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@rajinikanth

Rajini’s Delhi Trip, Guv Meet Foxes Fans, Friends And Politicians

After J Jayalalithaa‘s demise, Rajinikanth’s political entry was much trumpeted. Even when a huge fan following bragged about the style he would bring as the “CM of TN“, sceptics bandied this joke…”Rajini Can’t” wade into the turbulent political waters. When he announced that he was withdrawing from politics his fans went into despair. He was trolled mercilessly for developing cold feet. His last two movies did nothing much to boost his cine status. Better to ride off into retirement gracefully. But no, adulation is an addiction and fan worship is a narcissistic opiate. Suddenly, on August 7, he dashed off to Delhi, followed by a much-hyped meeting the next day with Tamil Nadu Governor R N Ravi at the Raj Bhavan. Soon he was front-page news and trolled heavily. Was Rajini, the Pink Panther on the prowl again? Why would a film star meet the Governor? Was he joining the BJP? Post Raj Bhavan visit, Rajini met the Press at the gate of his bungalow and a volley of questions followed: Did you discuss politics with the Governor? Did you highlight the niggardly, miserly GST share for TN? Rajini quickly but stylishly put on his mask, and bolted into his house. Is Rajini hoping that his next movie Jailer would put him into the limelight like Vikram did for his rival Kamal Haasan?
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V Sabareesan: The Go To Man In Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin’s son-in-law V Sabareesan has been in the news ever since DMK came to power. He is the CM’s alter ego, go to man and a conscience-keeper. Recently he was on “mission yagna” to save, and keep the government in the saddle. His mission was against the backdrop of four temple chariots in Tamil Nadu toppling and killing 12 people. This is considered a bad omen for the ruler of a State. On hearing the news, Sabareesan’s best friend London Venkat spoke to a well-known astrologer Mahesh Iyer, who advised the duo to immediately perform certain rituals to ward off the evil and impending calamity to the CM. But to perform the rituals, Sabareesan had to get the go- ahead from the first family which they did. Finally, a yagna was performed at the Subramaniya Swamy Temple in Tiruchendur. Political wags were on overdrive about Stalin’s son-in-law performing the ritual as a proxy. Social media talked about the two-faced ideology of Stalin who is quick to claim his agnostic status tempered by the Dravidian ideology, even as wife Durga leads her life as a staunch Hindu devotee. Such duplicity by self-serving leaders is not ignored by people. The Dravidian ideology is conveniently jettisoned when it comes to saving his own Gaddi. Sabareesan is now seen as Stalin’s one man Delta Force.
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PM Modi On Backslapping Terms With This Gandhi

There were many interesting asides when the PM Narendra Modi visited Chennai for inaugurating the 44th Chess Olympiad.  Post the event Modi went to Raj Bhavan for his night sojourn and also to meet numerous BJP functionaries. Even as the PM strode in, he headed straight to a simple man, waiting with the others, calling out “MRG” and shook him by the shoulders, with others watching this breach in protocol with amazement. Modi evidently has a very spontaneous warm side, his whole demeanour changed and he was visibly happy to meet Nagercoil (Tamil Nadu) BJP MLA MR Gandhi who shares a special relationship with Modi as both were from the RSS. The warmth of the greeting for this 77-year old man who wears no footwear, may have reminded many of the mythological meeting of Sudama and Lord Krishna at Dwarka. Gandhi was touched and honoured. This TN man had failed in earlier attempts to get elected to the Assembly but won in 2021. Incidentally, Gandhi too was the subject of some unsavoury press. Apparently, his aide Kannan’s son Amrish has political ambitions. His bike number plate is emblazoned “Grandson of the Nagercoil MLA”, a euphemism that he created for himself, using the MLA’s name.
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Last Ford EcoSport Rolls Out Of Chennai Plant Signalling The End Of The Road For 4000 Workers!

On July 21, a beautifully decked up bride left her home with 4000 well-wishers (read workers) shedding tears and bidding her adieu. That was not just the last Ford EcoSport car rolling out of their beloved Ford manufacturing plant at Maraimalainagar in Tamil Nadu.  It was the end of the road for all 4000 workers with the Ford parent deciding to exit India.  The Chennai plant was set up in 1995 on 350 acres to make 4 lakh vehicles along with the Gujarat plant. The Figo, Endeavour, Ikon, EcoSport were hugely popular. But how long can a business sustain losses, whatever the emotional quotient tagged to a product made with pride? The President of Ford Motors, Jim Farley had candidly admitted that Ford had accumulated $ 2 billion losses producing only 80,000 vehicles a year with the plant having an installed capacity of 4 lakh vehicles. The Covid-19 lockdown, global downturn and business cycle factors are quoted ad nauseam. Even a brief dalliance for a second time with Mahindra was tried in 2019. No one can really pinpoint why it did not succeed. But for now, it is the plight of these 4000 workers that is heart wrenching. Even as we talk about Aatma Nirbhar Bharat, the future of such trained dedicated workers who suffer the whims of global business has to be seriously considered.
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Will ‘Jailor’ Be Superstar Rajini’s Comeback Movie?

Hum kisi se kum nahin says the latest Sanmaan Patra awarded to superstar Rajinikanth by Income Tax Department for being the highest tax payer in Tamil Nadu. Akshay Kumar is the highest tax payer in Bollywood. Puducherry Governor Tamizhisai Sounderarajan did the honours on Income Tax day when daughter Aishwarya cooed, “Proud daughter of a high and prompt taxpayer”. Ever since the superstar withdrew from the political race, the legion of fans quietly melted, licking their wounds of disappointment. His last movie Annathe was eminently forgettable. His health was giving cause for concern.  Son-in-law Dhanush and wife Aishwarya hit the headlines for an imminent divorce. Rajini, his closest circle, insisted would surely retire to the Himalayan cave where he found nirvana in the Babaji Ashram. These “occult “ soothsayers may not have divined the  tough mettle of this man who had literally clawed his way from bus conductor to iconic superstar with a phenomenal fan base. His close friend, paradoxically his bête noire Kamal Haasan, a flop in politics, had seamlessly moved to the top spot with his comeback movie Vikram. The talking heads conjured up visions of a visibly overwhelmed Rajini rearing to make a film that would exceed Vikram’s success. Jailor was announced (directed by Nelson Dilipkumar with a brief, replicate Vikram’s success). Thalaiva is back in the news. Happy days are here again?
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Stalin’s Attempt To Mend Fences, Asks Prime Minister Modi To Inaugurate 44th Chess Olympiad

Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin is going all out to make the 44th Chess Olympiad an outstanding success. This mega event is to be hosted at the heritage town of Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram), between July 28 and August 10. A stylised mascot Thambi has sprung up at many vantage points in Chennai. The historic Napier Bridge has been painted like a chess board and a teaser ad featuring Stalin and AR Rahman shot on it was released by the superstar Rajinikant. But, while doing all these publicity gigs the Stalin government seems to have conveniently forgotten to focus on their very own home grown heroes Viswanathan Anand, India’s greatest chess Grandmaster and Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu, the new Grandmaster. Except for a “blink and you miss glimpse “, both were not highlighted in the publicity drive. Critics allege it was an intended snub for Brahmins. Stalin moved his pawn like a grandmaster when an opening presented.  Prime Minister Narendra Modi called him up to wish him speedy recovery when he was admitted to Kauvery Hospital for Covid treatment. Stalin quickly latched on to this bonanza door opener and requested Modi to inaugurate the Chess Olympiad, adding he would depute MP K Kanimozhi and TR Baalu to personally invite him. Perhaps, Stalin was trying to mend fences after DMK leader A Raja publicly threatened Modi that TN would secede if not granted more autonomy. But, will Modi inaugurate the Chess Olympiad? Wait and watch.
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Is Tamil Nadu BJP Head Annamalai Proving To Be A Thorn In The Flesh For Stalin Govt?

