Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Jaambajaar Jaggu theriyuma,...."

Where the character came from is not really known, but given the Madrasi's penchant for alliteration, Jaambajaar Jaggu is more likely a legendary figment of imagination. I'm not sure if kids these days have any local personification of a bumbling villain, but Jaggu was it for quite a lot of people from the '60s through to the '80s. The first time he came on the scene was probably in the movie "Bommalattam", with Manorama singing "Vaa vadhiyare vootande / nee varankatti naan vidamatten / Jaambajjaa Jaggu / naan Saidapettai kokku" to Cho Ramaswamy (here's the song from the movie).

Then came Cho's stage play "Madras by Night". Cho makes his entrance asking the question "Jaambajaar Jaggu theriyuma unakku, Jaambajaar Jaggu?" ("Do you know Jaambajaar Jaggu?"). Cho plays a police constable in Madras of the '60s, forever dropping names of rowdies that he has encountered (here's a clip: Jaggu's name drops in the 2nd minute). With that, the name took off and though no one has ever seen him to this day, Jaggu continues to be a menace-laden character, appearing most recently as the villain in the children's book "Trash", published in 2001.

So, when I see the Zambazar Police Station, it is difficult for me to think of anything else but a police constable in the '60s, wearing starched khaki shorts ("...with pockets large enough to hide a monkey", as a school teacher once said), trying to show off - no matter that Zam Bazar has much more than Jaggu to offer us!


6 comments:

akboo said...

Hi Shantaram..
Just saw this old post of ur's-Not booker material...there is another book which has a madras connection..
In a book called "The Surgeon's Daughter" by William Scott, a character is based on Avadhanum Paupiah the (in)famous dubash..

soundharya said...

Hey Shantaram,
I am Soundharya and I am an RJ at Chennai live 104.8 FM. I host a show called Chennai Connection and today I was talking about Saidapet on my show. while searching for info i stumbled onto ur blog. Pretty interesting. Would love to talk to a Chennai lover on air,esp when u have so much to talk about. Mail me at soundharya@chennailive.fm

Shantaram said...

@ Akboo: Hey, thanks. Will look out for the book, hadn't heard about it until now - is it a recent one?

@ Soundharya: Sounds good, will catch up with you soon!

Gold Biscuit said...

Hey .. can you translate Manorama's lyrics .. you know for the Tamil-challenged:)

LVISS said...

TALKING OF CHOS PLAYS, I ONCE HAD TO GO THRICE TO GET TICKETS FOR ONE OF HIS PLAYS. IT WAS UNUSUAL .

Shantaram said...

@ Neti: Now, that's a tough one! Let's try it after a couple of drinks one of these days? :)

@ Lviss: Maybe it was 'Madras by Night'?