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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Om Namo Venkatesaya ~ Telegu Movie ~ Class ! on Hathiramji at holy Thirumala

Movies come dime and dozen ~ but Telugu tinseldom is different – only they can depict devotional pictures so well.   Today afternoon, it was real rich visual treat – brilliant depiction, astonishing camera work, rich graphics showcasing Holy Tirumala hills and surroundings top notch. The action of Nagarjuna, Anushka, direction of Raghavendra Rao and music of  Keeravani all stood out

Yes, it is a movie review – I was moved in seeing ‘Om Namo Venkatesaya’ – a story of  Hathiramji – many aspects of the legend on how he reached Thirumala, why he was jailed and how Lord rescued him in the guise of an elephant – all have dramatic impact.   It is all about  Rama (Nagarjuna) and Lord Venkateswara or Balaji (Saurabh Jain) as his devotee Rama calls him, are seated overlooking a precipice, playing a game of dice (pachikalu).  Rama, as legend has it, was a reformist devotee who had to clean up the functioning of the temple. In the cinematic version, this allows  scope for a corrupt and powerful temple dharmadhikari. The clash between Rama and Govindarajulu, Rama setting up an ashram and with persuasion setting things right in the temple premises  are all well narrated.

Nagarjuna has been on this devotional path before, in Annamayya, Sri Ramadasu and Shirdi Sai. He doesn’t falter in his portrayal of Rama. His journey is aided by Krishnamma, a Goda Devi or Andal-inspired fictional character played by Anushka Shetty.  She wants Rama to convey the essence of Sri Venkateswara Mahatyam to devotees.

The most  beautiful temple of Lord Srinivasa at Tirumala Tirupathi in its present form owes a lot to our  greatest Acharya – Sri Ramanujar.  The very thought of Tirumala and chanting the name of Lord of Seven Hills would cleanse our souls. Every experience at Tirumala is so divine, one feels so refreshed and yearns of the next visit ! .. .. even as one enters and feels the chillness of the mountains, there felt is the divineness in air – every announcement be it of whatever nature on mike is preceded by ‘Om Namo VEnkatesaya’ – appeal to devotees follows .. .. ..

When was the last Tamil film on Hindu mythology released ? – Tollywood needs to be appreciated for the regular flow.  Om Namo Venkatesaya  a 2017 Telugu devotional  film, based on the life of Hathiram Bhavaji, was indeed inspiring and spellbounding.

On the right hand side of the Rajagopura and the main entrance of the Holy temple stood a mutt popularly known as Hathiramji Mutt, which too alongside so many others and the beautifully ornate 1000 pillared mantap were dismantled a decade or so ago, in the expansion plan of TTD.  It is stated that the temple before the formation of  Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) was under administration of Hathiramji mutt.  It is a matter of common knowledge that the temple administration [religious side] as also the other was fully controlled by the PeddaJeeyar Mutt instituted by Sri Ramanujar, almost a thousand year ago. 

There are so many legends and thiruviladayal [divine plays of Lord] associated with Lord Balaji of Tirumala.  In popular belief is the one of Hathiramji.  Hathiram was born in Rajasthan, a devotee of Lord Rama, who upon a visit to the holy place, was so attached to the Lord that he decided to stay here itself and e and set up an ashram outside the temple. This is the present day – Hathiram Bhavaji Muth which from its earlier place above the mantap where Unjalseva is now daily performed now has shifted to a nearby place on way to Vaikuntam complex.   It is believed that Lord Balaji was pleased with his devotion and used to come to his place to play dice with him. On a day, when Lord want to play with the devotee, his ornament was left there and the Priests finding the ornament missing, searched and found at the Ashram, thereby leading to some misunderstanding.   When the King ordered an experiment that was not humanly possible, Lord in the form of a white elephant helped His devotee and ensured that he was not harmed.

               Though there is a thematic depiction of Lord playing dice with Hathiram, there is no specific image of the Hathiramji in popular culture.  Soon, there could be an identification based on the movie, the part of Hathiramji being played by Nagarjuna. 

Telegu tinseldom  deserves credit and telegu cinema goers are to be appreciated for encouraging such films tinged with divinity.   Here are some screengrabs of the movie put on ETv today.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th  May 2017.

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