They say that Chennai is a city and Madras is an emotion. And on the occasion of Madras Day, August 22, here’s “Madras Beats”, a peppy song about the old city’s youthful spirit, conceived and written by Mind Your Language! and presented by The Hindu.
It was on this day, in the year 1639, that the East India Company struck a deal with Damerla Venkatapathy, the Nayak who ruled the region, to purchase the village of Madraspattnam.
“Madras Beats” celebrates the city in its beloved Madras baashai. The song lauds the city for staying “sixteen” in spirit and also takes a jovial pot-shot at other cities with the lines, “sound-eh illama saadhikum ooru”: Madras is a city that achieves without making any noise. Though this can be interpreted as jingoism, there’s quite a bit of truth to it.
The late and inadequate media coverage of the Chennai floods of December 2015, and the amazing stories of survival and humanity that poured out of the city during the catastrophe is one such example that justifies the claim. Madras doesn’t hog the headlines but goes about doing its job even when the rest of the country ignores it.
There’s a nod to all things unique and famous about the city – from the Marina beach and the Santhome Church to the skyscraper cut-outs of Rajinikanth – but the inconspicuous, ordinary people who make the city what it is also get their moment in the spotlight.
Madras has changed a lot over the years without a doubt but the line “Vandhaarai vaazha vaika marandhadhilla” (the city does not forget to ensure that outsiders who come to it prosper) remains true.
Madras is a city that takes some getting used to before you can fall in love with it. But once you get over the inferno heat and learn to appreciate the auto driver for knowing every destination in the city despite his rudeness, you are likely to feel the beginnings of affection towards it. Even if Madras may always have more filter kaapi “pubs” than alcoholic ones.
Happy Madras Day!