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For 2024 Board Exam
CBSE Competency Based Questions:
Class 10
Class 12

Poets and Pancakes: Board Exams 2024

Updated: Oct 29, 2023

Lesson Architecture


Introduction:


  • Poets and Pancakes, an extract from the author's book 'My Years with Boss" is a beautiful account of the inside activities of the famous Gemini Studios through the office boy' who worked in the make-up department.

  • The office boy', that is, the author, performed an insignificant function in the studios but he had literary aspirations. How he aspired for higher things in the literary circles is beautifully couched in a simple yet humorous manner!

  • His allusion to himself in 'God that Failed' symbolises his literary status though unknown and unrecognised in the Studios.

  • The chapter becomes a knowledgeable and satisfying reading into the Studios' different departments and their working, in a witty and humorous style.

  • The title refers to the poets and pancakes, matter used for make-up and is humorous in its incongruity between the two.

Interpreting Poets & Pancakes


1. Introduction to Memoir:

- The text discusses the concept of memoirs.

- Memoirs are personal accounts of a person's memories and experiences.

- It explores the idea that a memoir is like reading someone's life story.


2. Understanding Memoirs:

- Memoirs are narratives filled with memories and life experiences.

- They are believed to represent the ultimate truth of a person's life.

- However, there exists a paradox regarding the accuracy of memoirs.


3. Factors Influencing Autobiography:

- Autobiographies depend on factors like a writer's identification with his narrative.

- The intensity of personal experiences plays a significant role.

- The space created in the narrative is important, determining subjectivity and objectivity.


4. Reading Autobiographies Critically

- Suggests reading autobiographies with a critical eye.

- Encourages readers to seek evidence and consider the layers within the text.

- Acknowledges the interplay of fact and fiction in autobiographical writing.


5. The Essence of Autobiographies:

- Autobiographies are typically written later in a writer's life.

- They involve reflection and self-analysis.

- The narrative is based on a deep understanding of life experiences.


6. Ashok Mitran and "Poets and Pancakes"

- Ashok Mitran, a Tamil writer, worked at Gemini Studio, which serves as the context.

- Discusses the unique atmosphere of Gemini Studio during Mitran's time.

- Highlights the relevance of his autobiography in the present day.


7. Ambience of Gemini Studio

- Describes the vibrant and glittery atmosphere of Gemini Studio.

- Mentions various departments within the studio, including makeup and story departments.

- Notable mention of the extravagant makeup techniques used.


8. Internal Politics

- Gemini Studio had a complex internal culture with jealousy and rivalry.

- Ashok Mitran played a unique role in the studio, engaging with various departments.

- A humorous anecdote about the makeup department's outdated techniques is shared.


9. International and National Atmosphere

- Connects the global context of the Moral Re-Armament movement with the studio.

- Discusses the movement's aim to return to religious values and its influence.

- Reflects the prevalent international atmosphere during the Second World War.


10. Relevance and Interpretation of the Title

- Explores the paradox of the title "Poets and Pancakes" in relation to the text's content.

- Highlights how the text discusses much more than the title suggests.

- Encourages readers to delve deeper into the layers and dimensions of the text and its context.


Socio-Polictical Context


Poets and Pancakes" takes place in a dynamic post-independence India, offering a microcosmic view of the social and political dynamics of the period. It explores themes related to the film industry, gender roles, working-class struggles, ideological divisions, the impact of global events, and the flourishing of cultural and artistic expressions. The story provides a lens through which readers can better understand the multifaceted nature of society during a transformative era in India's history.


Social Context


The Film Industry: Gemini Studio is a central setting of the story, and it reflects the thriving Indian film industry of the time. The post-independence era marked the growth of Indian cinema, and studios like Gemini were at the forefront of this cultural phenomenon. The film industry was not just about entertainment but also played a role in shaping societal norms and values.


Gender Roles: The story provides glimpses of the gender roles prevalent in Indian society during that period. The expectation that women should maintain a certain appearance, as depicted in the humorous anecdote about the makeup department, reflects the traditional gender norms of the time.


The story touches upon the experiences of the working class, particularly those aspiring to be part of the film industry. It highlights the challenges, aspirations, and dreams of those who were trying to make a living in the dynamic world of cinema.


Political Context


Ideological Divisions: The story alludes to the ideological divisions in society, particularly the contrasting views on communism. Some characters express skepticism or opposition to communism, reflecting the broader political debates of the era. The ideological landscape of India was diverse, with different groups advocating for various political and economic systems.


Moral Re-Armament Movement: The presence of the Moral Re-Armament Movement in the story highlights the influence of spiritual and moral ideologies on society. The movement aimed to emphasize the importance of values, faith, and ethics in a rapidly changing world. This reflects the ongoing dialogue about spirituality and ethics in post-independence India.


They aimed to encourage people to turn back to God, embrace ethical principles, and live according to religious values. The plays they present within the story are imbued with this ideology, emphasizing reconciliation, goodwill, and the importance of moral values. While not explicitly divisive, the presence of this group hints at the larger ideological divisions in society, where different groups advocated for varying sets of values and principles.


Global Impact of World War II: The story indirectly alludes to the global impact of World War II. This war had profound consequences for India and the world, leading to significant social, economic, and political changes. The references to the war set the backdrop for the story, illustrating the broader international context of the time.


Cultural and Artistic Flourishing


Despite political and social challenges, the post-independence period was marked by a cultural and artistic renaissance in India. This included the growth of literature, art, music, and cinema. "Poets and Pancakes" offers insights into the artistic and cultural milieu of the time, especially within the film industry.


Ideological Divisions in the story


The story provides hints of ideological divisions through the following instances:


Moral Rearmament Movement:

One of the central occurrences in the story is the visit of the Moral Rearmament Movement to the Gemini Studio. This group represents a particular ideology with a strong emphasis on religious and moral values. They aimed to encourage people to turn back to God, embrace ethical principles, and live according to religious values. The plays they present within the story are imbued with this ideology, emphasizing reconciliation, goodwill, and the importance of moral values. While not explicitly divisive, the presence of this group hints at the larger ideological divisions in society, where different groups advocated for varying sets of values and principles.


Anti-Communism Sentiment

The story subtly alludes to anti-communist sentiments among the people working in Gemini Studio. There is a reference to their disapproval of communism, which was a significant ideological division in India during that era. The story doesn't elaborate on their understanding of communism but suggests that, similar to the global Cold War context, there was skepticism about communist ideals and their compatibility with India's culture and values.


Cultural Integration

The presence of the head of the makeup department in Gemini Studio, representing different regions of India, implies a degree of cultural integration and understanding. While this doesn't directly address ideological divisions, it highlights the significance of cultural diversity in Indian society. It hints at the effort to bring together people from different backgrounds within the film industry, showing that, despite ideological differences, people from diverse regions worked together in the studio.


