Thursday, December 17, 2009

Star Power

Meera Jasmine, the actress from Kerala who enjoys great popularity in the southern states, was for a brief period, a student of the college where I taught. I was on leave while she was student there. So I haven't even seen her. But I took a lot of pride telling people that she is the student of Assumption College where I taught. Of course, I was careful to leave out the all important fact there I have never taught her and I wasn’t there in the college while she was there and have seen her only in films.

It so happened that I had to stay in a bank’s training college in Hyderabad for a few months. Those who served us at the dining table were very deferential to the guests, and, since both my husband and I believe in treating them also with deference, we called them by their personal names and maintained a good rapport with them.

Once, at the dining table I suggested to my husband Sunny that we go for a Telugu movie. So I asked Sridhar who was laying the table , for his suggestions. He mentioned the name of a movie which’d been running houseful for sometime.
The actress is Meera jasmine from Kerala, he said.
Pointing to me, Sunny said ”Meera Jasmine studied in her college.”

Sridhar’s eyes rolled in wonder and ecstacy.

Really? Was she a good student?, he asked.

I saw Sunny opening his mouth to say that I hadn’t taught her .I quickly cut in in my broken hindi that she had been a very good student. I wasn’t lying. I have heard my colleagues say that she was a good student.

Excitedly Sridhar went about laying the other tables in the room while we watched with amusement the beatific look on his face.

Normally, I had my lunch alone on weekdays as Sunny would be away at work ,and I’d usually wait till the trainee officers rush in the mess hall subsided. That afternoon, I saw Sridhar,s face light up when he saw me. I started my lunch and reached out for the gravy to go with roti. Suddenly Venkat appeared from no where, grabbed the dish befor me and was serving into my plate. He wouldn’t stop even after I repeatedly told him that I’ve been served enough. And then I was surrounded by Krishna, Muruga and four others, all vying with each other to serve different dishes into my plate.

I was perplexed, ‘cos I’d forgotten the Meera jasmine episode. I was squirming with unease at the unusual attention I was getting. I always like to be left alone while eating, and five to six young men standing around and watching me put every morsel into my mouth made me self conscious. So I looked up and around at their faces and told them “I’LL manage”. I spoke in English ‘cos I didn’t know how to say that in Hindi.

And then one of them blurted out’ “Madam, You taught Meera Jasmine?’

I was caught off Guard. To lie or not to lie was the question. So I managed to lie and not to lie. I smiled from ear to ear at him.

All on a sudden, all of them were asking me questions – some in Telugu, some in Hindi (they knew I knew no Telugu).

The first question that was thrown at me was a dangerous one. An honest reply would have dampened their enthusiasm, besides taking the newly acquired Meer Jasmine halo away from me. A dishonest reply would endanger my soul for violating the 9th commandment.
“For how long was she in your class?”

Perched between the horns of the dilemma, my mind worked quickly.

Hindi nahi samchey. Thoda thoda maalu. Aap kya bole, me nahi samchey.

He put the question in Telugu. Telugu? nahi malu. Kab nahi maalu.

I’m street smart, no? I’d managed to snatch my soul from the clutches of falsehood without endangering the halo that was bestowed on me for being Meera Jasmine’s teacher.

I quickly finished my lunch and escaped before they discovered someone who knew Malayalam or Tamil.

After that, during lunch, I withdrew into myself after the initial greeting smile, and had my lunch looking blankly into a book I had finished reading.

And basking in the glory of an unachieved distinction.


  1. തെലുങ്കന്‍മാരു മലയാളി നടികള്‍ എന്നു വച്ചാല്‍ മരിക്കും റ്റ്റിഷ, നയന്‍ താര, മീര ജാസ്മിന്‍ ഒക്കെ അവരുടെ ദൈവങ്ങള്‍ ആണൂ ശബരിമല വരുന്നവരൊക്കെ തിരുവല്ലയില്‍ ഇറങ്ങി ഇവരുടെ വീടുകള്‍ എവിടെ എന്നു തിരക്കറും ഉണ്ട്‌ മീര ജാസ്മിന്‍ നല്ല നടിയാണൂ പക്ഷെ തൈറോയിഡ്‌ കൊണ്ടോ എന്തോ മുന്‍ കോപം ദേഷ്യം അണ്‍ പ്രൊഫഷണലിസം ഇതൊക്കെ കാരണം മലയാളത്തില്‍ നിന്നും ഔട്ട്‌ ആയിക്കഴിഞ്ഞു.

