With an estimated population of around seven lakhs (in a total of around 87 lakhs, as per recent estimates) the Tamil population of Hyderabad has been a highly visible and successful community in the twin cities. Intertwined with the historical past of the Pearl City right from the time when they served the Nizams, this high-achieving set of people have been living and coexisting comfortably with the Dakhani population for nearly a century now.
Domiciled in central Hyderabad areas and living predominantly in the 5-8 sq km from the Secunderabad railway station, the earliest migrants were employees of central departments like the Railways, a few State government departments during the undivided Andhra Pradesh era, large public sector units, multinational organisations and even big manufacturing units in the various industrial estates like Uppal, Nacharam and Sanath Nagar.
Regimental Bazar of Secunderabad is the one which they inhabited from the 1930s and very quickly the neighbourhood of Padmarao Nagar, Marredpally and later the suburbs like Malkajgiri, Sainikpuri and to an extent Safilguda saw them settle down in large numbers. Currently, many of the young crowd from Tamil Nadu are moving into the new colonies in HITEC City laden with IT jobs, a hop, skip and jump arrangement prior to their taking off for foreign shores, like their Telugu counterparts.
Carrying with them their own culture, music, magazines, masala and movies the Tamil population have managed to create a home away from home as it is not unusual to see shops selling typically Tamil stuff at prominent corners of colonies, where they live in large numbers. It was a done thing to have Tamil films shown as weekend morning shows in popular standalone theatres in the 1960s and 70s, across both Hyderabad and Secunderabad, which was a staple fare for them week after week.
Many of them have of course closed down or converted into shopping malls over the years as the entertainment platforms too shifted into digital and satellite television mode over the years.
Still, keeping up with its tradition, the Hyderabad Maanagar Tamil Sangam, with a track record of nearly 280 variety-laden programmes over two decades is gearing up for its next mega event.
As Rajkumar, organiser of the 4-hour Tamil Sangam cultural programme, due on August 26 says: “We have a very enthusiastic set of people, who have volunteered to take part in the activities.” Given that digital media and smart phones have greatly reduced the need for face-to-face interactions and people are content to send WhatsApp forwards even during emergency situations, it was a challenge for the event organisers to put together a three-hour programme. Yet, they seemed to have made it possible battling heavy odds.
Hearteningly, the Sangam’s current executive committee is dominated by youngsters, all of them under 35 years of age, which has made them organise the programme in the distant Madhapur area of the city, known for its venues, which organise standup comedies and cultural events like plays, music programmes, etc. “We wanted to break free from the neighbourhood function hall culture, which was what we were doing over the years,” says Rajkumar.