Negative Comments About The Moral Rearmament Movement

The story includes remarks made by the staff at Gemini Studio, suggesting that they weren't entirely enthusiastic about the Moral Rearmament Movement. They considered it somewhat absurd or ineffective, indicating divisions in how different individuals perceived or valued the movement's ideological principles.


It's important to note that these instances provide a subtle backdrop of ideological divisions without going into great detail. The story primarily focuses on the day-to-day workings of the film studio and the interactions among its employees. However, these subtle elements within the narrative reflect the broader socio-political context of post-independence India, where various ideological divisions existed and influenced society and cultural institutions like the film industry.


Conept Video-A must watch for Background information and Plot










Working of Gemini Studio



Jotham Valley by IOC Film Archives


Moral Rearmament Movement



Poets & Pancakes, Part I
Poets & Pancakes, Part II

Easy English Translation

Para 1 ( Page 57-58)

Pancake was the brand name of the make-up material that Gemini Studios bought in truck-loads. Greta Garbo must have used it, Miss Gohar must have used it, Vyjayantimala must also have used it but Rati Agnihotri may not have even heard of it. The make-up department of the Gemini

Studios was in the upstairs of a building that was believed to have been Robert Clive’s stables. A dozen other buildings in the city are said to have been his residence. For his brief life and an even briefer stay in Madras, Robert Clive seems to have done a lot of moving, besides fighting some

impossible battles in remote corners of India and marrying a maiden in St. Mary’s Church in Fort St. George in Madras.


Easy English:


"Pancake" was the name of the makeup that Gemini Studios used a lot. Famous actors like Greta Garbo, Miss Gohar, and Vyjayantimala might have used it, but Rati Agnihotri may not have even heard of it. The makeup department of Gemini Studios was located on the upper floor of a building that was believed to be Robert Clive's stables. Some people say that about a dozen other buildings in the city were also believed to be his homes. Even though Robert Clive lived a short life and spent only a short time in Madras, he seemed to have moved around a lot. Besides, he fought some very difficult battles in faraway parts of India and got married in St. Mary's Church in Fort St. George in Madras.

Bonus Info

Robert Clive, who was a British military officer and administrator during the time of British colonial rule in India. It mentions that Robert Clive lived for a relatively short period and didn't spend much time in Madras (now Chennai, a city in India).


Despite his short life and brief stay in Madras, Robert Clive was involved in various military campaigns and battles in distant regions of India. This suggests that he was quite active and played a significant role in the British efforts to expand their influence and control in India during that time. His actions had far-reaching consequences and shaped the course of history in India during the colonial period.


Para 2 ( Page 58-59)

The make-up room had the look of a hair-cutting salon with lights at all angles around half a dozen large mirrors. They were all incandescent lights, so you can imagine the fiery misery of those subjected to make-up. The make-up department was first headed by a Bengali who became too

big for a studio and left. He was succeeded by a Maharashtrian who was assisted by a Dharwar Kannadiga, an Andhra, a Madras Indian Christian, an Anglo-Burmese and the usual local Tamils. All this shows that there was a great deal of national integration long before A.I.R. and Doordarshan began broadcasting programmes on national integration. This gang of nationally integrated make-up men could turn any decent-looking person into a hideous crimson

hued monster with the help of truck-loads of pancake and a number of other locally made potions and lotions. Those were the days of mainly indoor shooting, and only five per cent of the film was shot outdoors. I suppose the sets and studio lights needed the girls and boys to be made to

look ugly in order to look presentable in the movie. A strict hierarchy was maintained in the

make-up department. The chief make-up man made the chief actors and actresses ugly, his senior assistant the ‘second’ hero and heroine, the junior assistant the main comedian, and so forth. The players who played the crowd were the responsibility of the office boy. (Even

the make-up department of the Gemini Studio had an ‘office boy’!) On the days when there was a crowd shooting, you could see him mixing his paint in a giant vessel and slapping it on the crowd players. The idea was to close every pore on the surface of the face in the process of applying

make-up. He wasn’t exactly a ‘boy’; he was in his early forties, having entered the studios years ago in the hope of becoming a star actor or a top screen writer, director or lyrics writer. He was a

bit of a poet.


Easy English

The makeup room looked like a hair salon with many large mirrors surrounded by bright incandescent lights. These lights made it very hot and uncomfortable for the people getting their makeup done.


The head of the makeup department was originally from Bengal but left because he became too famous for the studio. He was replaced by a Maharashtrian who had a team of assistants from different regions, including a Dharwar Kannadiga, an Andhra person, a Madras Indian Christian, an Anglo-Burmese, and the local Tamils. This diverse team showed a form of national integration, long before All India Radio (A.I.R.) and Doordarshan started promoting it. They could transform anyone into a hideous-looking character with lots of makeup products like pancake and other local items.


During that time, most of the filming was done indoors, and only a small portion was shot outside. The makeup was necessary because the sets and studio lights required the actors and actresses to look not so attractive in order to appear good on screen. There was a strict hierarchy in the makeup department where the chief makeup artist made the main actors and actresses look unattractive, the senior assistant worked on the secondary lead actors, and the junior assistant focused on the main comedians and so on. The responsibility for the background crowd players fell to the office boy, who worked in the makeup department of the Gemini Studio. Even though he was called an 'office boy,' he wasn't really a boy; he was in his forties. He had joined the studio years ago with dreams of becoming a famous actor, a top screenwriter, director, or lyricist. He also had a bit of a poet in him.


Para 3 ( Page 59)


In those days I worked in a cubicle, two whole sides of which were French windows. (I didn’t know at that time they were called French windows.) Seeing me sitting at my desk tearing up newspapers day in and day out, most people thought I was doing next to nothing. It is likely that the Boss thought likewise too. So anyone who felt I should be given some occupation would barge into my cubicle and deliver an extended lecture. The ‘boy’ in the make-up department had decided I should be enlightened on how great literary talent was being allowed to go waste in a department fit only for barbers and perverts. Soon I was praying for crowd-shooting all the time. Nothing short of it could save me from his epics.


Easy English :

Back in those days, I worked in a small office space with two entire walls made of glass windows. I didn't know they were called French windows back then. People who saw me sitting at my desk tearing up newspapers every day probably thought I was hardly working. It's likely that even the boss had similar thoughts. Whenever someone felt like I needed more work, they would come into my office and give me a long lecture.


The 'boy' from the makeup department decided I needed to understand how valuable literary talent was being wasted in a department that seemed suitable only for barbers and people with strange interests. So, I started wishing for crowd shooting assignments all the time. Only those assignments could rescue me from his never-ending stories.


Para 4 being a large paragraph covering Pages 59 & 60, it is being further divided into small paragraphs for the understanding of students.

