Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXXIII No. 1, April 16-30, 2023
One of the advantages of writing on Chennai is that things move so slowly that articles remain relevant for years on end. Take for instance the story on the Chennai Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority (CUMTA) – Madras Musings carried the news about its creation in its issue of November 16, 2010!!! Only thirteen years have passed since that announcement and now we are happy to inform you that CUMTA has finally become reality. It is just that in the intervening years we have had the small matters of the city growing manifold, of the Metro Rail being conceptualised, planned and partially executed, and other random, unconnected transport initiatives. Imagine what the benefits would have been like had CUMTA been in existence since 2010. It is one of those what-ifs that Chennai’s history is liberally dotted with.
The reasons for the delay are not hard to seek. The idea was mooted in 2010 and then there was a change in regime. All plans of the previous dispensation were therefore pigeonholed, to be retrieved at an appropriate time, as and when the power equations changed. The electoral mood did not shift for over ten long years and so CUMTA hibernated. Now that the party of 2010 is back in power, CUMTA too has been dusted off and happily for us, finally given shape also. This is the tragedy of Tamil Nadu politics – that public utilities and plans for civic improvement
Almost the same week that the Prime Minister inaugurated the new terminal at the Chennai airport – reportedly a grand facility with an equally grand price tag of Rs. 1,260 crores – another piece of good news surfaced, this time for the city’s bus commuters. News broke of CUMTA (Chennai Unified Metropolitan Authority) placing on record its recommendation for CMRL
Chandralekha, perhaps the most-remembered film of Gemini Studios, completed 75 years since release on April 8 this year, for it was on that date in 1948 that the movie was first screened. Now why should that be commemorated? Well, it happens to be the first South Indian film to become a pan-Indian hit. It was only after it that S.S. Vasan came to be recognised as a producer on par with those in Bombay.
He came into my life in rather interesting circumstances, sometime in the late 1990s or maybe early 2000s. I had begun writing on music and Chennai history a couple of years earlier and was forever in searching of out-of-print books.
In the pre-liberalisation days, there were many Chennai-based Davids who were ready to take on multinational Goliaths. Cutfast Abrasives promoted by Chennai technocrat U. Mohan Rao was one of them. Abrasives, which are essential for engineering industries, were manufactured by three multinationals – Grindwell Norton, John Oakely Mohan and Chennai