Sterlite Protest
Internet services will be suspended in Thoothukudi, Thirunalveli and Kanyakumari districts from May 23-27.
  • Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 19:43

In the wake of the protests on-going in Thoothukudi, telecom players have received a directive from the Chief Secretary to bar data services in three districts of Tamil Nadu – Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts. However, voice calls have not been barred. Data services will be barred from Tuesday evening (May 23) until May 27.

The News Minute has confirmed from sources in at least two telecom companies that they have received a directive from the Director General of Police of Tamil Nadu to temporarily suspend internet services.

The directive issued by the Chief Secretary states that it has been brought to the notice the government that some people died in police action during the protest against Sterlite factory at Thoothukudi on May 22, which saw 20,000 people assemble and involve in violence and that this mass gathering of people was achieved mainly through the information passed via social media.

It further states that provocative messages spread in social media with ‘half truth' and anti-social elements are trying to exploit the situation, leading to a public emergency situation, which necessitates immediate action and for public tranquillity. “…and it felt necessary that services of internet should be stopped/curtailed to prevent spreading of such information, rumours with half truth,” it states.

This directive has been passed under the sub-rule (1) of the Rule 2 of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017.

The directive orders telecom players to temporarily suspend ‘any data related message or class of message to or from any person or class of persons or relating to any particular subject brought for transmission by or transmitted or received by any telegraph within the ambit of the Indian telegraph act 1885 and newly formed rule Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, shall temporarily not be transmitted in the interest of maintaining public order and preventing incitement to the commission or any offense passing through the internet’.

Since Wednesday morning, the police had asked the public to remain indoors to avoid any untoward incident.

The situation in Thoothukudi remains tense, with prohibitory orders under Section 144 clamped down in the town.

In a related development, the Madras High Court on Wednesday stayed the construction work at Vedanta Ltd's second copper smelter plant at Thoothukudi.

The company had planned to double its smelting capacity to 800,000 tonnes per annum at the Sterlite copper smelter plant.

The court ordered the company to stop construction and other related activities concerning the second copper smelter plant till a decision was taken by the Environment Ministry.

The court also directed the Centre to hold a public hearing within four months before granting environment clearance to the plant.

Read: In pics: Anti-Sterlite protest in Thoothukudi, the violence and aftermath

Also read: Controversial retd judge Aruna Jagadeesan to probe Thoothukudi killings by cops

While the specifics of the deal haven’t been disclosed, reports suggest the deal size to be between $30 million and $40 million.
  • Wednesday, May 23, 2018 - 12:29

Betting big on the online ticketing space, digital payments major Paytm has acquired Orbgen Technologies, the entity that operates TicketNew, a Chennai-based online ticketing platform. 

This comes after Alibaba Group's entertainment arm Alibaba Pictures Group acquired a majority stake in TicketNew in June last year.

While the specifics of the deal haven’t been disclosed, Economic Times pegs the deal to be between $30 million and $40 million as Paytm acquires the business from Alibaba’s entertainment arm.

Paytm Entertainment, on its part, has increased its online penetration in India by more than 50% and claims to have built a strong business in South India and is working exclusively with iconic single screen theatres and regional multiplex chains including Suresh Productions, V Celluloid, SVC and Anusri Cinemas among others. It recently also announced a ticketing partnership with SPI Cinemas, which owns landmark properties such as Sathyam Cinemas, Le Rêve, The Cinema, in Chennai, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.

Overall, according to the company, Paytm Entertainment has sold over 52 million tickets  in the last 12 months and is the ticketing partner for over 4,000 screens in 675 cities.

“We are on a mission to be the one-stop destination for all movie and entertainment ticketing needs. It is our goal to be the leader in every city in India and offer the opportunity to all cinema partners to reach Paytm’s customers. TicketNew founders have built a fantastic business in South India and share the same partnership mindset as Paytm. Under their leadership, Paytm is seeking to connect TicketNew partner cinemas to Paytm’s more than 300 million customers and further invest in helping grow their occupancy and revenues. With this acquisition, we have taken a step closer to our goal of making Paytm Entertainment the No. 1 player in this space,” Madhur Deora, Chief Financial Officer, and SVP, Paytm said in a statement.

Ever since it forayed into this space in March 2016, Paytm has been betting big on the ticketing space to take on the market leader BookMyShow. In July 2017, it acquired a majority stake in, an events ticketing platform, giving it a lead into the rapidly growing live entertainment space in India.  Since this acquisition Paytm claims to have successfully ticketed over 8000 events with over a million tickets sold. 

