Actor Senthil is a popular cine comedian in the South Indian cine field particularly in Kollywood, Tamilnadu, India. He has acted in many popular movies with several leading actors and comedians.
Senthil was born on March 23, 1951, in Ilanjambore, in a small village near Mudukulathur, Ramanathapuram District, Tamilnadu. Since he was an unruly boy, he was constantly scolded by his father. At the age of 12, he ran away from home. He first worked in the shop of a cooking oil vendor. Later he worked as a bar attendant in a private wine shop. Interested in acting, he joined a drama troupe where he developed his acting skills. He received small roles in the Tamil film industry in Chennai.
The movie Malayoor Mambattiyan gave him the required exposure to propel him to stardom. He has about 185 Tamil movies to his credit. He has also acted in movies in Hindi, Malayalam etc.
He is notable for his comedy roles pairing with actor Goundamani in the vein of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy who were popular during the late 1920s to the mid-1940s
Senthil is one of the most-loved comedians in the South Indian film industry. His appearance on the screen enlivened the audience replete with claps and whistles; and, when he paired up with Goundamani, the cheering doubled.
Goundamani and Senthil ruled the comedy world of Tamil cinema for over two decades. They established a place for themselves in the heart of their audience by entertaining them with their perfectly timed dialogue delivery and unsurpassed body language, and witty, rib-tickling comedy.
Senthil opted to act in movies irrespective of their budget. Once he said: “I don’t believe in movies with small budgets are large budgets. There are only two types of movies – good and bad.”
Maariyamma is likely to be killed by her children because they cannot afford her. They will give her a loving oil bath. Several glasses of coconut water. A mouthful of mud. Perhaps a poison injection. She is just one of many old parents in Tamil Nadu dying in this way. But no one blinks at these ritual murders.
IN TAMIL, it is known as thalaikoothal. A leisurely oil bath. An exercise in love and health when given to newborn children, a ceremonial beginning to festivals, and the universal answer to pitiless summers. In Tamil Nadu’s small industry hub of Virudhunagar, however, it is the beginning of slow murder. The marker of the devastating poverty that makes a son kill his own aging mother.
Young family members of this district in southern Tamil Nadu have been pushing their infirm, elderly dependents to death because they cannot afford to take care of them. When 65-year-old Maariyamma suspected this might happen to her too, she moved out of her son’s house two years ago. “I’m not well enough to live on my own, but it is better than being killed by them,” she says. Amazingly, there is no bitterness in her voice. Or anger. “They’re struggling hard to take care of their own children,” says Maariyamma, of her sons. She places no blame. Her two sons and two daughters are farm labourers who travel to different villages every sowing and harvesting season. Seeing her children at pains to run their house, and feed and educate her grandchildren, Maariyamma knew she was a burden. She knew how it would end if she didn’t leave.
Maariyamma had seen it happen to other men and women of her age. Her neighbour, Parvathy, had been paralysed at the age of 76. “She had only one son,” says Maariyamma. “And he was working in Chennai, surviving on some menial job there. How could he afford to look after his bedridden mother?” One day, Maariyamma says, Parvathy’s son came, “did it” and went back to Chennai. “What else could he do?” she asks. Again, in place of anger or fear, there is helpless resignation. And a strange empathy for the person who might elaborately plan her murder.
Thalaikoothal works thus: an extensive oil bath is given to an elderly person before the crack of dawn. The rest of the day, he or she is given several glasses of cold tender coconut water. Ironically, this is everything a mother would’ve told her child not do while taking an oil bath. “Tender coconut water taken in excess causes renal failure,” says Dr Ashok Kumar, a practicing physician in Madurai. By evening, the body temperature falls sharply. In a day or two, the old man or woman dies of high fever. This method is fail-proof “because the elderly often do not have the immunity to survive the sudden fever,” says Dr Kumar.
OVER THE years, other methods have evolved too. The most painful one is when mud dissolved in water is forced down; it causes indigestion and an undignified death. Velayudham of Help age India says the families often take the mud from their own land, if they have any. “It is believed that this makes their souls happy,” he says.
