Mahanati Savithri

Would I find biopic of this yesteryear Telugu-Tamil superstar interesting? I wondered as I noticed this new movie on Amazon Prime. What struck me was the name of the movie – Mahanati. Even though it is a Telugu title, Marathi folks will get it. We too use the word Nati for actress. And though we don’t attach Maha to either Nat or Nati, it is an adjective meaning, supreme (e.g. Maharashtra 😉 ).

This made me curious. Who was this actress that earned this title in an era predominantly of male actors? Why had her name not reached us like other legendary south Indian actors?

Probably because she never acted in Hindi movies? Though once, the invited guest in the town event, Prithviraj Kapoor (Horribly wrong casting. But he appears only for 2 minutes so..), complimented her for her role as Krishna – this happened before her calling in the movies.

Savithri was a Superstar of Telugu and Tamil Movies. She was born in the year 1936 and her career kick-started in the late ’40s. She performed many a multifaceted roles with great talent. Her expressive facial features only made it all look easy. She donned a golden era of Tamil-Telugu movies- an era when actresses too had prominent roles in the movies. Sivaji Ganesan, M.G. Ramachandran, Gemini Ganesan(her husband), NT Rama Rao, and Nageshwar Rao, were her contemporaries and she was as important as them in determining the box-office success of a movie. You can decipher the enormity of her unceasing popularity on these facts that her career took an upsurge after her marriage and it did not slow down even when she looked overweight in some movies. (Just wow!)

Story told in Mahanati
Savithri’s father died when she was very young. She and her mother took refuge at her Uncle’s home. Her Uncle, who struggled with her to get her into the movies, did not suffice her need for fatherly affection. But thankfully, he was also not a mercenary guardian. The actual saga started after her marriage – a superstar’s marriage to another superstar who was already married. Actor Gemini Ganesan, at the time, fathered two daughters from his first legal marriage. He fathered two more daughters(one being Bollywood star, Rekha) from an illicit affair. He revealed his relationship with Pushpavalli to Savithri but publicly admitted it much later. He convinced her that both relationships didn’t count because they just happened.

At first, G. Ganesan encouraged and supported Savithri’s endeavors like a good husband. But unable to match up with her popularity, he eventually grew insecure. She slowed down her fast paced career to cater to his ego but the sacrifice went in vain. Her husband’s adultery came as a shock she didn’t recover from.

Savithri took to drinking and became alcoholic. She faced a financial crisis owing to her philanthropic nature and an income tax raid. For the sake of her children, she tried to rise again and did stabilize her falling, but one weak moment broke her finally.

Post Movie Thoughts
Both the periods, the ’80s and the ’50s, are well depicted in the biopic. Except for the costumes of Dulquer Salmaan which are quite an obstacle in accepting him as G. Ganesan of 1950s. Though, his enactment is bang on. Savithri by Keerthi Reddy is immaculate.

Savithri is a story must heard. Mahanati is a great filler on the life of this terrific actress for the rest of the country. I googled to know more about her. Some articles deny that she was financially a complete broke in her end days. But she did move into a smaller house on the cheaper side of the town and she did land in the hospital like shown in the movie.

Some expressed displeasure for unfair presentation of G. Ganesan. The movie, I think, couldn’t possibly make light of the doom he brought on her. And many suffered other than Savithri..

I found this unfortunate destiny very intriguing; that Devdas was her favorite book as she played Parvati in the Telugu version of the movie and then went on the self destruction path of Devdas.

What awed me most was Savithri’s generosity. When she could no more help people with ready cash, she sold her sarees, one-at-a-time. She realized the shortcomings of fighting addiction without a proper alcohol rehab center. This consumed her with thoughts of building one in India to benefit others. It is easy to be a charitable person in your heyday, but requires immense innate goodness to be so at the lowest point in your life.

Sharing some fun videos of the original  Savithri that I enjoyed immensely.

This is from Telugu movie Mayabazaar -an episode from Mahabharata. Savithri is having a blast playing as a giant turned woman (on Krishna’s instructions) 
to set things right.

