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25 May 2010

Queer Mr. Sevenraj

What is in a name? One of the most cliched questions. In my opinion it is the silliest too, because we all have found atleast one name to be fascinated about, at some point or the other. How many people would pick a random name for their children, without a second thought? Well, here is one man who named his 7th child, No. 7! How many of us have wanted or met some who wanted a different name because the given one was queer? No. 7 rationalizes the name his father has given him.

The story of Mr. SevenRaj goes like this... 
Note: I have picked up only the 'queer' bits of his story and left out his rags-to-riches life to the rest of the internet world to narrate. Google him up, if you care - there is none other by this name.

As the 7th child in the family, he was named No. 7 by his father, who wanted to name his children without any indication of their caste or religion (seven was what he could come up with?) He hails from Badagara in Kozhikode district of Kerala and when his family moved to Bangalore, his son's name was changed to Seven because the school refused to accept a number for the name. When Seven had to drop out of school. due to financial difficulties in the family, he started dabbling in films and added Raj to his name, as was the trend during those days. He has been SevenRaj ever since.

Continuing in his father's footsteps, he named his children IndiaRani and BharathRaja as a way of declaring that he did not care about the caste system and showing his patriotism to the country. Ahem!

This afternoon, I watched a show on one of the local channels. The studio was done up in red and white. Mr. SevenRaj and his family were being interviewed, all of them were dressed in red and white. What started off as a brand-building exercise for SevenRaj seems to have turned into an obsession as his efforts stretched to extremes. He only ever wears that colour combination and that is right from his innerwear down to his socks.  His suit, mobile, furniture, office, handkerchief, stationery are all red and white. His house is painted in red and white, so are his cars. He is proud of it. He explains how he has tried to create his identity using these colours. The late Tamil movie star MGR who was recognized by his famous dark glasses, Mahatma Gandhi is recognized by his glasses & bare torso with a white towel, so I had to do something similar to be recognized by one and all, he says. 

It does not stop there. He has a craze for the number 7 too. His mobile number ends with 77777. His first mobile number ended with the number 007. His blazer has 7 buttons and he speaks 7 languages (his native tongue being malayalam). 

He believes that he can change the world. While he claims he does a lot for the society by way of helping people, charities, donations to temples, he says the big thing is yet to come. It seems that he is expecting certain super-powers to come to him in the next 2 - 3 years, which will change his life and help him change the world. He does not know what it is, except that it may be some sort of a 7th sense (7 again!) but he knows for sure that it will happen.

I could not help but wonder if his family (wife and children) feel the same way about the colours and number. If not, what do they feel about his fetish? In a similar question asked by the host on TV, his wife Pushpa said that while she could be embarassed sometimes and does not understand his fixation, she is fine with it as he seems undeterred by what people have to say and he does a lot of good work too. His children are happy to let their father be but do not share the same excessive love for those colours or numbers. They both share his love for movies, though.

Queer as he might be, Mr. SevenRaj has come a long way from a boy born to a large, poor family with no money or job to a mobile real estate agent with a bungalow, a few cars, travels abroad and continues to draw attention with his flashy apparel. He is not embarassed by it. Instead, he is thrilled that people recognize him by it and elated with the attention he gets. He says his dream is being realized - he wanted to be famous and stand out in the crowd. In that red and white suit, he sure does!

SevenRaj - 7, Red & White everywhere

It reminds me of Scott Adams' recent posts on The Value of Attention and The Attention Contest. In my opinion, Seven is a clear winner!

Disclaimer: This blog post is a collection of facts from the show on TV, memories from an old newspaper article and a small post on the internet, interspersed with my fascination of the strangeness of it all. The views expressed are purely a personal expression of such fascination of an intriguing anecdote and not intended to take a dig at any person(s).

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