When I saw the movie Raja Hindustani, I had thought that the character was rather exaggerated and a tad crude. Raja seemed quite unreal – until I came across a real-life Raja Hindustani !
During our travel to Mandu, our very own version drove us from Indore to Jhira Baug and then to Mandu. He was everything the filmi version was and a wee bit more ! Attitude oozed from his pores, and his self-confidence was amazing. One didn’t see too many questions about himself in his eyes. He was pretty sure he liked being what he was.
Of course the journey was peppered with ego-tussles – between us (Shirley and myself) and “Raju”. While we were enjoying the mystic of Madhya Pradesh and wanted silence in the car, Raju insisted on entertaining himself with loud music. While we wanted some nice, soft instrumentals that would compliment the scenery outside, Raju insisted on listening to gaudy item-numbers. We tolerated one another – well for 10 minutes at a time ! When we bullied him, Raju would sulkily give in and put some soft numbers – for all of 10 mins. And just as were settling down and our attention was distracted, he would surreptiously change the music !! We would tolerate it for all of 10 minutes and once the music started getting on our nerves, we would insist a change. Finally, we came to an agreement – that we would play music of our choosing for half an hour at a time.
Raju was insistent not only about music. He was also very clear as to what we should eat, what kind of tea we should drink and everything in between. We, of course, were regaled with his personal history – he quickly sneaked out a picture of his wife … and showed it to us, while he shamelessly flirted with his passengers.
Partly amusing and partly irritating in turns, Raju however became an indelible part of our memories of Mandu.
And now I am not too certain – whether the filmi characters are made from real-life ones or whether the real-life people taken on flavours of the filmi bunch.