Though I watch Telugu films regularly and I’ve friends all over the Andhra film industry I had never heard of Nandmurli Balakrishnan until last week when he spoke about A R Rahman.
Nandmurli Saab, may God give you peace, said during a television interview, “I don’t know who is (A. R) Rahman. I don’t care. Once in a decade, he gives a hit and gets an Oscar award.”
Now, the best thing to do would have been to ignore Murliji’s rant. It’s a common trick to get noticed: make a snide comment about someone who is infinitely more accomplished and popular. Then watch the fireworks explode.
The media fell into the trap, quoted Murli Babu’s hokum left right and centre. Suddenly the world grew curious about 'The Who Lives On Mars' (that’ s the only way you can claim not to know Rahman). I got to know this man of ‘phew’ words is the son of the legendary N T Rama Rao. Ah, dynastic arrogance.
So why is he so upset with Rahman? And so openly resentful towards the Oscar that Rahman got for our country? I admit I am not a big Rahman fan. But that doesn’t take away from his unparalleled achievements and to speak of him so dismissively shows the man in a very poor light.
Nandmurli Saab also took an exceedingly distasteful potshot at the Bharat Ratna which, apparently, his father deserves but didn’t get.
Says Mr Balakrishnan, “All these awards are equal to my foot. No award can compensate for the contribution of my family to Telugu cinema. I feel Bharat Ratna is equal to NTR’s toenail. The awards must feel sad, not my family or my father.”
Such contempt for the highest civilian award in India so far given to only three denizens of Indian cinema (Lata Mangeshkar, Satyajit Ray and Bhupen Hazarika) smacks of the sour-grapes syndrome. It also amounts to disrespecting the country and its cultural leaders.
All because your father hasn’t got the honours that you think he deserves? The level of arrogance is laughable and thoroughly misguided. The hallmark of true excellence is modesty and grace. Both qualities are sorely lacking in the above statements which reek of arrogance of misconceived self-importance.
One of the biggest stars of Telugu cinema told me to just ignore this rant. “He is irrelevant. And should be treated as such.”
I agree. But then Rahman is not someone who would defend himself against such a cheesy tirade. We need to protect our national treasure from attack.
Image source: instagram/arrahman/Wikipedia