Posts Tagged ‘Rajnikant’

What Rajni missed when he went out to smoke

12 December 2012

Photo Caption

On his 60th birthday, school children in Bangalore hold up notebooks of the City’s most famous cinematic export: Shivaji Rao Gaekwad also known as Rajnikanth.

The books were supplied by the Rajniji Seva Samithi (RSS).

***

The website First Post has published excerpts from a new biography of Rajnikanth by the film scholar Naman Ramachandran, with this passage of his relationship with Kamal Haasan.

“In the beginning, in 1975, just how big a star Kamal Haasan was, today’s generation does not know,’ says Rajinikanth. ‘He was an even bigger star in 1975 than he is now. Old or young, a new artiste had never shaken all of India like he did. I had just entered the cinema industry then.

Apoorva Raagangal, Moondru Mudichu, Avargal, these were all my guru K. Balachander’s films—I became a hero with these three films. After that the films that came, big films like 16 Vayathinile, Ilamai Oonjal Aadukirathu, Aadu Puli Attam, Aval Appadithan—these were all hit films.

“For those films, if Kamal had said, ‘Don’t cast Rajini,’ nobody would have taken me. I got Ilamai Oonjal Aadukirathu solely on Kamal’s recommendation.

“So I acted in all these films and then, after I became a big actor, one day Kamal called me and said, ‘Rajini, only if you act alone will you get your own space. If you say no, the cinema world will use us, and you won’t be able to grow.’

“I listened to all that he said. After that I worked on my own.

“Then, after I became a big man, Kamal called me again one day and said, ‘Rajini, you have to be cautious in Tamil cinema. I have seen from a young age—MGR and Sivaji, though they had no rivalry between them, the cinema industry separated them. And because the industry separated them, their fans also separated. That shouldn’t happen with us. The producers and directors I work with, you should work with them too.’

“I don’t know how to thank him.”

Rajinikanth adds, ‘In other industries, people like Mammootty, Mohan Lal, Venkatesh, Chiranjeevi, Amitabh Bachchan and even Dilip Kumar look at me and are amazed how I managed to make a name for myself as an actor in an industry where Kamal Haasan exists. The reason is simple. I grew as an actor just by watching Kamal Haasan acting. I had the good fortune of being able to observe Kamal Haasan from close quarters.

During the shooting of Avargal I was sitting outside when K. Balachander noticed this and got angry. He sent word for me to return to the set and asked me, ‘Did you go outside to smoke? Kamal is acting; observe him. Only then will your acting get even better.’

“From that time, when Kamal acted I wouldn’t go anywhere; I would just sit there and watch. This is the honest truth.”

Buy the book here: Infi Beam

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Also read: A stylish lesson in humility from namma Rajni

11 similarities between Rajni and the iPod

A hit, yes, but why does Rajni have such a hold?

The most testing day in the life of Rajnikanth

Don’t tell us you didn’t know this one about Rajni

How Rajnikanth caught the lion

A stylish lesson in humility from namma Rajni

29 September 2010

There will be many tales told about Rajnikanth in the next few days as Endhrian aka The Robot checks in to a screen near you. Many of them (told by the man himself) will be true, of course, but they will mostly have been manufactured by the buzz machine that modern movies live (and die) by.

Nice to hear, easy to forget.

But the truest stories about Rajnikanth are truly about his humility and humanity despite achieving such stratospheric heights of stardom. About not forgetting his past. About where he comes from. About not losing touch with old friends. About being able to do things he did when he wasn’t earning in crores.

Selvan Shiv Kumar, the Bangalore photographer who passed away recently, detailed one such story about Raj Bahadur (left), who drove the BTS bus on which Rajni was conductor, in his last blog post.

***

By SELVAN SHIV KUMAR

Raj Bahadur lives a one-room pad in Chamarajpet where the superstar visits him in disguise to meet him and stays with him during his Bangalore sojourns.

