Mallu Christians in (Mallu) Movies
A thought just crossed my mind the other day – regarding how achayans and achayathis are portrayed on celluloid in Malayalam movies. Sure, there are the quintessential elements - rubber plantations (or rubber estates, as they're popularly called), affluence (as a result of those estates), a successfully-running family enterprise, joint family setting (replete with the son-in-laws, atleast three or four generations, and a few family members in the US who are home on vacation), a Father (pallile Achan) and church-related activities (which can include X’mas celebrations/Palli Perunnals), the merry-making and jolly times. Speaking of which - any such celebration is incomplete without the… yes…‘cheers’! It is a scene that will invariably be there, we’ve seen ‘em many no. of times, in many forms, but it is entertaining nevertheless!
Grandfathers, sons, sons-of-sons, the ungles (family friends) and sometimes even the kaaryasthan (a person who looks after the affairs of the family) sit around in the verandah/courtyard/living room during evenings/nights (usually before dinner) and lose all their inhibitions (well, almost). A setting in which the patriarch in the family steps down from the Ivory Tower, loses some of his willful authoritarian and disciplinarian nature and allows jokes about himself (of course, you dare not misunderstand and over-step the limits!). Other things that complete the ensemble are:
- Men who are slightly embarrassed to drink in front of their father/elders (may even include one younger member of the family who has been initiated into drinking lately and has not ‘had it’ with his family yet). He’s gently prodded (or even violently encouraged!) to go ahead sans discomfort. Beverages can range from patta chaarayam to scotch and whisky.
- Discussions regarding business, enemies, and family members are a given (this bit depends a lot on the story of the movie and where this scene is placed in the narrative). Business discussions are more of ‘status updates’ and future ventures (because generally each member of the family owns/is responsible for a certain area of business); enemies are linked to business or (past) family feuds; family member discussions involve marriage proposals for those in the “marriageable age bracket”, discussions on kids – their education/achievements, some ‘secrets’ or leg-pulling – all this is usually the part that’s meant as lighter moments in this scene/movie.
- Singing and/or dancing is optional.
- Women folk interrupt them only to bring in chicken fry/chips/peanuts/achar/other ‘touchings’ (popular term in Mallu land!) as also ice cubes and water. They’re actually vaaarry busy cooking up a storm!
- The kids are busy in their own world – playing, doing their homework/studying. There are high chances of the presence of a very feisty girl among the few elder ones in the ‘gang of cousins’. There might be an occasional toddler who runs into the men’s-only area, only to be told that they’re all having some kashayam (medicine)!
- Chances are, there’s also a grandma (or great grandma) in the background who’s itching to have a peg, and slyly asks her favourite grandson (or someone of the sort) to get her one too! (In the aside you’ll find out that great grandma/grandma is reminded of her heydays with great grandpa/grandpa who used to pour out one, ONLY ONE, for her whenever he had drinks!)
The finale to this wonderful family bonding time is with a dinner, no… a FEAST. Men folk sit down first, with the women running about serving them all the finger-licking delicacies (aforementioned storm they cooked up). Variety is not an issue with there being atleast 3-4 kinds of meat or fish. Better still is if the guys did hunt ‘em down or catch ‘em fresh.
Interesting, isn’t it?? ;-)
P.S. I may have missed out on a lot of points. Comments are welcome! Also tell me if this happens in real life too! ;-)