Posted in Kamal Haasan, Politics - General, Uncategorized

Kamal Haasan – A Changing Story

“Life is a beautiful story, your story, and the best part of that story is when it changes.”

Kamal Haasan

And who better knows how to write good stories than Kamal Haasan?

Six months ago, if someone had asked me if I would be writing a blog post on Kamal Haasan’s politics and his political entry in February 2018, I would have not only laughed it off, but also ridiculed the person for fabricating such a scenario.

Looking back, to be specific, looking back at the past two to three years of Kamal’s life, both on screen and off screen, mostly off screen (since he hasn’t been doing much work on screen anyways), I am not surprised that we are at this transition point on February 21, 2018, the day he officially starts his political journey as a ‘practicing politician’.  As I string together the missing pages & connect the missing links, it is clear that after all, this is not such an emotional, sudden, and a path breaking transition for him. If you notice the transition now for the first time, you realize that the change has been going on for a while. Like the breaking of sunlight in the morning or boiling of water on a stove.

There have been enough hints in the past six months or so about his eventual political entry. But like many, I had chosen not to take them seriously or perhaps was blinded by my primary pinhole through which I have always been used to viewing Kamal Haasan, the influential movie star, the actor, the director, the literary connoisseur, the poet, the rationalist, the social commentator, and the passionate humanist. When it became very clear that the transition is for real, the rooted Kamal Haasan movie fan in me was very disappointed.

I was worried for the man and his eventual failure in politics.

True. I didn’t want someone I consider as a pragmatic intellectual and someone I have lot of respect for, being dragged into the kind of political dialogues and tricks that I am familiar with as the norm in Tamil Nadu. I wanted to protect the man from the operational rules of the political game and in general, how things work in Tamil Nadu politics.

Then I decided to give up on my selfish possessiveness as a fan. I didn’t quite accept the transition yet. But I was hoping that this would be more of a political commentary & social critic avatar that he would take, but in a structured way, much like the Voltaires of the world.  All the while, keeping his cinematic connections very much alive. A bit more political than a hardcore activist, but a little less bounded by the rules of the game than an electoral politician. I was fascinated by the thought of how he could pull off social vigilantism using simple tools, effecting micro changes which all could add up. I was dreaming and I even imagined a few mechanisms using which he could pull that off.

That dream bubble burst in November 2017, when it seemed very clear that he was actually serious about a more direct political route. One that involved building a party ground up and eventually contesting in elections. The exact kind of politics that I didn’t want him to get into.

Fast Forward to January, 2018.

I began to feel that may be my uncertainty around embracing Kamal Haasan’s political entry was completely uncalled for. It had become abundantly clear to me that Kamal has in fact been chalking out this path for a while. All the signs of him merging with mainstream politics were always there. But I just didn’t want to look at them. These signs were in fact all the more evident in the past two-three years or so, when I try to look at his life closely.

The man is 62 now. He has gone through a very challenging and an absolutely tragic two-three years. Separating from a partner, losing his professional mentor, losing his personal mentor & brother, surviving an almost life paralyzing injury, battling with the government politically for the release of his movie, etc.

These are enough to drain a man out or enough to make a man analyze his life.

“What have I achieved till now?”

“What is left that I want to achieve?”

“And what in it is possible to achieve in my lifetime?”

It makes complete sense to me that for a man like Kamal Haasan, someone who has never been shy of voicing his opinion on societal issues, what those questions may have meant when he asked these to himself during the past 2-3 years.

Fast Forward to February 21, 2018.

Even though I am leaning towards Kamal Haasan picking February 21, 2018 purely as a matter of convenience considering all other logistical details, knowing the kind of writer & movie maker who likes to play with metaphors and symbols, that he is, I can’t help but wonder, why choose February 21 for the launch?

February 21, 1953 –  It was on this day that Francis Crick and James Watson discovered the structure of DNA-molecule. The Watson-Crick model is the basis for understanding human genome. (They went ahead with sharing this information officially in a public manner only on Feb 28).

February 21, 1848 – It was on this day that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published “The Communist Manifesto” in London.

These are the two historic events that may symbolize Kamal Haasan choosing this day for his launch. Kamal being a staunch rationalist, and a strong proponent of science, there is every reason to believe that the DNA structure has a significant evolutionary symbolism as far as he forming a party & giving it a structure goes. And as for the communist manifesto, it’s quite obvious to correlate the significance.

