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Heaven On Earth: All Stars Felicitate Megastar
APK | April 24, 2006
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There's something about Telugu culture that makes us die-hard loyalists. If we take to someone, if we love from the bottom of our hearts, then we love forever. And to show all that love, that immense, intense love that people cherish in their hearts for one man, they gathered to felicitate him. The Padmabhusan, like they pointed out, is just an excuse.. and only the beginning.
Literally, the whole Telugu cinema industry turned up for the event. Who would want to miss this? After all, 'Megastar' is not a self-proclaimed title. Millions and millions of admirers got him that tag. A tag, as he confessed, gave him so much responsibility towards all those people. All the producers, directors, actresses, actors and technicians who worked with him turned up to acknowledge their love and admiration for Chiranjeevi.
The Beginning.. Anchors Parachuri Venkateshwara Rao and Sai Kumar called this day a festival bigger than any other, a day that will mark it's place in the history, by way of beginning the show. Singer Sunita's prayer song followed, where she was initially nervous in front of the huge and boisterous crowd, but calmed down with her own melody. Actress Suhasini was then called to light the lamp, along with Sai Kumar, Parachuri and Sunita. And then the show began in full flow.
The Dance Treat: Shobana Followed By Sakshi While Chiru was on his way, Padmasree Shobana started the cultural extravaganza with a graceful dance ballet, along with her energetic and flexible troupe of classical dancers. It was followed by a completely different genre of dance-a Chiru film medley, performed and enacted by the bubbly Sakshi Sivanand and Natraj. Starting with 'Parahushar' from Swayamkrushi, 'Andalalo' and 'Abbani..' from JVAS to Shankar Dada MBBS's 'Pattu Pattu', they moved from one song to another without a break in the flow.
Chiru's 'Swayam Krushi'.. Some of Chiru's producers and directors were called on to the stage to speak about him and their experiences with him. They did so with pride in their eyes and warmth in their words. Edida Nageshwar Rao who made Swayam Krushi, Apatbandhavudu mentioned how these two movies were translated into Russian and screened at the Russian Film Festival where Chiranjeevi was called as a guest and represented Telugu land. He congratulated him for his title and blessed him. Veteran K. Vishwanath, the director of the above two movies got tremendous applause from the crowd as he noted as to how winning a title is not a great deal for Chiru-for him, the love and appreciation that he gets from his fans is enough. "I hope he stays as Chiranjeevi (immortal) forever", he said.
Megastar's Mega entry Anchor Sai Kumar gave various 'Chiru Stats', about his birth, education and finally his journey to Madras Film Institute, and bagging his first movie. The rest, as we know, is history. He presented all the hit movies in the 80s, 90s and after 2000. Just as he finished the seemingly never-ending list, Chiranjeevi entered with his wife, Surekha, wearing a black Kurta, much, much older than when people saw him in Punadi Rallu, but still with the same shy smile, protruding eyes and calm demeanor.
Sri and Suhasini Parachuri introduced some of Chiru's heroines as 'Laxmis'. Sridevi was called first, as 'Adi Laxmi' and kept it short and brief, just a few niceties and her congratulations. 'Vidyalaxmi' Suhasini was called next and began by saying how Chiru doesn't like it if she talks much. "I worked with him as a technician in my first movie, and he'd tell me to talk less. One day he said, if you talk too much, you'll turn my white shirt into red!" She sang a few lines of the song 'Malli malli idi rani roju' for him, while Chiru blushed.
Jayaprada came in next and declared how Chiru is "A good person more than just a good actor."
Jayasudha on Chiru 'Santana Laxmi' Jayasudha was called next, where she made some intriguing statements, but all in fun. (The real scandal is in what Mohan Babu said, but more about that later.) "I saw him for the first time in 'Pranam Kharidu' where I was already 25 films old. He saw me, smiled and greeted me, but I still thought he was arrogant. The same thing happened with Rajinikanth and me-I just felt he was proud. But now I look at both of them, I realize my first impression was wrong. Chiru was and is always very humble and great. I hope he wins the Bharath Ratna, and that too for his social service".