Rajnikanth, says Bahadur, is still the same old friend he was during their tenure as driver and conductor in the BTS (Bangalore Transport Service) now BMTC; if anything, their friendship has only deepened even as Rajni kept growing from actor to superstar.

Bahadur says Rajni’s simplicity is evident: ‘When he comes to see me, we drink the same old rum with egg-laced delicacies from my sister who lives one floor below mine. When it is bed time, he sleeps on the floor without any complaints.”

Bahadur says Rajni comes unnoticed to his home in various disguises—from beggar to plumber—and leaves after staying with him for a day or two depending on his mood, often sharing his experiences from the netherworld he inhabits.

Once, Rajni was on a shoot in Rajasthan. The role demanded that he dress up as a beggar. In between shots, Rajni decided to visit a mountain-top temple close by since he is a strong believer. On his way to the temple, a lady dropped a Rs 10 note into his palms thinking he was a beggar.

After paying obeisance inside the temple, Rajni was on his way out and getting back into his SUV when the lady who had given him ten 10 rupees noticed him again. She ran towards him and apologised and asked for her note back with his autograph.

Rajni refused: “I am sorry. This note is mine now and I am going to keep it for life.”

This, Bahadur says, Rajni still cherishes as one of his best moments in life as an actor and still carries the Rs 10 in his purse as a remainder that all humans are equal.

For a man who started his job as a bus conductor with a monthly salary of Rs 30 more than 25 years ago, to the star who now gets paid Rs 30 crore per film and yet remain unmoved by all the money is a great feeling. And more so since he is a great friend till death parts us, adds Bahadur with tears in his eyes, which he was unable to stop.

Also read: When a tiger has sex with a tornado

11 similarities between Rajni and the iPod

A hit, yes, but why does Rajni have such a hold?

The most testing day in the life of Rajnikanth

Don’t tell us you didn’t know this one about Rajni

How Rajnikanth caught the lion

When a tiger has sex with a tornado: Rajnikanth

29 September 2010

The release of Endhiran aka The Robot this Friday is creating sufficient noise in the media as almost every movie seems to do these days. But since it is Rajnikanth, and since the movie also involves the action director of The Matrix, the creature designer of Jurassic Park, and the music composer of Slumdog Millionaire, Shankar‘s movie it is also getting a bit of foreign press.

Grady Hendrix attempts to crack the Rajni phenomenon in the online magazine, Slate:

“If a tiger had sex with a tornado and then their tiger-nado baby got married to an earthquake, their offspring would be Rajinikanth. Or, as his films are contractually obligated to credit him, “SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth!”…

“Onscreen, when Rajinikanth points his finger, it’s accompanied by the sound of a whip cracking. When he becomes enraged, the director cuts to a shot of a gorilla pounding his chest or inserts a tiger roaring on the soundtrack. Echo is added to enhance his “punch dialogues,” rhyming lines uttered at moments of high drama….

“The Superstar doesn’t just mop his brow with a towel; he flourishes it like a bullfighter. Putting his sunglasses on is an operation as complex as a Vegas floorshow. His action scenes are so mannered that they’re like watching a new form of macho Kabuki.”

Read the full article: The biggest star you haven’t heard of

Also read: 11 similarities between Rajni and the iPod

A hit, yes, but why does Rajni have such a hold?

The most testing day in the life of Rajnikanth

Don’t tell us you didn’t know this one about Rajni

How Rajnikanth caught the lion

shōmei sho: hai, rajninippon no sūpāsutā de aru

19 February 2010

Rajnikant‘s superstardom in karaokeland, Japan, which is what the lettering in the headline above means, has long been an object of mystery and mirth. Finally, there is proof of his hold in Nippon, where at a song and dance show on television, a Japanese singer mimicks the Tamil superstar. The original number was sung by S.P. Balasubramanyam to the lyrics of Vairamuthu and the music of A.R. Rehman.

Link via Alfred Satish Jones in Washington, DC

Also view: If Chiba san isn’t a son of the soil, who is?

