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Friday, July 30, 2010

An autobiography of a middle class man - 14
Kalaignar in 1970
Of late, Tamilnadu Chief Minister Mr. Karunanidhi's craze for publicity, is being discussed elaborately. in the media. People of all walks, except his "fans" feel sick of this attitude of shamelessly accepting accolades from everybody who speak in front of him and Psychologists even coined words for this phobia.

This reminds me of one of my experiences in this connection which I feel like sharing with you all. In the beginning of 1971, I accidentally became one of the founder secretary of a cultural organisation called "Apsaras" . In other words, it was a "Sabha" which was giving monthly three progrmmes to its members. It was a glorious period for Sabhas at Madras, and each one of them were competing with each other in giving the best performances in a month. All the programmes were conducted at Music academy and we had about 1500 permanent members. Our membership was going on premium and people were kept in wait list to get filled, if a member goes out of station. All the members were allotted permanent seats with numbers and if a seat becomes vacant on account of a member leaving the station, and if that seat was in the centre of the hall, people were prepared to give more money for that.

Within a short span of time "Apsaras" became the leading Sabha in the city, and it became a prestige for anybody to claim that he/she is a member of "Apsaras". Even the artist of various drama troupes and from cine field were eager to perform in our Sabha, and we were getting the dramas as second or third to be staged after they were inaugurated at Mylapore Fine arts Club, which had Mr. Rajagopal as secretary. On those days all the drama troupes from M/s. Manohar, K.Balachandar. Cho, Y.G P, Major Sundarrajan, Seshadri, Poornam Viswanathan and every body were inaugurating their dramas sentimentally at Mylapore Fine arts Club, because Mr. Rajagopal was the secretary. We used to get either second or third show, depending upon the availability of our date.

Apsaras was popular more because, we were giving innovative programmes to our members, apart from dramas and so all the cine artists were also interested in any programme we were organising. Many ministers, and politicians were regularly attending our programmes, which were novel and "something for the first time type." in the city.
Me introducing Vani Jairam
It was during this period the Hindi film " Guddi" was released and the song "Bol re pappi hara" was a big hit. The artist Ms. Vani Jayaram who rendered this song, happened to be sister in law of our Treasurer Mr. M.S. L. Narasimhan and so we jumped into the idea of presenting her and singing in Madras for the "first time". We knew the programme will be a big hit and we wanted to make that a big hit commercially also and so we organised for two days continuously: one day for our members and the other day for outsiders. The moment, we announced the programme, the response was so good; we decided to cash on the programme and get a big name for our organisation. We printed posters,designed by the then famous artist Bharani in 40x30 sizes and pasted them all over Madras City. I think this poster also got appreciation from Kumudam, the then very famous tamil weekly with a title " Indha vaara sirandha poster" (this week's best poster), which they started publishing every week, after we came with novel posters created by Bharani for all our programmes.
Ms. Vani Jairam honouring Bharani

Mr. Rajesh Khanna, the cine actor from Bombay who happened to be at Madras just 10 days before the programme and went back to Bombay and told Vani Jairam " Vaniji, the entire Madras city walls are with your posters from the Airport and wherever I went, I saw your face".

Observing the overwhelming response, we wanted to boost the image of our Sabha, by inviting Mr. Karunanidhi, who was the Chief minister then also, to preside over the function. Mr. M.A.M. Ramaswamy who was our President, who was also close to Kalaignar, talked to him and convinced him to preside over the function. Mr. Karunanidhi readily accepted to preside over "a function which is organised to felicitate a Tamil lady who took Bombay by storm and made Bombay to go mad with her fantastic voice."

Since the publicity for the programme started a fortnight before, we released two posters. one fifteen days before the programme and the second in 30 x 20 size, just before five days of the programme with added information that the Chief Minister will preside over the function. In our enthusiam and in anticipation of the success of the programme, we forgot one most important thing, specifically, because it did not strike to us.

