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Puriyadha Pudhir

My apologies to the non-Tamil bloggers out there – this post is entirely about a Tamil movie we watched on my birthday.

Somehow, Vidya and I ended up watching Puriyadha Pudhir on KTV on my birthday. To my delight, I enjoyed the movie – right from the start, where K.S. Ravikumar enigmatically says, “Aah, I have escaped” when he is subdued by policemen and locked up in a prison cell, till the end, where the selfsame Ravikumar exhorts us not to share the ending with anyone.

And of course, I finally got to watch the legendary scene where Raghuvaran says “I know” 16 (or 27 or 36 or whatever number takes your fancy) times. The movie was fast-paced, except for the silly dancing by Anand Babu, which were downright comical. The narrative was good and the editing tight. Out of make-up, Rekha looked the best I’ve seen her look, and a much-younger and more dashing Sarath Kumar plays a tiny role as Inspector Sharath. read more

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Bilingual Blogging

Having recently been initiated into the mysteries of non-English blogging, one feels that a bit of explaining is in order.

I, like many of my peers, read and write English much better than any other language. This, in spite of the fact that my first language (or mother tongue, as it is called in this part of the world!) is Tamil. The Indian education system, a not-too-evolved version of Macaulay’s mid-nineteenth century model of masters and rote, places a lot of stress on English as the medium of instruction. Add to that a set of parents who are fluent English speakers and a house filled with English books of every description and you have a perfect recipe for a very Tamil-deprived childhood!

However, Tamil was and is the language of everyday life. Friends, relatives, shopkeepers, strangers, bus conductors, the bandyman – everyone spoke to you and were spoken to in Tamil. Teachers spoke to you in English, even if some were not terribly good at it, and would hit you with a cane if they caught you speaking in “the vernacular,” as they called it. My parents switched easily between spoken Tamil and English easily and naturally. As a result, my spoken Tamil is as good as it can get – after all I am a native speaker. The only peculiarity was the lilt of the Kongunadu region that was firmly imprinted on my Tamil. This has now all but disappeared – the result of various wanderings in different parts of Tamilnadu, and more than a decade of living in Chennai. But the moment I am speaking to someone with the lilt, it reappears, as if by magic!

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பட்டாவும் பொரம்போக்கும்

நேற்றிரவு நான் சாப்பிடுவதற்கு ஒரு வண்டிக்கடைக்கு சென்றேன். அந்த சாலிக்ராம சாலையில், ஒரு மிகப்பெரிய சினிமா நிறுவனத்தின் முன், சாலை விளக்கின் வெளிச்சத்தில் நின்று கொண்டிருந்தது பிரியாணி வண்டி. ஒரு quarter பதினைந்து ரூபாய் என்றார் கடைக்காரர். கம கமவென்று வீசியது பிரியாணியின் மணம். ஒரு quarter வாங்கி, வண்டி அருகே நின்று சாப்பிட்டுக்கொண்டிருந்தேன். read more

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தமிழில் blogging செய்வது

தமிழில் எப்படி blog செய்வது என்று ஒரு திடீர் கேள்வி, மின்னலை போல் என்னை அடித்தது. தேடினேன் தேடினேன் Google, Yahoo இரன்டிலும் தேடினேன். முரசை பார்த்தேன் – புரியவில்லை. அழகியை பார்த்தேன் – ஐநூறு ரூபாய் கோடுத்து வாங்கினேன். தமிழில் தட்டச்சு அடிக்க முடியாமல் முழித்தேன். அதற்கு பின் தான் குரளை கண்டேன். அதன் எளிமையில் மயங்கினேன். தமிழ் blogging களத்தில் இரங்கியுள்ளேன். read more

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Return of the Kadi

When we were in school, and later when we were in college, a genre of humour, heavily dependent on puns, homophones, and lateral thinking, flourished. These were the ‘kadi’ (tamil for bite) jokes. A few of us were accomplished masters, while everyone took a stab at it. At its peak, all popular magazines ran ‘kadi’ jokes, with Ananda Vikatan’s Mr. X jokes leading the way. Then slowly, the popularity of kadi jokes waned, and it went into a decline. Of course, die-hard afficionados kept the genre alive, punning away in like-minded company. Today, it seems to be making a comeback, taking the form of ‘Thathuvams,’ forwarded by email and text messages.

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A question on Narasimha

A couple of days ago, I was walking on Arcot Road, and to avoid the water, had to pass perilously near a transformer. I was reminded of Bijoy telling me very matter-of-factly that it was dangerous to walk under a transformer as suddenly one could be spattered with boiling oil – apparently this is a coolant and is one of the things that go wrong very often with a transformer. I couldn’t help but point out to him that it would be even more dangerous if it had Vijayakanth connected to it. Just earlier that day, Bijoy had been telling me about a movie called Narasimha, which he insisted I must watch for its sheer comic value, in which when Vijayakanth, the eopnymous hero of the movie, is tortured by the bad guys, they try to electrocute him. But he shakes his body, and the transformer explodes! Now, I haven’t watched the movie, and Bijoy’s imagination is definitely a treat to behold – was it not he who suggested, when he was knee-high and in knickerbockers (well, not exactly knee-high, more like chest high, for he is a tall lad, and definitely not in knickerbockers, bt in shorts, but what the hell – it sounds better this way!), that a good way of taking revenge on a guy with a telephone would be send him a fax – the telephone would be unable to take the load of the paper being sent through and would explode! read more

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A “Literary” Aside

Jassie Gift (or is it Kay Kay) screaming “IR-ettu pallukkaari” before being drowned out by others shouting “randakka randakka” is definitely not something that you would imagine as continuing a classical Tamil tradition. Yet, strangely, it is.

This is A. K. Ramanujam’s “translation” of Kuruntokai 119, from here.

What He Said

As a little white snake
with lovely stripes on its young body
troubles the jungle elephant
this slip of a girl
her teeth like sprouts of new rice
her wrists stacked with bangles
troubles me. read more

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