The mention of Malgudi Days brings back the nostalgic childhood memories of Swami and friends. Malgudi Days, a classic written by R.K. Narayan was directed by the late Shankar Nag. Also the husband of Arundhati Nag, an accomplished film and theatre actor. She also played the role of Vidya Balan’s mother in the film ‘Paa’. The series was produced by T.S Narasimhan with Anant Nag as the lead actor back in 1986. Master Manjunath, who played the national-award winning role of Swami in the series is thirty-two-years-old now. But he still visits the fabled town of Malgudi.
Malgudi was a fictional town which had carts, trains, schools and small dwellings. It was a figment of the author’s imagination intertwined with various characters. The house of Kasturi Akka is where Swami’s family used to live. It still generates a feeling of nostalgia.
Agumbe welcomed the cast to live in their homes. It wasn’t accustomed to film shoots. It was highly isolated, lying 400 kilometres away from Bangalore. The art director, Devraj was given a plain canvas and he painted Malgudi all over it. And he began his job right from the scratch. Right from constructing the school where Swami would study to the house where he would live. A painfully detailed task that took a lot of time. Also, the isolation of Agumbe meant difficulty in transporting equipments and an increase in the logistics of the show.
It took almost three years to complete the show. Today, no production house can think of investing so much of time in a television show. Also, there are a lot of complaints from the loyal fans against adapting a novel to a visual medium. A film can never do justice to the book. Even Harry Potter for that instance; the films just omit minute details of the book. But it was different with Malgudi Days. Since, it was a television show, there was more scope for including those details and they did that.
Agumbe has everything that we have possibly seen on the show; the school, forests where Swami runs off to, the sweet shop where swami and friends buy sweets from. The book was published first in 1935, but it still strikes a chord with the readers. Even though the rural dynamics have changed, the feeling is eternal. Other fictional towns do not have that connect that Malgudi has. DC Comics’ Gotham is like any other big city. Even South Park or Springfield are cities that might have a connect abroad. But definitely not here in India.
The house is about 120 years old. A lot of family members have ventured out for various professional reasons. Well, that is the only reason why one would want to venture out of a place like Agumbe. For there is no place as joyful at this. If given a choice, all of us would want to go back to that ‘perfect’ world without worries. The utopia of a small village that existed in the hearts of Narayan’s fans.
I end it with the nostalgic title theme of Malgudi Days. HERE – Malgudi Days – Theme. Ta-na-na-nana..