Para 4 ( Page 59-60)

In all instances of frustration, you will always find the anger directed towards a single person openly or covertly and this man of the make-up department was convinced that all his woes, ignominy and neglect were due to Kothamangalam Subbu. Subbu was the No. 2 at Gemini Studios. He couldn’t have had a more encouraging opening in films than our grown-up make-up boy had. On the contrary he must have had to face more uncertain and difficult times, for when he began his career, there were no firmly established film producing companies or studios. Even in the matter of education, specially formal education, Subbu couldn’t have had an appreciable lead over our boy. But by virtue of being born a Brahmin — a virtue, indeed! — he must have had exposure to more affluent situations and people. He had the ability to look cheerful at all times even after having had a hand in a flop film. He always had work for somebody — he could never do things on his own — but his sense of loyalty made him identify himself with his principal completely and turn his entire creativity to his principal’s advantage.


Easy English

In every instance of frustration, you'll often find that anger is directed towards a particular person, either openly or secretly. In this story, the makeup department man was convinced that all his problems, shame, and neglect were caused by a man named Kothamangalam Subbu. Subbu held the second position at Gemini Studios, and he must have had a challenging start in the film industry. Unlike today, when we have well-established film companies and studios, Subbu started his career when there were no such stable institutions.


Subbu probably didn't have a significant advantage in terms of formal education, just like our makeup boy. But, there was a crucial factor that set him apart: he was born as a Brahmin, which seemed to have given him access to wealthier circles and influential people. What's important is that Subbu had the remarkable ability to appear cheerful all the time, even when a movie he was involved in didn't do well. He always found work for others, although he couldn't work independently. His strong sense of loyalty made him fully dedicated to his superior, and he used his creative talents to benefit his principal.


Para 4 ( Page 60)

He was tailor-made for films. Here was a man who could be inspired when commanded. “The rat fights the tigress underwater and kills her but takes pity on the cubs and tends them lovingly — I don’t know how to do the scene,” the producer would say and Subbu would come out with four ways of the rat pouring affection on its victim’s offspring. “Good, but I am not sure it is effective enough,” the producer would say and in a minute Subbu would come out with fourteen more alternatives. Film-making must have been and was so easy with a man like Subbu around and if ever there was a man who gave direction and definition to Gemini Studios during its golden years, it was Subbu. Subbu had a separate identity as a poet and though he was certainly capable of more complex and higher forms, he deliberately chose to address his poetry to the masses. His success in films overshadowed and dwarfed his literary achievements — or so his critics felt.


Easy English

He was a perfect fit for movies. He could get ideas when asked. For example, if the producer said, "In this scene, a small rat fights a big tigress underwater and eventually kills her, but then it takes pity on the tigress's cubs and takes care of them with love. I'm not sure how to shoot this scene," Subbu, who was great at finding solutions, would immediately suggest four different ways to show the rat caring for the tiger's offspring.


The producer might still be unsure if these ideas were good enough, and Subbu would quickly come up with fourteen more alternatives. With someone like Subbu around, filmmaking was probably very straightforward and easy. If there was ever a person who defined and gave a clear direction to Gemini Studios during its most successful years, it was Subbu.


Subbu was also known as a poet, but he chose to write poetry that could be appreciated by the general public, even though he was capable of creating more complicated and sophisticated works. His achievements in the film industry overshadowed and made his literary accomplishments seem less significant, at least according to his critics.


Para 4 ( Page 60)

He composed several truly original ‘story poems’ in folk refrain and diction' and also wrote a sprawling novel Thillana Mohanambal with dozens of very deftly etched characters. He quite successfully recreated the mood and manner of the Devadasis of the early 20th century. He was an amazing actor — he never aspired to the lead roles — but whatever subsidiary role he played in any of the films, he performed better than the supposed main players. He had a genuine love for anyone he came across and his house was a permanent residence for dozens of near and far relations and acquaintances.


Easy Translation :

Subbu was a versatile artist. He wrote several unique "story poems" using folk-style refrains and language. He also authored a sprawling novel called "Thillana Mohanambal," featuring numerous finely detailed characters. In this work, he successfully captured the atmosphere and lifestyle of the Devadasis from the early 20th century.


As an actor, he was truly remarkable, although he didn't seek lead roles. In any supporting part he took on in the movies, he outshone the supposed main actors. He had a genuine affection for everyone he met, and his home served as a permanent residence for many close and distant relatives and friends.


Glossary

He composed several truly original ‘story poems’ in folk refrain and diction

The phrase "folk refrain and diction" refers to the style and language used in folk traditions. In the context of the sentence, it means that Subbu composed "story poems" using the style, language, and traditional elements commonly found in folk stories, songs, or oral traditions. This suggests that his poems were inspired by or resembled the storytelling and linguistic characteristics of folk culture.


Devadasis of the early 20th century.

In the sentence, "Devadasis of the early 20th century" refers to a specific group of women who were traditionally associated with South Indian temple culture. Devadasis were women dedicated to serving a particular deity or temple through music and dance. In earlier centuries, they played an essential role in religious and cultural activities.


However, by the early 20th century, the practice of devadasis had undergone significant changes and was a subject of controversy in Indian society. Many devadasis had lost their traditional roles and were often marginalized and stigmatized. They were no longer considered as respected figures in the same way they had been in the past. Subbu, the individual mentioned in the sentence, successfully recreated the mood and manner of these women from that specific period in history in his works, likely reflecting the cultural and societal changes they experienced during that time.


Para 4 ( Page 60-61)

It seemed against Subbu’s nature to be even conscious that he was feeding and supporting so many of them. Such a charitable and improvident man, and yet he had enemies! Was it because he seemed so close and intimate with The Boss? Or was it his general demeanour that resembled a sycophant’s? Or his readiness to say nice things about everything? In any case, there was this man in the make-up department who would wish the direst things for Subbu.


Paraphrase :

Subbu was a kind and generous person who took care of many people, but he didn't seem to realize it. He helped a lot of individuals, but surprisingly, he had people who didn't like him. Maybe it was because he appeared too friendly with The Boss. Perhaps it was his manner, which resembled that of a flatterer, or the fact that he was always ready to speak positively about everything. Nonetheless, there was a person in the make-up department who harbored strong ill wishes for Subbu.


Glossary

Such a charitable and improvident man, and yet he had enemies!

In the context of Subbu, this phrase highlights the contradiction that despite Subbu's generous and charitable nature, he still had people who considered him as their enemy or held negative feelings towards him. It emphasizes the irony of someone who was charitable and open-hearted, yet facing hostility or opposition.


