October 25, 2020
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It was just a matter of time before the 2G scam inspired a film. First off the mark will have Lakshmi Ramakrishnan playing Kanimozhi and Singamuthu playing Azhagiri...

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Chennai Corner

Art imitates life

It was just a matter of time before the 2G scam inspired a film. First off the mark is journalist John Manohar who will direct 2G Spectrum which will have Lakshmi Ramakrishnan, who is usually the glam mom in several films, playing Kanimozhi. Kanimozhi, a Rajya Sabha MP, is currently in Tihar jail after being charged as a co-conspirator by the CBI in the 2G scam. The film which went on the floors last Sunday, will be based on Spectrum case, concentrating on Kanimozhi’s role in it.

There will be a Niira Radia, the corporate lobbyist, who was heard talking to a range of politicos, businessmen and journalists to fix cabinet postings. Her telephone conversations with Kanimozhi was crucial proof of the latter lobbying for former Telecom minister, A Raja. Radia is going to be played by Malaysian actress Shanthini while Riaz Khan will be A. Raja on the screen. Singamuthu, apparently is in talks to play the CM’s elder son, union minister for chemicals and fertilizer, M K Azhagiri.

What an irony that Singamuthu should be sought after considering the AIADMK fielded him to campaign against the DMK — with very little success, I might add. (It's Jayalalitha who made the magic in the ballot box!) He was brought in as a foil for another comedian Vadivelu, who turned out to be star campaigner for the DMK. Political analysts were disgusted that DMK chief Karunanidhi drafted Vadivelu and put up with all his antics and airs (he was commissioned to take on Desiya Morpoku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) chief Vijyakanth and some of what he said was seen as being in very poor taste) ignoring the party’s hoary tradition of having excellent speakers. After the election results, Vadivelu had to go into hiding, a far cry from the campaigner who drew large crowds wherever he went.

But that’s another story. The point is Lakshmi is very charged up about the role she will play in 2G Spectrum. “I am an artiste. I have no qualms about playing any role which is inspiring, irrespective of whether it is fictitious or a real life character,” she was quoted as saying. One must add that with the DMK and the Karunanidhi clan’s grip on Kollywood loosening, now that the AIADMK has come to power, even a film which is bound to show the former CM’s favourite daughter in poor light can not only get made but can even find takers. If you do not believe me, ask all those in the film industry who distributed sweets, burst crackers and generally celebrated when Sun Pictures’ Chief Operating Officer Hansraj Saxena was arrested last week because he had put small producers out of business.

Dilson was a child labourer

Dilson, the boy who was allegedly killed by a bullet from retired Lieutenant Colonel Kandaswamy Ramaraj’s rifle on July 3, apparently slipped through the cracks as far as NGOs campaigning against child labour are concerned. The 13-year-old not only had dropped out of school after his fifth standard but was doing several odd jobs till last month when he was employed at a plastics manufacturing unit.

Dilson worked to help out his family which included six children and a father (M Kumar) , a diabetic, who stopped going to work because of his health. Dilson did small jobs at different places before joining the plastics manufacturing unit. If the child went to school, it’s quite likely he would not be out stealing mangoes and almonds, incensing the officer who apparently snapped, after months of warning the kids not to steal, and allegedly shot the boy from his balcony before dropping his unlicensed rifle and a box of bullets in the Cooum so that he would not get caught.

Dilson’s mother Kalaivani, who was given her dead son’s salary by his employer, is very proud that the boy had learned (from someone at work) the previous week to write his name in English. Maybe if the family’s circumstances were different, Dilson might have been able to write whole sentences in English and probably even speak in English. She will never know. She says, “A lot of children from our neighbourhood go there (the the Fort Glacis Army Officers’ Enclave) to pluck almonds. It was the first time my son went along.” He was obviously at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Raja of Medicine?

Among all the land deals – which the CM Jayalalitha says were illegally made by the Karunanidhi clan and DMK ministers – is a piece of 26 acre property at Odhiyam village on the Perambalur-Ariyalur highway that was proposed for a government medical college and hospital by the DMK government. In fact, while making an announcement in the 2008 budget, the then government even said the building for the college and hospital would be ready within a year and even students would be admitted.

But now the Jayalalitha government has rejected the site, which was incidentally donated by the Velur Andimuthu Chinnapillai Charitable Trust, run by former telecom minister A Raja, who is in Tihar jail since February for his alleged involvement in the 2G scam. “We do not want to start the project there as we are unsure of the dealings that went on in the previous government,” sources said. This appears to be an extension of Jayalalitha’s promise to punish those behind land grab and restoring property to rightful owners.

Even when the project was announced by the DMK government, it was amidst swirling allegations that Raja and his associates had grabbed large swathes of land in Perambalur. Sources say that Raja, when he was Telecom minister, had written a series of letters to the Tatas asking for a donation of Rs 51 crore for the college. It appears that the corporate escaped coughing up the money because the Karunanidhi government had not yet got the Medical Council of India’s approval for the medical college.

Jayalalitha should also look into allegations by Dalit farmers of Naramangalam village in Raja’s constituency who have accused him of land grabbing. They claim that Green House Promoters (the MD of which was Sadiq Batcha who is alleged to have committed suicide) tricked and coerced them into selling their land at 3 to 6 per cent of the prevalent market prices two years ago.

Amma’s Right Moves

Incidentally, Dalits are very happy with Amma because she has allocated Rs 78 crores for Dalit Welfare Hostels where Dalit school and college students stay. Of the nearly 2000 such hostels in the state, as many as 1059 are in poor shape – “virtually like godowns”, says Professor C Lakshmanan of the Madras Institute of Development Studies – with poor sanitation, and are also derelict. The new government has allocated this to keep one of its manifesto promises. Although there are critics that say that the new government has made a “mess” of education by deferring the implementation of Samacheer Kalvi (Uniform Syllabus), there are some who say amma is “making the right moves.”

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