among the front runners for the prize but Aravind Adiga came out on top eventually. Indian writers winning international book awards are becoming more common. What is more commendable is that this is Aravind Adiga’s first book. With the Indian publishing industry growing drastically, awards like these would bring more cheer.

The shortlist itself propels the books from relative obscurity to prominence. Before the shortlist,The White Tiger managed to sell only a few thousand copies.

I did read the book much before the shortlist was out. The story revolves around a guy from rural India coming to work as a driver in the city. It also covers his observations on city life, rich-poor divide, high society and how he eventually strikes out on his own. Although I found the story to be different, I wouldn’t term it as outstanding.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Beemers for home buyers

Jaypee Sun Court, an ultra-luxury residential project near Noida is being promoted in an unique way. Buyers will get a BMW 320i car with the purchase of each apartment. Each apartment is priced around Rs. 3 Crores and the estimated price of a BMW 320i is Rs. 30 lakhs. 

One would think that a direct cash discount (of say 10%) would matter more to buyers than a free car. Furthermore, most buyers of the multi crore apartments would already own some top-end car model. From a developer’s perspective, offering a car creates much more noise than offering a cash discount.

As the property market absorbs global shocks, expect developers to offload unsold apartments at steep discounts. Some of the developers might also offer to absorb charges like stamp duties and registration fees. We have seen such a situation back in 2002 and I’m sure it’s going to be repeated all over again. 

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Favourite eating joints in Chennai

Popular cookbook author Mallika Badrinath lists her favourite eat outs in Chennai. Usual suspects like Grand Sweets and Ratna Café do make it to the list. Long established outlets like Agarwal Bhavan (famous for its yummy lassis!) also find a place. 

One has to say that places like Agarwal Bhavan and Ramakrishna Lunch Home are slowly fading away from public memory as they have not kept up with the times. 

What is your favourite eating joint?

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Market Mayhem Takes Its Toll

Most of you would have read about the gruesome murder-suicide in an Indian-American family in Los Angeles.

In a suicide note, Karthik Rajaram wrote that he had considered killing only himself because of his financial troubles, but decided to take his family with him.

Mr. Rajaram, 45, shot his wife, three sons and mother-in-law in their bedrooms over the weekend, the police said, then shot himself.

Indira Parthasarathy, 72, who was friends with Mr. Rajaram’s wife, Subasri, 39, and her mother, Indra Ramasehan, 69, said the couple’s three sons were standout students. Two of them, Ganesha, 12, and Arjuna, 7, attended schools near their home, and the eldest, Krishna, 19, was in his second year at the University of California, Los Angeles, taking business and economics classes.(Link)

When I forwarded this news article to few people yesterday, little did I realize that my parents would come back with their own connection with the grief-stricken family. It has emerged that Karthik Rajaram’s father and Subasri’s father worked for the same Public Sector Bank where my parents worked. Their dad’s held senior positions in the bank and are now retired. Subasri’s dad had returned back from the US only recently.

Financial distress is leading to many such murder-suicides in well-off educated families. Not too long ago, a British millionaire also took a similar approach and killed his wife and daughter.

Let’s hope that people will behave more responsibly instead of resorting to such drastic measures that ruin an entire family.

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On the Comeback Trail

After more than 18 months of inactivity, this blog is being revived. It doesn't matter if an obituary has already been written. A big hi! to all those who are still subscribed to this blog using the feed readers.

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