Wednesday, December 30, 2009


My favourite actor died today morning. I'd stopped watching his movies long time ago. But I can't remember my childhood that doesn't have his presence. We grew up emulating him and his mannerisms, watching his movies with friends multiple times, whistling and howling at his action stunts, getting into arguements and even fistfights with people who spoke ill of him, getting rebuked by parents for using more of my non-natural hand(he was left-handed)....Mom would joke that my aim in life would be to grow up and become his car driver and I remember taking that as a great compliment.

I had seen him only once, in one of his birthday parties. In a movie, he played the role of a soldier who's captured by the chinese army and is tortured. On the day of the release of the movie, hundreds of his fans shaved their heads, wounded their foreheads(similar to how he appeared in one of the promos) and took a procession, praying for the movies success. I was in high-school and I sported a military cut on that day. My friends were surprised that I hadn't got my head shaven. And it was almost mandatory for all his fans to wear a steel bangle on their right hands, the way he did, as a mark of allegiance to the star. I wore one then and still do.

His death reminds me, with an irrefutable force, that this physical reality that we are so deeply engrossed in isn't the only one that exists. I wish I had the insight and capability to directly know and experience the other realities. Being aware of them gives comfort that nothing ends with a heart-attack, that the souls' journey continues even after that. Yet, his departure leaves behind a void within, a sadness that can't be soothed by any philosophy. May his soul be guided to Light.


  1. This passion for a celebrity kind of scares me in all honesty. It gives him such a power over his fans, that is not safe or honest. While he may be skilled in his profession, he is no more needing of worship than the driver, doctor, teacher, grocer who help you live your life. It is another reality, but not necessarily a good one. I do not criticize your feelings, but do have concern when fans voice feelings like these.

  2. An artist, poet or writer is in a different league when it comes to the influence they have on our lives. While a driver/grocer/teacher help us in our daily lives, the influence of the artist is at the emotional/intellectual level. And a Spiritual guide helps us navigate the mystical realms, and hence his influence would be much subtler. Putting all of them on the same page may not be right. Whether we worship, adore or ignore any of them is left to the individual.

    Yes, you’re right when you say that this passion gives someone enormous power over the fans. We’ve had scoundrels become cheif ministers because of their stardom, we have sportsmen transform into salesmen and bombard us day and night, exhorting us to buy things we don’t need anyway. Ultimately, this power rests with us—whether we listen to them or ignore them is upto the individual.

    In our part of the world, a movie star(a popular one) becomes a part of our lives, a part of our culture. Through the roles he enacts, through the stories he’s part of, he comes that much closer to our everyday living. Somewhere in this processs, he stops being a normal human being and becomes a legend, a part of the collective imagination. He gains a demigod status and his fans become his devotees. Whether the demigod remains sensible or grows into a monster and whether the devotees remain sane or go berseck depends on both of them.

    My hero lived a sensible and decent life inspite of having an enormous influence on the masses. That’s why his departure is not just a loss to his family but to the bigger cultural mileu which he enriched but never misused.

  3. I can understand your views and feelings. It was wonderful that Vishnuvardhan lived a simple,straight life unlike so many others who are worshipped in a similar way. You could respect him not just as a star, but as a man.