It’s December, and Chennai is always at its best in this month. Sun goes for a nap, it frequently rains which is a miracle in itself, the air becomes cool and people’s temper becomes cooler too, and all would be in a jolly good mood because Santa would be coming to town soon. December holds a more important perspective because it’s the month of Margazhi, a season for classical music and dance. After a bit of Google searching I came to know that the Margazhi festive season is being celebrated since 1927 to commemorate the founding of the Madras Music Academy in December. Chennai has a rich heritage of classical music. People here know their Carnatic music well, although I wonder why they have named it after the neighboring state when Chennai is the epicenter for the events held in this month.
Chennai is a city of two extremes. Where there is good there is also bad, where there is great there is also mediocre and where there is a Rajnikanth there is a Vijay. The same goes for our tastes in music as well. We have the Carnatic music and we have the lesser talked about kutthu music. Carnatic music has many articles credited to its fame, whereas there are none glorifying the stick-your-tongue-out-and-jiggle-your-booty type of music. Living in Chennai there are two things whose influence one cannot escape from, Rajnikanth and Kutthu music. We see the flag bearers of this art exhibiting their prowess in every social occasion dancing vigorously their way to glory and probably a hip surgery if done the wrong way. From a funeral to a marriage, from celebrating joy to exhibiting one’s sadness there is always one kind of music for earmarking the occasion. And that is the kutthu music.
The kutthu dance involves a madcap gyration of your body to fast paced numbers from Tamil cinemas called as “Kutthu Paatu”. Kutthu means “Punch”. It is no way a violent representation of one’s feelings. It is more vibrant than violent, crassy than classy with no method in the madness.
Doing the Kutthu
Not many know that it was Rajkiran, the aatukal-soup and kozhi-curry hogging son of the soil who was one of the earliest exponents of the Kutthu dance.
Whilst dancing to the "beats and lyrics" of this song, you are advised to be properly attired for the occasion. The modern day kutthu exponents, students from Arts and Science colleges are these days dressed in a ragged jeans and a multicolored shirt, or a garishly looking t-shirt with a hand kerchief tied around their head. All they need to get into the groove is the sound of the hands hitting the walls of the MTC buses furiously. In case you were wondering why our buses look so bent and busted? Look no further than the hormone raging youth shaking their booty to tunes churned out by the deadly father-son duo of Deva and Srikant “Unbelievably Obese” Deva.
The traditional kutthu attire involves lungi, that multi colored piece of clothing which when worn with the bottom raised and folded upwards over the knees in the middle, would show the mark of our libido - our hairy thighs. The undraayer (underwear) or the boxer shorts (for the global audience) is worn in such a strategic way that it partially visible. A shirt is worn with the first few buttons loosened so that the hairy chest is visible to the dames in the audience.
While commuting, we all have been an unwitting audience to this format of dance and music. We have seen people gyrating during political rallies, funerals, college elections all the while causing traffic jams. We celebrate death, we celebrate life, we celebrate victory and we celebrate the union of holy matrimony by thrusting with no care in the world of who is watching or how we look.
Although the attire may differ according to the nature of the performers, the steps will remain uniform.
Stick your tongue out, bite it with your teeth (not too hard) and thrust your hips front and back, all the while moving your hands like you are flying a kite, shouting "Indha! indha!" that means "Take this! take this!". The idea behind this is not to make you look a fool, but to make you look like a menacing fool. Being a menacing fool is much intimidating than being just a fool.
Word of advice: Do not look at yourself in the mirror while rehearsing these steps for you may end up hating yourself for the rest of your life.
For more tips and a live demonstration you can contact any small time insignificant member of any Tamil Nadu political party, and also college students from the city colleges.
The presence and essence of “punch” songs in Tamil cinema
We are a society which likes everything larger than life. We make mere mortals as our Gods. Our matinee idols are the large screen version of what we want to be, wearing designer clothes, driving swanky cars, defying rules of gravity while beating up goons and romancing women with voluptuous and hour glass figures in the Swiss Alps. Needless to say, we even prefer the entry of the messiah of the masses to be exaggerated. And what better way to glorify our heroes than a kutthu song?
