Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXXII No. 1, April 16-30, 2022
Chances are that you have heard this song, for it is now being heard in four if not more languages all over the country. From temple festivals to weddings to political meetings, no matter of what caste, creed, gender or persuasion, everyone is gyving to Oo did you say Uncle and then in order to bring in more variety, Oo Oo did you say Uncle. The Man from Madras Musings has the song going on forever in his head – the technical term for such an occurrence is ear worm. He encourages those who have not heard the song to do so and revert on whether they too experience the same sensation.
MMM does not however vouch for the visual experience, for he has not seen the film in which Oo did you say Uncle occurs. He is informed by those who have that it is sensational in THAT sense – you know what MMM means. But then MMM is now long past the age when he would have wanted to take a dekho. And before the left wing/right wing, liberals/conservatives, and the rest jump on MMM for endorsing the film or the song, let him just assure them all that all he is writing about here is the song as a song per se.
But as this is a serious journal and MMM can feel the heat of the Chief glaring down from above, he wishes to clarify that the above section on Oo did you say Uncle was more by way of a preamble to a serious reflection on changing trends in cinema, for which our Madras that is Chennai is truly famous. Listening to Oo did you say Uncle MMM could not help reflecting on how films from across the border (and by this MMM means the inter-state border and not the national border) have more or less swamped our Tamil-speaking land. Even those who cannot speak a word of Telugu are swearing by films made in that language.
MMM is of the view that it all changed with the Telugu film that roughly translates to Arm Strong in the Queen’s language. You needed to watch it only by suspending belief (or is it disbelief MMM wonders) but you could not help admiring the grand sets, the liberal usage of graphics and the war scenes that seemed to have been lifted straight from a comic series portraying conflict between the Gauls and the Romans where the former are forever pumped up with magic potion. But be that as it may, the film was enjoyable, both parts 1 and 2.
In more recent times we have had the film that translates to Flower. That is the one in which Oo did you say Uncle features. MMM has, as mentioned earlier, not seen it but he is assured that this too was a major success in this, our Tamil-speaking land and also in that other space – the Hindi-speaking land. And now we have a film titled RRR (no translations required here thankfully) which MMM had the misfoRRRtune to see. Set in a la-la-land in British India, it was all about lions and tigers that are trained to attack the colonial masters, a Vicereine with a liking to see Indian blood being shed, a group of tribals who want to lay their hands on guns but fight it out much better with arrows and then finally, compound fractures that are cured with two leaves that give out enough juice to fill a bucket, mixed with a swig of river water. No written description can do justice to the gobbledegook on screen, but MMM hopes he gives you an idea.
But the film has done well – very well in fact. MMM saw the dubbed version in Tamil where the dialogues were delivered in atrocious fashion but still nobody watching it seemed perturbed. Whatever happened to the pure language movement? Forgotten eh? But then we are a people who tolerate the rottenest pronunciations on media channels.
But to revert to the films from across the border, they seem to have swamped us. It will not be long before Tamil cinema, presently on a more realistic route, takes to these fantasies. Ultimately, it is money that is the message.
Weddings have become in-person events once again, and like how! The Man from Madras Musings is flooded with invites, and he sometimes looks back at the last two years with nostalgia. Those were simpler times when all you had to do was to promise to join the event virtually and then forget all about it. Now it is back to driving miles to mark your presence and ingest the undigestible. But to MMM’s good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed, these invites are more like sacred mandates and so she believes firmly in attending. And MMM who is like the little lamb, follows her to all these places, after registering a mild bleat in protest.
And so it was that MMM and good lady went to attend a wedding where the mightiest of the land were present. On an aside, MMM and good lady drove in just after Risen Son and Rising Son. And MMM could not help noticing that while leader senior did not have a light shining on his face in his vehicle, junior had one shining bright as he went along. But then senior has already risen while junior is rising and so presumably needs the additional light. Mater dei on whom may there be peace, and who had the light shining on her wherever she went, whether to office and back, to party office and back or to less savoury places and back, would have understood.
But MMM has digressed. Having waved his hand at bride and groom for the queues were serpentine and long, MMM went to the dining room. The catering was by the children of Six Taste Dancing God, the maestro having long departed, leaving his descendants to carry on with the ladle and the wok. MMM has always had a soft corner for the old man’s cooking and it being more than two years since he had tasted those signature dishes, he went in with his mouth watering. But these are times when every business desires to go international and so it was with the children of Six Taste Dancing God. MMM’s heart sank when he saw sections devoted to Lebanese, Chinese, Continental and North Indian dishes with good old South Indian, which was Six Taste Dancing God’s metier, being relegated to a corner. Somehow, MMM could not bear the idea of accepting Ravioli from the same man who had once served rasam. The same goes for his Manchurian or Hummus.
MMM therefore stuck to the straight and narrow, contenting himself with the old fare. But even that had slid by several notches. It was clear that the old team of cooks were no longer in office and the dishes had been made by hands from up north, people who tend to pronounce sambar as saaambrrr, rasam as ras and who would pack up and leave if you asked them to say potato in Tamil.
MMM however did notice that several others intrepidly tried the Lebanese, the Chinese and the Continental and came back with reports of how bad it all was. In MMM’s humble view it is best that Lebanese cuisine is left to the Lebanese, the Chinese to the Chinese (no correct that, Chinese food made in China tastes awful) and the Continental to those on the Continent. And the children of the Six Taste Dancing God need to aim to perfect the six traditional South Indian flavours and not run after six foreign cuisines.