Para 4 ( Page 61)


You saw Subbu always with The Boss but in the attendance rolls, he was grouped under a department called the Story Department comprising a lawyer and an assembly of writers and poets. The lawyer was also officially known as the legal adviser, but everybody referred to him as the opposite. An extremely talented actress, who was also extremely temperamental, once blew over on the sets. While everyone stood stunned, the lawyer quietly switched on the recording equipment. When the actress paused for breath, the lawyer said to her, “One minute, please,” and played back the recording. There was nothing incriminating or unmentionably foul about the actress’s tirade against the producer. But when she heard her voice again through the sound equipment, she was struck dumb. A girl from the countryside, she hadn’t gone through all the stages of worldly experience that generally precede a position of importance and sophistication that she had found herself catapulted into. She never quite recovered from the terror she felt that day.


Paraphrase


You would often see Subbu in the company of The Boss. However, in the official attendance records, he was listed under a department called the Story Department, which included a lawyer and a group of writers and poets. The lawyer had the official title of legal adviser, but everyone referred to him differently.


Once, a highly talented but extremely temperamental actress had a meltdown on set. As everyone watched in shock, the lawyer quietly turned on the recording equipment. When the actress paused, the lawyer said to her, "Just a moment, please," and played back the recording. There was nothing inappropriate or excessively offensive in the actress's outburst against the producer. But when she heard her own voice through the sound equipment, she was left speechless.


This actress, hailing from a rural background, hadn't experienced the usual stages of worldly sophistication that usually lead to positions of importance. She had been thrust into fame and sophistication rather suddenly. She never fully recovered from the fear she experienced that day.


Para 4 ( Page 61-62)

That was the end of a brief and brilliant acting career — the legal adviser, who was also a member of the Story Department, had unwittingly brought about that sad end. While every other member of the Department wore a kind of uniform — khadi dhoti with a slightly oversized and clumsily tailored white khadi shirt — the legal adviser wore pants and a tie and sometimes a coat that looked like a coat of mail. Often he looked alone and helpless — a man of cold logic in a crowd of dreamers — a neutral man in an assembly of Gandhiites and khadiites. Like so many of those who were close to The Boss, he was allowed to produce a film and though a lot of raw stock and pancake were used on it, not much came of the film. Then one day The Boss closed down the Story Department and this was perhaps the only instance in all human history where a lawyer lost his job because the poets were asked to go home.


Paraphrase


This marked the end of a short yet remarkable acting career - the legal adviser, who was also part of the Story Department, unintentionally brought about this unfortunate conclusion.


While all the other members of the Department wore a sort of uniform - khadi dhotis with slightly oversized and clumsily tailored white khadi shirts - the legal adviser stood out with his pants, tie, and sometimes a coat that resembled chainmail. He often appeared alone and vulnerable - a man of cold, logical thinking in a gathering of dreamers, a neutral figure amidst Gandhi followers and khadi enthusiasts.


Like many others close to The Boss, he was given the opportunity to produce a film. However, despite the considerable use of film stock and makeup, the film didn't achieve much success. Then, one day, The Boss decided to shut down the Story Department. This incident might be one of the very few instances in all of human history where a lawyer lost his job because the poets were asked to leave.

Para 5 ( Page 61-62)

Gemini Studios was the favourite haunt of poets like S.D.S.Yogiar3 , Sangu Subramanyam, Krishna Sastry and Harindranath Chattopadhyaya4 . It had an excellent mess which supplied good coffee at all times of the day and for most part of the night. Those were the days when Congress rule meant Prohibition and meeting over a cup of coffee was rather satisfying entertainment. Barring the office boys and a couple of clerks, everybody else at the Studios radiated leisure, a pre-requisite for poetry. Most of them wore khadi and worshipped Gandhiji but beyond that they had not the faintest appreciation for political thought of any kind. Naturally, they were all averse to the term ‘Communism’. A Communist was a godless man — he had no filial or conjugal love; he had no compunction about killing his own parents or his children; he was always out to cause and spread unrest and violence among innocent and ignorant people. Such notions which prevailed everywhere else in South India at that time also, naturally, floated about vaguely among the khadi-clad poets of Gemini Studios. Evidence of it was soon forthcoming.


Paraphrase

Gemini Studios was a popular place for poets like S.D.S. Yogiar, Sangu Subramanyam, Krishna Sastry, and Harindranath Chattopadhyaya. It had a great cafeteria serving coffee throughout the day and much of the night. In those days, when the Congress government enforced Prohibition, having a gathering over a cup of coffee was a satisfying form of entertainment. Except for the office boys and a few clerks, everyone at the Studios exuded a sense of leisure, which was essential for nurturing poetry. Most of them wore khadi (a type of cloth associated with Mahatma Gandhi) and admired Gandhiji, but beyond that, they didn't have much interest in political ideologies. They were quite averse to the term 'Communism.' To them, a Communist was seen as a godless person who lacked family values and He didn't hesitate to harm or even kill his own parents or children. Communists were perceived as troublemakers who spread unrest and violence among innocent and ignorant people. These perceptions, prevalent throughout South India at the time, were also present among the khadi-clad poets of Gemini Studios. This mindset became evident in due course.


Para 6 ( Page 62)

When Frank Buchman’s Moral Re-Armament army, some two hundred strong, visited Madras sometime in 1952, they could not have found a warmer host in India than the Gemini Studios. Someone called the group an international circus. They weren’t very good on the trapeze and their acquaintance with animals was only at the dinner table, but they presented two plays in a most professional manner. Their ‘Jotham Valley’ and ‘The Forgotten Factor’ ran several shows in Madras and along with the other citizens of the city, the Gemini family of six hundred saw the plays over and over again. The message of the plays were usually plain and simple homilies, but the sets and costumes were first-rate.


Paraphrase

In 1952, a group called Frank Buchman's Moral Re-Armament army, consisting of around two hundred members, visited Madras. They were warmly welcomed at Gemini Studios. Some people referred to this group as an international circus because they weren't skilled acrobats and their interaction with animals was limited to meals. However, they performed two plays very professionally. Their plays "Jotham Valley" and "The Forgotten Factor" had multiple showings in Madras, and the entire Gemini Studios family, which included six hundred people, watched these plays repeatedly. The messages in the plays were usually straightforward life lessons, but the stage setups and costumes were of high quality.


Para 6 ( Page 63)

Madras and the Tamil drama community were terribly impressed and for some years almost all Tamil plays had a scene of sunrise and sunset in the manner of ‘Jotham Valley’ with a bare stage, a white background curtain and a tune played on the flute. It was some years later that I learnt that the MRA was a kind of counter-movement to international Communism and the big bosses of Madras like Mr. Vasan simply played into their hands. I am not sure however, that this was indeed the case, for the unchangeable aspects of these big bosses and their enterprises remained the same, MRA or no MRA, international Communism or no international Communism.


