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Style king's silver bash

Shivajirao Gaikwad began life as a bus conductor. Today he's known as Rajnikanth, undisputed emperor of Tamil cinema.

To mark the 25th year of his cinema debut, Rajnikanth's fans plan a bash in December. That means the release of a taped medley of his film songs, with a message in his voice. Latha, Rajnikanth's wife, is the moving spirit behind the month-long Chennai celebration.

Tamil Nadu waits with bated breath to see if he'll enter politics and become the next MGR. "My route is different," he repeats every few shots in his latest blockbuster Padaiyappa, but cinema to chief ministership is a time-honoured route in this state.

Watches, gold coins and posters will be among the commemorative merchandise on sale, and their proceeds will go towards the school Latha runs for the underprivileged.

Historic webcast, but not all browsers are happy

Netaid hasn't yet announced how much money it collected from the biggest ever charity show on October 9, but the 11-hour concert entertained millions around the globe.

Pop celebrities performed simultaneously at New York, London and Geneva for the biggest charity concert since Live Aid, which took place in 1985.

Sixty countries aired the concert on TV and 132 nations on radio.

But it was bigger for the Internet. Browsers around the world saw the concert live in streaming video, or just heard the audio. A London report said the huge number of people accessing the Netaid site made the pictures jerky and grainy. Many browsers complained they couldn't log on at all.

The audio webcast reached India too, but the reception was somewhat like a shortwave radio's.

The London concert drew a crowd of 80,000. The Black Crowes, Jewel, Sting, Puff Daddy, Jimmy Page and Busta' Rhymes performed at New York. About 1,200 UN staff heard the concert in Geneva. The United Nations Development Fund was the moving spirit behind the concert.

Towards the end, a live link brought the three concerts together.

Netaid's website gives stark details of poverty and hunger. Its charity concert was backed by 1,200 servers in 90 locations worldwide. The causes to which you can contribute at the site are "ending hunger, helping refugees, saving the environment, securing human rights, and relieving debt".

Yesudas finds remixes 'meaningless'

Yesudas, singer of such hits as Gori tera gaon bada pyara, finds more noise than music in today's songs.

The Kerala Film Critics Association honoured him in Thiruvananthapuram on October 2.

Yesudas has been singing for the last four decades in Hindi and the southern languages. He disapproved of remixes, saying they ignored in what context the composer had made the original tune.

The singer, in his 50s, said he would continue singing. "I'll stop if someone points out an apaswara in my voice," he told a press meet the same day.

Yesudas bemoaned the lack of melody in film tunes these days, which he felt was replaced by "instrumental noise".

What fuels search engines?

Diana Ross topped the Lycos 50 list after she was hauled off an aircraft in London.

The pop diva didn't like the way she was frisked, and vented her ire. Customs authorities didn't like that, and she was arrested.

Lycos prepares a weekly list of its top 50 search requests, and Diana was number one in the list put out on September 24.

Lycos was flooded with requests for information about Diana Ross, and she pushed down other musicians currently popular as search items.

Ricky Martin, the Spanish sensation, was barely in at 48, although Shania Twain, the midriff-flaunting singer, and Jeniffer Lopez, another pop star, figured higher up.

The list indicates preoccupations in the USA. Browsers seek information about TV stars, and models like Pamela Anderson. Interestingly, there were more requests for information on tattoos than on pregnancy. When the school season opens, "frogs" outstrips many glamorous stars, perhaps because students have to submit assignments.

Virtual music store in Bangalore

The group of six entrepreneurs behind Fabmart take pride in their virtual music store www.fabmart.com. It's not a website, they are careful to point out, it's a store, with the same virtual contours of one.

With a collection of 4,000 titles, soon to reach 10,000, they offer customers in over 850 cities across India a wide range of music in all languages and genres. Soon they will also be servicing other countries.

An attraction is their exclusive titles. To begin with they offer Dr Balamuralikrishna's Sarvasri for Rs 50. That's a title available nowhere but at Fabmart now. It's a tape comprising six compositions on god Ganesha.

The online release, Fabmart says, is unique. "It's a worldwide first," says V S Sudhakar, managing director, Fabmart Pvt Ltd.

"Clients in India can order music, and we deliver in 72 hours," Vaitheeswaran, vice president (marketing), told The Music Magazine. "They can walk through international and Indian title corridors, and maybe just window shop".

All for the soldiers

Tips has priced its tape Meri Jaan Hindustan at Rs 45, and promises to donate the entire amount to the Army Central Welfare Fund.

That's their way of saying thank you to our soldiers.

Subbudu's back from hospital

Subbudu, Chennai's most famous music critic, is back from hospital after a surgery.

The man with the trenchant pen, now in his eighties, is recovering in Delhi. He denied rumours that he had cancer.

T K Govinda Rao will be Sangeeta Kalanidhi

T K Govinda Rao will receive the Sangeeta Kalanidhi title at the Music Academy's 73rd annual conference in Chennai in December.

The senior vocalist gets this honour this year. Each year one artiste is conferred the title.

Lata award for Asha

The Maharashtra government has chosen Asha Bhonsle for the 1998-'99 Lata Mangeshkar Puraskar.

It's all in the family. Asha's versatility finds official acclaim, and the bonus is that the award is in sister Lata's name!

The award carries a citation and a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh.

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