Tamil Nadu’s BJP President K Annamalai is making news for his energetic snoop, scoop and share. He figured as a juicy news break in the mainstream media last week. The DMK is now clearly wary of him, and his exposes. The latest is about the fake passport issue scandal in Madurai which has reached the desk of ADGP, David Asirvadam, no less. Annamalai constantly trains his guns at the dynastic rule of the DMK. RS Bharathi, long term DMK spokesperson brushes this aside and retorts “Annamalai talks nonsense “. He made headlines once again as he thundered at a Press meet like a modern day Nostradamus, “The Eknath Shinde of TN has already taken avatar. Wait and watch.” When everything is cornered by one family, rebellion erupts. Late Bal Thackeray and Kalaignar traversed identical paths, as did Aaditya and Udhayanidhi. It may be mentioned that Stalin has consistently been anti-Centre and anti-Modi with his subtle delimitation of Union and States powers. But the recent threat by A Raja to the Modi government that TN would secede if the state was not granted more autonomy in Stalin’s presence has provided more ammo to Annamalai.  He has promptly sent a petition to the Lok Sabha Speaker that A Raja cannot continue as MP after this secession rhetoric. A case has been filed too. Annamalai surely believes that the BJP’s ‘Telangana first, TN next’ strategy slogan has been fast forwarded significantly.
bjp

After Cong Mukt Bharat Is BJP Working Towards An Opposition Mukt Bharat?

The BJP’s velvet gloves were off at the National Executive meet in Hyderabad.  The message was “Look South for our next push”. No one was surprised by the new slogan, “Telangana first, TN next”.  So is BJP working towards Opposition Mukt Bharat?  Maybe! The Delhi-based journalist R Rajagopalan who has attended over 15 such political party executive meets in his long career says that the Hyderabad session left him in awe and admiration. Sensing its move, Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao made his displeasure known by not receiving the PM Narendra Modi when he visited Telangana twice. “Telangana has several Eknath Shindes”, says BJP leader Bandi Sanjay in retaliation. The recent development in Maharashtra where two-thirds of Sena MLAs walked out to align with BJP and form the government could well be an eye-opener for KCR that BJP means business. In the neighboring Tamil Nadu the appointment of the Governor RN Ravi has made the MK Stalin-led DMK government very uncomfortable from Day One. It may be recalled that BJP has been trying hard to make inroads by appointing by former IPS officer K Annamalai as its party chief as its earlier experiment of wooing superstar Rajnikant failed. What perhaps could help BJP gain inroads in TN is the infighting within AIADMK. One thing is loud and clear that Telangana and TN are on BJP’s radar as it seems doable.
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Mani Ratnam’s Magnum Opus ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ Teaser Garners Over 1 Crore Views In 24 Hours

The teaser of Mani Ratnam’s mammoth, magnificent multi-lingual Ponniyin Selvan (Part 1) has already garnered 1 crore views in just 24 hours of its launch at the Chennai Trade Centre. Taking a leaf out of Kamal Haasan’s pre-release carpetbagging blitz for his film Vikram, Madras Talkies and Lyca Productions have creatively unleashed the promos. First, there were posters of Aishwarya Rai, who plays the pivotal role of Pazhuvur Rani Nandini in her grand Chola-era costumes and jewellery. Then came Trisha, who plays Princess Kundavai in an equally attractive costume, followed by Vikram, Karti, Jeyam Ravi and others. The multilingual teasers, each launched by regional super stars Surya, Mohan Lal, Mahesh Babu, Rakshit Shetty and Amitabh Bachchan, have kindled high expectations. In an age when reading classics and following history is fast dying, Mani Ratnam has kindled interest in the late Kalki’s immortal literary classic, Ponniyin Selvan, the saga of the Golden Age of the Chola dynasty, and in particular Raja Raja Chozhan. The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones are sure to be compared as benchmarks for this extraordinary visual panorama. Ratnam has harnessed the best of cinematic talent, AR Rahman’s music, Thota Tharani’s Art, Ravi Varman’s cinematography – and the piece de resistance, Kamal Haasan as the Sutradaar narrator. Madras Talkies has mounted the Chola-era classic to be a much talked about film.
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When Tamil Nadu BJP Leader H Raja Turned A Press Meet Into Stand Up Comedy

Tamil Nadu’s senior BJP leader H Raja may have lost elections, and his national Secretary post but neither age nor defeat have withered his chutzpah and energy to take on the DMK and chief minister MK Stalin whom he calls friend. At a recent press meet, Raja took on the DMK’s A Raja for his secessionist speech, daringly, yet managed to entertain the onlookers with his extempore slugs of wit. He nailed it when he demanded Stalin should either put A Raja behind bars for sedition or face his government’s dismissal under Article 356, if Raja was his mouthpiece. “No one should think this can’t happen. Even a lame duck PM like Chandrasekhar dismissed your father’s government in 1991”. Raja claims that Jagat Gasper, a protégée of the first family is an arms peddler, and Stalin has to show him the door. Stalin, according to Raja, has a talent for claiming credit for efforts of the Centre. The BJP government under the leadership of Modi brought home over 10,000 medical aspirants from Ukraine’s war zone Stalin quickly pounced on this opportunity to claim “It was our efforts that all came home unscathed“ . The sucker punch line H Raja delivered that turned the press meet into a Stand Up comedy, “If a neighbour celebrates the birth of a child, we must offer congratulations. But if you claim responsibility for that too….it becomes awkward”.
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A Raja Threatens Modi Govt, Give Us More Autonomy Or Else DMK Will Push For A Separate Tamil Nadu

DMK MP A Raja, a confidante of the late M Karunanidhi courted the country’s ire and shock while addressing a meeting of local cadres of DMK in Tamil Nadu. Raja, in the presence of the chief minister MK Stalin, threatened the Centre that TN would secede if the state was not granted more autonomy. “We will not stop until TN gets state autonomy ….I request the PM and the HM not to force us to revive the demand for a separate TN, an ideological demand made by Periyar for Thani (separate) Nadu “. The outburst, perhaps deliberate, is to remind the Modi government of their unhappiness with the TN Governor’s role, NEET issues not being addressed, inequitable distribution of GST, imposition of Hindi; the usual litany of woes that a non-BJP ruled states has with the Union government. Both AIADMK and BJP have condemned Raja’s seditious speech. But, what is intriguing is the CM playing the role of a mute spectator. Analysts are saying that the CM was using Raja as a trial balloon to assess people’s mood. Political analyst Sumanth Raman says “He embarrassed Stalin…sidelined in the DMK and sulking. Except for such fringe elements, no one in TN talks about separatism “. Says DMK Rajya Sabha MP TKS Elangovan, “Raja aired his frustration “. The grapes of wrath are bound to be sour. A Raja may soon discover, discretion is the best part of valour.
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PM Modi Wows Global Leaders With Made In India Gifts

The exquisite array of gifts Prime Minister Narendra Modi carried to the G7 summit tells the story of an extraordinary politician who has made India and Indians proud. And the GI Tag on a few of these gifts came as an added bonus to promote Indian artisans and their body of work. The gifts ranged from a Gulabi Meenakari brooch and matching cuff links, GI tagged from Varanasi for the U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady. Japan’s PM Fumio Kishida was gifted Black Pottery, a process specific speciality of Nizamabad. The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was gifted an ultra special platinum painted tea set to commemorate the Queen’s platinum jubilee year. Emmanuel Macron was the recipient of a Zari Zardozi box crafted in Lucknow, encased in hand embroidered khadi silk in the colours of the French flag. The contents were even more exotic — it held Attar Mitti, a fragrance mix of jasmine, rose and musk.  Germany’s Chancellor was gifted brassware from Moradabad .The Italian PM was delighted to receive a semi-precious stones inlaid marble table top, reminiscent of the Pietra Dura that originated in Rome.  So what is unusual about PM gifting exotic memorabilia? Normally, one expects such esoteric tastes to a “Manor Born “. Or praise the team designated to choose. Ultimately, it is the leader’s forethought to showcase India discerningly, abroad.
Draupadi Murumu (4)

This Droupadi Is All Set To Preside Over Maha Bharat

When BJP announced the name of 64-year old Droupadi Murmu from Odisha as NDA’s Presidential candidate penny and jaws dropped. One of India’s best management minds Prof R Vaidyanathan said: “The choice of Droupadi Murmu is a massive tectonic shift in Indian polity. Mark my words, not many developed nations could have mustered the consensus for such a role model like Droupadi to adorn the Presidential chair”. Murmu, a capable administrator comes from the adivasi Santhals of Odisha with stints as a Minister and later, a Governor. A devoted Sanathana dharmi, the first thing Murmu did was to visit the Shiva temple. Undoubtedly, the polity and power shift is in favour of the OBC’s. The RSS, focusing on the importance of the Vanavasis, set up 600,000 vidyalayas in tribal areas to bring the tribals under the umbrella of education. So the choice of Murmu is a logical step for inclusion. Two significant irritants cast their shadow on the tribals of India –.the Naxalite threat and the Christian Missionary Conversion issue, parading under the euphemism, “Soul harvesting by planting the cross”.  With successive government’s tough stand, the Naxal threat spread over 185 districts has now come down to 25. Murmu is bound to face and preside over more such irritants and challenges as our nation moves up to pole position.
Cow-Dung

