Monday, October 20, 2014


He was a rank enemy.
As in, we fought for the first rank.
And when you are a 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 year-old nerd, that’s quite serious business.
But that wasn’t the only issue with him.
He was a natural leader and was quite popular in school. The sort who knew quite a few 12th standard guys while he was still only in his 5th. And for the detail oriented – ya, they knew him well too. Why, even the Principal knew him by name and would often call out for him in public, in implicit acknowledgement of him being a star.
So my association with this fella didn’t really start sweet. It was all of anti-incumbent disregard. And the reciprocation was equally ill-willed.
It couldn’t have been any other way, as we often grabbed the least opportunity to get at each other’s throats (WWF was our PT period sports activity). He was IRS, and I don’t think I called myself anything at the beginning. Not that I wasn’t dramatic; it was just that I didn’t follow WWF until later.
I particularly remember a session of fisticuffs that started during a lunch break in class. Our conversation had started out in a rather civil fashion. But when he made fun of Karate, it awakened the “sleeping lion” in me. All because I had just joined Karate classes around then, and considered myself the global guardian of general respect to the art form. Although I didn’t know much more than “ose”, I couldn’t bear the ridicule. What followed was 15 minutes of juvenile entertainment for the rest of the class.
Trust me, I was generally a “good boy” throughout my childhood. The kind of ar****le that every parent liked and most kids abhorred. The male version of Hermione Granger. Prim and proper. Not a toe out of line.
But something in him brought out the Satan in me.
So much so that the only prank I have ever played in life outside of home was on him.
One day when he was off sick from school, I hatched a master plan. After school, I went over to a friend’s place. This was a guy with the proud privilege of being one of the few folks in class who had a phone at home. And my archrival was among the others. With the customary handkerchief covering the mouthpiece, I dialled him up:
Him: Hello?
Me: Hello.. Unga veetla fan sutthudha?
Him: …… Neenga yaaru? Ungalukku enna venum?
Me: Sollu da.. Fan sutthudha?
Him: ……. Hmm… Sutthudhu..
Me: Appo neeyum kooda saendhu sutthu po
Ok, I must admit it wasn’t my idea. I borrowed it from someone else.
Ok, I must admit now it doesn’t seem like an idea at all. But back then, for whatever reason, it felt brilliant.
My first ever school play was in Tamil - “Ellaam avan seyal”. It was a story of the fall of arrogance. And my role was that of Kuberan – the Lord of Wealth, the King of Yakshas. Having grown half a foot taller than the rest of the class did have its perks.
And He was in the play too. As Naradar.
Day 1 of rehearsals. Scene 1 starts…
Kuberan caresses mounds of gold coins and looks around with an arrogance that only rich folks in Tamil cinema could match.
Naradar walks in.
"நாராயண நாராயண"
"வாணியின் புதல்வரே.. ஆணி முத்தைப் போல் அழகு சொற்களால்  அவனி வாழ நல்வழி காட்டுபவரே.. தங்கள் வரவு நல்வரவாகுக"
That wasn’t Naradar. It was Tamil Ma’am – our director.
"என்னடா குபேரா இது! இது தான் அகங்காரமா? வீரமா? உன்னை விட நாரதனுக்கு வீரம் ஜாஸ்தியா இருக்கு. ஒழுங்கா நடி"
[Followed by customary giggles of girl gangs around]
I went red-faced in public embarrassment at having been one-upped by Him, as He carried a smug look around.
Thus began an artistic association that went on for a while. We were standard lead fixtures in any play in the school for the next few years, and even won a few inter-school competitions. Agarwal Vidyalaya was a particularly prestigious stage for us.
And all of this went on for 4 years, at the end of which I moved on to a different school.
Thus bringing to an end, years of nasty stares and under-breath mutters as a daily activity.
Thus bringing to an end the rivalry too.
It’s hard to compete when you aren’t both in the same battlefield. The warcries make no sense then.
When it came to our careers, we went different ways too. I followed the conventional route of “success” – Engineering >> MBA at a premier B-school >> Going abroad. But he has always been out of the ordinary. A nomad. The kind who would cut himself away from all human contact for a few days and go out in search of his destiny. So it’s no surprise that after starting out conventionally successful in a top-tier T-school and moving on to a plush role in automotive S&M, he gave it all up suddenly. To go in search of his higher calling.
Film making.
It’s been a couple of years now I think, since he gave up boring daily routines, and jumped into a field that’s a lot more risky and fulfilling to the creator all at once. And when a married man from a middle class family does that, all you can do is look on in awe and salute in respect.
And it wasn’t a baseless risk. He does have the flair when it comes to the visual arts. Flashes of brilliance were evident in his debut shortfilm, shot with friends “with-whatever-I-have”. But when he took the giant step ahead into professional short film making of the kind Tamil audiences have recently been generally blessed with, it all became a lot more evident.
When he released the teaser for “Yavarum Kelir” a few months back, it made one wonder what it was going to be about. Where it left no doubt was that this was going to be an intense little piece.

I made a mistake.
Of watching this during a service break on a long motorway journey. And it took a long time for me to recover from the impact, wipe my eyes dry and carry on with my journey. The treatment to the story jolts you up from your reverie. So make sure you are ready to take it on when you watch this:

முளையில் தெரிந்தது இப்பொழுது விளைகிறது.

All the best da Harish. Rock on!


Anonymous said...

while reading i wanted to comment on how it inspired nostalgia in the reader as well (read: me) and how if u had been his friend maybe you would ve starred in the movie, and how u still write really good. but then i made the mistake of seeing the short film. truck hitting me feeling.

King Vishy said...

Thanks a lot hantan :)
Glad to receive a blog comment in this age of fb and twt!