Also read: Netflix signs multi-year production deal with Obamas, to produce documentaries and more

Future Group CEO Kishore Biyani visited Seattle earlier this year to meet with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to explore a possible deal.
  • Tuesday, May 22, 2018 - 10:56
Image source: Yash Y. Vadiwala via Wikimedia Commons

After failing to crack the deal with Indian ecommerce giant Flipkart, US-based retail giant Amazon is said to be in talks with India’s largest brick-and-mortar retail company Future Retail, to acquire a stake.

Future Retail, which is the retail arm of Kishore Biyani-led retail and FMCG giant Future Group, owns physical retail stores such as Big Bazaar and Easy Day.

This development was first reported by FactorDaily, which quoted sources as saying that Amazon is looking to pump in roughly $600 million for a 10% stake in the company.

While Future Group denied commenting on the speculation, sources have told The News Minute that Kishore Biyani and Jeff Bezos did meet earlier this year to explore a possible deal.

Biyani visited Seattle around January or February to meet with Jeff Bezos, post which executives from Seattle came down to Mumbai to meet with Kishore Biyani and his team. However, discussions had been put on hold after that.

Both companies seemingly wanted to wait till the Walmart-Flipkart deal was announced and then take things forward.

Also read: Trader association CAIT to move CCI against Walmart-Flipkart deal

Future Retail is a listed company with a market cap of over Rs 26,000 crore and has over 900 stores across the country. Kishore Biyani, who has largely been known to criticise ecommerce players, has also made some unsuccessful attempts earlier at ecommerce with Future Bazaar, Big bazaar Direct and the acquisition of FabFurish, all of which were eventually shut down.

The Walmart-Flipkart acquisition has brought focus on the grocery market, which is Walmart’s area of specialty. The market is expected to heat up in the coming months with BigBasket, Grofers, Flipkart, Amazon, Paytm Mall and Future Group upping their game to capture the market.

In fact, Future Group is currently testing an app for online delivery groceries for EasyDay members through a subscription service on the lines of Amazon Prime. This service will target daily and weekly needs of consumers such as dairy, fresh fruits, vegetables and staples.

A deal with Amazon is most likely to not only help Future Retail strengthen its presence in online grocery, but also help the company’s omni-channel strategy. According to reports, Future Group, which currently acquires about 10-15% customers through the online-to-offline channel, is planning to increase this to up to 35%.

For Amazon, this will help expand its capabilities in the same category. Amazon, through its Amazon Direct and Amazon Fresh services has been looking at entering the grocery segment in India. A deal with Future Retail will also help it have an offline presence and give it access to the large customer base of Future Group. Through the customers who have shopped at Future stores, Future Retail has data of over 500 million consumers, which will give Amazon immense insight into the shopping behaviour, patterns of Indian shoppers.

Most importantly, the deal will help Amazon take on Walmart-Flipkart in the Indian market.

Amazon has in the past invested in brick-and-mortar retail companies. In September 2017, it had bought a 5% stake in Shoppers Stop for Rs 175 crore.

Future Retail too, on its part, has been growing aggressively and has made over five acquisitions of supermarket chains over the past few years. This includes Bharti Retail, Nilgiri's, Hypercity, Heritage’s retail division and most recently, Foodworld Supermarkets. Big Bazaar, which is Future Retail’s flagship store reportedly posted an 8% increase in sales at Rs 18,489 crore in FY18. It has posted a net profit of Rs 11.31 crore in FY18 as against Rs 368.28 crore in FY17. 

Also read: Ather Energy launches largest EV charging network for an Indian city in Bengaluru

Hug is among the 20 startups from India to make it to the India Emerging Twenty (IE20) program, which will help expand their business to London.
  • Monday, May 21, 2018 - 16:07

Hyderabad-based Gesture control smartwatch maker Hug Innovations has been recognized as one of the top 20 emerging Indian companies by Mayor of London and has made it to the IE20 business programme.

Hug Innovations was founded by Raj Neravati and is a gesture-control technology and devices startup based out of Hyderabad’s T-Hub. Hug has developed the world's first gesture controlled smartwatch, which comes with Contextual Intelligence that instinctively understands the intent of your actions, be it to turn up the music or dim the lights using just hand gestures. It can also send out SOS signals using hand gestures. These devices are manufactured by Foxconn.

