Food from the countryside

VILLAGE VIRUNDHU: Arumugam with the 25 kg-Saw fish. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Bony old man Arumugam is a recent YouTube sensation. His cookery show Village Food Factory is keenly watched by millions. It is grabbing attention for its simple cooking style and the way the food is tasted with exaggerated relish in front of the camera by Arumugam himself.

The brain behind the show is his son A. Gopinath, Tiruppur-based director. “I started this channel to eke out a living. I wanted to make it big in Kollywood but could not survive there and after four years of toil I returned home. Probably, I got this dream from my father who wanted to become an actor. Then, I decided to promote my father in some way or the other. I got the idea when I watched a cookery show on YouTube and the interest the programme generated among the viewers,” says Gopinath, who has a diploma in electronics and communications engineering.

Under bucolic settings, 60-year-old Arumugam, clad in crumpled shirt and stained lungi, churns out non vegetarian delicacies one after the other using natural fuel and brick stoves. Be it quail, prawn or full goat, the way he cooks makes it look so simple. In all honesty, the way he cleans the crab and stingrays never skips the attention of the viewers. At the end, unlike other cookery shows where the chef shares the food with the spectators, here Arumugam spreads the plaintain leaf and devours chunks of meat with passion. “We do it deliberately as it tempts the viewers to try the dish at home,” says Gopinath.

A native of Bodinaickanur, Arumugam had some interest in cooking and owned a small biryani eatery in Chengalpattu for some years and that gave him the confidence to cook variety of dishes. Their first show was a crab pepper curry cooked by the side of the cascading waters of Kodiveri in Gobichettipalayam. “I chose crab because my father likes it very much and loves cooking crab curry. Initially he was camera shy but later, managed. My brother Manikandan assists him while cooking,” he says.

Once the viewership increased he started getting revenue for the uploads. “On an average I get 2,00,000 views a day for each of my video for which YouTube pays me,” he says. Once the subscriber base swelled, Gopinath tried to take his show to the next level, which was cooking on a massive scale. His attempt was gravy with full goat. It got 50,00,000 views and earned him around Rs.1,50,000. Buoyed by the success, he attempted gravies with 300 eggs and 100 chicken livers.

Fondly called ‘daddy’ on the show, Arumugam does all the cleaning and cutting. The show never lists ingredients. Only Arumugam narrates the process. “We wanted to initiate a discussion among our subscribers to keep them glued. For every video I get around 1,000 comments. People mostly ask for tips and some also suggest ideas. I remember a subscriber asking for a show on fish preparation, which I have done,” he says.

Now the entire family is involved in the show discussing what to cook next. So far he has uploaded 94 videos and the next on the list is gravy with a massive 25 kg-kola meen (saw fish). “It will be uploaded on June 25,” he says.

Till date he considers duck preparation as the most challenging one as it consumed a lot of time. “We decided to do gravy with 20 ducks. Initially, we thought it would be like chicken but cleaning process was tedious. It took eight hours. We started the process by 8 am and it extended till 4 p.m. Under the fading light, I had to finish the shoot in two hours” he recounts.

Gopinath wants to celebrate his 100th video with the subscribers. “I have decided to invite them for the event. It will be either in Bodi or Tiruppur depending upon the subscribers’ logistic convenience. I am planning to offer a grand feast with live cooking of 1000 crabs by my appa,” he says.

In less than a year, Gopinath has evolved a new career option and feels that the ever increasing public support has encouraged him to attempt different things.

(Visit or visit facebook page TamilVillagefoodfactory/)

Novel attempt:

Bamboo omelette: The whipped up egg with onion and pepper is poured inside the bamboo shoots and then put inside the brick stove and cooked. The omelette is in the shape of a kuzhai puttu.

Tomato omelette: Unlike other tomato omelettes where tomato pieces are added with whipped up egg with onion and pepper and poured on tawa, here the inside of tomato is scooped out and stuffed with the egg and steam cooked.

Popular videos:

Gravy with 100 chicken legs (11 million views)

Full goat gravy (5 million)

Watermelon juice (6 million)

Rabbit Curry (3 million)

Full goat biryani (3.5 million).

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Printable version | Jan 8, 2021 3:20:05 PM |

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