Thursday, February 16, 2017

Vaadivaasal:Arena - C S Chellappa

Rating: 3.5/5
Read between 25th January,2017 and 27th January,2017

Edition Details:
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 88
Publisher: Oxford Novellas
Translator: N Kalyan Raman
Original Language : Tamil
First Sentence:
Long before the Jallikattu was due to commence, a packed crowd had gathered around the vaadivassal, with more and more people streaming in every minute.

Chellayi Saatu was renowned for it's jallikattu. 'If you ever hold down a bull, you should do it at Chellayi jallikattu. The best sanguvaadi ever! After all not every event can qualify as a kattu.', was what they boasted of the event. Fighters used to come from eastern and southern regions to tame the bull and garner the accolades and popularity that was bestowed after such an spectacle.

This year was no different. From the past two years the Vaadipuram bull, Kari had made the highlights in the event. No one was able to tame it. It was Periyapatti zameendaar's most prized possession and considered practically untameable.

Picchi and Marudan had come from the east specifically from the Usilanoor to participate in the event. They came from the village which was famous for it's bull tamers. And they had a specific purpose in mind,to tame the untameable.

Why did they want to do that? Would they be successful in doing that? How will Zameendar, whose pride, depended on it would react to it?


Last,year i had decided that i would be focusing more on the regional literature(literature that was written in regional languages of India). I knew it meant that i'd be reading a lot of translations and when it comes to translation of regional language work i try to get Hindi translation of it. But if Hindi translation is not available then i make do with the English one. So, i had purchased this book because i knew i was not acquainted with Tamil literature. And after buying i forgot all about it. It kept lying in my collection. Then few months back all the furore started happening about ban on Jallikattu. Now i knew the basic details ie it involved bulls and men trying to do something with them like there were bull fights in Spain. But that was the technical aspect of it. I was not aware of cultural aspect of it and then i remembered this book. I knew it would be the best time to read it.

Now about the book. The introduction of the book gives you a lot of interesting information about jallikattu.  How this sport evolved with time and reached to it's present form?  The introduction also gives history of Tamil literature and importance of Chellappa. I was surprised to learn that first Tamil novel was published around 1879. Before that i used think that Tamil novels have been present since ancient time.

The story of the novella is about a Jallikattu event that is being organised in Chellayi. It describes a day of that event. How the event starts and how it ends? The various characters of the novella are there for the event. There are bull tamers Picchi and Maurudan who have come here for some personal reason. Then there is the zameendar for whom this festival signifies an event to show case the prowess of his bulls. He takes direct pride in it. There's Murugu who's an arrogant prick because he lives in the zameen of Zameendar and thinks too much of himself because of this. Also, he's said to be the best tamer there and hence is condescending to every one. Then there is the old guy who acts a friend to the young easterners and guides them through out the event. You can see how the people treat this event. It was a way to worship the town goddess.

If the Amman was to be worshipped, it could not be done without a jallikattu.

It's manly event and people do it to get the glory.

Competition among them was not over the scarfs, which was worth four or eight anaans at the most, but for the distinction of being known as someone who grabbed eight or ten scarves. Even if a man was gored, the entire province talked about him with admiration.

The bull taming scenes were full of action and i enjoyed reading those. Also, while reading the novel you can clearly see the dynamics between various classes. The zameendaar commands huge respect and other people are conditioned to give him that. At one instant Picchi is injured but he feels guilty for talking to Zameendar while lying down. He wanted to stand to pay his respects to him. You can see these differences but you can also see that Zameendar is not your regular villainous guy. He doesn't seems to be a oppressor and clearly values valour. He's angry for losing but is not angry at the bull tamer and thus is not a cliched character.

I enjoyed reading the book and it could be read one time although i wished it would have been a little longer. I wanted to know about how the life of these characters progressed after this event.What happened to Picchi after this event. Did he recovered?  Did he keep going to such events?  What happened to Zameendar?

You can get the book from the following link:
Amazon

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