I met Binoy Joseph for the very first time at Indigo FM a good 15 years ago. From handling the sound to becoming VP product head of Radio City says a lot about the work the man’s put in. He steers Planet Radio City, which is the digital real estate of the station. Those who have worked with Joseph will know about the ideas and vision he has when it comes to presenting a good radio soundscape. Here’s an excerpt from our chat.
Tell us about your role at Planet Radio City?
I head the product, planetradiocity.com, that includes the online radio stations of Radio City. We currently have about 22 stations online, across regional languages and international formats. From Bollywood to rock to Christian contemporary music, it’s all there and we are available all around the world.
Which is more challenging to set up—a terrestrial or a digital station?
Firstly, I don’t think we should compare FM and digital—both are different, though music is a common thread. With regard to challenges, I’d say the main one is to obtain music rights if one needs to go online. Also, the music royalty is huge. Secondly, the internet bandwidth in our country should be improved. However, I anticipate that this will change in the next six to eight months.
What can a listener experience on Planet Radio City?
We have music and non-music content, not to forget genre-specific stations. Along with international and local, we also have new format stations like Indian fusion and wellness. We have built a platform for independent artists in India and have three dedicated stations for them, which includes the categories metal, electronica and freedom. We also offer FM favourites online, like Love Guru (which airs on the regional stations). The cool part is that you can listen to it anytime, anywhere for free.
What’s on for 2016?
For now it’s a secret, but I guarantee you it will be a huge surprise for everyone.
Log on to planetradiocity.com and refresh your ears with a vibrant listening experience.
— email@example.com .
The writer’s views expressed here are entirely in his personal capacity.
All eyes were on the red carpet at this year’s Academy Awards, which turned out to be a reasonably enjoyable (albeit long) affair. Highlights for us included Chris Rock’s opening monologue, Priyanka Chopra presenting (and looking stunning in a Zuhair Murad creation), and Leo DiCaprio finally taking home a much-deserved Oscar.
We also kept busy the rest of the week, with lots to do, including the Chennai Photo Biennale. Jointly organised by Goethe-Institut Chennai and the Travelling Lens, the festival spanning two weeks brings together photographers from across the world. My first stop was the Delhi Photo Festival Showcase at Lalit Kala Akademi, with not just amazing work, but creative displays as well. Humanae by Angelica Dass got its fair share of attention, inviting a lot of selfies. The next stop was the Forum Art Gallery with AlterVision, for a multi-sensory experience. Maximus Clarke’s series of 3D photographs had us reaching for special glasses, hoping to decrypt hidden messages.
Some heavy retail therapy was also in order at Funky Fish’s Pop Up, Behind Closed Doors, at Crowne Plaza. As expected Chennai’s fashionistas lapped it up, as Nikita Kapoor Bajaj and Pavithra Sagar helped us navigate through it all. Crowd favourites included Urvashi Joneja, Roshni Chopra and Kanelle by Kanika Jain. And for those who wanted a nibble, One Bite Wonders offered a range of fun foods, perfect for the stiletto-sporting, shopping bag-wielding bunch.
And talking about mixing it up, paying Chennai a visit was Playboy playmate Sarah Harris, who was the showstopper at the Max Spring-Summer fashion show. At a party hosted by photographer L Ramachandran and Karun Raman at The Vault Bar Stock Exchange, Harris had the crowds queuing up for photographs. Ali Asgar, the Daadhi of Comedy Night with Kapil, was here last Friday to have an extramarital affair (in a play!) for a fundraiser. But Sunday was our favourite, beginning with the classic and vintage car show at Amethyst, and ending with a gala dinner for the Chennai SuperChef finale at The Park.
Textile designer Sanjay Garg unveiled his ‘Sanjay Garg Signature Line’ of lehengas, kurtas, pajamas, pants and shararas in the city recently. Models walked through the various rooms of this grand villa that was done up in mogra and candlelights; it set a lovely tone to an even lovelier show.