Paraphrase

Madras and the Tamil drama community were highly impressed by the performances, and for several years, nearly all Tamil plays included a scene that imitated the style of "Jotham Valley." This scene featured a bare stage, a white backdrop curtain, and a flute playing a tune during sunrise and sunset. It was only later that I discovered that the Moral Re-Armament (MRA) was a response to international Communism. Some influential figures in Madras, like Mr. Vasan, appeared to support the MRA. However, it's uncertain whether this support genuinely affected the unchanging nature of these influential figures and their businesses. Regardless of the MRA or international Communism, their core values and practices remained consistent.


Para 6 ( Page 63)

The staff of Gemini Studios had a nice time hosting two hundred people of all hues and sizes of at least twenty nationalities. It was such a change from the usual collection of crowd players waiting to be slapped with thick layers of make-up by the office-boy in the make-up department.


Paraphrase

The staff at Gemini Studios had a pleasant experience hosting a diverse group of two hundred people from around twenty different countries. This was a refreshing change from their usual routine of dealing with extras who were ready to have heavy makeup applied by the office boy in the makeup department.


Para 7 ( Page 63)

A few months later, the telephone lines of the big bosses of Madras buzzed and once again we at Gemini Studios cleared a whole shooting stage to welcome another visitor. All they said was that he was a poet from England. The only poets from England the simple Gemini staff knew or heard of were Wordsworth and Tennyson; the more literate ones knew of Keats, Shelley and Byron; and one or two might have faintly come to know of someone by the name Eliot. Who was the poet visiting the Gemini Studios now?


Paraphrase

A few months later, the top executives in Madras received phone calls, and once again, we at Gemini Studios prepared a shooting stage to welcome another visitor. All they told us was that he was a poet from England. The staff at Gemini Studios were familiar with poets like Wordsworth and Tennyson from England. Those who were more well-read might have heard of Keats, Shelley, and Byron, and a few might have faintly come across someone named Eliot. But who could this poet be who was now visiting Gemini Studios?


Para 8 ( Page 63)


“He is not a poet. He is an editor. That’s why The Boss is giving him a big reception.” Vasan was also the editor of the popular Tamil weekly Ananda Vikatan.


Paraphrase "He's not a poet. He's an editor. That's why The Boss is giving him such a warm welcome." Vasan was not only The Boss of Gemini Studios but also the editor of the popular Tamil weekly called Ananda Vikatan.


Para 9 ( Page 63)

He wasn’t the editor of any of the known names of British publications in Madras, that is, those known at the Gemini Studios. Since the top men of The Hindu were taking the initiative, the surmise was that the poet was the editor of a daily — but not from The Manchester Guardian or the London Times. That was all that even the most wellinformed among us knew.


Paraphrase

He didn't hold the position of editor at any of the well-known British publications in Madras, at least not ones that we were familiar with at Gemini Studios. Given the involvement of top executives from The Hindu, it was speculated that this poet might be the editor of a daily newspaper, but not from prestigious publications like The Manchester Guardian or the London Times. That was the extent of our knowledge on the matter, even among the most well-informed individuals in our circle.


Para 10 ( Page 63-64)

At last, around four in the afternoon, the poet (or the editor) arrived. He was a tall man, very English, very serious and of course very unknown to all of us. Battling with half a dozen pedestal fans on the shooting stage, The Boss read out a long speech. It was obvious that he too knew precious little about the poet (or the editor). The speech was all in the most general terms but here and there it was peppered with words like ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’. Then the poet spoke. He couldn’t have addressed a more dazed and silent audience — no one knew what he was talking about and his accent defeated any attempt to understand what he was saying. The whole thing lasted about an hour; then the poet left and we all dispersed in utter bafflement — what are we doing? What is an English poet doing in a film studio which makes Tamil films for the simplest sort of people?


Paraphrase

At last, around four in the afternoon, the poet (or editor) arrived. He was a tall man, very English, very serious, and, of course, entirely unknown to all of us. On the shooting stage, where we battled with half a dozen pedestal fans, The Boss read out a lengthy speech. It was apparent that he, too, had very little information about the poet (or editor). The speech consisted of mostly general terms, with occasional mentions of words like 'freedom' and 'democracy.' Then the poet began to speak. He couldn't have addressed a more bewildered and quiet audience. No one understood what he was talking about, and his accent made it even more challenging to grasp his words. The entire event lasted for about an hour. After the poet left, we all dispersed, utterly bewildered. We wondered, "What are we doing here? What is an English poet doing in a film studio that produces Tamil films for the simplest kind of people?"


Para 10 ( Page 64)

People whose lives least afforded them the possibility of cultivating a taste for English poetry? The poet looked pretty baffled too, for he too must have felt the sheer incongruity of his talk about the thrills and travails of an English poet. His visit remained an unexplained mystery.


Paraphrase

People who had lives that didn't really allow them to develop an interest in English poetry? The poet appeared just as bewildered, as he must have realized how utterly incongruous it was to discuss the joys and challenges of an English poet with us. His visit remained an unexplained mystery.


Para 11 ( Page 64)

The great prose-writers of the world may not admit it, but my conviction grows stronger day after day that prosewriting is not and cannot be the true pursuit of a genius. It is for the patient, persistent, persevering drudge with a heart so shrunken that nothing can break it; rejection slips don’t mean a thing to him; he at once sets about making a fresh copy of the long prose piece and sends it on to another editor enclosing postage for the return of the manuscript. It was for such people that The Hindu had published a tiny announcement in an insignificant corner of an unimportant page — a short story contest organised by a British periodical by the name The Encounter. Of course, The Encounter wasn’t a known commodity among the Gemini literati. I wanted to get an idea of the periodical before I spent a considerable sum in postage sending a manuscript to England.


Paraphrase

Great writers of prose from around the world might not openly admit it, but my belief becomes firmer with each passing day that writing prose is not and cannot be the true pursuit of a genius. It's for those who are patient, persistent, and unwavering, with hearts so resilient that nothing can discourage them. Rejection slips don't faze them; they immediately start creating a new copy of their long prose piece and send it to another editor, even including the postage for the return of the manuscript. It's for people like this that The Hindu published a small announcement in an inconspicuous corner of an unimportant page - it was about a short story contest organized by a British periodical called The Encounter. Of course, The Encounter wasn't well-known among the literary community at Gemini Studios. I wanted to learn more about this periodical before investing a considerable sum in postage to send a manuscript to England.


Para 11 ( Page 65)

In those days, the British Council Library had an entrance with no long winded signboards and notices to make you feel you were sneaking into a forbidden area. And there were copies of The Encounter lying about in various degrees of freshness, almost untouched by readers. When I read the editor’s name, I heard a bell ringing in my shrunken heart. It was the poet who had visited the Gemini Studios — I felt like I had found a long lost brother and I sang as I sealed the envelope and wrote out his address. I felt that he too would be singing the same song at the same time — long lost brothers of Indian films discover each other by singing the same song in the first reel and in the final reel of the film. Stephen Spender5 . Stephen — that was his name.


