எம்.பி.க்களின் தற்போதைய சம்பளத்தை இரட்டிப்பாக்குவது (ரூ.50 ஆயிரத்தில் இருந்து ரூ.1 லட்சம்), தொகுதிப்படியை ரூ.45 ஆயிரத்தில் இருந்து ரூ.90 ஆயிரமாக உயர்த்துவது, ஓய்வூதியத்தை இரு மடங்காக அதிகரிப்பது, அமளியில் ஈடுபடும் எம்.பி.க்களின் சம்பளத்தை பிடித்தம் செய்வது, எம்.பி.க்கள் தங்களின் விருப்பம்போல் பொதுமக்களுக்கு நன்கொடை அளிப்பது, எம்.பி.க்களுக்கு வீடு கட்ட கடன் வழங்கவேண்டும் என்பவை உள்ளிட்ட ஏராளமான சிபாரிசுகளை செய்து இருந்தது. Source: Daily Thanthi

That Jayalalitha does not believe in subtleties has been validated by her latest calculated decision to set free the folks who aided Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins.

The old fox does walk into a trap after all. Trust Jayalalitha to make Karunanidhi pay for an emotional outburst. The question now is, Has this set in motion an excuse to throw Azhagiri behind the bar? Well played Madam, well played indeed.

The Center has gone to the Madras High Court with what amounts to outright denial of any TN claims over Katchatheevu island.

Kamal kicked off a maelstrom (‘Of course Velu Nayakan doesn’t dance’) by accusing the producer Muktha Srinivasn of almost stalling the classic, which at that time occupied the waking dreams of Mani Ratnam and Kamal. 

The Hindu’s short profile on Valee traces the poet’s turn from an aspiring painter to one of the most influential lyricists in Tamil Cinema.

For the first time, in a very long time, Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha sound jittery. Not at each other, but someone else – Vijayakanth. If their reactions (to the IT raid on Vijayakantha) are any indication, they aren’t sleeping easy.

Here’s what Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi had to say:

“Those who become political leaders all of a sudden should know how to face a problem, and they should not try to assault officials coming to conduct IT raids.” “The IT department has recovered black money amounting to 1 crore and 17 lakhs from those, who claim to pay taxes. If only they paid, our country would have advanced. And in spite of all this profiteering, they say they work for the people.”

[Times]

Vijayakanth, starting to resemble his on-screen persona, is taking the fight to his opponent’s camp:

“Karunanidhi has 40 family members. I am ready to make public my assets. Does Karunanidhi have the guts to release a white paper on the wealth in the names of his family members? IT officials obey the orders of political executives. Anybody in power can organise such raids.” [Mumbai Mirror]

Now you know why Rajinikant does not wish to go anywhere near…

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Chennaiites who get a high on 18th century replica ships, pay notice. If you haven’t read about it in the local media, the swedish ship Göteborg is calling on the Port of Madras this week. So, what’s special about the ship!

When the wreckage of the vessel Götheborg was found in 1985 the idea emerged of making a replica of the vessel. The keel for the replica was laid the 11 June 1995. The vessel was built using traditional means and is as close to the original as possible. One small change is that the height of the deck is 10 cm more as today’s seamen are taller than their ancestors.

While the exterior remains true to the original, the interior is highly modern. The perhaps most important differences are electricity and propellers powered by diesel engines. The engines are however only intended for port navigation and in emergency situations. Other enhancements include electronic navigation and communications equipment, modern crew facilities (kitchen, lavatories, washing machines, desalination equipment, ventilation, refrigerators etc.), watertight bulkheads and fire protection (fire sprinkler systems, fire hydrants etc.). Most of this new technology is necessary to pass national and international safety regulations.

Ever heard of a caste so low, even the Dalits wouldn’t go near them! P C Vinoj Kumar reports that people like the Puthirai Vannars do live in a progressive state like Tamil Nadu.

