Poets and Pancakes, Explanation, Line by Line, Meaning of Difficult Words, English CBSE Class 12 NCERT Flamingo Chapter 6
POETS AND PANCAKES
(Explanation and Meaning of difficult words)
Author – Asokamitran
|Blew over||Got angry|
|Was struck dumb||Greatly surprised|
|Catapulted into||Suddenly became famous|
|A coat of mail||Oversized coat with metallic decorations|
|Played into their hands||Helped unknowingly|
|The favourite haunt||Preferred meeting place|
|Heard a bell ringing||Recalled, Remembered|
|In truck loads||In huge quantities|
Gemini Studios is situated in Madras – now called Chennai. Shooting of films is done in this studio. Pancake is brand of a make-up material. Gemini Studios used to buy this make material in huge quantities.
Actresses Greta Garbol and Miss Gohar had certainly used this brand of make-up. Probably actress Vyjayantimala had also used this brand. These were actresses of long time ago. But a relatively new actress Rati Agnihotri probably did not even hear about this brand. Author is trying to say that this brand is very old. But later it vanished.
|Upstairs||First floor of a building|
|Stable||Place where horses are kept|
The make-up department of the Gemini Studios was on first floor of a building. This building was once stable of Robert Clive. (Robert Clive was a British army officer of high rank.) It is said that he had stayed in about a dozen other buildings of Madras city.
|Besides||In addition to|
Robert Clive had brief life means he did not live very long. His stay at Madras was for a very small period. He appeared to have lived in many building during his stay at Madras. He had fought several tough battles in remote areas of India. He had married a young woman at St Marry’s Church in the Fort St George. This Church is in Madras.
|At all angles||Alround|
The make room had six large mirrors in it. There were lights alround in the room. So the room looked like a hair cutting saloon.
|Incandescent lights||To give light by burning|
|Became too big||Became very famous|
These lamps produced light by burning. [Meaning these were not electrical lights. Probably these were oil lamps]. So the room used to get very hot. Because of heat, artists used to feel very uncomfortable during make-up. Initially head of this department was a Bengali. He became very famous so he left the studio.
|Succeeded by||Person who came after|
|Anglo Burmese||Englishman from Burma|
|Tamils||Persons from Tamil Nadu|
After that Bengali person, a person from Maharashtra became head of make-up department. His assistants were from Dharwar (in Karnataka), from Andhra Pradesh, an Indian Christian from Madras and a person who belonged to England and Burma. There were some local persons from Tamil Nadu also.
|Great deal of||A large amount of|
People from all parts of country worked in the make-up department. This indicates that it believed in national integration. All India Radio and Doordarshan started their programmes on national integration much after this.
|Crimson||Red and purple colour|
|Hue||Shade of colour|
Persons of this group from all parts of the country were good make-up men. They had the ability to change the appearance of a nice looking person into an ugly red face of a monster. They would use huge quantity of pancake material and local creams and lotion.
During that time, most of the film shooting was done inside a building. Only 5% of shooting was done in open area. The author imagines that it was required that boys and girls should look ugly after make-up. But in the film they looked good. The author wants to say that too much of make-up was done for each artist. He has called doing make-up as ‘making ugly’.
|Hierarchy||Rank or level|
|So forth||Similar, Likewise|
A strict level or rank was maintained in the make-up department. The chief make up man did make up of chief actors and actresses. The senior assistant did make up of other heroes and heroines. The junior artist did make up of comedian. All work was divided similarly.
The office boy of Gemini Studios did make-up for people who played the role of an ordinary person.
|Slapping on||Using hands to apply make-up|
When there was shooting for many people as part of crowd, requirement of make-up material was more. The office boy used to prepare make-up material is a big vessel. He would use his hands to apply make-up to complete his work quickly. Make-up was applied on every part of the face.
The office boy was not of the age of a boy. He had crossed the age of forty. He had come to studio to become an actor or a story writer or a director or a writer of songs. He had some qualities of poet also.
|Cubicle||Small office room|
|French window||Large door with glass panels|
|Tearing up newspaper||Repeatedly reading newspaper|
|Day in and day out||Throughout the day|
During those days I used to sit in a small office room. This office had French windows (door with glass panel) on its two side. Most of the time, while sitting at my table, I used to read newspaper throughout the day. People thought I did not have any work.
|Barge||Come without permission|
Probably boss also thought that I did not have any work. Anyone who wanted to give me work, would quickly come to my office. He would then give orders in detail.
|Enlightened||Made to understand|
|Pervert||Those who copy|
The office boy thought I should know all about the Studio and himself. He wanted me to understand that he was a talented person and that his talent was not getting utilsed in the Studio. He thought that Gemini Studio was for barbers and persons who were expert in copying.
