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Poets and Pancakes

Poets and Pancakes


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Published by Ramita Udayashankar
Prose; Flamingo; Class XII English
Prose; Flamingo; Class XII English

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Published by: Ramita Udayashankar on Nov 02, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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1 mark Who was Subbu’s principal? Mr. S.S Vasan, the founder of the Gemini Studios, was Subbu’s principal.

Who was the Boss of Gemini Studios? Mr. S.S Vasan was the Boss of Gemini Studios. 2 marks Bring out gentle humour that the make-up room presents. The make-up room once believed to be Clive’s stable had a look of haircutting saloon with incandescent light around half a dozen mirrors. The gang of nationally integrated make up men could turn any decent looking person into a hideous, crimson hued monster with pancakes and locally made lotion and potion. How did Subbu give direction and definition to Gemini Studio? Subbu was a many sided genius. He was a poet, an actor, a director and a novelist. He composed many story poems in folk refrain, wrote a novel, recreated the mood and manner of the Devadasis of the early 20th century and played the subsidiary role better than supposed main players. Why is the Englishman’s visit referred to as ‘an unexplained mystery’? The Englishman’s visit to the studio remained a mystery because neither they could know why an English poet visited a film studio nor they could understand what he spoke due to his accent. The poet too after his speech looked baffled due to sheer incongruity of his talk What views does the author have about the prose writers? The author’s conviction is that the prose writing is not and cannot be the true pursuit of a genius. It is meant for the patient, persistent, persevering drudge with a shrunken heart. A prose piece is always rejected. But the prose writer never bothers about rejection. He sends a fresh copy to another publisher with postage for return of the manuscript. What does ‘The God That Failed’ refer to? ‘The God That Failed’ is a book of six essays by six eminent essayists that describe their journey to communism and disillusioned return. The book has allusive reference to the author who failed in getting recognition as a poet like the essayists failed in their journey to communism. What does the writer mean by the fiery misery of those subjected to make-up? The heat produced by the lights in the make-up room brought about a lot of discomfort to the actors in the make-up room. Hence the writer refers to this pain and trouble as ‘fiery-misery’. What is the example of national integration that the author refers to? The make-up department of the Gemini studios had people belonging to different states, religions and those who spoke different languages. The head of the make-up department was earlier a Bengali who was succeeded by a Maharashtrian assisted by a Dharwar Kannadiga, an Andharite, A Madrasi Indian Christian, an Anglo-Burmese and local Tamilians. What work did the ‘office boy’ do in Gemini Studios? Why did he join the studios? Was he disappointed?

The office boy applies make-up on the players who played the role of crowd. On the days of crowd-shooting, he would mix his paint in a big vessel and apply it quickly and noisily on the faces of the players. He had joined the studios with the hope of becoming a star actor or a screen writer, director or lyrics writer. He was disappointed because he failed and remained only a ‘boy’. Why did the author appear to be doing nothing at the studios? The author’s only duty was to cut out newspaper clippings on a wide variety of subjects and store them in files. Many of these had to be hand-written. The onlookers noticed him merely tearing up newspapers. Hence, it appeared he was doing nothing at the studios. Why was the office boy frustrated? Who did he show his anger on? The office boy was frustrated because despite getting a good opening, he remained only an office boy. He had had a good formal education and would write poetry also. But his great literary talent was being allowed to go waste. He showed his anger on Kothamangalam Subbu, the No. 2 at the Gemini Studios. Subbu is described as a many-sided genius. List four of his special abilities. Subbu had the ability to always look cheerful. His sense of loyalty made him turn his entire creativity to his principal’s advantage. With him around, film-making was easy. He was a poet, a novelist and an amazing actor too. He had a generous and a caring nature. Why was the legal adviser referred to as the opposite by others? The lawyer was in the story department. He was officially known as the legal adviser. However, his actions were not useful to anyone. He had inadvertently brought to an end, a budding actress’s career. Hence, he was referred as 'the opposite' by others. What made the lawyer stand out from the others at Gemini Studios? It was the lawyer’s dress that he wore which made him stand out from the others. He wore a pant, a tie and sometimes a coat also. Others put on a khadi dhoti with a slightly oversized and clumsily tailored white khadi shirt, which looked like everyone’s uniform. Did the people at Gemini Studios have any particular political affiliations? Most of the people at Gemini Studios were followers of Gandhiji and wore khadi. Beyond khadi and wearing of khadi they did not have any particular political affiliations. However, they were all against communism. Why was the Moral Rearmament Army welcomed at the Studios? The Moral Rearmament Army was a kind of counter movement to international communism. The Big Bosses of Madras like Mr. Vasan simply played into their hands. So the Moral Rearmament Army was welcomed at the Gemini Studios. Name one example to show that Gemini Studios was influenced by the plays staged by MRA. The plays staged by the MRA greatly influenced Madras and Tamil drama community. For some years almost all Tamil plays had a scene of sunrise and sunset in the manner of ‘Jotham Valley’ with a bare stage, a white background curtain and a tune played on the flute.

