Translated for you: in India a village cook becomes a Youtube star


Translated for you: in India a village cook becomes a Youtube star

Village Food Factory is a YouTube channel that has reached 2 million subscribers: the protagonist is an Indian gentleman who cooks in the middle of a village.

The original article “The Indian filmmaker who made his dad’s village cooking a Youtube sensation” by Priya Krishna appears on The New Yorker. We have translated it for you.

Crouching on a dusty clod overhanging a field in Tamil Nadu, India , an elderly, barefoot, slender man wearing a lungi , a type of white sarong, holds a huge steel tray in his hand.an elderly man cooking large quantities of chicken legs in the middle of a fieldcontaining a hundred raw chicken legs , showing them to the camera who is filming it. He coats them with turmeric , a bright red chilli powder, garlic and yogurt , and then places a rusty wok over a small fire fueled by pieces of bark. Pour a puddle of oil into the wok and then arrange the spice-coated meat over the high flame. In the distance, animals whistle and bark and off-screen people can be heard muttering in Tamil. Once the stew is cooked, the man places glossy lumps of riceand plump legs on a very green banana leaf resting on the ground and devouring everything with gusto, taking the rice with your hands and gnawing at the bones. Chunks of chicken fall out of his mouth as he continues to look into the camera with a stern, satisfied expression.

The video , titled King of chicken legs / Using 100 chicken legs / Prepared by my daddy, has been viewed more than 16 million times on YouTube , 16 times the average population of the Theni region, a bucolic area of ​​Tamil Nadu where man, Jaymukh Gopinath , cooks gigantic meals in the open air, taken by his son Arumugan, amateur director. As is almost always the case with people who end up going viral, Arumugan – a lively 26-year-old who can only speak a few sentences in broken English in addition to Tamil – had not made up his mind to make his father a YouTube star. Arumugan lived in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, working as an assistant director in Tamil film productions, but the pay was so low that he could barely survive. So, in early 2016, he moved back to his native village and decided to start filming his father cooking simply because, he said verbatim: “ there was no need to pay him “.

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Jaymukh, 62, learned to cook decades ago when she was selling textiles door-to-door. He could never find food that was to his liking while on a business trip, and that’s when he learned to cook simple dishes for himself . After his marriage to Selvi, Arumugan’s mother, in 1990, settled in Chengalpattu, where the locals were so impressed with his way of cooking that they forced him to open a dhaba, a roadside kiosk specializing in biryani. . Amurugan takes pride in his childhood memories of his father’s cooking. “ I remember coming home from school and my dad made pepper crabs ,” says Arumugan. Jaymukh often cooked outdoors for the whole family, as his father did before him.

In Arumugan’s first video, posted on YouTube on July 24, 2016, Jaymukh cooks crabs in a stew over an open flame, with a huge waterfall roaring behind him.the arumugan channel has reached 2 million subscribersArumugan remembers that after a few days the video was only seen a fortnight and that it only started to catch on after he asked his friends to watch it. The father / son duo have since made hundreds of videos, with Jaymukh making everything from stewed lamb’s head complete  with eyeballs simmering among the chillies, to burgers.in fast food style, with which he stuffs typical sandwiches, interspersed with slices of American cheese. In less than 2 years, according to Arumugan, his YouTube channel, Village Food Factory, has garnered 2 million subscribers and earned the whole family more than seven million rupees, roughly a hundred thousand dollars, with revenue from advertising – what in India is a small fortune.

Like all the other hugely successful videos – for example the one of incorporeal hands baking a rainbow layer cake or the one showing a stranger dining alone in South Korea (a genre known as mukbang ) – the Village videos Food Factory have a specific formula that determines their virality , which revolves around the simple, silent and concentrated way with which Jaymukh prepares stratospheric quantities of foodmaking use of a very thin equipment: we see him trimming using a machete, to create space for himself to cook; we see him dragging gigantic branches from the surrounding trees with which he then feeds the fire; prepare homemade coconut oil by cracking a hundred coconuts or scrambling pounds of eggs into a pan the size of an inflatable baby pool.

In the channel’s most viewed video,  he fry 200 pieces of chicken in a vat of boiling oil, for his rendition of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
The videos have a raw and amateur quality: Arumugan’s footage is shaky, editing is abrupt, and the rustle of the wind often drowns out all other sounds. Passers-by pass through the frame without too many problems and no special efforts are made to make the appearance of the food more palatable. There is one video that begins by showing a herd of cackling ducks and then moves on to more as Jaymukh kills them. When the animals return to the screen, Jaymukh is busy dressing them to prepare a spicy stew; and in the final scene, we see him devouring a succulent leg. Arumugam says the leftover food is donated to local ashrams .

The Village Food Factory releases a new video every 3 or 4 days and the project has become a family affair: both Arumugan’s mother and his wife Pragathi prepare the necessary ingredients. The younger brother, Manikadandan, helps with the cooking, and is often seen on video stealing bites here and there. What was most unexpected for Arumugan is to see his father become a celebrity. “ I love this man like he was my father! “, Writes a fan in the YouTube comments. “It deserves a Michelin star ,” writes another. On a trip to Kerala, South India, the longest trip Arumugan and his father have ever taken, ” people surrounded us and wanted to take selfies with my father.“Says Arumugan. About sixty per cent of the people who watch the videos do not live in India, but mainly in the United States, Great Britain and Canada. A Canadian widow wrote a letter asking for an autographed photo of Jaymukh. Before she died, her husband sat in front of the computer for hours watching Jaymukh cook.

But what matters most is that the Village Food factory has completely transformed the living standards of the Gopinath family . In the past, they struggled to put together the 500 rupees, about $ 7, required by the local bank to open an account. Thanks to their current income, they have gone from renting a small apartment to buying a 200 square meter house. Arumugan also managed to buy a car and a large television. ” Our life in black and white has become in color, ” says Arumugan. Jaymukh, on the other hand, with whom I was able to communicate thanks to my very limited Hindi, because he speaks almost only Tamil, tackles his new occupation with great nonchalance: ” I’m happy to have given my son something to do“.


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