The Deccan Odyssey Part 2 : Saga Continues

2Room No. 208
Hotel Confident Propus
7, Lang Ford town
Main Hosur Road

On August 12, 2009, I had written a blog about the TAMIL, TELUGU and KANNADA film industry and my contribution to it as an acting trainer.

After I posted that blog, I got a call from Bengaluru. My friend and KANNADA film director Mr. H. P. Raveendra was on the line. He told me that he is making a new film and he would like me to conduct an acting workshop for his artistes. I had trained Om ( Aravinda Ganapati ) for his earlier film, which unfortunately got shelved. You cannot say no to a dear friend and to a person as talented as Mr. Raveendra. He emailed me the synopsis of the story and I fell in love with it as soon as I went through it. The story is fabulous and it revolves around three main characters. I boarded an evening flight to Bengaluru and landed here on August 27th, 2009. On 28th I met his cast and crew and then I came to know the enormity of the situation. All the three main artistes of Picture Gate’s Production No. 1 are well known and established actors.

DSC00495PREM : He is the lead protagonist of this film. He is well known in the KANNADA film industry and has done more than 12 films as a lead actor. His first film “ PRANA ” was flop but his 2nd film “ NENAPIRALI” was a huge hit. He got FILMFARE’s best actor award for this film. This is the only KANNADA film which got 5 FILMFARE and 5 STATE AWARDS. After that he gave many hits and gems like “ SAVI SAVI NENAPU ”.

DSC00485KARISHMA TANNA : She was first seen in Ekta Kapoor’s famous serial “KYUNKI SAS BHI KABHI BAHU THI ” and later on she appeared in many other serials also. This is her first film.

It is easy to train a new comer, but to train established stars is always difficult. But both were extremely eager and excited. It is needless to say that I enjoyed working with them. They were very receptive and were always ready to learn more.

DSC00496SHREE RAJ : On the last day of the workshop a very old student of mine walked in. His original name is RAJU, but now he is known as SHREE RAJ. He informed me that he is doing a KANNADA film as a lead star. It’s name is “ ALLIDE NAMMANE ELLIBANDE SUMMANE ”. He consulted me about the story and characterization of his film, which is going to be shot in U. S. A. Again it has lovely and tragic story with lots of scope for acting.

TILAK : He was trained by me years ago and then I lost touch with him. SHREE RAJ informed me that he is doing many KANNADA films and is quite famous as a villain.

This is my 4th visit to Bengaluru and in this journey I got an opportunity to work with 2 stars of KANNADA films and reestablished contacts with two of my old students, who are working in KANNADA films.

Though I wrote this blog sitting in my hotel room, I am posting it from the new and swanky Bengaluru International Airport, which is much better than the old one.


Ungrateful Congress, Forgetful Nation & Madan Lal Dhingra’s Sacrifice

2Shame !!! Shame !!! Shame !!!

Congress, the ruling party of India, our own government of India and specially we, the people of India, forgot the sacrifice and martyrdom of Madan Lal Dhingra. Exactly a century ago, he was hanged in London for shooting a British M.P. Curzon Wyle. He was the first freedom fighter to be executed in the imperial capital of the British on August 17, 1909. On Monday, August 17, 2009, it was the 100th year of his martyrdom. It was virtually ignored by the government of India and Indian National Congress. His home state, Punjab, organized just one function. It goes without saying that it was a halfhearted effort. The Congress, established by a British A. O. Hume and currently led by an Italian lady, is not expected to be Indian or National in any sense of the term. They have so many Gandhis and Nehrus in their pantheon. They have to think about the coronation of Rahul baba. They are more worried about the bruised ego of Shahrukh Khan. Who cares about a freedom fighter, who cannot fetch them a single extra vote? But what about us? We, the people of India? We also forgot his supreme sacrifice.

Shame !!! Shame !!! Shame !!!

Madan Lal Dhingra’s father Rai Sahib Dr. Ditta Mal was the richest man of Amritsar. He was a renowned civil surgeon and was the first car owner in the city. While in the college in Lahore, Dhingra came in touch with Lala Lajpat Rai and Bhagat Singh and started taking part in the freedom struggle. An alarmed father sent him to London for higher studies. Dhingra knew his father’s hidden motive but was persuaded to go by his elder brother. In London, he was influenced by freedom fighters like Shyamji Krishna Varma and Veer Savarkar and continued his struggle for independence. In fact Veer Savarkar encouraged him to shoot Curzon wyle, who was a rabid India hater. Dhingra shot him and he was hanged for this crime after a 45-day trial on August 17, 1909. He was 26 years old at the time of his hanging.