Air Conditioned Vehicle: No hand signal, please

30 November 2009

On the miracle that is the Indian road, M.K. VIDYARANYA captures a stainless steel shop on the wheels of a moped made by the old firm of T.V. Sundaram Iyengar in Salem.

Also read: Don’t tell us you didn’t know this one on Rajnikant

Why our Nagarahole scores over Ranthambore

11 October 2009

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: A regal looking crested serpent eagle with its beautiful yellow ringed eyes flies silently, almost in stealth, and perches itself on an overhanging branch of a mathi tree, its gaze intent as ever.

A giant Malabar squirrel, with its handsome bushy tail made of glorious russet and brown moves around on the long intertwined branches up on a large canopy of green, high up from the lush green grass covered ground, making a range of metallic calls that seem to carry into the distance.

A family of babblers flit around with their brown tails acting like little aerilons, slowly moving up and down in complete synchronization with their short bursts of take off and landing in the vicinity of a roadside lantana bush with its tiny flowers made of pink.

The swoosh of the bamboo and the swaying of the branches; the wind-swept woods and their rain-swept luxuriance; little flowers of red, blue and yellow glistening in pure freshness at the tip of tender, lithe stalks that grow around a roadside water hole; the grey-black asphalt of the road that snakes through this halo of natural magnificence, a wonderful contrast to a million shades of green.

As I drive past the Murkal area of the Nagarahole National Park, the drone of my jeep intermingles with the sudden trumpeting of a massive tusker, chained to a tree in a state of serious musth.

I recognize him as one of the camp elephants.

Past the famous ‘Chirathe Bande’, a huge outcrop of black dolorite, on which a lucky few have seen a leopard stretched out at various times of the day; and past  Kolangere haadi (a tribal settlement), my jeep moves at a steady, slow 20 kmph clip.

My eyes dart to the right and left of the narrow road, in the hope of spotting something interesting. But then, drama is far off the agenda, as nothing, not even the regulation chital come into view.

Where have the elephants gone I wonder; at least they had to be around. Especially with the juicy grass swaying so temptingly by the roadside at this time of the year, soon after the rains. If not a big herd, at least a family of three; the mother, the calf and the aunt. Or a lone tusker. Foraging by the road. But on this day, nothing, no such usual life forms as I have come to bear witness on my innumerable drives into these jungles seem to exist.

I turn towards the Karmad road which eventually takes you into Kodagu, past the tiny village of Balele. The Karmad section of the Kalhalla range is flush with dense green bamboo jungle on either side of the gloriously isolated road, where not too many people venture, not necessarily out of a sense of fear but more because not too many people travel to Coorg from this end, save for those who happen to be resident planters in Balele.

Even on this road, or around it, on this day, not a creature seems to be around.

I’m lost in my solitude; slowly lowered into the depths of my thoughts, in complete isolation from all known forms of civilization; soaking in the sheer sense of seclusion.

I stop by a small bridge in the area as I have a done for so many years; the same bridge on which a big black bear had approached my jeep so closely, that it sniffed at the registration plate in front, a few months ago! I sit inside my vehicle, remembering the excitement that particular incident had created in my heart.

Soon, it is time to head back home. The time on my watch shows a little past six in the evening. As I engage my gear and began to move my jeep slowly, the birds have begun to chirp around. It is roosting time for them. And they are going through the moves, of finding their places to stretch out for the night.

As I touch the Murkal road which will eventually take me to the Veeranahosalli gate and out onto the Hunsur road, some 20 kms away, the jungle around me begins to close in. It is not really dark but grey. As I travel the stretch, I tell myself that this was one of those completely eventless days as far as wildlife sighting went. But then, to be in the jungle was a joy by itself, a bliss. Sightings or not.

And then it happened.

As I turned a regulation bend, I heard a soft thud.

A tiger landed right onto the road, just a few metres in front of my jeep’s grill!

