The boy was perched on his mother’s lap. They were traveling through the dust and grime of the Andhra hinterland. His mother’s lap, warm and comfortable. Even though he didn’t have a seat of his own to claim in the stately old car he was traveling in, he felt at peace, chomping on his Phantom cigarette. It was the early 90’s, he was not yet nine and Chiranjeevi was the Megastar.
The Ambassador hurtled along the stony roads, leaving behind trails of black smoke and flying gravel. The driver had a wet napkin draped around his neck that was drying by the second. The air conditioning was laughable at best. It wasn’t the best of afternoon journeys. But the boy had something to look forward to. He knew his fans were waiting.
Beside the driver sat the boy’s grandfather. An old man and therefore believed to be noble, he was revered immensely among the family. The boy, however, felt he was a bore. A stoic and strict, grumpy excuse for a person. The grandfather had no tolerance for merriment or mirth, absolutely no love for cinema, and hated the idea of pelvic thrusts. The old man, therefore, detested Chiranjeevi, who of course was the boy’s hero in more ways than one.
The other inhabitants of the car who at this time do not need description were the boy’s sister and their father. The five of them along with the toweled driver were going to attend a wedding.
After expertly manoeuvring around an adamant cow in the middle of the road, the driver decided to spice up the ride. From his dashboard, emerged a very colourful cassette case and a tape was penetrated into the waiting music player.
A few seconds of anticipation and the boy stiffened on hearing the prelude to the song. Of course, it had to be that song, THE song. The entire State was grooving to it. He looked back at his mother, his eyes wide with excitement. She shushed him down.
“Up up hands up! Papa, hands up! Hah hah!”, Chiranjeevi crooned.
Ripples of excitement coursed through the boy’s veins. Finding it hard to contain himself, his slight pelvis started to come into its own. His gangly arms started to come apart. The body was in the groove.
He closed his eyes. Chiranjeevi in violet overalls on the docks, in pursuit of a scantily clad Disco Shanti.
Just as he was starting to find his rhythm, the music stopped abruptly. Aghast he looked at the music player. The grand old man in the front seat had shut it down. Instinctively the boy hunched his shoulders in disappointment looking back at his mother. She rolled her eyes in mock pity and gave him a kiss.
No more music was played throughout the rest of the journey and soon the dust paved the way to the wedding.
Everyone stood in line with respect for the boy’s grandfather. Once he was gone inside though, the boy was lifted off the ground and into the air by the waiting entourage. Large dollops of saliva were planted all over his face. He squealed in delight at the adoration. He was loved, much loved by the family. Especially for his moves, the dance moves.
Soon a rowdy group of aunts kidnapped him from his mother and whisked him away. It was performance time. Grumpy Grandfather was away.
Another copy of the colourful cassette tape was ushered into a tape player and Chiru was on, once again.
The boy, carried away with the adulation danced with gay abandon and aplomb. He thrust his pelvis provocatively at his aunts much to their delight. They egged him on, laughing their heart out, some dabbing at their eyes to contain the tears, others holding their sides to control their heaving amusement.
For the second time that day, the music was stopped unceremoniously. This time, the boy was in the midst of a move his very own. He had been attempting a Jacksonesque sequence, his hands guiding his crotch to the beat of Telugu music. A fusion of style, way before its time. But the music had stopped.
The bloody moron, his Grandfather again.
Well, the bastard died. Not soon enough, but Chiru lives on. Happy birthday Megastar.
Write Club Hyderabad – October 2017.