A dramacomic tragedy

 
Years ago I was involved in a train accident, while travelling from Hyderabad to Naraspur for the shooting of ‘Prema katha’, which resulted in around 17 deaths. It was one of the most dramatic, comic and tragic experiences of my life.
 
I was sleeping on the upper berth in a First Class cabin, when I suddenly heard a huge rattling sound, and at the same time a moaning sound started coming from a person sleeping in the lower berth steadily rising in its volume. My first thought was that the train is off the track and I felt it will crash when the moaning below will reach its crescendo (I have this disease of constantly living in a state of filmdom irrespective of the situation). Both the rattling and the moaning stopped suddenly and there was complete silence. It was pitch dark and for a few seconds I thought I must have been dreaming.
 
Then I tried to get up and I couldn’t as my head was being pressed against the wall of the coach. I couldn’t figure out why, for a while, till I realized that coach was on its side inclined at about 30 degrees. With great difficulty I managed to get down and started searching for my shoes. As I wore them I started hearing faint whispers of people asking each other whether they were alright. The volume at which they were talking almost made me feel that they were scared to disturb the situation.
 
Slowly I managed to reach the coach door. There was a very faint moon light outside. As I stepped out my shoe went into the slush of paddy field. My first thought was “Yuck, my shoes are fucked.” I bought this new pair of shoes just the previous day. Once I got over the tragedy of my shoes I looked around to see a couple of coaches behind lying on their side and people slowly crawling out through the connecting doors of the coaches which broke in the accident. I went walking to the track which was about 50feet from the train as it was dry there. By that time people were coming out.
 
The initial reports were that nobody was killed or hurt. Now where these people got these reports from is anybody’s guess. One guy got a bed sheet and a pillow from inside the train, put it on the tracks and instructed people around to wake him up when the rescue train arrives.
 
As I looked around there was a mixture of shouts, sounds of people crying and strangely laughter too. Quite a bit of my unit was in the S5 coach which was about 4 coaches down. So I started walking towards it when a little ahead I saw a man with a severed leg on the grass. That’s when I came to know that the ‘all are well’ news were false. As I went further I saw the coach just before S5 so mangled and I could hear a man moaning in pain asking for water from inside. I couldn’t see the inside through the window in the darkness but I could make out that he was somehow trapped. A guy walked up to the window with a water bottle to hand it through the window when somebody shouted at him not to give the water. The water guy turned to the shouting guy to ask him why and the shouting guy gave his gyan on why an injured man should not be given water. The water guy had a sudden desire to be educated more on the subject. So both the shouting guy and the water guy went into an educational tour of the dangers of giving water to injured people. The shouting guy suddenly developed the personality of a all knowing teacher and the water guy of that of a wide-eyed pupil, and this scene was happening with the background score of the man inside the train moaning in pain and begging for water.
 
“Sir, are you fine?” someone shouted from the back and I turned to see E.Nivas who was my assistant at that time. He was in S5 coach. I asked him what about the rest of the crew. He said “mostly fine but Vidya is out”. I knew even when he said it what he meant, but I still thought it was strange to use a terminology of cricket to describe a known person’s death in a situation like that. Vidya was a camera assistant who joined my unit recommended by my cousin who was very close to his family. Niwas told me that it took him 45 minutes to come out of the coach. He was sleeping in the lower berth and after the accident he tried to move Vidya and he couldn’t and then he realized he was dead.
 
I took out my cell phone which was working and called up my cousin in Mumbai. It was about 4am. After I told him Vidya is dead, my cousin’s sleepy voiced first question was “are you sure?” I stopped short because I realized that I was just conveying what Niwas told me and I asked Niwas “are you sure?” Niwas also got into doubt and said that “he was not moving, for sure” and I said “then maybe he was just unconscious”. This put Niwas in further doubt, so both me and Niwas trudged through the slush to go to S5 coach which was lying on a 45 degrees incline. We went under it and Niwas started shouting Vidya’s name through the grilled window and I heard a moan. I turned sharply to Niwas and said “he’s alive” to which Niwas said “that’s not Vidya, it’s Murthy”. “Who is Murthy” I asked him and Niwas said he was just a friend they made in the coach the previous night and he was sleeping in the middle berth right below Vidya, and who also was apparently trapped.
 
Now Niwas started shouting at Murthy to try and nudge Vidya above him to see if he was alive. Murthy’s returning moans from the darkness became a character and I was instructing my directions to Niwas in soft whispers almost feeling guilty about using this new character Murthy as a medium to find out Vidya’s state. So the conversation went 3-ways between my whispers translated to Niwas’s shouts to Murthy’s groans and moans and all of us listening to Vidya’s silence.
 
