A week’s suspense over T


By T S Sudhir

Will a new state of Telangana be carved out of Andhra Pradesh? Justice B N Srikrishna has handed over his report to the government – 10 months after he was appointed head of a special committee to talk to different political parties and “all sections of society.”

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Waiting for the T-result


By T S Sudhir

The Srikrishna Commission is expected to give its report on Telangana to the Home Minister on Thursday, and Andhra Pradesh is on edge. Security has been stepped in the state to avoid a repeat of last year’s violent protests.

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30 hours of Congress hunger


By T S Sudhir

Mission accomplished after 30 hours of a hunger strike for the Congress MPs from Telangana who had taken on their own government in Andhra Pradesh. Ceding to the pressure, the government announced that all 1667 cases against students who protested either for or against a new Telangana state have been dropped.

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Skipping food to press for T


By T S Sudhir

Hunger strikes are very much the go-to strategy for politicians in Andhra Pradesh trying to make any sort of point. Chandrababu Naidu’s eight-day hunger strike demanding better compensation for farmers affected by floods overlapped with Jagan Mohan Reddy’s 48-hour fast for the same cause. Now, it’s the Congress that’s turning away food – for Telangana.

(video of the story)

Kamal’s been-there-done-that


By T S Sudhir

The scene where Kamal Haasan draws the maximum applause in Manmadhan Ambu is ironically where Ulaganayagan (Universal Hero) Kamal does a Superstar Rajini. The flick of Rajini’s trademark cigarette, glares or chewing gum is replaced by the mobile phone. Perhaps Kamal’s way of `connecting’ to his friend-cum-rival’s fans !

Unfortunately, that’s perhaps the only different act Kamal, without a doubt, one of India’s finest actors, has done in Manmadhan Ambu. MMA is the kind of movie that will make you feel as if Dr Kamal Haasan has decided to study in class five again. It feels like a been-there-done-that kind of  Christmas-New Year offering from Kamal. Nothing new that stands out in it.

He virtually sleepwalks through his own rather ordinary script, that offers nothing called a challenge to him or Trisha. Incidentally, Kamal has done more than half a Dasavatharam in this KS Ravikumar offering. Besides acting, he has sung two songs and also written the lyrics, story, screenplay, dialogues. He also ensured all the actors rehearsed for the movie for several weeks before the actual shooting, something unheard of in Indian cinema.

Does the effort show on screen? Nay, not really. Kamal for most part looks bored, the justification being he is doing a detective’s job (snooping on Trisha for a suspicious Madhavan) purely to raise money for his friend’s chemotherapy. There is no chemistry between Kamal and Trisha and you never quite realize when they fall in love.

The `Anbe Sivam’ pair of Kamal and Madhavan is probably a touch more engaging. Not that the two are face-to-face in the film, save the climax. Maddy’s role is the more challenging of the two. And his main co-stars in the film are his cellphone and Bacchus. No wonder, Maddy is in high spirits even on twitter as he tweets : “Thankyou all in the fraternity for wishing me for my drunkard act in MMA and sending me ALCOHOL to show your appreciation.’’ The hangover of doing a film with Kamal has to linger, I guess.

It is Sangeetha who is the real female lead of MMA. The actress carries her Pithamagan kind of form into MMA and packs a punch with her comic timing and has the better lines too.

Don’t go expecting a Panchatantiram from the Kamal-KS Ravikumar combo, for you will be disappointed. MMA has starting trouble and one hour into the film, you are desperately waiting for the comic fireworks to start, given that the film has been marketed as a laugh riot. The riot, when it happens post the interval, leaves you with a feeling of being shortchanged.

What KS Ravikumar offers by way of compensation is a glimpse of some marvellous foreign locales, shot beautifully by Manush Nandan. Kamal’s Virumandi even travels to Barcelona, with Kamal showing he can tame the Spanish bull with as much dexterity as at the Jallikattu. And Universal Hero hints he is a polyglot by speaking in French as well.

