The Mother Divine
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God as an Individual
By Vijay Menon
Kumbh Mela 2013 Special Cover Postal

On the 31st night of December 2011 I was at the Guruvayur temple for the Seeveli (the act of taking the idol out for a procession around the temple). It's not like that was the first time I was there but it definitely felt like a "first" experience. Just before the Seeveli, 4 majestic elephants are lined up. And then it's like the Lord chooses which one of those will take him around today. And when the chosen elephant walks away from the rest you will be excused if you feel the pride in its steps. You look at the other three and you sense disappointment. Their heads down just chewing away on some leaves. And then there's the moment when the Lord comes out of his abode. My God, it's a scene to be felt and experienced. The entire crowd waits and then the Chief Priest walks out carrying the idol and in one swift stroke gets over the Lord's chosen chariot. The chenda (a cylindrical percussion instrument of Kerala) and Kombu (a wind instrument, something like a trumpet) add to the surreal feel. Music.Drama.Heroism.Idol worship. Mass appeal -it's all there in the Cinema of God. If there’s something called Divine then it is this.

Talking about cinema, well it is the one thing that has played a pivotal role in my life. It is the reason for my new innings in life. Yes, a new innings. A couple of months back I was lucky enough to have got the opportunity to pen down an article in the Annual issue of The Mother. A lot has changed post that article. I have decided to put a stop to my corporate life. It is a classic story of the mind and the heart. Throughout my corporate career I look back and realize that I have often let my mind rule over my heart; commerce rule over the creative. A couple of months ago, I woke up one morning with the conviction that I was going to hereafter always let my heart rule over my head; listen to the creative voice inside me and let it take shape in the medium that I am convinced know and express best – cinema.

My late father was a Malayalam film Director. Remember the man I mentioned about who instilled the good habit of Faith in me in my first article? Well, there have been many an instance in his life where his faith has got stronger and stronger.

While in my first article I talked about seeing God in an Individual, this one will tell you a story about God as an individual. It will tell you about an instance where He had to almost create magic to get my father out of an extremely stressful situation. Well I am sure it would not have been too difficult a magic trick for Him!

It was sometime during the late 80’s. My father had put in all his savings in his earlier film (he produced and directed it) and as luck would have it the movie did not do too well and the distributors (the people who take the movie and release it across theatres and then share the profits with the producer) too did not share the actual numbers with my father. He knew he had to start work on the next one. Because movies are all he knew in his life. Almost two years went without anything happening on his next movie. Time and patience were running out for him and the rest of us at home. My sister and I were in school and actually too young to realize the tension that was going through at home. My father’s only solace was his trips to Guruvayur month on month.

Guruvayur is a municipal town in Trichur district, in Kerala. It is around a half an hour drive from Trichur. Guruvayur is the abode of Lord Guruvayurappan (Sree Krishna). The idol is considered to be more than 5000 years old. The idol is believed to have been brought to this place by Guru and Vaayu and hence it got its name Guruvayur. In fact the spot where the temple was built was actually the abode of Lord Shiva. He is believed to have moved away to provide space for Sree Krishna. Lord Shiva temple is now in Mammiyur which is just a 5 minute ride from Guruvayur temple. Inside the Guruvayur temple, when you do the darshan of the Devi, you go around and at a certain spot you turn around and pray. That spot actually points towards the direction of Mammiyur Shiva. It is believed that unless you pray at Mammiyur temple, your visit to Guruvayur will not be complete. So much for gratitude and friendship amongst the Gods!

Now coming back to my father’s trip, the one I am talking about happened sometime in 1989. He had a new script but had been unsuccessful in finding new investors.  He made this trip to Kerala to set up a few more meetings with investors.  After a week in Trichur and Cochin, nothing materialized. He was almost on the verge of losing it. He decided to make his trip to Guruvayur. Throughout the bus journey to Guruvayur from Trichur he kept chanting “On Namo Narayanaya”. He knew that only Guruvayurappan could do something now. But then what can he do? I mean he had met almost every single prospect and none of them was coming forward to invest. He didn’t know what exactly Guruvayurappan could do but then he did not have any other option.

He reached the temple at around 11. He always did three pradakshinams (going around the temple). He had completed two and was about to start his third when he felt someone tapping on his shoulder. He turned around and found this stranger smiling at him.

Stranger: Venu alle (Aren’t you Venu?)

Father (not too keen to make a conversation with a stranger as he was busy with one with his favorite deity): Yes

Stranger: Enney manasilaayilley? Njyaan Nanadakumar (Didn’t you recognize me? I am Nandakumar)

Father could still not place him. Nandakumar had met my father on the sets of his first film. He told my father that he could never forget him because he was very kind and polite to him when he had visited the shoot. He said he was very happy to see my father after almost 25 years. He asked my father what was happening with his films. My father told him about his predicament and that he had completely run out of options. Nandakumar told him not to worry and that something could be worked out. He told my father that he was staying in Panchajanyam and that they should do lunch together. My father told him he will finish his last round and then go over to his place.

Nandakumar ended up being an investor in my father’s next venture. My father till the day he passed away talked about how God landed up as an individual to pull him out of his miseries.

I totally believe that sometimes God does like theatrics. Nandakumar, is the name of Maha Vishnu. He tapped my father’s shoulder right at the sanctum. He said he was staying at Paanchajanyam. It is another name for Maha Vishnu’s abode. God tested my father’s resilient faith and when he knew this man will not give up, he fortified that faith with some excellent theatrics.

After all there is no bigger Hero than Him. And no bigger cinema than Life!