Suddenly a cheerful voice from behind said “Varma saab you are here?” I turned around to see a man with a group of people walking towards me. I couldn’t recognise him. He realized that and introduced himself as a Railway Officer who I met in the shooting of the climax of “Kshana Kshanam”. He had come on the rescue train and went about introducing his colleagues “We have all come here to do the needful”, “He is Station Supervisor Ramchandran”, “He is my close friend Venkateshwarlu” etc etc. Then he asked me “Can we do anything for you?” I said “Sir there’s a unit member of mine called Vidya who is trapped inside this coach. Can you help in finding out his state?” To which he said “Yes, yes I will do the needful.” Suddenly a voice from behind said “Are you suspecting any sabotage?” We turned around to see a reporter with a Dictaphone. Suddenly the Officer became very authoritative and told him “First we have to attend to the needful. But any information you should only ask me. My name is Rao.” I could clearly see that Mr.Needful wants to see his name in the paper the next day.
 
Meanwhile a gleeful looking man from a nearby village was ecstatic about how nothing like this ever happened near his village. I could imagine Mr.Gleeful till the day of death will tell his children and grand children of his experiences.
 
I left Niwas and the Production Manager Giri to attend to the rest and along with a unit member on the directions of Mr.Needful I started walking towards a jeep to take me to a nearby town Guntur. As I was walking many officers and passengers who recognized me were greeting me and treating me with great respect. I reached the jeep, got in and told the driver to move. He gave me one dirty look and pointed to the wheel which was stuck in the mud and then he went off on a long barrage of expletives cursing the officers for not listening to him when he predicted that the jeep will get stuck. He was least bothered about me or the accident. So I had no choice but to trudge through the paddy field along with some unit members towards a nearby village from which I presumed Mr.Gleeful came from. After I walked a certain distance to the village I turned back to see the train on its side and there was a tree on the right between the train and me. I wished that it was a little to the left so that the visual would have looked better (Hello! Remember my disease of living in a state of filmdom?)
 
Once we reached the village there were some vehicles. Nagarjuna’s family friend from Guntur took me into his vehicle and drove me to his home. He was hospitality personified and apparently a huge fan of mine and was in awe of me. As I got down in front of his home, I was unbelievably dirty, both my clothes and feet. Even as I asked for water to wash my feet Mr.Hospitality insisted I come in. So I went in to face a woman who couldn’t control her anger looking at the dirt on my feet. Mr.Hospitality introduced her as his wife and she took off on him on why he couldn’t get my feet washed outside to which he screamed at her saying “Do you know who he is?” to which I volunteered to go out to which she said “What’s the point now as you already made the floor dirty.” Now Mr.Hospitality wanted me to sit on the sofa and from the look in her eyes I knew that both me and Mr.Hospitality were in mortal danger if anything even near to that happens. I stomped my feet down literally and said I am not doing anything except for cleaning myself up.
 
Once I got cleaned I shifted to a nearby Hotel where most people from the accident were put up. Niwas called me and told that Murthy stopped speaking. Both of us remained silent and did not speak about the ‘death’ word.
The S5 coach was mangled and they had to cut the top open. Now it so happened that Vidya was right below the roof as he was on the upper berth. So in the process of cutting the roof, his face got completely burnt from the heat of the welding torch. Whether he died before itself or during this process is anybody’s guess.
 
My cousin en-route from Mumbai called me and said Vidya’s father was coming and I have to break the news to him about his son’s death. His father was only told that Vidya is injured. I felt terrible that I am meeting this man for the first time in my life and the first thing I have to speak to him is that his son is dead. I confided about this to a relative of mine Pandu, who came to see me there, to which he said not to worry and he will take care of that. I wondered how he will do that.
 
When Vidya’s father walked in looking at me very fearfully not knowing what to expect Pandu sharply slapped his back from behind and said in a tone of loud cheerful happiness ‘Your son is very lucky. God loves him and took him away. We all are bastards and I don’t know when we will get that lucky”. I was shocked at the way Pandu broke the news. The effect on Vidya’s father was mesmeric. He was startled both with the news and the way it was told to him. My first reaction was that it was very insensitive on Pandu’s part but on second thoughts I thought it was the most perfect way of breaking the news in that situation. Pandu went on a barrage of advantages, incidents and anecdotes about God and His ways not giving thinking and feeling time to Vidya’s father. Pandu was instinctive but I think he was more a philosopher and psychiatrist than anybody I met.
 
