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The plot is thick

Moily has authored several books, including Sri Ramayana Mahanveshanam, in which, he says, he shifts the focus from Ram to his unsung brother Lakshman, writes Kumkum Chadha.

india Updated: Jan 26, 2007 00:19 IST

However lack-lustre former Karnataka Chief Minister Moodabidri Veerappa Moily may appear to be in person, he has experienced several dramatic situations. So much so that his life could provide adequate fodder for a screenplay. While the success of this film may be debatable, 67-year-old Moily’s cronies have given him enough reason to believe that he is made of a different mettle from ordinary mortals. And a biography that heaps praise on Moily is only part of this.

Moily himself has authored several books, including Sri Ramayana Mahanveshanam, in which, he says, he shifts the focus from Ram to his unsung brother Lakshman. It was Moily’s wife, Malathi, who gave him the idea for this book, as she also did for his forthcoming volume on Draupadi.

Malathi has been Moily’s heartthrob since he was 10. This remained a well-guarded secret till he announced his engagement to a girl from Kattapadi, Mangalore. Armed with a bunch of love letters the two had been writing to each other, Malathi’s sister Sumathi then appeared on the scene. Malathi is Moily’s cousin, but the two families never did get along. Moily’s mother, Poovamma, even threatened to commit suicide if her ‘Giriyappa’ married Malathi.

A few hours after the registrar legalised their alliance, Moily’s family dragged him to a lawyer to annul the marriage. Had the lawyer not refused to ‘break hearts’, Moily may have been married to the girl from Kattapadi. Now, he happily writes sonnets for Malathi, whom he describes as his “ideal foil…”

Moily says that the one thing that disturbs him is people without a roof over their head. This, he explains, has something to do with having seen his mother being evicted by her landlord. “I saw my mother plead to this burly man but he ordered his cronies to throw out our stuff. In a fit of rage, I flung a plate to his face.” Years later, he used his earnings as a successful lawyer to buy his mother the very same tenement she had been dispossessed of. However, his first gift to her was a gold chain, which his mother had “always wanted but could never afford”. Doubling up as a domestic worker and a coolie, it had been difficult for her to make both ends meet.

As a lawyer, Moily indulged in high drama, treating the courtroom as a stage. Known for histrionics, he once pulled out a bottle with an arm dangling inside. This was an attempt to illustrate the trauma of the landless living under tyrannical landowners. Even then, it is not easy to forget that this same Moily was once on the mat for allegedly bribing a legislator to defect to the Congress.

Mention cricket and he tells you his rule, “Don’t score and don’t quit.” So naturally, during the three years that Moily played for his school, he was never bowled out. His score: one run.

Email Kumkum Chadha: kumkum@hindustantimes.com