Radhika Speaks At Length 'Dhana Laxmi' Radhika (aptly named, for all the jewellery she wears) gave the first long speech, but no one got bored-in fact, they wanted to hear more. She began by saying "My hero, Chiranjeevi" and Chiru fans hooted. "Who organized this show? I have to organize this show! Chiru is not an ordinary man. I was acting with his friend Sudhakar and Chiru came to see him. He thought I was proud. I didn't think so," she remarked, almost as a counter to Jayasudha. "I always felt that he was and is very, very simple. We have a long association together as friends. Chiru was like a child, even as Mr. Krantikumar had so much confidence in him. Shyness, perseverance-all that was unique in him. After that, he had a long journey ahead of him to become the Megastar that he is today. When his movie fares well, he gets nervous. Nervous because of his increased responsibility towards you, that is, his admirers, who follow him, who ape him. All the goodness in him, he owes it to his wonderful upbringing and lovely parents." As she said this, Amitabh Bachchan entered the stadium. After a little bit of interruption, she continued. "During Abhilasha shooting, we fought and the referee was his wife. We had a lot of fun then," she reminisced. On a serious note, she ended by saying, "Chiru followed the ABCD of life, that is, Ambition, Boldness, Confidence and Creativity and lastly, Dedication. I feel this is the first half of his picture, the second spectacular half is still to come. Jai Chiranjeeva!"
Allu For Chiru Allu Arjun's dance performance followed this spate of speeches, where Reema Sen gave him company, along with Venu Madhav. He performed 'Aa Ante' from his movie 'Aarya.' 'Shankar Dada MBBS' title song and 'Ra Ra Bangaram' from Pawan's yet-to-be-released 'Bangaram' followed.
The Felicitation The next program was the Felicitation Ceremony, where all the producers, directors, actors and actresses were called on to the dais while Chiru got honored by the Big B, for whom it was the first function after his illness.
The Big B About The Big C Amitabh enthralled the Telugu audience with his praise for their hero. "My dear friend and beloved of so many people of AP and fans of Chiranjeevi.. I'm deeply honored to be here. Chiranjeevi is a great actor. This is the third invitation he has given me-the first was for a function to mark the success of his movie, the second for his daughter's wedding-both of which I could not attend. I'm glad I'm here now, I'm witnessing something remarkable. The entire Telugu industry is here, to send their blessings and love to Chiru. I congratulate him and the entire industry. He started from a small town with dreams in his eyes. I've had very little interaction with him. But I know that he is humility personified and consistent. Its easy to be successful but to remain successful, its difficult. With his kind of dedication and humility, he can remain at the top forever. When an individual reaches his kind of heights, he needs to serve the society. And he does that with commitment. It's a myth that the Hindi cinema industry is the biggest in India; the biggest in terms of number of movies and commercially also, is Telugu industry. Since Chiru is the King of this industry which is the largest, he is the King of Indian Cinema. May he win the Bharath Rathna. May be give us entertainment and joy forever."
Chiru Thanks AB Chiru thanked AB with emotion showing on his face. He called the Big B a lighthouse. "I am more fortunate than him. At least I have him to look up to, to give me directions and lay the path for me, but Mr. B has no one but himself to look up to. He has to struggle and learn all by himself." The stadium stood up without being asked to, and Chiru's joy knew no bounds. "This is AP's culture. We respect people and acknowledge greatness without being asked to. My parents performed Rudrabhishekam for your health in '82 after your accident on the sets of Coolie. From that time, you've been like a son to them. Your greatness is unsurpassed. On behalf of AP I thank you and bow my head to your feet," said a very touched Chiru.
Sri And Bhushan While AB made a move, Shobana performed again. Chiru felicitated her and said "Tana pancha pranalu nruthyam, idi satyam (All her being is full of dance, this is the truth). I congratulate her on behalf of the industry for her Padmasri", he said, one Padma to another. Shobana said, "He is the epitome of humility. We were shooting in a crowd, and a man passed a comment on me. Chiranjeevi ran to that man, picked him up, threw him in a car and kicked it and told him to go away from there," while Chiru tried to look modest, but couldn't-he clearly loved playing the real life hero. "He's a great man", she noted.
Ali performed to Kajrare and some other songs. Thank God the Big B left by then.
Stranger No More: Vikram praises Chiru Vikram was called on to speak, and as always this amazing actor was shy and said his bit in his cute, breaking Telugu. He confessed to being tense. "Chiru is a megastar for some, for others he is a Demigod. For me he is a mega friend, mega brother and mega inspiration. He's reach such heights, yet his eyes are still on the ground".
