Category Archives: Languages and Politics

Vishal, producer’s council and YouTube reviews

The recently concluded producer’s council elections in Kollywood was laced with lots of controversies. Like the Nadigar Sangam elections actor Vishal was in the midst of the action surrounding the election. This article is not about the elections and let me conclude by saying that Vishal was elected as the president at the end of it all. The topic I wanted to touch was the press conference the new members of the council had after the win. Vishal who is the president requested the online reviewers to postpone their reviews by few days to help the movie industry.

It was an odd request to be frank. In this day and age, asking few YouTube reviewers to postpone their reviews isn’t going to stop people from voicing their opinions on social media. If Vishal and the new members think that things can be returned back to the olden days with the reviews being postponed, they are living in a dreamland. Let us for example take 90’s as a case study. I am not a movie historian and don’t have statistics but from my experience (Since that’s the decade I am more aware of), there weren’t so many movies releasing every week. We used to wait for big festivals like Pongal, Tamil New Year and Diwali to see big star movies. Only during such big festivals we used to see multiple movies release at one go. Now coming back to the current decade, there are 3-4 movies release every week. It is even hard to keep track of what the movies are and who is acting in it.

The producer’s council should first regulate the amount of movies being made and make sure that the movie they are producing has decent content. Releasing 200+ movies in a year is not going to help the industry. Some movies which release are so amateurish that it is hard to sit through. New producers wanting to enter the industry need to be educated as to how to choose a script before investing a huge sum of money. It is always easy place a blame on a soft target such as YouTube reviewers and call them as a reason for decreasing audience in the theatres but the truth is far from it.

Reviews are personal opinions, people are free to express their opinion in any platform they want. They are the people who go and spend money to watch the film. It’s not like all films are ripped apart, movies like Managaram, 8 thottakal, Bahubali, Aandavan Kattalai, Power Pandi, Pizza, NPNK etc. all got overwhelmingly positive responses from the reviewers. This is the age of good content and if the industry is producing mediocre content, they cannot cry about decreasing audience. I am not talking about piracy here, which is for a completely different topic. People are going to look for review before watching films and that is going to continue. No one is going to stop that. Taking a family of four to the theatre is an expensive ordeal. People would want to make sure that the expense is worthwhile. When we go to a store, the first thing we do before buying a product is to look for reviews. If majority of the users of the product have given positive reviews people purchase that product. In the age of digital media, you are never going to fight that.

If the content is good most of the reviews are going to be favourable. People do look at multiple reviews before making a call and if a movie is good not everyone is going to bad mouth a film. The producers need to get together and think about what they are producing and what content is being screened to the public. If you want people to watch films, reduce the number of movies being produced, produce good content, educate new producers to invest smartly and give the films enough time to publicize their content before release. These would some of the solutions to get the audience to the theatres. By asking reviewers to postpone their reviews, you are basically saying that even if the movie is bad, since we invested, let the people spend the money like they did in the 80’s and 90’s before they found out that the content was horrible. Sorry Vishal, that is not a solution and audience are never going to fall for that.

Chennai Floods – Impact of Social Media and the real heroes

Actor Siddharth (Left) and RJ Balaji (Right) started the relief work in Chennai with their #ChennaiMicro movement

Actor Siddharth (Left) and RJ Balaji (Right) started the relief work in Chennai with their #ChennaiMicro movement

When I first heard about the incessant rains in Chennai I had no clue about the devastation it had caused to the city I grew up in. When I later looked at the videos and photos it was really heart breaking. It really pained me that I was not there and was not able to help the people in need. This was the time I read an article and found few of the twitter posts by actor Siddharth and RJ Balaji. I do have twitter account but I hardly use it. Let me be honest, I am not a big social media fan. Even though I have Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc… I hardly use it.

Now when I logged on to twitter and looked at the posts and the number of people involved in making a difference I was completely inspired. I decided instead of feeling bad for not being present in Chennai during this time, I can do something worthwhile. So there began my involvement in doing something useful to help the people in need. The twitter proved that if used well social media is the most powerful tool in the current generation. I was able to help out people providing useful information or guiding them to the right contact being here in the US which would have not been possible like 15 years ago.

The other thing which was amazing was the number of young volunteers who were involved in the relief work. It was really inspiring to see how much they were working hard to help the people in need. I met lot of very good people and was able to help a few of them with their needs. It was truly amazing experience to be part of the work which was going on in full swing with their relief work in Tamil Nadu. The kind of pictures we saw of the floods meant that these volunteers braved their way in conditions which were extremely dangerous to help the people who needed food and supplies. There are not enough words to thank these countless volunteers who made the difference during these testing times for the state.