Dorairaj, a farmer in Satur, confesses that Muniammal, a distant relative, had been killed four months earlier. She was 78, and too weak to fend for herself. She was given an oil bath, but somehow survived. After a few days, she was given the ‘milk treatment’. “When the milk is being poured, the nose is held tight,” says Dorairaj. This ‘milk treatment’ is often preceded by starvation. The household stops serving the parent solid food. “When milk is poured uninterruptedly into the mouth, it goes into the respiratory track. A starving person cannot withstand even a moment’s suffocation,” says 60-year-old Paul Raj, coordinator of a district elders’ welfare association.
Though everyone seems to be in the know, thalaikoothal officially remained unexposed until the death of 60-year-old Selvaraj, of Ramasamipuram village in Virudhunagar on 18 June this year. Selvaraj, who was bed-ridden due to an accident, died suddenly. Asokan, Selvaraj’s nephew in Virudhunagar, raised the alarm on his uncle’s death. He registered an FIR, and subsequently a woman named Zeenath was arrested for administering a poisonous injection. Prabhakar, the Virudhunagar Commissioner of Police, admits that it is hard to find any evidence. “The body was cremated and there is no scope for a re-examination of the corpse,” he says.
Zeenath has been released on bail and refused to talk to TEHELKA when we met her in her village, Ramasamipuram. Some villagers claimed that Zeenath was a ‘professional mercy killer’.
‘It’s difficult to view it simply in a legal or criminal framework,’ says district collector VK Shanmugham
A few days after Selvaraj’s death came to light, a newspaper published a report exposing more mysterious deaths in the district. When the district administration of Virudhunagar learnt how widespread the mercy killing was, it ordered an investigation. “It was shocking for all of us,” says V K Shanmugham, district collector in Virudhunagar. He soon realised that conventional state responses like arrests, warnings and interrogations would not even scratch the surface.
Thalaikoothal lay in the indefinable space between crime and desperate acts of poverty. It was social custom, a collective family decision, a ritual goodbye to a loved one who had lived a full life. Sometimes, it was the victim’s own idea. Shanmugham found that many called it a path to “eternal peace”, an escape from the violence of poverty. “It is difficult to view this simply in a legal or criminal framework,” he adds.
If thalaikoothal is seen as a crime, an entire village is accomplice. Community members and relatives not only support the practice, several even arrive a day before the auspicious oil bath to meet the aged parent one last time. Everybody knows the man or woman is going to die.
“Nobody questions or reports it to the police. They don’t even see it as a crime. It is a kind of accepted practice,” says Dr Lakshmi, a physician in Karyappetti village. Over 75, Dr Lakshmi recollects that she has been hearing of this practice of killing the elderly for 34 years.
The practice is not confined to a particular caste or community. “The poor do it, whatever their caste,” says Chandra Devi, the district Welfare Officer. Most residents are seasonal farm labourers, livestock shepherds or migrant workers in small factories in the nearby industrial hub Sivakasi. Their mobile lives make it virtually impossible for them to stay home to care for their parents.
Killing is indeed a brutal solution to financial burdens, but community members claim there is no alternative. “It does not mean that they do not love their parents,” says Chellathorai, the president of Paneerpetty village Panchayat.
Paul Raj, of the district elders welfare association, recently requested the district collector for government protection for the elderly. “The aged in these villages are highly vulnerable. We demand government’s immediate action.” Raj, however, realises that while police forces can protect an aged woman from her children, what they really need is protection from penury. “If the seniors had some income, they would not be considered so burdensome,” says Raj. “For example, if they got more pension, or at least got it regularly, it might give some respite.”
Kasi, a daily wager, moved out of his son’s house after his wife died. He’s not sure if he’s 65 or 70, but his shock of white hair, equally white handlebar moustache, and soil-black wrinkled skin are testament to his long and arduous life. Kasi had decided to leave when he watched his children grow tired of tending to their father’s every need. “I’m very fond of them, and can’t imagine they will try to kill me,” he says. “But anyway, I didn’t want to push them to any extreme step.” Whether he too would have been invited for that chilling oil bath some years down, Kasi doesn’t know. And he didn’t stick around to find out.
