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Telugu film for Shiva-Kali devotee Pranab

Hyderabad, Jan. 4: President Pranab Mukherjee’s devotion for Lord Shiva has led him to express an interest in watching a hit Telugu movie, an aide and the film’s director said.

Damarukam, which features Anushka Shetty as Parvati and Nagarjuna as Shiva, could be screened at Rashtrapati Bhavan, director Srinivas Reddy said.

He said the President’s office had initially contacted him with a request for a synopsis of the movie, citing Mukherjee’s “interest in films on Goddess Kali and Lord Shiva”.

“The President was impressed with the synopsis I sent and granted me an (undated) appointment,” he said. The film, which has been doing well at the box office, tells the story of how Shiva saves the planet by destroying evil asuras (demons).

Reddy had expected the meeting to take place during Mukherjee’s December 26-January 1 stay at Rashtrapati Nilayam, the President’s winter home in Hyderabad. But it didn’t happen then and may now take place at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the director said.

A official in the President’s office confirmed that Mukherjee had “shown an interest in watching the Telugu movie on Lord Shiva after its director sent a synopsis to Rashtrapati Bhavan”.

He added that a meeting between the President and Reddy “may take place in New Delhi”.

Family sources confirmed Mukherjee’s devotion for Shiva. “Baba is a great devotee of Shiva and Kali,” daughter-in-law Chitralekha Mukherjee told The Telegraph over the phone from Delhi.

Chhaya Naskar, who has served as a maid at Mukherjee’s Dhakuria home for over three decades, said she had been told to make arrangements so that “Dadababu (Mukherjee) can worship the household Shiva and Kali idols” during his Calcutta visit yesterday.

Eventually, Mukherjee could not make it to the Dhakuria house but, Naskar said, he had told her to keep all the ingredients for worship ready when “he next visits Calcutta on January 16 or 17”.

If the special screening of Damarukam for Mukherjee happens, the director plans to trim a few songs and comedy scenes to highlight the main plot. “It will be a great honour for our entire team to show him the film,” Reddy said.

In the movie, a war between the gods and demons kills all but one demon who vows revenge and undertakes penance. He plans to sacrifice a princess (Anushka), born at the moment of confluence of five planets, to earn a boon from Shiva.

But Mallikarjuna (Nagarjuna), a Shiva disciple, stands between the demon and his evil plans for the princess.

In 1997, then President S.D. Sharma had watched the Nagarjuna film Annamayya when he learnt that the movie was based on the life of a saint-poet who wrote over 3,000 kirtans on Lord Venkateswara.