Thamarai the Lotus and my 2009/2010

I think the picture says it all. I’ve been off blogging for a long while, due to being super busy launching Thamarai magazine (for the South Asian diaspora, with a focus on South India, a hugely untapped market), juggling commissions for Cineworld magazine, Galatta cinema, Anokhi, iTunes podcasts, my health (I ended up in hospital at one point), family and compering. In 2009, I created the entire Incredible India magazine, which was 84 odd pages of travel tips plus photo sourcing – fun but tiring.

I compered the London Mela Classical Stage (which featured the likes of the incredible violinist, Jyotsna), ran a Q and A with Dominic Murphy and Edward Hogg (Bunny and the Bull) about the film White Lightenin’, at Rich Mix.

There was also fun to be had, on the BAFTA stage in Piccadilly, for the audio preview of the Tamil film Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya, especially the interview part, with the Golden Globe, BAFTA and double Oscar and Grammy winner AR Rahman, National award winning director Gautham Menon (Vaaranam aayiram), actress Trisha (who is currently finishing up her first Bollywood foray, Khatta Meeta with director Priyadarshan) and Tamil star, Silambarasan Simbu. The song that made the audience tear up with joy, was Alphons Joseph’s Aromale (Beloved) – his live rendition was simply superb and he recreated that magic in the studio, as the song became a massive hit on release. Also, I chatted to PJ Morton, who sang Sajna, another favourite song of mine from 2009, from the number 1 US box office hit, Couples retreat, by AR Rahman.

Resul Pookutty won the BAFTA, Oscar and all kinds of technical awards and it was lovely to hang out with him in London, as was the time with Tanvi Shah, who sang on Jai Ho, a lovely girl I refer to as ‘Chennai Ponnu’. I was also blessed to meet some of the best anchors of the Asian literary world, including Aravind Adiga, Arundhati Roy, Amartya Sen, Nandan Nilekani and Vikram Seth (A suitable boy). My Facebook friends list crossed 5000 and a fanpage needed to be created and I also began to Tweet – micro-blogging nearly 10,000 quotes and ‘what I’ve been up to’, not to mention my Blip FM radio and Twitpics.

I was blessed to witness AR Rahman being awarded his Trinity College Fellowship at Trinity in Greenwich, as the snow fell in London, which gave me and the all his fans great pleasure.

I also interviewed Amitabh Bachchan for Paa, video conferenced with Aamir Khan for 3 idiots and was blessed to see both films 2 weeks before their worldwide release. I interviewed Shahrukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan, Imran Khan, Akshay Kumar, Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, Shruti Haasan, Asin, Vidya Balan, Madhavan, Sameera Reddy, Salman Khan on the Veer sets, Karan Johar and so many many more – have a listen.

2009 was my busiest year since my move from IT to journalism, which I made full time in 2005 and it’s amazing to think that we were in Cuba in November 2008, then reached Chennai, India in December 2009 and then Bangalore (Hampi, Mysore too) in Jan 2009, flew to Fez, Morocco for the sacred music festival in June 2009, I attended the London book fair, which had an amazing Indian pavilion, with screenwriter and lyricist Javed Akhtar (Sholay) and Prasoon Jhoshi (who wrote my favourite song of 2009, Rehna tu – Be as you are), was at the MOBO launch and met Chipmunk and Lemar amongst others, spent time with the lovely Kavitha Krishnamurthy Subramaniam and her amazing husband, Dr L Subramaniam in London – she has a show at South Bank, hung out with Susheela Raman and Sam Mills – 2 people I adore, had a lovely time with Carnatic stalwart, Aruna Sairam and violinists, Ganesh and Kumaresh, and have a whole set of ruminations that I never did put up – beautiful memories indeed! I’ve done so much in the last few years so do check out my website for some of my old work.

2010 has been even more busy and blessed – a wedding, friends having babies, a lot of snow, many great quotations and generally loving life. Thamarai has been on everyone’s lips and we’ve been greatly blessed to be sharing content with AR Rahman’s official website, I was a judge at FaceOff 2010 at IndigO2, 3rd time running, hanging out with the beautiful Shriya Sharan (Rajinikanth’s co star in Shankar’s humongous hit Sivaji) and Arya (Naan Kadavul, Pattayal).

Privileged to be at the rehearsals and the show itself of AR Rahman’s Alchemy at South Bank – Royal Festival Hall saw, for the first time, AR Rahman’s compositions played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, conduced by Matt Dunkley (famous for his work in movies like Iron Man, Couples retreat, The Dark Knight etc), teaming up with the Kathak exponent, Gauri Sharma Tripathi, who brought some of the scores a 3 dimensional glitter with the stunning dance of her students and the lady herself. Phew.

And there’s more, meeting the gorgeous Sendhil Ramamurthy (aka Mohinder Suresh of Heroes) for Gurinder Chadha’s It’s a wonderful afterlife, Hariharan and Kushboo, as they had a major show at Royal Albert Hall! I also witnessed the unveiling of London’s newest landmark with the world’s richest man, Lakshmi Mittal’s Orbit, made in steel for the Olympics in 2010, by Anish Kapoor, the artist – it was nice to be at City Hall again. The UK Asian music awards happened and the Tamil owned Lebara were the sponsors – I had also happened to interview the CEO, Ratheesh, a humble multi millionaire, who is in his early 30s. And that’s just reaching April 2010. Oh, and yes, I also met the lovely, inspirational Kylie Minogue, who popped backstage to meet AR Rahman at RFH and also wrote the programme notes to accompany the great music!

The London Asian Film festival, Tongues on Fire was also fabulous, this time, the big ‘Bollywood’ contingent of Abhishek Bachchan’s masterclass and his illustrious Mum, the sweet Jaya Bachchan sparkled, while film-makers like Shyam Benegal gave us incredible insights. Sangeeta Dutta’s debut, Life goes on, meant that the timeless Sharmila Tagore and Soha Ali Khan came together on Mother’s Day to premiere their first film together. I had a lovely chat with Ashok Amritraj (Shankar’s Jeans, Bringing down the house), who celebrated his 100th movie and enjoyed time with one of my fave writers, Naman Ramachandran, who also introduced me to the amazing Moolis! I also had a hilarious encounter with one of my favourite comedians, David Baddiel and the fabulous Omid Djalili, for Infidel – check out the interviews on Thamarai.

I have to give a special mention to 5 ladies who I am VERY FOND OF – Kavitha Chhibber and Lady Karen, who have been supporting my health from across the oceans and Anne-Marie and Lil Lady K – both of whom have inspired me and injected my hectic days with joy and laughter and a reticent yet amazing producer friend, Su, she will kill me if I type in her full name – she’s been a wonderful source of advice and great food – her special keema (mince) dish is amazing. And for one guy who keeps behind the scenes, Ara – he’s like the sibling I never had – Big up, dude, your best is yet to come!

As always, I Thank God for blessing me with so much and my gratitude goes out to my amazing Aworan and the amazing family around me and of course my glorious Parents – as my amazing Dad (who is too shy how have his photo on the web) goes into retirement, I wish him many years of music, fabulous scenery and seeing him follow more of his many passions, ranging from Mathematics to musings and modes.

Picture thanks: Akin Aworan, JP, Gurinder Chadha, San Garcha, Paul ‘Hip Hop’ H, Ara and many more.

5 responses to “Thamarai the Lotus and my 2009/2010

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