CBSE Class 12 English - Poets and Pancakes
About the story: The following chapter is an excerpt from Asokamitran’s book "My Years with Boss". In this, he basically recounts his years at the famous Gemini studio that was located in Chenna
About the Author: Ashokamitran was the pen name of Jagadisa Thyagarajan who was an Indian writer. He has written over 200 short stories, eight novels, some 15 novellas besides other prose writings. Most of his works have also been translated into English and other Indian languages, including Hindi, Malayalam, and Telugu.
Theme Of the Story
The narrative gives an insight into how different people work together despite their casual dislike for each other and how different is the reel life from real life.
- Was In his forties whose main task was to do crowd make - up
- Aspired to become an actor, lyricist, director, writer.
- Was jealous of Subbu and said direst things about him.
- Was called “number two“ of the Gemini Studio
- Was a Brahmin.
- Loyal and charitable and had a genuine love for anyone he came across and his house always had visitors who were his far relatives and acquaintances.
- Was tailor-made for films and an extremely talented actor who came up with various alternatives to perform one scene.
- A sycophant.
Legal Advisor or Lawyer:
- Wore pants, tie and a coat sometimes.
- Looked alone and helpless.
- Responsible for bringing an end to the career of the extremely talented actress.
- A neutral man in the assembly of Gandhites and Khadiites.
- Lost his job when the poets were asked to go home.
Asokamitran’s job at the Gemini studio was to cut out the newspaper clippings on different subjects and store them in files. He worked in a cubicle and people usually thought that he wasn’t doing anything and delivered a lecture to him venting out their own frustrations and anger on him. He begins by telling about the make -up material that the Gemini studios bought in truckloads called Pancake.which has been used on many famous actors and actresses. Then in a humorous way, he begins critiquing the makeup department which is responsible for making people look ugly, and that there was a strike hierarchy that was followed in make -up department according to which everyone worked.
Then there was an office boy who wanted to become an actor, writer, director or lyrics writer and was a bit of a poet too. Through the office boy, he tries to show the plight of aspiring or struggling actors who end up doing a completely different job.
The main character that he talks about is Kothamanglam Subbu who along with being born a Brahmin by virtue also has many other qualities like he was tailor-made for films and film - making must be easy with him around. He was a poet too and he would come out with many alternatives to enact one scene.
Despite his good nature, he had many enemies in the studio who were jealous of him. Then he shifts to the legal adviser and how he was the one responsible to bring an end to an actress’s acting career. There was a story department at the studio too whose boss was Subbu. Then the narrative takes a political shift where communism that was a newly emerged ideology for the people in India is discussed.
He writes that the poets loved Gandhiji but an inclination towards his ideas and they also had a strong dislike for communism too because of what it did to the Soviet Union.
The arrival of the Moral Re-Armament Army at Gemini studios was stepped to spread anti-communist feelings in South India by presenting two plays at the studio as they knew the significance, the influence and reach of the studio. After some time another guest has visited Gemini studio who was unknown to all and welcomed by Mr. Vasan (the boss). He gave a long speech on freedom and democracy. After somedays, Asokamitran saw a British periodical named
The Encounter and he wanted to send his entry and have some information beforehand and so he visited the British Council Library. There he found the copies of The Encounter and learned that its editor was Stephen Spender the unknown visitor at the Studio.