On the early morning of the previous day of the programme, I received a call from Mr. M.A. M. Ramaswamy. "Hari ! What is this blunder you have done?" His tone was very annoyed and angry. I was surprised at his call at that early hour with such hurt and  asked him "What happened sir?" I also became nervous that something has gone wrong  and the whole programme is going to be affected.

He said, "There is no photo of Kalaignar in the posters pasted all over the city and only Ms. Vani Jairam's photo is there. Kalaignar is very upset and he refuses to come to the programme tomorrow."  I became terribly nervous, and my legs started shivering and I could not stand. I fumbled, " Oh ! I am terribly sorry. It did not strike to me. What can I do now sir?"

" I do not know what you will do ! By tonight posters with his photo should be pasted in the important points of the city."

"Oh ! I should design the posters and print it before 2.00 P.M and pay the fees in the corporation and get their seals on the posters. It is very difficult sir."

 " I do not know all these things. Do it immediately !" he banged the phone.

Artist Bharani who designs the posters, works through out the nights and goes to bed only after  4.00 A.M. He will never get up before 12.30 P.M. And he will never work on pressure. He does not care for any body, however big they are in cine field.  He used to dictate terms even to Mr. M.G.R. about the designs he make in the poster and once when he designed a long poster with matters on the top and in the bottom with vacant space in between, M.G.R asked him what should be done in the blank space. Bharani simply retorted " You lie down there !". Since M.G.R knows Bharani's talent and as he was indispensable in the field of designing, simply smiled and went away.

I rushed to Bharani's place, and he was in sound sleep. To wake him up is an ordeal and stupendous task, since he would have consumed six to ten bottles of beer the previous night. Any amount of shaking and calling "Bharani, Bharani" did not yield any result and there was not even a slightest movement. I was also afraid, if he gets irritated, it will be very difficult to make him work. Even though he was our best friend, he was a true artist. Nothing can force him. I was in my thirties then, and was about to break down. With great difficulty, whether Bharani opened his eyes or not, I told him the predicament I am in and in a broken voice told him that the future of Apsaras and mine is in danger. There was no movement from him. I was sitting by his side in the cot and go on repeating the same matter again and again. Nearly after two hours, he got up and that gave some relief to me. Still making him to work, was not in my hand. Bharani can never work, if you pressurise him, nor he will accept any suggestion. You will have to simply tell him the matter for design, and sit with him talking all the other subjects in the world, until he finishes the design on his own sweet time.

To be short, I got the design by 11.00 and rushed to the press, simultaneously instructing the poster pasting man to go to Corporation and pay the fees, and moving with every staff of the Litho press and got the posters printed. With all my tension and anxiety, I printed the poster in 12 x 10 size, and proceeded on my other works. On the night I saw the posters pasted every where, and got more than 100 posters pasted in Gopalapuram alone.

Next day morning I went to Chettinad palace proudly announced to Mr. M.A. M. Ramaswamy about successful execution of my job. He patted me and said "good" with a smile. Evening, we were waiting at the entrance of Music Academy, to receive the Chief Minister. As the clock was ticking, no sign of C.M and even the police were only usual without extra strength. As the programme was scheduled to start at 6.30. and seeing my anxiety, my President came near me, and put his hand around my shoulder, and said, " Hari ! you go inside and start the programme. C. M. will not come."
Me and Mr. M.A.M Ramaswamy waiting at the entrance of Music academy for C.M. The poster designed by Bharani is in the background

I looked at his face with a shock and said "Why? I did the job and got the posters pasted everywhere?"

Mr. M.A. M. Ramaswamy smiled and softly said, " but, the size of the poster was small !!!!!"

It is another story that the same Chief Minister came to  another programme of Apsaras, without a poster with his name, and spent three hours with us, which I will narrate later.

Blogger Hemalatha said...
Dear Sir, Looking forward to the other story when MK came to the other programme of Apsaras without a poster ! Thanks and Regards
December 7, 2010 8:50 PM

Blogger vaishnavi said...

sir,Eagerly waiting to read the other incident ....

May 10, 2011 9:36 PM