Poets and Pancakes – NCERT Solutions

Q. What does the writer mean by ‘the fiery misery’ of those subjected to make-up’?

Ans. The make-up room of Gemini Studios looked like a hair cutting salon. It had around half a dozen mirrors with incandescent lights at all angles around them. The artists would feel the heat coming from these lights. Thus, the writer uses the term ‘fiery misery’ to denote the uncomfortable situation of those subjected to make-up.

Q. What is the example of national integration that the author refers to?

Ans. The division of the Gemini Studios’ makeup room was an example of national integration. According to the author, this is so because people from different regions and religions worked together in that department. The department had hierarchy system. The department was headed by a Bengali who was succeeded by a Maharashtrian. The other helpers included a Dharwar Kannadiga, an Andhra, a Madras Indian Christian, an AngloBurmese and the local Tamils.

Q. What work did the ‘office boy’ do in the Gemini Studios? Why did he join the studios? Why was he disappointed?

Ans. The office boy applied make up to the players who played the role of crowd. He joined the studios years ago in the hope of becoming a star actor or top screen writer, director, or lyrics writer. He became disappointed as he could not achieve the goal he wanted.

Q. Why did the author appear to be doing nothing at the studios?

Ans. The job of the author was to cut newspaper clippings and file them. For the other employees, all he seemed to be doing is tearing newspapers, which according to them did not qualify as work. Therefore, they often considered him free and available for their miscellaneous work.

Q. Why was the office boy frustrated? Who did he show his anger on?

Ans. The office boy had joined the studio years ago in the hope of becoming an actor or a screenwriter, or a director, or a lyricist. The fact that he ended up becoming none of these left him frustrated. According to him, “great literary talent was being allowed to go waste in a department fit only for barbers and perverts”. He used to direct his anger at the author even though it was meant for Kothamangalam Subbu.

Q. Who was Subbu’s principal?

Ans. Subbu’s principal was the hero of the film for whom Subbu worked and was loyal to him.

Q. Subbu is described as a many-sided genius. List four of his special abilities.

Ans. Subbu is decribed as a many sided genius. His four special abilities are:

  1. He had the ability to look cheerful at all the times even after having a hand in a flop film.
  2. He was highly creative.
  3. He could give directions and definitions in film making.
  4. He was a poet.

Q. Why was the legal adviser referred to as the opposite by others?

Ans. Department at the Gemini Studios. Though, as a legal adviser, he was supposed to be involved in legal matters, his cagey yet stupid idea led to the end of an actress’s career. Due to this, he was referred to as the illegal advisor, by the people.

Q. What made the lawyer stand out from the others at Gemini Studios?

Ans. He wore clothes opposed to others. He was a sad looking man. He was a man of cold logic in a crowd of dreamers. It made him stand out from the others at Gemini Studios.

Q. Did the people at Gemini Studios have any particular political affiliations?

Ans. No, the people at Gemini Studios didn’t have any particular political affiliations. They just wore Khadi and worshiped Gandhi Ji.

Q. Why was the Moral Rearmament Army welcomed at the Studios?

Ans. The Moral Rearmament Army was welcomed at the studios because the group was called an international circus. They weren’t very good on the trapeze and their acquaintance with animals was only at dinner table, but they presented two plays in the most professional manner.

Q. Name one example to show that Gemini Studios was influenced by the plays staged by MRA.

Ans. Department at the Gemini Studios. Though, as a legal adviser, he was supposed to be involved in legal matters, his cagey yet stupid idea led to the end of an actress’s career. Due to this, he was referred to as the illegal advisor, by the people.

Q. Who was the Boss of Gemini Studios?

Ans. Mr. Vasan was The Boss of Gemini Studios.

Q. What caused the lack of communication between the Englishman and the people at Gemini Studios?

Ans. The accent of Stephen Spender, the Englishman, was the main cause of the lack of communication between him and the people at Gemini Studios. Apart from that, the people did not have any idea about what he was talking. The Englishman’s visit to the Gemini Studios is referred to as an unexplained mystery because no one could decipher his identity, whether he was a poet or an editor. Besides, when he spoke no one at the studio understood what he intended to say as his accent was beyond their comprehension.

Q. Why is the Englishman’s visit referred to as unexplained mystery?

Ans. The Englishman’s visit is refereed to as unexplained mystery because no one knew what he was talking about and his accent defeated any attempt to understand what he was saying. The poet looked pretty balled too. It was because he too must have felt the sheer incongruity of his talk about the thrills and travails of English poet.

Q. Who was the English visitor to the studios?

Ans. The English visitor to the studios was the English poet Stephen Spender.

