Monday, 10 January 2011

Southern Star

Once Rajnikanth and Kalanidhi Maran had a gentleman's wager about the salaries they took home every year. The loser would have to wear a wig, and dance with a ridiculously overhyped actress in a ridiculously expensive movie which turned out to be absolutely rubbish. Guess who won?

And although this may not be as ostensibly relevant, you might try guessing who the highest paid CEO of India is. And while most of the names thrown around may be big, and weighty, like Mukesh Ambani, or that CEO of Hero Honda who doubled his pay just before Hero became Hero and Honda became squat, these names are just names. Or another question, slightly less tautological, maybe, who the most powerful media tycoon down south is(Rupert Murdoch analogies are patent here)? These questions are largely unanswered, or answered with specious information.

As anybody who has ever landed at Chennai Central may tell you, the south of India is a whole different poppadum. They have some of the richest people, living in some of the most exclusive homes, in some of the best localities in some of the most habitable cities of India. Some of them make news...others are news...some are gods, others are bigger.

Some countries have a healthy attitude of cutting superstars down to size, with criticism, paparazzi, tabloids and slander. This attitude is remarkably absent in India, where all media engines are geared towards portraying superstars as better than you think, and simply, Better Than You. And that's why people love superstars, because they are so much better, so much more good looking, so much richer, maybe even so much fairer than us,the commoners. In a country where inanimate statues of gods are given more respect than the human beings who make them, it is little wonder that all we want is someone to worship. Or that Kalanidhi Maran, the 37 crore rupee wonder CEO of Sun TV and now, SpiceJet, can tell the people down south who exactly god is.

For a bit of contrast, Mukesh Ambani, richest man in India, takes home a salary of around 15 crore rupees. And Mr. Maran also has a Mrs. Maran, who cashes a cheque of the same amount, by virtue of her post at Sun TV. Which is all fine and dandy. And he also has a brother, Dayanidhi Maran, who is now a textile minister of some sort in the UPA. WHat the fuck does a textile minister DO anyway?!

And while Kalanidhi may control all opinion and news, or at least the major part of it down south, it does not mean he is as spineless as most media barons are (Barkha Dutt..anyone). He has routinely fallen foul of the political god down south, M. KArunanidhi, with disastrous results for his vox populi newspaper.

While down south may have a parlance of its own in terms of lascivious innuendo, it is no doubt a world of its own where India is concerned. And while divinity may be the same, and we may worship the same idols in temples, it is not incorrect to assume that the moguls of the south are just as poles apart from the north as the proverbial magnet.


  1. Just check family line of M. Karunanidhi. It is full with corporate house CEO and ministers.

  2. I suspect that is just a way the Karunanidhi family launders its ill-gotten money. Anyway, a lifetime in politics is enough to make Karunanidhi a multi-billionaire...