Thursday, Sep 23, 2021

Chennai Corner

It was amma’s day out on two occasions this week — but perhaps when it comes to her, it should be remembered as the week PC made nice with her

Chennai Corner
Chennai Corner

Fireworks, Amma-Style

It was amma’s day out. She played Queen Bee in Delhi— her third trip since taking charge last May— not only by taking off on the centre calling its attitude to states as being akin to treating them as “glorified municipalities” but also had it guessing with her high profile tête-à-tête with Gujarat CM, Narender Modi and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. While speculation ranged from whether the trio was plotting a fourth front, or discussing their strategy for the Presidential poll in July, no one was talking. Modi and amma have a special relationship, so he didn’t have to explain why he was meeting amma. But Patnaik claimed it was a courtesy call because, as he said, she was an “old family friend of my father’s.”

Whether it was a mere photo-op or was home minister, P Chidambaram ensuring that Amma’s words won’t sting him again— during her last visit she had said that he had committed “a fraud on the nation” by winning his Sivaganga seat in 2009 by foul play— he went across and made nice with her. The last time they were in the same space was in 1991 when she campaigned for him, and since then while he has always made it a point to call on DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, he has given courtesy calls a miss where she is concerned. Will it appease her now that the Mountain came to Mohammed after their bickering over the last few years? Time will tell.

Success, the Best Revenge

The other day out that Jaya had was on April 18 when she went to Oragaddam near Chennai to inaugurate Daimler India Commercial Vehicles’s state of the art manufacturing plant. She has in the past hit out at her detractors (read former CM Karunanidhi) over how her government has been frugal and not splashing out on her public engagements. In fact, she has chosen to inaugurate a range of things by video-conference.

But this one she made an exception for. It was because of her Vision 2023 document where she had promised to make Chennai the third most attractive investment destination in Asia. As she said at the inauguration, “My government is currently finalising a set of policy reforms that will translate my vision into reality. The New Industrial Policy 2012 will accelerate the pace of growth of the manufacturing sector to 14 per cent.”

For all those Doubting Thomases, here’s what she said: “Leaders make things possible. Exceptional leaders make them inevitable. When people doubt me (read Karunanidhi), I make them believe with my success. Success is the best revenge.” The DMK might say that reversing all its policies is what translates as success in her book, but that’s a whole different story.

One More Bout

The rivalry between former CM Karunanidhi’s sons which has flared up yet again since Stalin had a public meeting on Alagiri’s turf in Madurai last Sunday, has now been taken to the next level. At Stalin’s instance, the DMK has issued show-cause notices to more than 15 supporters of Alagiri for boycotting his public meeting After shadow boxing with his brother, Stalin is not only showing impatience but obviously even aggression in dealing with Alagiri’s barely concealed attempts to stop him from succeeding his father.

When Stalin was in Madurai, Alagiri, who made himself scarce by going off an a week’s trip to China, returned to Chennai to attend the high-profile launch of his daughter-in-law Anusha’s event management company Nefertari. The firm is named after Egyptian queen Nefertari Merytmut, the Egyptian queen who was one of the royal wives of Ramesses the Great. Why a family which shouts from the rooftop that it celebrates Tamil would name a company so is bewildering. But that’s another matter.

Stalin went to Madurai as part of his agenda to conduct interviews for filling up posts of the party’s youth wing. He’s been travelling all over the state to conduct interviews for the party’s youth wing. Earlier, he had stopped the Salem unit from selecting youth wing members as a fall-out of Salem strongman, Veerapandi Arumugam’s veiled support to Alagiri. Arumugam had criticized Stalin’s supporters clamouring for him to be made head of the DMK at that party’s general council meeting in February. The two leaders then made up before the Shankarankoil assembly by-elections in March just as Stalin and Alagiri presented a united front too. It’s now clear that it was all window dressing.

Stalin was reportedly cut up with the sparse attendance for the candidate interviews for youth wing posts, as Alagiri loyalists boycotted the interviews and also the public meeting. While the candidate interviews went smoothly for rural party posts on Saturday, in keeping with Alagiri’s orders, his loyalists kept away from the interview for the urban youth wing posts on Sunday. DMK leaders trucked in cadres from neighbouring districts to fill up an empty hall. Coming soon after, the boycott of his public meeting made Stalin see red leading to the show cause notices. His elation on watching his son’s performance in Oru Kal Oru Kannadi the previous night was marred by Sunday’s events.

Climbing Crime Rate

It is usually believed here that when amma comes to power, crime is in check because the CM lets the police do their job without interference. But the last few weeks, while the mercury has been climbing, so is the crime rate belying that presumption. Among the murders recorded in recent weeks is the one of a pawn broker, Ganesh Ram, whose throat was slit in his shop. It seems like a crime of passion made to look like a murder for gain by the alleged murderer who's been caught on CCTV but has yet to be arrested.