Kashmir Digest

Holy Cow! India Exports 192 Tonnes Of Dung To Kuwait

India has experienced the full gamut of sentiments concerning the cow — from cow worship, cow vigilantism, to riots to protest beef eating and intolerance to use of leather products.  Against this backdrop, a new chapter has just opened up. For the first time a whopping 192 metric tonnes of indigenous cow dung has been exported to Kuwait by the Jaipur-based Sunrise Agriland Development & Research. The company’s director Prashant Chaturvedi is elated that even Islamic countrIes like Kuwait understand the nutrient value of cow dung. Atul Gupta, President of the Organic Farmer Producer Association of India is gung ho about the potential for organic fertilisers, especially cow dung. Reportedly, in 2020-21, the export value of natural fertilisers was Rs 27,155 crore. According to Kashmir Digest, “Many countries have found after research on indigenous cow dung that it can, not only increase the production of crops, but the use of the products produced from it can relieve humans from serious ailment. This is the reason that many countries have started importing indigenous cow dung along with organic manure from India.”  Kuwait has singled out cow dung as an appropriate fertiliser nutrient for increased Date size and yield. This move has made Goshalas in India optimistic which had all along claimed that dung was the best organic fertiliser for healthy agri-products. Holy Cow, dung in demand!
Red Jackfruit

How Red Coloured Jackfruit Turned Aerospace Engineer Into A Pomologist

Aerospace engineer M Premkumar who works for Honeywell Aerospace in Bengaluru has turned a Pomologist, a specialist in fruit culture. Call it serendipity. While travelling through rural areas of Karnataka he came across an unusual red variety of Jackfruit which was succulent and dripping with sweetness. Immediately he fell in love with this fruit and felt it should be grown in his village in Tamil Nadu’s Ranipettai district. He zeroed in on some 30 of these exotic red varieties and set up a model red Jackfruit breeding farm and raised 1500 saplings, and sold it for Rs 250 per sapling. Says Premkumar “These saplings need care for three years, and then they can live up to more than 50 years yielding soft fleshy fruits which don’t spoil for up to five days.“ The ordinary jackfruit yields just 20% of its weight as edible fruit, while the red variety yields up to 65% per kg. This makes the red variety hugely attractive in terms of investment as 1 acre can accommodate 70 saplings. Unripe Jackfruit is already in big demand globally, as it tastes like shredded chicken, pulled pork and is considered a boon for vegans.  Premkumar is trying to develop uniform varieties for creating a market under the National Horticulture Mission.  To connect Jackfruit farmers world over he has started a WhatsApp group that exchanges ideas for this fruit.
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@VigneshShivN

Super Star Nayanthara Ties The Knot With Ace Director Vignesh Culminating Seven Year Courtship

At long last they are married. After a seven-year love story, amid now-on-now-off rumours regarding actress Nayanthara’s wedding with writer-director Vignesh Shivan, it finally happened at a 5-Star resort in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, amid a vetted down guest list of 200 people, digital invitations and QR codes in place. Reportedly, Nayanthara wanted a Tirupati Balaji temple wedding. But the Netflix offer of Rs 25 crore for telecast rights for an orchestrated ceremony was too good to resist. Nayan, the savvy entrepreneur, quickly course corrected towards a resort wedding. The Vicky-Katrina wedding had set benchmarks of monetisation. The guest list read like a K Town compendium — Rajini, Kamal, Karthi, Vijay, Sethupathi, AR Rahman to name a few. Rajini did the ritual honour of giving the ‘thali, maangalyam’ (mangalsutra) to Vignesh, who has waited seven long years to snag one of the most wooed and striking stars from K town. Ace director Gautam Vasudev Menon directed the 2-hour proceedings in his inimitable style ensuring a slick event with an ensemble cast. Nayan’s vermilion clingy saree, the beautifully embossed choli (with Lakshmi motifs), heavy emerald and polky diamond jewellery vied for attention with Nayan’s drop dead gorgeous looks. Shah Rukh Khan with director Atlee sashayed in style to wish his Jawan heroine loads of happiness. Next to follow is the high-octane reception at the Grand Chola.
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Fotocorp

Will Jawan Tamil Director Atlee’s Hand, Restore The Midas Touch For King Khan?

Even as Atlee tried to convey his excitement about directing the King Khan in a much talked about pan India film, Jawan, the goose bumps were evident. When the deal was signed, Atlee in a teary tweet said, “I have grown up watching his movies, lapping up every Khan nuance. And now directing him….it is unbelievable. I am blessed “. Atlee has hit the mother lode in his very first Bollywood venture by getting to direct Shah Rukh Khan. Of late, a number of Bollywood films, five to be precise, could not match up to the box office takings of many south Indian movies. SRK’s choice of Atlee for Jawan, produced by his wife Gauri Khan, is seen as an acknowledgement of this 35-year-old director with the Midas touch. Trained under S Shankar, Atlee has given Tamil hits like Raja Rani, Theri, Mersal, Beast and Bigil. For good measure Jawan has Kollywood Lady Super Star, Nayanthara in the lead, with Sunil Grover and Sanya Malhotra adding more glitter to the awesome twosome. Rock star Anirudh Ravichander who scores the music is bound to Amp up the quotient. The teaser is out and SRK’s role has triggered excitement. Could Atlee’s Midas touch work in Bollywood which in recent times has seen strings of flops? One has to wait till June 2023 for the answer!
Savukku-Shankar

TN Whistleblower Savukku Shankar Makes News Splash, Police Files FIR Then, Backtracks Fearing Whiplash

It is amazing how Chennai-based Achimuthu Shankar has transformed himself from a social media journalist to a whistle blower folk hero. He gained both fame and notoriety as Savukku Shankar, choosing a self-styled sobriquet. Savukku in Tamil means whip. Shankar who started his vigilante career in the TN Directorate of Vigilance & Anti-Corruption, had extraordinary talent to sniff out corrupt deals. Naturally, this angered a vast array of bureaucrats and politicians in TN.  Savukku paid the price; he was jailed and tortured for two months. Currently he is once again in the news for the wrong reasons though. His name along with BJP leader Maridass appear in a hastily filed FIR by overzealous TN police against the 90-year-old media house, Ananda Vikatan and its sister publication Junior Vikatan. Junior Vikatan, a bi-weekly tabloid, exposed the phenomenally murky growth of a real estate conglomerate, G Square, alleged to be close to the first family, which turned sensational. The FIR indirectly warned “zealous “journos and vigilantes of certain Lakshman Rekhas they should not cross. This police action saw journalists across Chennai raising a storm of protest. These protests coincided around the time of the Prime Minister’s planned visit to the state. Top police officials, fearing journalists may greet the PM with black bands, quietly withdrew the FIR against Vikatan Press, Shankar and Maridass.
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AR Rahman Asks Mani Ratnam To Reshoot Portions Of ‘Ponniyin Selvan’ To Better Sync With His Music?

Cinema-goers in Tamil Nadu are eagerly awaiting the September release of Mani Ratnam’s magnum opus, Ponniyin Selvan, the five part literary Tamil classic of late Kalki. But the Kollywood chatter tower is abuzz with speculation that the film release date may be delayed. Reason: AR Rahman wanted some parts of the movie to be reshot, more to align with his music, as he is not happy with how some scenes might sync with his captivating music. Kollywood is shocked. Mani Ratnam, the master of cinematic excellence must have never encountered such requests. He is well known for his creative collaboration, not disruptive collision. It is also hard to believe that Oscar winner Rahman would interfere in Ratnam’s creativity. With an ensemble cast of Aishwarya Rai (playing the lead), Trisha, Vikram, Karthi, Jayam Ravi, Sarath Kumar, Keerthi Suresh, and Prakash Raj, one would think Ratnam had enough divas to choreograph, and conjure that magic to the screen with his stamp of class even for the mass. Meanwhile, Mani Ratnam fans are keen awaiting the release of the first Part 1 this September and they are sure it will be a rewarding experience. And everybody knows such hiccups apart, once the film is screened Mani Ratnam’s signature will be all over.
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Once Again Stalin Will Lay Claim To Sri Lanka’s Kachchatheevu, To Push PM Modi’s Hand On Island Reclamation Issue

