The Comedian Has Been Tied Down By Stereotypical Roles Till Now. That May Be Changing

Yogi Babu. (Photo courtesy: mwallpapers.com)

Rare is the movie that offers roles akin to a breath of fresh air to actors repressed by stereotype. Rarer still is the movie that helps such actors win over audiences by displaying a repertoire of skills they’ve never been witness to. To the Tamil actor Yogi Babu, both happened with Mandela.

All I could think of as I watched the wickedly humorous and brilliant political satire, which released on Netflix recently, was why didn’t we unearth this facet of his much earlier? …


Often, Indian Playback Singers Were Victims Of Geography, Restricted To Specific Regions. SP Balasubrahmanyam, 75, Who Died In Chennai On Sept. 25, 2020, Was The First To Shatter That Barrier.

SPB, the man with the booming voice.

There’s nothing that SP Balasubrahmanyam, popularly known as SPB, hasn’t achieved in the world of Indian cinema: he could sing, compose music or act in many languages. Equally prominent was his Midas touch: At one point of time, he was considered the de-facto lucky charm for actor Rajinikanth.

Throughout the 1990s, when the Tamil superstar was at the peak of his prowess, delivering superhit after superhit, it was SPB who…


These Were The Go-To Places For Those Who Wanted To Find Out What This ‘Internet’ Was All About

Coffee and computers-a smashing combination. (Source: Freepik/rawpixel.com)

This is the story of the growth and dominance of a tech empire in India’s IT capital, Bengaluru, followed by its downfall and obsolescence. We have seen it with the Romans and Greeks, or closer home, among the Mughals and Brits.

Hotmail and Sabeer Bhatia, Yahoo chatrooms, the Hollywood flick ‘You’ve got mail’ and the Y2K phenomenon. …


Some of India’s leading newspapers. (Source: Rajagopalan V)

As Indian media houses mercilessly cut salaries and jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic, I’m replugging a post that I had authored in 2014 when the situation seemed relatively placid. The usual disclaimer holds true: Certain journalists, media houses and public personalities that I held in high esteem then have, in my opinion, fallen off the perch.

Corporate treaties and paid news may be among the malaises afflicting Indian media, print in particular. Ken Auletta, in a riveting piece for The New Yorker, titled Citizens Jain, laid bare the phenomena that have consumed the fourth estate in the world’s second-most populous nation — and is a must read for every Indian journalist worth their salt.

Indian print media however, faces a bigger and unlikely adversary: the price-conscious reader. Readers who makes no distinction between content and price and wouldn’t bat an eyelid before switching to publication if it costs a rupee less. …


If The BMTC Today Operates The Maximum Number Of Buses In India, Credit For Its Revival Must Go To These Vehicles Of Wonder

One of the double-decker buses that the BMTC operated in the ’80s and ’90s. Source: BMTC

Much like tulips and the personal computer, the double-decker bus, too, has had its glory days. It followed a cycle replete with peaks and troughs, as commodities in the global markets do, with peaks becoming troughs, and eventually memories. And Bengaluru has had its first-person account with this phenomenon.

Double-decker buses once served as the identifier of mega-cities but economic prudence led to their being phased out worldwide. Pockets may remain — in Mumbai and London —…


Ilayaraja and Mani Ratnam. (Source: Pinterest)

Three stalwarts of Tamil cinema united nearly four decades ago to produce a movie that would be talked about for generations to come. Two among them celebrate their birthdays today: Mani Ratnam and Ilayaraja.

The Kannada movie Pallavi Anupallavi (1983) was a result of the collaboration between this duo and the veteran director Balu Mahendra—who was then fresh from the success of Moondram Pirai (remade in Hindi as Sadma). Ratnam, then a business school graduate and armed with a script, was scouting for producers and technicians for his first movie. …


Two vintage movie tickets. (Source: kstudio on Freepik.com)

Is Kollywood, the Tamil film industry, finally recognising that women on screen can be other than the shrew, the slut or the damsel in distress? I’m not sure, but two movies that I got to stream online over the past week gives me the confidence to say so.

Dharala Prabhu, the remake of Shoojit Sircar’s Vicky Donor, and the rom-com Oh My Kadavule, for a change, didn’t vilify women or portray them in poor light in even a single scene, making me rub my eyes in wonder. …


Poster of Varane Avashyamund. From clockwise, top: Suresh Gopi, Shobhana, Kalyani Priyadarshan and Dulquer Salmaan. (Source: www.nowrunning.com)

The Malayalam comedy-drama movie Varane Avashyamund, which released in the theatres and streaming platforms early this year, had the danseuse Shobhana reuniting with veteran actor Suresh Gopi after more than a decade. Normally, that should have been its talking point but outrage-filled, testosterone-themed social media had other ideas.

A scene in the film, produced by Mammooty’s son Dulquer Salmaan, who’s also a part of its ensemble cast, has one of its characters calling a dog “Prabhakaran”. And that was enough for a section of Tamil netizens to assume it was a slanderous reference to the slain LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran…


The Vidhana Soudha-Karnataka’s secretariat in Bengaluru. (Source: www.stock.adobe.com)

Legend has it that the word “Madrasi” — usually used a pejorative — refers to anyone living south of the Vindhyas. That includes the coconut oil-loving Malayali, the Reddy who can’t get through a single meal without Gongura chutney or the dark-skinned, lungi-clad Tamilian who speaks broken Hindi.

But even stereotypes seem to ignore an entire state and its people — Karnataka and Kannadigas. And that’s weird considering Indians love to reduce anyone and everyone to caricatures. …

Rajagopalan Venkataraman

Deputy editor at BloombergQuint. Writer by passion, turned to journalism after disenchantment with IT. Bylines in The Times of India, New Indian Express.

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