But beyond the symbolism that the day brings, for me what is truly refreshing is to see his distinct approach to the launch of his political journey thus far. I can list many things to differentiate his approach thus far, but the one thing that has been acting as a huge inspiration and the one thing that has brought Kamal Haasan’s political journey closer to my heart, is his attempt to adopt villages and model them for future. I am sure I will have many things to say about that attempt, as that concept evolves into action.

For now, the very fact that a Tamil Nadu politician has dared himself to show results of his social consciousness and concern, without contesting in an election is reason enough for me to wish him well. Not as a fan. But as a keen political observer & as a social justice seeker.

And yes, I am no longer worried for the man and the man’s eventual failure in politics. Because I now understand that he wants to rewrite the definition of “failure” in politics. 

Posted in Poem, Politics - General, Uncategorized

The Next Step

A Poem for Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration

Each day as we go about our business,
tweeting past our older tweets, 
RTing some or not,
about to tweet or tweeting.

Each day we encounter each other in twitter,
words incoherent or ungrammatical,
incomplete or insulted,
words to consider, reconsider.

We know there’s something better down the road.
We gather our equality, pride, liberty and justice.
To walk into that which we cannot yet see.
To find a place which is safe for
Our intelligence, our rationality and sanity.

On the brink of twitter horizon, on the cusp of fake news explosion,
May we take that next step.

[Inspired by Elizabeth Alexander’s Praise Song for the Day]

Posted in Donald Trump, Politics - General

In Defense of Free Press

I am not a journalist. I am not affiliated to any press or any media outlet.  I am just a normal citizen of this great country of United States of America.

What America witnessed yesterday (Jan 11, 2017) during President Elect Donald Trump’s press conference (the first one he had after getting elected and the first one he had in last 5-6 months) is the beginning of the slow dismantling of Free Press.

I don’t care if you agree with a particular media outlet or a particular journalist’s opinion or not. You have every right to live in your own bubble and voice your opinion wherever.
But take a step back.
Kick that apathy out of the door for a second.
Keep your politics aside for a moment and ask yourself this simple question.

Why should any responsible citizen of this democratic country normalize this? If you say we should normalize this behavior and continue to give chances to this kind of behavior, do you even for a second realize what that kind of thought process leads to and more importantly do you realize by doing so, what values you as an individual will be passing on to your future generations?

Think about it. Read the history books to understand how every authoritarian regime around the world had come about.

Authoritarians don’t have any special power to create their regimes overnight. They feel the weakness of their citizens. They exploit them to their advantage. They understand the psyche of their subjects. They play to their vulnerable sides and take advantage of them .

And in the end, it is the citizens who succumb to the appeal and in the process pave way for an authoritarian to take over their lives.  It’s us who voluntarily let an authoritarian take over our lives and let them build a regime.

It’s time now. To Fight. To Speak up.

For the next few years, or months or days, however long it takes to stand up against this man and his administration, which will do anything to crush the values of democracy that this country built 240 years ago and the ones that we continue to make better every single day.  Because these values matter.

Let’s not forget that.

Fight for your right as a citizen and Fight for your fellow citizen’s right, equally.

And stand up for FREE PRESS.

Down with Authoritarianism and Down with Trumptarianism. 

Posted in Donald Trump, Humor - General, Politics - General, Satire

The Facebook Cabinet

A sneak peek into the first 7 days of President Donald Trump’s administration

If what we have seen of Mr. Trump till now is anything to go by, then we can expect the 45th President Elect of our country to disrupt how day to day activities of his White House administration are going to be performed. We have already gotten a hint, that he is going to do away with day to day press briefings. This means the entire White House press corps will be out of job. This also means there won’t be any WHCD, or will there be one without the President?

Also, my bet is on Trump to influence everyone in his cabinet to use social media for day to day administrative activities.

Here is a sneak peek into the first week of what the cabinet meetings/decisions/interactions would look like after Mr. Trump takes oath.

Jan 20, 2017

Mr. Trump, sends out a tweet in the morning, about how excited he is, how much he is looking forward to making America great again and why moving into the White House from Trump Tower is such a depressing thing to do for him. Then, he and his entourage, including his wife, children and grand children, make a grand entry into the National Mall area, either on a helicopter or on a horse drawn carriage with confetti. His hand picked cabinet is already there and they all are getting introduced to each other.