India has extended more than just emergency aid, arranged for finance from the IMF, door delivered medicines, foodgrains and fuel to our trouble-torn neighbour, Sri Lanka. The scale of this spontaneous and timely humanitarian aid is now overshadowed by raising the issue of repossessing the Kachchatheevu island, a 285 sq km land area in the Palk Straits, a mere 17 km south of Rameshwaram. In 2013, the Tamil Nadu Assembly passed a Resolution about reclaiming Kachchatheevu, and now the DMK government headed by MK Stalin is pushing for it. Reason: Recurring skirmishes between the two nations, incidences of arrests of Indian fishermen. They are regularly detained and punished by the Sri Lankan Navy. Reportedly, the new Sri Lankan PM is planning to accede Kachchatheevu to India for a 99-year lease. India ceded Kachchatheevu in 1974, but has not succeeded in getting Sri Lanka to sign a mutually advantageous deal. As recently as March 5, 2022, when both countries held a virtual meeting of the 5th Working Group of Fisheries, India requested a humane approach to this issue. It is learnt that during PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Tamil Nadu and Stalin may bring this vexatious issue up with him.  
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Stalin On Renaming Spree For Kalaignar, Holds His Horse Chariot At Thiruvarur Ther

Changing names of roads, landmarks is the favourite pastime of Indian politicians. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin is no different. He plans to rename the famous East Coast Road leading to Mahabalipuram to Kalaignar Karunanidhi Road. Questions abound whether Stalin is emulating the BJP that rampantly changed names of places and cities, as Allahabad was renamed Prayagraj, notwithstanding expected protests.  Stalin won’t stop at roads alone, it seems and is striking at the very roots of devotion and the Saivite culture. Thiruvarur Ther is a revered car festival that gained in grandeur and devotion over the ages from the Chola kings’ time, with the chariot of Thiruvarur Thiagaraja Swamy being Asia’s biggest temple chariot at 96 ft height and 300 tonne weight. Stalin plans to change the name of the temple car street from Thiruvarur Ther Veedhi to Kalaignar Veedhi. Thiruvarur is the birthplace of the Carnatic Music triumvirate –Thiyagaraya, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syma Sastri. Thirukkuvalai, in the hinterland of Thiruvarur is the birthplace of the Late Kalaignar. This name change prompted a massive protest rally by the BJP. Seeing the huge round of protest the DMK government decided to dial down for now has put the name change plan on hold. Seeing BJP’s protest a wag commented, sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander. True That.
Kamala Hasaan

Kamal Haasan's Dirty Dance Gets Vocal, Makes Political Angst Focal, Hasn't Had Enough, Sings Pathala Pathala!

In just four days of streaming on YouTube, Kamal Haasan set a world record crooning the first song from his action-thriller movie Vikram. The electric rhythm and electrifying lyrics of Pathala, Pathala (can’t have enough) have sent his legion of fans into ecstatic frenzy. Kamal’s team pulled out all the stops to make Vikram and its music a customised stimulating experience. The ensemble cast including 67-year old Haasan has Vijay Sethupathi, Fahadh, Kalidas Jayaram and, a cameo by Surya. No prizes for guessing the ingredients for this potpourri action thriller directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj in which Kamal dons khakhi. It is pure Chennai petta rap like Bombaiya, full of irreverent political innuendos, taking on both the Center and the ruling party, besides other public Rasputins. Sweet revenge for all his failures? Ultimately, what nails this song is Kamal’s energetic tempo of dirty dancing that has pumped up hysteria. A crazed fan adds, “What Rajini got with a lifetime of style, Kamal has belted out in one song “. Is Janaki meant to take on a Tamil Nadu BJP functionary? Already, an obfuscated vigilante has filed a case against the song for its controversial lyrics. Both Kamal’s political avatar and cinematic charisma sorely need an upturn. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be pathala, pathala….just not enough.

Stalin Forges A Grandiose Plan, Shifting Administrative Capital To Mahabalipuram

Tamil Nadu BJP Chief K Annamalai is adept at ferreting out information from rival camps. Consider the impact of his ‘Breaking News’ regarding Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin’s hidden plans to carve out a brand-new state assembly complex at Mahabalipuram. Could it be similar to Putrajaya the Malaysian administrative campus, 25 km south of Kuala Lumpur? The DMK could be planning to build a rival monument to the 7th century world Heritage Shore Temple in Mahabalipuram! Grandiose dreams cost mucho money. Annamalai claims that the Government Order is already out, to acquire 6,000 acres of land, the initial smoke screen, ostensible Office of the DMK party, before embarking on the next phase of ambitious construction. Naturally, rival political parties termed the extravagant plan as a “scientific siphoning off, of the mega budget.” And already, allegations of six powerful ministers acquiring over 100 acres through benami purchases are flying thick and fast. Public memory still rankles over how J Jayalalithaa overturned all that Kalaignar built in 2006, on the Omandurar Estate by converting the massive complex into a tertiary hospital. Conflicts apart, fact is that much of the area at the Fort St. George complex belongs to the army, making it hard to expand and modernise. So, given the strong opposition, can Stalin and company still pull off his grandiose plan?
Rocketry

Maddy’s Directorial Debut Features Rocket Science, ISRO Scientist’s Trials, Tribulations Had Rocked Indian Conscience

Known for his gentlemanly demeanor, actor R Madhavan who enjoys a pan India appeal finds himself zooming into space with his directorial debut Rocketry: The Nambi Effect. The biopic is based on the life of Nambi Narayanan, former scientist and aerospace engineer from ISRO, who was falsely accused of espionage. Written and directed by him, Maddy as he is popularly known essays the key role. He has chosen a story as thrilling as a rocket launch into space, and also depict Nambi’s life who was jailed, tortured and forced to confess to a crime he did not commit. He was exonerated and acquitted subsequently. Making amends the Indian government decorated him with a Padma Bhushan. Maddy has struck platinum as the film will be screened at Cannes on May 19, in the prime time 9 pm slot, as India’s entry for the Red-Carpet world premier and inaugural of the 75th Independence Day Palaise De Festival. “As a debutante, of course, I am nervous, I hope Rocketry brings glory to India “. The movie made in three languages – English, Tamil and Hindi – was extensively shot in France, Canada and Georgia. The world premiere is on July 1, 2022. Madhavan’s choice of subject that has all the ingredients — intrigue, skull-duggery and glory – seems the best lift-off for a debutante.
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Airport Privatisation: Stalin Seeks Share Of Proceeds In Proportion, Demand Echoed By Chhattisgarh & Jharkhand

Airport privatisation has turned into the new sore-point conflict between the Centre and states. After privatisation of four major airports, New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru the Union government is getting ready to privatise another 25 airports operated by the Airports Authority of India including Chennai and Kozhikode, valued at around Rs 10,782 crore. Even as the short list of four Tamil Nadu airports were planned for 2022-2025, it has raised the hackles of chief ministers of non-BJP ruled states who are up in arms against the move towards privatisation. TN Chief Minister M K Stalin unequivocally said that if the Centre was bent on privatising airports, the state too must get its share of the proceeds as compensation for transferring assets to a third party. TN Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu brought out a policy note, while presenting a request to the state to acquire 65 acres of Patta land for Chennai airport. “… the value realised through privatisation or transfer of assets to a third party. Such revenue must be proportionately shared with the state government, reflecting the huge investment in land made by the state government.” Chhattisgarh minister T S Singh Deo, Jharkhand FM Rameshwar Oroan have also come out in support of Stalin’s demand and thrown a spanner in the Union Government works. Federalism is evolving quickly with such vociferous voices.

Ajay Devgn Courts Hindi Controversy To Avoid Rocky Landing On Runway 34?