ACROSS VIRUDHUNAGAR, even as elderly men and women leave their homes, they make excuses for their children. “My son was struggling with his own life,” says Kasi. They put up a brave front. “I’m surviving fine with the ration rice at 2 per kilo,” says a reed-thin Maariyamma. They starve, and sigh, but do not complain. Thalaikoothal is to them not cowardly murder, but a brave farewell. Kasi and Maariyamma do not see how extreme it is, how dramatic. For them, it is a sort of practical love that is simply about survival.
Chennai: The attacks by fringe groups on Sri Lankans arriving in Tamil Nadu, in the name of protests against human rights violations against island Tamils, has drawn criticism from rights activists in the state.
At least five cases of attacks on visiting Lankans were reported in the state in the last one month. This is apart from the attack on Sri Lankan institutions in Tamil Nadu. “I condemn such acts. Such kind of violence cannot be justified. These acts of terror against individuals should not be tolerated,” noted Dr. V. Suresh, national general secretary, PUCL.
Echoing Suresh’s views, another human rights activist, A Marx, said nothing could be gained by attacking visiting tourists and Buddhist monks. “While students are taking the protest in the right direction, some groups are indulging in violence,” noted Marx. These violent groups fear that the students will push them out of the protest arena, he said, adding, “So, to stay in the picture, they indulge in violence, which is highly condemnable.”
Pointing out that all Sri Lankans of Sinhalese origin, are not anti- Tamil, Suresh said many Sinhalese human rights activists had been fighting for the Lankan Tamils’ cause for years. “The house of senior lawyer J. C. Weliamuna was bombed for supporting Tamils in Lanka,” he recalled.
A senior official from Tamil Nadu police said almost all the accused in these cases had been arrested. “11 persons were arrested in the case of February 21 attack on Sri Lankan MP’s vehicle in Nagapattinam.
In connection with the attack on the Lankan monk on March 16 at Thanjavur, 12 persons were arrested. All the three persons connected with the attack on the Buddhist monk at Chennai central station on Monday, were secured,” the official pointed out.
In Trichy on February 26, the police had to intervene when a bus carrying Sri Lankan nationals was targeted. Similarly on March 3, vehicles carrying Sri Lankans from Chennai airport to Egmore were blocked on GST Road by a group. The police had to escort the Lankans to their destination.
Here is the news that appeared in the Deccan Chronicle on March 17, 2013.
Lankan monk roughed up in Thanjavur temple
Thanjavur: A Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka, currently pursuing archaeological studies in Delhi University, was roughed up by some activists of pro-Tamil Eelam outfits at the world renowned Big Temple here on Saturday.
The Lankan had come here as part of a 20-member team, comprising students of postgraduate diploma in archaeology in Delhi University, on a study tour to the 1,000-year-old Brahadeeswarar temple.
As the students were going around Big Temple, a group of activists belonging to various outfits, including the MDMK and Naam Tamizhar Katchi, singled out the Sri Lankan national, clad in saffron robes, and beat him up, the police said. The attackers also raised slogans demanding that he leave Tamil Nadu immediately.
Besides the lone Sri Lankan, fourMyanmariswere also part of the team while others were Indians, sources said.
The monk was escorted safely to the local archaeological office from where the students left in a van to Tiruchy en route to Chennai. But, when the van was nearing Tiruchy, some unidentified persons pelted stones and slippers on it near Ariyamangalam. Though the van was damaged, the occupants escaped unhurt.
The police escorted the visiting students to the airport. Later, the Sri Lankan national left for Chennai by flight.
Twelve activists were taken into custody in connection with the incident.
Video – Here is a video clip posted on Nakkheeran Web TV:
Chennai: In yet another attack on Sri Lanka-linked establishments in Tamil Nadu, a group of men tried to vandalise the Mahabodhi society in Egmore on Sunday.
The police arrested 18 cadres of Naam Tamilar Katchi in connection with the attempt to break into the society office in Kennet Lane opposite the city police commissioner’s office. Anticipating trouble, city police had deployed a small team of armed police to guard the society.