Do you remember this video that went viral as skype calls in Mahabharata days? It too is from Mayabazaar.

I enjoyed this video like a 7 year old. A mischievous gigantic heart-in-the-right-place Rakshasa causing trouble to the unholy wedding by eating up all the food..What’s not to like?

This song with NTR is so musical…so lovely

You don’t feel any translation need  for above songs. But I wish there are subtitles provided to all the regional movie videos instead of the mediocre dubbing trend. 
That’s how I have enjoyed watching regional movies in the good old Doordarshan days..

The movie concluded for me in becoming an amusing look-up ride for many other legendary actors. I knew some names like N.T. Ramarao and M.G. Ramachandran because they were also former Chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, respectively. I had heard name Sivaji Ganesan (though I remained ignorant that G. Ganesan was different Ganesan until now) because my father was a fan. A. Nageshwar Rao  and S.V. Ranga Rao were complete new names to me. In one article, Dilip Kumar says that he thinks Devdas performed by A.Nageshwar Rao was the best. I watched some songs of Devdasu, ANR’s depiction is unstylish and unlike Dilip Kumar’s. His is a more realistic a drunkard and destroyed person.

My favorite face! – S.V. Rangarao


Not all yesteryear actors have dramatic stories to tell. But there is a need for good documentaries if not full-fledged movies to mark their contribution to the Indian cinema.



US #Unnao&Kathua

And he spoke. He spoke because we pushed him to. All political leaders do that and he is no different. It breaks our heart when we get disapointed in leaders we idolize. I have been there quite a few times. But it is necessary to see the reality. See a person as he or she is and not like the one in your imagination. Before him, his opponent spoke. He was also pushed into. They all check the pulse of the society and react accordingly. This is our only strength. We can make our leaders do what we wish to but we have to remain united. They know this and try to divide us on our views. It becomes easy to rule us then. Opinions of 1.32 billions can never match. But most of the times our basic needs do match. And we are yet far from accomplishing many such basic needs. So get carried away by a persona and become a society that crumbles at the drop of a hat or motivate them to act right. Totally up to us – if there is us…

P.S. Never underestimate the power of speaking out your mind when you think no one seems to side with you.

Duvidha Movie and an Insight into Dulhan Mehendi of Old Times

Duvidha was the movie I was looking for ever since I watched Shahrukh Khan-Rani Mukherji starred Paheli. Paheli was remake of Duvidha by Mr. Amol Palekar. I found story of Paheli  unique and got curious about the story source. I have made up my mind that I have penchant for stories where ghosts are treated like regular people. I loved Lekin, where the guy falls in love with a ghost and this movie where a ghost falls in love with a woman. The term inter-faith relationship becomes really profound here, I feel.

Not just the ghostly part, but I thought Paheli had a gutsy storyline. It was more amusing that it was based on a movie made during 70’s. Furthermore, the 70’s movie was based on a folklore. This tells that people of all times have ability to comprehend, accept, and carry forward nonconformist stories those that don’t sync with ancient social customs.

I was disillusioned while watching Duvidha.  It is an experimental movie. The story is narrated rather than performed. The narration consists of voice-overs for the thought-process/ monologues of the lead characters. This style was probably adapted because the lead actress, Raisa Padamsee, is half french and couldn’t speak Hindi. It kind of works for her, and only her, to portray a voiceless village woman. Despite my expectation falling, I thought the movie can be viewed as an uncorrupted testimony to vintage North Indian village life –  the house architecture, the ethnic wears (nothing glossy or glamorous about it), the celebration of life events with folk songs etc.

It was the Mehendi design on hands of newly-wed bride that caught my attention amidst this canvas of antique rural life elements.  I got nostalgic viewing the orange colored Mehendi. It is the color you get if you only crush Henna/Mehendi leaves without adding any other coloring agents. It transported me to childhood days when we plucked Mehendi leaves from the wild plantation near the fences and coarsely crushed it with whatever means available. It was never a fine paste like what we get in Mehendi cones today and adding more ingredients to it was out of question for a fun activity!

