Chapter 6 – Poets and Pancakes Questions and Answers: NCERT Solutions for Class 12 English (Flamingo Prose)

Class 12 English (Flamingo Prose) NCERT book solutions for Chapter 6 - Poets and Pancakes Questions and Answers.


Q1. What does the writer mean by ‘the fiery misery’ of those subjected to make-up?

Ans: The writer means the misery caused by the incandescent lights that poured out intense heat. The make-up room of the Gemini Studios had bright bulbs in the room full of large mirrors that reflected the glowing lights. Under such blazing heat make-up was done.

Q2. What is the example of national integration that the author refers to?

Ans: The make-up team and also those who came and went were from different states. It was headed by a Bengali and next in hierarchy was a Maharashtrian, assisted by an Andhraite, a Madras Indian Christian, an Anglo-Burmese and other local Tamils. It was truly a gang of nationally integrated make-up men.

Q3. 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 crowds, mixing his paint in a giant vessel and slapping it on the crowd players. He had joined the studios in the hope of becoming a star actor or a top screen writer, director or lyrics writer. He was a bit of a poet. He was disappointed as he was placed low even in the hierarchy of make-up men.

Q4. Why did the author appear to be doing nothing at the studios?

Ans: The author’s job was to cut out newspaper clippings on a wide variety of subjects and store them in files. Many of these had to be written out in hand. Seeing him sitting at his desk and tearing up newspapers most people thought he had nothing to do at the studios.

Q5. Why was the office boy frustrated? Who did he show his anger on?

Ans: The office boy was frustrated because his hopes of making big in the movie world failed. He vent his anger and frustration on Kothamangalam Subbu, the No. 2 in the studios, whom he held responsible for his dishonour and neglect.

Q6. Who was Subbu’s principal?

Ans: S.S. Vasan, the founder of Gemini Studios, was the boss and Subbu’s Principal in the studios. Subbu had a great loyalty to him. This made him identify himself with his principal completely. He turned his entire creativity to his principal’s advantage.

Q7. Subbu is described as a many-sided genius. List four of his special abilities.

Ans: Subbu was a many-sided genius. He was born a Brahmin. It is a virtue in itself as it exposed him to more affluent situations and people. Second, he had the ability to look cheerful at all times. Third, he always had work for somebody. Fourth, he had great loyalty to his principal, S.S. Vasan, the Boss.

Q8. Why was the legal adviser referred to as the opposite by others?

Ans: The lawyer was the only one at the studios who wore pants, tie and sometimes a coat, unlike others who wore khadi dhoti and shirt. His job was to give support and advise on problems, but in fact he created problems. He brought the career of a brilliant actress to an end by terrorizing her. He was rightly called an illegal adviser.

Q9. What made the lawyer stand out from the others at Gemini Studios?

Ans: The lawyer wore pants, a tie and sometimes a coat, while all wore khadi dhoti and white khadi shirt. He looked alone and helpless. He was a man of cold logic in a crowd of dreamers. He was a neutral man among Gandhiites and Khadiites.

Q10. Did the people at Gemini Studios have any particular political affiliations?

Ans: The people at Gemini Studios wore Khadi and worshipped Gandhi, but beyond that they had no particular political interests or understanding. They only had opinions on communism, which they loathed and looked down on communists. They considered communists as heartless atheists who are devoid of emotions. They went about letting loose anarchy in the society.

Q11. Why was the Moral Re-Armament Army welcomed at Gemini Studios?

Ans: The Moral Re-Armament Army was invited to stage two plays, which were more like plain homilies ‘ (sermons/lectures) for the Gemini family. It was discovered only later that the group was part of the movement countering international communism and Vasan had invited them under the influence of his political interests.

Q12. Name one example to show that Gemini Studios was influenced by the plays staged by MRA?

Ans: MRA staged two plays ‘Jotham Valley’ and ‘The Forgotten Factor’. Their high quality costumes and
well made sets earned a lot of admiration. Their sunrise and sunset scene impressed them so much that all Tamil plays started reproducing the scene with a bare stage, a white background curtain and a tune playing on the flute.

Q13. Who was the Boss of Gemini Studios?

Ans: Mr. S.S. Vasan, the founder of Gemini Studios was the Boss. Apart from producing films, he was an editor of a popular Tamil weekly ‘Ananda Vikatan’. He was a great admirer of scholarly people. Subbu seemed to enjoy an intimate relationship with him. Mr. Vasan is projected as a bit of showman here.

Q14. What caused the lack of communication between the Englishman and the people at Gemini Studios?

Ans: The Englishman’s speech was peppered with words like ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ and the Gemini
family had no political interests, so they were dazed and a silent audience. Also, the Englishman’s accent was difficult to understand, because of which all communication had failed. He was basically a poet and that made no sense to the people whose life centered around a film studio.

Q15. Why was the Englishman’s visit referred to as unexplained mystery?