It also has a sports fitness tracker called Hug Elan, which can intelligently detect the sport or activity the wearer is doing.

India Emerging Twenty (IE20) is a program created by London & Partners and launched by the Mayor of London. Its mission is to discover 20 of India’s most innovative and high-growth companies to help them grow in London. This is the third edition of IE20 after it was launched by London & Partners, which is the Mayor’s promotional agency.

“Hug Innovations, as part of its expansion has invested into expanding to North America this year. Now with this award, we have a opportunity to explore and see the UK market as well,” Raj said.

Also read: Hyd-based Gayam Motor Works to supply electric vehicles to ChaiGuru for delivery

Apart from Hug, the other startups to make it to the program include Appnomic, Biozeen, Dineout, Fork Media, Iksula,, Saffron Stays, Black Pepper, FSM, Intello Labs, Senseforth, Chai Point, Gaia smart cities, Happay, Ittisa, Lucideus, Wigzo, Chakr Innovations and Videonetics.

Over 300 startups applied for the program and the final 20 come from several fields including healthtech, music, hospitality, agritech, food retail, AI, among others.

As part of the program the startups will gain entry into London’s business community. They will be offered six months of free office membership, market entry support including sector overview, positioning options and potential client and competitor mapping. The program also includes a London funding consultation, a marketing and PR consultation, enrolment in the London Business Growth Programme and support and mentoring to help the companies grow their business in London.

Also read: Trader association CAIT to move CCI against Walmart-Flipkart deal

The Confederation of All India Traders also wrote to Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu seeking to know what steps the Government has taken to scrutinise the deal.
  • Monday, May 21, 2018 - 14:48

Despite Flipkart assuring sellers that there will be no operational changes post the Walmart-Flipkart deal, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) continues to oppose the deal and is moving Competition Commission of India (CCI) to file its objections regarding the deal.                                                    

CAIT also wrote to Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu seeking to know what steps the Government has taken to scrutinise the deal and check if it is violating any law or FDI policy of the government.

Ever since the deal entered its final stages, seller associations have been raising their voices against the deal claiming that it not only violates FDI laws in the country but will also lead to an uneven level-playing field for domestic sellers, affecting their sales.

 In a statement, CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said that important issues such as FDI policy, cyber security, apprehension of using ecommerce for entering into retail trade by circumventing the law come into play with respect to the deal and that given the stiff opposition from trade bodies and online vendors, the government must take notice and scrutinise the deal in depth of it.

“The Walmart Flipkart deal will prove to be a nightmare for retail trade and the economy of the country. There will be enormous job losses and an uneven level playing field will be created with such deals. It is highly regretted that so far Government has not taken any step to consult the traders despite lodging their objections with the Commerce Ministry. Such an attitude indicates the turning balance towards MNCs at the cost of ignoring the domestic retail trade,” he said.

Also read: Flipkart's acquisition a blow to 'Make in India' campaign: CPI(M) slams Walmart deal

Praveen further points out that interest rates for financial lending in US, Europe and other countries are as less as 1.5-2.5% while in India its around 12-20% per annum. This difference in interest rates in itself, he says, is enough to kill the domestic trade.

“The government should take steps to bridge the gap to maintain equal level playing field and to encourage healthy business practices in the country,” he added.

Earlier, The All India Online Vendors Association (AIOVA) too expressed its reservation with the deal. It feared that Walmart might bring in its own private labels via Flipkart to Indian consumers at hyper-competitive prices, which will cannibalise the market and make it difficult for domestic sellers to operate.

Walmart acquired 77% stake in Flipkart earlier this month for $16 billion. Walmart’s investment includes $2 billion of new equity funding. Walmart and Flipkart are also in discussions with additional potential investors who may join the round.

Post the deal announcement, Flipkart wrote to sellers, assuring them that they will continue to benefit and that Flipkart’s focus on making sellers succeed will continue with the same vigour as in recent years.

“As you know, Flipkart has constantly optimised operations and passed on the benefits resulting from such efficiencies to sellers, this, empowering them to deliver an even more fulfilling experience to customers. With Walmart on board, we are committed to doing more of the same,” Flipkart CEO Binny Bansal wrote.