According to eyewitnesses, a group of around 20 people reached Kennet Lane around noon and broke open the lock of a gate of the society.
“There were three only policemen who, however, prevented the protesters from doing further damage even as they sought additional personnel to handle the situation. Over 50 policemen were rushed to the spot.
The agitators were picked up before they could enter the society building where a number of visiting Sri Lankans, mostly Buddhist monks, stay on their visits to the city,” the police said. All arrested were remanded to judicial custody.
The Tamil movie titled “Muthalvan” (Tamil: முதல்வன், English: The Chief) a political thriller produced, co-written and directed by S. Shankar features Arjun Sarja, and V. Raghuvaran in the lead roles. This film was Shankar’s production debut. The film features an award-winning soundtrack composed by maestro A. R. Rahman.
Pughazhendi, an ambitious TV journalist (played by Arjun Sarja) working for “Q TV,” interviews Aranganathan, the Chief Minister of the state (played by Raghuvaran) after a spate of communal riots. The questions posed by the journalist are tough, and the flabbergasted Chief Minister challenges the journalist to occupy his seat and be the Chief Minister for a day to understand the enormity of the office. After a slight hesitation, Pugazhendi agrees to be the Chief Minister of the state for a day.
The young journalist Pugazhendi after taking over the mantle of the Chief Minister for a day does a great job, and subsequently orders the arrest of the unscrupulous Chief Minister Aranganathan.
This high-budget film released on November 7, 1999, won positive reviews and was successful at the box office.
The film was dubbed and released in Telugu titled “Oke Okkadu.”
Two years later, in 2001, it was remade in Hindi as “Nayak: The Real Hero” (Hindi: नायक, Nāyak) starring Anil Kapoor as the journalist Shivaji Rao and Amrish Puri as the Chief Minister Balraj Chauhan and once again directed by S. Shankar.
After viewing the films “Muthalvan” and “Nayak” most Indians, including me, lauded the superb characterization of the Chief Minister enacted by the veteran actors Raghuvaran in Tamil, and Amrish Puri in Hindi; after that, we never gave them a second thought for the next six years.
On Friday, October 19, 2007, Karan Thapar interviewed Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat on CNN-IBN’s “Devil’s Advocate” program. Thapar questioned Modi about the Godhra Train Burning incident that occurred in the morning of February 27, 2002. In this incident, 58 passengers were burnt to death due to a fire inside the Sabarmati Express train near the Godhra railway station in Gujarat. Sensing that the question cornered him, the Chief Minister abruptly walked out of the interview.
Director Shankar is indeed a prophet of the modern Indian cinema proving that incidents depicted on films could become real.
Recently, I found the Unicode Technical Notes that provide information on a variety of topics related to Unicode and Internationalization technologies. The website stresses that these technical notes are independent publications, not approved by any of the Unicode Technical Committees, nor are they part of the Unicode Standard or any other Unicode specification and publication and does not imply endorsement by the Unicode Consortium in any way. These documents are not subject to the Unicode Patent Policy nor updated regularly.
Being a Tamil, Unicode Technical Note (UTN) #21: Tamil Numbers by Michael Kaplan, fascinated and impressed me.
Originally, Tamils did not use zero, nor did they use positional digits. They have separate symbols for the numbers 10, 100 and 1000. Symbols similar to other Tamil letters, with some minor changes. For example, the number 3782 not written as ௩௭௮௨ as in modern usage but as ௩ ௲ ௭ ௱ ௮ ௰ ௨.
This would be read as they are written as Three Thousands, Seven Hundreds, Eight Tens, Two; and in Tamil as மூன்று-ஆயிரத்து-எழு-நூற்று-எண்-பத்து-இரண்டு.
When Tamils in Sri Lanka were not eating together, allowing others to educate themselves because of Tamil caste, it was the Social Disabilities Prevention Act 21 in 1957 that enabled low caste Tamils to gain education – this was opposed by all elite Tamils who even wrote to the British Government against this.Sinhala and Tamil are official languages in Sri Lanka and both are declared languages of administration(16th amendment – to communicate, publications, translations, records).