Then the oath ceremonies take place, including Kanye West singing the National Anthem. Ted Nugent follows it up with a two song performance where he uses an AK-47 as his percussion instrument. Then Andrea Bocelli brings the house down with 5 songs, that only about a dozen people seem to enjoy.

In the evening, Mr. Trump attends two presidential balls, both of which are telecast on facebook live. Kellyanne Conway is responsible for using Mr. Trump’s phone to do facebook live at both the balls. The evening ends on a happy note for team Trump.

Jan 21, 2017

The 45th President starts his presidential duties..

By 7 AM, he is getting on the nerves of Elaine Cho, the Transportation Secretary.

Jan 22, 2017

Rick Perry, the Energy Secretary, is itching to get some action.

Jan 23, 2017

Betsy DeVos, the Education Secretary has some big plans and she has been waiting for this day to make this announcement. As someone who has “devoted her life” for education and children, this is something she has really thought through.

Meanwhile, Scott Pruitt, the EPA Chief, much like Betsy DeVos, has spent most of his life working on Environmental policies, especially developing policies to bring catastrophes of the highest magnitude to this planet in the shortest possible time.

Jan 24, 2017

Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, someone who is not new to oil, is already working hard and has embarked upon his first official foreign travel.

The Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin is ready to make a big policy announcement as well. He has been working behind the scenes on this for almost two months and it’s time now to make it officiail.

Jan 25, 2017

Must be a slow day by Mr. Trump’s cabinet standards.

Jan 26, 2017

This is the day, all of America would be shocked and surprised. VP Pence, decides to share the big news. One that fulfils a campaign promise. Yes, that’s right. Mr. Trump actually fulfils a campaign promise in 6 days. Just 6 days.

Jan 27, 2017

The first week is almost over and who better to round it off than Tom Price, the Secretary of HHS? Another campaign promise fulfilled. Whoa!

Jan 27, 2017

James N. Mattis, the Defense Secretary, has been asked to deal with some “domestic” issues. But no one really notices the massive national security risk this may have imposed.

Towards the end of the day, the White House counsel steps in to declare the results of the first week.

What a week!

Note: If you are wondering how those ridculously high numbers of likes for certain posts or comments came about, here’s the secret…
It’s the Russians. They hack into everything.

Disclaimer: This is satirical work. All images were created using a photoshop like tool and the views expressed in the images are fictional.

Posted in Politics - General

The Woman, The Mark, The Legacy

And in the end, she couldn’t write a colorful ending to her own story, in her own terms, just how she would have liked.

J Jayalalitha (1948-2016)
                                                J Jayalalithaa (1948-2016)

Was 1981.

We were attending a cousin’s wedding in Madurai if I remember correctly and I was 8 years old. The wedding entourage from the bride’s side, including my family, were all put up in a series of tiled roof cottages, not too far off from the Madurai Meenakshi Temple.

The Fifth World Tamil Conference was happening in Madurai. A quick google search tells me that it was between Jan 4 and Jan 10. Our stay in Madurai had to be in that date range, because, more than the huge hoardings bearing the sign “உலகத் தமிழ் மாநாடு” along with the larger than life size images of MG Ramachandran (MGR) the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, what I remember distinctly more, was the generous placements of larger than life images of this one popular movie star, who was officially not a politician back then. She was a star, someone who had built a great on-screen chemistry with MGR as a co-star, playing mostly as his love interest, thus earning the goodwill of thousands of fans of MGR, the politician’s, but then, she was not even a registered member of AIADMK. Her role in the conference was that of an entertainer. Jayalaithaa and her troupe performed a stage musical drama called “Mathura Nayaki” on Jan 9.

And I was in awe of the swarms of people stretching kilometers, making a beeline to enter the open air stadium, where the conference was being held and I have strong memories of those tall floodlight arena under the dark sky. Amidst all that, somehow those huge billboards, with her images splashed all over, almost on par with MGR’s images, made a huge impact on me as an eight year old. Because, till then politics in Tamil Nadu to me, meant only MGR and M.K. Karunanidhi.

Was 1987.

Dec 24. I was in Nagercoil spending my Christmas break with my cousins when we heard the news. MGR, the man of the poor, the leader of the masses, the single most charismatic leader that Tamil Nadu had ever seen and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu had died. We had known this day was coming for a long time. Almost for 3 years.

