Before proceeding with this interesting little anecdote I would like to put to ease the doubts that may have arisen in many of you upon noticing this title. Yes, the title is indeed an honest rip off of the title of another book which went one step further and became the total rip off of another whole book. Ok, enough said. Let’s get on with the story…
Now, before we get to the business of how Omni Aarumugam got arrested, it is important to know how he got famous. In order to know that it is important to know how he got noticed. So, as always, we have to begin at the beginning.
At the beginning, Omni Aarumugam was not Omni Aarumugam. I am not, of course, implying that this is a chilling story of deceptive impersonation. On the contrary, Omni’s original name was Dhandapani. Dhandapani was born to the poor, middle class couple of Aarumugam and Muthulakshmi in the remote village of Atthipatti in Tamil Nadu, which became even more remote once the Tamil movie, CITIZEN, got released. Dhandapani was lucky enough to get enrolled in school at the age of four. As he was their only child, both Aarumugam and Muthulakshmi harboured high hopes on him.
‘Our son will become collector’, they thought.
He came back with a bag full of garbage collected from the school dustbin, one day.
‘Our son will become scientist’ they thought.
He gulped down 250 ml of Hydrochloric Acid in the chemistry lab and became bed ridden for a month, once.
‘Our son will become engineer’, they thought.
He refused to pass out of fourth standard for four consecutive years.
So, after the fourth year of fourth standard, they stopped fantasizing about the future of their son. They thought he was destined to become a manual labourer, like his father.
How very wrong they were!
Dhandapani was such a quiet and sweet kid that nobody knew he had a hidden talent. In fact he himself didn’t know about it. This was because Dhandapani rarely opened his mouth. In fact, for the first four years of his life, his parents were almost resigned to the fact that their son was born dumb and could never speak. This myth was broken when four year old Dhandapani used some choicest swear words he had learnt from the housemaid on his father. Aarumugam’s joy knew no bounds when his son referred to him as ‘son of a prostitute’ in chaste Tamil. Tears flowed from his eyes as he hugged his son and called his wife to share the good news.
Even after that revelation, Dhandapani’s speeches were few and far between. Most of them were mere monologues of one or two words, some times extending to a simple, grammatically incorrect sentence of four words. So it took thirteen years for their parents to realize the hidden talent in Dhandapani that paved the way for his meteoric rise to fame.
Now, before we come to this talent, let us spend some time on ‘meteoric rise’. This phrase has always intrigued me. From what I understand, Meteors are solid objects which move around in interplanetary space and occasionally land on planets like earth. Thus, it is quite clear that meteors do not rise but, in fact, fall. But still, authors universally use this word as an adjective to ‘rise’. This proves that very few authors think like me when it comes to words and their usages. I am expecting the phrase ‘meteoric rise’ to fall and fade away into oblivion with nobody attempting to use it after reading this snippet of yours truly.
Coming back to the hidden talent which paved the way for the meteoric rise of Dhandapani, an incident in a train showcased this talent. Aarumugam’s family was travelling in the general compartment of a passenger train bound to Chennai. As is the case with Passenger trains, or any other Indian trains for that matter, hawkers selling eatables flooded the coaches. Incessant ranting of ‘Masal vadai’, ‘Bajji’, ‘Samosae’ and so on filled the ears of all the travelers. In the midst of this came another shout – ‘Biscuits-Chaai-Coffee-Cooldrinks’. Some seventy one heads turned upon hearing this pitch, though most of them might have been for the purpose of blood circulation in the neck region, still, seventy one was a good number. They all looked in the direction of the shout. It had come from the rarely opening mouth of Dhandapani. It had caused quite an uproar in the coach. A few people, in fact, went to the extent of offering money from their purses in order to buy one of the auctioned items of Biscuits or Chaai or Coffee or Cool Drinks. Such was the clarity and genuineness of the shout. Aarumugam was dumbstruck. Clearly, destiny had planned something other than manual labour for his son. He could already visualize it.
‘Dhandapani Aarumugam- Mimicry specialist’.
Now, only one thing stood in the way of his son’s path to glory – his name. Anyone familiar with the mimicry industry will tell you that artists’ names have to be short for their careers to be long. Nerella Venumadhav became NV, Damodaran became Damu and Srinivasan Jayanth became Chinni. And anyone familiar with the name Dhandapani Aarumugam can vouch for the fact that it is a tad too long, like this anecdote itself. So Aarumugam took an instant decision. Dhandapani retained only ‘ni’ and this ‘ni’ was preceded by the auspicious ‘Om’.
Thus started the meteoric rise of OMNI AARUMUGAM!
Omni’s success story, being an oft repeated one, shall not occupy this cramped space. Instead, I shall now go on to describe some attributes of Omni, the mimicry artist, or, as they call it in the west, the impressionist.
First and foremost, Omni the impressionist rarely made an impression with his performances when he started off as an impressionist trying to make an impression with his performances. This was because Omni rarely improvised during his performances. He stuck to his script and refused to think on his feet. Some people opined that Omni didn’t even think. Others felt that Omni was a robot with a sound recorder/transmitter fixed in his mouth. This opinion intensified when Omni was asked to give a live interview for a famous English news channel. The interview went like this
Interviewer (Female): Hello Sir! It’s a pleasure to meet you.
