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Velugu Needalu
Bapu - Ramana

Here is the the series that focuses on the many greats who lurk in the shadows behind the silver screen bringing out the best in them, to radiate and redirect their brilliance onto the silver medium. We hope that these articles would focus our attention and applause to these true "stars" to whom limelight and spot lights do not usually beckon upon.
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pagalu-raeyi, sukhamu-dukhamu, aaTu-pOTu, paDugu-paeka - one completes the other, one defines the other, one contrasts the other, one supplements the other and more importantly one sounds hollow and empty without the other. The duality that pervades the universe around, is never more pronounced than in this team; the duality is defined in this relationship; the duality is exemplared in this association. One whips the pen in broad strokes, the other wields the pen in sharp words. One infuses life through strokes(paatra bhiksha) while the other sustains it through words (pada bhiksha). They lead their life tied to each other through their natures. They work together shackled to one another through a hyphen. They are one mind operating in two entities, they are two sides of the same coin, their common bond belies the physics rule that only opposites attract. For a team of so many achievements and accomplishments, they go by a simple tag name - sattiraaju lakshmi naaraayaNa - mullapooDi venkaTa ramana. They also answer to Bapu-Ramana once in a while.

daevuDu, amma, praema, Bapu bomma - these abstract terms need no special/extra physical description. The very thought of them fills one with an image of completeness, assuredness and a sense of belonging. Bapu bomma - her eye "lashes" stronger than a mighty whip, the vermillion on her forehead can drown a thousand suns, her braid - long and broad - rivals the best even in the slippery reptilian variety, her coy look (gOmu coopu) can melt down even the mighty Himalayas - she is a consummate nutritional mix of shyness, surety, vulnerability and confidence - a wholesome beauty whose charm can bowl down any beholder! Bapu passes his keenness and sharpness of observation down to his pictures. The sleekness and slender nature of the picture, the innocence and bravado that define the drawing, the childish maturity and the mature playful nature that ooze out of the image form the trademark of Bapu's still pictures. Budugu has a catapult stuffed in the pocket of his suspenders short (minus the shirt), with his hands folded, looking straight at the reader, in a mark of rebellious innocence. The picture "brahma kaDigina paadamu" has two giant feet at the top of the picture and mukkOTi devatalu buzzing around the feet like bees taking to honey. While his pictures speak for simplicity, they also attest to a grandiose (brahmaanDaanta) vision.

It is easy to pick his script out of all the different styles lying around. His script flew in the face of the then existing standard, which was round, rotund and block-like. Bapu turned around the tide and brought consensual acceptance of to his non-conformant defiance. His script is but a series of strokes - tala koTTaesina tala kaTTu, kaTTaDi caesina kraavaDi, sudeergham kaani deergham are some the giveaways of Bapu's script. His letters literally jump out of the page. They declared their independence long back from the tyranny of calligraphy and just as a double negative make a positive, the unruly bunch banded together to form a signature of the free, a union of the unfettered, an association of the alphabetic mercenaries.

While Bapu achieved much of his fame sticking to a subtle style of artistic elegance, Ramana announced his entry through a bunch of talkative characters, who try to make no sense out of the sensible world around them, because of their askew point of view. Budugu has a beef (problem) with the world around him. He likes to be treated as an elder in the matters of respect and rights and he views himself as a child when it comes to burdens and responsibilities. He is irked when society does not confer him the same selective growth privilege that he treats himself to. Appa Rao does not understand the world. His view that "appu" is as fundamental to a civilization as water is to sustenance. He points to the fact that "panca bhootaalu" - pruthir aapas taejO vayu raakaasaha - has "appu" (aapas = water in Sanskrit) as one of its chief constituents. He wonders why world does not share his view on it and "lend" him some "credi(t)"bility.

Welcome to the wacky world of Ramana - irony, satire and sarcasm are the holy trinity that Ramana is an ardent devotee of. His characters look the sarcastic lens and speak through the satirical mouthpiece. His irony is often mistaken as cynicism, but with the hearts in the right place, the characters also double for hopeless romantics, caring even for the minute detail. This view spills into his characters a lot - consider the contractor character in Mutyala Muggu. As unpardoning and ruthless he is, as cynical and cruel he is, he holds his daughter up on the highest pedestal, unable to bear her slightest discomfort. Back in golden age of movie and contemporary literature fields (50s and 60s), Ramana emerged as a fresh voice, scything through the best of the movies with his valid and thorough scathing reviews (published in Andhra Patrika) in an otherwise drab reel critic world. His forays into literature at a very young age (of 13), led him to skip past the banalities and by the time he forged with Bapu (in his late teens), Ramana developed a weird, but unique sense of humor, where he moulded his characters through what they speak than what they do.

(Cont'd in Part 2 - their movies)

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More series of articles by Srinivas Kanchibhotla
Some Ramblings on recently released films
Aani Muthyalu - Good films, but box office failures

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