Friday, June 5, 2009

Venkichan Odu 'Twotoerial': The making of a Palagattan career!!

Author's Note: This is in continuation of Shri.N.Kameswaran's screenplay on Venkichan, a kind of Palagattan 'Mr.Bean' or 'Tintin' or 'Tenali'--not so much in terms of characterization but in terms of how central 'Venkichan' is to the screenplay series and his eventual popularity as a Palagattan folk hero! The previous ACT (I) had dwelt on his sick mother and her passing away. This one explores his career...and as it unfolds, you see the brillance, the mischief and the myriad hues of the language and the emergence of the Palagattan Way of Life....Enjoy!

PS : AVIS, the blog's author, continues to edit and tweak the screenplay, just marginally, to enable readers to comprehend every slightest nuance of the langauge.



(About 6 months have elapsed after Venkichan’s mother’s demise. He has now been conducting coaching classes (a 'Twotoerial' in Palagattan) for Class-12 Board Exam students and Degree Class students. Here the scene is a class in Physics, which is coming to a close, day’s proceedings too nearing an end; V is soliciting questions from students to clear doubts.

He encourages questions in Tamil (?) to be very informal and friendly


V: Friends, I hope you have understood what I have talked about. Enna, Kesava, sraddhikkarayaa? (What Kesava, are you paying attention?) Ingayum angayum paathoondu irukkaaye? (You are looking here and there).

K: Enakku oru samsayam (=doubt) …Archimides-ukku nagnamaa (=naked) irundhatthinaaley gnanodayam (=enlightenment) aacchaa (Did Archimedes get enlightened because he was nude) …., gnanodayam vandhatthinaaley nagnam aanaanaa? (...or did he become nude because of his enlightenment?) Illey, Rekhavey orma vandhu “ You..Rekha…..(Eureka?)” innu nagnamaa odi-naanaa?(taking a mischievous glance at Miss Rekha of his class. This fellow has an eye on her, and just to be in her proximity, he is attending the class.) (Or did he strip because he had an eye on (You-Eu!!!) Rekha!!!

V: Dey, indhamaadhiri kundharattaadhi chodhyam(=awkward question) ellaam keyttoondu nee samayathey chelavaakkaadhey (Don’t waste your time with such awkward questions). Nee anju kollamaa (=years) orey pareekshakku (=exam) padicchoondu irukkaay. Indha praavasyam-aavathu(=at least this time) jayikka vazhi (way to pass) paaru. Naangal maashammaar-ellam vrudhaa kandta-kshobham cheythundu irukkom(we teachers are taking only vain strain on the vocal cord). Vaerey yethaavathu - subject-ey patrina - chodyam keyttu-irukkanam(=you should have asked a question relevant to the subject)

K: Vaerey oru chodyam maathram keykkanam (I have another question) …Every action has a reaction innu chonnayeley…Naaan oru ponn-kutty-ye praemikkarein, aval adhey madakkarathillaye (=I am loving a girl, but she does not respond); (“madakkal” means return; It is used in other senses also; e.g., “ Nee Mumbai-ley-irundhu eppo madangi varuvaay?” i.e, “When will you return from Mumbai?” NB: In Tamizh the term implies “outsmarting”)

(V simply stares at him angrily and is visibly irritated and K is putting

on the airs of a hero. Meanwhile, Raju, another student, came to V’s rescue

and snubbed K)

R: Dey reaction irundhuthey-daa; aval onnodu chekatatthuley (=cheek) rendu peda pedacchaaley-daa (=thrashing) (There was reaction; did she not give two thrashings on your cheek?). Then, looking at V, he continued: Saar, neenga yenna ivanukku valam kudukkara-yel…ippadhi peysaadhakku irukkayel? (Sir, why do you encourage him to talk like this; you are keeping quiet? (Valam literally means fertiliser, but in this context it means encouragrment)

V being in no mood to continue, asked the students to disperse, except Ponnu (Ponnammal), whom he asked to wait. After all other students have departed, he looks around when he observes Pichumani standing outside, looking into the class-room.

V: Dey Pichu, nee eppodaa Vandhaay? (When did you come, Pichu?)

