Monday, October 29, 2012

That kid in the Bharathiyar costume

 Airtel Super Singer is a show that has always irritated me so much. It is not so much because of the drama as much as the not so subtle hints my mother gives me on how useless I am in general. Now that I am not at home, it becomes incredibly convenient to watch it on you tube as you can watch a 4 hour show in less than 40 minutes whooshing through all the " I am so excited Sir", "It is an honour Sir" and the quitessential "Eendra Pozhudhinum Periduvanukkam" bits of the beaming parents.

Whenever I watch this show I always think of this kid who came in dressed as Bharathiyar

This cracks me up so much every time I see it. It reminds me so much about my own childhood. One, for the way the kid skips around with the poetry (Barathiyaar namma Baarathiyar), two, the fancy dress. On more than numerous occasions, I used to perform gigs like this.I used to be Tiruppur Kumaran in all the Fancy Dress Contests as the role involved minimal dressing up. We borrowed a Kurta from this neighbour's kid. My father would fashion a Khadi cap using a pillow case and with a kajal mustache, I became Tiruppur Kumaran. I used to *exhude* confidence, snort derisively at kids coming in much elaborate get ups such as the complicated Hindu deities (Ardhanaadeswarar, comes readily to mind) or the standard cotton sareed, Mysore-Sandal-talc-on-pinned-up-hair Indira Gandhi types. I would swoop in and do my very passionate speech about the flag and get back to reading Famous Five. This fetched me many, many accolades such as the Barathiyar Kavidhaigal/Sura's quiz books/Thooku vaalis (that were later polished and given away as wedding gifts). I constantly wonder how my parents hunted down such arcane competitions, allowed me to skip school and promptly reported to duty for the said competitions with flasks of hot water.  After we exhausted places to use Tiruppur Kumaran, we had to find a high ROI get-up that suited the general fieriness of my mother's speeches. We used Vanjinathan for a couple of places and then switched to a general mode of "Indian soldier". Again, we used random pieces of junk we could find around the house and thus I became a soldier in a navy blue raincoat and clutching the flag that *had* to be present. I suppose that was the last time I did a fancy dress.

 Speaking of a wasted childhood, I should bring in our musical adventures at this point. My mother's music stemmed from the fact that her best friend used to sing "prayer songs" at all occasions at her office which would make her go green with envy. This is when she decided that her progeny should become the prayer song singer, her own perception of prima dona, which is how all this started.
When I was in primary school the biggest deal of the year was the zonal cultural event at my mother's office. When I was in first standard, I did something so similar to the Bharathiyar kid. When they announced the results, I was  amazed and indignant that they didn't give me a prize that I proceeded to bite the chief guest (incidentally the Chief Post Master General) who was giving away participation certificates. My terrified mother had to get me off his arm and console me saying that I had won. Eventually, I ended up participating for the next five years in the same competition in carnatic, light, folk music,key board and mono-acting category.

 My mother's idea of good music was based on public opinion as she didn't have a clue and neither did I. She thought the "swaras" people sang were incredibly neat and lot of people seemed to say "Waarey Wah" when kids sang them in competitions. She urged my music teachers to teach me songs only with swaras. After they refused, we decided to do it our style. I used to randomly make up ga-ga-ma-ma type swaras  regardless of whatever song I was singing with a flourish at the end.

Once there was this competition in Tamizh Isai Sangam where I was singing "Pazhani appanin Padamaravel" with my usual improptu swara making. This old guy who was the judge threw his hands up in despair and said loudly to his fellow judge "How do they let these people inside" while my mother seethed with anger holding the hot water flask!

 Once there was an eating competition in one of these "events" and I thought with gusto "Aha! This plays right up in my alley!". Rules were simple -The person who could eat the maximum number of Murukku in 5 minutes won. I rolled up my sleeves and got to business. I was in a staggeringly clear lead when my frontal incisor which had been shaking precariously till that day, decided to fall. I was devastated that I lost something like an eating competition.

There were shows that we used to put up from the dance class. There was this gypsy song where I was the male gypsy called "Singa" in flaming red costume and was paired up with a girl who was, obviously, "Singy" and who wore my refurbished Gujarati Choli. It was a number about social evils which the dance teacher decided on after finding me rigid as a rod to do any "Snake Dance: which was the first choice. I did this same gig for about a year in so many places and then we chucked it as it was too much trouble to dress up with no particular reward in sight.

These days when I see my apartment kids participating in dance or music shows that they put on for every damn festival, I keep remembering my childhood filled with such incredible Tom Fooleries, the bundle of useless certificates from Ilaingar Narpani Mandram/Kalaivani Maadar Sangam and also the associated memories of the kid in the Bharthiyar dress!