Extracts Books

Excerpts from Ashokamitran’s books

18th Parallel  

I stood at the gate with my loose short and overstretched smile to welcome the leading citizens of the city. They were encouraged to speak after the screening... I wrote out their speeches and next morning, the papers carried the write-up as though ‘Avvaiyar’ was not just a movie but a rare cultural phenomenon..

(‘Fourteen Years with Boss’)

By any standards, the actress playing the main role was fat. Vasan chose to dub the film in English and release it in Japan, of all places. Why? Maybe as a delayed revenge for Japan bombing Madras... ( From ‘Fourteen Years with Boss’)

“Who plays Draupati in the film?” I asked

“G. Varalakshmi.”

She was a tall actress and approximated my vision of an angel. I couldn’t imagine this midget of Ramakrishna Raju playing Arjuna against my angel.

“Wouldn’t you look ridiculous always looking up to her?”

“Why should I? I will stand on a chair and then appear a proper mate.”

“What about duets with her in the garden or forest? You can’t go round trees always carrying a chair.”

“Why should I? I will make the camera go round us.”

I could not bring myself to accept his explanations. This dwarf with G.Varalakshmi!

“What about battle scenes?”

“I have already obtained dupe shots from ‘Palnatti Yuddham. I will just insert them in our film.”

“You scoundrel!” I shouted.

“Nothing wrong. Everybody does it.”

(From ‘The Movie that

J.Ramakrishna Raju and I made.’)

“I didn’t know you could sing. What song was that?” my chemistry professor asked. We were alone in the science lab and it was getting dark.

“‘Viduthalai’ by Subrahmanya Bharati.”

“Sing. I want to learn the song.”

“Here, sir?”


“Now, sir?

“Yes. Why not?”

So we sang off-key ‘Viduthali’ producing a range of sounds the human voice was capable of, and that in a lab haunted by spirits of Egyptian alchemists and Madame Curie..

(From 18th Parallel)

The Siddhar stretched his palm. There was a half-rupee coin. “Go and get betel leaves and tobacco from the shop on the main road.”

“It is midnight. In these localities, even small shops close at nine.”

“You just go there. It will be open. Tell the man it is for me.”

I went out. The shop was open! I bought pan and tobacco for half a rupee and took it to the Siddhar.

“Good. Did you tell him it was for me?”

I bit my tongue.

“If you aren’t able to fulfil this trifle, how are you going to sail across your life and go beyond?”

(From ‘Manasarovar”)

There is flaw in your story, grand-father,” I said. Actually, he was my great grand-father.

“What is it?”

“Collector Scott rode away, asking you to follow him to the travellers' bungalow. From what you said of the pond and the bathing woman Scott tried to disrobe, the village was on the other side half a mile away. But when you reached the travellers’ bungalow, within minutes, the villagers surrounded the bungalow. Who went and told them?”

It was a sixty year-old incident but still the old man looked this side and that. He spoke in a voice which was almost a whisper. “You know

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