A couple of highlights of the film are the way technology connects people and makes this a small world that you almost don’t notice it. It happens so seamlessly.  And the ability to move away from a stereotype and melodrama while depicting a divorced woman with two kids. That to me was a welcome change.

An entire song has been picturised by pressing the rewind button and the audience at Prasads Multiplex in Hyderabad, where I saw the film, clapped to show its appreciation for this rather hatke and ingenious way of presenting a flashback.

The problem with MMA is as much with Kamal as with the audience for you expect nothing short of brilliance from this Master of all trades. In MMA, Kamal has shot the `Cupid’s arrow’ (which is what Manmadhan Ambu means) rather lazily. Go without expecting a world record in archery !

 

You can also find T S Sudhir’s blogs at http://www.thesouthreports.com

Naidu in the fast lane


By Uma Sudhir

 

I went to see Chandrababu Naidu inside his room in Hyderabad’s NIMS hospital on Thursday afternoon. He was lying on his side on the bed, covered till the neck, no pillow to rest his head, his eyes on the door from where there were an unending flow of visitors.

 

Naidu nodded to me to walk in when I stopped at the doorway. Seven days into his fast, Naidu looked as expected, extremely exhausted, drained. But his eyes to me looked as usual, sharp, taking in all that was happening around him.

 

“Doctors say your health is getting affected. There are high expectations from you. You should give up your fast, Mr Naidu” I whispered, involuntarily, pulling down the mask that all visitors were being given before entering Naidu’s room. Naidu was barely audible, may be he had a hint of a smile, when he whispered back, “Let us see. Let us see what they do.”

Naidu’s wife Bhuvaneswari was also in the room. A small-built, gentle looking lady who has always come across as cool and composed, very much preferring to be a behind-the-scenes person, smiled courteously when I asked her “Didn’t you try to convince him?’. She replied, “He doesn’t listen.”

That perhaps is the way Chandrababu Naidu has always been. And that perhaps is why he rose to the heights and managed to stay as chief minister for close to nine years. And that perhaps is also one reason why he lost power.

One thing I have never doubted about Naidu is his determination and the ability to work hard towards what he sees as the end. And that’s why I am not surprised that he has not agreed to give up his fast. Doctors had expressed apprehension that though his yoga and discipline keep him quite fit, the sodium-potassium imbalance could cause the likelihood of a problem in his heart valves and he could suffer a cardiac event. He may even go into a coma, his party colleagues said.

By evening, even as I write this, Naidu was forcibly shifted into the ICU with police help.

“They are not allowing any of us near him. He has refused intravenous fluids. Only the police is with him, so we don’t know what’s happening,” a close confidante of Naidu told me over the phone.

I don’t know what it is about the Gandhian weapon of fasts that has caught political fancy in Andhra Pradesh. May be because it has been found to reap political dividends. K Chandrasekhar Rao’s fast last December that resulted in the hastily worded statement announcing formation of Telangana by P Chidambaram being the latest success story. Of course, the Centre also regretted the statement almost immediately but by then the damage had been done. Vijayawada MP L Rajagopal, followed suit, though making a mockery of his fast, by sprinting into NIMS hospital. Jaganmohan Reddy, did a T-20 like abridged version, going hungry for 48 hours this week.

 

Why a fast by a leader is expected to move and affect the way a country where a vast majority is perennially hungry is quite unfathomable. Presumably, it is because political battles and elections are rarely fought on real issues. It is only emotive issues that are whipped up with the help of a willing or unsuspecting media.

Given Naidu’s image in the past of not being the Andhra farmer’s best friend, most people are cynical of his fast for the farmers cause. TDP leaders admit they expect the state to go to polls in 2011 and this fast, they will hope, will help Naidu get a teflon coating, a brand new image and the halo of a martyr. Naidu knows that as well. The next elections, whenever it is held, will be make or break for Naidu and this fast is an attempt to hack into the Congress rule in the state.

 

“All of them fast one after the other claiming it is for us, the people. They promised Swarna Andhra Pradesh but have converted Andhra Pradesh into Andolana Pradesh (perennially worrisome state),” commented my driver as we drove back from the hospital.

I suspect many in the state may agree.