2012 - Looking Back From Kolaveri to IIT, Chennai was in the news more than once, across the nation and the globe. Some of it gave us cheer, while others made us cringe. In the concluding part of a three-part series, Julie Merin Varughese does a round-up of who hit the right notes and who didn’t, in 2012

The year 2012 rode in on the back of the success of a song — Why this kolaveri di — that put Chennai lad, actor Dhanush, and, to an extent the Tamil film industry, on the world map.

It looks the year is set to exit the same way — this time, Nenjukulle and other songs from Mani Ratnam’s ‘Kadal’, which is to be released soon, are creating waves worldwide.

Nenjukulle, from the stables of Madras Mozart A.R. Rahman, debuted on November 3 and already has over 20 lakh views on Youtube. The movie also marks the return of 90’s hero Arvind Swamy who, incidentally, debuted in Mani Ratnam’s ‘Thalapathi’ in 1990.

In 2012, Kolaveri di, a song from the Dhanush-starrer ‘3’, continued to be the most downloaded ringtone for the second year in a row, according to a survey by Airtel Mobitude.

Much like Gangnam style, the Korean song that became a rage online this year, Kolaveri di spawned a range of spoofs and versions that quickly became popular across the globe. To date, the original Kolaveri di has over 6.5 crore views on Youtube.

Risky move?

This year was also crucial for actor-director Kamal Haasan, who has just wrapped up work on his latest project, the much-awaited ‘Vishwaroopam’.

The 58-year-old, known for experimenting and setting new trends, is ready to release the film on the DTH platform, a day ahead of its theatre release on January 11, 2013.

A bold venture, this initially met with resistance from distributors and theatre owners. But the actor seems to have convinced a section of the opposition.

It remains to be seen however, how the venture will fare. At an expensive Rs. 1,000 for a one-time viewing, the problem is not so much the cost but the response at a time when the State is reeling from an acute power shortage.

Chennai is probably the only city in the State that enjoys at least three hours of uninterrupted TV viewing. And the DTH experiment is not likely to succeed if the districts have to contend with constant power outages.

It is a risk for both DTH providers and subscribers, not to mention the superstar himself. An idea ahead of its time, perhaps? Sadly not, but for the circumstances.

A maestro honoured

On a brighter note, 2012 brought the Sangeet Natak Akademi’s highest recognition to legendary composer Ilayaraja who is famous for his melodious compositions that combine sounds from Indian classical and Western instruments. The musician has worked on nearly 1,000 films in various Indian languages.

But it wasn’t all song and dance for the city this year. Chennai made it to the national headlines on several occasions, cyclone Nilam and the Velachery encounter apart.

IIT-Madras, its director Bhaskar Ramamurthi and a couple of other faculty members shot to fame this year thanks to a few unsavoury developments.

The premier institution, expected to train young minds to spearhead technological advancements and innovative thinking, seemed to go retro and not fashionably, at that.

The management attempted to introduce regulations that restricted the movement of students, especially women, at night. Though students cried hoarse over the moral policing, the administration insisted the rules — such as a curfew of 11 p.m. for women students and increased surveillance — were intended to protect them.

The institute refused to engage in a dialogue with students over the matter. and worse, it suggested that escorts – male students – be provided to women students who desired to venture out of their hostels after the deadline. This apart, another proposal sought to ban women students from entering boys’ rooms.

The institute seemed to be propagating the very thinking that today’s society is struggling to battle and change.

IIT-Madras was in the news, yet again, for the wrong reasons in August. A news photographer, who reached the campus after news of a student suicide broke out, was attacked by a faculty member and security guards. The lensman ended up injured, but the institute stood by their actions.

Though Mr. Ramamurthi, tendered an apology to the press later, after journalists in the city raised a hue and cry, he insisted the photographer was in the wrong and claimed the faculty had only manhandled him to protect the dignity of women students on the campus.

One can only hope 2013 proves to be a little more empowering for students of IIT-M.

Power politics

Meanwhile, the year was struggles galore for another powerful lady on the block. The former director of Kalakshetra Foundation, Leela Samson, found herself the victim of institutional politicking and personal vendetta when her position as the head of the cultural organisation was challenged.

The Bharatanatyam exponent quit Kalakshetra on April 12, following reports of irregularities in the board and disputes over her age.

She was reinstated by the government in June following pressure from a section of the Kalakshetra board and artistes across the world.

Her comeback though was not as smooth as expected. A couple of petitions were filed by some staff members of Kalakshetra who questioned her reappointment. Following this, in August, the Madras High Court struck down her reappointment.

Ms. Samson continues to serve as chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification and of Sangeet Natak Akademi.

Political dramas played out on a larger platform too. March witnessed the comeback of V.K. Sasikalaa, close associate of chief minister Jayalalithaa.

She had been expelled from AIADMK in December, 2011. This is not the first time the expulsion drama has unfolded in the AIADMK. In 1996 too, Jayalalithaa had expelled Sasikala and her family members but they returned.

And hurrah!

Son of the soil Viswanathan Anand brought some much-needed cheer to the country when he clinched his fifth world chess championship title in May. He outsmarted Boris Gelfand in the 2012 edition, held in Moscow. Vishy is showing no signs of slowing down and the following year, too, could be his.

Here’s wishing the gentleman sportsperson the best of luck for defending his crown in the 2013 world championship.

Also flying the flag high is 21-year-old Dipika Pallikal. The squash pin-up girl from Chennai is the first Indian to secure a place in the top 10 of the World Squash Association rankings after stupendous shows on the Tour.

In August this year, Pallikal brought laurels to the country when she reached the semi-finals of the 2012 Australian Open, another first for an Indian. She was also a part of the Indian squash team that secured fifth place in the 2012 Women’s World Team Squash Championships.

Earlier this year, Pallikal was conferred with the Arjuna Award, not a mean feat for a young sportsperson trying to carve a niche in a relatively unknown sport.

Dipika, along with her friend and compatriot Joshna Chinappa, is credited with the surge in popularity of squash in the country. The racquet sport is bidding to get into the Olympics programme for 2020.

2012 has been a mixed bag of sorts, but hope has been pinned on the coming year with a slew of developments in cinema, arts, politics and sports set to take Chennai to new highs.

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