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Now Tamil Movie ‘Farhana’ Stirs A Mild Controversy

In the name of religion one more movie that has created a mild stir is the Tamil film Farhana starring Aishwarya Rajesh in the lead. So much so the protagonist had to be provided police protection by the Tamil Nadu government. Earlier it was The Kashmir Files, followed by The Kerala Story. It seems Farhana has raised the hackles of Tamil Nadu Muslim women who are worried that Muslim women may seek emancipation like the heroine. Farhana is the simple story of a Muslim wife, mother and daughter of conservative Aziz who owns a footwear shop, leading a modest life. Her husband Kareem is trying for an overseas job. Farhana opts to work at a Call Centre much against her very conservative family’s will. The Call Centre environment of modernity, female freedom and openness is both daunting and exciting for Farhana. A change in assignment, puts her in the chat room for a week. Farhana is revolted by the quirky, kinky and smutty talk in the chat room. Is the film a metaphor for freeing Islamic women from stifling bonds? Director Ameer, a well-known name in Kollywood has heaped praise on Nelson Venkatesan for his sensitive handling of a woman centric story. He says by giving protection to Aishwarya, a wrong impression is conveyed about the film. Time to allow creative artists the freedom to chisel ingenious films.
Stalin amit_eps

Tamil Nadu’s Political Heavyweights Fly Into Delhi Separately To Meet Amit Shah

Three political heavyweights from Tamil Nadu — chief minister M K Stalin, AIADMK chief Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) and BJP TN Head K Annamalai – flew into Delhi on April 26, separately, to meet the Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Stalin’s visit was obviously for damage control in the wake of the recent tape leak on social media alleging huge sums of money made by his son and son-in-law, and the simultaneous raids on homes and offices of a leading realty company said to be close to the first family. In the case of EPS, after becoming AIADMK chief, he sought legitimacy to his status from the BJP boss. Even as he walked into Shah’s residence with his coterie –Thangamani, Velumani, Jayakumar — he was jolted by the looming presence of Annamalai, bogeyman antagonist whom he dreads as much as OPS. At a media meet, when asked about Annamalai’s sphere of influence, EPS caustic response was “We only deal with PM, HM and Naddaji.” There is no love lost between Annamalai and EPS but Shah made it clear to EPS that BJP works as a team with a chain of command; it’s not faction-led. In other words, he was asking EPS to bury the hatchet with his arch rival OPS, unify the party and give BJP solid support or else BJP will fight alone under Annamalai’s leadership.

CM Eye On Their Performance, TN Ministers Jittery

Tamil Nadu ministers are a bit nervous these days. Not without reason: Chief Minister M K Stalin has been quietly keeping tabs on his ministers’ performances via two organisations. One is the government Intelligence Wing and second, is Peninsula Consultancy. Both these organisations have been secretly monitoring the performances of all the cabinet ministers. The performance appraisal of the ministers will be based on the inputs of both these organisations. So clearly, some heads are going to roll and some may get additional portfolios. For instance, education minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi heads the list of good performers followed by industries minister Thangam Thennarasu in second place and MSME minister T M Anbarasan in third place. Those who did not perform well are housing minister S Muthuswamy. It was no surprise that the old war horse Durai Murugan also figures in the non-performers list. Meanwhile, Stalin is besieged with another problem.  The finance minister P Thiaga Rajan’s private conversation about money allegedly made by his son Udhayanidhi and son-in-law V Sabareesan has put his party in an awkward position. Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai who earlier exposed corruption of the DMK government is going to town with this new audio tape. So now, there are talks that PTR may be replaced and several names are doing rounds including that of industries minister Thennarasu.

Kollywood Film Makers Bank On Story More Than Glamour

The latest Tamil offering Viduthalai-Part 1 directed by Vetri Maaran is drawing crowds and appreciation for almost every dimension of its story. When Vetri Maaran narrated B Jeyamohan’s story to producer Elred Kumar, he laid out a simple Rs 4 crore project, but then they cottoned on to making it in two parts that added a zero to the 4 crores.  Not that Vetri and team haven’t had hiccups. Viduthalai was immediately slammed as a copy of ‘Solagar Thotti ‘, a similar themed novel. The South film makers have the courage to cast the plot /story as the hero, and  dare to experiment with actors who don’t need glamour and unbelievable stunts to prove their machismo, they are super confident  enough to deglamourise even female leads. Focus is on the story unfolding with its relatable grip, and most important ….keep the cost down, cinema is an uncertain medium. Why pour the lion’s share of the money on a hero (with back to back flops) and end up in creative and financial penury?  Viduthalai is a period crime thriller. The film stars Soori and Vijay Sethupathi.

TN Minister Admits Doubts About Mani Ratnam’s Skill To Make ‘Ponniyin Selvan’

A close confidant of the late Kalaignar, and now a father figure to his son, Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin, PWD Minister Duraimurugan is well-known for his wit and wisecracks that evoke laughter…sometimes silent resentment. Recently Duraimurugan was the chief guest at the launch of Ponniyin Selvan – 2 Trailer & Music with Lyca chairman Subhaskaran Allirajah presiding over the event. Duraimurugan started off reminiscing about what he told the producer before Part 1. “I was fascinated by Kalki’s epic as a student and read it with interest. But when Subhaskaran told me that he is bringing it to the big screen at a mammoth budget, I had reservations. I even tried to talk him out of it. Then I asked him, “Who is the director?” I was told it was Mani Ratnam, “I asked Mani Ratnam…The one who shoots all his films in the dark? No, don’t“.  But, after the super success of the film with its ensemble cast, Duraimurugan changed his views. He praised the film, and talked about a particular character, Vandiya Devan played so endearingly by Karthi. He is particularly fond of this character, who is supposed to be from Thiruvalam, part of Duraimurugan’s constituency. Even history gets linked to politics!

With AIADMK Firmly Under His Control, EPS Trains His Eyes On Alliance Partners

With the Madras HC rejecting O Panneerselvam’s application, Edappadi K Palaniswami (EPS) was elected unopposed as General Secretary of the AIADMK, a party founded by MGR in 1974. After his death it was in the iron grip of J Jayalalithaa for 27 years till her death in December 2016 which saw both EPS and OPS pitted against each other for the control of the party.  With EPS firmly in the saddle, the scene at the party headquarters was upbeat with fire crackers bursting, a 50-kg laddoo on display and milk ‘abhishekam’ offered to the giant cut-out of EPS. Interestingly, EPS was coaxed to wear MGR’s signature cap and dark glasses. Not surprisingly, he obliged his party workers. His first announcement after the verdict was to add more muscle to the party with a membership drive. His second urgent strategy is to keep the current alliance partners intact especially PMK’s Dr Ramdas who is being wooed by DMK. But the real problem is Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai. Both don’t see eye-to-eye. Annamalai who wanted to walk out of the alliance, and go solo, has been stopped in his tracks by the party’s Delhi high command.  EPS is well aware of the serious hoops he has to jump. But, for now he is firmly in the saddle everybody will accept his leadership.

Are The Lines Between Bollywood And Kollywood Blurring?

Are the lines between the south Indian film industry and north Indian film industry (read Bollywood) blurring it? It seems so, as both the territories are very important for them. And incidentally, factoring these north-south audiences the film makers are doing casting that will appeal to both the worlds of cinema. Whether it is Oscar winner RRR or now Sriram Raghavan casting Vijay Sethupati in Merry Christmas with Katrina Kaif is certainly going to help both the industry. Now that’s just the operation part but we notice that the south is making that attempt of bridging the divide that was there in the earlier days. Now south stars have Pan India appeal but a few decades back actors like Kamal Haasan, Rajinikanth, Nagarjuna were not easily accepted. Today, satellite and dubbed films of south are being lapped in the north and the south’s overall business has grown by 20%. Perhaps Bahubali, KGF triggered this trend. Karan Johar was the distributor of Bahubali 1. One may not hear so much from Bollywood honchos but south actors have been vocal about calling it as one big industry. While talking to media Telugu star Nani said “Pathaan hamara hai aur Dasara (his film) aapka hai.” But all this conversation of one film industry started with KGF 2 when Yash fondly called Rocking Star said that we should stop talking about various industries and consider cinema in totality.  And celebration of the victory of RRR in the international world and by the whole country means we are now one.

