Thamizh Talkies: Why I hate 'pucca mass'
The writer is a former journalist who has worked in the film industry for several years and is passionate about movies, music and everything related to entertainment
When I recently tweeted, “Two words that tire me in Tamil cinema are 'pucca mass'", I got more such words as replies. It showed what copywriting has done to one of the biggest products of them all, the motion picture. The list of more such words make for an interesting read: 'Thara Local', 'B & C Centres', 'Kuththu song', 'Theri hit', 'Thaaru Maaru', 'Marana Mass', 'Sure shot'... And it goes on.
Simple judgements like 'good film', 'great song', 'lovely visuals', and 'superb acting' have made way to those in the above paragraph. But the award for the most nerve-racking phrase of ‘em all must go to 'pucca mass'. I mean, aren’t all films meant for an audience at large? Like in the title song for the hero in CS Amudhan’s Tamizh Padam 2, will the word mass be followed up with 'volume' or 'velocity' in the future? It can, you know. I’m sorry, I give up. Neither can I coin newer catch-phrases nor can I live with the extent of irritation I experience when I read the description 'pucca mass', not just in a print ad for the film but also on 'serious' Twitter updates, and sometimes, even in what pass as film reviews online.
Pucca mass is IMHO -- I will kindly explain to you that the acronym means, in my humble opinion -- used by those who have a dearth of vocabulary. It's used by those searching for words to describe films with whistle-worthy hero entries, populated dance numbers, and when goons of the villain fly up, as the camera tracks in to show his 'stunt pose' in low-angle fast motion...
Why do we have to resort to such phrases when we already have a word for the above mix? The word is called 'masala' and it’s not a bad word at all. It means the film is an out-and-out entertainer that propels the hero to be a larger than life figure, one whom we root for along with a heroine who is 'bubbly' (now, that IS a bad word to describe a girl in Tamil cinema parlance. Dhool and Ghilli, for example, are good masala films. As are Pokkiri and Thuppakki. 'Masala film' mainly means one which is able to make you feel a myriad of emotions equal to what you experience when you eat, say, a good biriyani.
But in an era where 'cool' abbreviations and acronyms make your updates and stories, where is the scope for good usage of language? I’m one of those who wonders what people who type “k” instead of “okay” do with the rest of their time. Now, generally, letters are used to denote people’s names so the ones overhearing your conversation at the coffee shop do not decipher who you’re talking about. Initials are handy that way but imagine the copy if you were to write a movie review and write VS for Vijay Sethupathi or SK for Sivakarthikeyan all the time? Ditto for adjectives which grate on the ear.
As I send this for print, I hear voices behind me saying, 'Masala is a word but pucca mass is an emotion'. There you go. When one brings in the heart, then there’s very little to argue.