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Sambhar Mafia - Cooked To Kill!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Actor Vishal starts blogging

Not many from the Tamil film industry have attempted blogging and it is interesting to see a hero hitting the blogging trail. The only other Tamil film personality (that I can think of!) who attempted blogging and left it half-way is Director Ram of Katrathu Tamizh fame.

Action hero Vishal is the actor we are talking about here. The layout is quite trendy (Copied from Big B's blog?). The tab heading on the browser proclaims that it is Puratchi Thalapathi Vishal's official blog. I don't understand why actors still use such funny accolades and titles which don't have any real meaning.

Coming to the blog itself, there are a few posts containing a few lines each. They sound more like a longish SMS. They come across as a bit amateurish. After reading through the blog posts, one gets an impression that he might have either hired a ghost writer or used his PRO to update the blog. Here is a sample post:

Hai Everybody. It is a most unhappy day, the most popular villian of yester years Mr. M.N. Nambiar passed away yesterday. He was a vetran theater artist and a great cinema legend. Unlike his character in films which he potrayed he was a very humble and hardworking actor. He has worked with seven generation of actors. I think new actors like me cannot comment on his acting since he is a legent and a phoneix in acting. I am sad that i missed working with such a great person. I am sure the whole film industry is going to miss him a lot. (Link)
Let's watch his blog closely to see how it shapes up.

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PM upset with DMK Ministers

This is what happens when A Raja and T R Baalu spend majority of their time in Chennai.
Sources have told CNN-IBN that the Prime Minister is very upset with two Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) nominees - Minister of Communications and Information Technology A Raja and Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport & Highways TR Baalu.

Raja has been nicknamed the spectrum scam man by the opposition while Baalu is facing flak for not doing enough to build more roads.

But now the opposition's charge has got more teeth. CNN-IBN has learnt that Manmohan Singh himself is very upset with the working of his southern allies, particularly those responsible for infrastructure development. (Link)

Part of the blame should also lie with the PM himself. Instead of vetting Raja's credentials, the PM blindly accepted Raja as the Telecom Minister replacing Dayanidhi Maran just because the ministry was cornered by the DMK.

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TN's Rahul Gandhi?

Karti Chidambaram comes across more as a thug rather an educated politician who holds a lot of promise. 

In Tamil Nadu, 'son-rises' and sycophancy go hand in hand. So it was no surprise that when Karti, son of Union finance minister P. Chidambaram, had his birthday, hangers-on had posters up in Chennai hailing him as TN's Rahul Gandhi. We don't know whether Karti took it as a compliment, but his political ambitions are certainly no secret. And like other babalog of his ilk, he's not short on fancy ideas. Sample this: "TN needs a new capital, like Putrajaya, the administrative capital of Malaysia." Pray why? Well, Chennai apparently is not a well-planned city. One wonders where Karti was when heritage building Admiralty House and others were demolished last year to make way for the new, monstrous Secretariat building? Coming back to TN's Rahul, the question vexing Chennaiites is, who'll be the state's Priyanka? Well, the DMK boys have no doubts: party chief Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi is "most suited for that honour". (via Outlook)


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Credit Crunch Hits Kollywood

It looks like heroes like Vijay and Ajith who act in formula movies to please their fan base need to be realistic in their salary expectations. With low-budget and offbeat movies like Subramaniapuram, Chennai 600028 and Saroja doing well in the box office, story value is slowly and surely getting more prominence over star value.

Following the poor show of blockbusters, Tamil film producers have asked stars to slash their rates by at least 60 percent, warning that they would have to otherwise think twice before launching new projects, officials in the Tamil film industry said.

The move comes within 10 days of entertainment major Pyramid Saimira saying it had deferred the production of Kamal Haasan starrer "Marmayogi" due to "liquidity constraints in the film industry".

Mani Ratnam may also have to slash the budget of his ongoing bilingual project by at least 40 percent.