Very soon I got bored by his talks. So I had a wish that there should always be a crowd shooting. This was the only way to keep him away and to stop his talks. Because that kept the office boy busy for the full day and he did not come to me.
In the every case of deep dissatisfaction, one would hold a single person responsible. The anger against that person could be expressed openly or indirectly. The office boy thought that only Kothamangalam Subbu was responsible for his all problems.
Subbu was the second highest official at Gemini Studios. The make-up boy and Subbu had a similar type of start in film making line.
|On the contrary||Conversely, Instead|
Instead Subbu must have faced more difficult time that the office boy. Because when Subbu started his career, established companies or studios did not exist.
|By virtue of||Because of|
Subbu was not significantly more educated that the office boy. But because Subbu was a Brahmin, he must have experienced and had advantage of better situation and being with richer people.
He was always cheerful. He would continue to be happy even after a flop film.
Subbu always assigned work to others. He did not do any work by himself. But he was always loyal to his boss. He completed every work his boss asked him to do. He was very creative person. He used his creativity for the advantage of his boss.
Subbu was the ideal person for film making. Whenever ordered, he could start thinking.
|Takes pity||Shows mercy|
|Pouring affection||Showing love|
Underwater a rat fights a tigress and kills her. But the rat takes pity at kids of tigress. The rat give them love. How should we do this scene, producer would ask Subbu. Immediately Subbu would suggest four methods by which a rat can show affection to kids of killed animal,
Producer of the film would appreciates his suggestion but would say that these were not effective. Within one minute Subbu would suggest fourteen more methods. Author wants to say that Subbu was creative and very quick.
|Golden years||Best period|
If Subbu was your colleague, film making was very easy. Subbu provided good support to Gemini Studios. Gemini studio was recognized because of his efforts. Those were the best period of Gemini Studios. It was very famous.
|Masses||General public, Common people|
Subbu was also a good poet. He had the ability to write more difficult and better forms of poetry. But intentionally he wrote his poems for the common people.
|Dwarfed||Made small, Looked small|
|Critics||Person who criticises|
Subbu was more successful in films. Therefore his achievements in literature looked very small. These were the thought of his critics.
|Story poem||Poem based on story|
|Folk refrain and diction||Folk style|
|Dozens of||In large number|
Subbu wrote many original poems based on folk stories. These poems were written in folk style. He also wrote a very big novel ‘Thillana Mohanambal’. In this novel Subbu had skillfully defined large number of characters.
|Moods and manners||Feelings and behaviour|
In this novel Subbu narrated the feelings, behaviour and social condition of Devadasis. The system of Devadasi was prevailing during early 20th Century (period starting from 1900)
|Lead roles||Main roles|
|Subsidiary||Secondary, Not the main|
Subbu was an excellent actor. He did not want to do main roles. He did not have such ambition. But in every film he played the role of secondary hero, his performance was better than that of main actors.
|Dozens of||Large number|
Subbu sincerely liked everyone he met. In his house large numbers of relatives and persons known to him used to live permanently.
|Improvident||One who spends lot of money|
It was against the nature of Subbu to think that he was giving food and support to so many people. He was a generous person and spent lot of money. Still he had enemies.
|Wish direst things||To abuse, Jealous|
Did Subbu had enemies because he was close and familiar to The Boss? Or it was because his manners were similar to a yes-man. Or because he always said good things about everything and everyone. (meaning that he did not fight with anyone). However, one person in the make-up department was jealous of and was against Subbu.
Subbu was always working with The Boss. But his attendance was done in the Story Department. This department had a lawyer and many writers and poets. The official designation of lawyer was legal advisor. But everybody called him lawyer.
|Temperamental||Hot tempered, Not calm|
|Blew over||Got angry|
A highly talented actress was also very hot tempered. She was not calm. Once she became very angry at the sets of a film. She started using bad words towards many. Everyone was very much surprised and did not know what to do. The lawyer, without saying anything, started the recording equipment. He recorded everything she had said.
The actress stopped shouting for a short break. The lawyer said ‘one minute please’. Then he played the recording.
|Incriminating||Accusing, To imply fault|
|Unmentionably||That cannot be spoken, Abuses|
|Tirade||Speech full of anger, Diatribe|
|Struck dumb||Greatly surprised|
The actress did not have any intention of finding faults of producer. She had no intention of using foul words about the producer. But she was surprised to hear her own voice once again. Unintentionally she had used foul words towards producer.
|Catapulted||Suddenly became famous|
|Sophistication||Being intelligent, Knowing social aspects,|
She was from rural area. She had not seen or experienced several practical aspects of world before she suddenly became famous. Normally people go through such aspects before becoming famous. The author wants to say that she was not matured and had not experienced realities of this cruel world.
