SHARE
Ajith Samaranayake | (transcurrents.com ) | Sebastian| Coe (d.ibtimes.co.uk)

The late Ajith Samaranayake had the keenest mind for television that was good as social commentary, especially if it was in the nature of spoofs. This writer distinctly remembers how Ajith was probably the only journalist in his time who wrote about Sri Lankan parody and lampoon in TV content, with excellent insights on how this genre operates.

He wrote about Chooti malli and Podi malli on one occasion, comparing the parody program with some of the best in the genre in British TV for instance. It would warm the cockles of the hearts of many to realize that the Podi malli program continues to this day, and that nothing has changed except that these guys have got better at what they do.
The genre of parody could be extremely pungent and could be eviscerating on British television, and those such as Chris Morris used to do satire skits with such skill and abandon. There was a recent comment section in a web publication which linked to how iconic Olympic athlete Sebestian Coe was referred to by Chris Morris as somebody he hates, and this skit was certainly even better than what the referrer made it sound like.
Morris does a parody on interviewing a TV guest, who does some sort of fundraising for charity causes, and this worthy being quizzed says that she raised money from several public personalities including Sebastian Coe.

The strength of the Chooti Malli genre of parody is in how today’s serious television that is dished out with such sobriety, is made to look absurd and thin. However he moves further away from that this kind of straight lampoon, and does the social skits which are probably parodies of tele dramas so called, and morning programs which fall under the rubric of talk shows.

‘I hate Sebastian Coe,’ is the anchor’s full-throated reply, and he adds for good measure that the lady is anyway too ugly, far too ugly he says, to be standing on the streets and raising money from anyone, upon which the woman promptly breaks out in loud sobs and ends up crying for the rest of the program, after which she is peremptorily got rid of by the anchor.

Chooti Malli did something similar to the subject of his interview recently who said he ‘works in the field’. The subject wanted to know if he means the paddy field or the front lawn.

The subject does not seem to relate to the jargon let alone cooperate in structuring this cozy fireside chat.

What's CookingThe strength of the Chooti Malli genre of parody is in how today’s serious television that is dished out with such sobriety, is made to look absurd and thin. However he moves further away from that this kind of straight lampoon, and does the social skits which are probably parodies of tele dramas so called, and morning programs which fall under the rubric of talk shows.

In a recent skit which mimicked the village Kopi Kade, the boutique mudalali says he has to attend to some chores at the rear of the shop, and asks his sidekick to mind the store while he is out.

On the way out, explicit instructions are given to ensure that not even the King of the realm is to be given half loaves of bread.

The first maladroit girl that comes up to the counter and asks for half a loaf is rudely dispatched, and the sidekick seems to feel quite smug in his newfound role.

But he is not quite aware of what he is in for, as the next specimen to come along is quite a hefty, hulking character who brusquely asks for half a loaf of bread.
Our man says no half loaves would be issued.

He is met with a withering stare and a pugnacious look that says something like ‘man, you would be dispatched to the day before yesterday’. However the stand-in manages to muster the courage to whisper that half loaves would not be issued, and slinks back to the back of the store to consult with the Mudalali,

He is in the process of telling the Mudalali about the unsavory character who does not take no for an answer, when that character himself is seen to present himself unexpectedly to the Mudalali at the back of the store, stony faced as ever.

The sidekick is then heard to mumble sotto voce, sheepishly, that there is half a loaf that is idling , because the other half was served to a friend, and wants the permission of the Mudalali to dispense that other half to ‘this customer.’

Why is this even parody? Well, probably because it is a spoof on how the village tough is portrayed on made to order television, and how the underdog eventually is portrayed, improbably, as having his comeuppance.

Another recent skit on Api Noddana Live, was the interview with a scholar, a man about town, who says he went for a wedding and saw the three very educated brothers of the bride cry because their only sister was leaving them, and going away with the betrothed.
The father, a very severe man with a mustache, saw all this weeping and chastised the Government Agent, the Doctor, and the University Lecturer, his three educated sons to put a lid on it.

‘The three of you are educated, and a wedding is no reason to cry. It’s true we are all sad that the only girl in the family is leaving …’ says the father who then promptly starts weeping uncontrollably too, beating his breasts…

Given that weeping uncontrollably is the staple in the local tele drama culture, this skit is probably the spoof of spoofs, and the sobriquet Api Noddana Live (the ‘live’ that we are ‘not’ aware of) is done real justice to by the best performers locally, in this niche, but very important genre.

Chooty Malli and Podi Malli (i.ytimg.com)
Chooty Malli and Podi Malli (i.ytimg.com)