Standing in front of Aravindh sir’s office today, I had a mix of feelings running inside me. Fresh memories going back to the days that I worked in his house. His family, the people that got introduced through him, the wonderful experiences gained through all of that and finally, the face of that great human called Aravindh sir, which is tattooed into my mind and soul.
Aravindh Sir! - It is still surprising as to how a single individual can attract so much of people towards him and influence all of them with positive energy. How is he able to continue helping people selflessly all through his life? He sets the best example of hospitality to guests who come to his home. For his guests, he is just a servant and they are VIP's in his calendar for that day. Every fan of him might have a different personality. But by following him and his actions, they all mature as humans every day.
Most of his movies are blockbusters. But all those crazy fans and repeat audience coming for his movies, are not coming to visit the super-hero that Aravindh sir is projecting on the screen. Not even for those scripts or his extraordinary acting. They are just coming to witness his face, the face of this magnificent personality on the screen! Regardless of the nature of the script (or) the making of the film, his movies have never seen a loss to the production house.
He has several pieces pre-installed in his character. His confidence, perseverance, hard work and above all his fearless attitude to always speak the truth and always do it direct and straightforward. Looking at the number of surgeries that he has gone through and the fighting attitude to continue doing these dangerous stunts in his movies, he is a true role model. He has inspired a lot of his fans to also change their characters and lifestyles.
Speaking so highly of him, my mind was in a dilemmatic situation on that day “How do I ask this silly question to that magnificent personality? I have lived with the hesitation to ask, for almost 6 years now. I originally came to his house for a temporary painting job. But there was an emergency for one of their drivers that day and I helped to drive out Sir’s wife to an important destination. With the way in which I drove, she asked me if I would be willing to join their family as a driver. She obviously has the influence of Aravindh sir and that is how she posted that job request and I happily obliged.
6 precious years. Not sure if I am going to end it with this idiotic question now. He finished his breakfast and was ready to head for a shoot. But looking at me hesitating about something, he came straight to me. “Are you ok Prabhu? Do you need anything?”
“Yes sir. I am OK” I was still reluctant to speak up. Reading my mind, he gave a sharp look at home and I had no other choice now “Sir. Please forgive me for asking this question. But I am not able to hide it anymore. I actually came from my hometown only with the dream of becoming a movie director. I struggled a lot for 2 years and found that all the doors were already closed (or) influenced. I accepted the driver job in your house, only to get your recommendation at some point. Would you be able to refer me for an opportunity? You already know about my hard work and dedication. I will definitely not let you down. You are my savior. Please help me, sir”
After saying it with a lot of tension and hurry, I looked at his face. His face became red in anger. I was shocked and felt like I was burning inside the anger fire in his face. The face was literally asking me “Only with this intention in mind, did you act like a family member all these years?” He then calmed himself down and with a steady voice, he said “This is a precious place, my home dedicated for my family. I don’t deal business, invite work discussions here” Saying so, he got into the car and left. I felt like being slapped straight in my face.
I became really nervous as to why I opened that question. Got a mixed feeling of anger towards myself, then self-pity and self-hatred. My question triggered a lot of changes in the house and no one requested me to drive for that entire day. Maybe instructions would have come through from Aravindh sir? Because of my selfish and immature attitude, I might have lost my relationship with this wonderful human being. Did not have a minute of sleep that entire night. Then thoughts went wandering around for the next steps of action. Will they kick me out of the job, next day morning (or) should I exit out without informing everyone, to avoid the shameful situation of getting kicked out? More and more thoughts and finally sun rose and another usual workday started for everyone in that house, except me.
Peeking from the gap in the open door, I saw Aravindh sir dressed up so early in the morning for shooting. Should be an early shooting schedule today. Seemed to be a good situation for me to sneak out, without notifying anyone. Packed stuff and made my mind to head out immediately after Aravindh sir leaves the house. But Aravindh sir stopped at the entrance, turned and looked into the door, that I was hiding. Called his manager and said “Jiva sir. Please keep this business card and give it to Prabhu whenever he comes out. Have him go see the production company, referring my name.” I felt extremely happy and jumped in excitement. Not because of the referral that he made, because of the importance that I felt, he still had on me. Took a nice refreshing shower and went straight to the Manager’s cabin.
Hearing my footsteps, the manager looked up and smiled at me “Hi Prabhu. How are you? Come, sit” He then searched around his desk and pulled out that business card. “And our sir has given a production company’s business card for you to check out” I was so excited to receive the card and get going immediately. But he held the card in his hands and continued to talk “As you know, our Sir usually does not like recommendations. He always encourages people to shine out of their own talents and hard work” I got a little irritated now “And what? What is this Manager trying to convey now?”
He did not worry about my frustration and continue to speak in a sluggish pace “Let’s assume you get to meet somebody in this production company today and you explain about your wish to direct movies. The first question that they will be asking is “Do you have any kind of experience in this field and what would be your answer to it”. I nodded my head to express that I have no experience. “And if they ask you as to whether you have got any professional filmmaking classes or certification” I got more confused now and nodded my head again to say “No” as a response.
