My friend has been asking me to write a manalrum ninaivugal piece about my association with the family who's head is considered God of music by me. If you don't know what IR stands for, please don't read this post.
Long long ago so long ago only I know how long ago, my friend had a Manipuri friend who's cousin was selected by a Music Director to sing in one of his movies. My friend asked me to take care of that cousin since they don't speak much English. I went to the hotel where they were staying. I was shocked. What did I see? An 8 year old girl, her Mom, both of whom speak no English or Hindi and the girl's paattu teacher who spoke a little bit of Hindi. I realized they needed more help than initially thought. I promised to drop them at the studio next morning and helped them with some food that night.
The next morning, as I dropped them at Prasad studio, my heart was beating fast. Will I get to see IR, my idol? Just a glimpse would do. I told my boss, I would be an hour late for work. I knocked on a closed door since the guy at the gate said they should be seated inside that room. Yarru open pannina? IR himself and said "Vaanga vaanga". I froze. Not just that, he asked me to stay back and be a translator between him and the paattu teacher. "Bhaad me jaaye work" I called and told folks at work that I was too sick to come. Was so star struck that day and IR's assistant told me that the girl didn't get the pronunciation right. I helped the little girl with that. She was an amazing singer and so was her teacher. The Mom was just a spectator. The recording was for the song "Oru naal oru kanavu" (eventually sung by KJY and Anu Sriram).
As much as I helped, it was hard for the girl. But what a voice. The next day too practice continued and I went again on IR's insistence that I be there too. Why leave the chance? It was clear that the girl was not going to sing the song. Felt bad for her. I wondered why IR's son KR invited her all the way knowing the drawback. 10 minutes after that thought, someone called my name aloud. I turned to see and it was KR himself. He profusely thanked me for all the help and apologized for not being around. Said "En velai neenga pannineenga". Figured he was a very nice guy from that tone and he was very funny too. He insisted that all 4 of us come to their house for lunch. My dream run started then.
Went to their place for lunch where I met KR's sister BR. BR and I hit it off instantly and Mrs.IR was nice too. IR joined us after lunch. Kept pinching myself that day to make sure all this wasn't a dream. After lunch, they planned an impromptu trip to MGM with the little girl (even they knew she wasn't going to sing I guess) I said bye and walked towards my bike when Mrs.IR said I should go too. Who was I to refuse that offer!! So we went to MGM.
Kadhala Kadhala was a hit and when the MGM people saw KR and BR, they started playing those songs. Some people wanted to take pics with them. To avoid embarrassment, I offered to be the photographer and some people even said "Madam neengalum vaanga". It was a fun day. We exchanged numbers and I left that evening. A huge IR fan got to spend qality time with his family, went to his house and had lunch - that was enough for me. But what followed that was a huge surprise.
BR called me the next day and asked me if we could go out in the evening after work. I agreed. BR, KR and I hung out and had so much fun. I realized we were going to be meeting often. Once they took me to Kamal's office when I said I was Kamal rasigai. I met Ila Arun, spoke to Jackie Shroff, met Singapore group of musicians, went to some college culturals as judge along with them, my qualification being "BR and KR's friend".
I had heard about how grand Navaratri is in their house. Experienced it once when Asha Bhonsle was a singer. BR wanted me to stay when she was singing one of the days. It was risky considering my own house had Golu and stuff. I jaggaa vangified and told them I couldn't come to their house on some days. It was indeed very touching to see them go out of their way to do things for me. They didn't have too many normal friends where normal = non-celebrity. There were occasions when Mrs.IR would ask me to park my bike in their house and ask the driver to drop me. Also sometimes, their Mitsubishi Lancer would be waiting outside our apartment gate and I'd go there.
During all this, I also had many chances where IR would talk to me. I was like Raj from The Big Bang Theory..... Inwardly gushing and making an effort to answer. There was one time when BR and I "sang" How to Name it main piece. As someone who has those tunes tattooed in my mind, it wasn't hard for me. BR was laughing and singing. From the corner of my eye, I saw IR standing upstairs and watching us. Orey enthu pottu I sang. At the end of it, he said, "Idhu nalla irkkey". I almost fainted.
All this went on for almost 2 years but considering we 3 have very little in common, it was hard. When KR got engaged, I met his then fiancee. Very sweet but she was quiet unlike KR. I didnt go to their wedding since I would have been a fish out of water. Later met them at their house and realized I can't be frequenting the house of the newly weds. BR and I still continued to hang out. I switched jobs, traveled etc so our interactions came down to occasional calls, chat etc. Then I moved to the US and KR and I communicated once. He told me about Yatheeshwar. Now I read about them occasionally.
KR is a great guy and BR also very sweet. Never interacted with the brother, YSR. Always thought he was a little "different" from the other two. If KR or BR stumble upon this space sometime, I hope they realize I still think of them and how nice and warm they had been to me.