A series of talks was organised at the Press Institute of India during Madras Week, August 17 to 21, 2015. As in earlier years, the objective was to link heritage with journalism, communication and the media and subjects/ speakers were chosen on that basis.
Heritage enthusiast Pradeep Chakravarthy set the ball rolling with his presentation titled ‘Press clippings from the 11th Century – A glimpse at the walls of the Tiruvottiyur Temple’. He talked about how the temple inscriptions of a bygone era carried significant messages for the public and how they reflected the social mores. Sadly, many such inscriptions in temples across India have been destroyed thanks to neglect and shoddy maintenance.
Filmmaker, photographer and writer S. Anvar’s film, ‘Yaadhum – A Tamil Muslim’s historical journey’, was introduced by senior journalist and Madras storyteller S. Muthiah. Anvar explained how the film was made and the efforts that went into making it. In the film, Anvar explores his Tamil Muslim identity and the history of the Tamil Muslims. Yaadhum was selected as the Best Documentary Film by the Tamil Nadu Progressive Writers and Artists Association. It had won the Bronze Remi Award in the Ethnic/Culture Category at the 48th WorldFest Houston International Film Festival this year.
K.R.A. Narasiah, writer in Tamil and English, took the audience through the journey traversed by Tamil newspapers and magazines over the past century and more. Titled ‘From Swadesamitran to Dina Thanthi’, Narasiah’s talk dwelt mainly on the history and evolution of Tamil journalism in Madras, the establishment and growth of leading newspapers such as Dina Thanthi, Dinamani and Dinamalar, and magazines such as Kumudam, Ananda Vikatan and Kalki.
‘Photography on glass – when photography came to Madras’, presented by S. Muthiah and D. Krishnan, provided fascinating insights into the origins of photography and its beginnings in India – in Madras – in the mid-19th Century. Backed by pictures of another age, they described how huge box cameras were tugged along over miles to arrive at the destination and the efforts put in to get the right frame. About 50-odd pictures taken by such pioneers were put up on display at the PII Conference Hall.
Veteran adman R.V. Rajan recalled some of the good old days in advertising in Madras, and the kind of advertisements that were made, graduating slowly from black-and-white to single-tone to two-tone to multi-colour. He played a few of the unforgettable radio and TV jingles in Tamil, a throwback to the 1960s to 1980s when there seemed to be a lot more creative flair. The proceedings began with the release of Rajan’s recently produced booklet titled ‘Media & Advertising in Chennai – A fascinating story’. Veteran writer-editor S.R. Madhu released the book.
Visitors to the sessions included journalists, students of Journalism, teachers and heritage enthusiasts.