January 21, 2021
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So what's the true story behind the story of Rajnikanth's blockbuster Endhiran? And what is it about the DMK band of brothers?

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Chennai Corner

Band of Brothers
With elections just six months away, the brothers are bonding big time. Recently, they were photographed with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when deputy CM, M K Stalin went to Delhi on official work. Days after AIADMK chief J Jayalalitha taunted that he needs a visa from brother Azhagiri to go to Madurai, Stalin showed up in Madurai last week. And to prove amma wrong, there was much bonhomie between the two brothers. And as far as we know, no visa was sought, or given.

In addition to the brothers, there was a sister too, to add to the family atmosphere. Not Kanimozhi who is still seen as a member of the “other house”. It was Selvi who accompanied Stalin. Nothing like a wedding in the family – Azhagiri’s son Dayanidhi (called Durai) is set to tie the knot with lady love Anusha on November 18 – to act as a glue even though Azghagiri has made it clear that he will not accept his younger brother as party leader. He continues to make himself conspicuously absent at events so it is noticed and commented upon. And more to the point, embarrasses father, Karunanidhi. 

Stalin’s official reason for dropping in on his brother was to inspect Tamukkam grounds, the venue for the wedding. Azhagiri was there briefing Stalin about the stage arrangements and security measures during the marriage. And to complete the bhai-bhai picture, Stalin went to Azhagiri’s house for lunch. So, for the moment at least, the brothers have proved all political pundits wrong that the DMK is headed for a division after the patriarch’s lifetime. 

A champion of women?
Karunanidhi likes to pat himself on the bank that he is instrumental in breaking the glass ceiling for women. And in order to do that he’ll point to the fact that he made Letika Saran the Director General of Police, and recently made S Malathi, the chief secretary. Thus Tamil Nadu for the moment has two women bureaucrats at the helm. I say for the moment because Letika Saran has less than a month to go before she has to step down after the Madras High Court struck down her appointment.

Karunanidhi had ignored the seniority of several other contenders while appointing her several months ago. But, two of the officers, S Natraj (now fire chief) and Vijay Kumar (who now heads the CRPF) challenged Letika Saran’s appointment leading to the quashing of her appointment. The government challenged the high court verdict before the Supreme Court, but the Apex court refused to stay the verdict. A few days ago, the government sent a fresh list of DGP candidates to the UPSC and we should have a new DGP by December 7 in addition to the 24 additional DGPs the state has.

Coming back to Karunanidhi’s so-called championing of women, he said recently: “Only those who can’t be happy at the growth of women will go to court. Mediapersons who support them (those who went to the court) should ponder whether those who are interested in women’s upliftment would have done it (projecting women as he did).” But if he was such a champion, how come his own daughter, Kanimozhi, who has been an MP for at least three years, had to step aside while he sent his son, Azhagiri, into the union cabinet? Azhagiri, who is so reluctant to be in Delhi, whom Jayalalitha said should be in the Guinness Book of Records for not only the shortest speech in Parliament but also for being so inept in his ministry!

Labour ferment
With elections just six months away, Karunanidhi has been raining sops on every section. But when it comes to labour, he seems to have no magic formula. This year, Tamil Nadu which has the maximum number of factories in the country  at 21,042 employing about 15 lakh people has seen a resurgence of labour trouble in many auto and telecom units. It seems to be linked with the left parties exiting the DMK’s rainbow alliance. TN is known for auto majors (there are seven of them) and other industries rushing here to set up shop. The deputy CM Stalin is the face of industry here which was accentuated recently with his trip to South Korea and China recently to woo investors. But the other side of this coin is the trouble in factories. As on March 31, 2010, TN had 11,583 trade unions and counting if one takes into account all the left’s activities. That’s why Karunanidhi is very visceral when he attacks left leaders today because all the sops he is doling out become neutralized when you have strikes in Hyundai (April/May 2009, June 2010), Nokia (January and July this year), Foxconn and NLC.  

So who wrote Endhiran?
They say success has many fathers and so it is with Rajnikanth’s Endhiran. Its director Shankar might barely acknowledge that the story was inspired by Sujatha’s novel En Iniya Endhira, but those claiming the film, that has been declared as a blockbuster, was actually plagiarized from their story are many. Even before the film was released a Madurai-based advocate Elangovan said the story was his and sought the restraining of the film’s release. That did not happen. He claimed that he had published a poem under the pseudonym Silamban in Naveena Oodagam, a quarterly literary journal run by him, in October 2004. According to him, it was a scientific poem that talks about the creation of a doll that is brought to life, but the doll, as in the creator Frankenstein's case, becomes a monster. But the courts were not impressed.

Now there’s another petition before the court demanding Rs 1 crore damages from the film's producer, which happens to be Sun Pictures owned by Kalanithi Maran. The petitioner this time is Aarur Tamilnandan, who says that he had penned Jugiba in 1996 and it was published in a magazine Iniya Udayam' the same year. It was published again with his permission in another magazine, Thik Thik Theepika, in 2007. Prior to the civil suit he had met the police commissioner, T Rajendran with the same complaint: that his story was about a scientist, Robin, and his robot Jugiba. It is also about the robot’s human characteristics including how Jugiba  falls in love with  Robin. For those who have seen the film, it’s a familiar story and no wonder the writer has prayed before the court that he should be declared the author and copyright-holder of Endhiran.

Less than a week later there was novelist PS Arnika Nasar who met the police commissioner and claimed that the core story of Endhiran was stolen from his story published in 1995 in Maalaimathi, a sister journal of Kumudam. “I am the sole proprietor of the robot-industry story. I never gave any rights to anyone for making a movie out of my story. Shankar has intentionally stolen the core story of my novel and made it into a film. This is against the copyrights act and I request the city police commissioner to take legal action against Shankar and other persons responsible for making the film,” Nasar said in his complaint. An inquiry is still on.

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