The Open Dosa

Consuming the Ordinary Differently

Why a Malayalam Film is making me miss Bangalore

Moving to Hyderabad was a well thought out plan. I was mentally prepared to leave home, and emotionally desperate to. Though getting accepted by the University of my choice was doubtful, I was prepared to leave and start living alone.

I did this knowing my parents would miss me quite a bit, and they allowed it knowing I had to do this. This is my fourth month away from and it’s only now registering that I’m not in my city.

You know, the only difference between staying at home and somewhere else that gets to me is how we drink water. At home, I drink water from a steel tumbler with sharp edges. Here, I’m living on water I’ve filled in two bottles. I miss drinking from glasses smelling of lemon and wooden shelves.

Bangalore has been home for always, and I’d quickly become frustrated with the growing city, crazy traffic, and new people. Why would people want to be there? That’s one thing this movie made me remember. Because it’s home. Because I can. Because anything you want can happen and everything that happens moves you.

For the first time in a while, a movie did for me what most people couldn’t do. Bangalore Days made me look for glimpses of home in places and people on screen, made me yearn for the familiar while I’m here drowning in love for a new place that’s become mine by choice and default.

I’ve been wanting to watch this movie for quite some time now and I’d left the file on my desktop for a week, at least, hoping to be tempted into opening it three years too late. So in the small window between my evening shower and dinner, I clicked on this media file to keep me company, all the while brushing my hair and cleaning up.

It was the scene with the astrologer that got me interested. If you know a bit about me, you know I’ve been hounded by people deciphering the planetary motions and the lines on my palm that are supposed to foretell my future. I sat down in front of my laptop deciding to laugh at the poor girl’s life which was no longer going to be her own.

And down the rabbit hole I went. Two persistent phone calls from friends urged me to put Bangalore Days on hold and rush through dinner. Forty minutes through the movie and I couldn’t wait to get back to Divya and Arjun and Kuttan. How different Bangalore looked to them, and how different it looked to me.

I sat in the Mess hall, demolishing a plate of chicken and roti, and thinking about the last scene I watched before I was forced to pause it. ‘Radio Indigo’ bounced around in my head for a while before I turned to A and smiled, remembering the RJs we heard growing up. Rohit Barker, Michelle, Melody, Nathan, Sriram, and most of the weekend guests were people important to one growing up, especially if this someone was trying to get acclimated to western music.

Radio Indigo 91.9 FM was where all the cool kids hung out, where Bangalore began for teenagers and for adults who never grew up too much. It was, for me, where Bangalore was most pronounced—behind the voices of Bangaloreans we never put a face to, who spoke in an English which shared my accent and shot out names of rappers and tunes like they were born listening to it, trying to make Kannadigas and everyone else in the city enjoy music and discussions that were not part of the regular Kannadiga household, with the few exceptions of Boney M, MJ, Abba, Bob Marley etc.

It reminded me of Sriram shifting to a different radio station and the sense of betrayal I felt when I heard him on it, and not on 91.9. I grieved for a while. I got back to my room and hit ‘Play.’

Kuttan’s mother is changing channels on the TV. Remember when we had only a hundred channels? I do. I’d always tried to go beyond hundred, though after number 95 all channels were blank screens. Cartoon Network was always between channels 35 and 40 at home. I don’t watch TV here, I just use my laptop.

When I got to Hyderabad, I was slightly comforted by the fact that I knew Telugu and Hindi, that I could manage quite easily. But the damndest thing was, and is, the heat. And I was wrong about the first part with the languages as well. The campus I live on has a lot of Malayali speakers.

I can cry because I don’t understand what they’re saying, though I understand they’re having fun. Here was the Malayalam element that’s always annoyed and charmed me equally. It annoyed me because that’s one language I could never get a handle on, and charmed me because it sounds so much like the Kannada my ajji speaks: all smooth and round and flowy, like it’s so effortless the way it rolls of one’s tongue.

Credits -

Credits –

My four friends from school—the ones I haven’t managed to run off—are all Malayalis. I never bothered to learn the language from them, and now it frustrates me that I can’t speak it. Their Malayali presence was never overwhelming enough to make me want to learn about their lives in their language. Our stories were expressed, quite efficiently, in the standard crisp English supervised by our teachers.

It got better when we got older and found our own English to communicate in. Baffling me entirely, however, the Malayalam in the movie sounded like home, like Bangalore, like it has always been there.

Home isn’t always comfortable. Or easy. It’s home because it’s mine. I never thought I’d miss one home while living in another.


Featured Image credits –

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Vismaya Vishwa

Resident of the Fantasy world. You can reach me through owl posts. An avid reader and obsessively compulsive about organising everything. Aspiring mountain climber. Student of St. Joseph's college, UG, second year. One of the few remaining specimens of native Bangaloreans.

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