Q. How did the author discover who the English visitor to the studios was?

Ans. It was a simple chance that the author was able to discover who the English visitor to the Studios was. The Hindu had published a tiny announcement about a short story contest organised by a British periodical by the name `The Encounter’. The author wanted to compete but before sending his story to England, he decided to know something about The Encounter. After all, it involved a considerable amount of money to send the manuscript to England. With this intention, he went to the British Council Library. There he found several copies of the Encounter. When he read the Editor’s name on them, he was pleasantly surprised. For it was Stephen Spender, the English poet who had visited the Studios. Thus the author discovered who the visitor to the Studios was.

Q. What does ‘The God that Failed’ refer to?

Ans. `The God that Failed’ refers to the communism and the communist rule in Russia.

Q. The author has used gentle humour to point out human foibles. Pick out instances of this to show how this serves to make the piece interesting.

Ans. The author’s use of humour to point at human foibles can be seen in the following excerpts:

  1. “This gang of nationally integrated make-up men could turn any decent looking person into a hideous crimson hued monster with the help of truck-loads of pancake and a number of other locally made potions and lotions.”
  2. “Seeing me sitting at my desk tearing up newspapers day in and day out, most people thought I was doing next to nothing. It is likely that the boss thought likewise too. So anyone who felt I should be given some occupation could barge into my cubicle and deliver an extended lecture. The ‘boy’ in the make-up department had decided I should be enlightened on how great literary talent was allowed to go waste in a department fit only far barbers and perverts. Soon I was praying for crowd shooting all the time. Nothing short of it could save me from his epics.”‘
  3. “The lawyer was also officially known as the legal adviser, but everybody referred to him as the opposite.
  4. “Then one day The Boss closed down the story department and this was perhaps the only instance in human history where a lawyer lost his job because the poets were asked to go home.”
  5. “Naturally, they were all averse to the term `Communism.’ A communist was a godless man; he had no filial or conjugal love; he was always out to cause and spread unrest and violence among innocent and ignorant people.
  6. “Then the poet spoke. He couldn’t have addressed a more dazed and silent audience – no one know what he was talking about and his accent defeated any attempt to understand what he was saying. The whole thing lasted about an hour, then the poet left and we all dispersed in utter bafflement-what are we doing ?”
  7. “The great prose-writers of the world may not admit it, but my conviction grows stronger day after day that prose-writing is not and can not be the true pursuit of a genius. It is for the patient, persevering drudge with a heart so shrunken that nothing can break it; rejection slips don’t mean a thing to him; he at once sets about making a fresh copy’ of the long prose piece and sends it to another editor enclosing postage for the return of the manuscript.”
  8. I felt like I had found a long lost brother and I sang as I sealed the envelope and wrote out his address. I felt that he too would be singing the same song at the same time-long lost brothers of Indian films discover each other by singing the same song in-the first and in the final reel of the film. Stephen Spender! Stephen Stephen Stephen-that was his name.

Q. Why was Kothamangalam Subbu considered No. 2 in Gemini Studios?

Ans. Kothamanglam Subbu was No.2 in the Gemini Studios because he was a man of great qualities and he used them all for the benefit of The Boss and the studios. He had the ability to look cheerful at all times even after having had a hand in a flop film. Subbu was tailor made for films. He was inspired when commanded. Film making was easy with a man like Subbu around. He gave direction and definition to Gemini Studios during its golden years. Subbu was a poet. He was capable of writing complex and higher sort of poems but he close to address his poetry to the masses. In many ways his success in films dwarfed his literary achievements. But he was content to turn his entire creativity to his principal’s advantage. These things made him very close and intimate with Boss and he became the most important person in the Studios after him.

Q. How does the author describe the incongruity of an English poet addressing the audience at Gemini Studios?

Ans. The author felt that the English poet was not at all understood by his audience at the Studios. At the end of his lecture, his listeners dispersed in utter bafflement. They failed to understand what he said and why they themselves were there. They wondered what an English poet was doing in a film Studios which made films for the simplest sort of people. They could never think of cultivating a taste for English poetry.

The poet looked quite baffled too. He must have also felt, the author says, the incongruity of his talk. He talked of thrills and travails of an English poet. Clearly his audience at the Studios had nothing to do with it.

Q. What do you understand about the author’s literary inclinations from the account?

Ans. Though the author had a very tedious and unchallenging job at the studios, his interest in literature and writing is apparent in his willingness to participate in the short story contest organised by the British periodical, The Encounter. Moreover, the author appears to be a keen reader visiting libraries and buying books on wide-ranging topics whenever he could afford them. Besides, the narrative also establishes the fact that the author was one of the most knowledgeable persons in Gemini Studios. His idea about how prose writing was not meant for geniuses but for those with patience and perseverance, highlight his reflective and deep thoughts on literature and creative writing.

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