Noted film critic Baradwaj Rangan gave a talk yesterday on this subject at The Park as part of the Chennai Heritage Lecture series. It was an excellent talk. Any speaker would have fallen into the trap of an overdose of humour with such a subject. But with Baddy (as some of us call him), it was a serious analysis with the right mix of humour. Baddy showed clips from Tamil cinema to highlight instances of English being used to depict:

1. Erudition
2. Putting down someone who does not know it
3. A conversation between intellectuals
4. Arrogance of the English-knowing man/woman
5. Stupidity of a person who can speak only English
6. English in a poor light as compared Tamil
7. Comedy
8. A law court (and comparing it with a scene where only Tamil is spoken but with the same effect)
9. Class differentiation

The highlight of the evening was K Balachander, the famed director (many episodes of whose films were shown in the presentation) attending the talk and staying till the end. The attendance was very good despite at least one newspaper printing the wrong venue for the event.