Hugely built and immense, with paws that seemed so densely padded; and an imperial head that stamped a sense of unmistakable authority.

His handsome features glowed magically in the fast ensuing darkness, his tail twitched up and down, as he looked slightly startled by the suddenness of my arrival into his domain.

And then, he composed himself and gave me a look.

A kind of look that only the surest, the most confident, the most unperturbed and one of the greatest of living creatures can gather! “Oh, you’re one of those…mortally inadequate ones,” his expression seemed to convey!

I didn’t mind at all!

In fact I wanted to call out to him; to almost reach out; to want to make contact of the surrealistic kind; to somehow convey to him that I was one of those humans who held him in the highest honour; for the sheer phantasmagoric symmetry of his being as perhaps one of the most intuitive and inspired creations of god!

And then he began to move slowly into a thicket.

I almost said, ‘hey wait… a little while longer’. Moments later he was gone, the slight parting of the leafy undergrowth and its ever so slight stirring, the only indication that he had taken that route.

This is the magic of Nagarahole. The impossible improbability and the million possibilities. Complete hopelessness and a sense of ennui on a drive giving way to sheer heart stopping drama. All in an infinitesimal moment. Leaving you with the memory of a lifetime.

Unlike the more famous Ranthambore, Bandhavgarh, and Kanha national parks in the north of India where foresters talk in terms of zones with names like B1, B2 and B3, with a ridiculous piece of paper that you have to pick determining which route you’ll take for the day; and where tigers have names like ‘Charger’ and ‘Chameli’s daughter’; and where tiger watching has been reduced to a pathetic, orchestrated ‘tamasha’ with hordes of well-heeled men and women and children paying through their up turned noses, and awaiting their turn in a convoy of jeeps in the midst of noxious diesel fumes to be finally presented with a pre-meditated ritual of seeing the big cat.

Photograph: courtesy The Hindu (used for representation purposes only)

Also read: In Nagarahole, tigers are like city buses…

Poachers: forest guards :: Terrorists: Police

5 years = 1,825 days = 43,800 hours = The End?

Don’t tell us you didn’t know this one on Rajnikant

Did Tipu Sultan, Tiger of Mysore, really tame a tiger?

Why Pokiri (Telugu) is better than Wanted (Hindi)

22 September 2009

Pokiri19

ARVIND SWAMINATHAN writes from Madras: As a shameless fan of the new breed of slick South Indian flicks, with their cheap tricks and sexy chicks, please permit me one more attempt at silly alliteration: Puri Jagganath‘s Pokiri was total paisa-vasool for the hicks in the cattle-class, unless, of course, they had deposited their you-know-what in the gold class at PVR.

With a frantic plot immersed in testosterone and coated with impossible machismo, fast action, groovy music, a sexy heroine, voluptuous vamps, good chases, not-so-bad humour and endless violence, only those who dream in sepia tone of Akira Kurosawa and Louis Malle, would find it difficult to admit that the tapori stuff was not ‘bombaat time-pass’.

In both Telugu and Tamil.

In Telugu more than Tamil.

So, it was with no small expectation that I went to see Wanted, the Hindi version of Pokiri starring Salman Khan. And it gives me great joy to report that like masala dosa and mathematics, this new breed of slick South Indian flicks will remain a South Indian speciality. And this despite the director of the Tamil Pokiri (Prabhu Deva) having made the Hindi Pokiri.

***

#1: Mahesh Babu is better than Vijay is better than Salman Khan

Pokkiri5-1OK, his father Krishna couldn’t act, speak, dance or fight to save his life but yet went on to become a star. Mahesh Babu can do a bit of all that and even has a screen presence to match—and is a star. In Tamil, too, Vijay (left) brought younger legs. The ageing but finely chiseled Salman Khan looks like he’s dancing with a Jaipur foot. And surely Pandu sounds more endearing than Radhe any day? I saw Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN write “Watch Wanted for Salman”. Our fullest sympathies with those who have to.