Though the South Indian Artistes' Association refrained from comment over the development, two top stars have informed their producers that they would rather sit idle than slash their prices. (Link)


Kanimozhi and Seven Dwarfs

New Indian Express has an interesting take on the inefficient people in the DMK camp

None of this can be good for Kanimozhi, who, if you’ve noticed, has been unable to live up to her responsibility as Mr Kalaignar’s pointsman in Delhi, as evidenced by her lack of handling of the Sri Lankan Tamils’ issue and the 2G spectrum controversy.

It’s probably because she spends all her time in Chennai, rushing from one local function to the next, keeping her visibility high, and feeding her obscenely growing ambition. Unlike Snow White, however, she has enviable maternal support, and it looks as if more than her, it will be the residents of Tamil Nadu who will be biting the poisoned apple and slipping into coma, with no prince charming to rescue us in sight. (Link)

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

MK-Maran stand-off reaches a climax

The war of words between Karunanidhi and the Marans has reached such a point that a break-up looks like the only option. The widening rift over the past one year just reaffirms that a truce between the two sides is simply not possible.

In an article in the party organ Murasoli on Friday, MK says that the Maran brothers betrayed him and his party and highlights issues like the Dinakaran polls, Sun TV share settlement, constant criticism of DMK govt. through SUN media and the damage done to the Anna Arivalayam premises which Sun Network occupied in the past. The full text of the Murasoli article has been published by Thina Thanthi.

As expected, Kalanithi Maran replies to MK's complaints and claims innocence. In the past, it was Dayanidhi Maran who responded to such allegations. Kalanithi Maran is usually recluse and has issued a press statement to clarify his stand rather than meeting the media. Even Dayanidhi's media interview was not shown on Sun TV's prime time news on Friday. The Hindu gives more space to MK's accusations and has provided limited coverage to Kalanithi's reply. This has made some believe that The Hindu is favouring MK.

MK has always sidelined people who grow in stature within his party and there have been many examples in the past. When Anna passed away, Neduncheziyan was sidelined and MK took over. More recently, Vaiko was ignored as he had become the No. 2 in the party. Dayanidhi Maran had grown in stature after becoming a Cabinet Minister and his frequent appearance in the media would have made MK believe that Dayanidhi might emerge as a possible successor to MK surpassing Stalin, Azhagiri and Kanimozhi.

Dayanidhi has realized that there is no future for him in DMK and has been carefully planning his moves. The recent blows dealt by the formation of Kalaignar TV and Arasu Cable TV have only renewed the Maran brothers' urge to move closer to political forces (be it DMK or others). Sun TV has been giving increased footage to opposition views (especially Vijayakanth) which is an indication that Dayanidhi Maran might want to partner with one of the opposition parties. 

In a post-MK era, Dayanidhi might stick to the DMK only if Stalin emerges as the successor. This is because, Stalin is often seen as being close to the Marans. If Azhagiri takes over the mantle, Dayanidhi would have to join some opposition party or start a breakaway faction together with Stalin if he has serious plans of furthering his political career.

Kalanithi Maran is one of the richest persons in TN (need to revalidate this in the light of the recent plunge in Sun TV stock) and he will go to whatever extent to protect his business empire. To secure his position, Kalanithi needs Dayanidhi to be a force to reckon with in the political spectrum even if it means opposing their own grandfather. Expect more mud-slinging as Dayanidhi's ouster / resignation from the DMK is seen as the natural fallout of the current controversy.

(Photo Courtesy: Murasoli / New Indian Express)

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Flying In A Private Jet To Beg For Money

The US automobile industry is facing its biggest crisis ever and the head honchos of the Big 3 Auto makers (GM, Ford and Chrysler) are lobbying hard for a government bailout. The CEOs of these companies were in Washington DC recently to meet up with the government authorities. The 3 CEOs flew to Washington DC in their own private jets and this has attracted widespread criticism at a time when their companies are in dire need of cash. Critics say that the CEOs should have gone for commercial airlines or jet-pooling instead of flying in 3 different private jets from Detroit to Washington DC. 

