“ Aligina velane choodali
Gokula krishnuni andaalu”
Picturised on NT Rama Rao and Savitri, this song from Gundamma Katha describes how NTR looks doubly sweet in a sulking mood. I was lucky to watch the great man in alaka mode.
Sometime in 1993-94, NTR, Lakshmi Parvathi, party leaders and self were travelling by train to Nellore for Telugu Desam’s mahila garjana meeting the following day.
An hour or so into the journey, NTR asked ’janthikalevi? Theeyandi thindamu. ’ Five minutes passed, then ten minutes and thirty. Nothing happened. A feverish, but fruitless search began for the tiffin box which the leader loved to carry during his travel. LP and household staff realised to their shock that they had left it behind. Panic gripped the entourage as the Lion roared ‘emaindira. tiffin ekkada?’ None dared to explain the situation. Instead his aides disappeared. The matter reached Chandrababu Naidu and Daggubati Venkateswara Rao.
Meanwhile, NTR threw an invisible wall around him which nobody, not even LP, dared not break. He would not talk. Swamivaaru aligaru. He refused to come out and greet supporters who turned up in large numbers at stations enroute. Daggubati spotted a close follower and asked him to ensure that homemade food was delivered in time for dinner. The promised meals carrier was duly delivered. Every attempt to pacify the Boss to relent and eat failed. On arrival at Nellore, the ’protest fast’ continued at the breakfast hosted by Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy, MLA.
Rama Rao addressed the women’s meeting in the evening. Perhaps heartened by the good response, he softened and joined the dinner.
According to his close aides, he had gone into a huff on Srirama navami at Bhadrachalam many years ago. Some goof-up somewhere meant that he missed his breakfast that day. Hunger and anger make a deadly combination. On arrival at Bhadrachalam, he refused to accept even water on that scorching summer day. Refusing to heed repeated pleas by the Endowments Minister N. Yethiraja Rao and others, he returned to Hyderabad on empty stomach.
In contrast, I was witness to a time when he craved for food, but none was available.
TRIVIA: Not many know that as a driver, NTR was fast and furious. Egged on by his grandson’s ‘inka speed thaatha’, he revved the car up madly and rammed a tree at Moinabad on way to his Gandipet cottage. Both escaped with bruises.
Nandamuri Jayashankar Krishna, NTR’s youngest son, is shy and mild. His presence is hardly noticed. Once he turned up at Chikkadpalli police station to report that his scooter was stolen. The cops took it as a joke when he mentioned NTR as father. They swung into action once verification showed he was indeed the Chief Minister’s son. Such was the low profile he maintained.