P: Appaley vandhaachu…ongattey andha thonnivaasi (=mischevious or scoundrel-like) kutty yennallaamo adhiga prasangi-tthanamaa (=impertinent or oversmart) chodyam keyttoondu irundhaane, appo. Nee nanna pakarathukku pakaram kudukkarathukku enna? (I had come when that scoundrel was asking you so many impertinent questions; why didn’t you give him back in the same coin?) Sumbhan…..,onnai kaliyaakka parukkaraan (kali means play; but kaliyaakkal means to tease, pull the leg, to mock at, etc.) ivanmaarey yellam vekkanda edathiley vekkanam. (You need to put such people in their place)

(Note: The term “Sumbhan” is generally used to refer to a despicable character; the root of this could be from the Asura of the same name, who, along with his bother, Nisumbha, fought with Goddess Parvathi and got annihilated along with his clan. There are other such mildy abusive but hugely amusing words, often used in Palagattan conversations, e.g., kazhupeyri, pattu ezhuvan, alavalaadhigal –equivalents of theethaaraandigal—already discussed in an earlier post).

V: Neykku venamnaa avaney class-ley irundhu “pokangja kolli porathu” innu porathu-aakkiyirukkalaam (in the usage: “pokangja kolli”, the reference is to a damp piece of firewood, which is immediately discarded to avoid smoke emanating), pakshe (=but) idhu oru coaching class allavaa; saadhaarana college allavey. Avanodu appan panam kudukkaraan; adhu porum yenakku. Pinney naan indha twotoerial (=tutorial) thodangi anj-aaru maasam thaney aachu. Innamey thaan pick-up aakanam. Aduttha kollam naaan avanai aduppikka maattein(=this is only a private coaching class, a turtorial, not a regular college; further, I have started this only 5-6 months back; business is yet to pick up; that kid’s father is paying money, so I suffer him. Next year on, I won’t entertain him). (Note: “aduppikkal” means allow to come near, in the context, ‘entertain’)

P: Aamaam, andha kutti-yodu appan aaru? (Ok, so, who’s his father?)

V: Avar thaandaa namma Pammechu Vakil (lawyer, Parameswara Iyer)…..ivalodu maamanaar (pointing to Ponnammal, who was silently listening to their conversation.)

P: Nee yenna, Ponnu, ingey vandhirukkay?

Ponnu: Naanum ingey padikkarein; graduation course pakuthi-ley vitteiney (I had left my graduation program half-way)…..adhai continue pannalaam innu irukkein.

P: Onnodu aambadayaan idukku sammadhippana?

Ponnu: …?!?!..(keeps mum looking down)

P: Naan vallathum keykka pdaadathu keyttutteyno? (Did I ask something that I should not have asked)

Ponnu: Appidiyonnum illai; neenga yenakku anna maadhiri……(hesitating to say further) (Nothing wrong with that; you are like my elder brother)

V: Naan chollareindaa; idhiley olichu maravu (=hide and seek) onnum illey. Iva pukkathiley upadravam sahikka saadhikkathakku Maash-aathukku madangi vandoottaa (she couldn’t handle the harassement at her in-laws’ and so she came back/returned to our teacher’s home); idhu ellaarukkum therinja varthamaanam (=news) aakkumey, nokku (=you) theriyaathaa? Ippo iva case vivaaha- raddu-varey vandirukku, paatthukko…..(This is an open secret. They are on the verge of a divorce.)

P: Yen kaathiley yetho vizhundhuthu; pakshey adhu ithrattholam (=so much) aachu innu yenakku theriyaathu. Aaru Vakil? (I heard something about this, but I did not know it had gone this far. Who’s the lawyer?)

V: Naan neythakku Govindan Nair Vakil-ey paathoottu vandein. Iva appaavaaley onnum aakaathu…avar ippo-yellam veleelaye varathillai. Avarukku adikku meley adi. (Govindan Nair is the lawyer. I met him. Her dad can’t do anything. He has been hit by too many misfortunes__blow after blow.) Pona kollam (=year) thaan iva ammai chatthu-ponaal.(Last year her mother passed away) Adhukku-apram thambikku bike accident aayi avan invalid-aa aathilayey irukkan (Then her brother had a bike accident and he is an invalid at home now.) Rendu masam minnaley oru kundan-edavazhi-ya pokaratthey avarai oru kootran moori mutti veezhtthithu (“Kundan -edavazhi” is a narrow path lying at a level lower than the lands on either side, which acts as a storm water drain during monsoon; “ kootran moori” means a big and strong bull); ippo pathu-pandhrandu dhivasam minnaaley avarai oru pey-patti kaditchuthu (=ten or twelve days back he was bitten by a rabies-affected dog.)