Some lawmakers lashed out at the CEOs of the Big Three auto companies Wednesday for flying private jets to Washington to request taxpayer bailout money.

"There is a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hand, saying that they're going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses," Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, told the chief executive officers of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.

"It's almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little bit suspicious."

He added, "couldn't you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something to get here? It would have at least sent a message that you do get it."

When contacted by CNN, the three auto companies defended the CEOs' travel as standard procedure.

Like many other major corporations, all three have policies requiring their CEOs to travel in private jets for safety reasons.

"Making a big to-do about this when issues vital to the jobs of millions of Americans are being discussed in Washington is diverting attention away from a critical debate that will determine the future health of the auto industry and the American economy," GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said in a statement. (Link)

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Junior Vikatan on Saravana Bhavan case

Follow up post on Saravana Bhavan Shivakumar's involvement in US Visa Fraud.

Junior Vikatan has a cover story on the same topic with lot of juicy info about the relationship between Shivakumar and his dad Annachi Rajagopal. It also highlights the irregularities going on in some of the overseas operations of Saravana Bhavan.

நம்மூரில் உணவு பரிமாறும் சர்வர்களுக்கு டிப்ஸ் கொடுப் போம். ஆனால், வெளிநாட்டு உணவகங்களில் அந்த டிப்ஸ், சர்வர் முதல் அடுப்படியில் இருக்கும் ஊழியர்வரை போய்ச் சேர்கிற மாதிரியாக ஏற்பாடு செய்யப்பட்டிருக்கும். ஒவ்வொரு உணவகத்திலும் ஒரு பெட்டி இருக்கும். அதில் விருப்பப்பட்டவர்கள் தங்கள் டிப்ஸைப் போடலாம். இரவானதும் அதை உணவக ஊழியர்கள் பிரித்து எடுத்துக் கொள்வார்கள். இப்படித்தான் சிங்கப்பூர் சரவணபவன் கிளையிலும் நடந்து வந்தது. ஆனால், சிவகுமார் பொறுப்பேற்ற பிறகு, டிப்ஸ் பெட்டியைத் தன் வசப்படுத்திக் கொண்டார். அது நிர்வாகத்துக்கே சொந்தம் என்று சொல்லத் தொடங்கினார். இதனால் ஆத்திரமடைந்த ஊழியர் ஒருவர் சிவகுமாரை ஏக வசனத்தில் பேச, இருவருக்கும் கைகலப்பு ஏற்பட்டது. அது அந்த ஊர் போலீஸ் வரை போக, விவகாரம் சீரியஸானது. பிறகு அந்த ஊழியரின் குடும்பத்தினரிடம் பேசி, கணிசமான தொகை கொடுத்து ஏகப்பட்ட சலுகைகளையும் கொடுத்து சமாதானப்படுத்தினார் சிவகுமார். (விகடன் வழியாக)

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A Successful Duo Part Ways

The combination of Director Gautham Menon and Music Director Harris Jeyaraj produced some of the best music in recent times and it is sad to see them parting ways. Together with lyricist Thamarai, they made a mark in every film right from Minnale till the latest Vaaranam Aayiram. Kaaka Kaaka and Vettaiyadu Vilayadu were the other notable hits. Gautham Menon will be working with ARR in his next venture - Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikaalam. A statement from Harris Jeyaraj confirms the break-up and says that there is no ill-feeling between them. Harris has established a permanent place in the Tamil Film Industry and is known to come up with amazing melody numbers film after film. The only accusation on HJ is that his songs are similar to his previous numbers. I believe HJ will not lose much as a result of this break-up.

