‘Idoh, the dog that plays “the lead” in the film, would attend the press meet on Tuesday’, the message read.
And on Monday, we received yet another update.
‘Idoh has reached Sibiraj’s house. He’s arrived from Bengaluru.’
This kind of excitement, we realised, wasn’t there even when some famous stars visited the city.
But we were looking forward to the event all the same. Just for the sheer joy of meeting the canine-star, who, according to reports, has delivered a brilliant performance.
When we reached the venue though, we found several photographers on the floor.
“Idoh, look here!” one of them called out.
“Here!” we could hear another.
But Idoh, it transpired, was a little moody, and unsurprisingly, overwhelmed by the crowd.
Director Shakti Soundar Rajan, who took stock of the scenario, remarked, “It’s difficult to shoot one picture of Idoh, isn’t it? Imagine how we would have struggled to make the whole film.”
While the photo-journalists strove hard to get that perfect shot, TV reporters were quite happy about not having to ask for bytes.
A little later, Sibiraj, Sathyaraj and Arundhati arrived. But Idoh continued to be the cynosure of all eyes, although we could sense that he wanted a break from the spotlight.
As the cast and crew took their seats, a chair was conspicuously empty.
It was for Idoh, who, on cue, jumped on the stage, and primly took his seat next to Sibiraj.
The speeches began.
And as the crew went up to the mic, they patted Idoh, whose tail didn’t stop wagging.
He was quite curious about the mic, we later found.
Editor Praveen KL, in his speech, termed Shakti ‘an encyclopedia of films’. “He has done a great job. I loved editing Naaigal Jaakirathai. After Madras, a proper team fell in place for me only with Naaigal Jaakirathai. I watched the first copy of the film recently, and felt the same way I did while watching Mankatha.”
As Sibiraj listened to Praveen’s encouraging speech, he was also petting Idoh, who fell asleep. But Idoh could be forgiven for not understanding the essence of the event, for at other events, we have seen human-attendees take forty winks too.
Actor Balaji then declared that he was proud of Sibiraj for acting with a dog in a romantic number. “And only an ardent animal lover can do that. Sibiraj is certainly one. I must also appreciate Sibiraj’s mother for working very hard with us. We shot some crucial scenes in the woods. Despite that, Sibi’s mother stayed with us and supervised the project for us.” Turning to Idoh, he said, “Enga thalaivar, ivar oru one-take artiste.”
Idoh woke up promptly.
As always, Madhan Karky rendered a few lines from his favourite song.
En nenjil erinaaye,
En vaazhvai nee maatrinaai,
Un kaadhal koorinaaye
En sondham nee aaginaaye...
“When I e-mailed this song to Shakti, Sibiraj and music director Dharan, they were very pleased. But none of them could spot the unusual pattern with the lyrics. Every line ends with the word naai. I was glad that the pattern was not apparent,” said Karky. A few days later, Sathyaraj sent Karky a message that read, “Ezhuthinaai, asathinaai, kathaiyai unarthinaai, kaatchiyin thanmaiyai usathinaai…”
Sathyaraj, it seemed, had recognised the uniqueness of the song.
Sathyaraj, during his turn, revealed that he had wanted Sibiraj to take up more films while the latter was quite content to wait for the right one. “Now I realise why he waited so long. Naaigal Jaakirathai will definitely help him,” he said.
The audience applauded long and hard.
Sibiraj also confessed that he was known as ‘Naai Sibi’ during his school days. “I have always been very fond of dogs. So, when Shakti came up with this story, I knew I should do it without giving a second thought.”
When everyone was done with their speeches, Sibiraj wielded the mic again and said, “Do you want the hero to speak?”
While we looked confused, Sibiraj uttered a command.
“Speak!” he said.
And the canine-star, who was sleeping like a baby till then, woke up promptly, sat erect, and went, “Bow wow!”