Our Indian culture is filled with rich ancient tales and fables that we as kids have grown up listening to and reading. Sony SAB’s most cherished show ‘Tenali Rama’ has brought one such age old epic, the story of Tenali Rama to life.
Tenali Ramakrishna is the celebrated Telugu jester-poet in the court of legendary King Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara kingdom. He is amongst the Ashtadiggaj (group of 8 learned men) of the king’s court. The mischievous Tathacharya, the head priest of the darbar aka Rajguru, is known to have contempt towards Tenali because of his growing fame in the court along with constant admiration received from the king. To disgrace and dishonor Tenali, Tathacharya is always seen relentlessly plotting against him and devising tricky situations for Tenali to deal with. Frenemies, Tathacharya and Tenali, make the show even more captivating and exciting for the viewers by presenting scenarios where Tenali’s exceptional wit and intelligence is evidently seen and enjoyed.
On that note, let us recall some moments when Tathacharya tried to best Tenali but lost miserably:
1. The story of the fattest cat
Krishnadevaraya, following the rat epidemic in Vijayanagar, gifts a cat and a cow to each member of the Ashtadiggaj and proposes that each person would feed cow milk to the cat for it to be healthy and thereby help in eliminating the rat problem in the kingdom. The person whose cat would be the healthiest would be rewarded with a heavy diamond necklace. Desperate to win the reward, Tathacharya persistently tries to feed the cat whereas Rama doesn’t agree to the idea of feeding the cat the precious cow milk. Instead, he plans to leave the cat with a bell on its leash into the most rat infested area of the kingdom everyday around its meal time in so doing making it the fattest. Tathacharya learns about Rama leaving the cat in the dungeons is unable to understand the reason for his actions and on the final day disgraces Tenali in court by accusing him of consuming the milk which was supposed to be for the cat and allegedly killing the cat. Tenali rests his case by informing the court that by doing what he did not only the cat receive its proper meal and became healthy, it even solved the problem of rat outbreak. Proving once again his sheer intelligence by going against the odds and conventional ways!
2. When the mischievous trio tried to fool Rama into giving away an answer
King Krishnadevaraya once asks a question to his queens, “When earth was being created was it daytime or night-time?” The baffled queens approach Rajguru Tathacharya for the answer. Tathacharya grabs this opportunity to impress the queens and thus the king by promising the answer for the riddle. After not being able to come up with an answer, Tathacharya and his disciples, Dhani and Mani, plan to trick Rama with a disguise to learn the answer. Tathacharya, Dhani and Mani, disguise themselves as beggars and ask the same question to him, little did they know it was Tenali who had suggested this question to the king. Clever Tenali finds out that Tathacharya is in a disguise and chooses to have some fun of his own by giving Tathacharya the wrong answer, saying, “the person who was sleeping, for him it was night and the one awake, for him it was day time.” Whereas in reality the question apparently had ‘No Answer’!
3. The tale of Jhilli’s three dolls
Jhilli comes up with a challenge which is to identify the difference between 3 strikingly similar dolls. Tathu insists on taking up the challenge to impress Krishnadevaraya. Tathu requests an entire night to figure out the mystery of the three dolls. After being unable to figure out the difference he decides to devise a plan by luring Jhilli with all her favorite delicacies to give away the answer but Jhilli doesn’t give up the answer. After brainstorming the entire night, the next morning Tathacharya somehow comes up with an answer, “The difference is the distinction in their looks which tells us the different sect they belong to.” Jhilli to test his theory shuffles the dolls and asks him to answer then. Tathacharya gives up. Tenali then steps up and volunteers for the challenge. With the help of a wire he proves that the difference isn’t the outer beauty but in their inner structure just like us humans and it represents different personalities of people. Thereby winning everyone’s hearts in the court and of course, the challenge.
4. Tathacharya questions Tenali’s worth as an Ashtadiggaj
When Rama is felicitated with the position of Ashtadiggaj, Tathacharya proposes a question if Rama is capable and worthy to be one of the Ashtadiggaj and only when and if he earns the title, can he be amongst them. Tathacharya’s vicious mind places his scheme in the name of a fair trial of intelligence between Birbal and Tenali. To Tathacharya’s surprise, Tenali proves his worth and intelligence against Birbal and earns a place amongst the Ashtadiggaj. While Tathu devised the most atrocious plan against Tenali, he yet again proved to be the wisest and the wittiest and undoubtedly the funniest!
5. When Rama’s life was at stake
Krishnadevaraya organizes the annual theatrical performance in his court. Tathacharya takes this opportunity to devise a plan to get Krishnadevaraya and Princess Jagan Mohini close to one another. The names for the leading actors of the play was to be drawn through chits. Tathacharya blackmails Rama to only keep Krishnadevaraya and Mohini’s name in the drawing bowls and not a single name of any of the other queens. No one in the palace has any knowledge of this ongoing scheme especially the queens. If the queens learn about Rama’s involvement in this malignant scheme to get the King closer and married to Jagan Mohini, Rama would certainly be given a life sentence. Tenali was in a dilemma and figures out a way to somehow change the tampered bowl with a legitimate bowl before the court meeting. He persuades his wife and mother to quickly change the chits before the event. When Rama’s wife, Sharda and his mother make their way to the bowl, they are interrupted by a woman who checks the bowl out for fun and realizes that all the names are the same. Thereby changing the names and making a genuine drawing bowl and hence saving Rama from betraying the queens and receiving a life sentence.
Maybe not a witty move by Rama but certainly a well thought and a quick one!