Actress Lakshmi Ramakrishnan, who is turning into a filmmaker with Aarohanam, narrates the experience she underwent in government offices, in an interesting manner.
'Already swelling with praises, Aarohanam was viewed in the same light by the censor board and the tax exemption committee, which sincerely felt that such movies were the need of the society. Humbled and contended, I sat back and awaited the tax exemption certificate,' she says.
The actress-director says, 'Three weeks later, I still had heard no word fro the authorities, I began to fret. Rumors and warnings that greasing the hands of officials is mandatory for a certificate started finding their way into my worries. With my already frugal budget, I could hardly even afford to think of shedding another pie for no reason at all! I decided to handle matters in my own way. I contacted a few friends in the anti corruption cells and was flooded with advise as to what should be my strategy in handling corrupt officials'.
'Seeing no reason in playing the blame game, I decided to test the waters myself. So I woke up one morning and walked straight to Ezhilagam, the commercial taxes department!'
'However, to my utter surprise I received a warm welcome and was informed that the Aarohanam tax exemption file stayed in the tax dept for no longer than 30 minutes, after which it was transferred to the secretariat for further processing. Phew! Nothing to fret now, thought my mind! But then the tauntings returned, “it’s the secretariat that is corrupt”, “it wouldn’t pass from there for months until you show up with a suitcase”, “no one knows what happens inside” and so on and so forth!'
'In no mood to give up, I march to the secretariat. A peon shows me to the deputy secretary’s room. He seems like a nice man. I explain to him my purpose of visit and he seems to look pretty flustered. I recall the accounts I heard of people paying Rs X amount for Y movie, and he is totally taken aback! He denies any of the accusations and directs me to the secretary’s room. A friendly looking middle aged woman, the secretary’s assistant greets me and asks me to fill in my credentials to communicate to the secretary on a chit! Tired, frustrated, hungry and almost at my wits end, “Lakshmy Ramakrishnan, Actor, Filmmaker and Homemaker”, I scribble on a chit and ask her to pass it on. Needless to say, I get a call in two minutes.'
'I walk into this room, to find a fine looking gentleman, sitting calmly on his seat. He seems to know his manners and his etiquette turns out scot free. I feel comfortable communing with him, and eventually recount all the happenings. At the end of my story, he takes a quick moment sinking in the situation, and then, without even a trace of guilt on his face, he denies all charges against his department.'
'He has all the information ready for me, right from when the file came in, what were the procedures performed and what is it’s current status. He re-affirms that the file is currently with the minister and that he will personally remind him about the same. He assures me that Aarohanam has been highly recommended for tax exemption as it satisfies all the required qualities including a clean ‘U’ certificate and a Tamil title.'
'He further goes on to say that his department is corruption free and he makes sure that every soul within his department has their hands clean. I sit there for a while gaping at him, trying to sink in the irony of the situation. I heard a government official speak confidently about his ways. I was dumbfounded. All those false rumors fall apart in a jiffy. I immediately take the chance and tell him what an eye-opener it was to have met him and leave without taking much of his time.'
'Walking out of a government office after a pleasant encounter with a government official, it dawns on me that things are not as dark as they are made out to be! It is time we got into the so called ‘rut’ and discover for ourselves, for who knows, it may be a completely different picture altogether,' she concludes.