Sandalwood Se Hollywood Tak

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I’m hardly 18 but a self-confessed TV & movie addict! I watch anything and everything under the sun -especially if it even remotely has the whiff of glamour. Even after dad waddles in long past midnight for his nocturnally routine unfinished business in the loo, and shuts off the TV in the hall before shooing me off, I sneak plenty of peeks on my teeny-weeny Telly in my bedroom!

I simply can’t help it since I have been brought up on a staple diet of the boob-tube and cinema, you see! Why? If memory serves me right, the very first thing that I saw when I first opened my eyes about 18 years back was Gabbar Singh in Sholay! Dear sweetly-and-seductively gyrating Basanti came second and my one and only dearest momma lagged a distant third! Likewise with hearing too, the first I heard was Gabbar’s thundering baritone. Next were Basanti’s stifled near-sobs as she feared that her much vaunted South Indian maidenhood would be rendered ancient history, and then of course I heard my momma! Now, all those indelible impressions on my fledgling senses came strictly in that order, mind you!

Now – for a little dope, dirt and dreams on/of my family and me! Oh yeah, we were a mighty close knit family even back then – Poppa, Momma, the TV + remote and of course, yours truly! Many were the times when my Poppa used to be on his own trip on an idyllic weekend; buoyed by that extra swig undoubtedly! Interspersed in between those myriad commercial breaks it was sermon time for us and with the TV blaring its tinny guts out at peak output for accompaniment, he used to eulogize –

"Son, we are complete and one happy functional family!"

It took me many years thenceforth to realize what he actually meant was that merely the TV and the remote were fully functional! Meaning – those two symbiotic objects made us ‘complete’ and sans that, our lil family would be utterly dysfunctional! I guess watching TV together must have been his variant of the adage ? ‘the family that prays together stays together!’

With the omnipresent TV around, who had the time and inclination for prayers anyway? But should we ever evince the need for a thimbleful of spirituality for a change, the helpdesk wasn’t far away! Just a click and we could watch our Televangelist, Benny Hinn, grant us sinners general absolution while mesmerizing and brainwashing the gullible masses right from Ukraine to Utah too! Bingo! For us simple folks, the sun rose on the TV’s front side and set on its backside! Watching TV together was the superglue that bound the fabric of our close-knit lil family!

At a time when my nerdish schoolmates were mugging-up the 3 x 3 tables, I was committing to memory channel numbers, TV shows/serials/movies et al and their timings! Oh boy! I was a treasure trove of such information although in retrospect I must say with immense regret that I never got my due credit for that! Tsk tsk! Sheer criminal waste of my intrinsic talents by those tunnel-visioned academicians, I opine! And although my most notable achievement till date has been merely to repeat classes since I was pushed through to grade 5, I have remained resolute in striving to achieve my goal – to be one among the galaxy of TV/Cine Superstars!

Now that’s no big deal coz my folks taught me to dream big and that too in vivid Technicolor! Never mind the fact that my grades were and are not worth the paper they are printed upon. And never mind the stark reality that almost all my certificates have their scores underlined and circled over and over again in red! And then again, never mind my good ole folks constant aspirations and exhortations – "Son, in this fiercely competitive world, you have to sail through school with flying colors. Or else, you wont stand a snowballs chance in Hell! Darn! "Flying colors, eh?" At least on that account, I’m glad I didn’t let them down with those brilliant reds! Oh sure, barring those minor hiccups, I sincerely do believe that I do have the right kind of credentials for Tinsel-town!

""…It took me many years thenceforth to realize what he actually meant was that merely the TV and the remote were fully functional…..""

The most important thing however is that I have tried, because, don’t those goody two shoes always harp ? ‘try, try and try until you succeed’? Too darn right! Even the Lost Shepherd, I mean, the Good Pastor of the even more lost sheep – Benny Hinn, says that so often! So ‘try’ is exactly what I did and still do! Hence for me, it’s back to the same class in the same school with the same old dog-eared books and the same teachers all over again! And obviously, when I’m back from school, it’s back to TV all over again!

That’s why I sit up late burning up the midnight oil, learning all that I can from the TV! Boy! There’s so much to be learnt out there! So many dialogues replete with sexual innuendo, such exquisite patent-worthy accents, and those divine song and dance routines complete with acrobatic twists and turns of the pelvis and rump! Phew! At times, it makes even a diehard rump-shaking believer like me to wonder if those pelvic jerks have a spine.