#2: Ileana is better than Asin is better than Ayesha Takia

sexy_ayesha_takia235There’s no way of knowing, of course, for us earthlings, but one presumes that 30-26-29 are the first six digits of Ileana’s phone number. Or 32-28-34 of Asin’s. But Ayesha Takia (who was apparently originally slotted for the role of Shruti in the Telugu Pokiri) is clearly from Silicon Valley judging from the 42-27-30 area code. Ileana brought a certain lightness; Asin a certain effervescence. Takia is too top-heavy, much too much in your face, especially with her whole body looking like a surgical appendage of her defining organ. Why, you sometimes fear the poor thing might just topple over.

#3:  Mani Sharma (Telugu) is better than Mani Sharma (Tamil) is better than Sajid-Wajid

ManisharmaIn both the South Indian versions, the music was a defining feature of the film, like Ghajini, meaningless maybe but still a very important part of the movie. Each of the six numbers in Telugu were foottappingly good, and at least a couple of them (Deva devuda, Jagadame, Vasantha mulai) were memorable in the context of a “mass” movie. But in the Hindi remake, the music sticks out like a sore thumb. Why, even the names Sajid-Wajid sounds like the director is playing a small joke on the audience.

#4: Bramhanandam and Ali are better than Vadivelu is better than whoever it is who is playing Bramhanandam or Vadivelu

comedian-brahmanandam-28The humour in the Telugu Pokiri, especially the beggar sequence, is done well and with great novelty. It is even decent by the rapidly plumetting standards of South Indian humour. It gets loud in Tamil, of course, but in Hindi it positively plumbs the depths, often bordering on the execrable. When “Teri maa ki bleep”, “Teri maa ki bleep” gets a lot of shouts even from those who have paid Rs 250 per ticket, you have to send a silent prayer to the censor board members—and their mothers.

#5:  Upma is better than thayir sadam is better than pasta

Seriously, what is this pasta fixation for a fatherless girl working in a call centre in Wanted? Some kind of status symbol on the Virar Slow? Doesn’t maaji dig roti or parantha or phulka? Think outside the lunch box, Prabhuji. See how funny “Nee yenna periya pasta va?” sounds as compared to the original “Nee yenna periya pista va?” If there is one shot which exposes the pretentiousness of Bollywood, the disconnect with the masses it serves, it is the pasta.

#6 Mummaith Khan is better than whoever it is who is trying to play Mummaith Khan

918695_f520Mmmm. Don’t just take my word for it. Click here for the full evidence: Ippatininka naa vayasu inka padahare or En chella peru apple. Like a good villain, Alibhai (Prakash Raj) has the right molls around him in Telugu and Tamil. He is even in the right business, running night clubs and such like. But Ghanibhai (Prakash Raj) screws up bigtime in the kind of item girls he employs in Hindi. He should pay dearly for this unpardonable sin.

***

You could go on and on.

That Alibhai sounds better than Ghanibhai, even if they are both played by the same national award winning actor.

That the Telugu or Tamil versions didn’t have to accommodate Govinda or Anil Kapoor. Etcetera.

If there are two areas that the Hindi Pokiri stands shoulder to shoulder with the South Indian ones, it is in the casting of Vinod Khanna as Salman’s father (as against Nasser in Telugu and Tamil).

And the cops.  Mahesh Manjrekar fares better than the overacting Ashish Vidyarthi as the lecherous sub-inspector, bringing back memories of Tinnu Anand. And Govind Namdeo scores over the even more overacting (and overdubbing) Sayaji Shinde as the honest police officer.

Prabhudeva showed enormous promise with his Tamil adaptation of the Telugu Pokiri. But in the Hindi remake, he totally blows it. But having seen the Tamil Pokiri, too, you have to wonder like the great bard did, if the fault lies in him— or that of his stars.

