Padayappa, Textiles and Livestock

Once upon a time in the year 1999, the inhabitants of Chennai, India, were rejoicing after a long wait. For months they had struggled against that intolerable beast – Mr. Anticipation. They say that anticipation kills. Well, it certainly might; especially when the cause and salvation of that anticipation turns out to be Superstar Rajinikanth’s latest blockbuster, Padayappa.

Padayappa chronicles the life and times of a sparkling young man (Rajinikanth) with the enviable honorific of “Padayappa”. A legend in his village, his animal presence is said to exude an atmosphere of sexuality so charged, that women conceive at the very sight of him. The lady of the manor finds herself totally and utterly in a grip of lust inspired by Padayappa’s visage. A woman who is obsessed, yes, but also splendidly haughty, as she views herself as unquestioningly deserving of Padayappa’s carnal attention; and resorts to the basest of stratagems to get it. However her attempts at seduction fail at every hip shake, and her frustration flames to rage on discovering that Padayappa’s attention was already booked – by none other than her own maid.

Jealousy causes her to serve a colourful assortment of intolerable cruelties to the domestic help, culminating mysteriously in a cessation of hostilities one day, with her gifting the maid a beautiful silk saree, woven with threads of the most vivid shade of red. The maid, blinded by pure relief, sees this as a sweet gesture and complies with her memsaab‘s suggestion to try it on immediately, as well as her directive to take the rest of the day off for a stroll through the countryside to dazzle the neighbours with her pretty attire. Halfway through the stroll, the maid is too distracted by the ogling idle to notice a fuse getting lit right behind her – the memsaab completing the process of releasing a sullen bull held hostage by a spindly post. The bull takes one look at the maid’s red saree, feels its colour rekindle a lost sense of purpose, and decides to devote its first lap of freedom to pursuing the fabric.

The bull chases the maid through fields and valleys, with the girl hollering for immediate assistance and cursing herself for not having had seen red earlier at the sahiba‘s sudden generosity. However, Padayappa appears just on time – standing between distressed maiden and crazed bull, with a bucket of canary yellow paint. One quick trademark smile later, he proceeds to empty the bucket’s contents onto the maid’s saree.

Needless to say, the bull was devastated.

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