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Thursday, July 15, 2010


Power, passion and energy are the three words that can be used to best describe the drumming extravaganza organised by Jus drums.

Vani mahal was abuzz with activity. As I meandered down the space separating the two divisions of the auditorium, I realised that the hall was jam-packed and finding a place to sit proved to be quite a menacing task! As I quietly grabbed an elusive seat, the show got off to a rousing start with a clean rendition of the song that’s slowly establishing its stranglehold as the Tamil anthem, Semmozhi. Expectations graduated to the next level when the host, Drums Murali, who also happens to be the man in charge of the troupe, announced that the next song to be played would be Rakkamma kaiyya thattu from Thalapathy. The announcement did raise a few eyebrows, as it’s known for the highly intricate nature of the prelude and magnitude of difficulty in playing the song live. But the invigorating initiation settled all doubts and the troupe owes the scintillating response for the song to its lead keyboardist, Karthik Subramaniam. Karthik and his counterparts breezed through the toughest parts of the legendary song with consummate ease and élan.

Next up, it was time for All drums, an avant-garde performance that appealed to all sections of the audience. All drums was just that, an extraordinary exhibition of various percussions that had shades of innovation and improvisation painted all over it. The recital awakened the audience to the various traditional percussion instruments. The effort was evident and the experience, a pleasurable one but they should have worked on curtailing the length of the song. This was followed by yet another Ilayaraja classic, the divine Kalamkalamaga from Punnagai Mannan, which stood out for the energy-filled rendition by the female lead. The evergreen engeyum yeppodhum from ninaithaley inikkum, spiced up with aggressive vocals by the male lead that combined well with the novel ad-libbing.

While Bharani, the lead singer, impressed with his creativity in engeyum, his attempts at striding off the beaten track bombed big time when he tried singing the celebrated classic, Meri sapnon ki rani from Aradhana. The troupe’s tryst with re-recording established their versatility. Three famous clippings known for convoluted BGMs were screened with the volume muted, as the troupe effortlessly played the background score. Their work on the unforgettable temple scene in Guna will remain etched in the audience’s memory for long. The recital sounded so much like the unassailable original score. A small clipping highlighting the achievements of the organisation followed and then it was time for the ensemble to finish with a bang.

A theme based song, which happens to be a routine that they have been following for the past ten years, was based on limiting the use of plastic. It started off with the cacophonous sound that arises out of crushing a plastic bottle and it was followed by a groundbreaking composition with the instrumentalists restricting themselves to plastic buckets, barrels and mugs to play the opus. A very well thought out piece of euphony indeed. The tiny tots who performed were conferred with certificates and after a few wise words from the chief guest Rev father Jegath Gasper Raj, the curtains were drawn. An evening to cherish.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Intro: Yodhakaa, a contemporary Indian music band which performed on Saturday to
signal the launch of “Purple note”, has been visibly inspired by Latin music, blues, jazz
and Arabic music, but the original Indian flavour has been intelligently retained.
The corporate office of Sathyam cinemas was the place to be on June 26, as it
reverberated with refreshingly new sounds, thanks to Yodhakaa, a contemporary
Indian music band. “Think Music” launched a non-film music label Purple Note. Priya
Krishnan, head of marketing, “Think Music” says: “Purple Note is a contemporary non-
film music label. We work with artists who are unsigned with other labels and help them
get their first album out. We hope to contribute in our small way to their dreams. It is a
division of SPI Music, owned by the creative managing Directors Mr. Kiran Reddy and
Mr. Swaroop Reddy”.
The evening sprang to life as Yodhakaa, came up with six revitalizing songs. They
started with their improvised version of the Mudhakaratha Modhakam, which stood
out for it’s innovative instrumentation and novel progression. The song was simple yet
captivating. The next song, titled Srihari sounded like an extension of the first song and
the guitarist Pradeep impressed. The next song Gnanam was the best of the lot and the
band had the audience dumbstruck with the simply exhilarating percussions and the
soul-stirring vocals. Next in line was Shwetham Baradaram Devi, which raised a few
eyebrows for the band’s bizarre choice of instruments that were totally unconventional.
Infact, the percussionist was the cynosure of all eyes as he effortlessly moved from
one “instrument” to another. A lot of effort was put into negate unnecessary noises that
could arise on doing away with the toy-like instruments. The final song Jatakatha had the
band performing at their energetic best as they ended the concert on a high.
A lot of research on Sanskrit slokas has been done and the band has achieved a fair level
of success in giving a new feel to traditional songs. The band must also be giving a lot of
credit for choosing Sanskrit, as it is a classical language that’s zooming into extinction.
They have been visibly inspired by Latin music, blues, jazz and Arabic music, but the
original Indian flavour has been intelligently retained. Yodhakaa is definitely a band to
watch out for, as they harmoniously blend world music with Carnatic. Fortunately for
Yodhakaa, “Purple note” gives the copyright of the songs tuned under their label to the
band members, though they initially retain the marketing rights unlike other popular
music labels. It certainly turned out to be an invigorating start to a brilliant concept!