We need to thank actor Siddharth and RJ Balaji who started this movement and used the social media via their #ChennaiMicro movement to reach out to people. They have been brilliant and their team has done some amazing work in the Chennai and Cuddalore which were the most affected. The Tamil film industry in unison was completely involved in the relief work and it was brilliant to see how they were ready to help anyone who needed any supplies. I would also like to mention Khusbhu, Vishal, Vishnu, Karthi, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Karthik Kumar, Singer Suchitra, Shanthanu and countless others who joined the movement and were not only in social media but also were in the field helping people in need.

These are the real heroes. No amount of thanks can repay the efforts they put in during the time of adversity to help the people of the state. The people of Tamil Nadu have once again proven that humanity is bigger than any religion, caste or language.

I am so happy that I took to twitter a week ago as otherwise I wouldn’t have been so close to whatever relief work was happening in TN. I really want to salute all the heroes who decided to leave their homes and go on the streets and help people in need. I would also like to mention the countless brothers and sisters from all over the world (not only from India) who donated generously to help the relief work. The spirit of the people of TN has been heartwarming. Even though we were not getting much attention in the national media, the people brushed it off and helped themselves to recover from one of the largest natural calamity the state has faced since the tsunami of 2004.

I am really proud of my state and my city. I am really proud of the Tamil film industry. This has been really a rewarding experience and I would like to keep myself involved in every way possible in the state’s rehabilitation work.

Unity in Diversity, really?

This article remains relevant due to the constant issues in India based on religion, caste etc..

My Thoughts

Well I was in 10th standard when I first heard the term “Unity in Diversity” in my civics class. That was an attempt to teach the kids about the greatness of our country and the different languages and cultures India posses from Jammu to KanyaKumari. It was 15 years ago and when I look back now I feel what have we learnt? We are still fighting based on language, religion, region and what not. So what does that one chapter in the book accomplish?

India is a country with a beautiful history and tradition going thousands of years back. The country is made of 28 states and speaks thousands of languages and dialects with 22 of them being official. Each state in India almost has their language as an official language other than English of course. So the country has lots of divide from various avenues. People eat different, look…

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Isn’t it just common sense?

People talk about creative freedom, secularism but for me it boils down to just common sense. The things that have been happening in Tami Nadu are unfair on the brilliant creator that is Mr Kamal Hassan. I am a big admirer of Kamal Hassan’s work. Let me be clear I am no fan boy. I love good cinema and Kamal Hassan has provided that in abundance.

When Viswaroopam released and when I learnt that it deals with terrorism I did not expect it to create such a furor. We have had countless movies releasing in India on similar themes, so I thought this movie will be considered one among them but that is not to be. Viswaroopam was banned by Tamil Nadu government and subsequently by other governments in India and abroad.

I can’t believe that in this day and age people actually believe that a movie can cause security issue. It is sad that one of India’s finest creators has to suffer due to some political agenda.

Kamal Hassan has talked about moving out of Tamil Nadu and even the country if the justice is not served. It will be a shame for the nation/state if such a thing happens. Creative people like Kamal Hassan are nation’s pride. The kind of jewel we all need to cherish and celebrate. India is the only country where their legends are treated with so much contempt. The government needs to wake up and put an end to this madness.

The creative freedom on an actor and creator needs to be upheld. It is sad to see the great man talking about bankruptcy and losing his home. It is even astonishing that the government hasn’t done anything to avert this situation. The perplexing thing is that the Tamil film association has kept mum on this issue. Few actors including our superstar have voiced in their support but as an association they should have stood behind their own.

It is nice to see the support of the fans for the movie. I hope that everyone continues to support the movie and keep our beloved icon in his home state. I hope that the Supreme Court intervenes and overturns the ban on the film. An icon like Kamal deserves better and we cannot let the constitution down.

Kamal Hassan is one of India’s finest actor/director. He has given us numerous classics and is very much responsible for taking Indian cinema overseas.

Celebrity Vs Common Man

Shahrukh’s recent brawl with the MCA (Mumbai Cricket Association) staff and the security personnel has made the headlines all over. It seems as though the film personalities cannot keep themselves away from the media albeit for the wrong reasons. I was obviously not at the scene of the incident nor do I know what exactly happened and who was at fault. But in India justice and law is different for celebrity and for a common man. Everybody starts judging the common man based on the arrest. Common man probably loses his job for his antics. His life gets turned upside down.

Common Man:

Common man’s kids play on the ground. Security personnel man handles them (According to what Shahrukh told the press). Common man gets angry, screams at them using lots of expletives and pushes them around. MCA staff comes in gets a mouth full from the common man. Police come in and arrest the common man, put him in jail.