Also read: Google’s Alphabet unsure of picking up minority stake in Flipkart, weighs options

Tech Shorts
The OnePlus 6 will be available in an early access Prime sale on Amazon and from 12 noon today.
  • Monday, May 21, 2018 - 10:49

OnePlus’ flagship for the year, the 6.28-inch OnePlus 6 goes on sale in India on Monday across pop-up stores across eight Indian cities and on

OnePlus is opening pop-up stores across Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Chennai on May 21 and 22, where users can experience and purchase the OnePlus 6 over two days, on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Online, the OnePlus 6 will be available in an early access Prime sale on Amazon and from 12 noon today.

Starting May 22, the device will also be available for open sales across all channels including OnePlus Authorized Stores and 100+ Croma stores.

OnePlus 6 will be available in in 6 GB RAM + 64 GB storage and 8 GB RAM + 128 GB storage option in Mirror Black color. The Midnight Black color is available with 8 GB RAM + 128 GB Storage. The 64 GB variant is priced at Rs 34,999 whereas the 128 GB variant is priced at Rs 39,999.

The 6.28-inch device comes with a Full Optic AMOLED 19:9 display, making it OnePlus' largest-ever screen. It comes with an all-glass design, which the company claims facilitates better transmission of radio waves, providing users with up to 1 gigabit of download speed.

It runs on the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, which improves performance by 30%, while being 10% more power efficient. OnePlus 6 features a 3,300 mAh battery along with Dash charge.

The OnePlus 6 features a 16MP main camera, supported by a 20MP secondary camera. With an f/1.7 aperture, the 16MP main camera has been bolstered by a 19% larger sensor and OIS for improved performance in a range of lighting conditions.

With the OnePlus 6, the company has introduced Portrait Mode on the front camera as well as its rear and has newly added bokeh effects, including circles, hearts and stars offer new ways for users to customize their portraits.

With the launch of the OnePlus 6, the company is also giving several offers such as  cashback of Rs 2,000 on transactions using SBI Debit and Credit Card in first week of OnePlus 6 launch. They will also be eligible to avail No Cost EMI for upto 3 months on all popular banks.

In addition to this, all OnePlus 6 customers will be eligible for 12-month Accidental Damage Insurance by Servify on downloading Kotak 811 app as well as Rs 250 for all Amazon Prime Video consumers and discounts up to Rs 500 on Amazon Kindle e-books. Other partner offers include up to Rs 2,000 cash back and Device Insurance for Idea subscribers and benefits up to Rs 25,000 on flight and hotel bookings from ClearTrip.

Tech Shorts
OnePlus claims that this is the company’s fastest and most sophisticated flagship yet.
  • Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 18:27

The scorching Mumbai summer heat didn’t stop thousands of OnePlus fans from flocking to NSCI Dome on Thursday to witness the launch on the Chinese smartphone maker’s flagship for the year – OnePlus 6. There was much excitement at the venue, quite rare for a smartphone launch.

As a brand, OnePlus is known to foster a community of its users, constantly engaging with them through pop-ups, events, campaigns, and other such events. The result? Thousands of fans travelled from all over the country just to come witness the company launch a smartphone.

OnePlus’ flagship for the year, the OnePlus 6 is the first flagship to feature an all-glass design, making it – as the company claims – the most sophisticated handset launched by the smartphone maker.

Coming to the specs, with a 6.28-inch Full Optic AMOLED 19:9 display, the 6 is OnePlus' largest-ever screen. But there isn’t much of a change in the form factor as compared to the OnePlus 5T. 

"With the OnePlus 6, we challenged ourselves to deliver an external design as smooth and elegant as the work we've done inside the device. We're proud of what we've accomplished, and we hope our users are too," Pete Lau, OnePlus Founder and CEO said in a statement.

The smartphone runs of the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor. Combining new technology from Qualcomm with OnePlus' engineering, the company claims that the OnePlus 6 is the fastest handset the company has ever produced. 

“The Snapdragon 845 Mobile Platform with X20 LTE is designed with new architectures for AI, immersion, and blazing fast download speeds, allowing users to do even more with their mobile devices,” said Keith Kressin, Senior Vice President of Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., “It was purpose built for premium user experiences like immersive gaming, cinema-grade video capture, and long-lasting battery life.”

The process improves performance by 30%, while being 10% more power efficient. It also come in two RAM variants – 6GB and 8GB. It also comes with dual-lane storage, based on UFS 2.1, which ensures faster app loading and read/write speeds.  

Speaking of the design, the OnePlus 6 comes with an all-glass design, which the company claims facilitates better transmission of radio waves, providing users with up to 1 gigabit of download speed. It also comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and the back of the device.