My city My story
Intro: Singer Ujjaini talks about Chennai’s auto-drivers, their nasty language and
the process of her acclimatization to this wonderful city and the people of Chennai.
I came to Chennai in 2003. I am a Bengali and the first few days here were horrible, as I
didn’t know Tamil. I had a torrid time communicating and trying to put messages across
to people who didn’t understand English. Auto rickshaw drivers “took me for a ride” as
they reaped a fortune out of my innocence. The absence of metered autos proved to be
menace as I found it difficult to protect my hard-earned money from the occasionally
fraudulent auto drivers. Slowly, but surely I started understanding the “tricks of the trade”
and my Tamil started blossoming. I owe it all to the auto drivers here, whose nasty dialect
inspired me to get a grasp of the language and give them a taste of their own medicine. I
graduated from “left la ponga right la ponga” to having a full-fledged verbal tussle with
an auto driver.
With the passage of time, I started understanding the way things work here in Chennai.
Slowly I started making a lot of friends and finally managed to decipher a methodology
to communicate normally with auto-drivers. Now, I can safely say that I am a Chennai
girl. Everything here is so cool. I love the people out here as they give due credit to talent
and most of them connect with you at an emotional level, unlike other metros where they
don’t care about your existence once they get their job done out of you. I love hitting the
beach and “Landmark” is one of my favourite places here as it has a wonderful collection
of books.


Good times with Gary
Intro: The second day of the centenary celebrations of the sanctification of the only Parsi
Fire Temple in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala was characterised by style, music
and rollicking fun.
It was a day when the name “Gary lawyer” was on everybody’s lips. As is the case
with all commemorations, so much of importance was attached to nostalgic talk. One
octogenarian after another crawled up to the stage to educate the restless crowd about
their green and salad days. The air was brimming with expectations. The dance floor
and the multihued lights sported deserted looks as the audience started craving for
Finally, the man of the evening arrived. The old men finally decided to sink into their
chairs and taste wine. Gary walked up to the podium to tremendous applause. He wasted
no time unlike the others who had graced the stage before him and the man with the
golden voice, regarded as the finest Indian artiste in the field of western popular music
stole the limelight. The bass baritone immediately struck a chord with the audience and
his impressive modulations proved to be one of his many assets. Gary’s biggest plus
is his range. He is equally inspiring in the tenor range and in his favourite bass-toned
numbers. And then comes his versatility. Rock, pop, jazz, country or folk, you name the
genre and he comes up with a brilliant rendition of a song in that genre.
Rock n roll seems to be his forte though. He began his campaign with a few melodious
songs that stood out for their lilting tunes. But sensing the theme of the occasion, he
started playing to the gallery by immediately switching to rock. And he sure did rock,
as he got every single member present in the auditorium to walk up to the dance floor
and perform a jig. A vibrant and highly flexible performer, he has a repertoire that has
something for audiences of all ages and musical tastes. The music appealed to hardcore
music enthusiasts as well as people who had come there just to have some fun. The
performance was power-packed, engrossing and an amazingly gratifying experience.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Sudarshan Varadhan
First Published : 07 Jul 2010 11:12:00 PM IST
Last Updated :

A few words with Arun Venkatraman and you immediately realise that this guy is different. Runner-up, Gladrags Mr India, nine-time national swimming champion, Afro-Asian Bronze medallist, six-time Asian silver medallist and many other feathers fighting for a place in his already over-flowing cap, Arun opens his heart to Expresso.

Foray into modelling

I hurt my shoulder a few years back. And three years back, I had to stop swimming, as I wasn’t fit enough. Around the same time, my ex-girlfriend, a model herself, advised me to try my hand at modelling. Thus began the journey.

The right mix

I work out for three and a half hours a day. I have given up on rice and unhealthy oily food. I am 6”2’. I have an almost flawless body. And I do work really hard on maintaining high levels of fitness.

Highlights in modelling career

I walked the ramp for Kitkat Lite and Nokia. I have also been featured in TV commercials for Naidu Hall and Fashion Folks. And then, Gladrags is the biggest thing that has happened to me. And I’m really proud of the fact that I’m the first person from Chennai to have achieved that.

Message to budding models

Love yourself, strive to be the best. You may have to “compromise” a lot to progress. Work towards achieving an ideal body and get in touch with the right people. I plan to move to Mumbai, as Chennai is really conservative, definitely not the place for a model. I also plan to start a business and may foray into acting if a good role comes my way. I’m definitely not desperate and I strive for perfection in any field. So I’m planning to play a waiting game for now.


Sudarshan Varadhan
First Published : 01 Jun 2010 10:52:37 PM IST
Last Updated :

IT’S summer time and every day is proving to be an absolute scorcher.