It has become a norm in the current era to have an entry song that glorifies the power of the hero. A song comparing him with a lion or panther, praising his valor, his do-good attitude, his character and his achievements all under five minutes which would send his fans into a mass hysteria.
It is a custom of every masala movie (90% of which are Vijay movies) to begin with a kutthu song that would go…
♫ Naan adicha thaanga maatte
Naalu maasam thoonga maatte
Modhi paaru veedu poi sera maattae ♫
This song is a clear sign that nobody can get away unharmed by messing with the hero. He sends you a stern warning with Shankar Mahadevan sounding all furious as he breathlessly recites the lines like a mantra that roughly translates to:
“You can’t bear it if I beat you up, you will lose sleep for four months, mess with me and you won’t reach home safe and sound.”
With the memory size of the mobile phones ever expanding like the bust of Pamela Anderson, we store numerous songs in our playlist. We no longer needed an RJ to choose a playlist for us. We decided what song we want to play. We are our own RJs. This special power enabled a few closet RJs to come out of their shell and be known as the Achakku and Gummukku
The Achakku and the Gummukku: There are a few amongst us who play RJs to the tired commuters of trains and buses. They play loud
The Playlist of the Achakkus and Gummukkus
♫ Vechikkava unnae vechikkava? ♫ : Which loosely means "Shall I keep you, oh baby shall I keep you?" these words bring out the horny sentiment of our hero who is desperate to attain the overweight North Indian import who generally plays the heroine in our Tamil movies.
♫ Yen ucchi mandaiya lae surrunghudhu, unna naan paarkayile girrungudhu ♫
♫ kitte nee vandhaley virrungudhu darrungudhey♫ :
Which when translated means "The top of my head is spinning making a sound like surrr, once I see you it makes a sound girrrr, once you come near me it goes virrrrr and darrrrr".
Clearly we can figure out the lyricist composed the song when he was suffering from constipation. Unable to conjure up words to woo his lady love, the lyricist while taking a crap decided to use the sounds he made at the loo while finishing his business as.... wait for it… as lyrics for the song.
♫ Nakka Mukka ♫
A sure shot presence in any Achakku’s and Gummukku’s this song begins with a booming voice that predicts
“Hey buddy, this is the song which is gonna be a massive hit of the year! – Thank you!”
♫ Maddu sethan Manishan thinan Thola Vechu Melam Katti Adradra Nakku Mukku Nakku Mukku Nakku Mukku♫
Translation: The cow dies, man eats, skins the cow and makes a drum! Just beat it! Beat it! Tongue! Nose! Tongue! nose!
Needless to say, with lyrics like that this song was played in every wedding and college election that year with people going apeshit. And you thought only rap music made no sense.
♫ Kutthu kutthu yeri kutthu, yerakki kutthu, inga kutthu anga kutthu ♫: The kutthu songs a.k.a the "punch songs" are today seamlessly integrated in our cinema culture. We call them "kutthu" which means "punch" because these songs pack a punch. The most spiciest ingredient of any masala movie in Kollywood is (No not the heroine with the enormous ass(ets) stupid!) it’s the Kuthu song. These songs are played as an introductory song to our lean, mean and famished looking hero (who looks like he hails from Somalia) while he kicks the asses of around two dozen goons who look like they have just now finished unlimited meals from Velu Military Hotel.
Lyrics translated: Punch punch climb up and punch! get down and punch! punch im' here and punch im’ there!
Never judge this dance by its crassness because every true blue Tamilian would have danced to the beats of this song atleast once in his life, be it in a college election with drunk students or in a wedding with totally drunk family members.
♫ Acchaku na acchaku thaan gummukku na gummukku thaan♫: The anthem of every overcharging, loud mouthed, foul tongued auto driver in our glorious city of Chennai. These were the words uttered by the demi-god Rajnikanth himself who played a former don turned "humble auto driver" (an oxymoron in itself) in the giga-hit movie "Basha". The autodrivers from all corners of Chennai now have this as their motto, ringtone and caller tune. Nobody to this day can figure out what Acchaku and Gummukku exactly means.
But when the demi-god himself has said Acchaku IS acchaku and gummukku IS gummukku, nobody dares to question the statement.