Sinhala and Tamil are the language of the Courts throughout Sri Lanka.In addition, Sri Lanka’s national flag depicts both Tamils and Muslims through the colors orange and green.
All public documents – marriage certificate, death certificate, immigration forms etc. are all in Sinhalese and Tamil, so too is currency and notes.
All public events are presented in all 3 languages [Sinhalese, Tamil, and English].
Tamils have no restrictions on owning property, starting business ventures, obtaining state loans, owning land – whereas Sinhalese and Non-Vellalas are denied from obtaining land in the North (thesavalami a law).
Tamils have access to all state services and public utilities – hospitals, schools, healthcare services, public transport (at no stage did Tamils suffer as the blacks did in the US and in South Africa).
Tamils have access to all forms of sports with Tamils even representing national teams.
All road signs, buses etc. are all in both languages.
While Tamils will not allow low caste Tamils to enter hotels or restaurants of high castes, there is no hotel, restaurant, shop that says “Tamils are not welcome”.
Those that accept false propaganda and lies may like to visit Sri Lanka to realize that Tamils in Sri Lanka are better off than Tamils in any other part of the world.
Can we then please know where Tamils are being discriminated against in Sri Lanka?
As for Tamil Nadu – close to 20% of its population are Dalits and 80% of this number live in villages where illiteracy is over 60%. 62% of these Dalits suffer from some type of abuse ranging from physical assault, sexual harassment, verbal abuse to even rape. This is how Tamils appear to be treating their own in India where the Indian Government is telling Sri Lanka to treat Tamils with “dignity and respect”.
— Excerpt from “Shouldn’t Tamil Eelaam Be In Tamil Nadu? – OpEd” By Shenali Waduge, October 18, 2012.
On Saturday, September 8, 2012, devotees from Washington DC, Maryland, New Jersey and other parts throughout the country, and from Canada, undertook the pilgrimage to Washington DC. They celebrated the feast of “Our Lady of Good Health,” Vailankanni at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. The Most Revered Antony Devotta, Bishop of Tiruchirapalli, India, officiated as the main celebrant for the Pilgrimage Mass.
The members of the Indian American Catholic Association (IACA) – Tamils, Keralites, Anglo-Indians, Mangaloreans, Goans, Bengalis, Sinhalese, Asian Pacific Catholics, and other devotees organized the annual pilgrimage.
In 1997, the IACA realized its dream of establishing an oratory to “Our Lady of Good Health,” Vailankanni, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, in Washington, DC. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the inauguration of the Oratory. This beautiful chapel at the nation’s principal Marian Shrine has become one of the most visited at the Basilica.
The devotees prayed and sang hymns in a variety of Asian languages – Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, Marathi, Konkani, Bengali, Sinhalese, etc.
It turned out to be a valuable experience for me and my family members. We participated in the celebrations that conveyed the vibrant Indian traditions mingled with spiritual, cultural and ethnic heritage in a spirit of cooperation and harmony in Washington DC., United States.
On Monday, September 3, the government of Sri Lanka issued the following advisory for its citizens visiting Tamilnadu:
“The Government of Sri Lanka is constrained to request Sri Lankan nationals in the interest of their security to desist from undertaking visits to Tamilnadu until further notice.”
The Sri Lankan Government posted the advisory after a group of 184 Sri Lankan Catholics who included 75 women and 36 children, were inconvenienced during their annual pilgrimage in Tamilnadu, India.
On Monday evening, members belonging to pro-LTTE Tamil outfits mobbed the pilgrims worshiping at the Poondi Madha Catholic shrine near Thanjavur. The pilgrims took refuge in the church. The protestors were members of Naam Tamizhar Iyakkam headed by film director Seeman, Tamizhar Desiya Poduvudamai Katchi led by P. Nedumaran, and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi led by Thirumavalavan. They raised slogans and asked the pilgrims to go back to Sri Lanka, immediately.
Early Tuesday, the group of pilgrims arrived at Velankanni to offer worship at the holy Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Health. After prayers, they left for Tiruchirapalli airport, to board a special flight home. Then, once again, they faced the rage of pro-LTTE groups. Their convoy of buses was once again blocked and attacked by the protestors who used two wheelers to block the road. The protesters shouted, “Sinhalese go back”.
