Keeping up with the Ambujams – Sowcar Janaki
Lower Middle Class
Film: Ethir Neechal (Swimming Upstream)
Language: Tamil (1968) – Remade in Hindi as Lakhon Me Ek and in Telugu as Sambarala Rambabu.
Director: K Balachander
Pattu and Kittu are featured in this song which ably (and humorously) demonstrates the difficulties in maintaining appearances, and keeping up with the Joneses. In this case, the ‘Joneses’ is the unseen femme fatale Ambujam who fights with her husband and forces him to make peace offerings by buying her expensive clothes.
Kittu tells Pattu to stop comparing him with the unseen Mr. Ambujam. After all, that guy makes his regular wages (Shambalam) and huge bribes (Kimbalam) on top. Presumably, nobody ever bribed poor Kittu!
Some of the exchanges:
Pattu (wife): Ambujam gets new clothes all the time!
Kittu (husband): Her husband earns “shambalam” as well as “kimbalam”
Kittu (piling on his complaints) : You see all the movies three times each, all our money is spent in movies by you.
Pattu : I lost everything when I married you (violently shaking the kid)
Kittu: At least you got this kid out of me ….
Pattu: I have no jewellery, even to wear for special days. Actually everyone says my nose is perfect for an 8-diamond nose ring ! (hint, hint)
Kittu: Don’t you know? “Fill the pot and the spoon will always be full too” …
Pattu: I am sick and tired of all these stupid sayings, you are just making excuses. (tearfully) have you seen Ambujam’s new clothes?
Kittu and Pattu fight.
Kittu: Don’t argue with me
Pattu: What will you do, hit me?
Kittu: I am a bad man, don’t provoke me and force me to break all your teeth!
Pattu dissolves in mock tears, Kittu is guilty and ashamed he threatened his wife and tries to placate her. She lets herself be consoled, but slips her hand in her husband’s coat and takes out all the money and tucks it in her blouse.
She gets her way after all!
Besari, a stud in gold with stone studded Nose stud or ear stead with a hanging design.