Musical memories

Why Mammooty’s toddy song for his latest film is making my Madhavan Uncle’s family a bit peppery

EK Madhavan’s ‘The Old Koduvalli Bridge’ has become ‘Entha Johnsa Kallile’ in the movie ‘Uncle My Dad’s Friend.

Malayalam cinema’s superstar Mammooty is plainly rocking in his recently released movie Uncle My Dad’s Friend as he belts out a jolly drinking song.

“Entha johnsa kallille?” Mammootty burbles in his rich Malayalam baritone as his back-up team laugh and bounce along with him. The English version of the song from Girish Damodar’s movie echoes the title “What-ho Johnson, no toddy?”

It’s a song very familiar to the Edathil family members of Tellicherry, where it was known as The Old Koduvalli Bridge song for the simple reason that EK Madhavan, a son of the well -known Edathil family, composed the song on his guitar during the late 1940s. It celebrated the riotous evenings where Madhavan and friends met at on the banks of the Koduvalli River marking the northern border of Tellicherry, now known as Thallassery. It was an important town in North Malabar famous as an entrepot for pepper and spices in the colonial era. Tellicherry pepper is still being marketed in the United States of America and the spice racks of the European Union under that name.

Play
Entha Johnsa Kallile, Uncle My Dad's Friend (2018).

To say that several members of the extended Edathil family are feeling a little peppery about the manner in which The Old Koduvalli Bridge Song has been appropriated would be putting it mildly. For one thing, the original Edathil clan was a large one. It was dominated by the paterfamilias known as Dewan Bahadur EK Krishnan and famous, amongst other things, for having encouraged cricket as a sport at Tellicherry (we will stick by its old name for convenience).

A banyan tree that he planted still stands by the side of the Town Cricket Club. Since he raised a large family of 19 offspring from two consecutive wives, the sons, tall and strapping lads, were particularly well known for their sporting abilities.

It’s probably a little out of context to mention that thanks to Lord Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington, being in charge of the garrison of British soldiers at Tellicherry in the 18th century, the first game of cricket is said to have been played on Tellicherry soil. It may also explain why a large measure of the town’s population came to be named Johnson, Richard and so forth due to a friendly engagement between the soldiers and the local ladies.

Be that as it may, the Edathil boys were said to wield a mean bat and meet with their friends later on by the side of the Koduvalli Bridge.

Madhavan Uncle, as we called him, was my mother’s paternal uncle. He was an ardent naturalist in his time. He spent the major part of his life on the islands dotting the littoral of South India, the Laccadives in particular, and retired as the Joint Director of Fisheries in Tamil Nadu. We knew him as an original version of Sinbad the Sailor and a hippie before his time, for he always came with a guitar and a straw hat teaching us how to eat the spicy “bullets” that are mentioned in the Koduvalli bridge song while sipping, if not the toddy, that it celebrates, at least a bit of warm rum.

“I am very upset that Mammootty has taken our song without even asking us,” said 89-year-old Uma Ramachandran , whose father used to be the eldest brother of Madhavan. “He should at least have mentioned Uncle Madhavan. I am willing to take a flag and march up to Mammootty. I agree that he sings it rather well.”

She then directs me to another YouTube recording that a small segment of the original clan has put together in the Washington neighborhood, where they live. The main singer who goes by the name of Akhila Chandran has recorded the song under the title of Koduvalli Blues, sitting comfortably surrounded by her family. In this version, which is rendered first in Malayalam and then in English, you may learn if you so wish what the meaning of “bullets” might be. These refer to a North Kerala delicacy named ari khadka or spiced rice powder stuffed mussels deep fried to look like bullets.

Play
Koduvalli Blues.

In the original song, Madhavan Uncle warns his friends to wrap up the bottles of contraband toddy in an old kit-bag so that nobody can see because, of course, the consumption of liquor was prohibited at least for the natives. Toddy was the home-brewed spirit from the palm tree. Varadan Master, who is named in the song, was the Physical Director of the local Brennen College. Besides being a brother to Madhavan, he was a stern disciplinarian, so we can’t say whether by naming him, Uncle Madhavan was showing his mischievous side.

The Jhonsa, or Johnson Master, was the head of a typewriting and shorthand institute at Tellicherry. We can’t identify the others “Richard and his motley crowd” nor “Unny Master”.

My mother had once explained that the last train passed across the railway bridge at Koduvalli by six in the evening. This was what made it an ideal meeting place for the young bloods. The local called it “kadal palam”, or the bridge by the sea, because of the spectacular sunsets that could be seen from there across to the Arabian Sea. The old bridge collapsed after a particularly bad storm a couple of years ago. For those who are not familiar with the area, the name Koduvalli, or Koduvally, also refers to the town of Koduvally known as the Golden City because of its numerous shops selling gold, close to Kozhikode further south.

The Old Koduvalli Bridge Song has yet another version that links it firmly to Tellicherry. When the Thalassery Tourism department needed to promote the town, they commissioned a group of young women to sing what was known as The Thalassery Song. With a background of swaying palms trees and country boats sailing into the sunset, it used to sound like a dirge resembling the cries of local virgins tied to the Koduvalli Bridge and left to drown with the rising of the time. I haven’t heard it in recent years. Maybe the singing virgins did drown with the passing of time, if not the tide.

Under these circumstances, maybe we should take heart that “Uncle” Mammootty has brought Uncle Madhavan back to life with his jolly drinking song.

Play
The Thalassery Song.
Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes

Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.

The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.

This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.

Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.

Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.

Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry

The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.

There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.

The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.

The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.

The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.

The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.

Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.

Case studies for technology-led changes

An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.

Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.

In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.

In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.

The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.

Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.

Play

The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.