Paraphrase

During those days, the British Council Library had an entrance that lacked long, tedious signboards and notices, which made you feel like you were sneaking into a forbidden place. There, I found copies of The Encounter, some barely touched by readers. When I saw the editor's name, a bell rang in my small, resilient heart. It was the poet who had visited Gemini Studios - I felt like I had found a long-lost brother, and I sang happily as I sealed the envelope and wrote down his address. I believed that he, too, would be singing the same song at the same time - in Indian films, long-lost brothers discover each other by singing the same song, both in the first reel and the final reel of the film. His name was Stephen Spender. Stephen - that's what he was called.


Para 12 ( Page 65)

And years later, when I was out of Gemini Studios and I had much time but not much money, anything at a reduced price attracted my attention. On the footpath in front of the Madras Mount Road Post Office, there was a pile of brand new books for fifty paise each. Actually they were copies of the same book, an elegant paperback of American origin. ‘Special low-priced student edition, in connection with the 50th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution’, I paid fifty paise and picked up a copy of the book, The God That Failed.


Paraphrase

Years later, after leaving Gemini Studios and finding myself with plenty of time but not much money, I was drawn to anything that came at a reduced price. On the sidewalk in front of the Madras Mount Road Post Office, there was a stack of brand-new books selling for fifty paise each. They were all copies of the same book, an elegant American paperback edition. It was labeled as a "Special low-priced student edition, in connection with the 50th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution." I paid fifty paise and got myself a copy of the book, "The God That Failed."


Para 12 ( Page 65-66)

Six eminent men of letters in six separate essays described ‘their journeys into Communism and their disillusioned return’; Andre Gide6 , Richard Wright7 , Ignazio Silone8 , Arthur Koestler9 , Louis Fischer10 and Stephen Spender. Stephen Spender! Suddenly the book assumed tremendous significance. Stephen Spender, the poet who had visited Gemini Studios! In a moment I felt a dark chamber of my mind lit up by a hazy illumination. The reaction to Stephen Spender at Gemini Studios was no longer a mystery. The Boss of the Gemini Studios may not have much to do with Spender’s poetry. But not with his god that failed.


Paraphrase

Six distinguished writers each penned an essay detailing their experiences with Communism and their subsequent disillusionment. The writers included Andre Gide, Richard Wright, Ignazio Silone, Arthur Koestler, Louis Fischer, and Stephen Spender. It was Stephen Spender who had visited Gemini Studios. Suddenly, the book held immense significance. The connection between Stephen Spender's visit to Gemini Studios and the book became clear to me. It wasn't necessarily about The Boss of Gemini Studios being interested in Spender's poetry but rather his experience with the ideology of Communism.

 

Extract Questions:


Extract 1

His success in films overshadowed and dwarfed his literary achievements-or so his critics felt. He composed several truly original ‘story poems’ in folk refrain and diction and also wrote a sprawling novel Thillana Mohanambal with dozens of very deftly etched characters. He quite successfully recreated the mood and manner of the Devadasis of the early 20th century. He was an amazing actor-he never aspired to the lead roles-but whatever subsidiary role he played in any of the films, he performed better than the supposed main players. He had a genuine love for anyone he came across and his house was a permanent residence for dozens of near and far relations and acquaintances.

(a) Which of these statements is NOT TRUE about Subbu?

a) His literary accomplishments stole the limelight from his films.

b) He was a gifted poet and writer and his literary works were noteworthy.

c) He was selfless in nature and was empathetic towards others.

d) He never hankered after lead roles and performed minor roles in films.


Ans: a) His literary accomplishments stole the limelight from his films.


(b) The word ‘sprawling’ has been used with the word ‘novel’. Pick the option with which the word ‘sprawling’ CANNOT be used.

a) metropolis

b) handwriting

c) campus

d) portrait

Ans: d) portrait


(c) The phrase ‘deftly etched’ shows that Subbu

a) created the roles delicately.

b) was skilful in creating the characters.

c) pondered beyond necessity about the characters.

d) gave very little thought to the characters.


Ans: b) was skilful in creating the characters.


(d) Pick the option that best describes Subbu according to the extract.

1. benevolent 2. powerful 3. accomplished 4. witty 5. generous 6. temperamental

a) 4, 5 & 6

b) 2, 3 & 4

c) 1,3 & 5

d) 3 ,4 & 6

Ans: c) 1,3 & 5




Extract 2

Barring the office boys and a couple of clerks, everybody else at the Studios radiated leisure, a pre-requisite for poetry. Most of them wore khadi and worshipped Gandhiji but beyond that they had not the faintest appreciation for political thought of any kind. Naturally, they were all averse to the term ‘Communism’. A communist was a godless man-he had no filial or conjugal love; he had no compunction about killing his own parents or his children; he was always out to cause and spread unrest and violence among innocent and ignorant people. Such notions, which prevailed everywhere else in South India at that time also, naturally, floated about vaguely among the khadi-clad poets of Gemini Studios. Evidence of it was soon forthcoming.


(a) Pick the option that uses the same figure of speech as ‘A communist is a godless man.’

a) She is as determined as Gandhi when it is a fight against injustice.

b) She is a Gandhi when she raises her voice against ‘hinsa’ or violence.

c) She, like Gandhi, feels that the earth is crying for deliverance.

d) She lives a life of opulence and calls herself a follower of Gandhi.

Ans: b) She is a Gandhi when she raises her voice against ‘hinsa’ or violence.


(b) Based on the extract, choose the correct option with reference to the two statements given below.

Statement 1: At Gemini Studios, the poets had a profound knowledge about Communists. Statement 2: Communists were responsible for anarchy and discontent in the country.

a) Statement 1 is true but Statement 2 is false.

b) Statement 1 is false but Statement 2 is true.

c) Both Statement 1 and Statement 2 cannot be inferred.

d) Both Statement 1 and Statement 2 can be inferred.

Ans: d) Both Statement 1 and Statement 2 can be inferred.


(C) Why do you think leisure is a pre-requisite for poetry?

a) Poetry means freedom of expression.

b) One can enjoy poetry when there’s free time.

c) In order to write poetry, one needs free time.

d) Poetry means freedom from work.

Ans: c) In order to write poetry, one needs free time.


(d) Asokamitran says that leisure is a pre-requisite for poetry. He says this because poets

a) need to relax for a period of time before composing lines.

b) maintain a leisured pace in all tasks they do.

c) are creative and need to have free time to weave their thoughts.

d) begin poetic compositions in rushed way and end in a relaxed manner.

Ans: c) are creative and need to have free time to weave their thoughts.



Extract 3.

