Film flashback: A Kannada comedy from 1978 about a power-mad actor makes complete sense today

In MS Sathyu’s allegory, Gajasimha finds that politics is no different from acting.

What a week it has been for Karnataka politics. The drama that has been unfolding since the results of the Assembly election were declared on Tuesday has resulted in a nail-biting race for the chief minister’s chair. The three major parties in the state that made a bid for the position – Bharatiya Janata Party, Indian National Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) – have been justifying their actions by saying that they are following the will of their voters and have the welfare of the state’s residents at heart.

A classic Kannada movie from 1978 features a similar bid for power being made in the name of the people. MS Sathyu’s brilliant allegory Chitegu Chinte (A restless corpse), set on the imaginary island of Gajadweepa, is a hilarious and hard-hitting tale about one man’s relationship with power. Gajasimha (CR Simha) is an actor, who, despite his lack of talent, is widely loved by audiences. He reports to a man who is forever lying on a hospital bed. Although we never see this man’s face, Gajasimha refers to him as “Boss”.

One day, Boss instructs Gajasimha to contest in the upcoming elections. Overnight, the actor transforms into a politician, and effortlessly too. Politics, in fact, offers Gajasimha greater scope to fulfill his narcissistic interests.

“As an actor until today, my services were restricted to my art alone,” Gajasimha says at a rally. “That my services were needed even in the political sphere was clear to me thanks to the love of the people and their insistence. Unlike an actor, a politician has to perform throughout his career. An actor and a politician are two sides of the same coin.”

He may be a newly minted politician, but Gajasimha does not shy away from giving his followers advice on how to vote. “In an election, more than the candidate, the party he is from is important,” he argues. “Therefore, as voters, please don’t fret about trivial things such as a candidate’s eligibility, his credentials or his reputation. Just vote for the party – in this case the Akhila Vishranti Paksha [All India Party for Relaxation].”

Sathyu ensures the self-serving anti-hero is as exaggerated as he can be. The movie takes its tone from the comic books that Gajasimha is fond of reading. The screenplay, by Sathyu and Javed Siddiqui, suggests that people get what they deserve, and that Gajasimha is but a reflection of the wider population. The song Naavella Kurudaru (We are all blind), sung by a blind choir in the film, bluntly delivers the point of the film.

One of the best scenes is the one in which Gajasimha is sworn in as chief minister. As the governor begins to read out the oath so that Gajasimha can repeat after him, Gajasimha interrupts him, takes over and declares his real intentions: “I, Gajasimha, with God, my conscience and the Constitution as witness, will never distance myself from possessing this authority. At all costs, I’ll protect my self-serving intentions and relationships. Until I die, I’ll ensure that my relationship with the seat of power is protected under all circumstances. With Gajadweepa and this chief minister’s chair as witness, I, on my own, will protect this democracy.”

Gajasimha is power hungry and venal, but at least he is honest.

Chitegu Chinte (1978).
Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Can a colour encourage creativity and innovation?

The story behind the universally favoured colour - blue.

It was sought after by many artists. It was searched for in the skies and deep oceans. It was the colour blue. Found rarely as a pigment in nature, it was once more precious than gold. It was only after the discovery of a semi-precious rock, lapis lazuli, that Egyptians could extract this rare pigment.

For centuries, lapis lazuli was the only source of Ultramarine, a colour whose name translated to ‘beyond the sea’. The challenges associated with importing the stone made it exclusive to the Egyptian kingdom. The colour became commonly available only after the invention of a synthetic alternative known as ‘French Ultramarine’.

It’s no surprise that this rare colour that inspired artists in the 1900s, is still regarded as the as the colour of innovation in the 21st century. The story of discovery and creation of blue symbolizes attaining the unattainable.

It took scientists decades of trying to create the elusive ‘Blue Rose’. And the fascination with blue didn’t end there. When Sir John Herschel, the famous scientist and astronomer, tried to create copies of his notes; he discovered ‘Cyanotype’ or ‘Blueprints’, an invention that revolutionized architecture. The story of how a rugged, indigo fabric called ‘Denim’ became the choice for workmen in newly formed America and then a fashion sensation, is known to all. In each of these instances of breakthrough and innovation, the colour blue has had a significant influence.

In 2009, the University of British Columbia, conducted tests with 600 participants to see how cognitive performance varies when people see red or blue. While the red groups did better on recall and attention to detail, blue groups did better on tests requiring invention and imagination. The study proved that the colour blue boosts our ability to think creatively; reaffirming the notion that blue is the colour of innovation.

When we talk about innovation and exclusivity, the brand that takes us by surprise is NEXA. Since its inception, the brand has left no stone unturned to create exclusive experiences for its audience. In the search for a colour that represents its spirit of innovation and communicates its determination to constantly evolve, NEXA created its own signature blue: NEXA Blue. The creation of a signature color was an endeavor to bring something exclusive and innovative to NEXA customers. This is the story of the creation, inspiration and passion behind NEXA:


To know more about NEXA, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of NEXA and not by the Scroll editorial team.