Make no mistake; I’ve watched movies by the ton and soaps by the quintal! I know exactly which bimbo and stud will wear what and when even in the n+1th movie or serial! Forget about dialogues and theatrics! They are on the tip of my tongue! Little wonder then that I consider myself to be a walking encyclopedia on Tinsel town – be it in Hollywood, Bollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood or Sandalwood! C’mon! Everybody from the Big Ben in the Vatican to Bugs Bunny has heard of Hollywood! So for those of you’ll who are in the dark with Greek and Latin, the other ‘woods’ stand for the Hindi, Bengali, Tamil and Kannada Film Industries respectively.

Agreed – the make-believers in Hollywood are debonair and dashing enough to make the international audience get their jollies! But of late, the hog-washing Bollywood Brigade isn’t too far behind either! But it’s the sheer innovative brilliance and capers of the chaps from Sandalwood that takes the cake if you know what I mean!

Let me explain! Where else but in Sandalwood would you find pot-bellied 50 – 60 year old geezers cavorting around trees with local village belles ‘acting’ like they are sweet 18- 20 year old college kids? And that too attired in skin-tight trousers with flaring bells, a couple of notebooks, the customary fountain pen and dozens of lackeys too! Never mind the fact that almost all of them look like Komodo Dragons and have more-or-less the same demeanor and complexion too! A liberal dash of powder and paint are all that it takes to ensure a vaguely better complexion under the million watt studio lights! Now, never mind the fact too that only their mommas thought they looked absolutely fabulous! That might have been 30 odd years and 60 odd kilos ago! But that’s another script and calls for another take on a different set altogether!

And the ‘belles’- phew – are they as robust as a Mack truck and built equally sturdily as well both in the frontals and the rear! With spare tires in the right places, the mileage is bound to be aplenty! To zero in on our Sandalwood heroes – inevitably, the hero would have to woo the buxom village belle with his winsome ways! What better a way than prance around trees professing his undying love to the tune of some borrowed melody, and take a dip beneath the nearest waterfall baring almost all? After all, they’re such staunch believers in the adage ? ‘skin to skin is no sin’!

Pretty much innovative stuff from Sandalwood, eh? Probably Spielberg hasn’t had a chance to watch such antics, or else, he undeniably would have incorporated such special effects stuff in Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and E. T. – The Extra Terrestrial too! Oh yeah, and it goes without saying that he would have collected more Oscars for taking a small lil leaf from the Sandalwood tree!

Honest, those onscreen blokes impress me to no extent! Who wants an Oscar when you can be conferred an honorary doctorate for indulging in inane histrionics and being a reel-life pelvic-jerk instead of a run-of-the-mill-jerk in real-life? Who wouldn’t like to known as ‘Brother’, ‘Tiger so and so’ or ‘Rebel Star so and so’? Who wouldn’t like to be shot through the business end of a Zeiss even while taking a tinkle-break? And who wouldn’t like to see ones own mug on glossy print ? be it while cutting anything from ribbons at some much hyped up inauguration, or the mega-tiered cake at some gangster-turned-politicos big day, or cut even crap for that matter? Who wouldn’t like to turn to politics and rake in the mega-moolah when the Gila-monster-complexion doesn’t hold the duffer masses to sway anymore?

That’s it! I simply can’t wallow in obscurity while almost my entire adult-life stretches ahead of me! So what if I have repeated classes and forgotten more than I’ve ever learnt in school? So what if I still haven’t laid a razor on to the sparse fungus that dots the expanse over my upper lip? So what if I’m just 18? Didn’t Boris Becker and Michael Chang win their first Grand Slams even before they turned 18? Harrumph! Big deal then if I make a splash in Sandalwood and get my first slam-bang too!

So although I have yet to master the bump-and-grind routine the Sandalwood style, my mind is made up! Sandalwood – here I come! What’s next? Probably when my sweet-spicy-musky South-Indian Sandalwood fragrance wafts over to Bollywood, Raj Thackeray’s sinusitis would finally clear up after incessantly inhaling that obnoxious miasma emanating from the open sewers in his backyard!  In all certainty, he and his stooges would sober up their petty act and they would all welcome me – a rank outsider and a South Indian to boot, with open arms into their fold!

And beyond Bollywood – if I play my cards right, who knows? Even Hollywood coz I’ve seen that the stars shine brighter thereabouts!

Even 18 year olds have plenty of dreams and ideas – probably a darn lot more than Hallmark has cards! So I dream and hope as I clutch my beloved Sony’s remote to my chest, stare at the screen and croon along with Celine Dion – "?.and my heart will go on and on and??yawwwwwwwwnnnn"

Author: Chris Rego- UAE

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