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Twice as nice

In 1998, a knowledgeable bloke posted a simple query in the ever-interesting Tamil Film Music Page (TFMPage.com). He asked, a�?Why does ARR always begin songs with a word repeated twice?a�? That got everyone thinking. Frenetic lists were made. Before someone could rattle off a�?chaiya chaiyaa��, a�?Mustafa Mustafaa��, a�?ennavale ennavalea��, a�?humma hummaa��, and a�?Columbus Columbusa��, another geek discovered that Ilayaraja was equally guilty of replicative words. a�?Janani Janania��, a�?mayilae mayilaea��, a�?manidha Manidhaa��, and a�?sendhoorapoovae sendhoorapoovaea�� were stacked up as a riposte by a Rehman fan.
As a wise observer noted, neither could be blamed as the tradition of using irattai kilavi (twin words) has been around since the time of the Tolkappiyam (the first known work in Tamil literature). And if you care to look around, youa��ll notice it everywhere, even today. Tamilians use a�?pala palaa�� to indicate a�?glowa��, a�?moru morua�� to emphasise crispness, a�?modhu modhua�� to cue roly-poly-ness, a�?palaar palaara�� to imply getting whacked, a�?vala valaa�� for yakking, and a�?kisu kisua�� for gossiping.
Forget Tamil, a�?Twin Wordsa�� is a phenomenon right across India. One can find hundreds of examples in Kannada, Telugu, Bengali and Hindi. Ita��s so prevalent that two IIT Kanpur scholars RMK Sinha and Anil Thakur have actually put out a research paper on the topic.
The gist of their findings is: If the pair is a noun form like a�?ghar ghara�� or a�?bachcha bachchaa��, the intention is to quantify things a�� although in case of a�?chor chora�� or a�?bachao bachaoa��, the idea is to get more attention; Numeral replications like a�?ek eka��, a�?aadmi aadmia�� is done to create a group feel; adverb and adjective replications such as a�?dheere dheerea��, a�?choti chotia��, a�?bade badea�� and a�?naya nayaa��, are meant for intensifying the meaning; Onomatopoeic repetitions like a�?ghanan ghanana�� (downpour), a�?kaanv kaanva�� (cawing), a�?sar sara�� (blowing), a�?jhar jhara�� (flowing) and a�?dhak dhaka�� (heartbeat), are used for capturing natural sounds; while pronoun repetitions like a�?jahan jahana��, a�?jab jaba�� and a�?jis jisa�� are used for amplification of the focus.
Bollywood has been a fast learner of these tricks. Which is why, many blockbuster hits featured twin words in their titles. One can recall a�?Kuch Kuch Hota Haa��, a�?Kabhie Kabhiea��, a�?Khel Khel Meina��, a�?Andaaz Apna Apnaa��, and a�?Bhaag Milka Bhaaga��. My gut feel is Twenty20 sounds a lot sexier than test cricket because of the tautology. Brands like Tata, Pass Pass, Toto, M&Ms and 50/50 are beneficiaries of the same principle. So are the many catchy cab numbers (3000 3000 and 6000 6000) deployed in Chennai. In conclusion, all one say is that if one wishes to capture mindshare, it helps to say things over and over!

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