Olliyum Olliyum Entertainment is providing Chennai an enterprising option to counter the simmering heat.

The Music Academy is the place to be on June 12, as three dancers of repute, Rukmani, Suma Mani and Agneeshwar are expected to set the stage on fire with their respective dance performances.

It’s going to be an Indian contemporary dance show that promises to be one of a kind.

Thirty dancers from three groups will exhibit their talent in a 120 minute long spectacle which is bound to spell class and grandeur. Agneeshwar will give a head start to the campaign with his Animal Instinct, a fight based choreography, which will explore the compassionate side of the king of the jungle.

This visual treat will have the dancers styled like animals.

No Indian dance performance is complete without involving Lord Krishna.

Krishn, a performance by Suma Mani will be an exquisite display of Krishna’s characteristics and his exploits over the asuras.

The final act, Vipina will be rendered by Rukmani and is based on Lord Shiva, the God of dance and the destroyer of evil. This is expected to be a feel good performance and will wear a comical look as it explores Shiva’s ornaments and the events in Lord Shiva and Parvathi’s marital life.

The event will take place on June 12 at the Music Academy, Chennai at 6.30 pm.

Tickets for the show are available at Landmark, Subway and the website


Sudarshan Varadhan
Express News Service
First Published : 01 Jun 2010 12:01:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 01 Jun 2010 12:22:17 AM IST

The first thing that strikes you the moment you have a glance at Guthrie Govan is his dressing sense. On May 30, when he walked up to the podium and started strumming his guitar in the Russian center of science and culture for his performance cum workshop, he was confronted with an array of bizarre looks. The legendary guitarist was sporting a Mexican look- a brown tee, a torn dirty pair of jeans and a weird beard that hardly suited him. Only the hat was missing.

The barbaric catcalls from the ill-behaved audience notwithstanding, Govan slowly got into the groove. The fluency and the confidence with which he handled things were an instant hit with the audience. Minutes into the show he was interacting with the audience as if he had been playing to the same set of people throughout his life. All of a sudden, the auditorium was reverberating with refreshing sounds and a fresh lease of life.

Govan’s sense of humour soon joined the party and the audience was treated to a slew of one-liners. One guitar enthusiast came up with an uncanny question “Sir how do you play the song Feed my Frankenstein?,” “Badly!” he quipped. The workshop was a special one for fans of Govan as he added a personal touch to the show. He started off by enlightening the audience about his humble beginnings and drawing parallels between learning a language and learning music. He also delved into the philosophies of music as he talked about picking up the sounds of nature and connecting emotionally to the spirit of music. Dynamics and acoustics of the guitar were also given due importance.

He followed it up with a variety of ideas and tips on the intricacies and the technicalities involved in playing the guitar. The awestruck enthusiasts watched him explain the process of playing the most challenging tricks ranging from tapping to hybrid picking with consummate ease and élan. The most distinguishing feature of the show was that it appealed to the layman as much as it appealed to the veterans. After a riveting interactive session, he switched tracks as he plunged into the concert mode. He played some of his best compositions as he harmoniously blended classical western music with hardcore rock. The audience were on their feet marveling at their master perform a stunning feat.

He concluded with his chartbuster seven and by stressing on the importance of maintaining the tempo and finishing a song on time. It was truly an experience of a lifetime.


Sudarshan Varadhan
Express News Service
First Published : 07 Jun 2010 12:12:25 AM IST
Last Updated :

Half past two, a hot Saturday afternoon and I was typically bored, not knowing what to do. It was World Environment Day and I thought it was time to keep myself updated. Thankfully, the British Council helped me do something relevant and constructive.

I attended the UKEFF special preview of five short films organised by Nat Geo and the British Council, all of which shared a common plot — climate change.

The first film to be screened was Notes From A Green City, a film about the various measures employed by the city of Surat to mitigate the impact of climate change at the municipal corporation level, which can serve as a prototype model to the other cities.

The second film, Wheeling In Change, glorified the blistering comeback of the least expensive, yet long forgotten green vehicle, the bicycle. The film forayed into the lives of a group of motivated professionals who’re doing their bit to bring climate change to a standstill by cycling their way to their respective offices.

Next in line was Blocks Of Green, which ventured into the relatively unexplored arenas of green buildings in Mumbai and Kolkata.

It stressed on the importance of rainwater harvesting and made the idea of power conservation and control of carbon emissions look ridiculously easy. It provided a refreshing insight into the world of an architect and the obstacles, costs and benefits that he encounters while planning a green agenda. The penultimate film was a piece of cinematographic brilliance pertinently titled Melting Paradise, which layered on the sensitive issue of disappearing glaciers in India’s own Kashmir. The Miracle Water Village, a documentary about the remote village of Hilware Bazaar that receives a scanty supply of rain every year, proved to be a fitting finale. The village that lies on the right side of the Konkan coast receives a meagre 40 cm of rain every year but still manages to reap a fortune year after year, thanks to their unity coupled with a steely resolve to keep things afloat.