  2. Interesting experience..
    Meera is trying for a comeback in malayalam

  3. Quite a predicament.
    By the by, I have performed the key role in a 1976 superhit Malayalam movie opposite Sheela. Very few people, however, know it.

  4. @ p Venugopal
    Oh! which movie?

    @Shine Narithookil
    Meera is a good actress- can be a power actress like Manju varrier. unfortunately, today's malayalam cinema has no space for good women actors. it is out to drain the last drop of blood from the double M superstars till they can no longer yield any more moolas.the losers are malayalm cinema and its audience.

    @ arushiyude lokam
    i wouldnt have believed it had t not seen it for myself

  5. liar!! liar!! pants on fire!!

  6. No Mathew, I am not lying. It is a secret very few people know and even those who know have forgotten it. Now that I have broached the subject, I think it is time for the world to know it.
    I was the hero of the Vadakkanpattu epic 'Kannappanunni' produced by Udaya in 1976 or 77. When I say the 'hero', don't be mislead into believing it is a lie by the claim that Prem Nazir was the hero in this film. The whole story depended on the question whether Nazir could win a series of very ardous trials to qualify for the hands of Sheela.
    One of the trials was to jump over fire on to a 10-feet-high platform sort of setup where a genie stood guard over a box in which was a diamond-studded ring, only the putting of which in Sheela's finger will entitle Nazir or any other competitor to the lady's hand.
    Don't ask me the logic of all these, but the thing is that the whole story revolved around this single affair.
    Udaya was on the lookout for a polevaulter to jump over the fire on to the platform. The rest they knew they could manage. My fame had reached their ears, because Jijo Ponnoose, Navodaya Appachan's son, was my best freind and classmate. I was the best polevaulter alive those days in Alappuzha district and I saved the whole script by duping for Nazir with the beautiful vault.
    He married Sheela and lived happily ever after. The film ran for more than 100 days in the theatres across the State.

  7. @ P. Venugopal
    it's me whom mathew called a liar-for my silences which gave wrong notions about me being meera jasmine's teacher.
    thanks, sir, for the info about your stint in the movie.wonder if the cd is available.

  8. madam, i knew he was addressing you. but i was looking for an opportunity to tell the story, wanting someone to ask what next!-:) the cd is available, but it is not an interesting movie. i occupy the screen for perhaps 0.5 seconds-- landing the pole, flinging myself over the fire and into the skies and landing on all fours like a monkey at the feet of the genie. and if you happen to wink your eyes at this exact moment, you miss the whole shot. the one who gets up and fights the genie is once again Prem Nazir.

  9. ok, sir. will try to get the cd and watch it without blinking:-)

  10. As a blog post,I didnt find anything interesting in it at all.Doesnt fit in with your usual style and subjects.After your centuries, I expected better.There is no rule that you have to post regularly.If you dont find anything intersting to write,just take some time off.With all due respect,I feel sorry about what I read.

  11. Antony - that was not fair- a blogger will blog on what he or she feels like, you may or may not like it, need or need not comment.

    KT - It was certainly interesting, from a personal angle. The half lie has been so important from historic times. Remember Krishna and ashwathama in Bhagavad geetha?

  12. @ maddy
    thanks for helping me salvage my self esteem:-)

  13. I am honestly sorry,if I hurt you. I didnt mean it that way.I should have been careful.I just wrote it in a frenzy,and posted it before I realised it.
    I am following you as an example, I have read most of your blogs,and I seriously appreciate your style.As I said when you hit your third century,you are unique.It is a pleasure reading your posts. Somehow,I thought this particular one didnt go along with your usual style. I could have just said so. I am really sorry.Kindly accept my apologies. I was probably wrong.
    Thnaks Maddy,for remindidng me I was rude. You are right,I had no right to talk that way.And again,I could have just kept my comments to myself.
    My heartfelt apologies,once again.


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