Friday, August 06, 2004

Thiruvilayadal Redux

This is a recent email exchange on a mailing list with my college buddies. To really enjoy this, ofcourse, you need to have watched Thiruvilayadal. Thiruvilayadal was a very famous Tamil movie in our childhood days when Sivaji ruled the roost. Thiruvilayadal literally means divine play. It consists of many episodes where Shiva comes to TN and mixes it up with the local folk. It used to be shown quite often on TV. The days when Doordarshan was the only game in town.

Basically, in the episode that is being referenced inthe email exchange, the pandyan king gets a doubt. So,he announces 'Does women's hair have a natural fragrance or is it a result of revlon shampoo? 1000 gold coins to anyone who can tell me'. Clearly Pandyan kings of the sangam age had too much time (and money) on theirhands.

A poor poet called Darumi, played by Nagesh, wants the money. This is probably one of Nagesh's best comic turns. He displays the pathos of being apoor poet with such humor.. Anyway, Nagesh is a poet of limited talent and goes and cries his frustrations out loud in the temple. Lord Shiva (Sivaji plays this role with his usual aplomb, overacting, rolling eyes,twirling moustache etc), comes to him in form of a poet and gives him a poem which says something to the effect that 'yeah, of course, women's hair has natural fragrance.'

The chief poet of the pandyan court, called Nakkeeran says 'dude, that is so wrong, did you write thatcrap?' at which point Darumi goes back to the templeand cries. Shiva comes to the court to argue his case and as the ultimate rebuttal says 'agree with me or be burned'. Nakkeeran says 'Smoke me if you will, but mistake's amistake'. All very dramatic, much is lost in the translation. You can see where Tamils' tendency towards stubborn argument reaches back intothe mists of history. Apparently, they dont think too much of going against gods on a matter of principle.

Anyway, Shiva burns him without much ado. Later, after much prayer by the Pandyan king Shiva says 'ha ha, just kidding, Nakkeeran was right afterall' and restores him to mint condition.
This retelling doesnt include all the overacting, pure tamil and special effects that went into the movie.

Nor does this email exchange. Basically, this all started after a typical evening conversation at a friends place 'Macha, why dont Tamil movies have Tamil women in them?'. This rapidly escalated into a email question posted to our entire group.

Does this seem terribly inane? If so, just dont bother and move on. This is *my* blog after all :-)

To: ****** From: "M" <>
Subject: [thattiko] yen? kyon? why?
Don't disregard this message. If you do then your DVD players might never work, your cable TV will flicker all the time and your PS2 player might just spontaneously combust.
Folks, this is a crucial time when all Tamil countrymen and women need to rethink where Tamil cinema isgoing. In particular R and I had a discussion (in the presence of GVK and S)about why Tamil movies don't cast tamilian females instead go with naarthies (north of Madras anyway).
I first thought... hmm color. Tamilians are usuallydarker than naarthies. We are color obsessed people.Our matrimonial section usually says something like"Want a **fair**, God fearing, rich (optional, can be compensated by extremely fair complexion and vice-versa) traditional, professional girl.". Evenwhen we go to a marriage, mamis say "Ponnu chekkachevernu mahalakshmi maadiri irukka". (Where people see Mahalakshmi is still a mystery to me).
But then the two tamil babes that I know of (Simran and Sneha) don't have a very fair complexion.

I don't think figure is important. All our babes are fat or moderately fat.

The only reason I can think of is the mystery surrounding non-native people. Take for example ourfavorite hero James Bond. He usually has a Russian chick or a spanish babe ... He hardly sleeps with a babe who speaks British English. But I don'tunderstand that completely either. The way hip people speak in Madras (you know those people who feel embarassed to call it Chennai) talk, they could befrom Mars!
Anyway, enadu sandehathai theerpavarukku aayiram porkaasu vazhangappadum.
From: K<> Date:
Subject: Re: [thattiko] yen? kyon? why?

To:******* From: "R" <>
Re: [thattiko] yen? kyon? why?
With apologies to Nagesh and Thiruvilayadal..
> Anyway, enadu sandehathai theerpavarukku aayiram porkaasu vazhangappadum.