Noted celebrity couple Nagarjuna and Amala Akkineni gave voiceovers in the brief interims between the films. The programme came to a close after the audience had a brief interaction with Ajay Bedi, maker of Melting Paradise. The evening left me thinking about a lot of things. I was inspired and motivated like never before. After all, no one wants to see polar bears under palm trees.


Sudarshan Varadhan
Express News Service
First Published : 17 Jun 2010 12:10:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 17 Jun 2010 09:11:23 AM IST

The little theatre, as a part of The little festival, proclaimed to be Chennai’s first international theatre festival for children, staged Kingdom of Joomba on Tuesday at The Museum theatre, Egmore. They performed in front of a small turnout, most of who seemed to be friends of the on-stage performers! But to their credit, they came up with a fairly engaging performance, which entertained in parts.

It was a day when a lot of things went their way. First and foremost, the ambience at the venue was outstanding, setting the stage for a riveting performance. Secondly, the audio and the lighting were extraordinary. Kudos to the men behind such intricate work. But the plot was a big letdown. How many more times are children going to be treated to the same old “Prince in trouble breaking all barriers to eventually marry the princess”? It’s high time that scriptwriters started thinking on their feet. The script was disconcertingly clichéd and the dialogues were banal to make it worse. The play was festooned with grandiloquent monologues and poetic lines loaded with oodles of love. Unfortunately, the writer seems to have forgotten the fact that this play is meant for children and not for fans of Shakespeare and Wordsworth.

Six actors playing 14 characters added to the disarray and perplexed the already befuddled children, many of whom failed to come to terms with what was happening on stage. The actors played their parts quite well though. Karan, who played the prince and Ashley, who played the evil cook, impressed. But the show stealers were undoubtedly Abishek and KK, who played Gamma and Mamma respectively. Their punchy one-liners and outrageously funny antics had the audience in splits most of the time. But the performance of the sole female actor in the group, Nanditha, left a lot to be desired. I wonder who told her that sounding like an amplifier helps you win children’s hearts. Her loud outbursts, which were supposed to melodramatic yet funny, only managed to frustrate and test the patience of the audience. Joel, who played grandma Bo, could have worked a little more on his body language.

One would also expect a children’s play to be full of colourful props. Regrettably, it wasn’t the case. Though the actors infused life into their performances, they hardly connected with the audience, Mamma and Gamma being noteworthy exceptions. The directors of the play should have focused on better stage usage and makeup that would suit the characters. Dr Kuyilan, in charge of the music, did a fairly neat job and so has Ashley, the choreographer. It was a good attempt that could have been a lot better had they filled up the loopholes that loomed large on the majestic stage.


Sudarshan Varadhan
Express News Service
First Published : 17 Jun 2010 12:23:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 17 Jun 2010 08:57:16 AM IST

I started my interview with Lokesh, a rising rockstar in photography. “I am a people’s photographer,” he smiles as he settles into a comfortable position on the couch.

I was convinced by then that it was not going to be a formal interview and I presented a slightly extended version of my first question, “What’s that?” “I’m someone who can make anybody look and feel like a professional model”.

“How did you start?” was my next question. “It was a hobby initially. And then, as I started following Nat Geo photography and started travelling to different places and observing different cultures, photography started growing on me. It’s like first love, it grows on you with time”, he quipped. And about his teachers and fans, “My teachers — Mr. Bharath Ramamritam and Mr. Vikas. They’ve also been my friends and my best critics. They help me rediscover myself every time and keep me going.”

He also recalls that his trip to Rajasthan where he had to live in harmony with the “real India” was one of his many life-changing experiences. He doesn’t restrict his domain to photography and his interests extend to the fields of dance, martial arts and fitness. When asked where he’d like to be ten years down the line and his message to the budding photographers, he said, “Ten years down the line, I’d like to be one of India’s best photographers and for all those who want to make it big here, just follow your heart and work towards your dream”. The theory behind becoming a hotshot photographer was never so simple!

Contact the photographer at 9884023484


Sudarshan Varadhan
Express News Service
First Published : 19 Jun 2010 02:04:14 AM IST
Last Updated : 19 Jun 2010 09:49:20 AM IST

Where to chill out

Hold hands, play colony cricket, share stories, head to the spa or invoke the gods. We give you the options to unwind, bond and celebrate

Musical day

* Make it a positive morning, head to Santhome Church for the morning choir at 9am.

Ph: 24980758

* By now if you’re craving pancakes with maple syrup and some spicy-sausages served with mash, head to Sandy’s at Rutland Gate. Avg cost for two: Rs.500 . Ph: 42303852

* Event: Solder Live at Bucks Theatre, YMCA Grounds, Royapettah

* Often there is something musical about tranquility.

Head to Amethyst and do some lime and honey shots and dig into chocolate chip cake slice.

