By Facial Grooming Reporter
MOVEMBER 17, Bangalore: Millions of manic moustachioed Indians celebrated wildly this week at the release of their beloved silver screen icon, Rajkumar, famed for his numerous roles in sub-continent westerns and 1970s police dramas. His legion of fans had feared the 108 days of captivity at the hands of feared bushy-moustached kidnapper Veerappan might have harmed the actor - or more significantly, his pencil-thin but impeccably groomed facial hair. Indeed, Rajkumar's whiskers had been described by industry observers as "a modern day Heinrich Himmler". But initial reports indicated the 72-year-old's moustache had survived the ordeal tangled, but mostly unscathed. Veerappan, whose ruthless demands the Government legislate to ban thin moustaches had outraged millions of Indians, remained at large after shooting eight Federal agents and leaping on to a moving double-decker bus from a bridge in an audacious escape. Rajkumar's only comment on the terrifying experience was: "Thank Vishnu, my mo was spared!" Huge crowds gathered along the streets around Rajkumar's mansion in Bangalore, cheering, praying and burning effigies of the man they blame for mismanaging the hostage negotiations - Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. "Taking innocent people hostage is a crime against all canons of democracy and serves no purpose other than causing hurt. Such coercive methods militate against the rule of law and have no place in civil society," Vajpayee said. Rajkumar was snatched from the set of his latest movie, an Indian-language musical remake of the Clint Eastwood classic For A Fistful Of Dollars. Production of the film was cancelled, blowing the entire $23,000 budget and leaving 1300 crew unemployed. In his 50 years in the industry, Rajkumar has collected thirteen Rajahs (India's equivalent of the Oscars) and 19 Indira Gandhi Awards For Outstanding Moustache Nurturing. Meanwhile, a spokesman from the political wing of Veerappan's terrorist organisation, the Bushy Whiskers League of Karachi, distanced the group from the brazen kidnapping saga. "Veerappan is no longer associated with the Bushy Whiskers League," the spokesman said. "His recent actions have stepped beyond the line, but we can understand the furious rage he flies into when he sees public figures flaunting thin, wispy, inadequate, and inoffensive moustaches in a way calculated to influence the impressionable youth of this country to neglect the homage to Shiva that is represented by an immaculate and above all confrontational moustache." The New Delhi office of Movember Inc expressed relief the drama had resolved, but added the International Movember Congress had resolved in late 1999 not to intervene in disputes between splinter groups of moustache afficionados.
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