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September 16, 2000
Music firms flood market with anti-Veerappan cassettes
M D Riti in Bangalore
They call Veerappan a range of names, from loafer to suvar and claim his moustache, his pride, is maggot-infested. But they also do not stop short of taking digs at Karnataka Home Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, calling his a karragiro kaage [black crow].
Even as the Kannada film industry and music industry have ground to a standstill for six weeks, some small music companies in Bangalore have found a way to cash in on the Rajakumar abduction. Four of them have come out with audio albums of skits and music on the abduction.
All have several elements in common, bad-mouthing Veerappan, glorifying Rajakumar and taking digs at the Karnataka and Tamil Nadu state governments. They have titles like Mangana Kayili Manikya (A diamond in the hands of a monkey), Kathegenu Gothu Kasturi Kampu (What does a donkey know about the fragrance of kasturi), Kaadinalli Kannada Ratna (The ruby of Karnataka, a title given to Rajakumar by the Karnataka government some years back) and Kadugalla Kadda Muthu (The pearl stolen by the jungle bandit). The latter, of course, also puns on Rajakumar's real name Muthuraj.
The voices appear to be of lesser known singers, at least one popular cine character artiste and some dubbing artistes. The cassette Kadugalla claims it has popular star Upendra on Veerappan. As Upendra is known to use bad language in his films and has a great following among a certain genre of youth in Karnataka, the blurb is obviously intended to be a hidden message to the buyer of what he can expect.
The cassette begins with incantations of "Loafer nanna maga Veerappanige Dhikkara, Sethukuli Govindanige Dhikkara (Down with loafer Veerappan and Sethukuli Govindan,)" ostensibly yelled by disgruntled crowds. Ravi Kelugar's voice then comes on in the guise of Upendra and exhorts the crowds with sentiments like, "We are not Gandhi nanna makkalas to take all this lying down. What is the point of just shouting like this (and doing nothing)?"
He also goes on to advise them to take a leaf from Parvathakka and be peaceful until Annavru comes out of the jungles.
The cassette is also full of audio skits and Puranic tales, like this one: a farmer from Mandya narrates to another an incident about how he was returning from a town when a wheel of his vehicle falls into a hole in the road. Passers-by, who speak in Tamil, do not help him until four men pull his vehicle aside. When he asks them whether they too are farmers, they reply, ''No, we do not need to work that hard because at least four men like you fall into this hole every day and we earn a few thousand rupees just pulling them out.''
The dialogues and songs have been written by Srichandra, and it has been produced by Mayuri Recording Company in Padmanabhanagar in Bangalore.
Two other cassettes, Kathegenu and Kaadinalli, share a common audio director in Purushottaman. But their producers are different: Swarasangama of Rajajinagar and Manoranjan Audio of Gandhinagar.
Kaadinalli has been brought out by the owners of the tabloid Star of Bangalore, which claims to have predicted the abduction of Rajakumar a year back. It features Dheerendra Gopal's voice as a character in various dialogues and skits, as well as popular TV artiste and theatre player Sarigama Viji. Gopal uses vulgar words.
One side of the cassette has an imaginary sequence in which a dubbing artiste imitates Rajakumar's voice, with birds and animal noises in the background. In this sequence, Rajakumar urges Veerappan to give up his wicked ways and return to a life of peace outside the jungles.
Veerappan replies in amazingly bad Tamil and readily agrees. Elsewhere in the cassette, fictitious characters ridicule Chief Minister S M Krishna, so busy shuttling between Bangalore and Madras that he has no time to govern his state.
It goes on to describe Rajakumar as a three-in-one: as good as Karunanidhi, Tamil Nadu icon M G Ramachandran and superstar Rajnikanth, put together, a sentiment that is bound to offend the average Tamilian. Veerappan too, it observes astutely, is now a three-in-one, since two extremist groups have joined his band of jungle poachers.
R R Gopal, it insists, must have a closer relationship with Veerappan than he reveals, as he can find him so quickly in the jungles each time.
The cassette Mangana, produced by Ashwini Recording Company, with dialogues by M S Ravi Gowda, is a little more provocative, and even has characters joking about how Gopal may be handing over part of the funds sent to Veerappan from Karnataka as Rajakumar's ransom to Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.
In contrast, Kadugalla makes fun of Kannadigas, accusing them of waking up and shouting slogans only when television cameras are turned on them, and spending the rest of their time relaxing at home with a drink! But Mangana exhorts the even-tempered Kannadiga to stop being passive. Instead of joining hands in supplication to Veerappan, raise your hands against him, it urges.
The Kannadiga has pride, but the Tamilian is only arrogant, it concludes.
In Kathegenu, fictitious characters discuss controversial issues dogging Kannada-Tamil ties, which have now been invoked by Veerappan, like the Cauvery water issue, a statue of Thiruvalluvar and a demand to make Tamil a second administrative language in Karnataka.
The tone of these dialogues, of course, clearly supports the Kannadiga. In between the dialogues, you have songs in praise of Rajakumar, by playback singer B R Chaya.
This cassette too has a popular imitation of Rajakumar engaged in a a fictitious dialogue with Veerappan and asking him, "How long can you live like this in the forest? All this killing and thieving is not lasting, but peace of mind is." Predictably, Veerappan comes out of the forest with Rajakumar at the end of the sequence.
Music industry sources in Karnataka reveal that each of these music companies have released about 25,000 copies of each cassette.
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