Ph: 28351143

* After the relaxing caffeine break, head to Unwind Centre for some lilting music and live performances.

Ph: 65379572


* B e g i n with a breezy walk on the Elliot’s beach, followed by a moist sugar doughnut at Funk Jazz (Rs 50) and a piping hot coffee. Ph: 43018585

* Pamper yourself at Aura, The Park Spa. A luxurious back scrub with some de-stressing strokes and kneading costs - Rs 2000+ taxes.

Ph: 42676000

* Stride in with confidence into Annalakshmi, the pure vegetarian fine-dining restaurant.

With its unique concept of rotating chefs and tourists preparing the meal, you’re bound to delight daddy dearest with a burst of flavour that is easy on the pocket. Avg cost for two: Rs 1800 Ph: 28525109

* Head to GRT Radisson Temple bay for the rest of the evening. Lie on the hammocks, sip on chilled beer and delight in the cool ambience under the shady trees and floral stretches. Take a dip in the infinity pool and down some margarita’s before you head to The Wharf, a bay facing seafood eatery, complete with world-class wines.

Avg cost for two: Rs 3000. Ph: 66500000

* On the way back, catch a movie while relaxing in your car at Prarthana Drive-in theatre. avg cost for two:Rs.500 Ph: 24491692

Get Sporty

* Wake up to a sunny day. And head to Taj Coromandel for a soak in the pool. Ph: 66002098

* Then head to Prego, the in-house Italian eatery at the hotel for an elaborate lunch of lobsters, pasta's, oysters and crispy hot plates. Avg cost for two: Rs 2000 Ph: 66002827

* After a nice indulgent lunch, head to AKDR golf course on the OMR and play a game with dad or just watch him play and spark off an interesting conversation.

Avg cost for 2: Rs 750 Ph: 24961617

* Then head straight to café coffee day and order a couple of cups of creamy cappuccino and crispy samosas and hot sandwiches to your menu. Avg cost for two: Ph: 64625575

* Go back home and try organising a intrafamily carom tournament after bonding over a nice and light home made dinner with your family.


* Wake your dad up early in the morning and make him the best filter coffee. Take him to the nearest temple and invoke the blessings of the almighty.

* Follow it up with a light hot breakfast and spend some time with him as you listen to nice melodious music on your music system Surprise him by getting his old pals home. Rejoice and remain a silent spectator as you watch your dad recollect the best moments of his green and salad days.

* Organise a movie screening at home after lunch and watch his favourite movie along with him and his friends.

* Take him out for a nice long walk along the seashore and conclude it with tea and snacks at Saravana bhavan as you discuss a variety of topics like music, art, cinema and politics.

Ph: 28191255

* Let the day draw to a close with a nice light hearted discussion along with your family members on the terrace as you feel the titillating sea breeze blow past you!


Sudarshan Varadhan
First Published : 22 Jun 2010 12:26:00 AM IST
Last Updated :

JUST a little more than a dozen beautiful girls lit up the ballroom of Taj Coromandel as they sang their way to glory as the enthusiastic crowd stayed glued to the podium, watching with bated breath. Whim n Rhythm came up with an evening of appealing Capella fare and gave the event an invigorating start with their traditional opening song Shaking the tree. Each singer came up to the main microphone and sang different parts of the song as the audience got acclimatised to their voices.

Do right, the second song of the evening was impressive, thanks to the wonderful synchronisation of the high-pitched and the bassy humming in the background. The apposite finish and the fantastic co-ordination made up for the fussy female lead singer who failed to impress.

Vision of love, sung by Allison Bruff was undoubtedly the showstopper of the evening. She made a striking impact with her husky voice and tempo.

Next in store was a football medley, No hope for Harvard, that had the audience in splits, for it was a song peppered with a nice rhythm and hilarious lyrics. An amazing composition which fitted into the lyrics like a glove, stood out for its energetic rhythm, wacky modulation and strange noises like barking of dogs, mewing of cats etc.

The fifth track was Black coffee, which had a singer with a seductive voice at the helm and had an eerie feel through out. It also seemed to have deliberately irrelevant lyrics.

The next song had an indian girl with chennai roots reaching out to the audience with her innovative and crystal clear rendition punctuated with free flowing lyrics, which was styled like a ballad. The last few songs of the day starting with Love me or leave me, was regretfully monotonous and gave the audience an “I have heard this before” feel.

The next one rightly named Softly was brief.

The song You have time was intense with well written intelligent lyrics supported soul-stirring singing and a classy chorus that left the audience dumbstruck.

A few ordinary and unforgettable songs followed. But the girls finished with a bang with the final song that was completely different from the rest, as a nice peppy track set the mood for a highly bouncy cocktail party that followed. An evening of whim and rhythm of course.


