This simple beverage brings back a lot of memories in college . I had a quick ten minutes break where I'd rush towards a particular tea kadai with my friends to have a simple ‘dip tea’. it was fun to play and make a mess out of it while enjoying the taste of it. Tea and tea kadais have created a lot of memories in everyone’s life.
My dad used to tell me back in those days that serious conversations and politics were often discussed in tea shops. However, growing up my knowledge about tea shops was mostly acquired by watching Kollywood's famous Goundamani and Senthil jokes on TV. ON further observation, I realized that a lot of comedies revolving in and around tea kadais were naturally entertaining. Like Body Soda's epic comedy tract and his dialogue “thambi tea innum varala” was amazing or Vivek’s “yaarume illatha kadaikku yaarukkagada tea aathara” crack me up till date!
Tea eventually became an integral part of Tamil Cinema, playing an important role in a lot of powerful scene from iconic films. For instance, Shivaji has this epic scene where Thalaivar and Adhiseshan (Suman) have this conversation where he says Tea Sapdu with some heavy sarcasm and swag. Another movie which had an emotional impact was Thala’s Veeram where this tea kadai bai explains why vinayagam drinks a lot of black tea and his love towards his 4 brothers.
Sillu Karupati directed by Halitha Shameem, redefined the notion of tea by bringing in a cute romantic angle to it. In the 1st story (pink bag) a small boy who lives in a thatched house near the dump yard is bribed by a classmate with some tea for a shampoo bottle from the dump. The tea ends up being spoiled but the act itself was very cute and innocent. In the 3rd story (Turtles), two senior citizens, Navaneethan and Yashoda are seen sharing a moment when he appologetically offers her tea after annoying her. “Ginger tea with added dignity” is the kind of cliche’d romance that wooes me over every single time.
Tea not only became a part of a small act in certain films but also played a crucial role in getting a point across. In that list Pariyerum Perumal directed by Mari Selvaraj talks about the journey Pariyan (Kathir), a law student who is often victimised for belonging to an oppressed caste. A particular scene in the movie where they show two different glasses (a silver and a glass tumbler) in which tea is offered, shows how deeply casteism exists in daily activities.
“neenga neengala irukara varaikum, na naiyadha irukanum nu neenga edhir paakura varaikum,inga edhuvum maradhu sir!”
Is a dialogue that Pariyan tells Jo’s father when he apologies for looking down upon in. The scene ends with one of the most powerful shots of Tamil Cinema where there is a cup of milk tea on one side and a cup of black tea on the other with a small flower in the middle.
Sarvam Thaala Mayam is yet another film that talks deeply about societal issues using tea. In a particular scene Peter (an aspiring musician) and his father go to their village and visit a tea shop there. Peter notices the tea shop owner transferring their tea to a plastic glass. He asks his father “na ena china kozhandhaiya, enaku yedhuku plastic glass la tea kudukaranga” making him wonder the point of this whole act. His father then explains to him how certain things never change. This one scene pretty much encapsulated the entire movie for me.
From powerful messages to cute romances (Tea Kadai Flirting in Neram and OMK), Tea and Tea Kadais have and will continue to be an important aspect of our Cinema!