“Ok. The basic questions that they might ask are “What is the difference between an assistant director and an associate director? Do you know what shot-division is and how to make shot-divisions from a script?” I blinked and looked around in confusion as those questions cannot be answered using guesswork as well. In spite of me clearly explaining my incapability on this subject at this point, the manager preferred to ask more complicated questions to bomb away my interest and curiosity.
As he went on and on, one thing became obvious for me. For all these people who are around Aravindh sir, the recommendation that I have got is a big envious thing for them. They are all worried about me prospering in a very short time, while they all have been struggling through for so many years. Cutting him down from asking further questions, I walked off from his room. Picked up the already packed luggage and exited out of the house, without informing anyone.
It’s been almost a year since I have met Aravindh Sir or anybody in his family. It’s been difficult to keep up with the decision I Made. But with the determination to focus on something important, you get the power to achieve it. Now, with a little bit of pride, I can call myself as one of the filmmakers, or at least a filmmaker-in-making! I have completed a one-year diploma course in film direction and have made few meaningful short films. The short films have already earned recognition for me and have also given me the practical confidence about my talent.
How would Aravindh sir react after me conveying this message to him? He would definitely be happy. He is a selfless person and appreciates the success of everyone around. Maybe others would envy about it, especially the Manager Jiva. I wanted to first meet him and growl with confidence “Come on sir. Ask me now about any kind of filmmaking questions that you are aware of. If you do not have sufficient questions, I can even give more time so that you can prepare for it”
Stopping the mix of thoughts running around me, I stopped staring at Aravindh Sir’s house and pressed the doorbell. To my surprise, the manager opened the door. He first gave a curious look, then recognized me and finally gave a surprised smile “OMG. Prabhu. Is that you? What a surprise man? How are you and where did you disappear all of a sudden? Come on in first” I just responded to all his questions with a neat smile. Once he ordered me coffee, I showed him the course completion certificate and a couple of awards that my short films have won.
After reading through them, he felt so happy about it “Wow. Super Prabhu. I am so happy that you have stood on your ground, to firmly demonstrate your passion for filmmaking. I feel ecstatic about you” I looked at his eyes and felt he meant what he said. Maybe, people change over time. I looked around to see if Aravindh sir’s car was parked inside and then asked the manager “What time will Sir return? Is today’s schedule within the city or somewhere else?”
Manager “Don’t worry. He will return in the evening. It’s worth waiting to see him. He felt so bad that you disappeared even without notifying him. But, no worries. He will be excited at what you have achieved” He paused for a minute, looked at me sharp and then said in a husky voice “I am going to reveal to you something. But please keep it confidential. On the day that you left, the questions that I asked you on filmmaking, just the voice is mine. It was Aravindh sir who wanted me to ask you all those questions” I was shocked and could not believe it. “Why? Why would he do that? What have I done to him, for him to insult me like that?” As my mind started to ask me these endless questions, the manager continued.
“If you had gone to the production house directly, they would have asked you similar questions, maybe even more intense and would have insulted you to the highest extent possible. You know about Aravindh sir right? He has come across so much of insults in his career. But he has kept the spirit alive in him and has risen over time. Obviously with his dedication, hard work and never say “no” attitude. He likes you so much that he did not want you to go through those insults and get demotivated on your passion. By asking those questions, he guessed that you will gain the firepower to learn more about film direction and here you are”
“He also said an important thing. I am confident that Prabhu will gain more knowledge in film direction and will be capable of all levels to face the industry. And whenever it happens, ask him to knock on my door and if it doesn’t open, he has all the rights to break the door and hold me by my neck to ask for a referral”
I felt a sudden chillness in my entire body. I was just astonished. Aravindh sir rose to a new height in front of my eyes “Is there any boss in this entire world, who would give such a statement on behalf of his employee?” With deep thoughts, I got up from my seat and slowly started walking towards the direction of the door. Manager “Where are you heading out Prabhu? Be patient for a little bit more time and you can see Aravindh sir today”
I nodded my head to respond with my denial to his request. “After meeting him, what should I say?” I felt the tears in my eyes now “Use the privilege that he has given and ask him for a referral again? No way” Nodded my head again and continued walking.
I continued talking as I kept walking towards the door “Let me continue my journey as is, grab an opportunity as an assistant director first to gain more experience. Then hit the opportunity doors really hard to become a director. It might not happen soon, but will definitely happen with the trust that Aravindh Sir has on my talent. And when that happens, I will come and meet Aravindh sir and proudly show him the pay-check that I am offered as a director. That is the best respect that I should give to Aravindh sir as well as the self-confidence that he is trying to install on each one of us”
I could feel the surprising shock that the manager had on his face now. I turned back finally “I have one favor to ask you, Jiva Sir”
“Sure Prabhu. Go ahead”
“Please do not reveal to Aravindh sir or to Ma’m, about me stepping in today. Thanks”