She got afraid that day. She could never overcome her fears. Her short and brilliant career ended. The legal adviser had unintentionally ended her career.
|A coat of mail||Long coat with metallic decorations|
Every one of the Story department used to wear a khadi dhoti and a poorly stitched white khadi shirt. But the legal advisor used to wear pant, shirt and a tie. Sometimes he wore a coat that was oversized that had metallic decorations on it.
|Cold logic||Practical knowledge|
Usually the legal adviser was alone, as if no nobody could help him. He was a man of practical knowledge among those who dreamed. He appeared a neutral man among those who followed Gandhi and those who wore khadhi.
Many people who were close to The Boss were allowed to produce a film. The legal adviser was also allowed to produce a film. Lot of raw material (stage, dress etc) and make-up material was used. (Author means to say that lot of effort and money were put in making the film) But the film did not achieve success.
Then one day the Story Department was closed. Everybody of this department lost their job. So all the poets and writers of the department lost their job. The legal adviser was in the story department. So he also lost his job.
|Favourite haunt||Frequently visited|
Gemini Studios was frequently visited by many poets. The studio had an excellent mess. It made coffee throughout the day. It made coffee during most part of the night also.
|Prohibition||No alcohol consumption|
During those days, congress was ruling the country. Consumption of alcohol was not permitted. Therefore in meetings coffee was served. Such meetings were considered satisfactory entertainment. Except the office boys and some clerks, everybody else in the office appeared to be having easy working. People believed that having easy working was a pre-condition to write poetry.
|Faintest appreciation||Very small knowledge|
Most of the poets wore khadi clothes and respected Gandhiji. Beyond these two factors, they did not know anything about politics.
|Filial love||Love from family|
|Conjugal love||Love among spouse|
|Always out to||Always ready|
All of them were against communism. A communist did not have guardian. A communist did not have love from any family. A communist did not get love of a spouse. (Author wants to say that communist did not have acceptance in the society.) A communist did not feel guilty to kill his parents or children. His only motive was to create and spread unrest among innocent people.
|Forthcoming||About to come or happen|
Such type of thoughts existed all over South India. Therefore these thoughts existed unclearly among khadi wearing poets of Gemini Studios. Proof of such existence was about to happen.
|Warmer host||Suitable host|
Moral Re-Armament (MRA) group visited Madras in 1952. It was a group that did theaters. It had about 200 members in it. Frank Buchman was owner of this group. The group thought that Gemini Studios would be the most suitable place to stay in India.
|Trapeze||Type of acrobatics|
Someone said that this group was an international circus. The group did not do good acrobatics. The group did not know anything about animals. They were non-vegetarians. To that extent only they knew about animals. (The author is trying to say that it is not clear why they were called a circus.) They gave performance of two plays. They were very professional in doing those plays.
|Gemini Family||All employees of Gemini Studios|
‘Jotham Valley’ and ‘The Forgotten Factor’ were names of two plays. These were screened in Gemini Studios at Madras. All 600 employees of Gemini Studios and other citizens of Madras saw these plays many times.
|First rate||Excellent, Very good quality|
The message or teaching from these plays were direct and simple advice. Decoration of their sets and dresses of characters were of very good quality.
|Bare stage||Empty stage|
The people connected with drama in Madras and Tamil Nadu were highly impressed. For many years every play had a scene of sunrise and sunset. This was similar to that in the play “Jotham Valley”. The scene would have empty stage, a white curtain in the background and a tune on flute would be played.
|Played into their hands||Helped unknowingly|
After many years I understood that MRA was a group to counter the spread of communism. Influential people of Madras like Mr Vasan, helped MRA without realizing it.
But I am not sure the bosses unknowingly helped the cause of MRA. Because many aspects of these people and their organisation did not change after visit of MRA.
|Had a nice time||Enjoyed, Liked|
The staff of Gemini Studio enjoyed being host to 200 people. These persons were from more than 20 countries. They were of different size and of different colour. This was a big change from the normal routine of the studio. In normal routine people used to be similar and office boy applied thick layer of make-up. This was not the situation with MRA group.
After some months, there was a telephone call to the big bosses of Madras. One big stage of film shooting at the Gemini Studios was once again cleaned to welcome the visitor. They said the visitor was coming from England. He was a poet.
The staff of Gemini Studios knew about only two poets of England – Wordsworth and Tennyson. Those who were more educated knew about Keats, Shelley and Byron. Very few may know about Eliot. Name of the poet visiting the studio was not known to anyone.
Somebody told that the visitor was not a poet. He was an editor. Hence the boss was giving him a big welcome. Vasan, the boss of Gemini Studios, was also an editor of a Tamil weekly magazine – Anannda Vikatan.