Pancake was the brand name of the makeup material that Gemini Studios bought in truck-loads. Greta Garbo must have used it, Miss Gohar must have used it, Vyjayantimala must also have used it but Rati Agnihotri may not have even heard of it. The make-up department of the Gemini Studios was in the upstairs of a building that was believed to have been Robert Clive’s stables. A dozen other buildings in the city are said to have been his residence. For his brief life and an even briefer stay in Madras, Robert Clive seems to have done a lot of moving, besides fighting some impossible battles in remote corners of India and marrying a maiden in St. Mary’s Church in Fort St. George in Madras.


(a) What literary device is used in ‘bought in truck-loads’?

(i) Oxymoron

(ii) Irony

(iii) Analogy

(iv) Hyperbole

Ans. iv) Hyperbole

Explanation: The phrase ‘by the truckloads’ is far-fetched. Hence, the literary device is hyperbole. Therefore, option (d) is the correct answer.


(b) What can be inferred from

‘Greta Garbo must have used it, Miss Gohar must have used it, Vyjayantimala must also have used it but Rati Agnihotri may not have even heard of it’?

(1) That pancake was an old product used by actresses from an earlier age.

(2) That pancake was a modern product used in filmmaking.

(3) That pancake was not used by the next generation of actresses.

(4) That pancake was a make-up product created in the West.

(a) (1) and (4)

(b) (2) and (3)

(c) (1) and (3)

(d) (2) and (4)


(c) (1) and (3)

Explanation: It can be inferred that pancake was used by the actresses (Garbo, Gohar, Vyjayanthimala) of an older era but not by the next generation actresses like Rati Agnihotri. Hence, option (c) is the correct answer.


(c) What can be inferred from the author’s mention of Robert Clive’s stables?

(i) That the author wanted to add a humourous remark.

(ii) That Gemini Studios was probably located at a historical site.

(iii) That Gemini Studios’ fame and fortune was widespread.

(iv) That the author was acquainted with Robert Clive.

Ans: (ii) That Gemini Studios was probably located at a historical site.

Explanation: It can be inferred that the author wanted to reveal the fun fact that Gemini Studios was probably situated at a historical site. This makes option (ii) the correct answer.


(d) Which of the following is the author’s tone of his comments on Robert Clive?

(i) Ironic

(ii) Admiring

(iii) Compassionate

(iv) Curious

Ans: (ii) Admiring





Extract 4:

That was the end of a brief and brilliant acting career — the legal adviser, who was also a member of the Story Department, had unwittingly brought about that sad end. While every other member of the Department wore a kind of uniform — khadi dhoti with a slightly oversized and clumsily tailored white khadi shirt — the legal adviser wore pants and a tie and sometimes a coat that looked like a coat of mail. Often he looked alone and helpless — a man of cold logic in a crowd of dreamers — a neutral man in an assembly of Gandhiites and khadiites. Like so many of those who were close to The Boss, he was allowed to produce a film and though a lot of raw stock and pancake were used on it, not much came of the film. Then one day The Boss closed down the Story Department and this was perhaps the only instance in all human history where a lawyer lost his job because the poets were asked to go home.


(a) What is the meaning of ‘unwittingly’?

(i) Accidentally

(ii) Consciously

(iii) Deliberately

(iv) Mindfully

Ans: (a) Accidentally

Explanation: ‘Unwittingly’ means ‘accidentally’. Hence, option (a) is the correct answer. Options (c), (b) and (d) are incorrect because they are opposites of ‘accidentally’ meaning ‘purposefully’.


(B) From the extract, it can be inferred that the lawyer was ................

(i) an actor who was not known

(ii) a man who followed Gandhi

(iii) a man who wore khadi

(iv) a man who was practical


Ans: (i) an actor who was not known


(C) It can be inferred that the lawyer felt ‘alone and helpless’ because ...................

(i) his talent was not recognised as he had hoped.

(ii) he was the odd person out amongst others.

(iii) the film that he produced did not do well.

(iv) the actress whose voice he recorded secretly quit.

Ans: (b) he was the odd person out amongst others

Explanation: The author presents the lawyer as a man who was the opposite of all others in the Story Department. Therefore, option (b) is the correct answer.


(D) Which of the following can be inferred from the following sentence?

‘This was perhaps the only instance in all human history where a lawyer lost his job because the poets were asked to go home’.

(i) the jobs of poets do not depend on lawyers.

(ii) films produced by lawyers are a failure.

(iii) Usually the jobs of lawyers do not depend on poets.

(iv) story departments are not closed down.

Ans: (iii) Usually, the jobs of lawyers do not depend on poets.


Explanation: The author’s comment that the lawyer lost his job because the poets were asked to go home show that the lawyer’s job depended on the poets, which was an unusual occurrence. Hence, option (c) is the correct answer. Options (a), (b) and (d) are incorrect as they not effectively explain the inference.





Extract 5:

At last, around four in the afternoon, the poet (or the editor) arrived. He was a tall man, very English, very serious and of course very unknown to all of us. Battling with half a dozen pedestal fans on the shooting stage, The Boss read out a long speech. It was obvious that he too knew precious little about the poet (or the editor). The speech was all in the most general terms but here and there it was peppered with words like ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’. Then the poet spoke. He couldn’t have addressed a more dazed and silent audience — no one knew what he was talking about and his accent defeated any attempt to understand what he was saying. The whole thing lasted about an hour; then the poet left and we all dispersed in utter bafflement — what are we doing? What is an English poet doing in a film studio which makes Tamil films for the simplest sort of people? People whose lives least afforded them the possibility of cultivating a taste for English poetry? The poet looked pretty baffled too, for he too must have felt the sheer incongruity of his talk about the thrills and travails of an English poet. His visit remained an unexplained mystery.


(a) Name the literary device used in ‘very English, very serious and of course very unknown’.

(i) Antithesis

(ii) Assonance

(iii) Allusion

(iv) Anaphora

Ans: (iv) Anaphora

Explanation: Anaphora is a type of repetition which means ‘a repetition of words at the beginning of successive clauses’. So, option (iv) is the correct answer.


(b) Which of the following can be inferred from ‘Battling with half a dozen pedestal fans…’?

(i) The pedestal fans were blowing a strong breeze.

(ii) The Boss was trying to repair pedestal fans.

(iii) The heavy pedestal fans were being brought on to the stage by The Boss.

(iv) The Boss was trying to fix the pedastal fans as the actors mounted on the stage.

Ans: (i) The pedestal fans switched on for The Boss were blowing a strong breeze.

Explanation: The pedestal fans were blowing a strong breeze which disturbed the paper from which The Boss was reading . Hence, option (i) is the correct answer.


(c) Choose a synonym of ‘peppered’:

(i) Splashed

(ii) Salted

(iii) Sprinkled

(iv) Popped

Ans: (iii) Sprinkled

Explanation: ‘Peppered’ means ‘sprinkled’. So, option (c) is the correct answer.