I have a very good respect for Mr. Gowtham Menon and in return he has reciprocated the same. But now things have gone sour that it's better for us to part ways as good friends leaving behind some beautiful memories. With a heavy heart I have to take this decision on behalf of us. I know this might disappoint my fans, music lovers and well wishers in the industry. But it's best for us to leave it at this, since I always believed that to create soul stirring music, the bond between a music composer and the director is vital. Once it's lost, it is difficult to get back. (Link)

According to industry insiders, Menon's domineering ways left Jayaraj exasperated in recent times. (Link)

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lost in Translation

If not adopted properly, Hindi ads won't work in Tamil. This is the central theme of Gokul Krishnamurthy's interesting piece in Business Line. He cites examples of ads which have not connected with the audience because the message was literally translated to Tamil. On top of this, I have big issues with the kind of voices used to dub the Hindi ads into Tamil. One recent example was the ICICI Bank ad in which Shah Rukh appears to reassure people that the bank is safe. The voices used were really horrible.

Even the tagline ‘Ho toh BIG ho’ (If it has to be, it has to be big) has been unimaginatively translated as ‘Irundha BIG-ga irukkanum’.

Let’s look at a different category. Fanta’s orangy blast story was refreshingly told with Laga Kya earlier this year. Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh are said to be more inclined towards fruit-based flavours of soft drinks, making them strategically important markets for a brand such as Fanta. But when Laga Kya got translated into Tamil, the voiceover said: ‘Pattucha’.

Contextually, there are some ads, and smart lines conceived for the pan-India audience, which cannot make as much of an impact when translated into regional languages. When a Virgin Mobile’s ‘Think Hatke’ becomes a ‘Maathi Yosi’, it loses some of its impact, but is still a better effort at reaching those audiences than persisting with the Hindi tagline. When a Philips DVD player’s ‘Plays anything, almost anything’ becomes ‘Edhaiyum play seyyum, Kita thatta edhaiyum’, one wonders who should be prosecuted.

And then there’s the Samsung mobile commercial, which tries to ride on Don dialogue ‘Isko gayab karna mushkil hi nahin, namumkin hai’. Quite like Big TV’s ‘Mere paas maa hai’, this one too has been literally translated into ‘Idhai maraiya vaippadhu kashtam mattum alla, mudiyave mudiyadhu’. The line does get the message across. But what was the compulsion to use a literal translation? What is more important — sticking to the national TVC word-for-word or connecting with the audience with advertising they can relate to? (Link)


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Saravana Bhavan involved in US visa fraud

Unlike South East Asian countries, it's not easy obtaining visa to the West. R Sivakumar, son of Saravana Bhavan owner Annachi Rajagopal has been arrested in Chennai for submitting improper information for taking some staff to work in the US. I guess it's probably easy (in relative terms) to take chefs to foreign shores but it gets a bit difficult if they try to take waiters and other support staff.

R. Siva Kumar (40), one of the proprietors of Saravana Bhavan hotels, was taken into custody by the Crime Branch CID police here on Saturday night. He was accused of furnishing false information to obtain a U.S. visa for four persons.

According to CB-CID sources, Siva Kumar had tried to secure visa for four persons on the pretext of taking them to the U.S. on a fun trip. During interview at the U.S. Consulate, officials found that their profile did not match with what was actually provided. (Link)

Most of Saravana Bhavan's international expansion has been with the help of Hot Breads Mahadevan. I wonder whether Sivakumar consulted Mahadevan before trying out such tactics. With money power on their side, I won't be surprised if Sivakumar is relieved from this case pretty soon.


According to Times of India, the people involved in the visa fraud were cooks and were about to be taken to the US under the guise of attending an industrial expo.

The four men, he had claimed, were production executives proceeding to Chicago for an international industrial fair on packaging and processing. But US immigration officials found that they were supervisors employed in his restaurants at Chennai and UAE to help customers. According to police sources, Sivakumar claimed that the four were being taken abroad to help him purchase advanced packaging equipment.

Last Monday, the four met US Consulate officials for an interview. “During verification, Consulate officials found that the four employees had very little knowledge about catering machinery and that Sivakumar had falsely prepared documents and given them false designations only to get them into the US. Anthony K Ramirez, assistant regional security officer at the Consulate, lodged a complaint with the CB-CID seeking action,” a senior police officer said.