Dulhan mehendi1

Dulhan Mehendi2

Though I was pleased to see the genuine orange color, I was taken aback by the design. It was such a shabby work. A simple blob of crushed Mehendi that we kids put in the center of our palms looked more thoughtful than this. It almost feels like coloring palms with Mehendi during celebrations was more ritualistic exercise than about art or beautifying effect of it.

Dulhan Mehendi4 (2)

Dulhan Mehendi4 (1)

I’m curious. Were Mehendi designs such a hasty work because it is a rural household? Actually, as you can see in the pictures, the painted hands look alright if you aren’t deep into design patterns.

Unlike Paheli, climax of Duvidha isn’t happy one. Although, it is more convincing end of the story than Paheli. I watched Duvidha on Amazon Prime. It is also available on YouTube but the print quality is better on Amazon. Watch it as a tale of a period, you cannot turn this time wheel now – for better or worse!

A Simple Exercise to deal with Insomnia

Lately, I went through a brief period of sleepless nights. At First, I blamed it on mosquitoes. Then some days I thought it was my uneasy stomach. Irrespective of the reasons, this ensured misery ahead. Much before this started, I was already dealing with low energy levels in the morning hours for routine tasks, and with sleepless nights I was sure it called for an unproductive day and my growing  irritable mood.

Insomnia and me? Sleep was my remedy to all my life problems. Be it the next day exam during academic days that I felt unprepared for, some future uncertainty making me anxious or just a tough day at work. A sound sleep changed every situation for me. After a good sleep either I  almost did not recall the issue or it wasn’t as pressing anymore. This ability to sleep on an issue, literally, made me take pride in my method of disposing the matter. In my entire life there have been very few nights that I remember being awake. Most of them were due to blocked nose making it hard to respire during common colds.

So, it was almost a record of a kind which I could not retain anymore.. It was a double misery. That something was not quite right and my pride, my best friend, my sleep was eluding me.

I was guilty of skipping walks lately. In morning I decided to keep it for evenings and in the evening I concluded walks are best workouts for mornings. I was trying to get out of this cycle but with mental and physical fatigue, it was a losing battle.  I tried Vipassana but everything going haywire it too didn’t work for me this time.

Then one night after the dinner, I was quite frustrated at my attempt of walking up and down through rooms to compensate for daily walks. I sat me down for a while. Some words from an article where the writer had suggested how even standing is an exercise struck me. And on a whim I decided to just stand in one place for half an hour.

Half-an-hour is a long time – I realized it that night. In five minutes I was starting to feel weird about it. Just stand, do nothing? I had to close my eyes to have a better control on standing straight without leaning on anything. Being overweight, my legs were going to give up sooner than later. I could do no other activity than let my mind wander at the least. I’m used to meditating and focusing on breathing. But this time I just let my mind be. After half -an – hour I went to sleep and slept sound.

I don’t know if this is just a notion. But it’s working. What more, I feel energetic in the morning. So I started doing it twice a day. Once, sometime after breakfast and second before sleeping.

I specifically feel a beginning of increase in mental strength. I could overcome my fear to check my weight on the weighing scale which I was avoiding for long. Some may understand, it’s a big thing..

I recommend this. No harm trying. All you need to do is stand on your feet tall and firm without leaning against anything. A little swaying is okay but trust your legs as your competent support system for the next half an hour. There’s going to be a flood of thoughts rushing to your mind as soon as you feel a little composed. Address the immediate thoughts rushing to you. If you’re agitated, feeling happy, lovely, let be. Remember the breathing in-out thing but don’t insist. Just tell your side of the story to yourself. Be compassionate to yourself like you would expect a friend to be. Try be in the moment or even half an hour can turn out to be a punishment.

This is much more simpler to me than Vipassana. Especially because I don’t feel like procrastinating this laziest exercise. It’s too early to draw any conclusions from this but I shared anyway. Look at it like some kind of home remedy with no side effects.

