Thursday, September 30, 2010

The parallel life with Rajnikanth

This blog is a recap of the way my life has turned in the past few years, synchronizing with the year when Rajnikanth had his major films released.

1999: Padayappa
The days I kept 'Padi' (meaning 'step' in tamil) on my nascent engineering career, relying on my 'Appa’s' support ( I was on a paid seat in engineering so thanks to my Dad ( in tamil called Appa) and family support!)

This movie was released in 1999 where Rajni is shown as a self righteous good man who looses all the family fortune to his relatives and then comes up the hard way and becomes rich and famous. Those who were foe’s earlier now turn friends barring 'Neelambari' the awesome role played by Ramya Krishnan. I haven’t seen this movie before 2002 but had heard rave reviews about this movie. My folks and family members were all gaga over it when it was released and they saw it in during their trip to South India.

During this time, I had just completed over a year in my engineering college and was also the year my sister got married. Indeed a period where I took sometime to come in terms with not having my sister as a day to day part of my life. The first two years of engineering from 1998-2000 were indeed fun, where the focus was less on academics and more on whiling away your time doing nothing. My mom had to literally coerce me and say "Padi..Appa"! (which is like pleading in colloquial Tamil saying "Son - i request pls study"!)

2002: Baba
The days of struggle

The film's story is about a carefree young atheist, Baba, who is a reincarnation of a failed saint from the Himalayas. After several twists and problems caused by corrupt local politicians, Baba is taken to Mahavatar Babaji, whom Baba was a follower of in his last life. Baba gets tested by the deity and is given seven chances of wishes; the test is that if he uses any one of the wishes for his own personal desires, he would have to take many more births for him to get rid of the karma.

Though this film did not ring the bells in the box office, I still fell for this movie. I graduated out of engineering in June 2002. All my friends were working in atleast some organization where they were doing either a software / networking job - like TCS, Tara Infotech, Mastek, Patni etc. This was the most challenging period of my life now when I look back, as I did not have a job. I was recruited for a BPO job at Wipro Spectramind for their AOL Process through an off campus process.  I  attended the induction from Mr. Raman Roy and worked for 2-3 days at their office in Powai. It is indeed strange that in the first place, I was the same person who coerced my Engineering batch mates to take up BPO jobs after my first day in Spectramind and in a weeks time sent them a long email justifying why they should not take up a BPO job. There are no hard feelings  to folks who work in the BPO industry, but its just that as an Engineer, you cant be in BPO at the ground level - getting your accents rite and being as friendly as you can, to irate customers. In three working days I realized that this is not my cup of tea and gave back  Wipro Spectramind the opportunity I was given to work for them. Thanks but no thanks. Rajnikanth also had returned money to producers who lost money due to Baba as it did not do well.

And while I was there sitting jobless at home from June 2002 - Sept 2002, I was at the lowest ebbs of my career and personal life. These were the days when i was applying jobs - right,left and center. I used to go to walk-ins armed with a bag of resumes though many were of no use for my candidature. The Times of India "Ascent" section and other job sections in newspapers were read with interest, disappointments and suspicion like never before. I happened to also go along with other jobless colleagues of mine to companies all over Mumbai - submitting our resumes. Most of the times we were "shooed" away by the watchman himself - who was like a pseudo HR - asking for our college, marks and resume. At times he also had a smart comment on our marks saying if they were good, bad or worse to fit the grade in his organization. The times between this helter-skelter running in Andheri MIDC, Vashi and host of other places were spent in either peeling and gobbling banana's in the 5 minutes that we wanted to spend on unproductive work like eating food or sipping chai's to rejuvenate our mind for the next level of disappointments.

Not only was I sitting at home doing nothing (though i was looking out for jobs), but also had a break off then, which was a shock. I watched Baba during those days of struggle and got mesmerized by the entire theory of meditation. I researched further on the internet on Paramguru Mahavatar Babaji and was impressed and astonished. Adding to my trips to the temple and chanting mantra’s to seek mental solace from the restlessness caused by 'friends going for jobs, but I am jobless at home post graduation' syndrome , began my tryst with meditation. It just happened to come from within me. One of the theme songs of Baba was also soothing to do the meditation and channelize my energies to gain positivity and polarize the nature to help me find a job. There was also another meditation CD of Master La Del Pie shared by my friend Ankush , which I used sporadically. Over a period of these 2-3 months starting June’2002 I managed to get into total peace of mind and meditation for periods ranging from 30 mins - 1 hour three times a day.