A life, so young, was lost for our freedom. Son of an immensely rich person, who owned 6 bungalows and first car in Amritsar, died for us. He could have lived a life of comfort and luxury. But he kissed the noose and chose the gallows, happily and voluntarily. Alas! He is not remembered by his own province, his own country and his own fellow countrymen.

And I cannot absolve myself. I am very much part and parcel of the ungrateful and guilty Indians. I am writing this blog 2 days later and that too after reading an article in today’s Hindustan Times.

Shame !!! Shame !!! Shame !!!


Remembering My Maa : Nothing Step-Motherly About Her

Untitled-1Today is JANMASHTAMI and as the Hindus all over the world celebrate Bhagawan Krishna’s birthday, my thoughts wander to the ageless, timeless and immortal stories of Bhagawan Krishna and his life. His biological parents were Vasudeva and Devaki but he was brought up in the house of Nanda and Yashoda. Thus they were his non-biological parents. I always wondered, why Yashoda Mata got preference over Devaki Mata? Why a non-biological mother was more revered than the biological mother? I had no clue to this conundrum during my childhood. But as I am getting older, I am gradually finding answers to many of my childhood queries. And today, when the world celebrates JANMASHTAMI, I think I know the answer. Now I realize why Yashoda Mata is more revered than Devaki Mata. Today, as I am fasting and celebrating JANMASHTAMI, I suddenly remember my own non-biological mother. I was only 6 years old when she died, but I vividly remember her selfless love, which she showered on me and my two brothers. ( My two sisters were born after her death ) Till today I remember her meticulous care, with which she brought us up. I remember all the troubles which she took happily and voluntarily for the upbringing of me and my two brothers. For us she did everything which was needed and required, though we were not her biological sons. I used to call her Maa and she nicknamed me babu.

Her name was Raj Kishori Devi and she was born and brought up in Shahpur Patori, Patna, Bihar in the early years of 1900. Her father Shri Dwarka Nath Tiwari was immensely rich and was a very influential landlord of Shahpur Patori. This place, now a railway station, still exists in between two districts, Hajipur and Patna in Bihar. During my childhood I have heard several stories about the wealth and fame of her father. When my father’s barat ( marriage procession ) reached Patori, dozens of sacks of sugar were emptied in the family well of Tiwaris to sweeten it’s water. It was a well contemplated gesture on their part. They thought that no barati should ask for sherbet in the scorching heat of Bihar. It should be made available to them as per their need and desire. The stories of her father’s affluence are many. A palang, which was given to her by her parents, is there in my Deoria house till today. Even after years of neglect, It still exists as a silent testimony of the opulence and luxury of the Tiwaris of Shahpur Patori. The photo I am posting here, shows her father ( extreme right )along with his friends in hunters attire. It clearly depicts the kind of life he was leading and was accustomed to. Along with Maa, I went to Shahpur Patori once. I still have faint memory of that visit. Sepia toned memories of her huge house lingers in my memory till today. If I ever visit her house, I can recognize the interiors easily.Untitled-2

After her marriage, she adjusted very well in her new home, though in those days our family was poorer than her own family. From her huge, pucca house of Patori, she came to our Sonbarsa house made of tiles and mud. It must have been very difficult for her, but she never complained. She had a class of her own, while we had none. She was well read and was deeply influenced by Bengali culture and language. Occasionally she used to dress like Bengalis. Her photo, which I have posted above, shows her in a Bengali style Sari. Apart from Bhojpuri and Hindi, she was fluent in Bengali language. In those days of early 1900, when educating a girl child was not a priority, in fact a taboo, it speaks volumes that her father took care to educate her properly. She used to subscribe many magazines and newspapers, which she used to read during the windy winter and scorching summer afternoons.

03When she came to our family after marriage, my father scaled new heights of success and glory. He constructed palatial houses at Gorakhpur and Deoria and as an advocate reached to dizzying heights. Only sad note in this fairy tale was that she had no issue. When she got to know that she cannot conceive, she willingly and gracefully allowed her husband to remarry. Thus my father got married to my biological mother and we were born. The photo of our Deoria house ( Krishna Kunj ), which I am posting here, shows her standing in the veranda on the first floor. She was matriarch of the family in true sense of the term. As I have stated above, she took charge of me and my two brothers willingly. She had great influence on me. Love for books and fetish for pens are her influence, which I still have. Love of Bengali food, language and culture, which I have, is only because of her. I remember my first day in the school. I was admitted to City Montessory School, which in those days, was being run in Kanhaiya Kutir. This is a house of one of my uncles, which still exists on Katchery Road, Deoria. When I returned from the school, Maa was waiting for me anxiously with all the delicacies, which she herself prepared. Day after day same routine, same pattern followed. She was always there to cuddle me without fail and that too before my biological mother. Here I am posting a photo of me and my two brothers along with her and my biological mother. Maa is standing just behind me. You have to see her body language and her eyes to understand her feelings and love for us.Maa