(Note: patti, literally means a bitch, and a dog is “naaya” in Malayaalam, but generally in this context, patti is always used, whether the biter, belonging to the canine species, is dog or bitch); adhinaaley thaan nan iva case-ai valichu-pouttundu Vakil-ai paathein. (That is why I took upon their problems and went to meet the lawyer)

P: Nalla kaaryam panninay-daa. Innaaalum maashukku idhu kaduppam aatchu (You have done the right thing, but this is too hard on him, the teacher) Iva kadhai-yum onnodu maadhiri-ye irukkey... onga appa poyi oru kollatthuk-kulley ongammai-yum ponal. Onnodu veylayum pochu. Sister vaerey kalyaanatthukku nikkaraa. Idhellaam keykkarathey enakku engappa chumma chumma repeat pannara “markatasy suraapaanam” inna slokam orma varathu (Her story’s like yours. Your mother died within months of your father, you lost your job and your sister is waiting to be married. Hearing all this, I am reminded of a slokam my father used to repeat...)

V: Athu yennathu? (What’s that?)

P: Athuvaa? Chollrein: (let me explain)

Markatasya suraapaanam

Thanmadhye vruschika damsanam

Thanmadhye bhootha sanchaaram

Kim vaa, kim vaa na kuryaath

Appidi-innaa, oru korangan (=monkey) kalllu kuditchuthaam (=got drunk/inebriated), apram adhai oru theil kaditchuthaam (=then the monkey got bitted by a scorpion), athey samayam adhai oru peyi piditchuthaam (at that precise moment, the money was possessed by an evil spirit); pinney adhodu vipraalatthukku(=panic violently) vaerey enna vaenum (what more does the monkey need to panic for?) ? Allaathakkey Maashukku thottatthukkellam peydi (=fear) (In any case, our teacher is afraid of most things)

Ponnu: Neengal sariyaa chonnayel; yenga ammai irukkaratthey avarai peydichu-thoori-innu (one who is struck with fear, shits; in this context one who is shit-scared; peydichu-thoori) cholluvaa; sakala aathu-nirvaahavum ( house-hold administration) ammai thaan paathoondu irundhaa. (It was my mother that ran the home.)

P: Onga ammayum maashaa irundhaa illaya? (Wasn’t your mother a teacher too?)

Ponnu: (Laughing) Illai, Mistress! Samskrutham Mistress-aa irundhaa; aval ippo irundhaa ongalodu samskrutham quote-ai prasamsichiruppaa (=praise) (No, she was a Sanskrit teacher. Had she been around, she would have praised you for the Sanskrit quote)

P: Pinney, Venkichaa, nee yennadaa on thangai-ye pattham classukku meyley padippikkaley? (So, Venkichaa, did you not educate your sister after Class X)

V: Eppideeda…aatha paathukka oral veynamey..pinney, konjam pana-kashtavum irundhuthu. Yidhaa, ippotthan, kaalai neettarein (=to stretch legs; a sign of relief); indha tutorials thodanginatthukku apram, konjam aaswaasam(=relief) irukku. Kaalakrameyna yellam sariyakum (in course of time everything will be OK) (I needed someone to run the home. Besides, we were short on cash. With this tutorial, life is a bit relieved. Everything will be fine in due course of time.)

P: Aamaam,Vakil, Govindan Nair rombha periya aal aachey…nee avarai eppidi piditchaay; avarodu khyaadhi (=name/fame/reputation) Kerala muzhuvathum parandh-irukkey! (How did you pin down Govindan Nair. He is such a big lawyer. His fame has spread all over Kerala). Avar rombha busy allavo; eppadi idhukku sammadham vaanga saadhitchuthu? (He is so busy. How did you get him to accept this case?)

V: Avar enga-appavodu junior-aa irundaarey! Adhinaaley thaan avaroadu ithra periya yedatthey yenakku adhikam vaadagai illaadhakku tutorial nadattha thandhirukkaar. (He was my father’s junior. That is why he has even given his premises with such low rental to me to run my tutorial.)

P: Adhuthan naanum paathein…., indha Sulthan Pettai-ley, Palakkat-odu nadu-maddhythuley, indha yedam onakku yeppidi kedatchuthu-innu. Ongulukku yethaavathu sahaayam veynamaanaa engattey lajjikkathakku chollu (=tell me without being ashamed), keyttayaa Ponnu. (That’s what I reckoned. How you managed a place in the prime, heart of Palakkad, Sultanpet. Now, I see. If you need any help, ask me Ponnu.)