By then, Jayalalithaa had already announced her arrival into politics in style. MGR appointed her as the Propaganda Secretary of AIADMK in 1983 (கொ. ப. செ.), a title not so familiar in the political circles back then. Soon, she contested in a by-election in the Tiruchendur constituency (an hour from Tirunelveli, where I was then) and became a member of the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly. She became a Rajya Sabha member in 1984.

She either must have exhibited an extreme sense of acumen for the world of politics that was there for everyone to notice and MGR was the first one to tap into it or MGR must have really had the vision of making her a successor in line, because he saw the potential of grooming someone like her in the political world. Don’t know which was closer to being true, perhaps both.

Now, let’s take a step back and remember, that the Tamil movie industry was not the friendliest places for a female actor back then, that too for someone like Jayalalithaa, who didn’t have a ‘male’ personal guardian or someone as a pillar of support from her family, as long as she was acting. So, to make a mark as a lead actor, without compromising on your values and to have your personality stand out as a female actor, must have taken some fortitude on Jayalalitha’s part. Of course, her fluency in English and fair knowledge of a couple of other languages must have given her an edge to stay clear of the competition, but at the end of the day, it took her strong personality to swim through the male dominated world.

Politics in the 1980s, in the post Annadurai era, when the Dravidian movement was at its peak, was a very interesting place to be in. For the uninitiated, let me say this..Unlike politics in the western hemisphere, politics in India cannot be placed on a linear spectrum ranging from “Liberal” to “Conservative” in traditional Left to Right terms. Not now. And definitely not in the 1980s. And especially, politics in Tamil Nadu, since Indian Independence, has always been very different. So, in that context, Jayalalithaa’s entry into politics was phenomenal. Just as it should have been. Just because she was a woman.

Call it the innate nature of Tamilians to accept a popular movie star as a capable politician without any questions.
Call it the love and adulation for MGR that the people had which translated into love and adulation for his lady love on screen.
Call it the simple admiration for someone MGR picked as his protege in politics.
Call it whatever you want.
The fact remains that Tamilians had the maturity, knowingly or unknowingly, to break the glass ceiling — just…like…that. And she did it with their help. And how!!

Barring the drama that ensued between Dec 24, 1987 and the time in 1989 when she was elected as the opposition party leader, she had complete control of her party and the party cadres throughout her career till Sep 22, 2016 when she was admitted to the hospital.

The reason why the politician in her shone was because she shaped her career herself after 1989. She was on a mission. She had a target and she worked towards it ruthlessly. Yes, she trampled on many people and sentiments in the process. But that was her. Comparisons ranged from Imelda Marcos (for her obsession with materials and for her authoritarian leadership style) to Margaret Thatcher (for being a strong willed woman like an Iron lady). But the truth is that she was not like any of them. She was one of a kind. She was a charismatic, intelligent and a focused leader with tons of fortitude. Fans and Detractors would agree that the most extraordinary thing about her was that she was a very refined and a sophisticated absolutist who managed to do all that she did in a democracy. As she famously said once, Indian states are nothing but glorified municipalities, she stood up for Tamil Nadu’s state rights at every moment she could. She was one of those few Chief Ministers in the country who stood up to the centre irrespective of the ruling party in the centre.

Unlike the Dravidian politicians of that era and specifically the Dravidian leaders such as EV Ramasamy (Periyar), Annadurai, MGR and Karunanidhi, to name a few, who went onto either become Chief Ministers of the state or ended up having an influential role in the state, Jayalalithaa didn’t have a similar background. She was born in an “upper caste” family and she was brought up in an upper middle class background. She didn’t experience the struggles that the other Dravidian leaders experienced in their early lives and she didn’t even grow up in Tamil Nadu for that matter, where the Dravidian ideologies were flourishing. So, there is a lot that can be pondered about the “Dravidianism” in her.