Every producer-director suffers pre-release jitters. Ajay Devgn has also caught anxiety before the release of Runway 34 in the wake of South Indian movies, dubbed in Hindi, smashing box office records and newer audiences veering towards OTT. So, he apparently courted controversy over Hindi with Kannada star Kichha Sudeep. There is little doubt he reaped good publicity too but, Devgn could not anticipate fresh controversy to emanate from another quarter. The Federation of Indian Pilots has thrown turbulence his way and stated, “The profession of airline pilots was unrealistically portrayed in the movie and may create apprehensions in the minds of nervous fliers. While we all enjoy being entertained and appreciate the artistic licence of a movie director, a thrilling tale should not be perceived as a true depiction.” Cinema buffs saw through Devgn’s story content, for stark similarities it bears to two acclaimed aviation dramas. The Captain, a 2019 film, portrayed the real-life drama of Sichuan Airline Flight 8633 which made an emergency landing at Chengdu Shuagliu International Airport after its cockpit windshield crashed. The other is the 2009 Clint Eastwood production Sully starring Tom Hanks. The flight from LaGuardia, was hit by a flock of geese forcing an emergency landing on the Hudson river with 155 lives on board. Sully was grilled by the National Aviation Safety Board while Devgn faced baritone Bachchan.
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DMK Drops Audacious Plan, To Usurp 160 Acre Raj Bhavan, As Governor RN Ravi Causes Too Much Heartburn

The face-off between Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi and Chief Minister MK Stalin keeps hitting a new low every day. The latest grouse for DMK, after the snowballing on the NEET issue, is about the right to appoint University VC‘s, till recently a prerogative of the Governor. DMK’s shadow and alter ego, Dravidar Kazhagam headed by K Veeramani held a town hall meeting to publicize his state wide yatra to convey the alliance’s displeasure with the Governor that CM Stalin also attended. Veeramani shared strategies to take on the Governor. The few, who were privy to the meeting, were stunned by a suggested plan to annex Raj Bhavan, one of the largest stately gubernatorial residences in the country. Another alliance partner Sinthanai Selvan of Viduthalai Chiruthaigai Katchi told Stalin that the Raj Bhavan, housed on 160 acres of land, is under the state PWD ministry. He cited instances when former Chief Ministers J Jayalalithaa and Kalaignar had planned to relocate the Secretariat at Fort St. George to sites like Queen Marys College, Anna University. Stalin sensibly sought legal opinion on the audacious takeover plan for Raj Bhavan, and found his answer. The current economic status of TN rules out any such misadventure. Besides, and more importantly, merely changing his residence does not effectively change the Governor?
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Stalin To Induct Son Udhayanidhi Into TN Cabinet On DMK Govt’s First Anniversary, May Get Dy CM Rank

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin no longer wants to continue in charade mode. Of course, party seniors and youth wing sycophants are pressuring him to anoint son Udhayanidhi, as cabinet minister with Deputy CM rank. It could well be on May 7, the first anniversary of DMK‘s storm troopers regaining power after 10 long years. The celebratory mood is evident. Even when Udhayanidhi delivered his maiden speech in the State Assembly recently, mother Durga and wife Krithika eagerly watched him from the spectator’s gallery. Having essayed hero roles in at least eight Tamil films, playing to the gallery was a cake walk. The plan to elevate him in party ranks is not just a politically astute move, considering that simmering family/palace intrigues keep rearing its ugly head regarding step aunt MP Kanimozhi, prickly uncle M K Alagiri and, a cohort of Stalin’s brothers as potential rival claimants. Simultaneously Stalin has co-opted son Udhayanidhi into the family trust and boards, Anjugam Trust, the party’s bellwether Trust Fund, Murasoli and the family brand TV channel Kalaignar TV. Once the political pecking order and the purse strings are unequivocally marked, family claimants are likely to back off. Stalin seems to have the astuteness and wisdom of his father woven into his signature style of firm handling of the party and the government. Yet another son rises.
Vikatan

TN CM Stalin Gets Tough, As Governor RN Ravi Gets Rough Is Junior Vikatan’s Cover Story

Recently, Tamil Nadu’s leading magazine Junior Vikatan made news with a sell out cover story edition “Rough Governor, Tough CM”. The headline sums up strained relations between TN Governor R N Ravi and Chief Minister M K Stalin.  The bone of contention is that the Governor is sitting pretty on the bill against NEET passed in the TN assembly among others including amendments to the cooperative law. Matters came to a head when the Governor’s motorcade was blockaded, black flags hurled at it on its way back from a visit to the Dharmapuri Mutt. Is the Governor more important than the voice of 8 crore Tamilians? Talk is rife that powerful TN MP’s even lobbied for his recall. Telangana Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan (additional charge of Puducherry) is facing hard times too. She has faced Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s ire for raising political issues. KCR does nothing to hide his animosity towards the PM and Home Minister. Last week’s buzz, Soundararajan was being moved to Kerala, to swap Raj Bhavans with Governor Arif Mohammed Khan. Is Khan considered a better foil, for KCR to be put in his place? The BJP is leaving nothing to chance taking Chanakya Neeti’s dictum Sarasa, Sama, beda danda, chatura. Governor Soundararajan summed it up aptly, “We are not rubber stamps to sign on dotted lines”.
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Photo : Twitter

Apolitical Maestro Ilaiyaraja Changes His Tune, Praises Modi Stoking Dravidian Fury, Made Nominee To Rajya Sabha Too

No doubt, he is Tamil Nadu‘s treasure and pure and unadulterated symphony for cinema. Ilaiyaraja became a household name for his resonating music and giving consistent hits as composer and singer for over 30 years. Isaignani (Saint Musician) as he is referred to (an encomium conferred by Kalaignar) has over 7,000 songs to his credit. He is Asia’s first symphony writer and even A R Rahman’s Oscar has never daunted the music Raja, the acknowledged doyen of the music industry. Suddenly though, controversy surrounds the Raja. Has he moved from Sangeet to become a Sanghi? There is no smoke without fire and Ilaiyaraja himself stoked the flames and his reputation as a professional without any political leanings. His foreword to a book titled, Ambedkar & Modi, Reformer’s ideas, Performer’s Implementation launched by BlueKraft Digital Foundation, has stirred up a hornet’s nest. Raja further gilded this lily by making a comparison of the two titans, with brother Gangai Amaran serving as his mouthpiece. Even as media talking heads and YouTubers analysed his claim, news has leaked out that President Ramnath Kovind received a list of three names from the world of Art and Entertainment to nominate as Rajya Sabha members. So, one of the names is that of Ilaiyaraja. The penny has dropped with a loud clink.
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Tamil Maanila Congress Chief GK Vasan Is Political Priority In TN For Both Modi And Sonia

Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC) President G K Vasan has stayed unaligned and non-toxic despite breaking away from the GOP. His father G K Moopanar, aristocratic agriculturalist from the Delta rice granary was a highly respected Congress member. He played a mediator’s role for many vexing issues when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister. He quit Congress and founded the TMC in 1996. After his death, in 2001 Vasan presided over the TMC and was made Minister for Shipping in UPA 1. In 2014 he broke away from the alliance despite protests from within his own party and joined the AIADMK-BJP front. Once again, rumours are doing the rounds that he is being wooed by the BJP.  This news needs to be seen against the backdrop of an incident that occurred when Chinese Premier Xi Jinping visited Mamallapuram (Tamil Nadu) along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During the course of that visit Modi asked Vasan, “You are not seen in Delhi. You visit it only when I call you”. Cutting to the chase, Vasan met Modi in March and was offered a berth in the Union Cabinet. When this news reached Sonia Gandhi, she asked AK Anthony to net Vasan with TN Congress Chief K S Alagiri also in agreement. But, Rahul Baba is not sehmat with mama mia wooing Vasan. And therein lies the rub.
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Raj Subramaniam

Dawn Of A New Raj At FedEx, As Subramaniam Entrusted Tall E-Commerce Delivery

Is the new CEO of FedEx Raj Subramaniam just one more Indian CEO of an American corporation? This question elicited two divergent views, summed up aptly by Chidanand Rajghatta of Times Of India.  One response is the blasé “Ho hum, another Indian”. The other: “What Indian? He is an American, who worked his way up.” Raj joins an exclusive club of over half a dozen PIOs who merited entry into the hall of fame thrown open by Google and Microsoft. Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella are already part of the corporate power folklore. Other recent entrants include: IBM’s Arvind Krishna, Parag Agrawal of Twitter and Leela Nair of Chanel. Founder Fred Smith who spearheaded the FedEx operations for 50 years and saw its turnover touch $92 billion found that Raj, who has been with FedEx since 1991, was the ideal man to hand over the baton to. Thiruvananthapuram born Raj faces big challenges before him. E-Commerce has changed the whole ball game and, FedEx must enter this instant gratification, touch of a button business by changing its own avatar, from an Express Delivery Organization, hub & spoke, track & trace, but as part of that last mile delivery, the fulcrum of  e-commerce. Clearly, Raj has to combine his experience at FedEx 1.0 and metamorphose into FedEx 2.0. Clearly Raj has a tall order to deliver.
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Marketers Gain ESP On Lost Covid Sensitivity, Reimagine New Aromatic Strategy

European hospitals say 80 % of Covid patients lose the sense of smell, not regaining that sensitivity even after recovery. When the sense of smell is gone, vital sensory cognition is lost too. The five crucial senses of cognition and life are now viewed in a new light, as marketers and manufacturers perceive newer horizons to tap, post pandemic. Aradhna Krishna, the Dwight F Benton Professor of Marketing at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan cites the intricacies of our sensory reach that marketers are engaging with. Scents from the past and present possess a unique signature, sensory cues. “Smell is vital to our existence, essential for taste, even foretelling danger like smelling smoke or bad food.” The Harvard Business Review acknowledges her as “the foremost expert in the field of sensory marketing”. Her book, Customer Sense provides researched insight on how the five senses influence human buying behaviour. Her paper on Olfactory Imagery postulates that imagining/imaging odours affects human responses towards products. No wonder India with its cultural and gastronomic diversities is so amenable to marketing products that evoke a positive response. Now restaurants may simply market their signature Panneer Tikka or Kerala Chatti Meen Kuzhambu by opening a vent directly onto the streets and, the hungry will just follow the aroma trail for an actual taste of their drool worthy dish.
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Home Minister Amit Shah with senior DMK leader T R Baalu

BJP’s 4 Out Of 5 Tally In March State Assemblies, Got Tamil Nadu CM Offering To Smoke Peace Pipe With Modi?

