Was watching Nayagan to clip out a scene or two. Just realized: this kid goes to Bombay when he's around 10. He spends the rest of his life there. But he still cannot speak Hindi. It's not that he does not speak Hindi, he cannot. He actually has someone to translate stuff for him. ennangada dei?


Subhash said...

Apparently the English speaking critic of the TIME magazine was too busy reading sub-titles and figured out Velu Naikker's tendency to speak through a buffer to his enemies as a character trait.

Bhaskaran said...

though fundamentally I agree with your logic, it is not necessary that one would learn a language just because he is in a place where most people speak that. It depends on the necessity - survival is the key here. At 10 when he lands in Mumbai, he is shown to immediately get acquainted with the tamil speaking lot there. He lives his entire life surrounded by tamil speaking people and we should take it that the necessity did not arise. It also depends on the individual inclination and drive to learn something alien to one. Take me for instance, I have lived in Singapore for more than a decade now but I can neither understand nor speak Mandarin or Malay - the 2 widely used languages here. I barely know 2 or 3 words. It is not just me alone - almost 99% foreigners living in Singapore are in the same state.

Suresh said...

Subhash - haha, I know.

Bhaskaran - I knew this defence would come up. (That some people in "China Towns" live their entire lives speaking Chinese and nothing else.)

The question wasn't just about him. In fact, I had to watch half the movie again just to make sure it's Bombay and not some border town like Kuppam (not that Tamil Nadu shares its border with a Hindi-speaking state).


a.) the little boy gets robbed by little kids who go "pakdo! maaro!" for which the boy goes "thiruttu kamnaatingala". And 'kutty' Janakaraj responds "adappavi! ni Tamizha?" So it's not he like mingled with an exclusively Tamil speaking crowd. They just happened to speak Tamil.

b.) construction works begin right in the middle of the slum and Kamal asks "inga yarukkavadhu Hindi theriyuma?" If he had the asked the question in Saidapet more people would have come forward. But this is Dharavi, Bombay. So only one guy, "iyeru," comes forward. Even Janakaraj who says "pakdo, maaro" when he was little, has somehow forgotten Hindi by now.

c.) Not only that, even his business environment is setup like that. He deals with Tamil smugglers, Tamil trouble makers and even Tamil police. The Reddy's talk in Telegu (among themselves) to express their frustration with Kamal. Sure, lot has gone into maintaining this logic.

This guy is in a slum which is nothing like an office environment where you have the option to remain shelled within whatever language is used there. You can defend it all you want (including brothels that feature Tamil qawwalis). But I just don't think it's realistic to suggest that life in Dharavi gives you the luxury to isolate yourself from the Hindi-speaking majority and do the kind of business he does (not for 2, 3 years, but for decades).
And the lengths Mani Ratnam goes to defend this setup is just ridiculous.

One doesn't have to be extra smart to notice all this. It's just that I wonder how a movie that needs to be "explained" with weird logic managed to impress so many people (not to mention the 'vellakara payaluva'). It's got corny sequences all over; worst of them all: "neenga nallavara, kettavara?"

Anonymous said...

You are such a loser, giving nonsense arguments for Bhaskaran's points. Who bothers about nayagan now, except you in this whole wide world? Arivu jeevi, puthusa onna kandupidichittaraam! Paarungadaa! So? What's your point, loser?

Kaykay said...

Nice observation that has been made million times...i think this is to do wit the general lack of realism in Mani ratnams its nothing new in my opinion..r u doing this 2 irritate the films fans or directors fans or actors fans? "neenga nallavara, kettavara?"

kaykay said...

but there are loads of positives that u miss frm many more added to it..thats all

Suresh said...

Anon - I just won a bet. I bet that "I can post some nonsense about something nobody cares about in this whole wide world and still manage to get people to comment on it". There, that's the point.

Kaykay - Sure, there are lot of positives. Not to mention, Kuyili's kuth'aatam.

Subhash said...

But I still love Maniratnam. He makes much better films than almost all other Tamil directors. Emotionally manipulative films suck only if they are made after 2000's. A 20 year old commercial film should be excused, given that on many levels Nayagan is brilliant. At least entertaining in a Maniratnam sort of way.

By the way Suresh, do you really think real life logic should apply to films? After all its a Tamil film and the director goes to lengths to maintain the cuteness and innocence of this mafia don. Not being able to speak in Hindi is one of them. May be he felt the Tamil speaking audience would feel closer to the hero if he feigned ignorance of Hindi.

Suresh said...


As you can see, it's not an elaborate post dissecting the movie. It's just a little thing I noticed and felt like mentioning it. I haven't really discussed this movie with anyone before; may be in parts. But this particular aspect just struck me, avalodhan. And the Google video page had something about being Time magazine's top 100 list too. That's another thing I suppose.