The camera, which is the most popular feature of OnePlus smartphones, features a 16MP main camera, supported by a 20MP secondary camera. With an f/1.7 aperture, the 16MP main camera has been bolstered by a 19 percent larger sensor and OIS for outstanding performance in a range of lighting conditions.

With the OnePlus 6, the company has introduced Portrait Mode on the front camera as well as its rear. Using AI, the front camera is able to apply a depth of field effect to selfies. Newly added bokeh effects, including circles, hearts and stars offer new ways for users to customize their portraits. 

The OnePlus 6 also marks the introduction of OnePlus' Slow-Motion mode, which can capture high-definition video frame-by-frame with astonishing detail, ensuring users never miss the action. 

OnePlus 6 features a 3,300 mAh battery along with Dash charge. A half-hour charge gives the OnePlus 6 enough power for the entire day, OnePlus claims.

OnePlus 6 comes in three color variants: Mirror Black, Midnight Black and a limited-edition Silk White.

While most of the specs of the phone were already know, thanks to leaks, the most anticipated piece of information was the price. There were many rumours regarding the price. OnePlus took the excitement a notch higher with Amitabh Bachchan, the brand ambassador of OnePlus announcing the price.

OnePlus 6 will be sold at Rs 34,999 for the 6 GB RAM + 64 GB variant and Rs 39,999 for the 8 GB RAM and 128 GB in Mirror Black and Midnight Black color options. It will be available in an early access sale on, and OnePlus experience store in Bangalore on 21 May, 2018 at 12:00 pm. 

OnePlus also unveiled the OnePlus 6 x Marvel Avengers Limited Edition that will be available with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage at Rs 44,999 and will go live on sale starting May 29. The limited-edition Silk White with 128 GB of storage will be available for purchase on June 5 at Rs 39,999.

Adding to the exciting lineup of smartphones, OnePlus also launched Bluetooth earphones - OnePlus Bullets Wireless, with features such as seamlessly pausing and resuming music when the earbuds are magnetically clipped together, dash charge giving five hours of continuous audio from just 10 minutes of charging and dust, water and sweat resistance. OnePlus Bullets Wireless is priced at Rs 3,999 and will be available soon in India.

The cinematographer talks to TNM about how he prepared for the film, his favourite shot, and how he recreated some of the actor’s most popular scenes.
  • Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - 15:03
Image source:

As you watch love blossoming between Savitri and Gemini Ganesan in Mahanati, with Sada Nannu playing in the background, the song ends with both of them sitting on the rocks at a beach in Chennai. Spoiler alert! This is when Ganesan, played by Dulquer Salmaan, tells Savitri, played by Keerthy Suresh, that he is already married.

With waves crashing on the bridge of rocks that protrudes into the sea while children play innocently nearby, it’s a beautiful setting depicting the conflict in the minds of both characters.

It also happens to be Mahanati’s cinematographer Dani Sanchez Lopez’s favourite scene. Especially given what went down before shooting there.

“There was this idyllic beach I saw while scouting locations in Chennai. I saw these kids jumping and playing around on the beach. I told Nag Ashwin (director) that look, it’s so beautiful, but it’s a pity we can’t shoot there as it’s completely unviable. Where would we place the crew… and everyone would get wet. But Nag took on the challenge and said ‘let’s do it’ and we made it happen,” Dani says in a conversation with The News Minute.

When they went to shoot there the next day, the children weren’t there. Dani fondly recollects how they went looking for the kids, had them excused from school to come shoot there and how Dulquer and Keerthy had less than a minute to jump off the rock and run to avoid getting wet. But they got soaked anyway.

“It was a little adventure. It was magical,” Dani smiles.

And that’s how Dani remembers his entire journey of shooting for Mahanati – magical.

He talks with much excitement about the movie, remembering every single detail and the challenges that they overcame to create Mahanati.

“Not knowing the language actually helped me. Because I have to tell the story through the subtext of what the actors actually mean through my camera work,” the Spanish cinematographer says.


Dani, who had earlier worked on Jagga Jasoos, was brought on board after Nag liked his work in the Bollywood film, especially the colours he used.

But Mahanati demanded something much bigger. The story of a legendary actor, entwined with the story of a journalist, Mahanati was a complex film, given it goes through the 1940s, 1950s, all the way into the 1980s.