Who Stole My Jewellery Asks Aishwarya Rajinikanth?

This filmi family is constantly in the news by design or by accident. Last month, Tamil star Dhanush was in the news for his newly built Rs 150 crore home in Poes Garden, close to his father-in-law Rajinikanth’s oft vaunted residence. The latest news is about Dhanush’s estranged wife, the feisty Aishwarya who lodged a complaint at the Teynampet police station in February about valuables –jewels, silver utensils, gem stones — missing from the locker. Apparently, it was discovered by her, four years after her sister Saundarya’s wedding when the jewels were worn. In her complaint Aishwarya mentioned that the valuables had moved lockers and locations three times as she had moved from their family home to her current apartment and frequent visits to parent’s home.  Naturally, suspicion for the theft pointed towards house maid Eashwari and driver Venkatesh. Both have been grilled by police, in the course of which some suspicious real estate deals and jewellery pledging trails have been unearthed. Reportedly, her maid has bought a plot worth Rs 95 lakhs at Sholinganallur with a bank loan. The police are investigating the money trail.  Meanwhile, Aishwarya is busy producing-directing Lal Salaam in which Daddy dear is doing a cameo, rumoured to be fast emerging as more substantial.

Why Did Superstar Rajini Visit Thackeray’s Home

The buzz around why Superstar Rajinikanth called on the Thackeray family at Matoshree is as audible as crickets chirping in a forest as night falls. It is well-known that intense activity, public profiling, media mentions, are all activated before a Rajini film release, and the legion of crazy (though now disillusioned ) fans lap up every bit and byte. Yes, his upcoming film Jailor’s publicity machine is on overdrive currently with news of mega stars joining the Jailor bandwagon. After all, the focus is that Jailor should overtake Kamal’s Vikram’s box office success, and so every appearance helps. Even a hint that yet another go at politics could set off clanging fan bells. So is Rajini’s alter Shivaji Rao Gaekwad creating more impact by calling on a bruised Uddhav? How easily this could be interpreted as a Marathi Manoos assuring Thackeray of his support! Did Uddhav take the lead? In politics, resurrections and relevance come in many packages. Uddhav needs a big jolt of support. So was the meeting for mutual advantage? Tamil Nadu whispers point to another direction. Rajini, the superstar, is a canny businessman, practical and political. It is well known that much of his huge net worth is invested in Karnataka and Maharashtra real estate and a token invested in TN.  Is he buying insurance to protect his properties because of the sudden clash between Kannadigas and Maharashtrians over the age-old border issue?
UStalin free bus

DMK Govt Goes Back On Its Promise, Free Bus Rides For Women, Senior Citizens To End

At last, the DMK had to get realistic; even reckless election promises need money to be fulfilled. The pink coloured free buses for women, free rides for old, infirm, transgender, subsidised travel for students, monthly bus passes can no longer subsist on ideology. The DMK has announced a plan to allow private bus operators to own and run buses on MTC routes under a Gross Cost Contract (GCC), which would factor in adding 500 vehicles for 2023, and increase it by another 500 by 2025, on a per km rate revenue sharing  model. Is this a creative public-private partnership model? Or is it mandated by the World Bank funded C-SUSP (Sustainable Urban Service Program)? The announcement was not happily received by the MTC workers who see in it a diabolical plan to gradually hand over the bus transport to private operators. K Arumuga Nainar, General Secretary of the Federation of Transport Workers has opposed the move as do other CITU unions. Interestingly, the Indian Express carried a stout denial by the Transport Minister SS Sivasankar, claiming that the government had only undertaken a feasibility cum revenue study. “Private operators will likely be allowed to run buses only on routes that have high patronage.” MTC is the lifeline of Chennai which operates 3436 buses over 625 routes, and is used by 30 lakh people every day.

Political Parties Showered Erode Voters With As Many As 18 Gifts At The Recent Bypoll

Freebies have become synonymous with elections. Voters are really spoilt for choice. But, freebies during bypolls seems a bit unusual. That’s what happened at the recent bypolls held in Erode East, Tamil Nadu. According to a source, at least 18 gifts were given to each voter by various political parties. It was Diwali in February with smart watches, mini fans, pressure cookers and a host of consumer durables. Besides, liquor and biryani packs were distributed every day until the voting day. Attached ingeniously to the biryani packs were what is euphemistically called “sweet boxes” in TN; cash in disguise. The Erode voters felt wooed and wanted. Vikatan TV’s social media handle talked about Erode East’s “withdrawal symptoms” when the election campaigners packed up and left the constituency. A funny incident doing the rounds is one for the books. TTV Dinakaran who decided not to field his candidate in the final run up, had a huge stock of pressure cookers — his party’s symbol that was allotted to another. A DMK minister is said to have asked Dinakaran to sell the stash at 50% discount! His advice “the symbol itself is not yours. Salvage the cost of this huge consignment. Sell it at 50% to me.” Commerce is the one abiding force that moves both winners and losers.
Stalin Jr

Succession Planning: Udhayanidhi Stalin In Delhi To Meet PM, Opposition Leaders

Udhayanidhi Stalin is on a two-day visit to Delhi to meet the prime minister and home minister. His life lessons have been mostly cinematic, cavorting with heroines and calculating box office takes of his Red Giant movie distribution venture. Ever since he was appointed as minister for Youth Welfare & Sports Development, Father Stalin is grooming him for the inevitable succession to the TN Gaddi, and is ensuring that Udhayanidhi gets to hear and see all the significant cues needed to take charge of the party and government. Being his first visit to Delhi, Stalin Jr has planned parallel agendas. Just in case the PM is unable to meet him, Udhayanidhi will attend a function at Banwari Lal Purohit’s home, meet the Sports Ministry bureaucrats for bringing better facilities, more funding, and equipment to TN. At a recent JNU scuffle, some TN students were injured by the so-called ABVP cadres, Udhayanidhi will meet them. But the main agenda is to deliver invitations to as many Opposition leaders and heavy weights to attend the mega public event — Chennai YMCA grounds on March 1 to celebrate Stalin’s 70th birthday. Udhayanidhi programmed to learn on the job, to coax, convince and cajole persons sitting on the fence to join the mega Opposition to take on the BJP juggernaut.
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Gayathri in shawl, extreme right K Annamalai

Mission Revenge: Gayathri Raguramm Quits BJP, Openly Takes On TN Party Chief Annamalai

Gayathri Raguramm, who was suspended by Tamil Nadu BJP Chief K Annamalai for defying party discipline in the now infamous TiruchI Siva /Daisy scandal is on a mission revenge even as she quit the primary membership of the BJP. Who is Gayathri Raguramm, you may ask as she is not as well bespoke as Khushboo, who is now firmly embedded in BJP after her carousel stays in other parties. Gayathri, a middling success as actor and dance director, quickly made a name and profile for herself in the party hierarchy. She was made the BJP coordinator for Indian diaspora. Articulate and aggressive, she found Annamalai, the rock of challenge, alleging that he hurt her by defaming her character after her tirade in the Tiruchi Siva incident. She called on VCK Thirumavalavan on February 21, saying she found him fair and gracious in his political stance, and that he did not prejudge her quitting the BJP under controversy. Thiruma is known as a prickly critic of the BJP. Gayathri will also meet the other enfant terrible of TN’s tinder box politics, actor-director-orator-feared political baiter — NaamThamizhar Katchi Chief, Seeman. Gayathri is busy in her plans to make Annamalai see red. ”Better to have an enemy who slaps you in the face than a friend who stabs you in the back”. Clearly, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Tamil Cinema Top Star Dhanush Makes A Status Statement

The startling bouffant hairstyle, bushy beard and the unmistakable blaring blue Kurta, are enough to make several statements. But Kollywood top star Dhanush is unabashed even as he shows off his huge mansion at Poes Garden, a stone’s throw away from father-in-law Superstar Rajinikanth’s opulent residence. The gruhapravesam was minus his estranged wife, Aishwarya, who had joined hands for the Bhoomi Pooja of this rumoured Rs 150 crore residence. Dhanush had his parents and close family on display on this auspicious day. Memories also dredge up the wedding scene on November 18, 2004 with Thalaiva busy introducing Dhanush to his guests at his residence, the ceremony venue, attended by late JJ and a host of cinema luminaries. Dhanush has come a long way. To his credit one must acknowledge his cinematic success and how he has shaped his career as a bankable star. The crossover from masala movies, his last outings, Thiruchittrambalam, Karnan and Asuran have all made his mark as an actor, spontaneous and serious. His latest release Vathi (Teacher) on February 17 is doing well at box office, collecting Rs 21 crore in the first three days. Brother Selvaraghavan, a top director, released his Bhagasuran on the same day in which he is in the lead. But, it grossed just Rs 3 crore. Sibling rivalry is not the point here…just that Dhanush has arrived in more ways than one, despite his average looks.
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Erode Bypoll: Circus Or Comedy Show?