A tire of a bus got punctured and the convoy halted. The protesters attacked three buses. Windowpanes of some buses were shattered in the attack; however, no passenger suffered any major injury.
Police personnel on security duty for the ongoing annual festival at Velankanni rushed to the spot. They arrested nine activists of the Naam Tamizhar Iyakkam and brought the situation under control within a few minutes.
The pilgrims later proceeded to Tiruchirappalli safely from where they are expected to leave for Sri Lanka.
The government of Sri Lanka has assured its citizens that all steps had been taken through the government of India to ensure the safety of the pilgrims.
The Sri Lankan government has also said in its advisory that if anyone has a “compelling reason to visit Tamil Nadu, such a visit should take place following prior timely intimation to the Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission in Chennai.”
The External Affairs Ministry of Sri Lankan says it regrets the growing number of incidents of intimidation of Sri Lankan nationals visiting Tamil Nadu for the purposes of tourism, religious pilgrimages, sporting and cultural activities, and professional training.
Meanwhile, the ruling AIADMK, DMK, and other political parties in Tamilnadu have joined hands in opposing the training of Sri Lankan military personnel in India. These parties allege that during the last phase of the war against LTTE, the island Republic’s forces had committed “war crimes” against Tamils.
Last Friday, a football team from Sri Lanka played a friendly match against the Chennai Customs Department. On Sunday, the Tamilnadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa gave orders to send the team back to Sri Lanka. She criticized the Central Government for allowing the Lankan football team to come to India.
Ms. Jayalalithaa also gave orders to send back the students from a Sri Lankan school and their coach, who had come down to Chennai for a tournament with a city-based school, to their homeland.
I arrived at the end of June in flurry of auto-rickshaws, an epic train journey and an all night Kattaikkuttu performance, just as the month of storytelling was about to begin at Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam. It began with the arrival of professional storyteller Craig Jenkins on the 5th of July on his forth pilgrimage to the school. The excitement and exhilaration of everyone at the school (not just the children) told me this was indeed a special visitor and this month would indeed be one to write about.
I had to admit to Craig that I never realised Storytelling was a profession and not only that but an intricate and important art form, which like dance, acting, writing or painting must come from the heart and with a passion for the meanings and truths behind what is being told or addressed.
There is a vast oral and written tradition of storytelling here in India and many Middle Eastern countries, a lot of which will now have been translated for the western world and so, will be familiar to many. For example, I’m sure most people will know of the Middle Eastern epic – One Thousand and One Nights (or Arabian Nights) famously popularised and americanised by Disney. Perhaps their knowledge of the roots of Aladin or Ali Baba The Forty Thieves is a little vague however. What Craig brings to Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam is by all means not a westernised version of the Mahabharata or the Ramayana, neither is it simply the beautiful oral tradition passed down to him through his much loved Guru Vayu Naidu; it is an exciting, enticing and educational experience through which he applies his successful mantra of taking old, traditional stories and bringing them into the contemporary. This allows students of all ages to deconstruct the stories they have heard their whole lives, look at them from a different angle, redesign their meanings and use them to examine contemporary issues such as gender and prejudice. This is complimented by learning new stories through which students can learn for themselves how to create, construct and perform these stories.
As I write this I realise how much I have already learnt about this art and I am excited to learn more. Our storytelling workshop ‘Mun Oru Kalattil,’ taking place at the end of this month will provide me with the perfect opportunity. It will be a truly educational and eye opening experience for everyone involved, whatever their profession or reason for attending.
However, learning about this art has made me wonder why we have lost the presence of this tradition in our own culture. Undoubtedly it is still there but I think its importance and meaning within society has been lost, especially in an educational sense. Perhaps I am wrong however and it is simply my own ignorance to the art which has denied me to see it in its full light and capacity back in my corner of the world. And with that thought, the will in me to learn more about storytelling and the stories which have been kept alive in India through this oral and written tradition, has grown all the stronger!