Taj West End
United Spirits unveiled its Scotch Whisky Collection of
Black Dog, Vat 69 and Black & White as gifting ideas for men. Celebs Chitrangada Singh, Lisa Haydon, and Shibani Dandekar added glamour to the event that was well attended by whiskey connoisseurs, bloggers and brand representatives.
Art lovers, high net worth individuals and corporate professionals got together for a charity auction last week at VR Bengaluru. The items that went under the hammer included ‘The VR Green Car’, and a live art. The evening also saw a live art performance by Niladri Paul.
The Beer Café launched its new outlet in Koramangala with a beer tasting and food pairing session, which was led by beer connoisseur John J Eapen from Tales of Froth. True to its name, Biggie features a lavish food and drinks menu.
Through the lens
March 4 | IIHS
The third edition of Urban Lens film
fest will delve into the real and imagined ideas of a city. It will feature films from India and abroad, including animation and student presentations. Expect Mira Nair’s India Cabaret and So Far From India, Rahul Roy’s The Factory, and Harun Farocki’s Videograms of a Revolution etc. Till March 6. Entry free. At Sadashivnagar. 9.30 am. Details: http://iihs.co.in/urbanlens
Swap in style
March 8 | Yogisthaan
Shenomics invites girls to the ‘Conscious Closet Party’ — a clothes swapping movement. So bring in two (or more) of your almost new pieces — tops, bottoms, dresses, shoes, hats, saris, scarves, and swap them with equally tempting, well-laundered, and ironed clothes. Find new clothes, network, and do your bit for the environment. Sale proceeds will go towards charity. At Indiranagar. 6-9 pm. Tickets (`500) on explara.com
On the rocks
March 6 | Turahalli
Here’s your chance to learn rock climbing. Basecamp Adventures, which organises outdoor training activities, will cover the basics of rock climbing, and rappelling. Anyone from the age of five to 60 years is welcome. Do carry shoes, water, snacks, and your camera. Fee (`500). Near Banashankari Temple. 7.30 am. Details: basecampindia.com
March 10 | Casio
Casio is paying tribute to modern woman with its new watch collection. Called Sheen, it is crafted with exquisite materials such as resin glass, sapphire glass, leather and swarovski crystals, and features pink gold ion plated bands. `8,995 upwards. At Garuda Mall, Ashok Nagar. Details: 40698857
March 4 | PVR Cinemas
Ahead of the International Women’s Day, celebrate the bravery and grit of SP Abha Mathur in director Prakash Jha’s Jai Gangaajal. Mathur (played by Priyanka Chopra) is the first female SP of Bankipur district in Bihar, who takes on the corrupt MLAs of the area.
March 7 | Multiple venues
‘Happiness expert’ Neha Arora Nicholas organises workshops for the wellness of corporate professionals. Called Oh, So Happy! Ever After, she will teach your team how to remain cool under stress, a few neuroscience techniques to create a positive mindset, and pointers to increase productivity. She will hold a four hour-session for 35 participants in your office. 10 am-2 pm. Tickets (`35,000) on explara.com
Dance with Pierce
March 5 | blueFROG
Put on your dancing shoes as American DJ Troy Pierce takes charge of the console. He is known for his experimental modern techno beats, and has cut several albums and EPs. He also manages Run Stop Restore music label. `500 (cover). At Church Street. 9 pm. Details: 69999549
Till March 9 | Indian Kitchen
If you are yearning for Gujarati, and Marwari food, head to Indian Kitchen. It has flown down chefs from Gujarat and Rajasthan to rustle up authentic flavours of Western India. Savour its Gujarati kadhi, jowar bajra ki khichdi, malai ki phool kachodi, and much more. `300 onwards. At MG Road. Noon-3 pm, 7-11 pm. Details: 25598995
The otherwise reclusive stars of South Indian cinema are finally comfortable about sharing pictures and opinions,
and promoting themselves on social media.