It was meant to be a one liner sort of thing. Then Bhaskaran gave it an explanation and I, instead of letting it be, tried to point the flaw in it. I think we've spoken enough about Mani Ratnam's movies already.

Disclaimer: it's a vetti post, I'm not going to defend it anymore.

Subhash said...

yeah thats right. I am just a Maniratnam fan so have to jump on every opportunity to try and defend him.

In Want of Being Me said...

:) That's obvious observation. But, I think the director did that not coz., the protagonist couldn't understand nor speak hindi, but the target audience 'Tamilians' should have to understand what's going on.

..and as we know, large tamil speaking population neither speak or understand hindi, and sub-titles wouldn't have necessarily done justice to those scenes.

Didn't mean to defend Nayagan or ManiRathnam, neither did I mean to offend you, just the way I looked at it :)

bala said...

suresh ! Even I was of the same view about Kamal not able to speak Hindi...But when enquired some persons who live nearby slums areas, it seems that its a fact. Life to them is confined to dharavi...and typically they don't tie up with the locals..So this isn't a bad direction.

B a l a said...

..and to the dialogue -"neenga nallavara, ketavara ?" - whats the problem with this dialogue...

Kurai kandu-pidakanumnu mudivu pannita, pannikite irrukalam..

Hawkeye said...


(this is besides the point of your post; only slightly relevant)

if Kamal knew to speak hindi the
whole movie would have bombed just the same way - if roja knew to speak hindi it would have never run in thamizh.

nayagan worked because of the 'us' Vs 'them' sentiment. Roja the same except there were nested layers of 'us vs 'them'.

compare the cost benefit. this gap in logic (which as u rightly said cannot be sanely defended) is noted by few but the effect that it creates is the basis for the movie's tremendous success.

the indhi dayavaan did not run because of the lack of 'us' Vs 'them'.

manirathnam is flopping now because he stupidly made the upper middle class makkal as his target audience.

Anonymous said...

dei hawkye avan than kurai kandupidakanumnu mudivu pannitan..nee vera yen mokai podura...poda dei..poi azhagiya thamizh magan review eludhu po.

Anonymous said...

me too in mumbai for past 3 years but i dont know how to speak in hindi(except few words).
[but i manage with english here, thats different story]

but there are a few places in mumbai where you dont need to know hindi at all and simply can survive with tamil (no english, no hindi. even marathis and other south indias know tamil there. strange!). me too stayed there for any year. those places are just ditto of any slum in chennai or subarban...

plot here is if velu naiker know how to speak hindi, he need to speak in hindi through out the movie with characters who speak hindi. which will not suit tamil people to watch the movie (hope u know this, just felt like keeping my point)

Mouly said...

Without getting into the argument of picking local languages, certain things in movies need to be taken as fundamental without which the movie cannot go forward. If the main protagonist is going to speak the local language in the movie then who would watch the movie meant for Tamil audience?? otherwise it would end up like Hey Ram (where half the time, you would hear Hindi/english and was one of the reasons it failed miserably in TN). Remember any of freedom movement based movies? the british would speak tamil (ofcourse with an accent) but without which its not possible for the tamil audience to view it (if the movies were made in other languages they would speak that language as well!).

Suresh said...

Mouly and 'In want',

That wasn't my argument at all. It's a cinematic liberty that is understood in general circumstances - say in Roja where some of the main characters (ex: Nasser's character) are made to speak Tamil so that it connects with the Tamil audience. I'm not that picky. That's why I mentioned, "It's not that he does not speak Hindi, he cannot." They are two different things.

As Hawkeye and others have pointed out, we all know why it was done. Mani Ratnam is simply 'othering' the non-Tamil, at least in parts.


{{Kurai kandu-pidakanumnu mudivu pannita, pannikite irrukalam..}} - just like the opposite is true, "poosi maluparadhu'nu mudivu pannitta, pannikitte irukkalam."

Hey Ram actually pussed out quite a bit in that regard. He has Tamil speaking friends, meets people who know how to speak Tamil - Maratha Brahmin, Telegu pimp, Hindu mob lead by Tamil speaking 'Delhi' Ganesh etc, to point a few. There's no scarcity of cinematic liberties in the movie. I don't think it's a big factor in the movie becoming a flop when you keep this fact in light -- since 2000 all Kamal's "intellectual" ventures have flopped miserably in Tamil Nadu - Anbe Sivam, Aalavandhan and Virumandi are some.

Filarial said...

I know 2 ppl like tht..:)

Dinesh Peter said...

Well said... Tamil movies SHOULD be criticized to this level to raise the bar. Kalakreenga, Suresh! Cheers.

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