The Erode bypoll campaigning seems to have all the ingredients of a comedy show. The two main contenders DMK supported Congress candidate EVKS Elangovan and BJP backed AIADMK candidate Thenarusu have almost become cameos in a blockbuster show. There are 77 candidates in the fray. Imagine the plight of the Election Commission (EC) in allotting voting symbols for this ensemble cast! The EC with much creativity taking a leaf from Montessori learning has allotted Pineapple, Scissors, Bindi, Pillow, Ludo, Cycle, Pressure Cooker, Jackfruit, Watermelon, Bangles , even Chillies and many more in a comedy of errors . Reportedly, the DMK is rumoured to have pumped in Rs 150 crore, and some of its high profile ministers have been given the whip to camp there, do whatever it takes to win. A few DMK stalwarts are trying out their culinary skills…making parathas and potato bondas as starters while free TASMAC liquor flows, even as hordes of voters are sequestered in hastily rented marriage halls to keep them out of the clutch of other “influencers“. Stalin’s son-in-law Sabareesan is camping in the battle ground. A DMK councillor stole the show by parading on a Camel during campaigning. With so much underhand activity, the EC has sealed 16 election offices in a bid to curb anti-constitutional moves. Ten such centres are DMK’s.
Collage Maker-15-Feb-2023-01

@NayantharaU and @MalavikaM_

Clash Of Beauties: Malavika Mohanan Takes On Lady Superstar Nayanthara

Malayalam and Tamil cinemas sexy and outspoken star Malavika Mohanan is hissing like a cat on a hot tin roof. And no one can miss her direct and indirect references to Lady Superstar Nayanthara, now elevated as King Khan’s heroine in Jawan under production. Nayan has proved her versatility in movies like Aram, Naanum Rowdy Thaan, Raja Rani. Malavika was on the warpath last year too, baiting Nayan in veiled ways. There was the reference to Nayan’s scene in a movie where she had full makeup on for a hospital scene in which she played the patient. Mohanan shot her sarcastic arrow, “Guess even in a death scene such stars will flaunt full makeup”. Ouch! Now Mohanan is busy giving gyaan about why female stars should not use titles like Lady Superstar. Reportedly, Nayan is the highest paid heroine in south charging around Rs 10 crore per movie. Malavika herself is a drop dead gorgeous looker, and has been noticed in Petta, Master and Maaran. She is young, sought after and has miles to go before she takes off her makeup. Then why the barbed arrows? Currently shooting for Christy, maybe she is seeking publicity, even getting trolled by Nayan fans. Malavika has made social media handles sizzle. Is she eyeing the Lady Superstar title?

Tamil Nadu BJP Chief Annamalai’s Tech-Backed Collection Drive Impresses Rivals

Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai seems to have impressed the high command with his accomplishments within the state. Result: the ruling party DMK is indeed uncomfortable with him. Impressed by his performance the party recently appointed Annamalai poll-in-charge of Karnataka. Meanwhile he is getting ready to start his padayatra to galvanise people around BJP in the run-up to 2024 Lok Sabha elections. To partially fund the padayatra the state BJP is on a big collection drive. The target is Rs 100 crore by February 15 and party functionaries have been given targets of Rs 1 crore, Rs 50 lakhs, Rs 25 lakhs and Rs10 lakhs. Post that Annamalai will set out on his padayatra across TN. It is learnt, that the apparatchiks are on overdrive, meeting traders, businessmen, angel investors, corporates and the public, turning Valentine’s Day to Love for the BJP day — open your hearts and wallets generously. Even as rumblings about the election bonds of the party and other strong arm methods to mop up money are cited by the griping opposition, what hits them hard is the chutzpah of Annamalai in devising tech backed systems to give receipts for funds collected. The fund drive even has QR code for digital transfers.  Clearly, everything above is aboard and transparent.
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Just Chill With Latest Movies If Stuck At Chennai Airport

Time was when Chennai airport was just workhorse functional, fliers comparing it to the glittering breathtaking Changi, and feeling second class. Frequent construction for cosmetic renovation was always knocking the fliers’ rush. Suddenly this not so glamorous poor cousin airport has emerged as an attractive, talked about airport. Parking bays, arrival and departure bays, all spruced up. But it is the mint new AeroHub adjoining the airport with an umbilical aero bridge that is now raved about. Even before the mall has come up, PVR cinemas have thrown open a razzle dazzle multiplex of 5 screens to showcase favourite films, all on the fly.  Delayed flights, overnight transfers, waiting for technical glitch to resume your flight will turn into a fun experience as you walk across the bridge, drink, dine and dawdle over the latest film. The foyer decor, seating for 1150 people, Dolby sound , reclining seats, ample legroom, crystal clear projection on 5 screens , with Audi2 and Audi4 offering luxe viewing will definitely take the pain out of flying . Not just fliers, but outsiders are also welcome to come, drop a load of money on the peripheral attractions. Tamilians may appear stodgy and serious…but finally what they present in terms of entertainment and deluxe experience reminds one of Rajini’s dialogues, ”Naan lateaa vandalum latestaa varuven “ (I may be late, but I am the latest).

The Woman In Red Dominates Parliament

Nirmala Sitharaman has evolved, over her terms as finance minister. From briefcase to Bahi Khata to a red covered tablet, her budgets too have traversed the gamut of potholed roads and paved runways. This year, presenting her McDonald’s (Burger, Nuggets, Fries and Cola) populist budget, she stunned Parliament in Red Avatar, the way of fire. Gracefully clad in a red handwoven ILKAL silk saree, made in her Rajya Sabha borough, Karnataka she must have made the women member’s envy her. Dharwad’s Aarathi Hiramath and artist Rukaiva Bandunavar were given just 10 days to create this heirloom for an anonymous client, and now the duo are drenched in praise. Was Sitharaman sending a message in her Durga Avatar? Was it a subliminal warning to that encircling cabal that her government saw red in all coincidental portends hitting her party, en masse? The tea leaf readers and talking heads are on overdrive… Sitharaman has raised the battle conch of Dharmakshetra Kurukshetra. The lady in red can give as good as she gets in power dressing.
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Tamil Nadu’s Enduring Tryst with Titles, Doctorates & Epithets

Tamil Nadu politicians have this strong fetish for creating titles and using them on every billboard and official communication. So much so, many organisers have been pulled up for invites not including these “conferred” honorary titles. So you find a plethora of Doctorates conferred on chief ministers, and the competition to add more epithets is overwhelming, often laughable. The unlettered wouldn’t know that such doctors can neither heal nor have they added to the boundless fund of knowledge. PonmanaChemmal (Golden Heart), the late MGR was conferred three Doctorates, his protégée J Jayalalithaa went overboard with five. Kalaignar (creative artist) is M Karunanidhi’s everlasting sobriquet. The former PM Manmohan Singh was asked to use the epithet, in spite of his difficulty to pronounce Kalaignar, as Tamilians love titles. Not only politicians, even film stars love such honorifics and epithets. Rajini is Superstar and Thalaiva; Kamal is Ulaga Nayagan (global hero); Vijay is Ilaya Thalapathy and Ajit is Thala (head). Recently, yesteryear hero Sarathkumar hurled a challenge to Rajini. He claims that his own Supreme Star title overtakes Superstar! No wonder TN Governor R N Ravi too got into this christening fray, wanting to float his own cache of titles? Social media wags aver that you get as good as you give. Was Guv’s controversial effort to make Tamil Nadu, Tamizhagam a reflection of this amusing craze for honorary title culture?
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The Unstoppable ‘Pathaan’

