Malayalee in a ‘ping lungi’
By V Sudarshan
15th December 2012 11:40 PM
A couple of years ago my wife showed me an e-mail she received with a link to a song in YouTube. It was called “I am a Malayalee”. The song was about a very sexy Malayalee, who everybody calls Cheta, a card-holding member of the Marxist party given to wearing “ping lungi” and Bata chappals who leaves his wife, Kappa Meen curry, and the Maruti car he got as dowry behind to go to the “Gelf” to earn a big fat salary and where he sticks to drinking brandy whereas everybody else is drinking scotch whisky. His party gets busted by a policeman wearing an Arab headgear. The video featured many mustachioed men, obviously Malayalees, who parade up and down in their lungis (some flying at half-mast), eating beef, drinking. The tune was very catchy and soon it became obvious why: it was being sung to the tune of Queen’s I want to break free, which is difficult to shake off once it is in your head. I found it funny, a light-hearted spoof on Malayalees and their accents and heard it again wondering when the Tamil and the Bengali versions were going to come along. I pictured Pranab Mukherjee singing the song with a Bengali leitmotif but of course that was a year ago, before he managed to actually break free of Soniaji and Congress. The mail had been from a doctor who mentioned that the person singing the song was a friend, a dentist practising in Chennai.
Much later, a colleague in Kerala showed me the same song he’d received through e-mail and discovered everybody knew the zany song. Then I forgot all about it till a toothache seized me and my wife suggested “why don’t you see ‘that YouTube dentist’’’? Being partial to humourists of any kind, I tracked him down and set up an appointment. The dentist who wrote the song and sang it is Yohan Chacko, who plays keyboard, guitar and tenor saxophone when he is not being a dentist and what’s more—most of the moustachioed Malayalee characters in the song are dentists as well!
Yohan began writing the song (which also generated brickbats from enraged viewers) in a notebook in 2006 and rediscovered it when he was rearranging furniture in his Kuwait flat a year later, and thought it looked promising and took it to the hospital where he worked, the Jahra Dental Speciality Hospital, where he completed the song in the breaks between root canal patients, and showed it to a fellow musician and dentist, Jaison George, and Ramesh Unnikrishnan (not a dentist) who added a few touches and then they were ready to record. It was done in a single take and after the mixdown, it was sent without song credits to friends via e-mail. It went viral and six months later they saw Shahir (another doctor, in Australia) dancing to the song in YouTube wearing a lungi (not pink) and thought of making the “official video”, which was duly recorded in 2008 in part during Yohan’s farewell party in Kuwait and in his flat at 49, Al Dallah Complex, Riggae, Kuwait, and at the flat of another doctor, John Joy, who provided the storyline and camerawork. The cumulative hits for the song is 9,26,703. For those who like this song there are a couple others worth checking out: The Land of the Lungi based on a Men At Work song and Hotel Keralafornia, and Chacko No. 5 which also Yohan has sung.
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