Ans: The Englishman was a poet whose name was not familiar. In his speech he talked about the thrills and travails of an English poet, which made no sense for the simple people at Gemini Studios who had had no exposure other than films and so they were not interested. These simple people had neither taste for English poetry nor political interests. Hence, his visit is referred to as an unexplained mystery.

Q16. Who was the English visitor to the studios?

Ans: The English visitor to the studios was poet Stephen Spender, editor of British periodical ‘The Encounter’.

Q17. How did the author discover who the English visitor to the studio was?

Ans: The author discovered his identity by reading his name on the pages of ‘The Encounter’ in the British Council Library. He also knew about him from the paperback edition of the book The God That Failed.

Q18. What does The God That Failed refer to?

Ans: The God That Failed refers to a book that was a compilation of six essays by six eminent men. It was a low priced student edition released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. It dealt with the author’s disillusionment with communism.


Q1. 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: ‘Poets and Pancakes’ has an underlying tone of humour which is satirical and has been deployed by the author to point out human foibles. It is mainly manifested in his description of the make-up room people.
The make-up room, he says, was in a building that had once been the stables of Robert Clive. He further makes fun of the make-up team that slapped make-up. Ironically, the make-up turned any normal man into a hideous monster, far from being presentable. He also refers to the fiery misery of the actors when their make-up was done under the bright bulbs, large mirrors reflecting blazing heat. His description of Subbu’s No. 2 position in Gemini Studios, the frustration of the office boy and the opposite role played by the legal adviser in the acting career of a countryside girl are humorously dealt with but effectively bring out the flaws in the set-up.
The showmanship of the boss and what influences his guest list point out human weaknesses in a light-hearted manner. The humour is at its peak in the description of the visit of Stephen Spender. S.S. Vasan’s reading a long speech in his honour but he too knew precious little about him. Spender’s accent is highly unintelligible. Then the author’s establishing long lost brother’s relationship with the English visitor is also funny and humorous. All these slight digs at human foibles tickle in us humour.

Q2. Why was Kothamangaiam Subbu considered No. 2 in Gemini Studios?

Ans: Kothamangaiam Subbu was on the attendance roll with the story department and was No. 2 at Gemini Studios not by virtue of any merit, but because he was a Brahmin with affluent exposure. He was cheerful and had a sense of loyalty that placed him close to the Boss. He was quick to delegate work to others. As if tailor-made for films, sparks of his creativity showed in his suggestions on how to create shots. He composed poetry, scripted a story and a novel. He gave direction and definition to Gemini Studios during its golden years. He performed in a subsidiary role better than the main players. He had a genuine love for his relatives and near and dear ones. His extravagant hospitality was popular among his relatives and acquaintances, probably that is why he had enemies.

Q3. How does the author describe the incongruity of an English poet addressing the audience at Gemini Studios?

Ans: The Gemini Studios witnessed a surprising visit by a tall Englishman who was proclaimed to be a poet. The welcome speech by the Boss was delivered in the most general terms, which only showed that even the Boss did not know much about him. The poet talked about the thrill and travails of an English poet which made no sense to the simple people at Gemini Studios. They had no exposure other than films and so, they were not interested. Also, words like democracy and freedom that featured in his speech held no interest for them as they had no political thought or interests. Moreover, the Englishman’s accent was difficult to understand, because of which all communications failed. He was basically a poet and that made no sense to the people whose life centred round a film studio. Therefore, his visit remained an unexplained mystery for much time.

Q4. What do you understand about the author’s literary inclinations from the account?

Ans: The author, Asokamitran, was entrusted with the job of maintaining the newspaper clippings of movies and other articles. Though to others, who just saw him tearing papers, he appeared to be doing nothing, the job kept the author well informed. Also, there prevailed an intellectual environment to some extent because the poets and script writers used to hang out there in the mess that served coffee any time of the day. The author would pick up fifty paisa copies of journals from the footpath and took part in the poetry writing competition. He actually read essays ‘The God Who Failed’ to know more about the poet Stephen Spender. All these are evidence that he had some literary taste.


Q1. How does the writer describe the make-up room of the Gemini Studios?

Ans: The make-up room of the Gemini Studios had incandescent lights. It also had lights at all angles around large mirrors. Those subjected to make-up had to face bright light and a lot of heat there. It was on the upper floor of the building that was believed to have been Robert Clive’s stables.

Q2. Bring out the humour in the job of the make-up men.

Ans: The make-up men came from all corners of the country and could transform any decent-looking person into a repulsive crimson coloured fiend and made people look uglier than they were in real life. They used truck loads of pancakes and locally manufactured potions and lotions to transform the looks of the actors.

Q3. How was the make-up room a fine example of national integration?

Ans: Transcending all the barriers of regions, religions and castes, people from all over India came to Gemini Studios for jobs. The make-up department was headed by a Bengali, succeeded by a Maharashtrian, assisted by a Dharwar Kannadiga, an Andhra, a Madrasi, Christian and an Anglo Burmese and the usual local Tamils. Hence, the writer finds in the make-up department a perfect example of

national integration.

Q4. Why did the author appear to do nothing in the studio?

