Move over T-shirts with whacky expressions in English. Now many local brands prefer to celebrate Tamil. So from Bharati’s powerful verse to the succinct Kural, you can find them all on tees, says Anusha Parthasarathy

There are so many reasons why quirky Tamil T-shirts are doing well these days, whether it is the increasing love for the language or adding a local flavour to one’s wardrobe. With more number of youngsters getting into this business, it is evolving from being just a fashion statement into a movement with everything from movie dialogues to Subramania Bharati’s poetry being flaunted on colourful, contemporary tees.

Gopinath Ravirajan, Lenin Raj and Yuvaraj share a passion and a flair for Tamil and decided to build a brand ‘For Tamils by Tamils’. And so, www.ilavam.com was born, and the founders began using Bharathidasan and Bharati’s verses on T-shirts. “Tees with quotes create a huge buzz especially with the youth,” says Gopinath. “We take lines from Tamil literature that have the ability to inspire.” They also undertake field trips to get more information on Tamil history.

A similar love for Sangam literature and poetry led Arasi Arul, who runs Zha Café, to start her own line of Thirukkural and Bharati T-shirts. “My brother and I are fans of Bharati’s poetry. We can recite a lot of his poems and we have put some of our favourite lines on the tees. As for the Thirukkural, we chose it because it is still relevant,” she says.

Focusing on the lighter side of life is Dude Tamizha and their tees, which they sell out of a Tee Kadai in Citi Centre. They wanted to explore humour through the Tamil language. “Tamizhans are well-known for their sense of humour,” says J. Senthilnathan, co-founder. Their T-shirts reflect lifestyle, art and culture in this part of the country.

A blend of the serious and the funny, the www.6000024.com website, specialises in merchandise such as Tamil movies, books and tees. Started by brothers Vignesh and Karthick Annamalai, their tees with messages in Tamil have got good response from youngsters.

These tees, say the entrepreneurs, help people connect to the language and instil a sense of pride. “Tees with Bharati’s image and verses are very popular,” says Arasi.

Adds Vignesh, “T-shirts with phrases such as idukkan varungaal (when in distress, laugh) and Un inmai unarugiren (I miss you, coined by lyricist Madhan Karky) are a huge hit.”

For Dude Tamizha, the focus is on catering to something trendy and witty. “Tees like Kaaka Vadai, Idhuvum Kadanthu Pogum (this too shall pass) and Petromax Light are popular. People are open minded and are willing to accept novel ideas. They love thinking global but being local,” says Nandhini Charanyaa, co-founder.

Popular expressions by

Dude Tamizha

Full Meals

Idhu Namma Oru Alarm Clock

Bajji Hut

All in All

600024.com

Nanben da

Patha vechitiye paratai

Thalaiva, you are great

Ilavam

Pala Vedikkai Manitharaipol,

Veezhvenendru Ninaithaayo

Mella Thamizh Ini Valarum

Zha Café

Rowthiram Pazhagu

Acham Thavir

Yerupol Nada