Poets and Pancakes
Thinkg as You Read
Question 1: What does the writer mean by ‘the fiery misery’ of those subjected to make-up?
Answer: There weer numerous incandescent lights fitted near mirrors in the make-up studio. Those lights generated lot of heat and must have made the make-up room too warm for comfort. The discomfort caused by the heat of those lights must be causing lot of misery to a person who may be sitting for getting make-up done on his/her face. The author means this by the ‘fiery misery’.
Question 2: What is the example of national integration that the author refers to?
Answer: The author refers to the cosmopolitan constitution of the staff of Gemini Sutdios. People from all corners of the country were working at the Studios. This must have been a perfect boiling pot of national integration.
Question 3: What work did the ‘office boy’ do in the Gemini Studios? Wy did he join the studios? Why was he disappointed?
Answer: The office boy’s job was to apply make-up to people who played the role of crowd. The office boy joined the studios in the hope of becoming a big star. But he was stuck in the same job. He thought of himself to be a person of literary talent who could conjure up poetries. He thought that his real talent was not getting due recognition. Hence, he was disappointed.
Question 4: Why did the author appear to be doing nothing at the studios?
Answer: The author’s job was to take out cuttings from newspaper and filing them. He could be seen cutting off an article and filing that throughout the day. He could be seen sitting on the same desk throughout the day. At a workplace which was generally teeming with intense activity, there was this person who kept sitting on his chair all the time. So, for others the author appeared to be doing nothing at the studios.
Question 5: Why was the office boy frustrated? Who did he show his anger on?
Answer: The office boy was frustrated for not getting an assignment as per his talent and inclination. He was frustrated as he felt being deprived of showing his true talent. He always showed anger on Subbu, the number two man in the Studios.
Question 6: Who was Subbu’s principal?
Answer: S. S. Vasan
Question 7: Subbu is described as a many-sided genius. List four of his special abilities.
Answer: Subbu possessed many talents. Four of his special abilities are as follows:
- Subbu always smiled even in case of failure and dejection.
- Subbu was always inspired to come out with various ways to enact a scene.
- Subbu always had a work for everyone else.
- Subbu was an ace at writing poetry.
Question 8: Why was the legal adviser referred to as the opposite by others?
Answer: The legal adviser probably never worked according to his job profile. He often came up with stupid ideas which could land anyone in soup. There is one such instance in the story when his stupid act caused abrupt end of the career of an actress.
Question 9: What made the lawyer stand out from the others at Gemini Studios?
Answer: The lawyer was part of the story department which is an unlikely place for a lawer. Due to his antics, he was often referred to as the illegal adviser.
Question 10: Did the people at Gemini Studios have any particular political affiliations?
Answer: People at Gemini Sutdios were leaned toward the Congress Party and kept distance from anything with semblance to communism.
Question 11: Why was the Moral Rearmament Army welcomed at the Studios?
Answer: Subbu was a good host who was always ready to open his doors for anybody and everybody. The Moral Rearmament Army could not have got a warmer host as the Gemini Studios. People at the Studios had deep ingrained habit of welcoming everbody. That is why the Moral Rearmament Army was welcomed at the Sutdios.
Question 12: Name one example to show that Gemini Studios was influneced by the plays staged by MRA.
Answer: The Tamil film community was greatly impressed by the first rate sets and costumes of the MRA. The impact was so profound that many future plays in Tamil always showed a scene with sunrise or sunset with a bare background, white screen and flute playing in the background.
Question 13: Who was the Boss of Gemini Studios?
Answer: S S Vasan
Question 14: What caused the lack of communication between the Englishman and the people at Gemini Studios?
Answer: The people at Gemini Studios had rudimentary knowledge of English. This knowledge was not enough to comprehend the speech of the Englishman. This caused the lack of communication between the Englishman and the people at Gemini Sutdios.
Question 15: Why is the Englishman’s visit referred to as unexplained mystery?
Answer: Nobody knew anything about the Englishman. Nobody understood the speech of the Boss. Furthermore, nobody understood a single sentence uttered by the Englishman. Nobody was sure about the purpose of a visit by an English poet to a studio which was full of Tamil people who made simple films for common people. So, the Englishman’s visit is referred to as unexplained mystery.
Question 16: Who was the English visitor to the studios?
Answer: He was probably a poet or an editor who worked for some English periodical in England.
Question 17: How did the author discover who the English visitor to the studios was?
Answer: When the author wanted to participate in a writing competition, he wanted to do more research about the organisation which was holding the competition. In order to do his research the author went to the British Council Library to enquire about The Encounter (a periodical). The pages of the periodical revealed the identity of the English visitor.
Question 18: What does The God that Failed refer to?
Answer: The God that Failed was written by six learned men. The wrote about their joruney into communism and their disillusioned return. They went on the explore communism only to get disillusioned by the idea. Communism began with a great promise of uplifting the masses but ended up creating autocratic regimes in the world.
Understanding the Text
Question 1: The author has used gentle humour to point out human foibles. Pick out instances of this to show how this serves to make the piece interesting.
Answer: There are numerous instances where author has used gentle humour to point out human weaknesses. The story begins with the goal of make-up which author thinks is to make people uglier than they are. The author then talks about the office boy who was not a boy at all. The author also talks about prevalent sycophancy as an integral part of a workplace.
Question 2: Why was Kothamangalam Subbu considered No. 2 in Gemini Studios?
Answer: Kothamangalam Subbu was all pervasive in the Gemini Studios. He was able to give orders to everybody else in the sutdios. He always came up with grand solutions to the problems faced by his Boss. He was even able to land in petty roles in various movies. He even succeeded in making a movie. These are the reasons he was considered No. 2 in Gemini Studios.
Question 3: How does the author describe the incongruity of an English poet addressing the audience at Gemini Studios?
Answer: The studio was full of people who thought in Tamil language and who had rudimentary knowledge of English. The people at the studio made simple films for a Tamil-speakign audience. Here was an English poet speaking about high literary form in English with an accent that was barely decipherable to anyone present there. The author says that the audience must have been puzzled about what was it doing there. The Englishman must also have been baffled finding him out of the place.
Question 4: What do you understand about the author’s literary inclinations from the account?
Answer: The author seriously wanted to pursue a career in literature. He started working at the Studios to meet his ends. His vivid depiction of the make-up department and various characters shows that he has an eye for detail. It shows that he is a keen observer, an invaluable asset for a writer. His willingness to participate in the writing competition shows his desire to make big at the literary stage.