Saturday, 9 February 2008

Witty Nambiar

Kunchan Nambiar is my favourite Malayalam poet. My first encounter with Nambiar was an excerpt from his 'Kalyanasaugandhikam' in our Malayala Padavali which made me just laugh when I read it aloud:

Nokkeda nammude margey kidakkunna, Markada neeyangu mari kida sheda.

This roughly translates to

'Yo! Look at this monkey blocking our way. Hey, you monkey! Find somewhere else to lie, darn it!

Bhima, the muscle-man of the five Pandava brothers is enraged to find Hanuman, the mischievous monkey god, lying in front of their way in the forest. Nambiar gives vent to Bhima's indignance and rage in such a witty way much like "Yo mama!" jokes, at least in my imagination.

His poetry has a percussive quality which was necessary for the thullal (acting and dancing) accompanying the recitation. I can imagine him rapping away if he lived in the 21st century; a master freestylist taking on B-Rabbit or entertaining the crowds on Whose line is it anyway? His wit and satire would fit right in Have I Got News for You? or The Daily Show or The Colbert Report; I find it odd to think of him as a contemporary of Bach and Mozart.

Since I couldn't find any archives of his poetry, I've decided to start one at My only source of Nambiar is an old publication of Kiratham which I've started on. You are more than welcome to contribute to it. I recommend Varamozhi text editor which will convert your typewritten manglish e.g. kiraatham into Malayalam font e.g. കിരാതം.

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