Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ponnappa - A 'brush' with fame

The house looks modern from the outside - one of those cosy villa sets with a little garden and small car park. The man is comfortably dressed in a blue kurta and jeans; his wife in semi-casuals; and both very warm and friendly. At first glance, Prakash Ponnappa brings back memories of Veerappan - the handle bar mustache, slight figure, and intelligent mind. But on second thought wipes away all trace of the notorious man, and replaces it with fun, creativity, and talent.

Ponnappa, a Coorgi, has made Goa his home for a while now, and over the years has transformed his house into a quaint lesson in history and passion. It is filled with little knick-knacks collected from various places and people, going back generations. Right from his door step, antiques and paintings are juxtaposed with every day items, not in-the-face, but sufficiently interesting to make one stop and take notice. He picks up the mouthpiece of an old telephone near the entrance, the kind one sees in a Laurel and Hardy movie, and shows you that it can still work. All it needs is the connection to the telephone line.

The walls of his living room house three guns, all crafted from wood by the man himself. They are exact replicas of the original ones and have been borrowed time and again by directors of Bollywood movies for use in their films. Along one wall, rests a showcase with myriad things from the world over. It's a museum in a museum, a place to learn history through stories, little jaunts, and accidents.

The most beautiful of things by far, in his house, are his paintings. They come alive in a riot of colour, the subtle wash of emotions, and the faint scratch of a pencil sketch. His attention to detail is breathtakingly wondrous, with every tile on every floor, the slat of every blind, the hair on every coat of fur coming alive in each painting. His favourite, says Jessica his wife of nearly 50 years, is the painting of a tiger his son's bedroom. Its eyes scream in a mixture of fear and anger, the roar almost heard through the dark cavity of its mouth, and its resilience reiterated in the fangs that pierce the background.

Ponnappa's light side steps into his w/c too, where he has neatly stuck colourful go-go flowers along the wall of the shower stall right onto the toilet seat! A neat photo album is made on their ironing board - pictures of their son, and daughter with her family pasted on the board that slides down when the time comes....

A little personal collection of lamps that can still be used line the stairway to the first floor, and cuckoo clocks find their niche on the walls. He brings out an old view finder, not the silly plastic ones we find today. Ponnappa's is made of wood and takes you back centuries. The 1800s and early 1900s jump back in 3D through the adjustable lens. The case for the view finder frames is another interesting addition. It resembles a couple of old leather bound books stuck together. Lain on its side, it reveals a collection of beautiful frames showing pictures of the old Western societies.

Ponnappa isn't the only one in his family who have a claim to fame. His daughter took part in the Femina Mrs India contest. And the bikes you see in the Bollywood movie Dhoom? Well, they belong to his son Zubin, and so do the stunts in the same movie....

2 comments:

Sohini said...

now my dear, this is a masterpiece...
surely written long before your coconutty days began....long before u started reading chetan bhagat and watching thoda pyar....

from the time when u r were diellaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Dielle said...

Why thank you!

I believe I need a break! Home, it is.