In his complaint, Ramirez said he suspected that Sivakumar had devised a plan to get them jobs in the US after getting them tourist visas and that he had devised a cover — delegates visiting an expo in Chicago — to clear the way. He said he suspected that Sivakumar was involved in human trafficking. (Link)

IBN Live has a video report on the same issue.
Follow-up post relating to Junior Vikatan Cover Story.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Power Cuts and Mega Serials

At a time when students and industries are sufferring from the impact of the power cuts in TN, ToI captures the disappointment of TV viewers (mostly women) who are missing their daily dose of mega serials.

The impact is reflected in the TRP ratings. According to the latest overall TAM ratings (for the period October 26 to November 1), Sun, Kalaignar, Jaya and Raj TV channels have registered a marginal improvement over the previous week. Industry watchers, however, confirmed that daytime viewing of serials has been affected.
Although prime time viewership (between 6 pm and 10 pm) has remained unaffected, with serials like “Arasi’ and ‘Kolangal’ registering an increase in ratings, those aired in the mornings such as ‘Vasantham’ and ‘Athipookal’ on Sun TV have seen a dip in their ratings this week compared to last week. 

Niche programmes like ‘Airtel Super Singer’ continue to be unaffected as well, but industry watchers conceded that there was an imbalance in the viewing pattern, not out of audience choice but due to force of circumstances. (Link)

On the topic of mega-serials, would we see a day when Sun TV stops screening Radhika serials and tries out a different concept in the prime time slot? The Star Plus - Balaji Telefilms spat shows that long running soaps would be shown the door one day.

If you are good at identifying Tamil TV celebs, do check out Blogeswari's quiz.

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The Tiger Roars After Being Set Free

(Pic Courtesy: ToI)


Thursday, November 06, 2008

The battle of the e-papers'

I have been reading the e-papers of the English dailies published from Chennai and here is a quick comparison between the different papers.

New Indian Express - No login required. Easy Navigation. Usually gets updated a bit later than the other dailies. 

Deccan Chronicle - Login required. Easy Navigation. Probably the first e-paper to get updated in the morning. Users can choose to read their Hyderabad and Chennai editions.

Times of India - Usually the last one to get updated daily. Offers choice of different editions including Chennai. Economic Times Chennai edition is also available. Doesn't offer page preview of other pages. NIE and DC offer page preview of other pages.

The Hindu - The most boring news website one can ever come across. Although the website gets updated at about 1.30 am IST, their website hardly sees any action during the day except for some sparse news updates. The e-paper of The Hindu is a paid service and I often wonder who would sign-up for such a service. It's better to follow The Hindu by subscribing to RSS feeds. NIE and DC don't offer RSS feeds.

Even neighbourhood newspapers like Anna Nagar Times have hopped on to the e-paper bandwagon. 

Tamil newspapers like Dinamani, Dinakaran, Dinamalar and Dinathanthi do offer their content in e-paper format. Instead of reading the Tamil e-paper, my preferred route is to catch up on Tamil news via Google News Tamil.

Although e-papers' give you the feeling of reading the real paper, it is more time consuming than browsing the headlines on a website. Because of this reason, it is difficult to say whether the e-paper format is finding favour with the audience. 


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Drawing Inspiration from Saravana Stores

Outlook Business has a story on how Kishore Biyani of Future Group (formerly Pantaloon) is grooming the next generation in running the family business. What's interesting to note is the fact that a visit to Saravana Stores in Chennai is almost mandatory for all people who join Future Group in key roles. 

Early next morning, the Future Group CEO, the three younger family members, all of whom joined the business over the past two years, and a bunch of about 20 other key Future Group executives are to catch a flight to Chennai. They are planning a ‘deep dive’ into the popular retail destinations in the city, including the dirty, bustling and prosperous Ranganathan Street in T Nagar. This is the old-world retail capital of Chennai, and still holds its own against the swanky malls that have sprung up in other parts of the city. The family is visibly excited about this trip, even though this is the last in a long series of deep dive programmes Biyani has done with his family and professional team. (Link)

I'm surprised Kishore Biyani continues the same training regime even after the recent fire incident at Saravana Stores which exposed the lack of basic infrastructure like emergency exits at the popular shop.

