I think it was Bairagi who said "నాక్కొంచం నమ్మకమివ్వు". All we Telugus need is a little bit of belief, or suspension thereof, especially when watching movies. Fortunately, we all oblige. We have been blessed with the infinite patience, and resilience born from waiting in the bus-stands in Telugu land.
A case in point is a recent movie I saw: pelli sandadi. Once I started believing in the Telugu magical movie land, the movie made perfect sense to me. I even enjoyed myself thoroughly, with all those song and dance sequences.
I know what you are thinking. How does this seemingly sane person, normally espousing rational views make such statements? What Kantian categorical imperative made him say that :-)?
What can I say, I am cursed — the curse that makes me sit through mind-numbing garbage (punctuated with soothing commercials) only because something in there reminds me of a smell, a smile, a face, a place, a story that is long buried in the cranium. Aren’t we all the slaves of our memories?
It is the curse that binds us to the language, the poetry, the people, and home. It shows us poetry even in the mundane words of the language. It triggers associations from the odd jumble of words. Heck, it even finds poetry in dubbed songs for us.
Of course, this poetry is defined by home, and in general, a nation (nation in a Hegelian sense). To me, it defines the essence of sensibility. For example, Urdu poetry has some sensibility, laden with richly perfumed, thinly veiled phrases. I never could get the sensibility in English poetry; to me it has the weariness of an Eliot, word magic of an Ogden Nash. It is purely cerebral.
Now, come to Telugu poetry. Having grown up there, we can perfectly understand and feel the words "chemma checka" and "hoosh kaaki". We can see the green country side with undulating pasture fields, punctuated with coconut groves, where nubile girls roam dreaming a little, befitting Telugu sensibility. And, it is poetry to us — all the cacophony at the weddings, all that confusion, all those colorful sarees, all those gentle pranks.
May be we are all still crazy after all these years. There never was that dream land. May be it was all dry fields by the side of dusty roads. May be it was full of petty people fighting over forgotten notions, and anachronistic ideas.
Still, the dream is more powerful than reality. How else can we explain the gentle tug at the heart, on listening to a Telugu song? How else can we explain why we put up with dull, boring, sentimental, repetitive, and insulting movies?
Of course, we are dreamers. We catch a wisp of our dreams, a whisper of the poetry, a glimpse of lost youth — all in routine movies. All this becomes possible because of belief, a little bit of belief.
And, this movie, pelli sandaDi, does give me that.
Dec 10, 1997