Thursday, February 23, 2012

Where Ivan ain't Ivan

Chennai can be a terribly boring place for humour buffs who know just konjum konjum Tamil. In such times of severe laughter deprivation, it might help to scan the movie section of your favourite national newspaper.

Just stare at any of the Kollywood ads that modestly proclaim their ‘terra hit 3rd day collection’. And focus on the Transcribed-in-English film title. Try and read it aloud, if possible. Chances are, all the localites around you will be in splits and that would make you smile.

‘But why should a Tamil Movie Title, written in English, raise a chuckle?’ you may ask. Well, the answer for that question lies in the Tamilian’s whimsical penchant for using spellings that follow no earthly logic.

Allow me to amplify with a few examples. Let’s just say, you happen to see the ubiquitous ‘7-am Arivu’ ad. How would you pronounce it? Seven-A-M-Air-Ree-Woo, right? You can’t be blamed if you assumed, it was a movie about early morning flatulence! Makes you wonder why Murugadoss didn’t opt for ‘Yezhaam Areevu’ instead of that misleading alphanumeric.

I’ll give you one more gem. ‘Potti’ is supposed to be the native word for ‘Box’. While ‘Poatti’ is supposed to mean ‘Competition’. But everybody who’s anybody insists on using ‘Potti’ for ‘Competition’. So you have a Jayaram-starrer called ‘Sabash Sariyana Potti’. A good acquaintance of mine read it as ‘Sabash Sariyana Potty’. Someone should box the ears of the filmmaker for this unintended toilet humour.

Actor Parthiban’s ‘Ivan’ is another hopeless case. When the posters made their appearance, many made the mistake of surmising it to be an adaptation of ‘Ivan Hoe’. It turned out to be the Tamil word ‘Ivan’ (meaning: him).

These goof ups happen as a lot of folks here mix up their ‘da’ with dha’ with ‘tha’. Not surprisingly, they write Kanda when they want to say Kandha, Anantha when they mean ‘Ananda’ and Mariyathai when they imply ‘Mariyadhai’. Given this chaos, I won’t be surprised if some people were to decode Mani Ratnam’s Kadal (sea) as Kadhal (love). If that happens, may be it’s time our directors signed up for a class in phonetics.