Six-time Member of Parliament, senior DMK leader T R Baalu is personally inviting leaders across political parties for the grand opening ceremony of the party’s spanking new office and memorial centre, Anna Kalaignar Arivalayam, to be inaugurated by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on April 2, 2022.  Eyebrows were raised when the 81-year-old Baalu went to invite Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.  Was he trying to cross sides or was DMK trying to buy peace with the Modi Government? Ever since RN Ravi’s appointment as Governor of TN, Stalin and he have been unable to see eye-to-eye on a number of governance issues, including NEET.  A peeved Stalin was rallying opposition leaders to stop the BJP juggernaut in the 2024 general elections. But, with the BJP recently winning four out of the five state assembly elections in March, Stalin may have decided to recalibrate his strategy. This also comes in the backdrop of a strong whisper campaign around the flight of capital amounting to Rs 5000 crore to Dubai. The DMK machinery, on its part, while dismissing the rumour, is at pains to elucidate further on the four-day Dubai visit by Stalin along with wife Durga for the inauguration of the TN Pavilion and to woo investors into the state for an economic transformation.
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Dhanush and Lata Rajinikanth

Dhanush’s Stardom Line Falters, Cold Shouldered By Producers Since Divorce

Popular Tamil star Dhanush had a dream film run from 2004 after he married superstar Rajinikanth’s daughter. Eighteen years, two smart boys, cinematic fame, and a hectic professional life later, the couple opted for divorce. Suddenly Dhanush found his trusted producers, directors acting hard to get, almost avoiding him like a Covid variant. His last film, Maran fared below par, and Dhanush headed straight to Vetrrimaran, his go to confidante and alter ego, to sign up for his next film. Vettrimaran tactfully dodged, citing his full portfolio. That’s when it hit Dhanush. Hell hath no fury like a mother-in-law scorned, a sasuma spited. Talk is rife in film circles that Lata Rajinikanth, the strong lady of the family has imposed sanctions, warning producers and directors close to her Damaad to stay away. Dhanush, on the other hand, is shouting hoarse that his talent and hard work alone produced super hits like Karnan, Maari, Velaiilla Pattadhari, Raanjhana, Shamitabh, Atrangi Re. But when an also ran, middle class Hero marries a superstar’s daughter, the union is not among equals, There is a salacious media report of his efforts to see sasuma and have an open confrontation and how he was turned away by the gate security. Lata, it is said, did not relent.
Radhe_Shyam

Big Budget Film Radhe Shyam Falls Short On Expectations From Bahubali Prabhas' Performance, Weak Narrative

Prabhas reigns as a cinematic brand that few could match after the Bahubali super hits. And audiences expect him to exemplify that same brand film after film. After the pandemic pause, Radhe Shyam also released to sky high expectations but the film, shot simultaneously in Telugu and Hindi, turned out to be Candy floss, just fluff, no bite. Advertised as a big budget film (Rs 300-350 crore) boasting over the top visual effects, lavish locales of Europe with each frame mounted to draw gasps of astonishment, Prabhas and Pooja Hegde elicited groans instead even as the screenplay and narrative fell flat as pointless piffle. The Telugu version fared somewhat better, but the Hindi version faced the humiliation of rejection even compared to the low budget yet, intensely riveting The Kashmir Files. Prabhas, cast as a phenomenal palmist (the Einstein of Palmistry, Nostradamus of prediction) has to convince audiences that life lines on one’s palm determines your destiny, and yet it is possible to change destiny by sheer determination. Prabhas playing a palmist challenges destiny but, ultimately gets the girl he loves, Prerna, after super human efforts. Whatever the claims by the makers over box office collections (Rs 150 crore in first three days), even palmist Prabhas didn’t predict revenues would lag way behind the Rs 300 crore spent.
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Photo: Dailythanthi.com

Is The Devout Durga Stalin A Dichotomy In A Rationalist DMK?

TN’s first couple, Chief Minister MK Stalin and wife Durga are as distinct as chalk and cheese. Atheist Stalin contrasts his very devotional better half. Is this mere public posturing? Recently, on Maha Shivratri day, Durga and daughter Senthamarai were among the foremost worshipers of the beautifully decked up presiding deity, Kapaleeshwarar at the centuries old Mylapore temple. Clad in a shimmering tissue zari Kaanjivaram, her hair neatly tied with jasmines that adorned her long plait, she simply epitomized the image of a strikingly beautiful South Indian woman. She became the presiding devotee in the ambience of the revered deity. A few days later, she sent social media channels into a news frenzy when she took part in the chariot pulling at the famous Swetharanyeswarar temple at Thiruvenkadu, the Budha Khsetram (Planet Mercury). How does non-believer Stalin compromise with his ardently religious wife? Stalin has empowered Durga to be a woman of substance, a poster girl for Womens’ Day. There are those who say, it is just a political ploy to perpetuate the rationalist ideology on which the DMK was founded. Yet others aver that the first family, late Kalaignar’s brood may posture differently in public but, is very religious in reality. Insurance comes in many forms…Divine Insurance is much sought after by even the most powerful.
Madras_Race club

Madras Race Club To Make Invitation Cup A Festival Of Revival For Racing In Its Diamond Jubilee Year

The Madras Race Club, oldest in the country, started in 1777 by the Brits has been a pulse pounding draw for the glitterati and moneyed of Chennai for years. Invitation Cup and Derby’s drew legendary thoroughbreds and even more iconic breeder owners from across the country, to mix and mingle, bet and brag over chilled beer and gimlets, events that bring in money on weekends for the race course. Late MAM Ramaswamy, that enfant terrible corporate King, breeder and racing aficionado ruled the roost and the racing scene as well. Then, one fine day, three decades ago, Kalaignar Karunanidhi halted horse racing in its tracks, citing a vague rationale. The Race club had to eschew its marquee event, like an emperor without clothes back then. MAM was a super legend, having won 9/Invitation cups. Race enthusiasts still talk about one exciting race when MAM‘s horse, Star Haven was pitted against actor Sanjay Khan’s Khartoum. Most unexpectedly, Khartoum won and the crowd roared its delight. MAM’s son MAMR Muthiah is now preparing for this weekend’s Invitation Cup, in which Forest Flame and Star is Born, Juliet and Own Opinion are being touted as probable winners. So what about the ban? The DMK has just lifted the ban. The public is mulling over this change without any rhyme or reasons provided.
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DMK Decimates AIADMK In Local Body Polls: Is It The Beginning Of The End?