Omni (considered Male): Hello Sir! It’s a pleasure to meet you.
Interviewer: Wow! Really great sir! That was exactly like my voice!
Omni: Wow! Really great sir! That was exactly like my voice!
Interviewer: How do you do it Sir?
Omni: How do you do it Sir?
Interviewer: Ya. That’s what I asked you.
Omni: Ya. That’s what I asked you.
Interviewer: Can we get to the interview part more seriously now?
Omni: Can we get to the interview part more seriously now?
Interviewer (irritated): Fuck you
Omni (Calm): Fuck you
This proved that interviewing Omni was not a very bright option as he tended to take that also as part of his act.
The repercussion of this hastily cut short interview was the termination of the interviewer for using swear-words on public television. As for Omni, well, he had merely reciprocated.
Thus Omni delivered prepared performances only. It was enough if he heard a person’s voice just once and had a script in hand. He could give a performance of that person reading that script instantly. He didn’t even need any time to practise perfecting the voice. It was all inherent in him. In short, Omni was a stupid man with a genius-like voice.
It was precisely this attribute of his which will get us to the crux of this anecdote.
How Omni Aarumugam got ARRESTED
I remember a wise old man’s quote in English which roughly translated itself into English again as ‘Imitators never prosper’. Though that saying was a cheap imitation of the more famous saying of ‘Cheaters never prosper’ it did have some meaning. And in the case of Omni, it indeed became true.
Omni had become a sought after star in Local pubs, where inebriated idiots couldn’t even differentiate between an imitation of Manmohan Singh and Harbhajan Singh. They simply couldn’t get enough of him as Omni did his little act in front of them. Most of them threw up, but some of them also laughed.
It was on such a routine night in the Adyar TASMAC that a burly spectacled man, adorned in Reid & Taylor suit and carrying a shining blackberry, noticed Omni. He was simply overwhelmed by the act. He looked meaningfully at his safari-suited secretary. The secretary gave an Understanding nod. Both refilled their glasses.
Hardly a day had gone by since that performance when Omni received an audio CD, a written script and a blank cheque. When he played the CD he heard a loud, its-ok-to-be-called-feminine kind of male voice with a very curious accent. As usual he didn’t pay attention to the content of the CD as he memorized the voice.
Later, as he sat leafing through the script, four masked gentlemen entered his apartment and abducted him in a van. They travelled for half an hour before the van stopped at the entrance of a street. Omni was pushed out of the van. One of the Gentlemen got down beside him and pointed to a building
“Go to the first floor of that building and enter into the room to your left. It will be empty. Do not touch anything. Simply perform this script and return”, he stated menacingly.
Just as Omni started to repeat this very sentence, the gentleman, remembering Omni’s live interview, pushed him away towards the building.
The four of them watched as Omni entered the building. One of them dialed a number on his cell phone.
“He has entered as per plan. Voice recording system is in place in said room. I will deliver the CD personally once the act is completed”, he spoke into the phone.
There were some instructions given from the person at the other end, but since we are seeing this anecdote from this end we will stick to our side of the story only.
The four Gentlemen waited for sometime. Ten minutes elapsed when, out of nowhere, they heard sounds of police sirens. They quickly boarded their van and waited with bated breath. Through the windows they saw numerous police vehicles make their way towards that very building. They looked on confusingly as almost fifty policemen instantly surrounded the building. They were pointing to the second floor of the building while discussing amongst themselves. The four gentlemen stole a glance at the second floor. They saw a large hoarding which read:
OHO FM 94.6! Chennai’s Premier FM Station.
There was a window beside this hoarding. Behind this window appeared the face of OMNI AARUMUGAM.
The four gentlemen quietly made their exit from the area. Thankfully, neither the CD nor the Script could be traced back to them or their boss.
Omni, having given a performance in an empty room, was happy to find some audience outside the building at least.
He descended the steps and exited the building only to be surrounded by this very mob of audience, albeit with guns in their hands.
THE TRANSCRIPT OF OMNI’s PERFORMANCE WHICH GOT HIM ARRESTED
Hello to my dear friends in India. First of all, I would like to say that this is a confession. Through this speech, I am going to admit to many of the crimes I have committed till now, abusing the power given to me.
First, I admit that I own the Rajasthan Royals IPL team and its cheerleaders.
Secondly I admit that I own the Kings XI Punjab IPL team and its cheerleaders.
Thirdly I admit that I own Emerging Media and Multi Screen Media.
Fourthly I admit that I also had a minor role to play in the 2G Scam.
Fifthly I admit that N. Srinivasan is a suited saint.
Sixthly I admit that N.Srinivasan is not gay.
Seventhly I admit that I am not gay.
Eighthly I admit that I am absconding from Indian law and seeking refuge in foreign land.
Ninthly I admit that this CD is purity personified and absolutely unspliced.
Finally I admit that I am LALIT MODI