There hasn’t been a post on this blog in a while so some of you have probably given up reading it. Worry not. Here’s a mega-long post full of stereotypes and blanket generalizations, so I can tick off some more of you. Oh, and if you are an Andhra-ite and the Gult nomenclature bugs you, then this post is sure to annoy. Okie, done with warnings.
I recently got a comment from Jethro asking me why I don’t seek inspiration from my Telugu roots often enough. I am after all, Gulty as charged. You see, I have never been much of a stereotypical Gult. I don’t care much for pickle and spice, I prefer chapatis to rice and I cannot tell Pavan Kalyan apart from Uday Kiran. And of course, I never stereotype. Heh heh.
But there’s a bigger, emotional reason why I don’t pick on Gult heroes. And before people start to question my love for Andhra I need to set the record straight. Tender childhood tales need to be told so you understand why it is that I do not and cannot make fun of Chiru. So let me use my favorite rotating black and white circles along with a crescendo of violins and flash back to a story that goes thus —
I was a little girl with mismatched rubberbands who had just arrived in Hyderabad. Fresh from the trauma of pulled-pigtails, I trusted no one, and especially so — men! Those vile creatures. All they knew is to steal, harass and cause grief, I thought.
Now, I am Gult by birth but had never lived in Gult-land until then. I spoke the language (somewhat), but only because mom had tormented and force-taught it to me. She was just doing her part in instilling some Gult-hood in her dotty, I suppose, but it didn’t really work much. I found the language strange and the people who spoke it, stranger. It also didn’t help that I had really demented cousins, so the association of Gults = weirdos was rather easy to make.
Upon arriving in Hyd’bad, it was time to put the fish-out-of-water into school. Now, my third-language until then had always been Sanskrit. Not that I was particularly good at it, but at least asati, asatah, asanti were a familiar enemy. But now suddenly, mom had recognized my ‘telugu inti aadapaduchu‘ potential. That’s the ‘cultured Telugu girl of good family values‘ types for the non-Gult readers amongst you. My grandma, who had started to notice the decreasing skirt-length and hair-length of her grand-dotty also joined in support of mom. And they collectively decided I was going to take Telugu in school. I resisted, I fought, I cried! And then I shuttup and went to school.
I was awful at the language. People were writing essays and spouting Vemana Satakam while I was barely saying the alphabet. And to add to my woes — my Gult teacher, a nasty agarbatti + hair oil smelling man, constantly reminded me that my Telugu was ‘trash, I zay! kompleeete trash!‘. Hmpfh. Men — nasty. Men who pulled pigtails — nastier. And Gult men — nastiest. Did I mention, I never stereotype? Heh. Anyway, two months of smelling tomato-pappu breath while being yelled at, and I decided I had enough. I pulled my brahmaastra. Sanskrit is the grandmother of all languages, I said. And if I was learning a grand-mommy language, then my grand-mommy cannot be complaining about it, can she? Shockingly enough, the logic worked and the torture finally ended. Bye bye, Mr C S Anjaneya Prasad.
So there I was — back in Sanskrit class, giggling at the pondy connotations of conjugation tables and gleefully hating all things Gult. And then one beautiful Sunday morning, I walked down to Raja Video Parlour. As Samantha Fox pouted back at me invitingly from the ubiquitous poster, Raja surreptitiously slipped a video tape of Kondaveeti Donga into my hand. I instantly protested. What is this? Give me Kishen Kanhaiyya, I demanded. Don’t have, madam. It is out. Okay, how about Baap Numbri Beta Dus Numbri, then? He smirked and then looking at me rather like a rancher approaching an unsuspecting cow with a cattle prod, said — Take this. Chiru. Superb dancing. You will like.
A handful of words that changed my life. Chiranjeevi in a Robin Hood-esque role complete with Zorro-like cape and boots, wooing the voluptuous Radha and Vijayshanti, dancing to Ilaiyaraaja‘s tunes and wreaking havoc on the villain Amrish Puri, a tantric Temple-of-Doom-type baba, with glowing red-bulb skulls, chanting hreem kleem chamundaaya namaha spells to make people work in his research lab. Yes, Baba Atomic Research Centre, if you please. Hee haw.
With a formula like this, what’s any self-respecting girl supposed to do? Fall hook, line and sinker for the man, of course. Hey, if you saw the gentleman wearing painted-on black leather pants, walking in slow motion or dancing to ping-u pong-u body, jing-u shing-u lady in response to the gal’s tip-u top-u look-u lip-u meeda kiss-u you would understand why I was reduced to a shivering noodle in his screen presence. Oh that reminds me, Gult film lyrics will teach you that you can add a -u to any English word to get its Telugu equivalent. Pretty simple, yes?
In the coming weeks and months, movie posters and billboards were drooled over from moving cars and autos, and every newspaper and magazine article that had a Chiru photo accompanying it, was read, devoured, cut out and saved for posterity. And to do all this, I learnt to read, write and speak Telugu like there was no tomorrow. And that’s how this Gult discovered the joy of being a Gult. And *that* is why I don’t mock the man. What mommy dearest couldn’t accomplish in six years, Chiru did in six months. And the proverbial West was won.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I had a crush on Chiranjeevi and I am not ashamed to admit it. The Megastar was Megha’s star. Yeah, I said was, so you can all stop sniggering now.