REFUGEES SEEKING A DESERTED TOWN

Ironically when long term residents were fleeing a fast emptying Madras, a new set of refugees took sanctuary in that city. Rangoon in Burma suffered aerial bombardments on the Christmas day 1941 when 40 Japanese Zero bombers wreaking havoc. One lakh people died and their bodies lay uncleared for days. Tamils were the commercial backbone…

1940 – The year of Fires

Fires of a world war were raging across the globe, but 1940 was a year of three famous blazes in Madras, which in a way rewrote the history of the town. The New Year started with a fire which gutted the Congress run All India Khadi and Swadeshi exhibition, whose organization had been compared in the…

When Censorship withered film production

1942 started a ruinous stint for the nascent talkie industry of Madras. Wartime evacuations of both audience and producers (AVM moved to Devakottai Rastha) and restriction of post dusk shows had already hit the industry hard. Then came the next jolt. German film technology (AGFA film mainly) had sustained Indian cinema with negative raw stock…

When Gandhi rode a Madras bus

Gandhi had a close-knit but somewhat tumultuous relationship with Madras which in over fifty years he would visit twenty times. In 1896 Gandhi first visited Madras and newspapers reported that he ‘read out’ a protracted speech which the crowd at Pachaiyappan hall was patient enough to hear fully. 20 years later and a satisfactory orator…

Madras and the Stealer of Locks

The world war times were periods of paradox. It was 1942 and the height of world war 2. The British said they would defend Madras at any cost. And the people believed them. But when nearby Colombo , Vizag and Kakinada were bombed mercilessly by the Japanese Fear entrenched itself in the minds of the…