Some of the most exceptional scenes from Savitri’s hits were recreated in Mahanati, including popular songs such as Vivaha Bhojanambu and Aha na Pelanta from Mayabazar and Raavoyi Chandamama from Missamma.

“I started off with watching all the movies Savitri had done. I analysed what different masters of Telugu films did in those days and analysed the frames, where the lights were, where the cameras were placed, how Savitri was photographed and how everything looked,” Dani says talking about recreating the black and white scenes in the films.

But the recreation was challenging, Dani says, because they had to work with how the colour would look like before they went into the cut of black and white. It had to be seamless.

“It was a collaborative effort between me, the production design team that managed to recreate the colours of the background, the shape of the walls, the costumes and jewellery perfectly, and Keerthy Suresh, who knew every single piece of gesture Savitri was doing in the scenes. Mayabazar, which also had the colour version was even more challenging. We had to recreate both the colour version plus the black and white because we were going black and white in the film,” he says, adding that it was a success because if you place old and new frames side by side, you can see that it is extremely similar.

Also read: 'Nadigaiyar Thilagam': More Telugu than Tamil, but this Savitri fan is content

The use of colours

And not just the black and white scenes, the colours used in Mahanati too were well thought out. Dani says that the colours in the movie show the evolution of Savitri’s character.

As the story begins with Savitri as a child, there are a lot of greens, browns – the colours of the earth. The camera is always capturing sunsets, something Dani says he made sure of.

“We would go into interiors, shoot under trees, near fields, bring in the feeling of sunrise and sunset,” he adds.

Once Savitri moves to the city to become an actor, you start seeing more hues of gold. Once she starts growing as an actor, we start getting all the warm tones around her, there is more gold and brightness as she grows and once her downfall begins, it’s all blue, which is a colder colour, representing her frustration contrasted by layers of darkness.

“There is also another storyline with Gemini Ganesan, which is a love story. With love comes red, the colour of love in the film, and we start seeing it in both the leads. Even in production design as in colour grading or lighting of the film. But then the grandness of Savitri becomes a little too much for Ganesan to take and he becomes jealous. Then the colour becomes green, to represent envy,” Dany says.

Also read: 'Mahanati': How the 'cutesy' Keerthy Suresh has grown as an actor to play Savitri

Portraying nostalgia

The story of Savitri is told through memories of people in Mahanati. Dani says that they wanted those sections to have a different look.

“Since we learn about her through people’s memories, we wanted the scenes to look flashy, like how people remember things from the past. And the nostalgia was brought through the lenses. We used anamorphic lenses to show grandness,” he adds.

The parallel storyline of Madhuravaani, played by Samantha, also sees a similar evolution of colours. Her story is set in the 1980s. To bring about the feel of the 80s, all the sections with Samantha and Vijay Deverakonda (who plays the role of Anthony) were shot on 16 mm on a camera from that era.

“We even used a set of diffusion filters and diffusion gels on lights to represent the progression of colours. It’s something that may not be noticeable but it’s there. In fact, if you really pause the movie and observe, you can see it. You can see it in the emotions that the image evokes,” Dani says.

One of the biggest challenges for Dani was portraying the character of Gemini Ganesan, which, according to Dani, is one of the most complex in the film.

“Instead of simplifying it, Nag decided to keep the complexity of Ganesan’s character. You have to first fall in love with him, but he cheats you and need to understand why. It was very complex. It was really tough as a cinematographer for me to grade him. But Dulquer has his amazing super power. No matter where you put the lights, he looks greats,” Dani recollects.

Also read: 'I will be very uncomfortable doing safe roles': 'Mahanati' star Dulquer

“It was magical bringing Savitri back to life, showcasing her story in the same way she lived it. It’s been one whole year, 160 days of shoot, which has an irreplaceable place in my heart. This has been a journey of a lifetime for me and I don’t think I’ll have any other project as beautiful as this one for now,” he says. 

The deadline for expression of interest is May 16, after which applicants have a month to submit a resolution plan for the company.
  • Tuesday, May 15, 2018 - 14:09

Online homestay aggregator Stayzilla, which became insolvent following an ugly spat between founders and its vendor JigSaw Solutions, is now up for grabs.

The resolution Professional (RP) has invited Expression of Interest (EOI) from potential resolution applicants to submit a resolution plan in accordance with the provisions of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of 2016.

