The moon is ominously full, looking down on a bungalow inhabited by an unassuming, happy family. A poltergeist seems to have entered the house: phone calls are interrupted, the television seems to be possessed, and the power goes off.
Put Chutney’s video does feature a ghost, but a Hindi-speaking one. You could call it a spirited fightback against the Centre’s decision to impose Hindi on everyone everywhere in India.
In March, national highways in Tamil Nadu featured milestones with Hindi signs, triggering state-wide rage. Put Chutney’s spoof, titled Hindi Thinippu Pei (The Ghost who Imposes Hindi) is a priceless protest.
Film references abound. The members of the family featured here have the same names as the characters from Vikram Kumar’s horror film Yaavarum Nalam (2009), and a popular piece of Tamil film dialogue is rendered in Hindi. The five South Indian states are fused into one big “Madrasi” territory – the view from the north.
The video’s wickedest scene is when a priest attempts to summon the spirit by uttering “Parichaya, Prathamic, Madhyama, Praveshika,” which is a clear wink at the Dakshina Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha, which was set up in 1918 to promote Hindi in the southern states.
The eight-minute video vigorously champions the Tamil language. “I have been an Indian only for over 70 years, but I have been a Tamilian for thousands of years,” the protagonist tells the kurta-pyjama clad ghoul.