It was a landslide victory for DMK-led Secular Progressive Alliance in recently held corporation, municipality and panchayat elections. AIADMK was decimated. DMK won all the 21 corporations, 130 out of 138 municipalities and, 350 out of 489 town panchayats. AIADMK had won 10 civic corporations in 2011. Flashback to the MGR-led AIADMK, that ruled from 1977to 1987. MGR, the popular star, quit DMK in 1972 frustrated with corruption and the authoritarian culture of the founding family. When terminally ill MGR chose his protégé and film star, J Jayalalithaa, to be his successor. The AIADMK thrived under Amma’s rule. She kept the DMK at bay for 10 years. TN’s electorate is not binary and; savvy enough to punish or reward, in equal measure. Corruption, in-fighting, leadership duels in AIADMK, coupled with the Sasikala factor seems to have done the party in. The BJP, after initially befriending the AIADMK, has seen the writing on the wall and begun distancing itself. Under TN chief K Annamalai the BJP wants to become a political force to reckon with on its own. The fresh poll results clearly indicate Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin’s model of governance has got the people’s mandate. Stalin also dreams of becoming a deputy PM of India and, is grooming his son Udhayanidhi to take over the mantle from him.
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Superstar Rajini Signs Up For His 169th Movie, Pushes Producer To Cast Aishwaryaa Rai As His Co-Star

After a lot of hype and hoopla and, sky high expectations for Rajinikanth’s Annaatthe, the film hit the bedrock, a rejection the superstar is still smarting under. Despite a nubile Lolita like Keerthy Suresh in the lead (she was cast as his sister whom he protects like a nuclear code), icy Nayanthara as his ambiguous love interest and, buxom Khushbu, playing matronly Meena to gird Rajini’s masochism,  Annaatthe sadly lulled audiences to sleep. The buzz among fans is that Thalaiva must ‘quit while he is still the icon’. Not ready to walk off into the sunset, Rajini has signed up his 169th movie to be shot by his director of choice, Nelson Dilipkumar. Shootings expected to start in May and completed within five months’ time, for an October 2022 Diwali week release. Producer of the film Sun Pictures is in a quandary as Rajini has insisted on Aishwaryaa Rai-Bachchan as co-star. But her signing up fee of Rs 10 crore is out of their budget. Rajini being Rajini, has said get her at any cost. Come October, one will see how Rajini’s style magic combines with Aishwaryaa’s beauty to make cash registers ringing big time. Fans are hoping his 169th film is not the swan song for both.
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K Annamalai and Edappadi K Palaniswami

Money Can’t Buy Edappadi Love, As BJP Jilts AIADMK On Valentines, In TN

Did BJP leader Amit Shah decline funds offered for UP elections by AIADMK’s Joint Coordinator, Edappadi K Palaniswami? The same Edappadi’s fundraising efforts were praised during the Karnataka, Bihar polls. Why? Five state elections with Tamil Nadu local body polls has exposed the worst in political expediency – the use and throw model.  Strangely, poll campaigning in TN is reverberating over happenings in North India. Jothimani Sennimalai, Congress MP from TN, threw the gauntlet and said, “Dissolve AIADMK, Merge it with BJP”, “AIADMK is BJP’s B team”. The BJP, however, won’t piggyback on the TN party anymore. In TN, under state chief K Annamalai BJP has charted a new course. After the Rajinikant fiasco, Annamalai has been given carte blanche by the high command to create an enabling environment for BJP’s entry into TN on its own although Rahul Gandhi proclaimed that, “BJP can never set foot in TN”. Insiders say, the real action will start after election results of the five States are known. Annamalai, it seems, does not hide his contempt for Edappadi and has even advised Amit Shah to eschew AIADMK funding. The BJP distanced itself from the southern state party by not joining issues with AIADMK on the NEET subject. Edappadi and his flock may now pay a price for kowtowing and their BJP compromise.
TVS honda

Will Restructured TVS Group Hive Off Prime Properties On Chennai’s Mount Road, And More?

Chennai’s real estate market is abuzz over news that the TVS Group has put its landmark property on Chennai’s Mount Road on the block.  This 2.14 lakh square feet property that houses Sundaram Honda Sales, Madras Auto Service and a clutch of family-run companies, is a bespoke landmark, along with Spencer’s, LIC and Higginbothams. Generations have gawked at these imposing car dealerships. It is learnt that real estate biggies from Bengaluru like Purvankara, Brigade, Prestige and Embassy have thrown their hats into the frenzied bidding ring. Sources say Brigade Group has pocketed the deal with a Rs 550 crore offer. Senior VP of Anarock Property Consultants, Sanjay Chugh, says the sale will set the trend for commercial and retail development on Chennai’s arterial Mount Road and its hinterland. The $ 8.5 billion TVS Group quietly restructured the family holdings while putting an end to the holding company practice. Hereon, each of the four families will completely own the businesses they have grown, following the mega sale monetization of the assets. Corporate analysts say the sale of the Mount Road property could be the starting point of many more future deals. It may be noted that TVS Group owns a big chunk of properties in Chennai’s Poonamallee, Tiruchirappalli and Madurai. Cashing in when the going is good seems to be the motto now.
yeh_kaali kaali aakhen

‘Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhein’ OTT Series Reels You In, Hook, Line And Sinker

The immense popularity of new Hindi serial thriller Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhein across Uttar Pradesh has given it a new distinction of being a happening state. The dredged imagery of an unwashed, overly populated, poverty stricken, illiterate and exploited state that sends the maximum lawmakers to Indian Parliament is passe now. Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhein has jolted out this stereotype. UP’s consciousness has traversed far ahead with regard to permissiveness, modern lifestyles, wealth and power flaunting, organised and unorganised crime. OTT Hindi serials will hitherto be benchmarked against These Black Black Eyes, the early era filmy hit song belted out by Shah Rukh Khan in Baazigar. Omkara is the fictional name given to the state of violent politics and the mafia, chilling terror and awe-inspiring revenge. Season One (eight episodes) unravels the power and terror that political heavyweight Akhiraj Awasthi (played brilliantly by Saurabh Shukla) holds over his family and, the entire state. No one dares take him on even as he is the very embodiment of evil. His daughter Purva (Aanchal Singh will go places) overtakes daddy dear in all things evil and is driven, possessive, passionate with a Zumba toned body. What mesmerises the viewer is the slick editing, lightning change of moods, dizzy action and the fast pace of the unfolding storyline which is pulpy, and hooks you, line and sinker.
Stalin_EPS

TN Opposition Leader EPS Mocks Stalin Over Letter To Political Leaders For National Social Justice Alliance

Leader of opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly Edappadi K Palaniswami has found his political voice and enthusiasm to tear into TN Chief Minister MK Stalin over his pan India plan to lead a combined opposition, come 2024 general elections. Stalin wrote to 37 political leaders, including Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi, inviting them to be a part of the All India Federation for Social Justice assuring ‘Everything for Everyone.’ Stalin aimed to bring all leaders on a single platform along with members of civil society and like-minded individuals and organisations towards “achieving the principles of federalism and social justice at the national level.” This has given Palanisami his political voice, lost after his party AIADMK lost the TN assemblies. Says Palanisami “For 10 months, Stalin and ilk only worked on serial flops. Where is TN lacking in social justice? For 17 years, (either) as part of the Congress group looting or, under HD Deve Gowda, then Atal Bihari Vajpayee and finally, Dr Manmohan Singh the DMK enjoyed undiluted power taking the (Karunanidhi) family to mind blogging heights of prosperity.” He added that AIADMK fought for 50% reservations, though Stalin flaunts 27% as his own accomplishment. DMK is known for corruption, commission, and collection, he said. Staging a Social Justice platform and, fishing for all India support, how many of the 37 leaders have even responded? Only time will tell.
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Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami

Can Congress Cash In On Uttarakhand's Anti-Incumbency Curse, Wrest Holy Dhams State From BJP?

Forty-six-year-old Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Pushkar Singh Dhami is not an incumbent his political opponents would envy. The picturesque state, home to the most revered Hindu Dhams, also suffers an electoral curse. No party has won consecutive terms, with anti-incumbency always playing spoiler. Dhami has been CM for barely six months, though he piloted BJP to victory in 2017. Will 2022 rid the state of the anti-incumbency curse? Yes, says Hyderabad-based psephologist JVC Sreeram. Uttarakhand has 70 seats and the winner must pocket 36.  Congress leaders themselves acknowledge that Dhami has blunted the anti-incumbency factor for BJP.  Another stark reason is that Harish Rawat, a mass leader of the Congress, was treated shabbily by the Gandhis and; made to change his seat though daughter Anupama was already accommodated. He is not being actively promoted, unlike in the past when ND Tiwari held sway in the state. The entry of AAP, the spoiler, usurping the Bahujan Samaj Party’s popularity has cut into the windfall edge Congress had six months ago. The BJP denied tickets to 23 sitting MLAs and is not worried about a possible revolt factor. According to Sreeram, “If Uttarakhand is lost, and Punjab too, Congress will face an existential crisis.” That’s when the party will implode. Is the G-23 ready for the tailspin?
zentron labs

Is Tamil Nadu Emerging Cradle Of Innovative Startups?