What caused the lack of communication between the Englishman and the people at Gemini Studios? Most of the 600 odd people at Gemini Studios were Tamil speakers. The Englishman addressed them in his own language. He had a peculiar accent. Hence, there was a lack of communication between the Englishman and the people who could not follow what he spoke. Why is the Englishman’s visit referred to as unexplained mystery? During the Englishman’s speech, no one understood what he was talking about. The audience was baffled. They did not know what an English poet was doing in a film studio which made Tamil films for the simplest sort of people. His visit remained an unexplained mystery. Who was the English visitor to the studios? The English visitor to the studios was Stephen Spender. He was an English poet and essayist who concentrated on themes of social injustice and class struggle. He was also the editor of ‘The Encounter’. How did the author discover who the English visitor to the studios was? The author went to the British Council library to get an idea about the periodical ‘The Encounter’. He read the editor’s name. It was the poet who had visited the Gemini Studios. Thus the author discovered the identity of the English visitor to the Studio. What does ‘The God that Failed’ refer to? ‘The God who Failed’ was the collection of six essays by six eminent men of letters. In these essays each of them described separately his journey into communism and his disillusioned return. In the last line of the extract the expression refers to communism. Why was Kothamangalam Subbu considered No. 2 in Gemini Studios? Subbu was always seen with the Boss. His sense of loyalty made him identify himself with his entire creativity to his principal’s advantage, he was considered No. 2 because he seemed so close and intimate with the Boss. How does the author describe the incongruity of an English poet addressing the audience at Gemini Studios? The English poet was addressing the Tamil audience at Gemini Studios in English with a typical provincial accent. He was talking about the thrills and travails of an English poet to a dazed and silent audience. This was the incongruity because his audience could not understand him at all. The author has used gentle humour to point out human foibles. Pick out instances of this to show how this serves to make the piece interesting. The author Asokamitran, in his excerpt ‘Poets and Pancakes’, has recounted the years he spent at the Gemini Studios owned by S.S Vasan in Chennai. In his subtle and gentle way, he has used humour as an effective tool to point out human foibles. In his typical rambling style, he sets the tone of humour in his narration. He says that there was a great deal of national integration in the Gemini Studios long before A.I.R and Doordarshan began broadcasting programmes on national integration. He makes use of exaggerations to tell that any decent looking person could be turned into a monster with the help of truck-loads of pancakes and ‘locally made potions and lotions’. Irony is used to evoke humour saying that boys and girls were ‘made to look ugly in order to look presentable in the movie. Paint in the studio was mixed in a giant vessel and slapped it on the faces of the crowd players. In the process of applying

make-up, every pore on the surface of the face was closed. Humour is employed by the author in situations when he admits that people thought he was doing nothing when he was seen tearing up newspapers day in and day out. Literary talent was being wasted in a department fit only for barbers and perverts. The author uses satire to expose people in authority. The story department was closed and this was the only instance in all human history where a lawyer lost his job because most humorous situation arises when the concept of Communism gets defined. ‘a godless man with no filial or conjugal love’. The staff at Gemini opposed the concept and became Gandhiites and Khadiities. There is irony in ‘The God that Failed’, a collection into Communism and their disillusioned return. Write a brief character sketch of Kothamangalam Subbu. Kothamangalam Subbu has been given a lot of significance in the essay ‘Poets and Pancakes’ by Asokamitran. He has been portrayed as a man whom everyone at Gemini Studios held in high esteem. He was born a Brahmin and perhaps due to this virtue rose to the position of No. 2 at Gemini Studios. He had contacts with affluent people. He was cool, calm and composed and even a flop film, in which he was involved, never made him sad or unhappy. He looked cheerful all the time. He was very loyal to his boss and that endeared him to the boss. He was a man who could be inspired when commanded. He was creative and displayed this skill when effortlessly he could give fourteen alternative ways to handle a particular scene. Subbu was a poet of calibre and had a separate identity of a poet. His success in films overshadowed his literacy achievements. He had composed truly original ‘story poems’ and had authored a novel ‘Thillana Mohanambal’ with lots of characters. He recreated the mood and manner of the Devadasis of the early 20 the century. He was an amazing actor yet never aspired to play lead roles. He loved everyone genuinely and selflessly. He was charitable and improvident yet he had enemies probably due to his closeness with the Boss. The author Asokamitran has portrayed him as an extremely talented, creative and lovable human being.

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