V: Naanum onkettey keykkanam-innu vijaarichen; neeyum naalaikku free-yaa irundhaa Vakil aathukku neirey vandoodu; oru pandharendu manikkellam (by 12 O’ clock) varanam; yenakku veygam madanganam – naalaikku naan rombha busy, ishtaa (the term”ishtaa” is used to address an intimate friend whose help is sought for something); valla formalities-um kazhikkanamaanaa nee iruppaye. Hey, naan oru mandan(=fool) onney niruthi vetchu peyseendu irukkeyney..ukkaarudaa. Chaaya vaangeendu vara-chollarein . Vaasu, .(calling his assistant), nair-odu chaaya-peedikku poyi moonnu aappum kadiyum vaangeendu vaa (Go to nair’s tea-shop and fetch 3 half-cups of tea and some snacks.

(Note: In many of the small tea shops, especially those frequented by the middle class, the facility of half-cup, “aappu”, is available).

(Vasu gets ready to leave on his errand)

Ponnu: yenakku vendaam keyttayelaa. Ippovey vaigiyaachu. Appa kaathukkindu iruppa; yennai kaanaathakku ippovey parakkam paanjoondu iruppaa( “parakkam

paayal” means vigorous movement, to and fro, when in distress – as in the case of a trapped rat – nearest phrase in pucca tamil being “ poonai kutty pottappoley”) naan poyittu venam atthaazham veppu (food for night has to be cooked by me).

Pichu: Yein, kaarthaalatthathu onnum fridge-iley illayo? (Isn’t there anything in the fridge from the morning’s cooking?)

Ponnu: Koottanum vazhuthinanga upperiyum(=A dal-based gravy+curry made of brinjal) irukku; chaatham maathram vadikkanam.(=I just have to cook rice) Sari,… naan inna eragarein; naalakku pandharendu manikku minnaley Vakkilaathukku varein (Ok. Let me go. I will reach the lawyer’s at 12 noon tomorrow...)

V: Appidiyaa…?Vaasu, aappum kadiyum rendu set madhiyaakum (=will be enough); neeyum angaye yethaavathu vangi thinnuko. (Vasu, then make it two half-teas and snacks. And you grab something there for yourself)

(Both Vasu and Ponnu leave)

P: Dey indha Vasu aarudaa? Onnodu peon-aa? (Who’s Vasu? Is he your peon?)

V: Illey-daa; Avanum ingey oru student thaan. Naan avan kittey fees onnum vaangarathillai. Adhukku nanndni kaattaraan(Note: In Malayalam, words like nanndni,i.e.,gratitude; pandni, i.e., pig; channdnanam, i.e., sandal paste, etc., are to be pronounced without involving the tip of the tongue; the middle of the tongue comes into play ). Pinney ivan engaatthu Malayaalatchi-yodu pullai-aakkum (Note: Somehow, unfortunately, the term “malayaalatchi”, to mean a maid servant, has gained currency in Palagattan lingo and society. This could be the legacy of a feudalistic society, which existed when the king patronised Brahmins in preference to those of other communities, but with the decadence of that society, following land reforms and universal education, higher literacy and rising egos in Kerala, this practice is disappearing, because, on one hand, maids have become scarce in Kerala, and on the other, they resent being addressed that way. Besides, the true meaning of ‘Malayalaatchi’ means a Malayali woman__and nothing can be construed derogatory about that).

(Meawhile, Vasu comes with tea and snacks)

V: Kadi (=snack)yenna kittitthu (=to get)?

Vasu: sukhiyan-um paruppu vada-yum.(sukhiyan is a popular item in most of the tea-shops. It is something like “poornam kozhukkattai”, i.e.,”modhakam”, but instead of steam-cooking, it is deep-fried). (paruppu vadai means lentil-based fried snack like doughnut without the hole)

P: Onnodu utchey-ttha aahaaram engey-daa kazhikkaraay?(Where do you take your lunch)

V: Vasu engaathiley-irundhu dubba yeduthoondu varaan… avanum angayey chappiduvaan. (Vasu gets me my lunch packed from my home in a box and he eats at my place.)

(After tea and closing the tutorial office/room, all of them disperse)


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