Celebrity:

Celebrity’s kids play on the ground. Security personnel man handles them (According to what Shahrukh told the press). Celebrity gets angry, screams at them using lots of expletives and pushes them around. MCA staff comes in to pacify, gets mouthful from the celebrity, even the ACP isn’t spared. Celebrity walks out of the ground free with his family. Comes out and gives press statement. Celebrity gets banned from entering the ground for 5 years. His colleagues and well-wishers (also celebrities) extend lots of support giving character witness. Chief Ministers and BCCI chiefs get involved and ask the MCA staff to call truce, drop the charges. Everything is hunky dory for the celebrity, life is back to normal. Gets great publicity for his upcoming movie releases (if any).

This is India for you.

Satyameva Jayate has its heart in the right place

Aamir Khan’s Satyameva Jayate previewed last Sunday


Aamir Khan’s “Satyameva Jayate” has for sure been the talk of the town since the first episode aired last week. The show obviously has the heart in the right place. Aamir Khan’s show is just trying to create awareness and nothing more than that. There have been various shows in the past on the same lines but this is the first one with a premier star hosting it. Vijay TV (Star TV’s Tamil network) had a similar program with actress Lakshmi at the helm. It had the same concept but obviously not as high profile as Satyameva Jayate.

First things first we need to appreciate Aamir for taking such a show to venture into television. At least he has the intention to take the already known problems to the living rooms of the people. At least this will get the people thinking. There have been lots of articles online about the show and there have been criticisms. The criticisms are unwarranted as this is a TV show with a social message. Take what you can from the show and if possible change the way you look at the issue or else just consider it as an awareness show. Don’t expect Aamir Khan to be the messiah to save people from their troubles. No TV show or movie can accomplish that. It always lies in the hands of the individuals.

This is the problem with the Indian society, we are extremely defensive. If someone points out an issue in the society we will not believe and if someone points that out with the statistic we expect them to do more than that. It is always someone who has to change things. Life is not a movie where a hero will come in and abolish all the social evils that exist. The TV show is supposed to make people aware and since it is hosted by a celebrity it will grab the attention of the big leaders too which might actually help the people affected. The message will also reach the masses as at least they will watch this to see their star Aamir Khan hosting it.

It is a known fact that India only listens to celebrities. The two journalists who took so much risk in exposing the doctors running these centers did not receive any help from the government. This is absolute appalling and the fact that they are made to run around to different courts in Rajasthan is even more ridiculous. As soon as “Satyameva Jayate” aired on TV Rajasthan chief minister took action on the sonography clinics, shows how even the politicians listen only to movie stars. But we can be happy that something came out of the show.

The only thing I would say that female feticide is a serious issue in India and Satyameva Jayate has just brought it to light and obviously the seriousness of the issue. There are many other social issues which need to be tackled in our country and these sorts of shows are the need of the hour. Instead of criticizing the show I would be happy if the people try embracing such shows by trying to bring some change in the society. We don’t need to question the intention of the show but just look at the good things the show might do. It is like this when some celebrity or a millionaire does some charity we don’t appreciate them because we think that it is done to save on taxes, but we need to think that at least they did charity and the money went to some good cause. How many of us will even do that?

We think that life around us is rosy and nothing is wrong with the society around us. There is no need to get defensive about our country. Unless we embrace the issues we cannot eradicate them. The country grows and improves only if the issues are tackled. India as a country for ages has always ignored the serious issues and we always want to live in a fantasy land. If we see a video of child labor in India we cry and then complain why that video is even put online instead of thinking of ways to help those children in some way. We only think why someone posted that video to disrupt our great, smooth life. We don’t want to even think about issues faced by others nor do we want to help anyone. The only thing we can do is write some articles to criticize someone who is at least doing something. He might not eradicate female feticide, Child labor or various other issues in India but at least he is trying to educate people.

Satyameva Jayate is a show which is the need of the hour. Take the show for what it is. Try to think that the show is to educate people rather than a one which is started to make sweeping changes. There cannot be a Robin Hood who will come in and eradicate all the problems and especially a TV show which will never accomplish that. I like the show and I think it deserves all the accolades it is getting and definitely does not deserve the criticism. I would like to ask all the writers who have questioned the intention or the effect of the show as to what they have done to tackle the social issues in India, have they even written about it before the show was aired? Think about it and you will get the answer. As of now Aamir has done as great job with the first episode and I hope that he continues to tackle more such issues and people living in defensive mindset realize life isn’t as rosy as they think. This is not a movie, this shows real life and real people and we need to realize that these people are around us.