WITH 3.4 million followers on Twitter, nearly 16 million likes on her Facebook page, and 1.9 million followers on Instagram, actor Shruti Haasan sure knows how to be the darling of social media. So whether she tweets about her London trip or posts pictures of an unusual moth on Facebook, it’s bound to attract attention. One can’t ignore A R Rahman either. The music composer has over 10 million followers on Twitter, and 22 million likes on Facebook. Meanwhile, Tamil film actor Siddharth has over two million followers on Twitter, and is constantly updating fans and followers about what he’s up to – personally and professionally. Enough has been said about how he used social media during the Chennai floods in December, to help with rescue and relief efforts.
Ironically, it was a different story just five years ago. In 2011, when Rama Krishna Veerapaneni, the managing director of the Hyderabad-based company Whacked Out Media, approached stars in South Indian cinema to use social media and engage with the world, he got a big ‘no’ from them.Hollywood had shown the way back in 2009-2010 when A-listers were all over the virtual world, and in India everyone was hooked onto what superstar Amitabh Bachchan was publishing online. Today, Sr Bachchan has about 19.6 million followers on Twitter, and about 24 million on Facebook. Shah Rukh Khan comes close, with 18.2 million followers on Twitter, and nearly 18 million on Facebook. In fact, a recent tweet sharing the official launch date of the trailer of his upcoming film Fan got him about 11,000 likes, and 5,733 retweets, and that is no meager number.
‘‘In the South, we really had to persuade the stars, and 2012-2013 was a roller coaster ride for us to bring them on board. They were reluctant, and privacy was their biggest concern. They were not sure of what to say and when,” explains Veerapaneni, whose company today manages the online presence of over 250 celebrities in the south.
Today, actors are using social media like never before. In fact, from announcing a new project, handling controversy, to even sharing a personal anecdote, social media has become a powerful mouthpiece for them.
With 1.2 million followers on Twitter, actor R Madhavan, the star of boxing film Irudhi Suttru, has reaped the benefits of being online. ‘‘Being on a social platform is not just the best way to get to know the changing trends among people of different age groups globally, it’s also the most effective way to follow the film fraternity, and stay updated,” he explains.
Actor Shruti Haasan agrees. ‘‘Apart from the medium playing a big role in helping us connect with our audiences, and to share our personal interests, it also gives us an instant idea of how we and our work is being perceived,” she says. The song Kolaveri Di from her 2012 film 3, went viral in no time, and was shared by millions even before the film was released.
For award-winning actor and early social media user, Priya Mani, the medium allows her to address issues that are close to her heart. ‘‘Be it pet adoption or something that is important to society, when we as celebs try to highlight it, people relate to it and help out. I try to respond to fans’ questions. But I am also of the opinion that one must not overdo it,” says the actor, who will be seen next in Yogaraj Bhat’s romantic comedy in Kannada, Dana Kayonu.
Behind the box office
While studies on Hollywood prove that movie stars who are active and supportive on Twitter significantly improve the exposure of a film, we have our very own case study. Back in 2012, when few South Indian films had made social media part of their marketing plans, the multilingual blockbuster film Bahubali capitalised on it. The movie’s online activity began almost three years prior to its release, and had the cast—Prabhas, Rajamouli, Rana Daggubati and Tamannaah — come on board to tweet about day-to-day activities. “It helped us a great deal to capture the market in the South and even abroad. We built our following right from the time we started the project and it came in handy during the time of the release,” admits producer Shobu Yarlagadda.
The Bahubali team has a dedicated 20-member team, now called Arka Connect, which is responsible for driving content on social media, ahead of the release of Bahubali 2, scheduled for December 2016.
Meanwhile, Lucia director Pawan Kumar chose Facebook to announce a new project, putting another script on the back burner. He stated online: “I wrote U Turn, a mystery thriller, really quick (in about three days I had the first draft ready). Got very excited, got good feedback and had enough budgets to produce this one… so started making this film and kept the script of C10 H14 N2 back in the drawer.” The news was soon picked up by several mainstream media houses.
Content in the virtual world can get out of hand as well, as seen last year, when actor Samantha Prabhu had commented on a poster of a film starring Mahesh Babu. His fan base got upset and her team at Whacked Out Media had to swing into action, leveraging her fans’ support and deciding which comments and respondents to engage with. “There are times when stars vent. But we do not allow them to mix their private life with professional work on social media. Washing dirty linen in public is an absolute no-no,” he adds.