Sometime earlier this year, I read "It Happened In India" by Kishore Biyani and Dipayan Baishya. The book on the growth of Biyani and the Future Group didn't live up to the initial hype. I felt that the narration style was heavily borrowed from Sam Walton's "Made in America". Big Bazaar is not yet a business / retail icon on the lines of Walmart and the book should have presented a humbler story of the Future Group. 

Here is an excerpt related to Saravana Stores from the book:

Saravana Stores is a twenty-five year old, family-run store located in the heart of Chennai and has a very simple philosophy to run its business - low margin, high turnover. Covering five floors and a basement, it stocks everything from appliances and groceries, to clothes, jewellery, toys and eyeglasses. Its textile and garment section too has everything from Kanchipuram silks to bed sheets and there is a vessel section that has loads of steel utensils. There is a separate block for fast food, where delicacies include idlis, pooris, parottas, soft drinks and ice creams. These are as popular as the special laddus and the Mysore pauk on offer. Located somewhat close to the railway terminus, one can see hordes of people getting in and coming out with shopping bags at any time of the day and any time of the year. It has around a hundred and twenty people just to manage the crowds but one doesn't get the best customer experience in the store. To many, Saravana may be a shopper's nightmare, but there are lot of customers who just love it and approve of it with their frequent footfalls. I would estimate that this single shop must be doing more than Rs. 200 crore worth business each year.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Will Rebranding of Jobs Work?

Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister thinks he can win over the support of the Indian community by giving jazzier job titles.

Ethnic Indian barbers will be called hairstylists and cooks will be referred to as chefs from now on, as part of a “better deal” that would include more jobs, nationalisation of Tamil schools, and regularisation of the stateless, Malaysia’s deputy prime minister and premier-elect Najib Tun Razak has said.

MIC’s long-time president and Razak’s former ministerial colleague S Samy Vellu was present at the function.

“MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu has asked me to no longer refer to those cutting hair as barbers but as hairstylists. Likewise, Indian cooks will be referred to as chefs,” he said. (Link)


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Kuruvis in the limelight

The Kuruvi (hand- carrier) menace at Singapore's Changi Airport has made it to The Straits Times. In an article in its Sunday edition, the newspaper highlights the growing problem. Usually there will be a bunch of 5 - 10 kuruvis hanging around check-in counters of airlines not having luggage restrictions. Even full-service premium carriers like Jet Airways and Singapore Airlines are not spared. The primary target of these kuruvis is a single male traveller (mostly Indian workers) with limited luggage. They spot such travellers at a distance and approach them with their request. Just outside the check-in counters there will be multiple trolleys full of LCD TVs, Plasma TVs, Hi-Fi systems and musical keyboards. The average kuruvi is a middle-aged male (maybe pot-bellied) and his shirt is usually not tucked in. This may amount to stereotyping, but this profiling holds good for majority of such touts. 
Mostly male Indian nationals from Tamil Nadu, these touts are known to accost Chennai-bound Air India passengers with light baggage.

They offer money if the passenger agrees to check in items such as rice cookers and large Sony Bravia and Samsung LCD television sets.

Passengers are paid $7 per kg, which works out to about $140 for a 32-inch TV set and $40 for a rice cooker. 

When The Sunday Times visited the airport last Friday evening, we spotted at least six men touting outside Row 6 and Row 10 in Terminal 1, the check-in counters for Air India and Air India Express flights.

Business seemed brisk. More than 10 people holding air tickets were seen carting the TV sets to the check-in counters.

The touts, mostly in their 30s to 40s, tend to target male travellers. According to observers, they turn up at the check-in counters every morning and evening when flights to Chennai depart.

