It was the year of ‘Ye Maya Chesave’. Also ‘Robot’. ‘Rockstar’ was due the very next year.
Our watchman was surprised to see us up and about at six in the morning. An unearthly hour. One of us still yawning, the other, his eyes alight and with a song on his lips. A song from ‘Komaram Puli’.
“Pawan Kalyan and A.R. Rahman. Did you ever think us Telugu folk would be so blessed? The greatest combination ever”.
I knew better than to argue. Putting PK as the first subject in a sentence and to have ARR tag along like supporting cast, an after-thought? My heart didn’t sit well with it.
Nothing good about the day did. I had only just started finding my way about a dream in my REM sleep, yet here I was jolted awake to watch the infamous First Day First Show of a Kalyan Babu movie.
As I drove listlessly, waving my way through the sweepers and last night’s debris on the road, he urged me on, “Do you want to miss the hero entrance? The introduction? Bomma padipothadi, pada”!
A reluctant foot stepped on the gear and we were away. What had started as a hum on his lips was now a full-blown song hurting my ears. Cacophony riding along with me on the bike.
“Amma thalle, noormuyyave,
Noti mutyaal, jaarniyake”
It was a song from the movie we were about to go watch. “Noormuyya ra, please. Let’s get something to eat first”, I said.
“How much more can you eat, how can you even get more food into you? At this rate, you will have diabetes, a heart attack etc. etc. and very soon too”! I was unfazed.
His tirade came to an abrupt end as I braked in front of a Dosa Bandi. I ordered a dosa, taking care to explain what I wanted in it, to the dosawallah.
I turned back to my fiend in waiting. “Rahman, seriously? What was he even thinking, signing up for a movie like this?”
He opened his eyes wide, “Hawww! What are you saying, man? A dream combination. Rahman, PK. The legend, the Power Star. You are no fan of cinema, in fact, you are no friend of mine if you can’t see the beauty of this”.
“Neither is the best of their lot”, I stated, even as I heard him egg the dosawallah on.
“How much time will you take for one dosa, huh? I would have made a dozen and eaten them by now. The Bandi across the road does it much faster. What is taking you so long, hurry, hurry, hurry!”
He switched his attention back to me. His eyebrows were crouched and his eyes were mere slits. He took a menacing step towards me, “What did you just say? Not the best? I dare, I double dare you, say that again!”
I reached out for the half-cooked dosa the petrified dosawallah gave me, freed a sinking insect from the bowl of chutney, dunked a piece of the dosa in it and said, “Rahman is no Ilaiyaraja. And PK? No one’s bad enough to even compare him with!”
His jaw dropped open but I was in no mood to back down.
“How an old balding man can rekindle feelings you thought were long lost, plunge you into a deluge of want and sweet suffering. This was a post I put up on Facebook long back. The magic of Ilaiyaraja.
“Ela..gelaga…, malli cheppu”?
I repeated myself, with more feeling this time.
To this he said, “Raja is gone, man. He’s making one movie every two years. Rehashing his own tunes. You stick with him and you miss out on the magic of ARR. Take Bombay, Roja, take Guru. How many examples will you need? I have as much and even more. It’s time to move on. Embrace the new, don’t be left out man!”
We were back on the bike. He kept up the bugging.
“You know, this is as good as a premiere show? Do you know the number of people I begged for two tickets? The number of favors I owe them now? Can’t afford to miss it man, move, move, move!”
On an entirely different note, I said to him, “There is a lot of buzz on the internet, on Gulte.com and GreatAndhra no less, that Rahman didn’t even score for this movie. His assistants did it. The movie wasn’t good enough for him to waste his time on, apparently. I mean, it’s no Robot, it’s no Ye Maya Chesave, is it?”
But my cine-gossip fell on deaf ears. He didn’t care, we were at the cinema. A few minutes later, amidst howls, screeches and all manner of animal activity that a thousand Pawan Kalyan fans can conjure up, we sat down, waiting for the drama to unfold. On the screen for a change.
Mukesh came on to a rousing barrage of howls. Dravid next, relating parents mistakes to dropped catches in the slips.
The credits were next. The screen was shrouded from us by the colored paper being thrown up in exultation. I thought to myself that in a setting like this, it would be very difficult to not be awed by a movie, any movie. It had to be especially bad to hate it while watching it with such an agreeable and encouraging audience.
The din died down in anticipation of the hero’s entrance. A stray shout or two of “Power Star” broke the silence, but we all were waiting for the moment.
It came like it never did before. He dropped himself down onto us, the audience, straight from a helicopter, face first.
“Kappa la dookutunnadu ra..”, someone shouted out. The shock and disappointment ushered into the cinema hall were tangible. The shock permeated through the throng of the Pawanism followers.
The shock and disappointment ushered into the cinema hall from that one visual were tangible. The shock permeated through the throng of the Pawanism followers.
I burst out laughing even as my friend crouched deeper into his seat.
Write Club Hyderabad – Devices of Persuasion – 16th September 2017.