The sizzling pair of shirtless Shah Rukh Khan and daringly bared Deepika Padukone have raised the sagging, down in the dumps spirit of Bollywood to unimaginable heights, despite all the pre-release boycott threats, raves, rants and reprimands. Is Deepika’s bright orange costume too “besharam” for Jhoomta Pathaan? Besharami is in the eyes of the beholder!  Director Siddharth Anand, the alchemist has peppered Pathaan with enough spills, thrills, chills and on screen sizzling chemistry of the lead pair. It is an immersive cinema experience (ICE). The first to be made in this format. Boycott calls and anti-Muslim propaganda filled pre-release. King Khan was silent. The entire industry was mobilised.  And then that whispered fiat from the PM happened…Don’t make public comments to rake up controversy on films, Bingo! The movie’s destiny changed. Released simultaneously in 100 countries, it is the first Hindi Movie on BookMyShow to hit 10 lakh bookings of which 30% was from the South. First Khan movie to have a 6 am show, with producers opting for more screens apart from the 5500 screens in India and 2500 overseas, selling over 8500 tickets in Germany worth 1.5 crore euros, beating KGF‘s full take. The first day collection at the Box Office was Rs 60 crore! Now the hot debate on media…did this boycott threat make Pathaan a forbidden fruit? Once again Pathaan has proved…leave artistic expression severely alone…the audience is the sole judge to applaud or trash.
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How This Fake Passport Holder Got Caught In Coimbatore When Asked To Sing National Anthem

When a full Flight, G9413 from Sharjah landed at Coimbatore’s International airport on the night of January 22, the Immigration authority homed in on this 28-year old man, Anwar Hussain. Scrutinising his travel documents, they made an unusual demand of Hussain. They asked him to sing India’s national anthem. Passers-by may well have thought Ah! It warms the cockles of our patriotic hearts to see that the immigration guys are true Desh Bhakti, asking even an Indian Passport holder to sing Jana Gana Mana! But Hussain could not sing! Stage fright? No. He was holding a fake Indian passport, with a fake West Bengal address. The authorities immediately got suspicious on why a WB passenger would travel to Coimbatore from Sharjah. The local police then took charge to make this canary sing in all its fake ID glory. Hussain was from Bangladesh’s Mymensingh DT’s Palpur village. Why was he in Coimbatore? The Q Branch after intensive questioning, quickly realised that his ignorance of the national anthem was a serious aberration in his preparation for entering the country illegally. Hussain is now booked under 14 C of Foreigners Act, 12 A of the Passport Act. It’s evident that Formal Training and intense drilling in spycraft need more such innovative methods.
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Freebies Back Into TN Govt Coffer As TASMAC Liquor Sales Zoom During Pongal Week

This year’s Pongal celebrations in Tamil Nadu touched a high point for the government-run TASMAC liquor sales. Sales zoomed to Rs 850 crore in the run-up to Pongal (Jan 15) week and by Kanu Pongal day (Jan 17) it was expected to touch the Rs 1000-crore mark. The bump in sales could be attributed to a cash gift of Rs 2000 given to all ration card holders. Pongal is freebie time and all political parties in Tamil Nadu have been capitalizing on it to the hilt. Both DMK and AIADMK have made freebie gifting, a fine art form. Cycles, fans, mangalsutras, Pongal hampers are bankrolled by the state exchequer. But, Tamil voters are canny, impartial…they vote one party to power, alternately. But wait, there is a savvy, fully end-to-end integrated business model to this freebie. The story goes, when chief minister M K Stalin was asked about cash freebies even as TN is burdened with huge debt, one DMK warhorse quipped, “Don’t worry, by this evening the Rs 2000 freebies will come to TASMAC from  our Kudimagans“. Kudimagan has a double meaning – it could mean a citizen or a drunk. PMK Chief Dr S Ramadoss lamented about the high sale of liquor during the Pongal festival. His moral stance, liquor leads to ruination…of health, wealth and family. The very same PMK has climbed on to the alliance bandwagon, alternately to suit their political needs.
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Award Winning Song ‘Naatu Naatu' Was Inspired By Tom & Jerry, Charlie Chaplin Says Choreographer Rakshit

Ok, India and particularly Tollywood is still drenched in the acclaim for winning the prestigious Golden Globe for the iconic song Naatu Naatu from S S Rajamouli’s magnum RRR with music by M M Keeravani. Soon the Choreographer Prem Rakshit who put in grinding hard work to make this hit sizzle on screen is also going places. He is over the top when talking about the congratulatory phone call from none other than Dance Wizard Prabhudeva. “All that blood sweat and tears while getting the hook step just right, seemed worth it. We were in Ukraine’s Kiev in August of 2021, roasted by heat…a few of my team suffered with burst veins, but practiced relentlessly for two months,” says Rakshit. He recollects the joy of choreographing the award winning song. Who inspired him? With a chuckle of mirth and joi de vivre, he says “My inspiration came from Tom & Jerry, and Charlie Chaplin”. Now it becomes clear that the frenzied dance steps and the foot tapping beats could only be inspired by the likes of Tom wantonly chasing Little Jerry, and that master super mimic, Chaplin. S.S Rajamouli, his heroes Jr NTR and Ram Charan have collaborated for an unforgettable film, RRR which raked Rs 1500 crore globally, along with great entertainment.
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Tata Group Chairman Chandrasekaran Meets TN Chief Minister Stalin

Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin wants to fulfil the DMK’s election manifesto promises and prepare the ground for 2024 Lok Sabha elections. More significantly, he needs to project his intention to create and save jobs. The shutdown of Ford Maraimalai Nagar plant remains a vexing issue. It had accumulated losses of over $2 bn. Recently, Tata Group’s Chairman N Chandrasekaran along with Tata Motors Executive Director Girish Wagh visited Stalin’s camp office. Also part of the meeting were Tamil Nadu chief secretary, ministers Thangam Thennarasu and Udhayanidhi Stalin. It was a courtesy call but it is clear that the Tamil Nadu government has been feverishly looking for a new owner to take over Ford Chennai plant. It may be recalled that Tatas have already bought over Ford’s Sanand plant in Gujarat. So buying Ford’s Maraimalai Nagar plant seems a logical conclusion. Both these plants can crank up Tata’s EV capacity. Currently, with significant bookings for Nexon EV, and Tiago. Tatas are able to meet only 50 % of the demand. The Ford Chennai plant has a number of hidden assets — its erstwhile vendor team supplied 40% of their captive production, the trained workforce can be retrained and logistics support of the Port is one of the biggest advantages.  Tatas have taken a lead in EV, and if this acquisition happens then Chennai could emerge as an EV hub.
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Kollywood Titans Vijay And Ajit Clash Again, For Whom Will The Cash Register Ring?

This Pongal should be very rewarding and exciting for the fans of Ilaya Dalapathi Vijay and Thala Ajit Kumar. The huge legions of crazed fans will finally get to see their heroes in action. Vijay’s Varisu and Ajit’s Thunivu hit big screens on January 11. Even though Brand Rajini and Brand Kamal are still eulogised as Superstar and Ulaganayagan for decades now, Vijay and Ajit too command the same kind of adulation and following. But the only difference is these two superstars’ fans have turned confrontationist. Reportedly, the price of a ticket, in black, for the opening shows were around Rs 1000-1300. This could climb to Rs 4,000 when fan craze becomes intense. New releases for Pongal are particularly star struck and of course, fans clash too over which hero commands more from at the Box Office. Udhayanidhi Stalin’s Red Giant has distribution rights for both the movies, so it is: “Heads I Win, Tails I Win“. Vijay, it is learnt, has tried every trick in the trade to promote his film — launch of Varisu music in the Nehru Stadium, getting pre-release snippets in every media handle. Boney Kapoor, the producer of Thunivu has much more at stake in terms of finance. Kapoor has spread himself thin after Ajit’s last outing disappointed.

All Eyes On ‘The Family Man’ Directors’ New OTT Series ‘Farzi’?

Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown have hit the fortunes of several lines of businesses. But some businesses have got a leg-up too. A case in point is OTT.  In India, during lockdown we have been entertained by superlative themes and extraordinary Indian creativity via various web series like Delhi Crime, Mirzapur, Panchayat to name a few. Netflix and Amazon, the pioneers who brought entertainment to homes, have garnered a binge audience for their serials and films. Now, Amazon Prime Video is all set to bring the 8-episode ‘Farzi’ from February 10 onwards. It is directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK of ‘The Family Man’ fame which brought international acclaim to Manoj Bajpayee and Samantha Prabhu. The creators of Farzi, D 2 K Films are ready with a sizzling star cast of Vijay Sethupathi from Kollywood and Shahid Kapoor from Bollywood, Raashi Khanna, Kay Kay Menon, Regina Cassandra, Zakir Hussain, Bhuvan Arora, Amol Palekar, and Kubbra Sait. Raj and DK have set their story in the middle class milieu /ethos of middling everything, soaked in comedy. The talented twins claim that Farzi will truly reflect the sweat and slick creativity of this team and make it binge worthy.
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Donkey Milk Sells At Rs 2000 Per Litre In TN, May Soon Get GI Tag

Tamil Nadu‘s Tenkasi district is seeing huge demand for donkey’s milk by rural folks. Donkey’s milk? That smirk and guffaw with epithets of ‘gadha’, will soon be replaced by incredulousness.  While city folks are protesting at Rs 2 increase per litre of Mother Dairy or Aavin Milk, the villagers are ready to fork out Rs 100 per 50 ml or Rs 2,000 per litre of fresh donkey milk to build immunity especially in infants and ward off other ailments. Who knows the next unicorn or IPO may well be from this remote area in Tenkasi if some enterprising donkey aggregator decides to set up a world class plant to process and peddle this much sought after milk and get GI Tag too.  The global market value for donkey’s milk stood at $ 23.2 mn in 2021, expected to grow at a CAGR of 9%by 2028. This faith in the efficacy of fresh donkey milk may gain currency like curcumin turmeric latte, tulsi tea, neem oil and coconut products. Donkey owners in Tenaksi have their own logistics and promos for fresh donkey milk, with megaphone announcements. An enterprising breeder, brings his herd to the spot, on fixed days in a truck and rurals line up with conch shells or even silver cups. Looks like it’s big money at the bottom of the pyramid.

Is Kanimozhi Emerging As The New Power Centre In Tamil Nadu?

On January 5, DMK MP Kanimozhi turned 55 and the road to her Chennai residence was jam packed with birthday greeters and revelers indicating she is a force to reckon with in Tamil Nadu politics. The whole neighbourhood was festooned with DMK flags. Late Kalaignar’s favourite child Kanimozhi is chief minister M K Stalin’s half-sister. What is even more evident as she led a big crowd to her father’s resting place on the Marina beach was that she no longer appeared to be that tentative, hesitant and defensive politician who was incarcerated in the 2 G scam. Kani has parachuted out of that crisis, to become a significant power centre. Potential for an alternative to the first family’s dynastic culture, Kani was made deputy treasurer of DMK, a sop to keep her content against the rising son, claim party wags. Stalin’s son Udhayanidhi’s confrontational attitude towards his aunt has changed too, maybe in the interests of warding off rebellion. The DMK behemoth built by cadres and functionaries is definitely chafing at the dynastic moves. A recently charge-sheeted Youtuber and journalist voiced scathing opinions when comparing Udhayanidhi and Kani in terms of capability, political savvy and experience, groomed as she is by none other than Kalaignar. Suddenly, whispers are getting loud and overt. What if BJP uses her as a Trojan and a deserving family claimant to TN throne?

Will Nadda’s Saffronisation Drive In Tamil Nadu Yield Dividend?

Looks like BJP is permanently on election mode and focussing on states where they have no big numbers. A case in point is Tamil Nadu. Recently, BJP President J P Nadda was on a two-day visit to Coimbatore along with Tamil Nadu’s top BJP leaders. Addressing a public meeting Nadda spared no punches. He asked the large crowd, “What does DMK stand for”? And then went on to decode it by saying “D is for dynasty, the first family of DMK. M is for Money. And K is for Katta Panchayat “. Katta Panchayat refers to winning battles and quelling revolt by strong arm politics through Kangaroo Courts. While BJP and Modi focussed only on the national good, DMK functioned only for the first family. The country is thus in safe hands, while TN is not in safe hands. Modi is for real Bharat unity whereas DMK and its ally, the Congress now busy walking for Bharat unity, have regularly trotted out the separatist slogan for revolt. It’s a moot point whether this direct didactic would shake 60-odd years of Dravidam complacency? Post his speech Nadda drove to Isha Foundation run by spiritual guru Jaggi Vasudev who is currently mired in a controversy with environmentalists. Was Nadda’s overnight stay at Esha, a signal that BJP is putting its might behind the spiritual guru?
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Kollywood Signs Off The Year In Style With Four Women Centric Films

Four Tamil films which hit the big screens on the last Friday of 2022 are expected to do well at the box office. The movies are: Trisha’s Raangi, Aishwarya Rajesh’s Driver Jamuna, iconic comedienne Kovai Sarala’s Sembi and glamour bomb Sunny Leone’s Oh My Ghost (OMG). These films rest their gripping, relatable and down to earth story lines on the confident shoulders of the women who anchor these films. This trail-blazing trend that has anchored Kollywood through 2022, is based on realistic story lines and solid skill directors who get the best of seasoned performers. This is a business model that does not depend on overrated star heroes, unrealistic budgets and tiresome plots that cannot redeem such films from failure. A case in point Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar’s back to back flops. Trisha, has chosen to go makeup free in Raangi. Prabhu Solomon who excels in wild life /rural themes is all set to melt hearts by Kovai Sarala’s touching portrayal in Sembi. Driver Jamuna is anchored by talented Aishwarya Rajesh, who takes up cab driving when her dad dies. Ok, we agree Oh My Ghost story is not exactly original, based on Korean TV.  Sunny Leone’s role as Sou Chef Na Bong Sun who gets possessed by a revenge seeking ghost.  Clearly, Kollywood film makers have a talent for making movies that entertain the audience and moolah for their producers.

In Discovering India, Rahul Rediscovers Himself

As the Bharat Jodo Yatra reaches its last leg, people are increasingly seeing a different Rahul emerge, from that tentative, inarticulate Rahul Gandhi of his most forgettable years. He almost seems to readily accept the Pappu moniker, as if to say, yes, I needed to connect with India’s reality and my own inner strength. Enough has been said about his winter clothing — a T-shirt, his spontaneous responses to the variety of people and places, about his “Shraddha tinged Tapasya”.  When someone asked what kind of a girl would be his choice for a life mate? Prompt came the response. An amalgam of my mother and my grandmother, Indiraji! A tall order, may be even impossible to replicate two of the most strong-willed women of the  clan. When he was reminded about his Pappu nickname and how he planned to delete it permanently, an unexpected and stunning response from a normally reticent Rahul. “Oh, I don’t mind Pappu. I remember they referred to my grandmother as Goongi Gudiya. See where she reached?” Clearly, Rahul has prised open several secret doors to his latent self, discovering some unexpected strengths in himself. Rahul is emerging as a new avatar — the way of water, earth, space, fire and wind. The Pancha Bhutas, elementary to all in kinetic form.
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Are Senior DMK Leaders Unhappy Over Induction Of Udhayanidhi Stalin As Minister?

DMK supremo MK Stalin, taking a page from the Telangana chief minister KCR has elevated his son Udhayanidhi to the cabinet as number 10, even though his portfolio, Sports and Youth Affairs is generally ranked way down in the pecking order of ministerial berths. This move seems to have evoked resentment and rancor among some senior DMK leaders. Lok Sabha MP T R Balu was expecting his son T R B Raja to be inducted into the TN cabinet.  A hurt Balu skipped the coronation ceremony citing Parliament session in Delhi. The other person who also seems miffed is the state finance minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan. Popularly known as PTR, he was seething with anger as his rank moved from 22 to 27. Stalin, it is rumoured, is planning to name his son Deputy CM while he takes off on his annual medical check-up trip to London. Sensing an undercurrent within the party fold over elevation of his son Stalin asked the party’s intelligence arm to survey the revolt potential within the party and family, if the son is made the boss. Sure enough, the survey revealed that Udhayanidhi may be good as a film star but politics is not his cup of tea, at least for now. K Annamalai, the BJP‘s dynamic chief could shred him in any debate. So the collective advice is to groom him and hand over the reins over a period of time.

Is Kamal Haasan Trying To Resurrect His Floundering Political Outfit By Joining Bharat Jodo Yatra?

