Thangachi’s Corner: The Proverbial Culture Pie

August 14, 2013

CTYA’s Blog has started a new Feature every other Wednesday called “Thangachi’s Corner”. “Thangachi’s Corner” is a comfortable space to discuss relatable topics and issues relevant to the Canadian Tamil youth of today. For more information about this feature or to suggest a topic, feel free to e-mail us at blogs@ctya.orgThangachi’s Corner publishes articles every other Wednesday, today’s article is being published on Thursday as yesterday was the 7th year memorial of the Sencholai Massacre.

Written By: Keerthana Raveendran

Photo Credits: Murali

Photo Credits: Murali

I have a confession. I don’t watch Tamil movies.

If you’re like a lot of the Tamil people I’ve encountered, I can probably guess what you’re thinking, right down to the tone of disbelief.


That’s usually the response I get when the latest Tamil cinema hit is being discussed and I make this particular admission. It is then often followed by one of two things: a “Why?” that possibly compels folks to convince me to watch said movies; or the immediate, and occasionally vocalized assumption that I just must be “whitewashed”.

Now, let’s take a look at that word – whitewashed. As it is more often than not used in colloquial language, it’s only fair to define it as such. Urban Dictionary describes whitewash as, “a process […] when a person who is considered a minority adopts a lifestyle (including speech, mannerisms, clothing, etc.) that is attributed secludedly to those of European descent, white people”.

Okay, fair enough. If “whitewash” is defined by lifestyle, it is understandable enough how steering away from Tamil cinema presumably diminishes one’s Tamil identity in our society. Because these days, isn’t culture defined by the media?

That is where we make the miscalculation.

It is important to recognize that the intricate concept of culture is made up of not only media, but a plethora of other features as well, such as language, society, cuisine, clothing and tradition. Each of these aspects serves as a slice in the proverbial pie (or similar circular baked good) of culture. It hardly seems fair to define our entire Tamil culture by the one slice.

On my part, as Tamil movies were deemed inappropriate by my parents growing up, I had never been accustomed to watching them regularly. And having never had a reason to be “hooked”, I became attached to a different kind of Tamil movie – Tamil-dubbed Ramayanan and even better, Mahabharatham. The stories captivated me. There were enough episodes to keep me interested, and I was exposed every day to not only Tamil speech, but to Thiruvalluvar’s Tamil—clean, refined and antiquated enough to be Shakespeare’s Tamil equivalent.

I wonder then, exactly how whitewashed I am.

I may not know what the latest Tamil movie is, and I may prefer to re-watch epic Breaking Bad episodes rather than endure Tamil dramas on TVI, but that doesn’t brand me as any less Tamil than the regular movie-goer.

It is always a tricky game to define a concept as complex as culture, but I know enough to avoid limiting the definition to one trifling aspect.

After all, we Tamils are so much more.


About the Author:

Keerthana Raveendran, known by her flock as Thangachi, is an aspiring author with an eye for the eccentricities of the Tamil Canadian culture. As an unemployed student with a mountain load of student debt, she is currently broke, so you will probably be able to relate to her. As a writer, she has a special kind of wit that is present on the page and absent during the awkward conversations you tend have with her in person. Thangachi is currently a Masters student studying English at York University.


Read More by Keerthana!

“High Risk, High Reward”

“They Call it Maanam”
“Who are they anyway?”
“Remembering our Literature”
“Society and Expectations”
“To my Tamil Friends”


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