This morning my mother’s driver picked me up at Chennai airport – sorry, Kamaraj International airport! And as soon as he started the car, the Tamil FM channel (which must be his favorite) blared out the latest film hits. FM music channels have become the most popular form of entertainment for common folks of all ages, facilitated by the universal availability of a radio in cell phones. The music had a “ding-chika-ding-chika” rhythm to it that seems to pervade the popular hits in all languages. The DJ was a cheeky, young female voice who spoke in a lilting, sing song, super fast Tamil.
I gently asked Saravanan to lower the volume and he promptly changed channel to the local English one. This is probably what my brother, who he ususally drives around, listens to. To me, the songs were as unfamiliar as the Tamil ones as I have no familiarity with the post-70s music. But, what struck me was that the DJ spoke English with the same cheeky tone and lilt and speed as her Tamil counterpart. A casual listener may not have been able to differentiate the two.
So as we made the long drive to Kilpauk, I listened to what this lady had to say. She was conducting a caller based interview between the songs on whether Dhoni deserved to get the amount of money he did. The subject was provoked by the fact that some agency (these are mushrooming) had ranked him as the 31st richest sportsperson in the world. Dhoni is, of course, a local hero and somewhat of a adopted Tamilian. The 3 callers I heard varied in their opinion from a resounding YES to a sceptical (jealous?) NO. But what I found entertaining was the request made by the DJ to each caller to send a loud lip smacking ‘kiss’ at the end of the call. She claimed that this was a trademark of her program. And each time she proceeded to give a demo. While one caller obliged enthusiastically, one was hesitant and the third was fairly flummoxed, giving her the chance to make a few cheeky comments at his expense.
In parallel she was also running a quiz, asking callers for the kind of partner they would like to ‘date’ – and the again only male callers, all of whom were looking for good looking, caring girls!!
Dating, kissing – language that seemed a little culturally alien! Would there be similar discussions in the Tamil channel? or is it par for the course for those who listen to Western pop? And then I felt that maybe it is me who is out of sync with the time, the language and mores of the young has changed, just as the music has!! This is truly the FM generation.