Musing on Oo Did you say Uncle

Chances are that you have heard this song, for it is now being heard in four if not more languages all over the country. From temple festivals to weddings to political meetings, no matter of what caste, creed, gender or persuasion, everyone is gyving to Oo did you say Uncle and then in order to bring in more variety, Oo Oo did you say Uncle. The Man from Madras Musings has the song going on forever in his head – the technical term for such an occurrence is ear worm. He encourages those who have not heard the song to do so and revert on whether they too experience the same sensation.

MMM does not however vouch for the visual experience, for he has not seen the film in which Oo did you say Uncle occurs. He is informed by those who have that it is sensational in THAT sense – you know what MMM means. But then MMM is now long past the age when he would have wanted to take a dekho. And before the left wing/right wing, liberals/conservatives, and the rest jump on MMM for endorsing the film or the song, let him just assure them all that all he is writing about here is the song as a song per se.

But as this is a serious journal and MMM can feel the heat of the Chief glaring down from above, he wishes to clarify that the above section on Oo did you say Uncle was more by way of a preamble to a serious reflection on changing trends in cinema, for which our Madras that is Chennai is truly famous. Listening to Oo did you say Uncle MMM could not help reflecting on how films from across the border (and by this MMM means the inter-state border and not the national border) have more or less swamped our Tamil-speaking land. Even those who cannot speak a word of Telugu are swearing by films made in that language.

MMM is of the view that it all changed with the film that roughly translates to Arm Strong in the Queen’s language. You needed to watch it only by suspending belief (or is it disbelief MMM wonders) but you could not help admiring the grand sets, the liberal usage of graphics and the war scenes that seemed to have been lifted straight from a comic series portraying conflict between the Gauls and the Romans where the former are forever pumped up with magic potion. But be that as it may, the film was enjoyable, both parts 1 and 2.

In more recent times we have had the film that translates to Flower. That is the one in which Oo did you say Uncle features. MMM has, as mentioned earlier, not seen it but he is assured that this too was a major success in this, our Tamil-speaking land and also in that other space– the Hindi-speaking land. And now we have a film titled RRR (no translations required here thankfully) which MMM had the misfoRRRtune to see. Set in a la-la-land in British India, it was all about lions and tigers that are trained to attack the colonial masters, a Vicereine with a liking to see Indian blood being shed, a group of tribals who want to lay their hands on guns but fight it out much better with arrows and then finally, compound fractures that are cured with two leaves that give out enough juice to fill a bucket, mixed with a swig of river water. No written description can do justice to the gobbledegook on screen, but MMM hopes he gives you an idea. In short veRRRy bad. And not one worthwhile song in the whole film mind you! Not even an Oo or an Oo Oo.

But the film has done well – very well in fact. MMM saw the dubbed version in Tamil where the dialogues were delivered in atrocious fashion but still nobody watching it seemed perturbed. Whatever happened to the pure language movement? Forgotten eh? But then we are a people who tolerate the rottenest pronunciations on media channels.

But to revert to the films from across the border, they seem to have swamped us. It will not be long before Tamil cinema, presently on a more realistic route, takes to these fantasies. It will have to. Ultimately, it is money that is the message. After all where is our Tamil pride?