Later I sat with Vidya’s father and gave a long talk to him on why he should not show Vidya’s body in the state of his burnt face to his mother. I said ‘let her remember him the way he was’, to which he countered how he cannot do that as he is her only son to which I was getting angry more with the fact that my logic was not being listened to.
 
However by the time he reached his place along with the body, my cousin called me and told me that Vidya’s father decided to go by my advice and got the cremation done without the mother seeing Vidya’s face. I felt triumphant of my counselling power.
 
Anyway after the entire experience the one truth I realized for myself is that “life is really a comedy which pretends to be a tragedy".
 
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60 Responses to A dramacomic tragedy

  1. Chandrakanth says:

    I heard in that tragedy Annapurna garu broke her hand…I know it is not important in this context, as one persone in the unit died itself, but just wanted to make sure. The prema kadha movie was really good, but antara mali did not look good(not that she ever looked good!!!). But i still can not digest the fact that you took even an accident so lightly sir. I mean, from your description you do not appear to have been in a state of shock, but were rather very casual about it. I am sorry if i have interpretted it wrongly, but yes to be frank, you can not do much other than that too!!! But I agree with you, even in that moment of tragedy also people are more interested in the things which would only be useful to them alone!!!Psst: I am sure this scene is going to be present in the movie that you are planning on the media 🙂

  2. vaishak says:

     
    Sir,
        Didn\’t you feel anything for vidya…?….and why Nivas said  \’Vidya is out\’…..?………This was one terrific post…
    i was reading it like your usual story but is surprised by your state of mind…Lot of things are not digestible…
    …..thanks….vaishak…..

  3. srinivas says:

    Once again well narrated incident. I totally agree with the "state of being in a filmdom". While reading your narration, I wasn\’t feeling neither for the accident nor for the people who were affected in the accident. My thoughts were.., were you trying to help an unknown in the process(no, you were not), were you considerate for your own people(yes, you were), were you taking any risk for your team(likely yes, because you went into S5 coach which is inclined at 45 degrees) etc.. Off accident scene, my thoughts were.., what kind of sofa did Mr.Hospitality have? How does his wife look? Was she in a saree or night wear. How would me & my famlily react in that kind of situation. Btb.., One more thought was how did Mr.Hospitality know to come and receive you?Question to you:You or as a matter of fact most of us have a tendency to report death in an installment fashion. We fisrt say that the person is hurt, then serious and then slowly berak the fact that the person is dead. This is to lesssen the panic in the receiver. Having said that.. isn\’t the media playing the same role by initially saying no death was involved? Wouldn\’t that keep thousands of families a bit relaxed till the tragic news breaks to very few families? Media should be honest but I do not think this incident qualifies to quiote media\’s mis-intrepretation. What do you say?

  4. Narendra says:

    This is the only post in your blog that left me with mixed feelings. Narration part was fantastic as ususal. What you did immediately after the accident is impossible for me to digest. Bother about your damn shoes at that time!! Oooff . . . shoes pothe malla konukkovachu. What about fellow human beings?Anyways nice share. Thank you for that sir.

  5. Ravi says:

    Ramu, Amazingly narrated. Good Job.
    Even i have been through a Bus accident and i could relate to you.
     
    Now when i think back that fateful night, actually in a way i was dissapointed.Because i had some preconcieved notions like any of you i guess, of how people would react during a  tragedy, which was majorly influenced by the media and the cinema who usually glorifies things.
    I have a picture that every one who is involved in a tragic incident is in panic , crying, and most of them is helping out each other. In cinematic terms , all of us think,what happens during or immediatley after a tragic incident is a single track/thread narration but in reality its multi threaded.
     When i went through it myself, it was so different, u could see each one reacts differently in such tragic situation which could be funny if you think  about it later, so many other emotions would be visible apart from just crying and moaning.
    I appreciate RAMU\’s guts to talk about a tragedy so rationally and just let it go, most people specially in our culture just try to avoid to even think about what they went through and struggle all their life coming to terms with what they went through, But i bet where as people like RAMU would be more in peace.

  6. vinay says:

    It\’s d\’Ram\’acomic tragedy narration…….
    Mr.Gleeful and Mr.Needful,Mr.Hospitality,Mr.Gleeful… was really good naming to those characters……
    n I say ur Mr.horrifying…..