Approximately between 1957 and 1958, she lost her mental balance and was often quarantined in her room. Incidentally, now I occupy her room. Even in that condition, she never became violent. She used to sit calmly and silently in her room, lost in her thoughts. She was always very reticent, very calm but now I know that her silence of those days was different. For almost a year she never talked to anyone. Never ever she demanded anything from anybody. I often used to peep into her room but she could not recognize me. I was used to her cuddle, so I sneaked into her room again and again and looked at her face but there was no trace of recognition in her eyes. She never responded to my smiles, never hold me in her arms. Little did I realize that very soon a chapter of my life is going to be closed for ever. A vaidya ( Ayurvedic Doctor ) was appointed to look after her but her condition never got improved. It worsened. Later on she lost sense of  everything. Sometimes she used to sit in her room without even clothes. But never ever she got violent.

It was summer of 1958. I was sleeping on the first floor terrace of my house. I woke up in the morning and saw my Maa lying on the ground in a corner of the terrace. She was calm and silent as usual. My father was reciting shlokas of Geeta and there were so many people standing there with concerned and anxious looks. I had severe pain in my ears since so many days and suddenly that morning everything was okay. There was no pain. I left my cot and started looking at her with bewilderment. Why is she lying on the ground? She was revered, she was matriarch of the family, everyone called her Dulhin Ji, even my father addressed her with that pet name. Several rituals were performed and Maa was lifted by all the assembled men and they started taking her out of the house. I realized something was wrong but since I was only 6 years old, I didn’t understand that she was dead and was being taken out of the house for cremation. Little did I realize that she won’t be back again. Little did I realize that there won’t be a Maa again in my life. It was the first death in my life and I still remember her calm face and closed eyes. Yes, she died young. Yes, she died without having her own sons. But she died, when my father was at the pinnacle of his career. She died, when everyone was alive and our Deoria house ( Krishna Kunj )was full of people. It was full of their boisterous laughter. And her Patori house was yet to be sold and it still belonged to her brother ( Goni Mama ). Fortunately she died without knowing the fate of her mayaka. They fell to bad days after her death. The huge mansion, which her father built, was sold. Acres and acres of orchards of Mango and Leechi were wagered and later on sold by Goni Mama. Finally he died in the early years of 1970 in abject poverty. Fortunately Maa did not see this. She died without any regrets. She passed away when everything was good. But she passed away when I was too young and my brothers were tiny tots. She loved us but we could not do anything in return. We could not even say, Maa, we love you too.

I have heard so many stories about stepmothers and the relations they have with their stepsons. Here as I am sitting and writing this blog on JANMASHTAMI day, I submit that I was lucky to have a mother, who was not my biological mother but she was never a stepmother either. In fact she was more than a mother.

It  is July 13, 2009. It is 12.00 in the night. Outside, people are celebrating Krishna’s birth with firecrackers and chanting of hymns. I am glad this JANMASHTAMI I found the answer of one question, which always alluded me. Why Yashoda Mata got more respect than Devaki Mata? It is for selflessly loving someone, who is not your own. It is about not expecting anything in return. It is about not demanding any payback. Maa was exactly that. My brothers definitely do not remember her. They were too young to remember anything. One was 4 years old and the other only 2 years. But I know that they got unflinching love from Maa, which they didn’t experience ever.

On July 19, 2009, when I was writing my blog about my grandfather on the occasion of his 50th death anniversary, I suddenly realized that I forgot Maa’s 50th death anniversary. She died in 1958 and in the summer of 2008, it was her 50th death anniversary. I forgot it completely. She loved me from the bottom of her heart and I failed to remember her death anniversary. In fact, I forgot to remember a part of my life. She was my stepmother, but she never ever behaved like a stepmother. I am her stepson, and I truly and definitely behaved like a stepson. I am an ungrateful stepson and I shall always be ashamed of my behaviour. This shame is not going to erode and corrode as long as I am alive.