In Thachampattu village, about 14km from Tiruvannamalai, Chinnapayan, a frail-looking man of about 55, has nothing to call his own, except a small hut that resembles a cow shed. The hut fronts onto the village street, but to enter it one must go through a side-alley — Chinnapayan and his kind cannot be permitted unhindered access to a public road. His father left his three sons an “inheritance” to divide among themselves — the right to serve 30 dalit households with work that includes washing clothes, giving haircuts, carrying the processional torch during weddings, and preparing the dead body and making the bier, the padai, when there is a death. In return for all this, Chinnapayan and his family are allowed two meals a day, leftovers that they must beg for from house to house, morning and evening.

Vinoj had written earlier, in depth, about the Puthirai Vannars, which supposedly prompted a knee-jerk response from the Government.

Really! There is a sad irony to why only women are targets of the kidney grabbers. According to News Today the reason is simple and straight:

Wonder why the thriving kidney racket in Chennai with an active doctor-broker-patient nexus sourced them mainly from women donors? Well, because the kidneys of many men were medically rejected on account of alcohol abuses.

Alam Srinivas explains (in his Benami Biopic) how Mani Ratnam picks Dhirubhai Ambani, his life, work and the people around him, to morph them into a magical drama. Towards the end he almost convinces me that Mani Ratnam has done the right thing in justifying Gurubhai’s (Dhirubhai if you wish) ways. The quote from Arun Shourie‘s eulogy (in particular), had me wondering.

“And that the Dhirubhais are to be thanked, not once but twice over; they set up world-class companies and facilities in spite of those regulations and thus laid the foundations for the growth all of us claim credit for today…by exceeding the limits in which those restrictions sought to impound them, they helped create the case for scrapping those regulations, they helped make the case for reforms…. We had all got convinced that persons like him had done the country a service.”

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For a Man who’d grown up at the mercy of life that existed in his times, a memoir should have sounded far reaching. The diary of A N Sattanathan, “Plain Speaking: A Sudra’s story”, re-published by his grand-daughter (Uttara Natarajan), aims to bridge an unfinished work. The fact that Sattanathan helped shape the reservation policy of the Tamil Nadu in the 60’s and backed it with his lectures (included in the book), should make it an important read.

Even in 1928, when he gets a job in a Trichy college, it is because the College Committee has mistakenly assumed from his First Class Honours degree that he is a Brahmin. When the Principal finds that Sattanathan is a Non-Brahmin, he tells him that he need not pay the customary courtesy call on the Chairman and Secretary of the College Committee. But the times have already begun to change, and when some of the students hear about the episode, they become admirers of the new Non-Brahmin lecturer. The memoir ends on this optimistic note.

But at the burning heart of this narrative of youth, bringing tears to one’s eyes, is the boy’s sense of injustice at the long, cruel hours he is made to wait outside his patrons’ houses. It is only the thought of his family that drives him on. Poverty, he remarks dryly, is a great motive force. Plain Speaking is the powerful, moving account of one man’s struggle for a better life and a more equal society.

Karunanidhi, who commissioned Sattanathan for recommendations on the reservation, says this is his book of the year 2006. The Hindu has an interview with the author, Uttara Natarajan.

That would be Captain Vijayakanth. His DMDK is contesting five wards in the local body elections. No, not in Chennai, in Mumbai.

HT:

Mumbai Tamilians are in for a treat, as Vijaykanth will hold a public rally at Dharavi to campaign for these candidates.

“For years, we Tamils have been treated as votebanks and nothing concrete has been done for our welfare. Our party would not just cater to the Tamils but also other communities who are marginalised,” said Swamy Nadar, General Secretary, DMDK.

DMDK is currently forging links with the North Indian community and trying to create a pressure group in the city.

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Art Buchwald passed away yesterday night, on his terms. In the 80s, when you grew up reading The Hindu, there was one page that would never disappoint you – the last one. For, in it, we would find a humourous column, which seemed interesting, not for the people that were spoken about, but the way in which the column was presented. Art Boochwalled’s column was the single greatest service The Hindu had done to us, in our growing up years (and later). I rush to The Hindu web page (a full day later) to check their homage to man whom they week after week, I find the breaking news filled with “Shilpa takes back racial abuse charge“.