Also read: Why Tamil Ghajini is better than Hindi Ghajini

11 similarities between the iPhone and Rajnikant

Thank god, at least one critic thinks Kaminey is crap

Bollywood’s a scam, and Farah Khan is a big, fat con

Conceited, egotistical, nacissistic but the greatest?

Whodunit? Depends on who you want to believe.

30 July 2008

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The one crore rupees that were tabled in the Lok Sabha —the sanctum sanctorum of our democracy—has naturally created tremors across the world.

“Whodunit?” is the question newspapers and magazines are asking and providing answers too. Here’s a few of them who swear by their findings.

# The New Yorker magazine which recently depicted Barack Obama in a controversial, below-the-belt cartoon, swore it was Obama: “The guards who once fought terrorists at their gate and lost some of their colleagues could never be bought to take the notes in. But it’s a different matter with the Indian MPs. The Democrats would have never wanted this Indo-US deal which is essentially a Republican idea.  They would do anything to scuttle it.”

# The Economist, which carried a feature recently that pirate-infested Indian Ocean was one of the most dangerous seas in the world, said the pirates were still no match for our MPs—offshore or in the high seas. The paper suspected China’s hand behind the spectacle. The Chinese would naturally be jealous of India’s proximity to the US through Levi‘s jeans, McDonald‘s and the day is not far when India would have US aircraft carrier Nimitz anchored at Chowpatty beach. “They wanted to kill the deal. Since commie MPs can never be bribed (according to their General Secretary Karat), they found some BJP MPs who are ever ready to be bribed and gave them the notes. The Chinese took the MPs to the bank, made them count the notes as they are not good in counting Indain rupees.”

# Pravda, which still runs both its print and dotcom versions, strongly believes that Condoleezza Rice might have had a hand in it. The paper which has alleged that George Bush and Laura Bush are ‘not in talking terms’ because of the Secretary of State, feels Rice might have influenced Dubya to drop the ‘flip flop’ Indians like a hot potato. Wrote Pravda, “Although Bush himself gets along famously with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Laura likes ‘Indian curry’, Rice might have had a say in this. So she would have arranged some funds through the Indo-American Society and since you can always buy MPs as vegetables in a bazaar, she might have engineered the whole thing. But to her bad luck, Indian democracy shrugged it off and just walked away. Unfortunately for Rice, her plan failed and Bush & Laura are still together.”

# The People’s Daily which is busy airing infrastructure created for Olympics feels that such shameless action could have been only planned and executed somebody within India. It condemned other newspapers for floating all kinds of theories. Wrote the daily’s Madras correspondent: “We are sure only an outsider who has become an insider would have done it. Naturally it has to be the Dalai Lama hand who knows how India and their MPs operate and can count Indian notes quite well by now.”

What about the Indian Media?

Did the newspaper nabobs, magazine moguls, and tsars and tsarinas of TV have anything to write or say about it?

Nope. Not yet.

They are happy that the stock market has logged over 800 points and are now waiting with bated breath for Sachin Tendulkar to become the highest run–getter in Test matches while waiting for the release of the release of Rajnikant’s blockbuster Kuselan!

Only Rajdeep Sardesai has a clue and he isn’t talking—yet!

How does a TV/cinema blackout help Hogenakal?

4 April 2008

ALOK PRASANNA writes from Hyderabad: Indian politicians and activists have mastered the art of The Utterly Meaningless Gesture. Doing things that have no impact on the issue at hand, but designed to promote oneself and one’s own interests, have become their leit motif, with one eye on the TV cameras.

Exempli gratia: relay stirs, one-day fasts, human chains, candle-light vigils, torch-light parades, and rasta/rail (and, who knows, maybe in the near future, airplane) rokos.

All of these don’t spread awareness about an issue, show or muster support for a cause, or even affect their targets. All they do is add to the existing noise and fury. All they do is harass and inconvenience the people on whose behalf they act. And all they do is promote one’s chances of getting a ticket at the next election or pick up a few crumbs thrown their way.