Sudarshan Varadhan
First Published : 22 Jun 2010 11:59:00 PM IST
Last Updated :

A door decked with bells, a stunning sculpture of the legendary Mathsya Avatar and Ilayaraja’s lilting tunes from his days of yore welcome you to Mathsya, situated in the heart of the city at Egmore. This hotel boasts of a unique amalgamation of home and temple style cooking, enjoys an iconic and legendary status among pure vegetarian establishments and is known for its authentic and traditional Udipi Brahmin cuisine.

Excerpts from an interview with Mathsya Ram, the owner:

How would you like to be known?

I want to be known as a person who’s running a very fine restaurant and as an advocate of vegetarianism.


We serve only vegetarian food, which is clean, healthy and traditional. We make our own ghee, buy fresh vegetables and rely heavily on three characteristics that are instrumental to the success of any hotel — quality, quality and quality. We are one of the few restaurants that are open even at 2 am — something that we started as a service to cater to the hungry refugees who used to come to Chennai during odd hours in the sixties and the tradition continues, even today.

The chefs and the cuisines

My dad was a perfectionist who would not settle for anything but the best. He handpicked the chefs. Specialists from Delhi and Amritsar prepare our Punjabi and tandoori items and we have hired professionals from Kolkata and Mumbai for the Chinese and chat items respectively. We strictly adhere to the age-old techniques that have stood the test of time but are also open to new technologies and improvisations. Our cooking methodologies are heavily inspired by the native Udipi style.

Innovations and inventions

We introduced the banana-leaf-on-the-plate system that’s being followed by hotels all over Tamil Nadu. We also invented the rasam vada and the sambhar vada, inspired by the bajjau vada, an evergreen delicacy in the Udipi cuisine. We invented the Jain sambhar — sambhar without onion and garlic.

What does the hotel mean to you?

It’s like my second home. I’m one of the few hotel owners who eats everyday at his own restaurant. My uncle used to say, “If you think can give your food to your children, only then sell it.” I abide by that principle. I strongly believe that there’s a bit of Mathsya in every Indian restaurant.

Biggest compliment

A famous Belgian diamond merchant invited me for an exclusive lunch at his home and leapt in joy after hearing the fact that I’m the owner of Mathsya. I also did the wedding catering for Mr Praveen, Executive Chef, Sheraton Park.

Mathsya top 6

Rasam vada, Mangalore bonda, chilli cheese toast, methi dosa, filter coffee and apple bajji.


I spend a lot of time and money on books, music and travel. I’m a big fan of flautist Mali, Ilayaraja, GN Balasubramaniam, Eric Dolphy and a band called The Grateful Dead. I play basketball, soccer and also practice Kalaripayattu.

Plans for the future

New outlets at Adyar and Anna Nagar are being planned.


Sudarshan Varadhan
First Published : 06 Jul 2010 11:03:00 PM IST
Last Updated :

It was a night that had promised so much. If one were to ignore the unimaginably lengthy inaugural session to thank the sponsors; the painstakingly boring master of ceremony who’s English was drenched in a heavy north-Indian accent and the highly unsuccessful attempts by the members of Dhwani to connect to the audience with their outrageous jokes, the evening was fairly praiseworthy one.

Medley seemed to be the flavour of the evening as the name Then and Now indicated. The members of Dhwani are extraordinary singers without doubt. Each of the four impressed with their impeccable voices, range and modulation. The songs chosen for the medleys gelled into each other so beautifully and the vocalists improvised intelligently, retaining the original flavour of the songs. Medley is often given as an excuse for choosing sub-standard songs and Dhwani proved why that excuse is grossly invalid. All the songs chosen were legendary in their own way and the rendition of the evergreen classic Meri sapnon ki rani from Aradhana proved to be the highlight of the evening.

Every evergreen classic was combined with a more recent and popular Bollywood chart buster, to provide the much-needed balance and cater to audiences of all age-groups. Another heartwarming fact about the evening was that, the money raised via selling tickets would be used to finance a cancer detection camp. Kudos to the ladies wing of Rajasthani association for coming up with such a novel initiative.


Sudarshan Varadhan
First Published : 07 Jul 2010 11:08:00 PM IST
Last Updated : 07 Jul 2010 01:24:15 AM IST

CHENNAI: Digital artists are a perplexing lot. They’re known to be quiet. So as I was waiting to meet Sudarshan, a 14-year old digital artist, I was pondering over a lot of issues. I wasn’t sure if he would talk and even if he did, I wasn’t sure if he’d be mature enough to express his thoughts without painting them with exaggeration.

But meeting this wonder kid proved to be a luminous experience. I sparked off the conversation by asking him to describe himself and tell me something about his beginnings. “I go by the creative identity of Suddu,” he said, as he noisily sipped his grape juice. “I first got to know about Adobe Photoshop back in the summer of 2008 at a gaming forum. The photo manipulations impressed me greatly and made me curious as well,” he said and added, “I was really passionate about learning Photoshop and thanks to the level of interest, I was getting a grasp on the basics at an almost impossible pace. Soon, I started posting my works on the Internet and the encouragement I was getting via positive comments from legendary artists helped my cause.”