Mere Man Ki Baat to PM Modiji

Dear Prime Minister Narendra Modiji,

Now, you are not very dear to me but you are dear to many of my friends who are very dear to me. They don’t like that I don’t like you very much. They insist that my failing to see any good change in our country since you became Prime Minister of India is my failure to see any positivism in life. The sky is not falling, they tell. They could be right. May be I criticize impulsively. You see, I was very critical of Congress too. Every one said Congress is bad but Manmohan Singhji is a good man. I didn’t think for a Prime Minister this was good enough a quality. I wrote disapproving blogs then too. But unlike now, my friends thought that I  have a way with words and saw my fragile word blows and Lilliputian efforts with great adoration. It’s really a different kind of a fight when a friend shuts you up by accusing you of spreading negativity. Much tougher than the imaginary fear of becoming a state offender. Here, you end up with strained relationship and bruised confidence.

Since your topic is not open for discussion with many of my friends anymore, I don’t know what  they have to say on your recent divisive statements during Gujarat Elections. The statements weakened arguments of my friends that you aimed for only development of the country. Though, when one gets defensive of a person they favor, reasons and logic fail. They understand it is election time and they understand you need to win. They overlook the methods you choose. By the way, most of my friends are not bigots when it comes to dealings in their personal lives. Some of them may harbor minor prejudices, but you cannot ever imagine them to be comfortable in company of Gaurakshaks, Karni Sena,  Bajrang dal… Just that they don’t see a direct threat to their way of life by these groups. Not yet. You see, my objection is about this willful overlooking of them at any act of you that they would have strongly objected if it weren’t you. I worry that it makes them accomplice in your deeds. Ignoring your tactics as necessary evil, they sacrifice their democratic and secular rights willingly and also compromise rights of others for which they are not authorized!

Yesterday, I and my cousin went for a day-out for a change of milieu we both needed very much. Being a busy Prime Minister, now this letter must have started to disinterest you. But stay put please! In any case I’m just imagining you to be reading this— So we both , I and my cousin, are going through tough times in our life. I needed to inhale some fresh air and she wanted to find some solace by visiting holy shrines nearby. I’m not overtly religious but yeah, I like visiting shrines especially the quiet ones in small places. My cousin wanted to visit a Shiv Mandir and a Church. One of her friend had suggested her to pray in a church.  We started at a wrong hour, at noon, when both the Temple and the Church were closed. Gods were resting. Although, we enjoyed the beautiful scenic views on our way. The rikshaw ride took us on a Narrow curvy road that passed from middle of the green landscapes with ponds on either side,  a large lake, old rounded trees, patches of banana farms etc. There was also uncollected garbage near these eye-soothing water bodies…but you can skillfully take a snap by avoiding it in the frame and the pic looks cool on Instagram. I could have posted some pictures here but they can distract you from the point that I want to make.

So we had a hard luck as we stood before the closed doors of shrines and went for a movie instead. But my cousin was really determined on visiting a Church. In the evening after the movie we could visit a Church nearby. It was very soothing in there. I took a look at the people sitting in there. It would have been hard for me to segregate them as a different community if I had met them at any other place. My sister said her prayer in there and we left after a while.
You may think my cousin is looking for a religion change but she is not. She is a hardcore Hindu and intends to remain so. But this is what we Indians do in times of trouble, we look forward to  whichever God that might come to rescue us in that dire need of the hour and bless us. We may be hesitant of each others religion and various customs but we have absorbed each others Gods. We have been softened on fear about offending our Gods by varied saints through time immemorial who assured us that Sabka Malik ek hain. Votive offerings are made at Ajmer Sharif darga, Shirdi Temple, Churches, Gurudwaras etc. by people of all communities. They take various religious souvenirs from there with them to their households and  place them beside their Gods.
What do you need, a Mandir or a Masjid- you asked people in the election fervor. I don’t know. But I know we need all the Gods. We need all Gods we can have because life is difficult. People need Gods to overcome mental depressions, financial stress,  loss of loved ones, for better life,  to travel safely in  local trains and survive through over crowded railway bridges, to fight inflating tomatoes, onions and LPG gas cylinders, to see their kids well-placed, to fight Cancer, Chikungunya and Ebola, to survive through earth quakes, tsunamis, and famines, to be granted with adequate rains and incomes. Many of these issues can be solved with good governance  but we resort to Gods because politicians have elections to win. God, at the least, is a good listener they say.
So here is a start of my Man ki baat to you, PMji. It’s not entirely your fault if you don’t know what people want if they don’t tell you. The way you try to reach them people should try to tell you their man ki baat too. Like I just tried telling you mine. Thank you for reading or not reading but just letting me write.
Your’s Sincerely,
A God-needy Indian Citizen

