My battle for a bag with a monkey - Twirling the monkey on my bag!
Updated: Feb 3, 2022
Working as an associate director exposed me to many curious, unexpected situations. Some of these incidents remain etched in my mind - especially, the ones that shook me to the core or had me shaking with laughter.
We were shooting some scenes in Talakona, near Tirupati - the film was Okka Magaadu (in 2006-2007). On that day, before lunch, to resolve some doubts in the continuity of costumes, I had taken my camera bag to the location. We had our lunch-break at the location. In the evening, some shots had been planned near the Talakona waterfalls involving the hero (Balakrishna) and his followers. After discussing with the costumes team, the costumes for the evening shoot, I went to my room with the intention of leaving the camera bag there; but my room-mate, co-director, Anand Y, had already left for the waterfalls taking the room key with him. I wouldn’t dare to leave the bag anywhere else; so, carrying the camera bag, I set off, on foot, to the waterfalls. Ahead of me, at some distance were the assistants of the film’s fight master, Kanal Kannan. Far behind me were some tourists. It was a road up a hill; on the right were lots of trees and a valley of sorts.
From ahead, suddenly a monkey came running in my direction. I thought it would go past me. Little did I imagine that it was coming for my precious camera bag! As it grabbed the bag, I thought, “What if the monkey made off with the bag into the valley?” I imagined in a flash the kind of sorry figure I would cut in front of the director, the hero and others if they asked me to resolve doubts about the continuity in costumes. So, shaken to the core, I held on to the bag like grim death, shouting out loud at the monkey as it held on to it making its own shrill noises. In desperation, I lifted up the bag along with the monkey and began twirling both around, screaming all the time - can you imagine the scene? No, the monkey didn’t leave the bag in spite of being twirled around! Hearing the ruckus raised by me and the monkey, the ‘fights’ team ahead of me came running towards me with some sticks. Whether the monkey saw them or finally my screaming unnerved it, I really don’t know, but, phew, it gave up the fight, dropped off the bag and ran away! That very moment, I too dashed forward, so overjoyed was I - am sure winners at Olympic events feel the same way. The ‘fights’ team reached where I was; I remarked to them in a lighter vein, “Hey, I’m your associate director. Shouldn’t you guys be taking care of my security?” We resumed our walk; the evening’s shooting took place smoothly, though the incident of the monkey and the bag did weigh on my mind.
Today, whenever I recall this incident of the monkey on my bag, I still hear my screams and the monkey’s screeches but find myself smiling thinking of how I fought to keep my precious camera bag, twirling both the bag and the monkey around!
Author's note: I thank Anvesh Tirupathi, my friend who is an artist, for the three drawings of the monkey and me and the bag.