So how exactly did he elevate himself to the next level? “I sent one of my works to Advanced Photoshop international magazine. It got published and to add to my joy, they also selected it as the “Picture of the week”. I’m also a proud registered member of Deviantart, a world renowned art portal where artists separated by barriers of distance and language get together to share their thoughts on each others’ works.”

What exactly do you work on? “Typography, vector and abstract. I work on Photoshop, Illustrator and Wacom bamboo tablet.” When asked about his clients and mentors, his eyes lit up. “A professional DJ from Greece was the first one to approach me with a project. But it soon fizzled out as he could not understand English,” he rues. “Ever since, there has been no looking back though. I was then asked by Lewis McAdam, the owner of the site called to create some promotional work for his site. I am currently collaborating with Gianluigi Di Giacomo and Anthony Giacomino who’ve worked for Rafael Nadal and Alan Iverson. I also did some promotional work for the band OmegaCode.”

His influences? “My inspirations are music, movies, art, philosophy. Work of artists like Anthony Giacomino, David Waters, Alex Lataille and Erik Sumacher, also inspire me. The works of Salvador Dali have also influenced me.”

His experiences and views about the world of art.“ I have learnt that if you want to stick out of the group then you must not follow trends and that my strength lies in the fact I am not afraid to experiment and can handle criticism pretty well. I am still trying to learn more about composition, blending, shadows, lighting and colour. Digital art will still take some time to get recognised as a creative outlet. People generally assume that digital art is just by a few clicks. I normally work on a single piece for about 20-25 hours.” Don’t you think your works have an air of negativity surrounding them? “ I don’t want my gallery to be made out of negative or positive pieces. Art is an expression of opinion. There’s nothing positive or negative about it,” he signs off.


Contact number: 9443713220


Sudarshan Varadhan
Express News Service
First Published : 10 Jun 2010 11:41:00 PM IST
Last Updated : 10 Jun 2010 08:40:04 AM IST

The US consulate, Chennai, kick started the pride month celebrations on Tuesday with the screening of Prodigal sons, the award-winning documentary. This story begins with Kimberly Reed returning to her hometown of Helena, Montana for a high school reunion. Born as Paul McKerrow, but now a lesbian named Kim, she reveals her identity to her former classmates. Kimberly Reed, now a confident woman, is accompanied by a film crew. She thinks she is going to make a documentary about all the shocked faces she will have to confront at the reunion. But all her expectations take a backseat as Marc, her elder brother, enters the scene. Their paths had diverged long ago: Marc was permanently incapacitated in a car accident, and Kim had left her small-town roots on a journey of self-discovery. The rest of the story revolves around reconciliation issues between Kim and Marc as the story wrestles with identity issues. In the end, it has little to do with gender and has everything to do with acceptance.

What this film does is that, it dispels all the popular notions we have about American culture. For all those who thought family culture and inter-family ties were completely absent even in the small towns of America, the director has a raised middle finger as the answer. Secondly, if you thought transgenders are the cynosure of all eyes in all parts of the world and that they get unwarranted attention, “NO” is the answer. In one of the most beautiful scenes in this movie, Kim is watching the annual music fest along with the rest of the people in the village, which stands as testimony to this fact.

The film also takes an unflinching look at the psyche of the transgenders. It poetically conveys the unquestionable fact that transgenders are mentally much stronger compared to normal human beings. After all, they are subjected to a lot of harassments, emotionally and physically, and are often at the receiving end of unwanted vituperations that they obviously don’t deserve. This fact is beautifully translated on screen via the emotional scenes involving Marc and Kim. Prodigal sons is a brave exhibition of truth and the spontaneous twists wouldn’t be believable if they were fiction.

Make no mistake about it; it’s not a film on transgendered lifestyle though it involves a protagonist who’s a transgender. This movie deserves all the attention in the world as it poignantly portrays what exactly the transgenders need. Accepted, they need love and affection but putting things in perspective and focusing on the long-term goal, we have to work towards treating them normally. They don’t require the “special people” tag anymore. We just need to induct them into our society and embrace them like our brethren. So let’s join the bandwagon and support the cause. The movie’s being screened again in the US consulate general auditorium on Friday.


