Thursday, February 3, 2011

Narasimharaju




Narasimharaju, even after 3 decades after his death, continues to be the most loved comedian in Kannada film history. Like many of his times, poverty was the driving force behind him joining theatre. Apart from starting his own troupe, he worked in Edatore Drama Company, Hirannayya Drama Company, before joining Gubbi Veeranna's company. Even though he made his entry in films, he continued to be associated with theatre. His combination with Rajkumar is a stuff of film folklore.

(Unrelated trivia: Gubbi Veeranna was a visionary who revolutionized drama. His company used to enact plays across India, in places where people did not even understand Kannada. My dad, who was fortunate to see many Gubbi plays, reminisces about how they used to get an actual elephant on stage to show the war scenes; they used to create the visual effect of sea waves by using silk sarees and imaginative lighting; the troupe would book an entire train to go from one place to other)

So popular was Narasimharaju (along with the ever brilliant T.N.Balakrishna) that producers used to procure their dates, before talking to hero and heroine. It was those times when comedians used to have their own share of songs in a movie.

There is one scene of Narasimharaju I personally love very much. The movie is "Satya Harischandra". In this, Narasimharaju plays Nakshatrika, Vishwamitra's disciple. Vishwamitra urges Nakshatrika to always stay with Harischandra and give him enough troubles, till he is pressurized to lie. In no time, Nakshatrika comes back and tells his guru that he was successful in his attempt. When a visibly happy Vishwamitra asks him how, Nakshatrika says - "Harischandra was just now saying that you are so merciful". That deadpan expression, a subtle hint of sarcasm by voice modulation was what made him a great exponent of his craft. (the first pic is from the same movie I am talking about)

In today's times of mindless comedy shows and silly excuses for humour, Narasimharaju still remains very very relevant!

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