Even as the much delayed ( almost shelved) shooting of Indian 2, directed by Shankar resumed, Kamal Haasan ensured that a striking still of himself as the hero of Indian 2, in his old man get up posing opposite the  Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose statue at Marina Beach was splashed across social media. This artfully shot still does not show him facing the camera, but no one can miss Kamal in his Indian 2 avatar. “This statue of the great warrior Netaji was inaugurated by Kalaignar on the same day 25 years ago. I am standing under the statue while shooting for Indian 2. Great humans, great memories,” Kamal tweeted. Resurrecting his film career is not his only agenda. The awesome success of Vikram has given Kamal a much needed shot of adrenaline tinged testosterone. His floundering political outfit, Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) had to be resurrected too. What better than the chance to join Rahul Gandhi’s super optics road show, Bharat Jodo Yatra. With the likes of Raghuram Rajan giving the yatra heft, Kamal has said yes to Rahul’s invite. The President of MNM and his cadre will join the March in New Delhi on December 24. Kamal has got his much needed insurance for Indian 2 at the box office, and may be a slot for MNM in an omnibus alliance.
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Baba poster on Rajini’s bungalow gate

Does Enhanced ‘Baba’ Re-Release Signal Rajini’s Political Entry 2.0?

Superstar’s event management for his birthday rocks. Rajini has done it again. The nail-biting anticipation of his fans rekindled for his political entry, yet again. Like the now iconic Vadivelu dialogue, “Varum Aana Vaaradu” and people are left wondering, “I may come, I may not.” Rajini’s earlier movie Baba, not a box office success, was relaunched two days before his 72nd birthday. It was enhanced digitally and made more appealing. Baba’s message still remained same….Rajini is the spiritual icon, whatever his commercial calling. Today’s birthday greeting crowd at his doorstep is staring, jaw dropped at the blue Baba poster. The subliminal message, this is a promo for the relaunched film. But, is there a hidden political agenda in this re-release? Thalaiva is a born showman, master of the art of obfuscation, teasing and titillating. His literal last minute back off from active politics still rankles his fans. What if another bid is made, as insurance, commercial and political. Relaunched Baba is the sum of all these facets. Rajini is adept at keeping his crazed fan following intact….a lot of money rides on the films in the pipeline. And yes, he wants to equal the success of Kamal’s Vikram. What better way than the teaser “I am still a force to reckon with…alliance or all by myself.” Showmen are masters of show and tell. Often, the message itself is the show.
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Tiruchi Surya (left) K Annamalai

Tamil Nadu BJP Leader Quits After His Audio Clip Abusing Woman Colleague Goes Viral

All is not well in the Tamil Nadu unit of BJP. State President K Annamalai is constantly in Operation Damage control mode fighting the ruling DMK dispensation or forces within the party. The latest one relates to the sensational call made by the party’s high profile leader heading OBC wing Tiruchi Surya to Dr Daisy Saran (minority wing secretary). In the now infamous audio clip which has gone viral, Surya used vile and filthy language, threats to humiliate Dr Daisy. He threatened to cut up her genitals and fling her into the sea. Gayatri Raghuram, an actor and BJP functionary, forwarded the clip to the party’s higher ups like the All India Women’s Wing chief Vanathi Srinivasan and Union minister L Murugan. This move backfired. Gayatri was suspended from the party for six months for her anti-party activities and Dr Daisy was read the riot act. Everybody is asking why is Annamalai soft on Tiruchi Surya? Tiruchi Surya, son of DMK MP Tiruchi Siva, has been prodded to resign from the BJP on his own. In his resignation letter Surya states “Annamalai is my elder brother, a treasure trove of the party. I have learnt all strategic nuances under his stewardship …” For good measure he also added that Annamalai is future PM material. With this kind of letter has he figuratively thrown Annamalai in the lion’s den?
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Is Superstar Rajini Scripting His Swansong?

His 73rd birthday is on December 12, and true to form, Rajini posters have mysteriously sprung up at vantage points of Poes Garden. This time with a difference. The swashbuckling film hero, larger than life images on the posters have given way…to a visibly aged man, sparse hair and spectacles, scoping out the horizon. But this poster is perhaps meant to hint at a new avatar? On closer scrutiny, this “misinformation poster “reads “, governor and people, our Thalaivar is worthy of worship”. The operative hook here is Governor! Who knows? This is typical Rajini, teasing, hinting, rousing expectations and when it comes to the crunch, backing out! After his last few films faring poorly, and Kamal’s Vikram zooming to the top, Rajini, intent on a super hit as his swan song, worked hard at choosing a new film, director and story for Jailer, now under progress. But the buzz is Rajini wanting a youthful comeback film, chose a youthful director Nelson, even as his old reliable director P Vasu coaxed him hard to accept Chandramukhi 2, to revive that 2005 hit which sent the cash registers jingling! Now Rajini is rumoured to be regretting saying no to Chandramukhi2. A theory doing the rounds is that the 2002 flop Baba may be re-released after it is cosmetically enhanced with more digital audio heft.

Kamal with director Shankar

Overworked Universal Hero Kamal Haasan In And Out Of Hospital

Last week Kamal Haasan had just returned from a trip to Hyderabad when he felt uneasy and feverish. He got himself admitted to the Ramachandra Medical Centre in Chennai. Though the Ulaganayagan tried to play it down as just fever and cough, no one was taking a chance with a 68-year old who constantly flits from super busy work schedules in films, his weekend shoots for the hugely popular reality show Bigg Boss 6 and his political commitments. The recent success of his film Vikram which totted up Rs 450 crore business worldwide came through as a big shot in the arm for the star who had been smarting under recent cinematic and political setbacks. So Kamal had a rip roaring occasion to celebrate his 68th birthday by announcing a team up with ace director Mani Rathnam, a reunion after 35 years. With A R Rahman creating music, jointly produced by Kamal and Udhayanidhi Stalin. Even this announcement sent his fans into a tizzy of feverish anticipation. As much as the resumption of shooting for Indian 2, much delayed and much-awaited even as magnum director Shankar anticipated this film’s restart. Whatever bug sent him to hospital, his fans, family and financiers must be praying for a quick recovery. Bouncing back with energy to health and back to back action is what Kamal loves best. Hospital sojourns are intermissions during a show.
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Photo from @Samanthaprabhu2 when she was admitted on October 29, 2022

Is Samantha Ruth Prabhu In Hospital Again?

Suddenly, Samantha Ruth Prabhu (35) has faced a number of personal setbacks. The much publicised marriage with Nag Chaitanya ended on the rocks. In Koffee With Karan show, Samantha was candid to say, “If you put us in a room, better hide all sharp objects “. Whew! It couldn’t get any more cathartic! And then came the gut wrenching diagnosis that she had Myositis, an auto immune disease. Even as the stars were shining on her, the evil eye had cast a dark cloud on this beautiful, talented star. Her latest release Yashoda did good business, grossing Rs 30 crore in 10 days. Rumours are rife that she is in Apollo, Hyderabad though people close to her deny it. This Kollywood comet streaked across the filmy firmament, fiery and feisty, the envy of many South Indian film peers. Making her entry in 2010 in Tamil cinema, she quickly rose with hits like Kathi, Mercel, Theri, Mahanadi and the recent one, Kaathuvakkile Oru Kaadal. In this film, she stole the show from right under the nose of South siren, lady super star Nayanthara. Her sizzling solo dance number in Pushpa: The Rise was over the top hot, justifying the astronomical Rs 4 crore rumoured to be her remuneration. Her OTT serial, The Family Man Season 2 brought her global acclaim. Will this femme fatale get back her fame and fortune?