The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) Chennai ordered Stayzilla to become insolvent and pay the outstanding dues to the tune of Rs 1.7 crore to JigSaw Advertising and Solutions in September 2017. Following this, Stayzilla co-founder Yogendra Vasupal challenging the insolvency proceedings. The appeal was dismissed by NCLT in March.

Also read: Supreme Court dismisses Stayzilla’s appeal against insolvency, co to continue under IBC

The EOI also lists out the minimum qualifications for applicants to approach the RP to bid for the homestay aggregator. Applicants, as per the EOI, need to have a net worth of Rs 50 crore or more as of March 31, 2018. And this includes equity share capital, reserves, preference Capital and Miscellaneous Expenditure. The applicant must have the ability to infuse a minimum of Rs 20 crore cash. They should also not be a ‘disqualified person’ as per the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016.

The deadline for expression of interest is May 16, after which applicants have a month to submit a resolution plan.

The spat between the founders and JigSaw dated back to February 24, 2017 when Stayzilla suspended operations claiming that it will restructure itself and reboot operations soon.

Following this, CS Aditya of JigSaw filed a criminal complaint against Vasupal and CFO Sachit Singhi for not paying him his dues to the tune of Rs 1.7 crore since January 2016.

Vasupal was arrested on March 14. The night before his arrest, Vasupal also put out a blog claiming that he was being harassed by his landlord and by Jig Saw Solutions. Voodoo dolls were allegedly sent to the CFO's house. 

The battle, which started with Vasuapl’s arrest and his claims of being harassed by Aditya, got ugly after Aditya publicly put out what he claimed was proof that the company owed him Rs 1.7 crore.

After Vasupal received bail a month later, he then furnished proof of Aditya cheating them with photoshopped pictures as proof of delivery for Stayzilla’s advertising campaign.

The criminal case that was earlier filed is proceeding parallel. The trial is stayed and awaiting a quash hearing, while Jig Saw wants to seek a vacation of stay.

Also read: Flipkart introduces flight bookings powered by MakeMyTrip on its app

The IT department is looking to develop chatbots that can help solve people’s queries across areas such as RTA, tourism, etc.
  • Saturday, May 12, 2018 - 08:57
Telangana IT Minister KT Rama Rao

In a bid to adopt emerging technologies to improve administration, the Telangana government is working on integrating technologies such as artificial intelligence, Blockchain and Internet of Things in different areas.

Artificial Intelligence is one area of focus and the Information Technology Electronics and Communications Department of the state government has identified three areas where chatbots powered by AI can be used.

Speaking on the side-lines of an event at T-Hub on Thursday, Rama Devi Lanka, officer of special duty at the IT department said that the TS-iPASS app, which is the government’s single window clearance system for new investors, will be one area where it is looking to have chatbots.

“A number of people call us to understand how to use the app or questions regarding applications. So we are thinking of having a chatbot that can address all queries,” she said.

The Road Transport Authority website is another area that could use the help of chatbots. Queries regarding applying for licences, procedures of renewals and other queries can be answered by chatbots.

Tourism is the third area where the government sees chatbots being beneficial. Tourists wanting to visit Telangana, when on the website can take the assistance of the chatbots to know about the state.

The government is also looking to use technology to improve the Aarogyasri app. Aarogyasri is a health benefits scheme of the state government to provide quality healthcare to the poor.

“We will use technology to ensure this scheme is not misused and also to keep a check on hospitals and ensuring they not misusing it as well in terms of using same patient records to claim from the government,” Rama Devi adds.

The department is currently working with a startup in T-Hub to develop these chatbots. “They have collected all information on our requirements and we expect to run a pilot in a month of two,” she said.

IoT is another technology that the government is looking at.

One possible application of IoT being looked at by the government is at manholes

The government is proposing that sensors be placed on manholes. So when a manhole is opened, an alert is sent to authorities. This is being done to avoid accidents and deaths, especially during the rainy season.

They are also looking at installing sensors inside the manhole to monitor the water levels and ensure they dont overflow.

“We have just published an Expression of Interest so maybe by June or July, we should be able to evaluate the solution through Proof of Concepts, after which a Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued,” Rama adds.

On Thursday, the government of Telangana, through its Registration & Stamps Department collaborated with T-Hub startup ChitMonks to launch T-Chits, a blockchain-based chit fund administration system that helps keep the communication between the chit fund companies and the administration completely transparent and safe.

It is also looking to adopt blockchain in other areas such as education.

Also read: Telangana govt, ChitMonks partner to launch blockchain-based chitfund system ‘T-Chits’