Scene : Madurai, but this looks suspiciously like Mass Ave, Arlington Heights, MA..
Big Fat dude, beating a drum from the first floor and announcing 'Naattu Makkalukkor Narcheithi. Madurai Pandiyaarasanin santhegathai theerthuvaippavargalukku aayiramporkaasugal!'
We see a small lean guy screaming at the big dude fromthe bottom. This is Darumi, an impoverished local progr^h^h^h^h poet. He has been wandering around sight-adichufying when he came upon this announcement.
'Aayiram porkaasugala? Enna pa kelvi ithu? Antha Arasanukku appadi enna santhegamam?'
(At this point, it is better to kick in the English dubbing. Sangam era Tamil is hard to understand. Thedubbing techniques arent advanced enough at thispoint, so at some points, the lip movements might notsynch with what is being said. Occasionally, the system fails completely, and we slip back to the vernacular.We apologize for the inconvenience.. Now, getting backto the story..)
Darumi : 'Dude, so, what does the king want to know?'
BFD: 'He wants to know why Tamil movies seldom use Tamil actresses. If you know the answer, you can tell him and get your 1000 bucks..'
Darumi : 'Do you know the answer?'
BFD: 'Macha, if I knew the answer, do you think Iwould be shouting myself hoarse?'
Darumi 'Ayyo, Ayyo, Aayiram dollarache, Aayriamdollarache. Ayyo, I could buy a laptop on ebay, Icould get myself a canon digital SLR, I could maybework up the confidence to ask that cool chinese babeout for a date. illa illa, enakku illa enakku illa'..

Darumi goes to the temple.Cries out his desperation and frustration. 'Kadavule, Only you can help me'.

God shows up in form of a uber-geek. slightly torn blue jeans pants, kurta, glasses etc. He has this really condescending grin plastered on his face. Just one look and you want to haul off at him. This particular avtar went to IIT so, well, if you did beat him up, it would be a good thing.. However, Darumi is a pacifist.
Darumi : Nee yaru man?
Uber-Geek : Me, I am just a wandering film afficiando.Why, only yesterday, I was watching this cool movie called Italian for Beginners, you must watch it sometime.
Darumi : Watha. Vanthuttan. En man, you also listened to that announcement and are here to pick up that 1000 bucks that the Pandian king is offering,right? My thalaiezhuthu.
UG : 'So, what does your king want to know'

Darumi's ego is pricked by this newcomer's presumption. He never liked IIT dudes anyway. He decides to test his knowledge.
Darumi : 'What always goes together?'
UG : 'Aiswarya Rai and Beauty'
Darumi : 'What is never together?'
UG : 'Abhishek Bacchan and a hit movie'
and so on and so forth, touching upon various things, Does Madhuri Dixit dance better than Ash (yes)? Is Preity's smile made better by the dimple in her cheek(of course)? Is Rajini the coolest hero ever(yes)?

At long last, Darumi is convinced that the Geek can answer his question. And he puts it to him 'So, tellme kind sir, why do Tamil movies predominantly use non-Tamil actresses?'
UG meditated for a while and told him, 'dude, I can tell you, but you wont like it. Back in the day, when acting actually mattered, Tamil babes ruled the roost at home and even assaulted bollywood.But alas, those days are far gone. These days, the only role that the actreses have is to look good.Their acting just doesnt matter anymore.
So, working back from this, one must reach the inevitable conclusion that Tamil women just dont look as good on average and that is the reason why women from other states are able to take over Kollywood heroine roles. I mean, you went to college, right? Tell me, how many of the acknowldged 'babes' in your college were Tamil? Not many right? QED'
'Now, if you run back to your king and tell him this,you are going to get your head chopped off for your pains. So, you'd be better off asking that chinese babe out for a date. Better watch a couple of chinese movies before you go, and it will give you soemthingto talk about. '
Darumi heeded his advice, watched 'Spring, Summer,Autumn' took the girl out for a date and everyone lived happily ever after.
To: ********* From: "M" <>
Subject: [thattiko] porchuvaiyila porutchuvayila?

That was funny! Here is the continuation in the Raja'scourt.
Darumi: par vende emmai paar vende
King: Alright ... go on...
Darumi: Tamilnaatin selviyar are boring
Tamil makkal are very daring
Thats why other state's babes are fairing
Also ikkarai** akkarai** better feeling

Chief Poet Nakeeran: Inda paatil kurai irukkiradu ...
And then ultimately the God in the form of a nerd comes to the court.
Nakeeran: Your song is screwed up dude!
God: In the syntax or in the semantics?
Nakeeran: If its in the syntax it can be forgiven. The problem is with the semantics. The college you went was Manipal. First of all the number of women is very small and the test of tamil babes in Manipal is a statistically insignificant test.
God: Oooohhhh ... aaahhhh (anger)... You are accusing the person who wrote the compiler and the OS. How dare you judge me (Oops Hollywood crept in). May you always suffer with Windows and never move to Linux or anyother OS.
Now the whole court is stunned and asks the God for mercy. God smiles and says he does this to all frustrated Windows users and pardons(!) everyone.

Finally Darumi gets a free upgrade on his OS (fromWindows 98 to Windows 98 service pack 2) and goes homehappy.

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