BJP And Spin Doctors Pull Out All Stops To Hijack Tamil And Tamilians To Kashi

People are still shell shocked by the concentrated and concerted effort of the BJP’s Kasi Tamil Sangam show, presided over so eloquently as a hard sell by the PM, a month long event focussed on the Tamils. Thirteen religious heads of Mutts from Tamil Nadu are camping in Kashi, Uttar Pradesh, the PM’s much vaunted constituency. Maestro Ilayaraja and his group performed a mesmerising Shiva sthotram with the PM clapping in rhythm. A full trainload of religious Tamil Savants and assorted youth was seen off by no less than Governor of TN for back to back religious events and tours of Kasi .And oh! not to forget the 13 language translation and book release of the Thirukkural, a historic spiritual work of poet Thiruvalluvar, long hijacked by the Dravidian parties as their own. Topping this blitz cake was the PM’s address; he looked comfortable in a “Veshti and Angavastram”. Kashi is the second home for Tamils. Who scripted this eclectic show? When the PM’s chopper trip to Madurai airport was cancelled due to bad weather he took the road. And BJP’s Tamil Nadu K Annamalai was handpicked as a solo companion to accompany the PM on this hour-long drive. And the entire Kashi caper was scripted and presented to the PM. Kashi, the oldest city in the world is now the newest magnetic confluence of politics.
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Clash Of Kollywood Titans: Vijay Draws First Blood With ‘Varisu’ Song Ranjithame Getting 5.5 Crore Hits

2023 Pongal will see one of the most anticipated clashes of the Kollywood Titans, Vijay and Ajit when their films, Varisu and Thunivu are to be released simultaneously. Cinephiles of these two super heroes are waiting to clash, to establish the box office draw of their heroes. Tamil Nadu witnesses an opening day craze that’s like no other in terms of fan hysteria and foot stomping action. For instance, Rajini fans do a milk abhishekam on larger than life cut-outs. Vijay just amps up such maniacal following with his hit song Ranjithame which cornered 5.5 crore hits in a fortnight. Apart from his super dancing skills (Rahul Gandhi is a self-confessed fan of Vijay’s dance moves), this action hero is a crooner too, trained by his mother Shobha. In his 28 years Vijay has belted out many hit songs. His very first film song, “Bombay city, Sukha roti” was an instant hit. Dirty dancing his way to woo Rashmika Mandanna, Vijay belting out Ranjithame Ranjithame is on his way to launch yet another Kollywood anthem. Vijay’s voice, the double entendre lyrics are mere foils. It is sexy Rash who rivets as she transforms into Ranjithame. From that Sami Sami song of Pushpa fame, Rash has zoomed up to pan India popularity. Kollywood sure aces in cinematic masala for a rush of testosterone.

When Biryani Robbed Tamil Nadu Minister Of His Audience

Our voters are very clear about what they want, when they want. This single-minded focus makes mincemeat chunks out of the best laid plans of er…mice and men. Take the case of Tamil Nadu’s Revenue Minister KKSSR Ramachandran and his well-planned address to his constituency in a marriage hall at Tenkasi’s Alangulam, clutching his eloquently prepared keynote address, intended to delight his eager audience. DMK District Secretary, Siva Padmanabhan, wanting to please his boss and other DMK functionaries, announced, “We want to celebrate our election victory. Our generous Presidium chairman has arranged a sumptuous non-vegetarian feast, cooked with 22 goats and many chickens for you, our cadres”. Good intentions can go horribly wrong when hit by bad timing. No sooner had he said non-veg biryani the crowd deserted the hall and ran towards the dining hall, drawn by the irresistible Biryani aroma. A stricken Ramachandran was heard extorting the crowd “Friends, please remain seated. The Biriyani will be there for later “. He looked crestfallen as the audience was in no mood for speech. Reality hurts. Ramachandran learnt his lesson – the best way to a voter’s heart is the stomach but timing is very important.

In Tamil Nadu, Battle For The Ballot Will Be Over Dravidam Vs Hindutva

November 11 saw intense VIP presence in Tamil Nadu as both the PM and HM descended on this political beehive. Overtly, the PM continues his inaugural optics series; first, in Karnataka for a stunning new airport terminal, and a Vandhe Bharat train to link Karnataka and TN with superfast speed, and presiding over the Dindigul-based Mahatma Gandhi University Convocation in Gandhi cap. The TN leg was more covert than overt, as it saw high voltage political confabulations among the BJP top brass and other functionaries. Is K Annamalai the handpicked Desert Fox, Rommel to implement the BJP’ pincer movement in TN? The secret sketch of BJP to capture at least 8 seats, target 25 in the 2024 general election. Amit Shah is as much Annamalai’s political muse as the PM, and the see, talk, plan strategy is implemented, in military style. Take the pivotal booth committees, Annamalai is to constitute 67,000 such frontline grassroots units to ensure votes for BJP. Even the constitution of such committees is laid down formally — members from SC, ST, women and youth are a must, and at least 5 ideologically vocal members who can influence with their eloquence. To stave off any rebel challenge, Annamalai has already announced that the alliance with AIADMK will stay. 2024 is definitely Dravidam Vs Hindutva. The pincer is all laid out. Charge as planned, strike on all fronts.
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Back With A Bang At 68, Superstar Kamal Haasan Is Giving Younger Stars A Run For Their Life

He is popularly known as the Alwarpet Aandavar in Kollywood lingo — the God of Alwarpet. One is not sure of his divine provenance. But his enduring charisma and box office draw is never in question, a contemporary of the other superstar, Rajini. Kamal Haasan recently celebrated his 68th birthday. The whispers that buzzed around him, “OMG, 68? This guy has luck tucked into him in every way. Even age falls flat “. This film icon has dabbled in many fields with his abundant talent — acting, singing, Bharat Natyam dance, script writing, politics, opinion maker and now businessman. Oh, and still had time for extramarital dalliance, never a reputation impediment for Kamal, but only added macho and magnetism for his huge fan following which applauds and approves his lifestyle. Kamal, the multifaceted artist also has a knack of keeping his various personas, distinct, one not intruding or intervening on the others.  Of late he is focused on his Khadi Fashion Apparel business in the U.S., and the Internet is rocking with pictures of his youthful models, Kamal leaning on them, literally. How many 68‘s look so youthful, clued in on contemporary fashion? After a bad patch in politics, the Kamal of Devar Magan, the Nayakan of Mani Rathnam, the unforgettable Michael Madana Kamaraj and now Vikram, the super hit hero is back with a bang.
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Lessons For Bollywood: Kollywood Box Office Jingles With A Clutch Of Low Budget, Breezy Films

A clutch of new releases, strong on story, low on budget and even lower on big moolah expectations have brought cheer to the Tamil cinema industry. Love Today, Coffee with Kaadal and Nitham Oru Vaanam have individually and together warmed the cockles of cinema addict’s hearts. Each film intuitively explores and expounds the new age gen now youth, their family anchors of tradition and the gentle compromises made to get on with life, technology  driven and frantically lived. Reality and coping mechanisms with strife and challenges are woven strongly into these plausible stories. Most cheering news, crores are not riding on these and every house full show is money for jam. Take Love Today, Pradeep and Nikita are married, youth stereotypes, madly in love. They proclaim and believe that each knows the other inside out, trust unlimited.  The couple exchange their mobiles for a day. And their complacent world falls apart with complicity. Sundar C’s Coffee with Kaadal is a true fraapuchino. Take Srikanth, married, with a child. Suddenly he finds that his one night promiscuous stand is to be married to his younger brother. Nitham Oru Vaanam is a riddle. The jury will be out on all three, but trade analysts would strongly applaud –low investment, breezy returns. Bollywood are you listening?

Is Senthamizh Seeman A Strong Challenge To DMK?

A massive anti-Hindi rally held on November 1 at Rajarathnam Stadium, Chennai sent a clear message to those planning a strong bid for Tamil Nadu’s political power reins. Pouring rain did not deter fiery Naam Thmizhar Katchi Founder Seeman who is a successful film director, riveting orator and die-hard Dravidian. His lieutenant, director Amir added colour to the procession’s power slogan, “We are Tamils, TN should have only Tamil rulers. Tamil is our life breath, don’t shove Hindi down our throats”. Is there a hidden challenge to DMK’s Dravidam? DMK critics are already grumbling about the mercenary greed of Udhayanidhi Stalin who as a film distributor is fast buying potential hits, Hindi movies too. The other parties, contenders for coalition with DMK, are happy to play a silent role. Seeman, an avid Kalaignar and LTTE Prabhakaran fan, has a natural flair as a magnetic orator. His only flaw, he gets emotionally carried away, and lives to rue indiscreet talk. His Naam Thamizhar Katchi started in 2010, has a disciplined and youthful cadre, willing to be moulded into a strong movement. What impressed many, after the rally was that every bit of garbage was collected on the 1.7 kms stretch by the cadre, bagged and the place left clean. He is aiming to get 12% votes and at least 10 Assembly seats in 2026.  Seeman is surely aiming to be a Seen Man.