Here’s Art’s farewell column “Goodbye, my friends

Several of my friends have persuaded me to write this final column, which is something they claim I shouldn’t leave without doing.

In one fell swoop, Karunanidhi (and his allies) has asked his councillors, elected last year to the Madras Corporation amid pre-meditated violence, to give up their election. This follows Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla‘s observation (in a split verdict) that the elections were questionable.

Justice S.J. Mukhopadhyay had dismissed the petitions citing a constitutional bar to entertaining public interest litigation on poll-related matters, which can be addressed only through individual petitions by defeated candidates.

But Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla allowed the petitions, saying it was an “extreme and extraordinary situation” warranting an extraordinary remedy. He ordered fresh elections in all the 99 wards under the scanner.

Sensing that this case could drag on for some time and (more importantly) end at a time that may not be favourable to him, Karunandhi has sought the resignation of his councillors. The DMK on a roll right now, has a better chance of [1] clearing it’s name (for good), [2] claiming that it acted ethically, on its own and [3] avoiding an embarassing defeat (by letting the High Court or Supreme Court fix the Election calendar, at an inconvenient time).

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IndiaGlitz has published a collection of rare photographs of M G Ramachandran. Rare, atleast on the web. I just wish they’d done away with dropping that watermark thing, bang in the middle of the photo. After all, the subject is not a heroine in a risque dress, that’s going to be pillaged by other websites answering Google’s call for “sexy tamil actress picture” (oops, I did it). 

After all the political mudslinging and debating about grants that the DMK had promised before elections, one scheme (it appears) holds hope that’s may be all lost in the skepticism.

Outlook:

While critics are quick to dub the LPG-cum-stove scheme as a populist move, it has many benefits. Rural women often trudge long distances in search of dry wood and other fuel. Such fuel is known to be a silent killer owing to indoor air pollution (IAP). According to a 2004 joint statement of WHO and UNDP, “Indoor smoke is a huge blight on the lives of rural women and their children.” India leads the world in IAP-related health problems with an estimated 5,00,000 women and children killed each year, accounting for 25 per cent of estimated IAP-related deaths worldwide.

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Sandeep Kulkarni in Dombivili Fast

No one can blame Madhavan for not trying. The Guy’s been trying out so many things to move away from that Alaipayuthae/Minnale image. Latest in his push to re-invent himself in an action/different/thinking-man’s hero, comes a very smart move. He’s bringing the Marathi ‘indie’ Dombivili Fast (with its Director, Nishikanth Kamat) to Tamil. Released in early 2006, Domibvili did not garner much attention in India, but it got (is still getting) rave reviews at Film Festivals overseas (even after being labeled as a homage to Michael Douglas’s Falling Down).

Here’s a BFI Film Festival synopsis of the film:

This multiple award-winning homage to Taxi Driver and Falling Down takes its name from the train station in Mumbai’s suburbs, where the film’s central character Madhav Apte commutes to his banking job up town. His high principles are challenged every day by corruption and double-dealing – when he takes his daughter to be enrolled at the local school the headmistress even requests a backhander. Adding to the pressure, his aspiring wife begins to chide him for holding the family back.

rajiv menon with his students img: MindScreen

In a pretty rare conversation, Rajiv Menon talks about the essence of Guru’s photography. It is quiet surprising that a Chennai-based cinematographer can reveal as much about his (and Mani Ratnam‘s) sources of inspiration.

What have you done with the colour scheme? … Our bible was an interesting book by a Turkish photographer named Ira Uhler — the Cartier-Bresson of Turkey — which has a lot of black-and-white photographs of the country.

During your preparation which are the films you looked at for possible inspiration for the look of Guru? Road To Perdition in a big way, where Conrad Hall won the Best Cinematographer Oscar. Then we looked a lot into Christopher Doyle’s work in In The Mood For Love in the way he has used hard light. And finally, for the wide angles, the look is very Amelie. You know the exuberance in the lensing gives a very hip-hop feel to the images.