Ans : The author’s job in the studio was to cut newspaper dippings of all the relevant news items and articles that appeared in different newspapers and maintain a record of the same. This tearing of newspaper gave an impression that he was free and simply whiling away his time. People used to barge in his cubicle and lectured him.

Q5. Why was the office boy frustrated? Who did he show his anger on and how?

Ans: The office boy had joined the studio years back. He aspired to be a top film star, or top screen writer, lyricist or director. He felt frustrated on not being able to realise his dreams and had been given a job much below his calibre and dignity. He blamed Kothamangalam Subbu for all his woes, ignominy and neglect. He often gave vent to his frustrations in the narrator’s cubicle. The narrator yearned for relief from the never-ending babble of the office boy.

Q6. Subbu is described as a many-sided genius. Justify.

Ans: Kothamangalam Subbu may not have had much formal education but, by virtue of his being born as a Brahmin, he had had exposure to many affluent situations and people. He had the ability to look cheerful at all times, even after a setback. He was always full of creative ideas. Above all, he was a charitable and extravagant man and hospitable to his relations. His loyalty had put him close to his boss. But he seemed to others a sycophant and a flatterer and, probably, that was the reason he had enemies.

Q7. How did the lawyer unwittingly bring an end to a brief and brilliant career of a young actress?

Ans: A talented but very temperamental actress lost her cool on the sets. The lawyer recorded her outburst and played it back, much to her embarrassment. The actress from the countryside was so terror- struck that she retreated and never got back to films. In this way, his mischief making brought an abrupt end to the brilliant actress’ career.

Q8. Why did the magazine, ‘The Encounter’, ring a bell in the writer’s mind?

Ans: The writer wanted to participate in a short story writing contest organized by ‘The Encounter’, a British publication. Before sending his entry, he waited, confirm the authenticity of the periodical, so he visited the British Council Library. When the author read the editor’s name, a bell rang in his mind. It was Stephen Spender, the poet who had visited the Gemini Studios.

Q9. What was significant about the book which the author took from roadside?

Ans: ‘The God That failed’ was the name of the book which caught the attention of the author. It contained the essays of six eminent men, who described their journey into communism and their return from it after being disillusioned. It suddenly assumed great significance for the author as he discovered that one of the essays had been written by Stephen Spender, the poet, who had visited the studio. He now understood the reason for his having been invited.

Q10. What do you understand about the author’s literary inclinations from the account?

Ans: The author was very knowledgeable young man whose job required him to pour over the newspaper all day long. His interest in creative writing and participating in story writing contests indicates his interest in literature. This interest was so keen that he read books on varied subjects and went about buying them even when he was short of money.

Q11. What kind of people, according to the author, are meant for prose writing?

Ans: According to the author, prose writing is not the pursuit of a genius. It is for the patient, persistent and persevering drudge whose heart can take rejections and whose spirit to keep trying does not get killed so easily.

Q12. Why was Gemini Studios a favourite haunt of poets?

Ans: Gemini Studios was a favourite haunt of poets as it had an excellent mess which supplied good coffee at all times of the day and for most part of the night. Meeting there was a satisfying entertainment. Moreover, Mr. Vasan was a great admirer of scholarly people.

Q13. ‘Prose writing is not and cannot be the true pursuit of a genius’, says the author. Explain the statement.

Ans: In this statement, the author says that prose writing can’t be the true pursuit of a genius because it is always rejected. A genius is not that is accepted everywhere. The author states all this with criticism that prose writing is actually meant for rejection. Prose writers are patient, persistent and persevering drudges. They can’t be down played by rejection slips. Everytime he gets a rejection slip for his manuscript, he starts making a fresh copy and sends it to another publisher with return postage.

Q14. ‘Suddenly the book assumed tremendous significance.’ Explain the statement.

Ans: The author bought one copy of the book ‘The God That Failed’ from the footpath. Six eminent men of letters in six separate essays describe their journey into communism and their disillusioned return. Among them one was Stephen Spender. The author at once recollected that Stephen Spender had visited Gemini Studios. He knew about the mystery of his visit now. So, the book assumed tremendous significance for him.

Q15. Explain the appropriateness of the title ‘Poets and Pancakes’?

Ans: The chapter describes Gemini Studios and its functioning very clearly. Its employees are little unrecognized poets. Though they work in a film studio, the focus is on the author’s station in the Studios as a make-up boy using pancakes on crowd players, and how he failed as a poet. So, the title is appropriate.

Q16. How humorously does the author describe Frank Buchman’s Moral Re-Armament Army?

Ans: The author humorously calls the Moral Re-Armament Army after someone as ‘an international circus’. Then he states that they were not very good on the trapeze. Their acquaintance with animals should have been much as animals play tricks in a circus. “But the group ate animals”, says the author their acquaintance with animals was only at the dining table.

Q17. What was thought of a communist by the studios people?

Ans: According to these people, a communist was a godless man. He had no filial or conjugal love. He had compunction about killing his own parents and children. He was always out to cause and spread unrest and violence among the innocent and ignorant people.