We from the Chennainews family wishes all of you celebrating a very happy and prosperous Lutchmee Pooja. However hopefully with Covid restrictions you will be observing this at home and not in crowded venues. Surprisingly I don’t see people here with the red strings.
We are also in the middle of Madras week celebrating 382 years on August 22nd. Madras day commemorates the founding of the city which was a collection of small villages, Madraspattnam being the most prominent. The Municipality is the oldest one in the commonwealth outside Britain. Normally we would have a number of events to celebrate this week but now due to restrictions it has toned down to a few online events.
Netrikann (third eye) is a Tamil movie on Disney Hotstar and stars Nayantara in the main role. Durga (Nayantara) a CB-CID officer loses her brother and her sight in a freak accident. She learns to survive on her own despite her disability. Her biggest test comes when she is asked by an out of depth police officer (Manikandan) to help him track down a psychopath (Ajmal Ameer), who kidnaps and tortures women and had a previous encounter with Durga. The rest of the movie is a cat and mouse tussle between the two protagonists. Nayantara totally owns this movie and carries it on her shoulders. There were also some good acting by the character artistes like the Manikandan and Saran the young friend who helps them.
Monster on Amazon Prime stars SJ Suriah and Priya Bhavani in the main roles. I did not want to watch this movie as the name put me off. However, the monster in question is a just small rat who proves to be anything but “small”. Anjanam a disciple of Vallalar is someone who respects all forms of life and has to pit his wits against a rat in his house. In this confusion a criminal enters the fray as he had hidden some diamonds in the flat as the previous occupant. In the background is the new relationship between the somewhat oldish Anjanam and the beautiful Megala. The movie is an engaging comedy and Karunagaran as the friend adds to the humour. The BGM by Justin Prabakaran is just too brilliant and also the songs especially Sid Sriram’s Anthimaalai Neram.
Spin is a movie in English on Disney Hotstar about an Indian family living in the US. Rhea (Avanthika) is a 15-year-old who helps after school in her Dad’s restaurant. She lives with her dad (Abhay Deol), Grandmother (Meera Syal) and younger brother Rohan (Aryan Simhadri). Her mum who was a musician had passed away a few years ago. Rhea who inherited a feel for music from her mum meets new kid in school Max (Michael Bishop), an aspiring DJ who shows her the basics of scratching, mixing, pitch control and back spins. I also learnt the basics watching this movie. However, this new hobby causes an inner struggle between time spent here and in the restaurant. When she is let down by Max, she decides to enter a local DJ competition. Director Manjari Makijany has given us a beautiful film aimed at children and teens and those like me who are young at heart. Avantika is just delightful. With sparkling eyes and a smile, she glides through the restaurant with as much ease as she finds her groove behind the mixing console
I received a somewhat irate letter from a childhood friend of mine from Durban who was quite agitated by his experience at a family memorial service recently. He was appalled by the priest who said all the mantras in Sanskrit in what was a very traditional Tamil family. This guy remembers (as do most of my age group) that in his youth all prayers in the Tamil community were done in Tamil only. It is the advent of the priests from Srilanka and Tamilnadu that Tamil has now given way to Sanskrit.
A few days later I read in the local newspaper here that the Tamilnadu government has appointed 24 non brahmins, who had trained for many years, as temple priests to conduct prayers in Tamil. The irony is that these priests who had qualified ten years ago was ignored by the late Jayalalitha when she became CM. Unfortunately, some of them had passed the age of 35 and are thus not eligible for an entry level position. Maybe temples in SA can employ them. In another first the government has appointed 28-year-old Suhanjana as the first fulltime female Oothuvar (Singer of sacred Saivite songs) in a temple in Chennai.
I had enquiries from many people asking as to what was happening to the Southside Radio. Remember I was unofficially told by one of the trustees a few months ago that the station will start broadcasting in June or July. It is now well into August. However, the people concerned at the station do not seem to be concerned in anyway in informing us as to the current status. As money was collected from the South Indian public an explanation is needed.
The percussion community of Chennai is getting ready to celebrate the birthday of Ghatam artiste Vikku Vinayakaram. He is instrumental in bringing the ghatam from the fringes of the background to the main stage. After accompanying many prominent vidwans he received international recognition when in 1975 he joined the East-West fusion band Shakthi with John McLaughlin, L Shankar and Zakir Hussain. Equally at ease in both Carnatic and western music he was part of Mickey Hart’s ‘Planet Drum’ which won the Grammy in 1991. There is no doubt that when you see a ghatam you immediately visualize VV.