People working at Gemini Studios knew names of many publications of England. But the visitor was not editor of any of these newspapers.
“The Hindu” is a daily newspaper of India. “The Manchester Guardian” and “London Times” are daily newspapers of England.
The boss of ‘The Hindu’ was taking initiative in the visit of the poet. Therefore it was an assumption that the poet was editor of a daily newspaper of England. It was also a guess that the poet was not the editor of ‘The Manchester Guardian’ or ‘London Times’. This was all any of us knew about the visitor. And that was all the information we had about the visitor.
Finally, around four in the afternoon the visitor reached Gemini Studios. We did not know if he was a poet or an editor. He was very tall, English (he was from Britain) and serious looking person. Certainly we did not know him.
|Precious little||Very less|
Six pedestal fans were installed on the stage. Because of air from these fans, the boss had difficulty in holding papers. The boss read a speech from the shooting stage. Through the speech it became known to us that he also did not know much about the poet or the editor.
|Here and there||Sometimes, In between|
It was a speech on general topics. But in between words like ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ were used.
|Accent||Style of speaking|
After that, the poet gave a speech. We all were confused and silent listeners. None of us understood what he was talking about. Because of his style of speaking, we could not understand what he was saying.
Duration of his visit was one hour. After the poet had gone, we also went away. We were completely confused about what had happened.
|Least afforded||Could not do, Not possible|
|Cultivating a taste||Start liking|
People wondered why an English poet had come to Gemini Studios. The studio used to make Tamil films for common people. Life style of these people was simple. It was not possible for these people to start liking English poetry.
|Incongruity||Not matching, Strange|
|Travails||Difficulties, Unpleasant experience|
The poet was also very much confused. Because he must have felt his talks about thrills and difficulties of English poet was not matching with taste and understanding of his audience. Therefore reason of the visit of the poet could not be explained or understood.
The author believes that the occupation of writing prose is not a work of a truly genius. Day by day his belief has become stronger. Though great writers of prose would never agree with him.
|Drudge||Hard working, Monotonous work|
Prose writing is for persons who are calm, determined and hard working. Nothing can break their heart. Rejection of their writing does not mean a big setback to them. He immediately makes a new copy of his prose and sends it to another editor. He would enclose a self-addressed and stamped envelope with his hand written prose. So that if rejected, his work can be sent back to him.
For such people, ‘The Hindu’ had published a very small advertisement in a small corner of an unimportant page. It was about a short story competition by a British magazine ‘The Encounter’.
|Literati||Person interested in literature|
|Considerable sum||Large amount of money|
Certainly ‘The Encounter’ was not known to the educated people of Gemini Studios. I wanted to participate in the competition. But sending the manuscript through post to England was expensive. Before spending money I wanted to know about this periodical.
|Sneak||Enter without getting noticed|
|Forbidden||Prohibited, Not permitted|
During those days, the British Council Library did not have signboards with long lines of notices. Therefore no one felt that one was secretly entering into a prohibited area.
|Heard a bell ringing||Recalled|
In the library, there were many copies of ‘The Encounter’. Some were new and some were old, some had not been touched by anyone. When I read name of the editor, I recalled something in sad heart.
The editor was the poet who had come to the Gemini Studios. I felt as if he was my brother. I started singing. (Author felt that the editor would favour him because they knew each other.) I sealed the envelope and wrote address.
I imagined that the editor would also be singing the same song. It would be similar to Indian films. At the start of the film brothers sing a song. Then they get separated out. In the end of the film, they sing the same song and recognize each other. (Author is imagining and hoping that the editor would recognize him). Stephen Spender was the name of the editor.
After many years, I was not working at Gemini Studios. Now I had more time but less money. Hence I would get attracted to things being sold at reduced price.
On the footpath of the Mount Road Post office in Madras, author saw a heap of brand new books. These were being sold for fifty paise each. These were copies of the same book. A beautiful paperback edition printed in America.
These were specially priced low for students on the occasion of 50th Anniversary of Russian Revolution. I purchased the book “The God That Failed”.
|Men of letters||Writers|
Six famous writer had written separate essays in the book. They had recorded their experience of accepting Communism and their return after getting disappointed. One of the writers was Stephen Spender.
|Tremendous||Very high, Large|
After knowing the name of Stephen Spender, the book became very important. Stephen Spender was the poet who had visited Gemini Studios. Suddenly I could recall the poet in my mind. The unknown poet was now known to me.
|No longer||Not now, Not anymore|
|Not have much to do with||Not interested|
The response given to Stephen Spender at Gemini Studios was now not a secret. The Boss of Gemini Studio was not interested in the poetry of Stephen Spender. But he was interested in listening to the disappointment of Stephen Spender with communism. ( Here the word ‘god’ refers to communism.)