(d) What can be inferred to be the problem with the poet’s speech?

(i) His audience could comprehend his speech and accent perfectly.

(ii) His audience could not understand who he was and what he said.

(iii) His audience could’ve been distracted by the sound of the pedestal fans.

(iv) His audience could’ve been at the wrong time in the wrong place.




Short Questions ( 2 Marks)


Q1. Why was the office boy frustrated? Who did he show his frustration on? [CBSE 2020]


Ans. The office boy had joined the studio years back. He aspired to be a top film star, or top screen writer, lyricist or director. He felt frustrated on not being able to realise his dreams and had been given a job much below his calibre and dignity. He blamed Kothamangalam Subbu for all his woes, ignominy and neglect. He often gave vent to his frustrations in the narrator’s cubicle. The narrator yearned for relief from the never-ending babble of the office boy.


Q2. Why was the Moral Re-Armament Army welcomed at Gemini Studios? [CBSE 2011]

Ans. The Moral Re-Armament Army was warmly welcomed in Gemini Studios because it was a big change from their usual routine of crowd actors. The multicultural group of people from twenty countries brought a whiff of fresh air at Gemini Studios.


Q3. What was filmmaking like in the olden days at Gemini Studios? Explain.

Ans. Filmmaking was a tough business. Actors wore uncomfortable pancake make-up which made them sweat under the lights. The films were mostly shot indoor with only 5% outdoor shoots. People had to be both sycophant and creative to move up the success ladder like Subbu. Jobs were unstable; they could be lost anytime like the lawyer did.




Q4. What is the fiery misery to those subjected to pancake make-up? [CBSE 2020]

Ans. Gemini Studios’s make-up room had half a dozen mirrors and many incandescent lights. These lights also gave off heat. With the direct and reflected heat and light, the actors would feel extremely hot and uncomfortable under layers of pancake. That is the ‘fiery misery’ that the author refers to.


Q5. How does the writer describe the make-up room of the Gemini Studios? Ans : The make-up room of the Gemini Studios had incandescent lights. It also had lights at all angles around large mirrors. Those subjected to make-up had to face bright light and a lot of heat there. It was on the upper floor of the building that was believed to have been Robert Clive’s stables.

Q6. How was the make-up room a fine example of national integration? Ans : Transcending all the barriers of regions, religions and castes, people from all over India came to Gemini Studios for jobs. The make-up department was headed by a Bengali, succeeded by a Maharashtrian, assisted by a Dharwar Kannadiga, an Andhra, a Madrasi, Christian and an Anglo Burmese and the usual local Tamils. Hence, the writer finds in the make-up department a perfect example of national integration.




Q7. Subbu is described as a many-sided genius. Justify. Ans : Kothamangalam Subbu may not have had much formal education but, by virtue of his being born as a Brahmin, he had had exposure to many affluent situations and people. He had the ability to look cheerful at all times, even after a setback. He was always full of creative ideas. Above all, he was a charitable and extravagant man and hospitable to his relations. His loyalty had put him close to his boss. But he seemed to others a sycophant and a flatterer and, probably, that was the reason he had enemies.

Q8. Why was Gemini Studios a favourite haunt of poets? Ans : Gemini Studios was a favourite haunt of poets as it had an excellent mess which supplied good coffee at all times of the day and for most part of the night. Meeting there was a satisfying entertainment. Moreover, Mr. Vasan was a great admirer of scholarly people.


Q9. Explain the appropriateness of the title ‘Poets and Pancakes’?

Ans : The chapter describes Gemini Studios and its functioning very clearly. Its employees are little unrecognized poets. Though they work in a film studio, the focus is on the author’s station in the Studios as a make-up boy using pancakes on crowd players, and how he failed as a poet. So, the title is appropriate.


Q10. How humorously does the author describe Frank Buchman’s Moral Re-Armament Army? Ans : The author humorously calls the Moral Re-Armament Army after someone as ‘an international circus’. Then he states that they were not very good on the trapeze. Their acquaintance with animals should have been much as animals play tricks in a circus. “But the group ate animals”, says the author their acquaintance with animals was only at the dining table.


Long Questions ( CBQs) 5 Marks


Q1. ‘Poets and Pancakes’ is a beautiful example of humour. Comment.

Ans : ‘Poets and Pancakes’ is an account of Asokamitran’s experiences at the Gemini Studios. Asokamitran deals with a wide variety of ideas where despite one thought leading to another, the thematic coherence is never lost. The author has adopted a chatty and rambling style. The style has a flow and the reader glides smoothly with the flow of the narrative. Asokamitran highlights human foibles and unusual behaviour with the help of subtle humour. All the characters are so life like that the reader seems to come across in real life. The subtle humour is neither superimposed nor superfluous. Throughout the chapter humour seems to be spontaneous and interwoven. Even the choice of the title shows that Asokamitran has a flair for natural humour. He ridicules without hurting and the entire account becomes very interesting. Throughout the chapter the reader doesn’t find even the slightest trace of malice. But every now and then the author speaks with his tongue-in-cheek way and pays left-handed compliments to different characters to the great amusement of the readers.






Q2. Describe Stephen Spender’s visit to Gemini Studios.

Ans : There was a lot of speculation about Spender’s visit. Initially, everyone thought he was a poet but later they heard that he was an editor. The author describes him as a tall, very English and a serious person. It was evident from Boss’ speech that he knew very little about the visitor. When Spender addressed the gathering they were all dazed as they couldn’t understand his accent and didn’t understand what he was talking about. Even Spender must have sensed the incongruity of being called to talk about the travails of an English poet in a film studio making simple Tamil films. His visit remained an unexpected mystery. It was only much later that Asokamitran learnt that the reason why the boss had invited Spender. Spender was disillusioned with communism and had contributed an essay in a book on communism called ‘The God That Failed’.





Q3. 10. The English poet who visited Gemini Studios was as baffled as the audience. Explain.

Ans : When Gemini Studios prepared to welcome Stephen Spender, they did not know the identity of the visitor. All they knew was that he was a poet from England. However, he was not one of the poets from England that they had heard of. Later they heard that he was an editor. But again he wasn’t the editor of any of the known British publications. When the gentleman arrived, the mystery of his identity deepened.

The Englishman left the audience dazed and silent as no one knew what he was talking about. The people of Gemini Studios led lives that least offered them the possibilities of cultivating a taste for English poetry. The English man talked of the thrills and problems of an English poet. His British accent defeated any attempt to understand what he was saying. His lecture lasted an hour but it left the people confused. The poet himself was equally baffled. He too must have felt the strangeness of his talk. His visit remained an unexplained mystery for a long time.


To be continued. Keep visiting the site.
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