Make no mistake, most of these forms of protest can’t even be dignified with the label of a symbolic gesture.

To that inglorious list, add the threat of a blackout of Tamil channels on cable in Karnataka (and the move to disallow Tamil films to be screened in theatres).

Thankfully, we are not alone. News reports say lawyers in Tamil Nadu have managed to operationalise a similar blackout of Kannada channels in that State. But should we go in for a tit-for-tat response and join in this self-flagellation?

In this day and age of direct to home (DTH) television and set-top boxes, organised cable operators, and not to mention a Constitution which guarantees the fundamental right of speech and ex-pression, those behind the move are harming their own cause by showing not only a complete ignorance of matters technical, but a total lack of imagination in their modes of protest.

Pray, tell us, how is a Tamil or Kannada TV watcher or movie goer responsible for the Hogenakal project?

And pray, tell us, what is a blackout of television supposed to achieve?

If it is supposed to send shivers down the spines of unsuspecting producers of Tamil shows, it has failed miserably as they are congregating today. If it is supposed to irritate and intimidate the Tamil minority in Bangalore, it has been a grand success. But is either of that going to solve our problem?

If it is to send a “message” down the Cauvery, what “message” have we sent when the other side has shown that two can play the game?

By such cheap displays of chauvinism we have only prompted the other side to take a harder stance and make it an all-or-nothing game, where our chances of “losing” increase. Plus, as history has shown, we are total amateurs when it comes to the fanatic overreaction of the Tamil variety (they invented the self-immolation, the suicide bomber, and Rajnikant fans’ clubs!)

By a giving needless linguistic angle to a water dispute, we have done our cause no small amount of harm. No amount of protests or breast-beating will get us a court or tribunal verdict in our favour if we don’t have a strong case (and believe me there is no other way this is ending, not after the high-pitched rhetoric being tossed around).

Our best chance of getting out of this situation would have been negotiations conducted in a spirit of give and take, ensuring that our interests were protected while the matter was resolved as quickly as possible. Adopting hardline positions which are untenable and likely to be thrown out of a court will get us nowhere.

M. Karunanidhi is probably rubbing his hands in glee at seeing the emotional outbursts “for” and “against” the matter. By encouraging the hotheads and the no-heads on this side of the border, Karunanidhi has in one stroke removed whatever maneouvering space we may have had on the issue.

To react to Karunanidhi’s provocations is to fall into the trap set by him. It is in Karunanidhi’s interests to show us up before the rest of the country as a bunch of hooligans and rowdies who are hellbent on holding back drinking water on the basis of language.

By turning this into an emotive language issue, by targetting television, cinema and newspapers, those behind the protests have greatly helped Karunanidhi.

Congratulations.

Also read: Is it right to block Sun TV?

Just how is this dress an affront to Hindu culture?

14 January 2008

In a State that is battling the ban on jallikattu, Shriya Saran, the Haridwar-born heroine of Sivaji, has run foul of the Hindu Makkal Katchi for dressing in a “provocative” manner that “offended” Hindu culture at a public function in “conservative” Madras, to mark the silver jubilee of the Rajnikant starrer.

The function was held at the University of Madras on Friday, January 11, where Tamil Nadu chief minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi, no darling of Hindu elements himself following the Ram sethu controversy, was the chief guest.

According to the website Tamilstar.com, whose reporter was presumably at the scene of the crime, Shriya was “wearing an off-white dress that rode up her knees while she sat, and a plunging neckline that highlighted her hour-glass figure”. Police have told UNI: ”We have given a community service register against the (HMK) petition and will probe the case.”

The actresses had landed in trouble even before the release of the film when censor board objections over her navel display had forced director Shankar to reshoot portions of a song.

***

The questions are obvious: Is this attire really offensive to Hindu culture? Says who, and on what basis? Surely, you have seen far more provocative and offensive pictures? Why are only actresses from the North landing in trouble in Madras—Khushboo being the other major victim?

