June 5th, 2008.
Yesterday was one of the best days of my life. I could not have imagined it to even turn out the way it did. It was right out of a Harry Potter novel. Everything went right for us. I mean, I finally took a bath after a gap of four “long” days (or was it five ?!!!) … That in itself was an achievement. This was one plot that couldn’t go wrong from there on.
We reached Kalaivanar Arangam at about 6 o’ clock. One hour late considering the schedule. But, even the trains here in Chennai reach their destination atleast an hour late, so the less said about kaviyarangams, the better. Anyway, it meant that we arrived for our function not an hour late but an hour EARLIER than was required. That aptly sums up why Dasavatharam is finally releasing four months behind schedule.
So, at 7.00 pm, the organisers finally started the kaviarangam. Mr. Abdur Rehman was the chairperson of the symposium. He started off brilliantly well and was in his elements. He did crack some witty jokes and passed some brilliant comments. But then suddenly a murmur was heard. Soon, the murmur turned to a clamour and one man rushed into the hall perspiring and announced ” The Chief Minister is arriving…” (Hear.. Oh hear… His Highness Mr. M. Karunanidhi varaar… varaar…!!!! ). Ok, so then all stage activities were abruptly stopped and the writers (which includes my mother…) on stage made a swift exit. That’s what I like about Tamil nadu. Even during film shoots, there would always be tough competition amongst the crew as to who will reach the sets last. So, when the director and the stunt master reach the sets an hour late, the lead actor goes one better and reaches two hours later. It’s an interesting game to play you know. That is, unless you are the lucky one… The producer…
This was the moment I was waiting for… I yearned to see the man who had captured millions of hearts, who had inspired crores of young minds, who had helped lakhs of people… I was waiting for that moment when I could finally see the living legend himself.
That moment didn’t come anytime soon. You see, these functions teach you a lot of things that our books don’t. They teach us to be patient and wait(!)…and wait(!!)…and wait (!!!) for all the good things to come to us. So, to ward off the boredom, the people started chanting. One man went up to the mike and said ” Kalainar…” and the crowd that was brought in to fill up the seats chanted ” Vaazhga “… I can understand devotion for God, but such an occurence ? This demi-god hadn’t even reached the premises !
But, then I guessed that His Highness had finally arrived by noting the crowds of his bodyguards in mufti who rushed into the hall head first. But it was an excruciatingly long walk for the CM. He had to take an eternity to reach his seat. He was walking with small, uncertain steps, his arms thrown around two of his close relatives. They were almost carrying him through length of the hall. I felt sorry for him. Then the enormity of the situation suddenly began to strike me. The hall suddenly seemed to grow silent, the chants began to grow louder, all eyes began to focuson the tiny man walking down the aisle. It was THE moment when I realised what this small man had acheived. All the while, I was filled with just pure tongue-in-cheek remarks about his glory days. But it was at that moment that made me look back at all those Voldemorts, Hitlers, Bonapartes, Gueveras, Gandhis, Nehrus… This man was surely in their league. You might reject him outright, you may not support his many ideals, you might dislike the way he has run the government and go on and on about his ruthlessness, his greed etc., but just spare a thought for that man in a humanatarian sense. This one man has, through his lifetime, changed the entire face of Tamil literature. I’m not talking about his political acheivements here at all. But his contribution to Tamil literature is indeed immense and cannot be ignored. I couldn’t help but think of him as a real-life Godfather. I was overcome by emotion. This man was almost losing his ability to walk, but not his devotion to Tamil literature. As the audience finally started to applaud, he took his seat and I couldn’t help but join in.