Sangeetha, Sridhar and Raju Sundaram danced for Ramma Chilakkamma, Ae Jilla and Pattu Pattu.
Radha was called next and she said that she misses her costars like Chiru more than acting. "You really deserve this honor", she told him.
Lawrence And His Group The next performance left the audience spell bound, and even Chiru couldn't help himself but climbed on to the stage to applaud and felicitate the dancers. Lawrence performed, but his students stole the show. One student had a polio inflicted leg; one had an amputated leg, and one.. hold your breath.. no legs! But the danced stupendously, with so much courage and confidence, that everybody stood up to clap and cheer for these boys. "Kala ku avaru anarhulu kadu", Chiru said at this spontaneous felicitation of sheer talent and bravery. When it was Lawrence's turn to speak, he said that he's learnt to help people from his brother, Chiru.
Mohan Babu's Speech The next speech and the speaker, no one will forget in a hurry. Mohan Babu came in looking a bit sour, and no one knew why. This is a happy occasion, isn't it? What was he up to? Everyone soon found out the answer. "When I was in college, I was a fan of Chiranjeevi," he said to a scandalized audience. Mohan Babu was in college.. and Chiru was already an actor? What more, he said, "That means, I'm younger to him. Chiranjeevi is my senior". The father of three grown up children, all in the movies, said this. Chiru smiled, but there was hardly any reaction from his side. Babu continued as the crowd yelled and jeered. "What? You don't believe that he is younger than me? You don't think he is my senior? Maybe you won't believe me. But I can't help it." Then he started off something incomprehensible about his daughter's wedding cards and how he didn't want to print 'Chi' as a short form for 'Chiranjeevi' because 'Chi' is slang for something which is bad and dirty. As the crowd stared at him and the cameras focused on Chiru's reaction, people watched confounded. Then he soberly added about MAA not doing this show because of income tax problems. Huh? Wait, there's more.
"Sometimes I and Chiranjeevi talk to each other baring everything, wholeheartedly. Sometimes we don't. There was choreographer who told Chiru right after his movie's release that Mohan Babu is drunk and is saying in a crowd that Chiranjeevi's new movie is bound to be a flop. Who am I to be saying that? And if I did say that, what difference does it make? Will my saying make it a hit or a flop? It's all up to God. So once when we met, he asked me about it. I said, I didn't say anything like that Chiranjeevi. If I didn't say it, then may the person who started this rumor be ruined. I don't make fun of others' poverty, but now that choreographer is almost living a beggar's life. That means I was telling the truth, right? I did not make any comment on his movie."
"Whenever I have a function, I call Chiranjeevi, and he comes. But this is the first time he is calling me. Otherwise he never calls me. I think even if he wants to call me, Allu Aravind stops him from calling me. But Allu Aravind's mother likes me a lot, she treats me like a second son."
"That time when Rajnikanth got such an honor, there was no major function. That rascal said he'll organize, but did not." (Babu and Rajni are close buddies, that's why the language.. otherwise who'll dare to say such a thing and infuriate his fans?) "Now on behalf of MAA I request my dream girl, Jayaprada and my sister, Jayasudha to come and felicitate Chiranjeevi."
All this had very little effect on Chiru, who graciously accepted the felicitation. But the next speaker was Pawan, and we all know what a powerhouse Pawan is. He was getting agitated throughout Mohan Babu's speech, and he had a tit for tat reply ready, coated with apparent sweetness, which was more stinging than bitter words.
Pawan's Retort For Babu, His Praise For His Annayya "Do you all know the meaning of 'Sakthi'? I failed Inter three times. What gave me strength is Chiranjeevi, Chiranjeevi, Chiranjeevi. Chiru=Power."
"Before me, like our younger brother Mohan Babu garu said.." The audience went into a frenzy, like they were waiting for such a thing to happen. Chiru burst out laughing, so did his wife and Radhika sitting next to him couldn't help but giggle. Pawan, encouraged by this reaction, continued "I like my younger brother Mohan Babu garu a lot. His acting, his way of speaking, more than anything his discipline is what I like. I like you a lot, Thammudu (younger brother). Whatever you say to Chiru, he will love you. Because that's all he knows. To love. His love shook up all those sitting in Delhi and got him his Padmabhusan. I've grown up watching him, and I know more than anyone else, how he feels about the poor, how much hunger in this world pains him, and how hard he wants to relieve people of their hunger and poverty."