But what has saved the police the blushes is the arrest of two foreigners, a Dutch and a Mexican, who allegedly killed their Dutch and Mexican girlfriends respectively. Both the woman had been bashed to death.

The Madurai police cracked the case of the missing Mexican girl, Cecile Denise Acosta, after they found a partially burnt body in a water tank. A custody battle with Martin Monique (40), a boyfriend for 20 years, estranged now, over their five-year-old daughter Adela is said to be behind the murder. Cecile regularly visited Adela who stayed with Martin, who is doing research since July last year in Mathematics at the Kalasalingam university, at Krishnankoil in Virudhanagar district. Martin had even filed a missing report saying Cecile took the bus from Krishnankoil to Thrissur on April 9 but did not reach her destination. She had joined the Kalamandalam deemed university for art and culture to learn Mohiniattam last September.

The discovery of car tools which matched the car that Martin owned led to his arrest. The car was used to transport the body that was stuffed in a travel bag. The couple had allegedly fought when Cecile told Martin that she intended to marry a Frenchman and was going to take her daughter to live in France. Ironic and sad that it was the custody of Adela that led to the quarrel because now with her mother dead and father likely to be in jail for a long, long time, it leaves the five-year-old with no parents.

In the other case, in the last week of March, a Dutch girl, Johanna Cornelia Lambreta (35), a school teacher in Netherands, was allegedly killed by boyfriend Remco Elisabeth Martin Joseph (32), a boat mechanic, during a drink and drugs fuelled argument in a house (that Joseph bought a few years ago) near Mammalapuram. Joseph spent two days in the house with the body before their tour guide, who had been escorting them around since they arrived on March 10, outed his crime.

Too Young to Die

This year there have been 19 suicides— eight of them school students— on city campuses and 12 of them have been because of academic stress. The latest was the suicide by S Dhairyalakshmi, a 19-year-old civil engineering student of Anna University, this week who preferred death because she did not want to be a “waste” to her family because she was certain she would fail in her second semester exam. Her poor family could not even rustle up the money for a private ambulance to take her body back to her home in Villipuram district. Recently, Kuldip Yadav a student at the IIT, hanged himself in his hostel room, belying the counselling that had been kicked into high gear after the last suicide a few months ago.

Parent’ expectation seems to be prime reason because in most cases, the students had been scolded for failing/ getting low marks/ not preparing for an exam. A police officer confirms, “Parents are exerting enormous pressure on their children to realize their dreams.”

The figure should be alarming because last year, 84 students took their own lives. Another reason cited by Father Xavier Alphonse is that "unlike their school curriculum, the varsity syllabus is application-oriented, which is completely new to these rural students.” Therefore remedial courses are a must, but colleges, in their race to collect money, rarely conduct these courses which would provide the bridge from a school approach to a college approach.

Stalin is OKOK, Rajni Not So OK

One father celebrated over his son’s debut film as an actor while another was left worried that his daughter’s debut as a director bombed at the box office.

I am talking about Stalin and son Udayanidhi, whose debut film Oru Kal Oru Kannadi (OKOK) that released last week, has been a runaway hit while Rajnikant’s older daughter, Aishwariya, is having to face kolaveri from producers and distributors because the film she directed, 3, has tanked.

Udayanidhi, better known in film circles as a producer of Red Giant movies, has been declared as a hit hero. Considering, the DMK is not in power— if it was then the whole government starting from his grandfather (M. Karunanidhi) and father (who was the deputy CM) would have pulled out all the stops— Udayanidhi, a father of two, has given his cinema-loving family much to celebrate.

Rajnikant’s reputation as a stand-up guy who returns money to producers and distributors if his film turns out to be a dud is taking a beating as he is having to shoo away a long line outside his door clamouring to be compensated. His office finally put out a statement that since the superstar was not connected with the revenue generation of the film, he will not compensate distributors for losses.

The international hype created by Kolaveri di led distributors to gamble on a film dealing with bi-polar disorder. Even the reported off-screen romance between Rajni’s son-in-law, Dhanush, and Kamal Hassan’s daughter, Shruti, did not help sell the movie except the first show. “The next show saw a 50 per cent drop, and the one after that saw a 40 per cent drop in ticket sales,” rues a distributor. Although Dhanush, reportedly in the dog house at home, claimed the movie was a hit, he has been contradicted by distributors in TN, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Telugu film producer Natti Kumar says he spent Rs six crore on the Telugu distribution rights, but recovered Rs 1.70 crore. In TN, distributors claim they have lost Rs 20 crore while in Karnataka, the loss was Rs 2 crores.

“After the hype created by the song, as distributors we expected a great movie and so we took the gamble,” admits Dr Kalidas, who distributed the film in North and South Arcot as well as Chengalpet. Overseas Indians’ too did not take to the movie with reports of collections in the US, UK and Malaysia dropping by 50 per cent. Why this kolaveri di? should be Aiswariya’s anthem.


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