THE stage was set for a humdinger of an evening and the foyer, which was filled with colourful exhibits interspersed the area with an air of expectancy . It was time for the grand finale of the fortnight-long summer festival organised by Pogo and it was appositely titled The Pogo Art Fest `10.
Following the introduction of the delegates present and the national anthem, the show got off to a rousing start with a colourful welcome dance, which was followed by a variety of dance performances. It was such a revitalising experience to watch the tiny tots in action as each one of them performed with ease and grace.
Each and every performance stressed on art as the kids waltzed across the stage overflowing with a dash of colours -- the fruit basket dance by the children from Vepery and the sea creatures act by the Tambaram team stood testimony to this fact. The programmes directed by the smart potato group came to a fitting end with the fairy tale dance and the MAD team announced their arrival with an energizing holi dance which was followed by many message oriented dance performances-the ones on global warming and child labour had the audience spellbound. The Chinese dragon dance and the Egyptian dance were drenched in sumptuousness and splendour as the spectators watched in rapt attention.
Finally, it was time for the man of the evening to set the stage ablaze. Rob, the children's heartthrob, was given a rock star's reception. This pied piper's incarnate soon got to work without much delay . He had the crowd in a tizzy, as every member present in the hall gazed in admiration-a spray painting with the evergreen theme "Go Green" was the end product. It was certainly an evening to savour and cherish.
--Sudarshan Varadhan

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cultural collaborations for constructive change

“Youth have the power to change the fate of a nation”
“Youth have the power to move unassailable mountains and break impregnable

Such mind-numbing philosophies drenched in the waters of over-optimism have been
propagated by highly intellectual luminaries like Swami Vivekananda and also by people
on the other extreme in terms of IQ, like captain Vijaykanth!

How many of us pay the fine instead of bribing the traffic police for breaking a rule?
Very few, if any. How many of us don’t break the queue in a railway station? How many
of us get our driving license without shelling out those “extra” bucks? When it’s the
youth at the centre of all the transgressions happening, how can they be expected be
expected to move masses and smash hurdles?

We need to understand that we live in an age of cynics and opportunists, an age where
we are oft busy with bailing ourselves out of trouble and bettering our standards of
living. Where in the world do we have time for the society?
But if there is one thing that stirs the hearts and minds of every Indian youth, one
thought that sends a chill down every Indian spine, one issue that every Indian has an
opinion on, its religion. And that’s the only way out of the situation.

Unfortunately, the only people who seemed to have realized it are the sly politicos who have been banking
on an extension of the divide-and-rule policy. They have maximized the potential of
religion and have reaped a rich harvest out of the situation to construct a well fortified
political empire creased with corruption and self-centred ideologies.
India has played host to the greatest of seers and the best minds the world has ever
seen. Each and every one of them appreciated the omnipotence of religion in India and
used religion as a tool, as life giving water to quench the burning fire of ignorance that
was prevalent among the masses. But even those great minds couldn’t comprehend
to the fact that they were committing a grave error by transmitting the invaluable
knowledge in the local language. Though they enlightened a whole generation,
they curtailed its growth beyond the realms of that era. Any translated script has its
limitations and the essence and the intricacies of the original script are lost to the
pseudo-obstacles that arise during translation. Scriptures become timeless only when
they are passed on in their original language. Only then will people have the interest to
dig deep and get to know the origin and the true meaning behind every idea.

The whole nation is pondering and quibbling about the ill-effects of the western culture.
If one spares a thought as to why the rate of inheritance of this culture is astounding,
one would realize that the very thoughts and ideologies which pillar the empire of the
western culture were written in English or in languages like Greek or Latin, which are
again, languages that played a vital part in the formulation of the English language as
we know it today. As expected, it’s the financially stable English speaking strata of the
society which is opening up to the western world.
It’s nice to be proud of our culture and our roots, but it’s brainless to dismiss other
ideologies and stay closed to other thoughts. One very good example is the mantras
chanted during Hindu marriages. One, we chant them without knowing their meaning.
Two, some of them are obsolete. Example, there is a mantra which is a call for the lords
to bless the couple with a male child. Heights of male chauvinism! So it’s time for us to
weed out such archaic principles and start looking at alternatives and alterations. We
need to understand that the western works have been devised by equally intelligent
minds, if not better. So what is required is an amalgamation of cultures and thoughts
which would be as revitalizing as fusion music.

How’s this going to change the equation? Every action is driven by ideas, the upbringing
and the people around us and most importantly, our leaders. This is one more facet
that demands a lot of introspection. How many of us really want to vote? How many of
us make an effort to follow politics? Don’t we have to be aware of the current political
scenario just to vote for the right person? Choosing a leader is considered the first step
towards development and where is the question of development when most of us are
crippled with unawareness about our potential leaders? It’s time for us to start following
politics and involving oneself in the same would be better. Better leaders lead to better
culture. Better culture will lead to self-discipline and self-conscience. It’ll make people
think about the smallest mistakes they do, like travelling ticketless, spitting on the road,
littering, smoking in public etc. As youth, we need to understand that certain things
are beyond our control. No one can prohibit or force another guy away from drugs.

No one can compellingly abstain another from smoking or drinking. It’s best to leave it
to his sole discretion. But what can be done by us as responsible citizens is that, we
can warn people against doing it in public. We need to start garnering guts to threaten
people to take things to court in case they caused public nuisance. It’s our duty to drill
some civic sense into the minds that lack the same. Let’s address the smallest of issues
and set high benchmarks. Let’s work towards perfection before we start blaming the
government. Let’s be the change we want to see.