My hopes for 2024: What Chennai personalities look forward to in the New Year

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Asal Kolaar, Rapper and musician

With every year, I strive to be better. This was a year that I could see some growth in myself. My visibility increased twofold. My recent songs in the latter half of the year, ‘Naa Ready’ from Leo and ‘Kotha Raja’ from King of Kotha wrapped up the year on a high. 

After my stint on Big Boss 2022, I had received a lot of brickbats on social media. It was difficult to handle but has also made me tougher. I started immersing myself in my work. It used to hurt me initially, but now I know how to handle it. This was my biggest takeaway from 2023. 

I always try to experiment with the lyrics or flow of my music and aspire to evolve constantly with my sound. I believe that this will reflect on some of the independent tracks that are slated for next year. Tamil independent music does not have an identity like say reggaeton, drill music or Afro beat. A lot of the independent music is now mixed with commercial cinema music. I want to try and bring a specific, identifiable sound to Tamil independent music. I hope to see a new wave in 2024 with many young independent artistes coming up. This music should be recognised globally. 

I do not usually make New Year resolutions but consistency is something that I will concentrate on in 2024. It will also be the year I produce my own videos and music and not associate with a label. Expectations for 2024? (Laughs) Nothing much, a lot of money should come my way, that is all.  

(As told to Gowri S)

Asal Kolaar

Asal Kolaar
| Photo Credit:
special arrangement

Ashok Selvan, Actor

It has been a phenomenal year.. a year which I will not forget. I got married to the love of my life and Por Thozhil (2023) gave me the hope to pursue my dreams relentlessly. After its release, a producer came up to me and asked how I chose to play this character (DSP K Prakash) as he is not a typical hero in the film. It was a bet which paid off. This was my first ₹50 crore film and it has given me the confidence to play the characters I like. There is no need to play it safe.

There was a persistent duality with respect to fame earlier. I never sought it when I was young. A part of me wondered if I should silently leave everything (in cinema) while another part wanted me to rule the world. A saint however told me that my soul must experience fame even though I never asked him the question. This has given me some clarity too. Next year, I want to be more adventurous with my film choices.

Aside from my career, Keerthi (Pandian) and I are living under the same roof now. We are both trying to fit into one world and understand each others’ personal space. I just had my film’s release (Saba Nayagan) last week and found myself washing vessels. (Laughs) I am enjoying this phase too. Our schedules are haywire and we are both running around. To find time, we have started the practice of keeping our cell phones out of the bedroom. We have an emergency number which is only known to our parents. This has also helped.

I will be in Yercaud during New Year’s. I am shooting there and she (Keerthi) will be joining me.

(As told to Sanjana Ganesh)

Ashok Selvan

Ashok Selvan
| Photo Credit:
special arrangement

Aryamba Sriram, Dancer

Personally, 2023 was a huge milestone year for me since I got engaged to be married. Artistically, the year has been enriching. Working with my teachers and the Spanda Dance Company (in Chennai) has been a huge eye opener because I have begun to find my voice, what kind of an artiste I want to be, and what it is that gives me solace in taking up this art. This year’s takeaway would be finding joy in the discipline of practice and preparation for performances.

The December seasonthis year seems to be extremely rewarding, for all the work we have been doing over the past year. The journey towards these programmes and performances during the season is what is interesting. The year 2023 has been all about preparing, and this has taken the focus.

A lot of inspiration has kicked in this year, that I am hoping to take into 2024. I just got back from the Serendipity Arts Festival (in Goa), and the kind of work I saw people putting in has been extremely inspiring. I am looking forward to creating work that means something to me, that is honest and reflects my voice. I am keen to see what unfolds for me in 2024.

(As told to S Poorvaja)

Aryamba Sriram

Aryamba Sriram

Ezhilan Naganathan, MLA, Thousand Lights Assembly Constituency

Every year, there are new challenges and newer dimensions opening up. It is all about our attitude towards these challenges. I hope that 2024 is disaster-free and that the community at large remains unaffected.The efforts taken for flood mitigation this year were a challenge and a learning experience. Being a coastal city, Chennai bears the brunt of climate change. This new year, people should address climate change, at the policy level as well as at the community level throughorientation and awareness. We should have an environmental, eco-friendly approach in every aspect of life, and need to leave behind a reasonable place to live for our future generations. I believe we shouldtake this message forward.

When the 2021 floods occured, Thousand Lights, a low-lying area, was affected and we had water inundation in 46 places. Apart from the flood mitigation work, we had to set up a coordination team between various departments in the constituency. This year, through a planned, synchronised approach, we were able to restore the area during the floods. When you have a structural approach one can find a way forward in addressing these kinds of disasters. The lessons learnt in 2023, will definitely be carried over to 2024. I am part of the State Planning Commission as well, and we are looking at synchronised efforts in disaster management.

MLA Ezhilan Naganathan surveys his assembly constituency during cyclone Michaung

MLA Ezhilan Naganathan surveys his assembly constituency during cyclone Michaung

 The lessons learnt in 2023, will definitely be carried over to 2024. I am a part of the State Planning Commission as well, and we are looking at synchronised efforts in disaster management.

(As told to S Poorvaja)

R Vaishali, Chess Grandmaster

My 2023 can be divided into two halves; one abysmal and the other euphoric. Though I had lots of opportunities in tournaments in the first few months of the year, things were not going my way.

In the second half of the year, the tide turned. I started faring well in a few tournaments. This December has been a special month for me. It started off with me getting the GM (Grandmaster Title), something that I have dreamt of since I was a child. Subsequently, I was also selected for the Arjuna Award, something that gave me great joy.

All this is happening while my brother, Praggnanandhaa, is scaling newer heights in chess. Having witnessed his hardwork from close quarters, I am very proud of him. However, the spotlight has been entirely on him in the last few years and I am afraid that I did not handle that well. I have overcome that feeling now, and am now in a much better frame of mind. I keep telling myself that he (Praggnananda) is a chess prodigy and that our paths with respect to the sport are different.

R Vaishali

R Vaishali
| Photo Credit:
DEBASISH BHADURI

I hope 2024 turns out well for me. The start indeed looks good. In January, even as I receive my Arjuna Award, my chess coach, RB Ramesh, will bag the prestigious Dronacharya Award, something that he richly deserves. With lots of exciting tournaments to look forward to, I expect a fully-packed year of playing chess. When I am not engaged with the game, I look forward to playing some friendly games of table tennis and shuttle with my brother and brushing up my human resources lessons for my masters degree.

(As told to Srinivasa Ramanujam)

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