The Rajini Phenomenon Endures As Fans Throng To Glimpse Their Thalaiva

This Deepawali, the crowds in front of his house, “Brindavan” in Chennai started swelling from 7 am. Men, women and youthful enthusiasts stood rearing to greet Thalaiva with frenzy. The Poes Garden cul de sac of just six families has witnessed this crazed stargazing crowd, year after year. Age does not wither nor custom stale the Rajini phenomenon despite all the criticisms flung at him…fickle political stance, waning star attraction, dropping box office collections, hackneyed formula films…Rajini is Teflon coated and super resilient. The phenomenon has kept his fan base intact for over 45 years now. The 70-year old clad in a simple dhoti, white jubula with vibhuti generously smeared on his forehead came out, stood on a bench and greeted the crowd. The roar that went up must have given him goosebumps. The star still reigns super. After the lukewarm response to his Annathe, Rajini signed up for SUN pictures Jailer, directed by Nelson and its shooting is in progress. With Aishwarya Rai and Ramya Krishnan as female foils, Rajini hopes to stir up a storm. He is working hard to be fit. Neighbours spot a trim Rajini on regular brisk walks, wearing his earphones, even walking backwards, a yogic practice for balance. Is Rajini the ultimate Karmayogi? Do your stuff, move on, don’t let success or failure weigh you down. This phenomenon endures, a cult figure.

Top Cop Who Killed Sandalwood Smuggler Veerappan Back In Tamil Nadu?

Remember the dramatic shoot out of Sandalwood brigand Veerappan? Tamil Nadu top cop and late Jayalalithaa’s alter ego, the much decorated K Vijay Kumar was assigned to capture Veerappan, the Sandalwood smuggler who was literally running a YouTube studio from the dense jungles of Sathyamangalam and teasing the cops. He had kidnapped Karnataka superstar Rajkumar. Enter Vijay Kumar and Veerappan’s story ends forever. Vijay Kumar, is now back in TN, after resigning from a high profile posting in Delhi as Special Security Officer to the Ministry of Home Affairs, following a notable stint as Security Advisor to J&K. He held plum posts 6 years after retirement and is said to be close to Amit Shah and Ajit Doval. Who is the new brigand Vijay Kumar has been sent to capture? Before we presume why he is back it is relevant to track two other top guns who came to TN from the Force. First was Governor RN Ravi now comfortably ensconced in the Raj Bhavan stonewalling many a bill to vex the ruling party DMK. Second, K Annamalai, an IPS officer posted in Karnataka has taken over as TN BJP chief. He has already made a name for his son et lumiere profile quickly. Now is Vijay Kumar back in TN to ferret out proxy terrorist units like the PFI or play a new role? Watch this space.  Stardock WindowBlinds 

What’s Giving Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Heebie-Jeebies?

Tamil Nadu chief minister MK Stalin recently lamented, “Every morning I dread waking up to some new controversy caused by some of my senior ministers “. Stalin warned these controversial cohorts in no uncertain terms during the recent DMK General Council meet “Should I resign or those who are guilty ready to resign? Of this motley council of ministers the enfant terrible septuagenarian, Durai Murugan has irked the government on more than one occasion. Recently, Durai Murugan accompanied by Health Minister Ma. Subramanian, visited a primary health Center in his own constituency, Katpadi and berated the doctors there for poor maintenance of precincts and ordered immediate transfer of a few doctors to a distant gulag.  The Indian Medical Association took up the matter with Stalin who reversed the transfer decision. Minister for Transport K Ponmudi insulted women by referring to them as “OC (in Tamil it means free) bus passengers “. TN women have taken umbrage to his statement. In the case of finance minister PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan, the less said the better. The sheen of his grand entry as party intellectual and finance wizard, wore off fast with other aspirants putting him in his place. It seems that the late Kalaignar would not allow a minister to ride with him in his car for such misdeeds. Stalin too is trying out this mode of punishment.

Happy Days Are Here Again For Kanimozhi!

Looks like Kanimozhi is the flavour of the season, not just in the DMK power camp but in the BJP’s net casting too. Just last month, she thanked home minister Amit Shah profusely for facilitating her mother’s trip to Germany for medical treatment. Then followed the significant reshuffling of Parliamentary Committees and appointment of new chairpersons by Narendra Modi. Kanimozhi was handpicked by the PM to head the Committee on Rural Affairs and Panchayat Raj. Not without rhyme or reason; it is well known that PM Modi imbues his decisions with ironclad logic and perceived future insurance. The DMK MP from Thoothukudi has worked hard in her constituency to make the Adopt A Village program noteworthy. Venkatesapuram, a village adopted by her, scored high in most development indices. This focused result-oriented work backed the PM’s choice for his Adarsh Gram Yojana outreach plan. The penny dropped at the just held DMK General Body Meet, Stalin was unanimously re-elected for a second term as party Chief, and he in a surprise move announced Kanimozhi as one of the five general secretaries. This was followed up with courtesy visits to her home by both Stalin and son Udhayanidhi. It may be recalled that the nephew Udhayanidhi had earlier ignored aunt Kanimozhi and now he was cosying up to her. Kanimozhi is a prized 5G asset now –a big contrast to the humiliation of the 2G days.
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Ponniyin Selvan Kicks Off Hindutva Debate, Also Rakes in Record Rs 300 Crore In Six Days

Every TV news channel had a noisy field time discussing thread bare, was Raja Raja Chozhan, the Chola Emperor who built the immortal Tanjore Temple, a Hindu? Why this sudden mushroom cloud about an Emperor’s religious leanings, that too extrapolating from a film that has made history in more ways than just cinematic? Kalki’s immortal 5-part compendium Tamil novel Ponniyin Selvan, written over 70 years ago, with few attempts at filming it, has remained a seminal magnum opus literary work. Even Kamal Haasan is said to have toyed with the idea of a film based on it. After the unalloyed success of his Vikram, box office collection of Rs 600 crore, Kamal’s cinematic ego and artistic aura may have been bruised  by Ponniyin Selvan-Part 1  collecting Rs 300 crore in just six days of release. The legendary filmmaker Mani Ratnam has succeeded beyond expectations. With his cinematic craft, and perhaps the only one who could bring Kalki’s classic to the screen…on a breath-taking scale of the art and architecture of the Golden Era of the Cholas, of beauteous women who powered exquisite palace intrigues, an era that still stands tall and unmatched, etched in stone in temples, an era when Hinduism showcased its finest traditions of Shaivite and Vaishnavite worship. Ponniyin Selvan will remain a spectacular pan Indian film, and a feat hard to match.


Technology Cannot Disrupt Original Content Provider: Short Post Editor

They say time flies. How true!  Today is our #SecondAnniversary. Two years back at the height of Covid-19 Pandemic when lockdown was the way of life we took a leap of faith and launched Short Post (Jan 28, 2021), the first-of-its-kind website in the country that focuses on Authentic Gossip. The Oxymoron is deliberate. Well, the response has been quite encouraging. That’s what has kept us going. Till date we have posted close to 2000 stories in the areas of Politics, Business, Entertainment and Sports. Each insightful story of around 225 words has been contributed by Senior Editors. There is a sense of satisfaction of creating a new segment in the market – authentic gossip — and in the process creating a brand (in a limited sense), creating demand (readers) and creating supply (writers). Well known advertisers — IDFC FIRST Bank, ICICI Lombard – supported us.  And that really boosted our confidence. Thank you!

So here we are raring to go.  But, when I look at the media landscape the disruption is indeed fast and furious. Technology is playing a very big role in how content will be consumed. In the past, we have seen how social media has disrupted the media world. Now, everybody is saying the same thing about ChatGPT. It has reached 1 million users in five days. Its scorching pace of growth is indeed frightening and will disrupt the media industry big time. My limited argument is can it do investigative stories, write gossip items using the digital world ecosystem. Unlikely. Clearly, the original content has to be created first — only then can ChatGPT do the magic. That’s what we promise to do – focus on original content.

Before I sign off, I am reminded of an old advertisement of the early sixties: “Avis is only No.2 in rent a cars. So we try harder”. Likewise I can say, we are two years old and we are trying even harder to be relevant to you readers.