Veterans catch up
While it’s the youngsters who garner massive fan base on social networking sites (Kajal Aggarwal has over 19 millions followers on Facebook), veterans like Kamal Haasan are leaving no stone unturned in terms of making their presence felt either. The actor made his debut on Twitter in January this year. “While Dhanush, Alu Arjun, Rana, Siddharth, Samantha, Tamannaah use Twitter extensively, we have seen veteran stars make their debut on Twitter, interact with fans, and use the medium to express their opinion on social and political issues. We know Pavan Kalyan likes to talk about political issues,” says Pratiksha Rao, entertainment head of Twitter India. Actor and historian Mohan Raman says, “The actors in the South can be divided into two groups. The first are those with strong, publicly-expressed political views. They are either openly endorsing a party or are in the party like Sharath Kumar. His wife Radhika also shares views on political affairs apart from promoting or retweeting appreciation for her shows. The same applies to Khushboo. The other half steers clear; they want to appear neutral. Hence the second half only talk about their films and shows. I belong to the second category. If I am critical, then it’s only about the central government and not local politicians. Why should I take a stand and alienate a sizable chunk of my followers?”
The Lal effect
Mohanlal has a unique way of handling social media. His blogs range from sensitive political issues such as the ongoing sedition debate in JNU—‘How can we live after the death of India’, which received over 500 retweets, 4,400 shares and 17,000 likes—to the funny workout stints with his son (left)—an instant hit with 1,90,000 likes and 400 retweets. Lal maintains constant contact with his fans through his blog (thecompleteactor.com)—by posting scanned copies of letters handwritten by himself.
One with Leone
With his timely updates and witty remarks, actor Jayasurya’s Facebook profile is always buzzing. Little did he know that his recent post in Malayalam, from the Vanitha film Awards 2016, would garner the attention of Sunny Leone herself. Hitting over 88,000 likes and 3,890 shares in just a matter of hours, he talked about how thrilled he was to finally meet Leone, who recently held her own during a rattling hot seat interview a with journalist on CNN-IBN.
One of the first on Twitter among Malayalam actors to get 100k followers, Dulquer Salmaan chose Instagram to show-off the modified version of his new Triumph Bourneville, inspired by Steve McQueen’s bike. The post hit 17.3k likes as motor enthusiasts from Kerala went gaga over it in less than 10 hours.
image and brand consultant
“I feel that the stars in the South don’t engage and leverage their fan following to the potential like how Bollywood does. South stars just report on their daily activities, post about their shoots etc. But just reporting won’t do. They need to post comments. They need to have an opinion. From what I have seen, stars in the South are always politically correct whereas Bollywood stars are not, and sometimes even have a foot in the mouth kind of situation. But that’s worth it. These things directly impact on traction and creating that buzz. Even in terms of addressing key issues, it does not happen much, barring the stand-alone Chennai floods when they mobilised their fans on social media into doing something for the cause.”
Kamal Haasan, actor
Cinema is only a part of my life.
A major part, some may argue. There is more to ask and talk of this world. Maybe you will see me trying to be rational at trying times, make sense of unjust deeds that befall us or sometimes attempt to understand myself
Kajal Aggarwal, actor
Being active on social media is the best way to connect with your fans and I believe it’s a great platform for interaction minus the Chinese whispers. I’ve been very vocal about trending issues and issues that I genuinely care about on my Facebook page. I’m not on Twitter so maybe the debates are limited in my situation
Anirudh Ravichander, music director
I use Twitter cause I strongly believe it has been a major player in my success. I can connect easily with fans and their emotions.
