Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXX No. 1, April16-30, 2020
It seems as though it was only yesterday that we at Madras Musings bade farewell to our founder, S. Muthiah. The Chief, as he was known to those who worked closely with him, held this publication close to his heart and it was his dearest wish that it should flourish even after he had gone. We are happy that we have striven to do just that.
Had he been around the Chief would have been happy to see that support for Madras Musings continues unabated – the corporate sponsors see value in continuing the publication, the subscribers add their mite to this and we keep getting requests for being added to the mailing list, this despite it being almost seven years since we first made it to the web. The Chief would have also been happy to note that his flock of contributors remains intact and keeps supplying articles for publication. We express our thanks to regulars such as N.S. Parthasarathy, Pavithra Srinivasan, Karthik Bhatt, Ranjitha Ashok, Geeta Doctor, Dr. A. Raman, Vincent D’Souza, Sashi Nair, V. Ramnarayan, Partab Ramchand, Dr. Chithra Madhavan and R.V. Rajan among others. And we also express our thanks to the Chennai Willingdon Corporate Foundation that takes care of the accounting and administrative nitty-gritties, Mot Juste Communication Services Pvt. Ltd., that has been doing the page layouts and the web updates, and of course Lokavani, our printers in whose offices Madras Musings took birth. It is a team comprising all these individuals and institutions that brings out Madras Musings without fail, fortnight after fortnight. Above all, we would be failing in our duty if we did not thank those readers who regularly communicate with us – a pat on the back here, a kick in the rear there, all of it well deserved and keeping us on the move all the time.
Of course, this a strange period that we are going through – the whole world in some form of lockdown and we in India in one that is even more stringent, rightly so given the nature of the pandemic that is ravaging almost all continents. Even someone as particular as the Chief would have understood the sheer impossibility of bringing out a print edition of his beloved publication under such circumstances. He would of course have, in his inimitable style, drawn an immediate parallel with something similar that happened in the history of our city, sometime in our distant past. Why don’t you do a piece on it he would have asked one of us, expecting us to rustle up the story in a jiffy. He had all the facts at his fingertips and thought we were similarly gifted.
“We received a call from a migrant who asked for help to purchase baby formula for his three-month-old twins before the shops closed. We transferred the money in half-an-hour,” said Aruna Subramaniam of Bhoomika Trust, as she explained the plight of migrant workers stranded in the city.
“They are figuring out our helpline and reaching out to us. Our volunteer teams deliver ration kits to help them,” she said.
The unprecedented Covid-19 lockdown has left the city’s migrant worker population without safe access to essential supplies, even as they struggle with the resulting loss of livelihoods and funds. Most hail from West Bengal, Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Nepal, and are employed in blue-collar work that support local industries like manufacturing, textile and construction. They are unlikely to have a ration card, making it unable for them to access the relief package of supplies and money distributed by the government through the public system. While the administration races to put together a plan for this particularly vulnerable segment, NGOs like Bhoomika are coordinating with the government to provide timely support. Apart from donating provisions to government-run relief centres, they are also involved in direct outreach to migrant workers through the supply of ration kits.
This has reference to the article Not much Gaiety in its history, featured under the Lost Landmarks column in MM Vol. XXIX, No. 23, March 16th, 2020. I am providing some more information below which may be of interest to your readers.
The Star of East Films studio run by Venkayya and Prakash had the Raja of Pithapuram, Sir R.K. Shanmukham Chetty and Dewan Bahadur Govinddoss Chaturbhuj Doss on its Board of Directors. Bhishma Pratigna, their first film and directed by Prakash, featured Peggy Castello (an English/Anglo Indian girl), Bunny Osten (a European), A. Narayanan (later of General Pictures Corporation Studio), and Prakash himself (as Bhishma). Sir Ramaswami Aiyar presided over the preview of the film at Gaiety, Madras, and it was later screened at the Majestic Cinema of Bombay.
Well, Chief, it’s been a year.
Still trying to process that.
The instinct to make that morning phone call is yet to subside, as is the impulse to share a nugget of a story with your mentor.
What to do, as some people say.
Chief, you won’t believe the mess we’re in right now.
15 August 1975. The Chennai TV station was inaugurated by V.C. Shukla, Minister of Information & Broadcasting. TN Governor, K.K. Shah, was another important guest.