  7. Unknown says:

    Do u enjoy the adulation u receive when in the public? or just detached to it?whats ur take?

  8. Unknown says:

    Have u ever cried in your entire life ? (i mean consciously,not in childhood) Did any movie u watched made tears in ur eyes?

  9. Abhishek says:

    Aren\’t you scared of Death?

  10. karthik says:

    I am speechless.

  11. Unknown says:

    Is that when your head got injured and good/creative part of it was damaged? Just kidding… 🙂

  12. Unknown says:

    There is no comedy at all in this tragedy.  Your callousness is disgusting.  Where is the comedy for that poor guy who lost his leg; for the families of the people who lost their lives.  You left the scene where your friends/employees were in a life and death situation.  You should have stayed until you were sure the authorities were taking care of the situation properly.  That would have been the proper use of your celebrity.  That father whose son\’s face was burned off – explain to him where the comedy is in this tragedy.  I think you lack an empathy chip in your personality. 

  13. vamsi says:

    Idiot
    Why are you (Mr.Inhuman) expecting people to forgive you for your insensitiveness by stating that you live in filmdom (or studpidom)
     
    Instead of S5, if your coach was crushed, Pandu would have been giving the same peptalk to your parents…. That would be a real comedy……

  14. kishan says:

    The scene of Mr.Hospitality and his wife is very similar to the scene in Satya where Bhiku\’s wife is nagging and satya is just standing over there like a zombie.

  15. Jayanth says:

    Ram…..
    Excellent…for me most interesting character was Mr.Hospitlality\’s wife…..I think if we shoot this scene,instead of showin that character ,just the sound of her dialogues and character\’s(yours and Hospitality\’s) expressions should do it.Any comments?:-)Anyways Love u man.

  16. Piyush says:

    I guess the comedy in the entire episode is the idea of importance.The supposed death of a unit member,Breaking the news of death,and finally,The threat to your position of a convincing genius, and the victory are the comic events!

  17. Piyush says:

    I guess the comedy in the entire episode is the idea of importance.The supposed death of a unit member,Breaking the news of death,and finally,The threat to your position of a convincing genius, and the victory are the comic events- Piyush Bhageria

  18. Chandradhar says:

    Hi Boss,!
    I am addicted to your BLOG.I open you Space everyday to see something new..I wait every minute for ur expressions… Do you require an assistant.. Plz, make me your assistant. I will make your NAAM… ROSHAN…….
    PLZ PLZ PLZ…. Plz make me your CHELA…….. 

  19. Chandradhar says:

    Hi Boss,!
    I am addicted to your BLOG.I open you Space everyday to see something new..I wait every minute for ur expressions… Do you require an assistant.. Plz, make me your assistant. I will make your NAAM… ROSHAN…….
    PLZ PLZ PLZ…. Plz make me your CHELA…….. 

  20. Chandradhar says:

    Hi Boss,!
    I am addicted to your BLOG.I open you Space everyday to see something new..I wait every minute for ur expressions… Do you require an assistant.. Plz, make me your assistant. I will make your NAAM… ROSHAN…….
    PLZ PLZ PLZ…. Plz make me your CHELA…….. 

  21. Chandradhar says:

    Hi Boss,!
    I am addicted to your BLOG.I open you Space everyday to see something new..I wait every minute for ur expressions… Do you require an assistant.. Plz, make me your assistant. I will make your NAAM… ROSHAN…….
    PLZ PLZ PLZ…. Plz make me your CHELA…….. 

  22. Chandradhar says:

    Hi Boss,!
    I am addicted to your BLOG.I open you Space everyday to see something new..I wait every minute for ur expressions… Do you require an assistant.. Plz, make me your assistant. I will make your NAAM… ROSHAN…….
    PLZ PLZ PLZ…. Plz make me your CHELA…….. 

  23. Unknown says:

    why do u always live in filmdom(zoom-out mode).
    maybe u r a big escapist.
     

  24. srinivas says:

    Guyz,If you are so interested in this blog.. You can add this to your Google homepage like I did.. So, you can know instatly if new posts were added.. <a href="http://fusion.google.com/add?source=atgs&feedurl=http%3A//rgvarma.spaces.live.com/feed.rss"><img src="http://gmodules.com/ig/images/plus_google.gif&quot; border="0" alt="Add to Google"></a>Once added, you can edit your settings..

  25. Anil says:

    What the fcuking comedy, you found in this article?Title is unjustified ….

  26. Anil says:

    This is the worst blog article from you. I am disappointed with the narration …Is this blog written by you or your chamcha??