How do the police register such obviously frivolous complaints? Don’t the courts have anything better to do than entertain such cases? And how come movies and TV shows which are watched by millions more go through without a squeak whereas tiny functions open to a select few come under the scanner?

Also read: Are we becoming a nation of blithering idiots?

SUNAAD RAGHURAM: Kissing isn’t a part of our culture. Pissing is?

And Ratan Tata sang, ‘PR kiya tho darna kya’

12 January 2008

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: The unveiling of the Nano has fetched the kind of publicity Osama bin Laden would kill for.

Purple prose hailing the new peoples car, breathless editorials brazenly brushing aside environment and traffic concerns, mushy interviews with the man himself, over-the-top opinion polls have all greeted the “world’s cheapest car”.

But, has anybody driven the bloody car?

Welcome to the age of hype as journalism. Welcome to the age of who cares as long as we can get into their media plan journalism. Welcome to the age of the details don’t matter, the spectacle is the story journalism.

Like the iPhone in the United States last year, the Nano has been decreed a success even before the assembly line can be readied for manufacture. And like a Harry Potter book, half of whose hold depends on the secrecy its author and publishers can double from the previous instalment, we have had TV channels describing the route the car took from Poona to Delhi, and schoolboy newspapers cackling about the Z-category security that accompanied it.

But at least, thousands of buyers could touch and feel Steve Jobs‘ claims the day it was launched; thousands more could sample J.K. Rowling‘s concoction.

The Nano?

We just have to swallow and spout the manufacturer’s line hook, line and sinker. Or else, we could be out of their media plan. So we have to take Ratan Tata’s word that it lets out less fumes than a two-wheeler (oh, yes, tell me another) and that it won’t clog up our roads (oh, really?).

Sure, the Nano it looks cute, the colours are snazzy, and yes, it’s a proud moment for a desi company that has put out some of the most dangerous vehicles on our roads, like the Sumo and their godawful mini-trucks, to have stuck to a “promise” and delivered a car with a sticker price of Rs 100,000.

But, brother, how does it move? Isn’t that what a car is all about?

You scribble a line to see if a pencil (cost Rs 2) writes well. You check out a couple of vegetable wallahs before you buy kotambir (Rs 5). You try a pair of hawaii chappalls (cost Rs 200) to see if it is comfortable or not. Why, we sample sweets and savouries before declaring them tasty or not.

But you see a one lakh rupee from a safe distance and pronounce it a hit?

Hit it may well be and, for the sake of the Tata Motors stock of which I have a few, I hope it is. But where is the balance, the line between paid advertising and, well, unpaid advertising?

OK, it could accommodate Ratan dikra as he swung in for the launch. But can it carry papa, mama, chunnu and Bunty comfortably? Will its adhesive stuck parts withstand not-so-ideal conditions as the ramp at a five-star hotel? Do those very basic shock absorbers have it in them to haul you out of potholes for years on end?

And, since we are talking of a car, lest we forget, does its motor run well?

I guess we will never know till some auto magazine gets another sneak peak, and we all know what that means. But couldn’t we have been spared the instant verdict?

If an inexpensive price tag is all that matters, we’ve got it—even Tata’s PR people wouldn’t have done better.

Also read: 11 similarities between iPhone and Rajnikant

Photograph: courtesy tatapeoplescar.com

Don’t tell us you didn’t know this one about Rajni

29 December 2007

Like he slipped so smoothly from Kannada to Tamil, Rajnikant is racing from Bandipur from Mudumalai, on his new acquired 70 cc “TVS XL Heavy Duty moped”.

A cigarette is swinging in his mouth from left to right, right to left.

Just as Rajni enters the Tamil Nadu side of the forest, a pack of three tigers starts chasing him.

How does superstar escape?

At a T-junction on the road, he switches on his right indicator—and turns left.

Also read: 11 similarities between the iPhone and Rajni

How Rajni caught the lion

Illustration: courtesy Simply South/India Today


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