The chilly morning was greeted by an exquisite peacock. All my classmates yelled out of excitement. It stood on a distant rock with its longer than usual tail but that did not pose any hindrance in taking its flight. Rather it added to its profound beauty.
When we reached the much awaited destination, the Ramoji Film City, the largest film city in the world and one of the wonders of the world as we have been told, most of us were stunned by the entrance fee. Rupees 600 was not so easy to manage in a life of a student. Moreover that being the very first day of our week long educational tour, majority of the group denied. And our excitement came to an abrupt end when the visit was cancelled.
I expressed my disappointment to our professor but in a proper way. This led to a quick discussion with the other professor accompanied by a serious discussion with the rest of the group. A heart thrilling and witty conclusion sprang out and no sooner were we strolling through the entrance gate.
We were led in a bus and as the exciting scenes came into view, everyone’s mouth opened in the words of “Wows and Kevu…Kekas”, the latter being in Telugu which means the same.
The site and the landscape designs were simply impeccable. We were given a ride in groups of four through a cave like structure where animals of different kinds greeted with their own cries. People in various costumes and styles waved their humble gesture of welcoming a stranger which overwhelmed us. The illusionary waves of ocean on the walls along with the gentle movement of whales drew our complete attention.
Then we hustled to the games station like swarms of bees. Even our professor didn’t fail to give his attendance there. The most terrifying yet the most exciting one was our moment in the Ranger. It rotated between its two supports. With each swing, its angle of rotation increased until we were swung upside down. For a moment, I wished I shouldn’t have come or else wished for it to come to a halt. We were swung forward and backward simultaneously and held upside down or in standing position alternatively when we reached the peak of its height. My thoughts of pendulum swung between elation and fear for several minutes later.
A man in his mid-twenties escorted us around in a bus. It seemed practically impossible to cover all aspects of the film city accommodated in an area of 674 hectares; nevertheless, the man’s amplified voice filled the bus in a view to convey all that he could. I could see that the pace of the movement of his lips were in accordance with the velocity of the bus. Our heads rotated on its axis from right to left and left to right to catch a glimpse of what he was saying. Though the narrations were in Telugu, my two years of mingling with Telugu people have somehow equipped me to understand, though not fully.
In fact, everything in the film city is 75 percent artificial which means only 25 percent accounts for original. The artistically built buildings lay without any dwellings; the hospitals where the actors are the doctors and treatment at free of cost but without assurance of recovery; the banks where only deposits is entertained and no withdrawals; various metallic structures meant for blasting and fighting scenes; the central jail for the villains to be locked up momentarily; the marriage ground with an accommodation capacity of 2500 people; the IGI Airport for only departures and no arrivals and our two minutes journey to the western world was so exhilarating. Clumps of small villages along with ordinary shops and several buildings especially designed for indoor shooting were also a common feature.
The film city has also vast stretches of lands designed for aesthetic purpose as well as for various shooting scenes. The fake Delhi-Mumbai highway and the road with dense coverage of forests on both sides where horrifying and kidnapping scenes were to be shot; a garden filled with cacti and succulents for emotional scenes and the suicide point were also a feature of display.
On top of that, it has the replica of the Taj Mahal, the Mughal gardens of Delhi, the Brindavine gardens of Mysore, the Japanese garden, each depicting their own style and unique feature.
The Butterfly Garden housing several of them showcased the extent of their intimacy with nature. Butterflies with varying shapes, sizes, colors and the peculiarity of designs on their wings were the very mark of their identification. Some would blissfully and irresistibly suck the nectar while a few would hover in the air for sometime in deciding which flower should they visit next.
Another wonder feature was the Bonsai, a garden with miniature form of trees which is in utter contradiction to their size in nature. Giant trees like the Banyan tree, Ficus and various fruit trees were maintained at a height of less than 50cm or so. In addition, various styles like Cascading, Clasp-to-stone, Upright and Ikadibuki styles were depicted.
The ‘Garden of Colors’, with a riot of warm and cool colors brought yet another unprecedented heart thrilling moment. The flawless beauty mesmerized me and I was speechless and as still as a statue amid them.
The course of the sun was wiped away by time and as its glistening rays waved goodbye to the enlightened glory it has created during the day, I was there with a half- hearted elation. Though contended by the fabulous experience, a day was not enough to explore the whole lot of the film city. This tinged a part of my heart with dissatisfaction.
Very often, I found myself bouncing between the ornamental plants and our professor in an attempt to find out its unique name and have it crammed simultaneously into my cell’s memory card along with the shot I have taken. The real touch with nature and the sheer aesthetic value that it showers on us is so intense that it can bring unprecedented thrill and joy to our heart. Nature is wonderful and we have a role to play in it so that it continues to flourish and provide us our needs for times immemorial.