  27. Unknown says:

    At times, you seem so indifferent to others\’ pain. BTW, Are you afraid of death?
     
     

  28. Manish says:

    Interesting read.I guess when we comment on the tragedy, in the comfort of our home, we tend to be more righteous about the casualty & loss of loved ones for strangers and expect the same from others.My thoughts about some of the peculiar behavior and comments:1.    E. Nivas comment \’Vidya is out\’: I guess choice of word ‘out’ came out from Nivas’ unconscious mind shocked from the event without intentional insult or condescension but at the same time it was based on  Nivas’s preconceived status of ‘Vidya’. I think he would have used better word, unconsciously, had it happened to RGV.3.    Mr.Hospitality was indifferent to the tragedy since he himself or his loved ones were not involved. For him, it was the opportunity to meet a man of great stature. Many of the readers may dispute with this argument but think as how much we get affected by crimes/terrorism reported in the Newspaper/Cable.4.      For Railway Officer, it’s a routine job and only thing that was exciting, was the presence of RGV.5.    For Mr RGV, the moment his brain told him that he is out of danger, he started to feel/think in his usual way. Also, I think RGV wrote this or able to think in this manner, only after he was out of sight of tragedy and able to recollect and reword the events he experienced during the tragedy. Had he written the same just after the tragedy, this would have surely been different more with shock and grief for loss.Sad part of the tragedy is how people feel disconnected or indifferent to the losses/injuries of others.Comedy is how people react in peculiar, bizarre way when confronted with the unexpected.

  29. Unknown says:

    Do u become lazy at any point of time,if so how wud u handle it?

  30. static atmosphere energy says:

    is post mei comedy kya hei? drama zaroor hei par…comedy?

  31. vinay says:

    Hi Ram ,
    "As I looked around there was a mixture of shouts, sounds of people crying and strangely laughter too"
    it\’s really strange why people laugh at dat instant… did u see them really laughing or did u mentioned strangely……..?

  32. prakash says:

    well said sir, \’“life is really a comedy which pretends to be a tragedy".
    thanks for sharing your experience. it inspired me to write a short story, which am beginning to write today.
    🙂
    regards
     
    prakash gowda

  33. Brahma says:

    I was trying to understand u,rather read u thru ur blogs as I was ur biggest follower for long time(Since Death…maut days…remember). Sometimes u behave arrogant, sometimes u resemble a kid. Sometimes sensitive, sometimes rude.
     
    That silence when death wa spelt by your assistant says it all. It is true that life is really a comedy which pretends to be a tragedy.
     
    BTw whats ur take on fear of death.
     

  34. Somnath says:

    by the way..what happened to murthy?

  35. Unknown says:

    hi
     

  36. a.Prathaap says:

    Hello Mr.Ramgopal,
        Humble sympathy on the incident. Why you are blogging it now? Anyhow. its an accident. Nothing more to read on this lines.

  37. Unknown says:

    Not well narrated!!!

  38. Sekhar says:

    Not well narrated!!

  39. VJ says:

    Anil,I hope some points in the article are false. Money is important but money is not life.

  40. arghya says:

    i somehow feel that you could have narrated this incident better, if u would not have held back your emotions..theres an awkwardness…

  41. thirumal says:

    I wanna know what\’s your take on Anurag\’s NO SMOKING.

  42. thirumal says:

    In one interview Anurag told the concept is yours and u used it in a comic way in darna mana hai.So what\’s ur take on his arrogant way of convaying the movie to audience.

  43. Unknown says:

    Waiting for your post on \’Raktha charitra\’

  44. thirumal says:

     
    The water guy had a sudden desire to be educated more on the subject. So both the shouting guy and the water guy went into an educational tour of the dangers of giving water to injured people. The shouting guy suddenly developed the personality of a all knowing teacher and the water guy of that of a wide-eyed pupil, and this scene was happening with the background score of the man inside the train moaning in pain and begging for water.
     
    hmm SO WITTY..

  45. saikiran says:

    hello
    i wanted to ask abt the movie GOVINDA GOVINDA….i read somewere that
    many scenes in the movie were cut by the censor board.what were the
    scenes or were can i get those edited scenes???the concept of the movie
    was very good….at least i liked it.

  46. Bhaskar says:

    Your words to Vidya\’s father made me to remember the scene in "The Godfather" novel wherein Don Corolene goes to Amerigo Bonasera and completes Sonny\’s death ceremony with out his mother\’s presence…well used

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