Immortal Love

Revisited the movie Madhumati after many years. Started watching it on a whim and was surprised at how much of the movie I had no memory of. Probably because when I had watched it earlier for the first time, I was too much in awe of the legendary movie. I have always found the cinematography of black & white movies charming and this movie had unleashed all the beauty and power of B&W: the times and the technology.

This time I watched the  events unfold in the movie with more awareness and there the climax stumped me. Did I just see the ghost of Madhumati abetting Anand babu to commit suicide? That too when he had a chance to continue live a happy life with doppelganger of Madhumati? This was so unlike an Indian woman who prays and fasts for her husband to live long after her..

Madhumati must be convinced that her fiance has no reason to continue to live after her death. That he will never be happy with the other or as much in love as he is with Madhumati.. The one perspective of Madhumati the movie, especially in the horror genre is that she is a dark evil soul. Anand babu is possessed by this evil soul and he must be saved.

Long back I had watched a Marathi play ‘Vat Vat Savitri’, on Doordarshan. A farcical drama where the first wife who has died returns as a result of wrongly exercised planchette and wishes to take her husband with her so that their souls can reunite and they can be together forever. It was  a comedy -the husband is reluctant to die and aghast at listening this  plan of his first wife (no true love) but does not dare to contradict her idea. His second living wife manages to send the spirit of first wife off to the other world but not before first wife’s  few attempts (ensuring hilarity for viewers) to kill her husband.

While there are so many  stories in the history of women immolating after their husbands’ death (a dark history, actually), we don’t see husbands doing same after their wives’ death. At the most we have a Shahjahan who built a ritzy TajMahal in loving memory of his dead wife. Expensive job dudes, but no he did not offer to give up on his life..

Coming back to the classic Madhumati, I have this question.. how can you be sure that in his next life Anand Babu, now Devendra, did not marry the doppelganger of Madhumati? Also, what if Radha, the reincarnation of Madhumati had died in the train accident? Would she again go after her husband’s life?

Rock & Roll

In the times where there is a YouTube video of a six year old kid who can roll classic round Chapatis, it’s not much of an achievement for a 40 year old me. 

But may be a significant growth on personal level. 10 years back, I can’t begin to tell you how much I hated rolling a chapati. I suspected the Chapati dough deliberately spread itself in different directions to tease me and have fun. It was a conspiracy. In return, I hated it back. I dreamed of the world where we will stop insisting on round chapatis. I was born therefore. To rebel against the arrogant roundness of Chapatis and tell the world it isn’t the only shape that exists. 

Then my Mami came and the world lost a hero in this valid cause. Her thin soft luscious (aka, mausut in marathi) chapatis tempted me so much. The only way to have them anytime was attempt them. I’m at least successful in the rolling part. This is Jowar mixed aata so can’t roll as thin as her wheat atta Chapati. It’s not perfect round always and I don’t aspire beyond this. And because mom helps with the roasting part, I still haven’t got it right to the end step. But rolling Chapatis doesn’t anger me anymore. Mami also gifted me this wooden ‘polpat'(Rolling board and rolling pin) few months back which is really good. That’s when I realised how long I have come from those frustrated chapati making sessions to today that too without calculated intentional efforts.

I Wish It Were a Dream

The elevator’s button panel was broken; literally, hanging out.. I experienced  a jerk as the elevator tripped and then stabilized immediately but not before giving me an idea of free fall. Maybe if I try putting the button panel in its place, and then try pressing the button, it will work. But because the elevator had sunk, the original panel place was out of my reach. I was trapped in too small space that ensured suffocation and a panic attack was to follow in moments. Then I woke up from the sleep. How lucky is that?