The heart-breaking quest for jobs, both in the private and public space is now taking a dramatic turn from “gimme a job” to giving jobs thanks to the fast changing ecosystem of startups. Tamil Nadu for long the incubator of research through its IIT (M), and tech centres of learning has set an ambitious course to churn up the environment for creative startups.  Leading the change is Shivarajah Ramanathan CEO, TN Startup innovations Mission.  He is now eyeing the Trillion dollar dream of incubating viable ventures that are fair and inclusive. IIT-Madras Gopal Deshpande Centre (GDC) has set a flight path for youth to take wings, “nurture research for world class startups.“ Dr Gururaj Deshpande and Kris Gopalakrishnan (Infosys) are mentoring IIT Alumni to commercialise research. The theme, global think for local needs.  GDC designed a very rugged boot camp of 8 weeks duration for investors and innovators. Eleven teams form a cohort, and each team is mentored to test the strength of the ideas. CMO of one such team, Suresh Srinivasan is upbeat about the National Award won by Zentron Labs, a post-harvest startup. The company has developed Hortisort, India’s first high-speed optical fruit grading system that sorts Apples, Oranges, Mangoes, Guavas by colour, weight, quality and freshness. This business plan of integrating technology is a boon for horticulturists. Who says don’t compare apples and oranges?
Aish_Dhanush

Why This Kolaveri Over Dhanush-Aishwaryaa Divorce

Marriage has turned into one of the most fragile institutions in today’s fast paced world. Celebrity marriages more so, as frothy as Frappuccino. Dhanush and Aishwaryaa’s divorce announcement kicked up a storm of reactions both, for and against either spouse. If one were to believe all that cine raconteur and newscaster Bayilvan Ranganathan spouts over multiple filmi YouTube channels, the salacious gossip would put even the most notorious Hollywood philanderers to shame. Without making a direct reference to Dhanush’s multiple liaisons, he simply terms these as Body Demands! Even when Aishwaryaa directed Dhanush in a movie, his dalliance with Shruti Haasan apparently rang alarm bells for their high-profile parents Rajinikant and Kamal Haasan. Similar was his so-called veering off course with Amala Paul, TV anchor Deva Dharshini, Sonia Agarwal and, even Sara Ali Khan after his latest movie Atrangi Re. Aishwaryaa is not spared by the chin wags either. She allegedly married Dhanush on the rebound, made little effort to bond with his family, spent most of her time at her parent’s place, and would not let go of her high profile image as Rajini’s ladli Beti. So who is to be blamed for this marital collapse? Nobody. Clearly, two mature adults exercised the civilized, modern day exit out of a bad marriage –splitsville.
Venkanaidu_RamNathKovind

President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu

Modi's Informal Think Tank Considers Next Ideal President, Vice President Of India

With the five-year terms of India’s President and Vice President ending this July, rumour mills have gone into overdrive over likely successors respectively. And yet, political stakeholders know full well it is near impossible to predict Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Delhi-based senior journalist R Rajagopalan says an “informal, unofficial” committee (read think tank) was formed including Union Ministers, Bhupendra Yadav, Piyush Goyal and Nitin Gadkari to scope out all aspects, however, weighty as may be. How will the current selection process differ from the 2017 President and Vice President elections? On the political front now, the Shiv Sena and Akali Dal are no longer allies of BJP, the J&K Assembly is non-existent and a weakened AIADMK cannot be counted upon. Wags predict this time it may be a woman from the South? Definitely not Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in such a case, with her long drawn To Do List. Some deduce it could well be Tamilisai Soundararajan, Governor of Telangana and Lieutenant Governor Of Puducherry. Political analysts say the strategy seems fool proof as no party would generally oppose a woman SC candidate. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s name is also doing the rounds while the Grand Old party is mooting Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge’s name.
Malavika_Hegde

Malavika Hegde Brews A Business Smart Coffee That Pays, Earns Employees' Faith To Turnaround Café Coffee Day

CEO of popular retail chain Café Coffee Day (CCD), Malavika Hegde is in the news for smartly turning around the company after the tragic demise of her husband VG Siddharth in July 2019.  Within three years she pared down the business debt, that stood at a whopping Rs 7200 crore to Rs 1731 crore.  So, how did she succeed?  A top source in the conglomerate’s logistics arm says, “I don’t understand why this question is being asked. Even an Ambani or an Adani, with all the cascading cash flow revenues would find it difficult to pay off such a daunting sum. Something all should know; this gutsy lady didn’t even ask for a haircut. Just conveyed that every rupee would be paid off. She has brought the debt down to 1730 crores (which is nothing short of) a miracle.” Sensible strategies were introduced to monetise non-core businesses, business plans remodelled, tighter integration of fiscal strategy and, above all, the goodwill of the workforce who believed Malavika would pull it off. The daughter of former Karnataka Chief Minister SM Krishna, married into a well-heeled family of plantation owners, Malavika has proved yet again that women are more than capable to correct tail spins, just as efficiently as they manage their families. No doubts there at all.
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Outspoken Tamil Nadu FM Resigns From DMK's IT Wing, TRB Rajaa May Take Over

Tamil Nadu’s Finance Minister, Dr P Thiaga Rajan (PTR) had many credits to his name when Chief Minister MK Stalin hand-picked him. His exalted background (Harvard, Wall Street, Bespoke political DNA, American wife, the yearning to serve his state). But, his quick temper, sometimes acerbic repartees, and not-so-friendly relations with other party colleagues have come under media focus.  The latest news wafting through from the DMK HQ is that PTR has resigned as DMK’s IT Wing Secretary, an important party post, citing his (increased) workload as Finance Minister as well as a member of the GST Council. It may be recalled that a few months back, Dr Mahendran, who quit Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Manram party, was appointed as Deputy to Rajan in DMK’s IT wing by Stalin himself. The DMK ‘s IT arm, though set up as late as 2018, did a commendable job during the 2021 Assembly elections under the guidance of poll strategist Prashant Kishor. But, post-election, there has been a lull in the IT cell since. Now Rajan is being blamed for his touch-me-not attitude. Of course, the first family’s meddling is quite evident with Udhayanidhi Stalin strongly rooting for TRB Rajaa, his candidate from the delta region to take control of the IT wing. Clearly, whoever runs this new platform, social media and optics are crucial for the DMK. Is this a signal for the FM?
Kollywood_Poster

Omicron Effect: Kollywood Producers Eyeing Rs 600 Cr Box Office Bounty This Pongal May Have To Wait Longer

The perennial pan India cash cow, the cinema business, with its jingling cash registers is sending out distress signals right now! After two long Covid-19 pandemic hit (locked down) years, just as the film industry started seeing rosy dreams of making up for heart-breaking  business losses, come Pongal Festival, a sudden downturn is now predicted. For years now, the Tamil calendar’s annual Pongal week always meant family indulgences with anything cinematic. That may not happen this time round, as Omicron and its tsunami wave hits the solar plexus of exhibitors and industry big guns alike. Three big budget films, RRR (directed by India’s Cecil B DeMille aka Bahubali SS Rajamouli), Boney Kapoor’s Ajith Kumar starrer Valimai and Prabhas-Pooja Hegde love anthem, Radhe Shyam were lined up for the Pongal sweepstakes. Then came government orders about total Sunday curfews, lockdown daily between 10 pm and 5 am and 50% seating in cinemas. The trade had estimated Rs 600 crore collections from these three films released worldwide and overseas. They had probably structured all their debt and business plans on Pongal to rake in big moolah. But, Omicron seems to have played spoilsport. Big disappointment for fans of Ajith, Prabhas NT Rama Rao Jr, and Ram Charan. But, it’s a question of a month or two before these movies hit theatres near you soon.

TRENDS & VIEWS

We Have Created A New Segment That Has Resonated Well With Readers: Short Post Editor

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come, said Victor Hugo a long time ago. I felt likewise. So instead of waiting endlessly for the Covid-19 tide to ebb, I decided to take the plunge and launch www.shortpost.in on January 28, 2021. This website, the first of its kind in the country, focuses only on short ‘Authentic Gossip’. Clearly, content is king more so if it is short & crisp (225 words), as a large section of our society is steadily shifting to digital and mobile space. To achieve this, I was fortunate to muster editorial support of some of the most senior and respected journalists in the country to bring out credible content that involves, stimulates and entertains our highly discerning readers — from across continents. We have so far uploaded close to 1,000 posts covering areas like Business, Politics, Sports, and Entertainment. Yes, today we have crossed an important milestone in our journey – #ShortPostFirstAnniversary —  and we are confident many more will follow in keeping with our stated vision – to become a one stop site for authentic gossip. So, what next?  With the third wave showing signs of slowing down things can only look better. So as the year rolls by we promise to pack in more punches. Before I sign off I would like to thank our advertiser IDFC FIRST Bank, angel investors Anuradha Verma, Ashish Kakkar and you readers for making this journey possible.