"When I was entering the industry, he told me, I'm giving you three weapons-hard work, strength and honesty. That's all I'll give you and not the tag of being Chiranjeevi's brother. I usually can't look at him in the eye and talk, but now I'm able to do this.. may be because I'm saying this on behalf of all his fans. Annayya, you just decide what you want to do, and we will follow. We can give you our lives and our blood for your cause. Jai Hind!"
This intense and fiery speech was followed by Devi Sri Prasad's little jig. He composed a remixed piece for this occasion for Chiru and jumped all over the stage like he always does.
Dasari Compares Chiru To God All of Chiru's directors and producers were called next. And his guide, Dasari Narayan Rao, spoke about him. "If it was to please someone, then the function would not have felt like this. I'm feeling a lot a love and affection in the air, and that's why everyone is present-precisely because of all the love they feel for this man. He is getting the Padmabhusan after ANR and Jagayya, and is the youngest to get it. He has worked with the best talents in the industry and has worked with the previous generation and also the present with the same ease and comfort. I remember him when he came to Madras Film Institute. A young boy, he was auditioning while I was on the panel of judges. Just show us any little piece of acting, we asked him and he impressed us all. Without a tape recorder, he danced, humming some music. He got the admission instantly. He's always been polite and controlled, and only Lord Shiva can have that kind of control."
"People say very mean things and derogatory things to people in the industry, that they drink, that they gamble and the heroines are moral less. But look here, we have doctorates and Padma Sris and Padma Bhushans amongst us. I am very strict about discipline, and have broken hands of people who were not disciplined on my sets. Chiranjeevi's strength and discipline has gotten him through all situations and I'm proud of him. I bless my grandson and all my good wishes are with him." Dasari actually compared Chiru to Lord Shiva, and also confessed to breaking people's hands. This function is getting spicier than it was meant to be!
Chiranjeevi's Turn To Speak.. Finally Finally, it was Chiru's turn to speak, as he look impatiently at the watch. As he began his speech, the audience seemed to have gotten used to standing up, because they stood up again. He graciously thanked them and asked them to be seated "Nenu mee vadine," he said. "These are moments of great, immense happiness. I'm not able to believe that so many people turned up for me. I'm speechless. I'm not able to handle it. I was asked many times to attend functions to be felicitated, but I refused; I said, what have I achieved to be honored that way? I only accepted this time because so many elders and notable personalities requested me, and I couldn't turn them down. Acharya Athreya taught me one thing that has got me going. Forget the past and move on. By living in the present, I'm only concentrating on today's shooting, on today's scene, on today's dance. I forget what I've done before so it's always a new start. That's how I'm able to work with different generations of talents. I treat my job with awe, and the tension I have is good, it makes me work harder."
"By getting all these people together, you are showing me my past. But today I want to think about it. Like Dasari said, I've not thought this out, I've not wished for this. I just got it. All these people, my directors and producers have given me opportunities. I'm indebted to them already for that. Now by honoring me, they have increased my debt." He also spoke about his experience in the Madras Film Institute in 1977 and about Vasu, his first director.
"Good behavior is most important, and I've always tried to be in the good books of people. It's okay if you are not good at work, you will learn. People will call you again if they feel you are polite and courteous. At that time, I used to wish for some recognition and compliments. They used to be rare. Today, I know the value of those compliments and make it a point to compliment any person who was good in any movie. I know what a thrill it is, I know how it feels. No one has a right to criticize anyone."
To Mohan Babu he said, "Babu, you've spoilt your mood. There was no need to remember all those things, which happened so long ago. If you've kept it in your heart for so long.. why? What is the need? Forget these things and move on. I did," as he smiled well naturedly while Mohan Babu sweated profusely and was engaged in wiping it off (ACs all switched off then, huh?).
To Dasari, he said, "Thank you, Thatagaru (Grandfather) for all that you've said." He acknowledged the contribution of Sundaram Master who taught him his trademark style. Sundaram Master honored him with a shawl and a turban, Karnataka style.
Vote Of Thanks This was followed by a vote of thanks by KS Ramarao, where he thanked everyone, especially Zee TV. No one really heard it though, because whatever they had to hear was over and done with, and they left to discuss this spectacle for a long time to come.