They arrive with airport trolleys stacked with boxes of the items, which they park at one side while they scout for passengers. (Link)

Just before the Diwali weekend, I was at the Jet Airways check-in counter and spotted the kuruvis approaching few educated young men. The passengers refused to carry the luggage. Few other workers accepted the offer and were promised Rs. 1500 upon arrival at Chennai airport. The kuruvis then made some distinctive marks on the packages so that their counterparts can identify the luggage upon arrival in Chennai. Jet Airways is the only India-bound carrier flying from the shining new Terminal 3 which started operations this Jan. The presence of such kuruvis is an eyesore to the new terminal. Once the check-in process was over, the Kuruvis took back their unshipped goods with them. Maybe, it was check-in time for another Chennai-bound flight. (All pics courtesy: The Sunday Times). 

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First Family of TN Politics

Good Sunday read from the The Sunday Express to be read together with MK's family tree.

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Sun Pictures vies for Marmayogi production rights

It has been reported in some sections of the media that Kamal's Marmayogi might change hands from Pyramid Saimira to Sun Pictures. This doesn't come as a big surprise given the recent developments surrounding Sun Pictures and Pyramid Saimira.

Over two weeks after Expresso reported that Pyramid Saimira is likely to pull out of its project with Kamal Haasan, the period movie Marmayogi, it seems confirmed now, that the race is on for other producers to take over the movie. Sun Pictures, which has entered the production scene with a bang with Kadhalil Vizhundhen, has confirmed now that they are looking at a proposal to produce the movie. (Link)

Pyramid Saimira is not in the best of financial health after the disappointing performance of Kuselan. Further, Saimira's foray into the North Indian market has not paid off well. They recently closed their North Indian operations. Pyramid Saimira has also shown aggressiveness in entering unchartered territories like the Chinese market where they have very little ground presence and local knowledge. It was widely speculated that Saimira would face difficulties making a commercial success out of such a mega budget movie like Marmayogi which is said to cost upwards of Rs. 100 crores. 

Contrastingly, Sun Pictures has made a killing out of Kadhalil Vizhunthen. The low budget movie was promoted aggressively through various forms of media owned by Sun TV and hence the hype ensured that the movie had a good opening. In addition to this, Sun's business model is undergoing a change ever since the balance of power shifted in favour of Kalaignar TV. The rights of all new big budget movies (especially the ones produced by Pyramid Saimira) were going the way of Kalaignar TV. This prompted Sun TV to do backward integration and enter the world of film production. This will ensure that they have a steady pipeline of movies which can be screened in future even if they meet with limited success in bagging the television rights of other popular movies. 

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Espousing the Tamil cause

Aditya Sinha of The New Indian Express argues that MK is able to hold forte on the Lankan Tamil issue only because there is no visible successor in place. He also draws parallel between the attack against North Indians in Mumbai and the attack against innocent Tamils in Sri Lanka. 

Karunanidhi seems to have had his cake and eat it too. He gets away with his hypocrisy and remains the ‘champion’ of Tamil Eelam, simply because there is nobody to inherit his mantle. If Karunanidhi had roared against the attacks against Biharis, would Raj or Uddhav have had the temerity to tell him to mind his own business, the way they did to Laloo or chief minister Nitish Kumar? Probably not. Of course, Mr Kalaignar takes his alpha-male role too seriously.

But Karunanidhi seems to have had his cake and eat it too. He gets away with his hypocrisy and remains the “champion” of Tamil Eelam, simply because there is nobody else to inherit his mantle (sons Stalin and Azhagiri are no patch on Raj and Uddhav, so Chennai’s Biharis need not worry). After him, there will be a real crisis of leadership in opposition to Jayalalithaa. If Vaiko or Ramadoss were capable of the top job, they would have somehow got it by now; if they have not, they will never. Vijaykanth does not seem to have any depth, relying for advice on the discards from other parties. He seems like nothing more than a popular face. Plus, he has no neck. (Link)

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