Chennai Journal
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Marty Heads Back

Today is a bummer day for us. Marty is returning to the U.S. early Monday morning, and we are not sure when he will be back. This is related to his business. When he was home in March, he reserved an efficiency apartment in the same building as our daughter Sara, and has started to purchase a few things online (Costco of course) so that we don't have to get into our storage. I will be going on home leave in about six weeks, so it won't be that long of a separation this time---but it will still be a big adjustment for both of us. From there we will have to play it by ear....always exciting being an international service employee!!

In other news, this week we were invited to the home of a Tamil film producer, Ram Kumar, who is in the same Rotary club as Marty. His father was a very famous actor named Shivaji Ganesan, called "the Marlon Brando of India" who starred in something like 300 films. He died about five years ago, and his children now live together in the large family home not far from our place, which is a veritable shrine of awards and pictures of the film star's life. Although none of Shivaji Ganesan's films are in English that I know of, everyone says that he was a marvelous actor, so I plan to pick up a DVD and try to follow one of the more famous movies, even though I won't understand but a few words of it.

This is election week in Tamil Nadu. The post of Chief Minister, currently held by former Tamil movie star Jayalalitha, is hotly contested. Jayalalitha, a Brahhim (highest caste) from Mysore, near Bangalore, has been in the job three different times. She was forced to resign in 2001 because of a bribery scandal, but came back 5 months later. She is one of the first people you "meet" when you come here, because her face is all over the place in billboards and other signs (even on walls as to the left) with the appellation "Amma" or mother. Her opponent, Karunandhi, is also from the film industry---but as a script writer. He has also been Chief Minister on several occasions. The Hindu polling is calling the election "too close to call," but to ensure that people go to the polls sober, the government has imposed "dry days" on the State from 4 p.m. on Saturday and today. The election promises by both sides are very interesting---free computers for students passing a certain test, free color T.V.s for the poor, free rice, and gold bracelets for girls ("certain categories") being married. More ominously, Karunandhi promises 3 lakh (300,000) government jobs.....
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Yes, Shivaji is a wonderful actor and sadly missed by Tamil film lovers.

His acting is sometimes branded as 'overacting'. He moved into films from stage acting(theatre) and justified overacting by saying that the common villager of India wants to see the emotions. I think you will find some of his films as overacting.

I suggest you try seeing "Paasamalargal", a black and white film,(meaning 'Loving flowers' to describe the bond of the lead stars) starring Shivaji and Savitri. It is a film about the bond of brother and sister with the typical Indian sentiments. It is a very famous film of Shivaji's and his acting is more subtle.

I can name many films, but I doubt that you will be able to appreciate them, as language/culture played a key role in Tamil films those days.

Here in Canada, there are Tamil DVDs with subtitles. I am not sure about India.

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