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Maalan – April 1st, 2003

Editor, sun tv and the tamil magazine Kunkumam.

1.What promoted you to journalism..?

I was drawn into journalism at a very young age when I was 13. It was kind of a reaction to my reading habit then. I was keen to write but hardly had any guidance at that age. I was also told that I am too young for my works to be published. But my eagerness to express myself prompted me to launch a manuscript magazine when I was 13.From then my flair for journalism grew with me. As a result, at the age of 30, I became an editor of a full fledged magazine!

2.. “Pen is mightier than Sword”. How much truth do you perceive in this proverb from your experience?

That is an old adage. Now ‘ mouse’ is mightier than the bandikoots. Of course, I mean the computer mouse and political bandikoots.

3.. What is your thrust/focus as an Editor?

My objectives as an editor had always remained the same, wherever I have discharged my responsibility. They are the dictum set by poet Bharathi. They are:Puthiyana Virumbu'( aspire for new – ideas, writings, viewpoints)Sarithiram Therchikol( Master the history) and Thesaththaik Kaaththal Sei ( Defend the country)

4. With so much craze for westernisation these days, does it have any impact on the Tamil readership quality?

I don’t want to make any qualitative analysis, as ‘ quality’ is a subjective term but agree that readership has changed considerably. Westernisation has opened a few windows. It introduced us to new forms of writings in the early 20th century and to new themes later. Free school education introduced in mid sixties revolutionized the reading habits in Tamil Nadu. A new generation of readers ushered in. But in the subsequent periods, with the arrival of primary education through English as the medium, we have lost this crop.

5. With Sun TV being part and parcel of each and everyone, the messages delivered are the most effective. Still 80%of the programme revolves around serials and Movies. Don’t you think concentrating on inspiring talk shows and well motivated programme can change the mindset of the people for better?

Television is a gift of technology rather than a social product like print media. It has its strengths and limitations. Before satellite televisions were launched, in India we had the monolithic, Government controlled Channels, which was bureaucratic in nature. It was highly Delhi centric and was promoting Brahminical culture. Hardly there was any room for counter or alternative culture. To cite an example, Ramayan and Mahabharat were serilaised for years and Silapathikaram has to wait.
This mileu positioned satellite televisions at the other end of the spectrum. When they were born they became more entertainment and film centric. In the last 10 years Sun TV has bloomed into a bouquet of 10 channels and each one is dedicated to one theme. Sun Tv is a channel for serials, KTV for films and Sun News Channel for news and current affairs. This segmentation offers options and variety to the viewer and has strengthened all the dimensions of the Media.

6. It has become a fashion to invite the cine stars to the political power. Both fields being two different poles, if elected, how much effective can their roles be served?

Democracy, is a system that offers equal opportunities to all. No one can rule the people with out their concern, in a system of democracy. And film stars, if they fail to deliver, they will be ousted out of power. In Tamil Nadu, in the past MGR era, no film star could make it to power. Many of them, Mr.T.Rajendar, Mr.Bagyaraj, even Sivaji Ganesan, were not able to run their own political parties. Even MGR’s widow Mrs.Janaki Ramachandran, is no exception.
Now a days we see the films of super stars, whether it is Mr.Rajanikanth or Kamal Hassan flops in box office in the absence of a convincing story line. Baba and Alavandan are examples.All these show that the people are discerning and it would not be easy for a film personality to walk in to the corridors of power, simply availing their film popularity.

7. What are your views of the Tamil language and its progeny in Singapore…

Tamil in Singapore has a glorious past and it will have a glorious future. Its now time to acquire a modern outlook. An intellectual approach to language would help more rather than an emotional approach. Instead of wearing Tamil on sleeves just as an identity, now Singaporeans have to handle the language as a tool for intellectual expressions.
Singapore has all the potential to become a cyber hub of South Asia, and Tamils must avail this opportunity. Internet can be used to foster the language in many ways, namely, web archiving, web publishing and teaching and Singaporeans must avail this opportunity to their best. .

8. What do you think is the important quality for a journalist?

In the profession of journalism one will come across the darker side of the society and its people more often than others. A journalist have to remain positive minded. Other than this the most needed qualities are commitment, objectivity and fairness to all views.

9.Your advise to the youngsters who aspire to become a journalist…

If you scroll through history, you will find that all great minds had been journalists. Mahatma Gandhi was a journalist. Jawaharlal Nehru founded the National Herald. Marx published his own paper. Bharathiyar was the youngest editor Tamil has seen so far. Periyar and Anna were journalists. Kalaignar still writes for Murasoli every day. Come and join the club!

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