Ballatha Pahayan: Meet the Kozhikode man whose witty videos have become popular
Ballatha Pahayan: Meet the Kozhikode man whose witty videos have become popular

Ballatha Pahayan: Meet the Kozhikode man whose witty videos have become popular

Vinod Narayan says how his videos on his FB page called 'Ballatha Pahayan' have suddenly become a hit since the recent one on Suresh Kochattil was made.

On a long distance phone call, you can’t really detect that slang that Vinod Narayan has suddenly become famous for. He keeps it for other Kozhikodans, he says, or else it comes out when he has ‘something to say’. And Vinod has had lots to say in recent times. He records them all on selfie videos and posts them on a page called Ballatha Pahayan, that’s now followed by tens of thousands.  

But Vinod, who has been living and working in the US for 18 years now, is surprised his videos are suddenly a hit. The engineer who works with a Silicon Valley thinktank has been doing the videos for two years now. He can’t even remember what that first video was, the one he recorded sitting in his car with the mobile on his steering wheel.  (Ballatha Pahayan is a Kozhikode slang for "ahh, some character he is").

He kept doing it whenever there was time off his job in the technology sector, and whenever he wanted to talk about an issue. A few days ago, he spoke about Suresh Kochattil, the man who had famously made an audio about how the floods had affected only the rich in Kerala and there was no need to send so much monetary help. Suresh had since been criticised and trolled for his viral audio. 

Ballatha Pahayan too had something to tell ‘Kochattil mon Suresh’. And in his trademark Kozhikode slang mixed with humour, Vinod tells Suresh that the flood doesn’t come all the way to a point, stop and check which house is rich and which is poor before flowing into one. 

Ballatha Pahayan video on Suresh Kochattil

“Before that I had some five or six thousand people reading my English blog, and may be two or three thousand following my YouTube channel. But those would be mostly friends I guess,” Vinod says.  

He had come to Kerala for a short trip and got back to the US on the 13th of August. He knew people working on the ground. “None of them saw such a person (Suresh),” Vinod says. And the situation was nothing like Suresh spoke of. Vinod wanted to respond then. The response crossed 7,65000 views on his Facebook and was spread on all messaging platforms. 

Then came his Arnab Goswami videos, the first has crossed 968000 views already. It came at the time of Arnab’s ‘shameless’ comment, when as Ballatha Pahayan, Vinod wore a suit like Arnab and spoke his mind, half of it in English. At the end of the video he moves further from the camera and reveals wearing a lungi below the suit, for ‘that’s how Malayalis are’. 

Ballatha Pahayan video on Arnab Goswami

“Malayalis don’t have regionism. We are more enterprising and assimilate with the culture wherever we go. That’s why there is a Bombay Malayali and an American Malayali. But when there is a country, there is a state feeling and a village feeling. Malayalis are simply more accommodative. We had a Jew settlement like in no other place. It is only now there are phrases like ‘Malayali, da’,” Vinod says. 

Vinod spent his early years in Dubai before coming to Kozhikode. “I spent my formative years there, from 7th standard to the time I was 25 or 26. The slang just comes when I really want to say something.” None of it is scripted, he says what he comes to his mind when the camera is on. So there are the natural pauses when he thinks of words. The newest video is what it means to be an expat in the current political and social situation. 

“There are no edits, no ‘subscribe here’ buttons. It all gets done in 20 minutes,” he says.  

He began, he says, at the time of the US elections, making videos on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. “But some videos would be misunderstood because of the slang. I had made one on Atlas Ramachandran, and people thought I was making fun of him. So I took it down.”  

Vinod is surprised when people ask him if he is not scared to make such videos. “I have written about Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh in the past. But I was not asked that question. Now when it’s about Narendra Modi and Asaram Bapu, people ask me, ‘Can you really go to India now?’”  

It is not just one group of people either. When it is comes to threatening, no one is in the clear, Vinod says. "Except the Congress. They don’t seem to care when I talk about Ramesh Chennithala. I think I feel more about Nehru than some of these supporters.” 

But he has mellowed down now, Vinod says. “My daughter once asked me what fun do I get when I corner a person and put him in a position where he doesn’t have an answer.” That got him.  

He doesn’t have an idea on what Ballatha Pahayan’s future will be. He will stop when he has nothing more to say, Vinod says simply.  

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