And then the unsaid or miracle happened. I had applied innocently to all companies my web browser’s links could take me to - some aspirational and some out of sheer desperation. Applied to Infosys, Wipro and host of other companies, though I knew that there were better graduates with better % than myself. But as my friend Vishal says 'Hope is everlasting'. Then one day while chatting to a friend of mine and scrolling my mouse for deleting the 'SPAM' folder of my yahoo mailbox (gmail was not used then), I saw the invitation for an entrance test from Infosys. I was excited, shocked, pleased and nervous - all at the same time!  Over the days prepared for the same and gave the test in VT - in a college downtown. Was glad to see so many more candidates coming for the mock test  - happy in one way that I was not the only one who was jobless - sad in one way that there definitely were better people than me!  Miraculously scraped through the aptitude test and was shortlisted for interview. Indeed a breakthrough achievement  - given the fact that I was poor in all the aptitude tests that I had given while in college. The next big leap was the interview where we knew that Infosys had a tendency to ask puzzles in the interview. So there were the days when I poured into Shakuntaladevi and other books out of pressure than choice and simultaneously preparing for mock interviews. I used to talk to myself for hours together in front of the mirror practicing my facial expressions, body language to show more optimism. I also gave some mock interviews by having my mom and dad pose as interviewers and armed them with a list of questions ready to ask me. I practiced my responses to the standard questions and also asked them to ask me some out of the box questions (the stress interviews) for which I had to hold my nerve and yet give a sensible answer. Used to unwind at various intervals of the day listening to songs beyond those from Tamil Movie Baba - 'Chand Taare Tode Laaon' from Hindi Movie Yes Boss and 'Chale Chalo' from Hindi Movie Lagaan to keep myself motivated. Miraculously also scraped through the interview and got a job! I was informed on Sept 5th of my job in Infosys and that I had to join on Sept 30th in Bangalore! Just a day after a shocking but messy breakup!

Boy o Boy, as I write this blog, today is September 30th, 2010, exactly 8 years later and it is still so fresh in my minds as if all of this happened just yesterday! I don’t think I would have cracked Infosys without the meditational discipline and sense of personal power that I felt those days of struggle praying to all gods I could and Babaji - who I was introduced in a strange way by Rajnikanth through his movie. Here is one salute to Rajni Sir!

2005: Chandramukhi
The year of "going through the grind"

When this movie released, I was in US and saw the movie by getting a DVD from the Indian shop in Middletown, Connecticut. Nice movie with good songs. These were definitely the days I was aspiring to do MBA and getting slowly fed up with my day job doing mundane IT tasks.

2007: Sivaji
The year of 'redemption'

After five years of efforts, perseverance and interest to do MBA. Got an admit in an MBA school - SPJIMR. To watch this movie, me and my friend Deepak R eagerly awaited for a screening in Connecticut and drove down 30 miles one way to watch the movie to a packed house and a ticket costing USD 15. Awesome experience! My first time watching a Rajnikanth movie in a theater and the crowd was ballistic. They didn’t think twice to come in front of the theater and start bursting into a dance with screams and a shower of loose change upon seeing Rajnikanth sing songs, woo Shreya Saran or fight the villains. Loved the movie and the songs and more importantly 'Thalaivar' (fondly means "Chief" in Tamil) being forever young at heart, mind and soul.

2010: Enthiran
The year of turning '30'

Rajni Sir, turned 30 this year. I felt crazy, sad and bad that I am becoming an 'oldie', an 'uncle' at such a young age. I still remember the first time I fell down a bicycle or the times I was driven to school by my father. I still remember the mad rush to get seat in an engineering college and the struggle after that to get a job. Why does life go so fast? Why does my hair grey so quickly? Then I realized after seeing your interviews and off screen presence over the years (when you are not acting). You are simple, light hearted, good natured , have self deprecating humor and are totally at ease with yourself. It doesn’t matter what happens to your body or age as long as your spirit is motivated to stay young. You have constantly been reinventing yourself from being a simple village lad in Annamalai/ Muthu to a scientist cum Robot in Enthiran to suit the audience tastes and also personally challenging yourself. You taught me that. It is not great feeling that 'Enthiran' is releasing tomorrow and I can’t watch the movie even if I want to in Stavanger. We don’t have any screenings here Rajni Sir. Wish I was in US / India to watch it first day first show. I am sure the movie would be a big hit.

As you have seen multiple transformations in your roles from being 'Muthu', 'Annamalai', 'Padayappa', 'Baba', 'Sivaji' to 'Enthiran' hope I see similar transformations in my life from being 'Adolescent scientist', 'Engineer', 'MBA' to a 'Writer' and 'Motivational Speaker' who is a successful sales guy at the backdrop of good health and happy family life.


Vivek Parmar said...

Well writted bro!

Atreya rocks said...

Thanks Vivek!

Ganesh said...

Most of us passing out in 2002 can relate to this piece..nice marriage with the Rajni movies :)

Anu said...

Awesome piece of writting bro. Really enjoyed reading it ...Enthiran is a superbly taken movie which you must and will watch...If a movie can capture Snju's attention for 3 hrs means its well worth it.....Keep writting...

Atreya rocks said...

@ Thanks Ganesh
@ Anu - Thanks for the encouragement sis!