I know if I could ever meet her and express my regret, she will smile and say in Bhojpuri, “ kauno baat naahi babu. Socha mat. ” ( No problem babu. Don’t think too much ) This was her pet sentence for every folly of mine. She was always a forgiving mother for me and I am a shameless, ungrateful stepson.img_8024

[ I wrote this blog yesterday. But today I added few more things, which I remembered last night after completing the blog. Hence I am posting it today. ]


The Deccan Odyssey : Tamil, Telugu, Kannada Film Industry & Me

2Last week I could not write my blog. I was so busy in my acting classes that I had hardly any time for writing. And today when I sit to write, shadow of swine flue (H1N1) is looming large over Mumbai.

Away from the scare, as I am putting my thoughts on my BlackBerry, a newspaper article comes to my mind. It was about Ram Charan Tej, son of Telugu Mega star Chiranjeevi. His latest film “ Magadheera ” has been released and is running to packed houses in Andhra Pradesh. The article rekindled my memory and suddenly I realized that there are several stars, working in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada film industry, who have been trained by me. Let us take stock of those stars.

TAMIL : Tamil film industry is very old and once upon a time it was virtually ruled by M. G. Ramachandran and Shivaji Ganeshan. Gemini Ganeshan, Rekha’s father, was another star who had considerable clout in the industry. After the sad demise of these trio, Rajanikant and Kamal Hassan emerged on the scene and currently they are the demigods of the industry.

Slowly but steadily new breed of stars are emerging in the Tamil film Industry. ASHOK BALAKRISHANAN and GANESH VENKATARAMAN are prominent among them and  both are trained by me.

ganesh vankataramanGanesh Venkataraman is currently working in the Tamil version of “ A Wednesday ”. He is portraying the role, played by Jimmy Sheirgill in the Hindi version. Other two stars of the film are Kamal Hassan and Mohanlal.

TELUGU : Currently this is the biggest film industry in South, sometimes churning more films than Hindi, stars being paid more than the Hindi Mega stars. In olden days it was ruled by two giants; A. Nageshwara Rao and N. T. Ramarao. These days the reigning superstars are Chiranjeevi and Nagarjuna. Incidentally the latter one is the son of A. Nageshwara Rao.

In the last two years several new star-sons emerged in the Telugu film industry. ALLU ARJUNA, SUSHANTHA ANUMOLU and RAM CHARAN TEJ are prominent among them. And the fact of the matter is that they all are my students. First to hit the screen was Allu Arjuna, son of producer Allu Arvinda and a relative of Mega Star Chiranjeevi. He came with a bang and left a lasting impression on the Andhra viewers like Hritik Roshan did with his first film. His film “ Bunny ” was super hit and he is continuously delivering one hit after another.

Sushantha Anumolu, nephew of Nagarjuna, was introduced in a film               “ Kalidasu ”. It was a moderate hit. Then came his second film “ Current ” and he is on his way to stardom.

Last to make debut with a film called “ Chirutha ” was Ram Charan Tej, Chiranjeevi’s son. It was a moderate hit. Now his second film “ Magadheera ” is a bumper hit and is creating box office history throughout Andhra Pradesh. So many youngsters died in stampede in the cinema halls. This son of a Mega Star is on the way to stardom.

Next to hit the screen in Andhra is CHAITANYA AKKINENI, son of Nagarjuna and grandson of thespian A. Nageshwara Rao. BALAJI GADDE and TEJAS KANCHERLA are other actors, who are going to make debut in near future. So these 6 stars are the future stars, who are going to rule the Telugu industry. I am proud to submit that they all are my students.Nagarjuna, Chaitanya

KANNADA : Compared to Tamil and Telugu industry, Kannada film industry is small. Dr. Rajkumar was the ruling deity and during his heydays, he was virtually an one man industry. As he grew older, his sons and Vishnuvardhan tried to hold the post and were fairly successful. Now a new crop of actors are emerging there too. Needless to say that they all are trained by me.

First to make his debut was DHYAN, who is known to Hindi film audience as SAMEER DATTANI. His first film “ Nanna Preetiya Hudagi ” created waves and was a block buster in Karnataka. Among his other notable and successful films “ Amrut Dhare ” comes first to mind.

This year a film called “ Yuva ” is making box office history in Karnataka. It’s hero KHARRTIK is my student and according to critics he is on his way to super stardom.

arvind ganapatiOM is another star, who will make his debut this year. His real name is Aravind Ganapati and the name of his film is “  Dhin Dhina Dhina ” .

I can humbly say it with pride that barring Malayalam film industry, there are 11 upcoming stars, who are currently working in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada . It’s a culmination of my 19 year long acting training career and it is very satisfying one.



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