I’m sure I wouldn’t be ‘Anirudh’ without it. Period
Nagarjuna Akkineni, actor
I use Twitter to update fans about my work. I rarely post or discuss things that are mired in controversy. When my film teaser or trailer is ready, I let my 1.35 million fans know about it. I am here to spread positivity, not controversies. I have a life beyond the hashtags
Mohan Ram, actor and film historian
Amitabh Bachchan retweets, and it happened with me. I tweeted to him saying in one of his films he looked a lot like the superstar Rajnikanth in Basha. He replied saying, ‘do you really think so?’ So I posted a photo of him from that particular movie and Rajni and said ‘you judge for yourself’. It was at 1.30 am and couldn’t have been an employee; no paid employee replies at that hour
(with inputs from Anoop Menon)
March 4 | Crafts Council of India
With exquisite weaves and crafts from across the country, the exhibition by the Crafts Council of India is much anticipated. The two-day event will showcase designers and brands like Abha Dalmia (Benaras saris), Anya Designs (yakatori silk patchwork), Mayori (kurtas), Saree Tree (khadi), Unma Designs (ikats) and others. March 4-5, 10 am to 7 pm. Details: 24341456
At the movies
March 4 | SPI Cinemas
Fresh from the Academy Awards, Priyanka Chopra will next be seen as Abha Mathur in Jai Gangaajal. Mathur, the first female SP of Bankipur district in Bihar, goes against the local MLA, Bablu Pandey (played by Manav Kaul) and attempts to bring the goons of Lakhisarai district to justice. Directed by Prakash Jha — who also plays a role in the movie — there is a song rendered by Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis’ wife, Amruta. Music by Salim-Sulaiman. Details: 42244224
March 4 | Evoluzione
Celebrity designer Namrata Joshipura leaves her sequins and neoprene behind and brings an easy to wear collection to Chennai. The Spring Summer collection will include some fun gilets, capes and dresses. With the designer on hand, fans can get styling tips and discuss contemporary silhouettes. March 4-5. More on P15. Details: 28333627
March 5 | Nehru Indoor Stadium
Playback singer and four-time National Award winner Shreya Ghoshal will be performing live at the Nehru Indoor Stadium tomorrow. Expect her recent hits like Pookkalae sattru oyivedungal and Pinga, among others. A crowd of over 6,000 people is expected. From 6.30 pm. Tickets from `1,000 onwards
March 6 | Chetpet Lake
Chetpet Lake is unrecognisable, with the water body restored by the State Fisheries Department. The new angling and boating address will have six paddle boats on offer and space for at least 30 anglers at the fishing spot. The eco park includes a jogging track, a children’s park, a rooftop restaurant serving seafood delicacies, an open air auditorium and a multimedia centre. A 30-minute boat ride at `50 for adults, `25 for children.
March 7 | Phoenix MarketCity
Phoenix MarketCity is buzzing with activity. While the Alliance Francaise of Madras conducts the street play The Horsemen tomorrow, the new toy train at the mall will take children on a short tour past the stores. There is a bus as well. Hop off at the new Nautica Kids store and choose from bright children’s apparel, like denims, shorts, T-shirts, and more. `1,300 onwards. Details: 30083007
March 8 | Taj Coromandel
On the occasion of Women’s Day, Jiva Grande Spa at Taj Coromandel has a special package. Get an hour-long session of Indian aromatherapy, with therapeutic oils. Guests can choose from a variety of energising and detoxifying blends. A two-course spa wellness meal is also part of the deal. From March 8-31, 11 am to 5 pm. `4,000. Details: 66002827
March 10 | Ente Keralam
Sample Kerala’s favourite backwater and toddy shop food at the ongoing Toddy Curry Festival at Ente Keralam. Tuck into seafood dishes like meen peera, konju kurumilagittadhu, Thalassery biryani, idi erachi and scrambled crab meat from Kannur. Till March 20. `800 onwards for two (lunch or dinner for two). Details: 32216589
March 9, Doner Kebab Bistro
Easily accessible on Anderson Road, the new Doner Kebab Bistro has the German staple — in both beef and chicken options — and other treats like arancini (stuffed rice balls), garlic butter prawns and churros with milk chocolate. Open from 11 am to 11 pm, it appears the kitty party and college crowd have already discovered the place. Meal for two at `1,000 onwards. Details: 45018008