Dial T for Tamil Nadu, Part IV
I saw a very old Tamil movie called, "Maya Bazaar". It was a Telugu movie first, but I could appreciate how well the script was rewritten in Tamil. A fictional play, set in pre-kurushetra Mahabharata. The characters were not perfect, but they are shown to be what they are. Ranga Rao as Gadothgajan (Bhima's Son) is the most august figure I have ever seen on screen. The young Savithri in one scene acts like Gadothgajan, and wow, the transition was seamless, hilarious (as intended) nevertheless. You must have heard the "Kalyana Samayal Saadham" song. The only song where the laughter sets the rhythm. And the literary effort makes the movie on par with Kamba Ramayanam. Where is that kind of Tamil these days?
I will not pick on T. Rajendar's limericks like "Vaada en machi, vazhakkai bajji!", but something that people normally consider as the norm, like Vivek's humor. Somebody please inform T. Rajendar that there are many forms of Edhugai and MOnai. If you did not know, Vivek's is out of ideas and copies from equally lame Hindi movies. Even the bestest tamil writer's vocabulary is appalling. I think Bharthiyar is to blame. In order to sell his Swadheshamitran, he bribed the masses with a reduced day-to-day vocabulary in literature. Kannadasan was no good. His only advantage was being born in celluloid age.
In all this drought, I saw "Imsai Arasan, 23rd Pulikesi". The humor was new and refreshing. Excellent Tamil. I loved it. If you had missed the originality, probably you were not looking for quality. Again, a fictional South Indian sittrarasan's (King of a small kingdom) fight against the British.
There are reasons for cribbing. The language carries the burden of spreading the culture too. The Tamil diaspora, bringing back the goods of the international trades, infuses a sense of stupidity in the traditional values. Competence during bachelorhood is proven among the peers by having the most attractive boyfriend or girlfriend in college. This is blatant in the movie "Anbe Aaruiyire". In this movie Surya basically lives with a girl friend, a non-committed live-in relationship. His mention of Nixon's disgraced exit from the White house, is implying his knowledge in Western's history and thus a "learned" image.
This is not the case. In Tam land, we have something called "karpu", which the we folks pride ourselves. "Karpu" is not exactly virginity as most people believe. It is a feeling of faithfulness, of righteousness, of purity, of innocence. Karpu is self respect, to respect one own body and mind. It has no exact English translation. I am not a politician and so I do not need to be politically correct or even try to made the truth palatable. In Chennai, people do not live together before marriage. Yes, we do fall in love before we marry. A lot. But live-in relationships are not common. People might be interested in live-in relationships, but it is not the norm as this movie shows.
I am not judging the youngsters, but a knowledge of the Tamil literature, history and culture would not hurt either. Shaivite devotion is one of the most important part of Tamil literature. Stories from the 63 Nayanmars, given here. You don't have to be Hindu to appreciate the Shaivite devotion and Tamil literature.
To end this article, I would like to quote Vairamuthu in Aalavandhan. A short poem that was almost which gave me an unearthly vibe:
Pennai nambi pirakkum boedhe thoppull kodigal arupadumae
Mannai nambum maaperum maramum seerum puyalil verarumay
Unnai nambum uruppugal kooda orupozhudunnai kaividumae
Ithil pennai mattum nambum nambagam pina naal varayil kaivarumo?