It all happened in Coimbatore. The city was abuzz and suddenly there were so many things to do. We often found ourselves spoilt for choice – “Should we attend this concert, or should we take in that art show? A movie at the multiplex? Or a street food festival? Stand alone restaurants, crafts exhibitions, boutiques, a shopping mall, music, dance, movies, puppet shows, contests, seminars…the calendar was full. There were award-winning plays and movies, fusion concerts and classical fare by national and international performers and haute couture and designer jewellery.
In the midst of all the fun and excitement, there were also quiet but determined movements by the people that made life more meaningful for the young and old. Schools went off the beaten track and exposed children to things other than the three ‘R's, such as film screenings, plays, theatre workshops, story-telling sessions and heritage walks. Some of the city's students won accolades in photography, sports, quiz contests and music competitions.
College students, especially, showed tremendous social responsibility and creativity as they organised awareness campaigns about serious issues, made hard hitting films, worked at uplifting lives of those less privileged than them, and, of course, had fun too in the process. Farmers, environmentalists, doctors, social workers and just simple folk like you and me took it upon themselves to make a difference. Better road safety, a friendlier environment, more birds, cleaner public spaces and, most importantly, a safer life for the children became the focus of a lot of activity and work.
The MetroPlus Coimbatore team was fortunate as it had front row seats in many of these endeavours. MetroPlus had the honour of meeting these entertainers, educationists, social workers, environmentalists and just committed folk and writing about them.
Here are just a few of the highlights of the year gone by. A year Coimbatore and its people can be really proud of.
Child Sexual Abuse
An association of NGOs and individuals calling itself the Coimbatore Collective put up huge hoardings at prominent locations warning people about Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). Coimbatore Collective aims to spread awareness amongst people about CSA and urge them to be more pro-active in preventing it. A team of clinical psychologists, paediatricians, social workers and counsellors are available to advise, support and guide teachers, children and parents who need information or help against abuse.
Contemplate Art Gallery organised art awareness programmes for school children. Works of famous artists art were displayed for students to see. Contemplate also regularly screened films/documentaries about art and artists and told children all about taking up art as a profession.
April 15 was declared Transgender's Day by the State government. Transgenders, young and old, gathered together to celebrate the occasion. Some of them shared their success stories with the others and motivated them to better things. In another initiative, transgenders Shilpa and Karthik Priya who are trained in videography and editing under Tamil Nadu AIDS Initiative's empowerment programmes, filmed a short movie made by students of Sri Krishna College of Arts and Science. It was about the stigma HIV-positive people faced in society.
Childrens' Science Circle
A group of students of Kadri Mills Higher Secondary School, led by 12-year-old S.A. Soumya formed a Children's Science Circle that conducted a survey at Irugur, about how much of plastic households and shops there used day to day. They organised plastic reduction campaigns and processions and raised slogans against the cutting of trees. The Circle also organised a Science exhibition for the children of Irugur where they planted saplings in the area. Some members of the Circle won accolades for their school projects at the National Children's Science Congress.
Pasumai Farmer's Club, formed by 25 farmers of Perumpathy village under the Farmers' Club Programme of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development won the State-level Farmers' Club Award for 2009-2010. Pasumai combined technology with traditional farming methods and enjoyed rich yields. The members interacted with farmers from other states, held meetings and group discussions, shared their experiences and showed what team work could do.
Environmentalists from groups such as Oli Awareness Movement, Save Coimbatore Wetlands and RAAC among others came together to form the ‘Tree Authority'. Aimed at putting an end to the indiscriminate felling of trees in the city, the Tree Authority had the following as its main objectives:
To preserve, increase and improve the green cover of Coimbatore.
To safeguard and protect the existing tree cover
To prevent indiscriminate and illegal felling of trees
Book donation campaign
Bookseller A. Mohammed Musthafa decided to collect books for Corporation School libraries. The book donation campaign generated over 1500 books. Of these books, 150 were donated to two NGOs – the Centre for Social Education and Development, Avanashi and the Make a Wish Foundation. The rest of the 1200 books will find a place in the library of the Corporation Higher Secondary School, Peelamedu.
The drama bug bit Coimbatoreans, and the city buzzed with theatre related activities. Young groups such as evam and Stray Factory held workshops and staged plays with a predominantly local cast and crew. Productions such as Stray Factory's “Hitchcock” and “Kovai Shots”, evam's “The British-Indian Mash Up” and Coimbatore Book Club Theatre Group's “A medley of short English plays”, and Coimbatore Art and Theatrical Society's evening dedicated to R.K. Narayan were well received by the city folk. Students of Sri Krishna College of Arts and Science performed street plays on socially relevant issues such as HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, child labour, blood donation, road safety and transgender rights. The second edition of The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Fest, held in August this year, saw seasoned actors such as Lilette Dubey, Vinay Pathak, PC Ramakrishna and Indrani Krishnaiyer perform for theatre fans. The plays staged this year included the award-winning “The Interview”, The Madras Players' “Doubt”, “The Blue Mug” and Girish Karnad's “Wedding Album”.
There was an upsurge of young people making short films in the city. Arun Karthick, a student of Karunya University whose first independent film “The Backwaters” made the international film circuit, shot his second film “Transcendence” that was screened at the famed L.V. Prasad Film and TV Academy in Chennai. Ganesh Kumar Mohan, Venkat Sundar and KB Prabu of Greenhorns Films, a production house based out of Coimbatore, screened their short film “Oorukku Naalu Peru” at Corporation Kalaiarangam and in a few other cities to a houseful audience.
Breast Cancer awareness
To help women in the early detection of breast cancer, Dr. P. Guhan, Director of Sri Ramakrishna Institute of Oncology and Research in association with Reddy Laboratories came out with a C.D. called “Awareness for life”. This nine minute C.D. available in four different languages— Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and English— was distributed at the Ramakrishna Kalyana Mandapam on October 15 and 16 in honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The C.D. with step by step instructions on Breast Self Examination is now available free of cost at The Sri Ramakrishna Hospital.
Friends V. Deepan and R. Muthukumar , on a two-year all-India expedition to document organic farming, set out from Coimbatore on a bike. They gave up cushy jobs to visit organic farmers in 28 States, covering nearly 40,000 km and documenting their odyssey. The two friends plan to bring out a reference manual to link all organic farmers.
Coimbatore got its first multiplex, SPI Cinemas' thecinema@Brookefields, with six screens in all. Convenient ticket counters, plush seating, and tasty snacks made it quite a hit. Added attractions were red carpet events with a sprinkling of stars, and paid premieres a day before the official release.
Tinseltown also came calling. Promoting a film in tier-2 cities became the mantra. So, actors, directors, producers, and technicians visited film halls and interacted with the public. It helped them get a pulse of the audience. It also allowed the adoring audience a chance to get up close and personal with their matinee idols.
The city also played host to the audio launch of the much-hyped “Nanban”, directed by Shankar. The lead actors — Vijay, Jiiva and Srikanth — were present, as were actors Prabhu, Sathyraj and director S. A. Chandrasekhar. This was followed by Harris On The Edge, music director Harris Jayaraj's live show that boasted top singers and hi-tech production values.