Ramana better known as Mullapudi is dead.
He remained a quintessential child all through his life of 80 years wherein he was a writer of books, writer of film songs and scripts and dialogues and above all a producer of memorable films.
Dennis The Menace pales in comparison to his Budugu.
And I feel he was an Art Buchwald and a P.G.Wodehouse and may be many more humorists rolled into one. The character of the Contract Killer in the film “Muthyala Muggu”, characterestically evokes your smiles rather than horror. And his compulsive borrower “Appula Appa Rao”, teaches you the hows and whys of borrowing even while you don’t need to borrow. And those denizens of the last refuge of the scoundrels, I mean the politicians come out as characters that deserve to be as much laughed at as to be scoffed at.
. He and Bapu were alter egoes of each other for over sixty years or more. I feel a pang for Bapu.
Ramana’s writings are enlivened by the illustrations of Bapu and Ramana’s movies are enriched by the picturisation of Bapu.
I was fortunate to meet them at their house at Chennai a few years ago. I say house rather than houses because just as they were inseparable most of the time, their houses were together. Bapu’s on the ground floor and Ramana’s just above that. I remembered that Ramana gave me a set of casettes of songs from the movie RamaDasu when I met him. He also asked for my, of all people, views on their movie Thyagayya and its debacle. I remembered to have said something akin to the cliche about books,- classics being admired but not read. But this cliche was not true in respect of most of their movies and TV serials.
It is a pity that such a versatile genius has not received any Republic Day awards from the Government all these long years. .
Ramana wrote the Foreword for Bapu’s book of cartoons, and in return Bapu acknowledges Ramana’s contribution towards him by means of a cartoon.. In the cartoon, Bapu depicts himself, sticking his neck through a round hole in the centre of the wall. A halo is painted on the wall, radiating from the central hole in all directions. Ramana is standing before the wall beaming and explaining how great his friend is. This typical modesty of Bapu, the genius, pervades his friend Ramana also. I tralnsate below from Telugu an expert from Ramana’s Foreword to Bapu’s book of cartoons.
“Dear child ! You seek a boon. It will be granted.”
” You have got your Law degree, I see.”
” So ?”
” You need to set up your practice ?’
” So ?’
‘ Do you wish to earn lots of dough as a successful lawyer or do you wish to earn lots of fame as a judge ?”
“Who said I am going to practise law ?”
“Why did you study law then ?’
” My dad ordered me to ”
‘ Doesn’t it amount to flouting your dad’s wish, if you do not practise.?’
“Dad’s order was to study law. It does not apply to my practising it.”
“Then what do you propose to practise?”
” See this and you will understand.” , Bapu shows Saraswathi, the Godess of Learning, Her picture.
The Mother of All Learning is overjoyed.
” You could draw my figure, even while you were talking to me?!.”
“Why, You were strumming out divine melodies on your Veena even while You were talking to me.”
” Clever guy ! Forget it. You mean to pracise art, I surmise. But art is like an ocean, mind you. They are any number of categories of art ,- Oil painting, water colours, pen and brush,wash etc. Coming to styles, you have Ravi Varma, Chamakoor, Damerla, Bhagirathi, Mokkapati, Pilaka, Vykuntham, Pydi Raju, et al. In line drawings you have, Bapiraju, Talisetti, Va Paa,. Coming to Western Masters, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Norman Rockwell, Hogarth etc. And within cartoonists people like Schulz, Keehan, and in sculptors, Rodin, Roy Chowdary, just to name a few. Umpteen branches and many more artists.”
” They are my gurus. I salute them.”
“But choose one of these branches and seek the boon and it will be granted. You know it takes a life time to master one branch. Just you ask and I’ll grant it.”
“I want all of them.”
” Preposterous and impossible. Don’t be greedy. Ask for one. I’ll grant it.”
” Pray, why are You insistent on giving me a boon right from the time You have manifested before me. Sorry. I don’t need any of Your boons.”
” Why so ?”
“My dad used to tell me that, things which were dirt cheap or those you have acquired with out putting an effort on them were worthless. You would relish only those that you strive hard for and achieve.”
” O.K. Just as you say. But nevertheless I will grant you that you will experience all the six tastes, Sweet, bitter, sour, hot, salty, and tangy.”
”So You persist on thrusting this boon on me, then?’
” Sorry, It’s the force of habit. No, this is only my wish and outlook for you.”
That is Ramana on Bapu. Fantasy, no doubt. But plausible. We do not know what the Muse’s wish and outlook were for the dear departed eternal child, that was Ramana. But he had experienced all the six tastes in full measure during the course of his multifacetted life and lived life on his terms. We have been fortunate that the Muse had granted him to us, laymen for all these years and through his books and movies for eternity..
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