But she understood the essence of the Dravidian movement — which was to stand up for the poor and the “lower caste” people of the society. Keep fighting for them. Keep fighting for their welfare. If Tamil Nadu’s healthcare is a pride of the state, If Tamil Nadu’s educational record is still considered high when compared to other states in India, if Tamil Nadu is still on top of child immunization rates in the country and if Tamil Nadu still figures in the top 5 states when it comes to social welfare spending percentage (mainly education and healthcare), then you can pretty much attribute it all to the Dravidian parties’ policies, in particular Jayalalithaa’s. Now add to that, the innumerable welfare programs that were introduced for poor and women in particular, including the “Amma Unavagam” (a chain of restaurants run by the government with an aim to serve healthy, clean food for a nominal price for all customers), you know why she was revered the way she was.

To paraphrase something she said in an interview, her life could be divided into three phases. The first phase, influenced and shaped by her mother, the second, influenced and shaped by MGR and the final phase, one that was completely self made. It was during this phase, she, as an active learner and observer, took it upon herself to stand up to her critics quite comfortably, while she methodically executed what she wanted to do quite mercilessly.

Notwithstanding all the corruption charges, the disproportionate wealth assets lawsuites, etc., it is irrefutable that the legacy she has left behind simply through her achievements is huge. A legacy far larger than anything that movie star image which helped her take that first step into politics could have helped her. Step by step, she created a brand new path for herself, which many women can follow now.

Thousands and Millions will ride on her legacy for years to come. I guess very few in politics can stake that claim anywhere in the world.

And for someone like me, who grew up in the shadow of Jayalalithaa’s rise in politics and managed to see her till the end, there is no better way to say what her passing away means to me, than to simply refer to it as a void that will never get filled.


Posted in Poem, Politics - General, Uncategorized

Staying’ up High!


Staying up High

Cracking at the dawn
The daylight that’s gone
down the lane
Felt a tingling on my cane

Pitching for a cutter
Forking up a dollar
Teeming with delight
Trying to stand straight

Weakening of my knees
And the trembling brings some trees
Bringing it Bringing it Bringing it down
Earth is Bringing it Bringing it Bringing it down

Running for my life
Jumping in Strife
Thrusting up my chest
I am giving up with no protest

Searching for one life
Looking up the dead

Losing all my hopes
Will I be tossing all my ropes?
Mangling of the steel hive
Pulling out none alive

Staying up Staying up Staying up High
We all (are) Stayin’ up Staying up Staying up High!!

Posted in Donald Trump, Humor - General, Politics - General, Satire

Donald Trump announces his VP Pick

And surprises everyone

New York — (Fictional Bureau) May 20, 2016

10:45 AM

In what is widely being perceived as a surprise move, the leading GOP Presidential Nominee Mr. Donald Trump announced his running mate for the 2016 General Elections, catching everyone in his staff completely off-guard, once again. It was confirmed by Dr. Ben Carson, the chair of his VP candidates search committee, that even he was not aware of Donald Trump’s pick till the eleventh hour. Going one step further, Dr. Carson shocked everyone by stating that he hadn’t even heard of the running mate’s name till Mr. Trump whispered it in his ears.

The Republican Presidential candidate, on Tuesday, announced that his VP pick is an outsider just like him and is someone who will prove to the world how irresponsible the media has been all along on their manufactured stories revolving around his ‘alleged’ misogynistic behavior and divisive & discriminatory words and deeds. By picking a woman of Hispanic origin as his running mate for the 2016 general elections, the likely GOP nominee has perhaps made his first move to win the trust of both women and hispanic voters, amongst whom, he is currently polling at less than 5% nationwide as per the latest liberal media polls.

Juannita Millerina

No one knows much about Mr. Trump’s VP pick Ms. Juannita Millerina at this point of time, except that she was a 2002 Miss Universe contestant. Mr. Trump and Ms. Millerina worked closely together to fix the final outcome of that year’s contest, which Ms. Millerina eventually won. It is rumored that they may have developed a very healthy professional relationship since then, although very little information is available to indicate under what capacity Ms. Millerina may have been working for Mr. Trump or his Miss Universe pageant organization, all these years.

11:58 AM


Reliable sources confirm that Donald Trump’s VP pick is none other than Donald Trump himself posing as a Latino woman named Juannita Millerina.

We cannot confirm yet if it was Donald Trump who posed as Juannita Millerina to win the 2002 Miss Universe contest and if yes, then who may have posed as Donald Trump in the picture below.

Donald Trump with Juannita Millerina. 2002 Miss Universe Award Ceremony.
Donald Trump with Juannita Millerina. 2002 Miss Universe Award Ceremony.