Kalip, that word which has now taken Malayalam by storm. But sadly a Google search for the term throws up only a few pages from the Asianet website. Obviously they are transcripts from some crass comedy show. This is what inspired me to spread the light and joy of kalip to all through this page. It is now my personal mission to dwelve deeply into this phenomenon that is kalip. Watch this page for the latest updates.

Update #1 Where kalip is king

The use of kalip spread like an epidemic throughout the other social phenomenon that is quite peculiar to Kerala – tuition classes. It is here that students found this one new word to describe all their troubles – teachers, assignments, parents(in some cases) or just that not-so-friendly dog that troubles you on your lonely walk back home from the tuition classes. It was like a literary panacea for those who struggled to put across their feelings properly. The point is better illustrated with before and after conversation samples.

       A: Kootukara, Nee nammale nirantharam vazhaku
          paranjum, shalyam cheythum, thalliyum
          padipikunna a saaru thanna puthiya assignment
          kando? Eerandu sidelum chodyangal ulla anju
          thundu kadalasanullathu. Ithu nammal engane
          cheythu theerkum? 
       B: Nee shariyanu parayunnathu. Nammale kuzhapikunna
          oru prashnamanallo ithu.

       A: Dey aliya, nee nammade kalip sarinte assignment
          kandadey? Van kalip.
       B: Thannadey, muttan kalip.

Given these circumstances, it is not surprising that the enterprising youth of our generation has taken to the word in such huge numbers. But what still remains to be known is the exact way this word entered the lexicons of the people of Thiruvananthapuram. Who was the genius behind this word? These are difficult questions. But nevertheless questions that I cannot shy away from. We shall also trace the spread of the word into Malayalam movies, whereDileep and later Mammooty attempted to revive their sagging careers(those where van kalip times for them) by uttering this word a few times in their movies.

Update #2 A day of/by/for kalip

It would be a pity if all this hard work that I am undertaking to popularise kalip among the common man is forgotten a few decades later. Hence it has been proposed by Arjun Ramakrishnan that we celebrate Kalip Day every year. Naturally the question arises as to when it is to be observed. Although my initial leaning is towards 15 December (the birthday of yours truly), I have decided to go with Arjun’s suggestion. It is after all his idea and thus I declare that henceforth November 3 – that very fateful day in 2005 when that gem of a movie Rajamanickam was released – shall be celebrated in all corners of the world as World Kalip Day.

On this day let us all raise our mundus a little bit higher (just enough to show off the hemlines of our boxer shorts…), call each other puli, maan, patti or whatever, fix our retro sun shades firmly upon our noses and proclaim to the world that kalip is here to stay.

It is my hope that 50 years from now, people will look back with fond memories at this epoch making post and remember the man who made it all possible – Prof Njan van Kalip, eminent kalipologist.

Update #3 Addressing some Kafkaesque concerns

My friend Arjun (who goes by the name of Franz Kafka these days) raises some important questions. Is the use of the word kalip limited to males alone? Is kalip a kalip word for females? While a demographic analysis of the word usage is yet to be undertaken, it is safe to assume that the word is not popular among females Keralites (whom we shall refer to in the future as Mallis). The most plausible reason for this could be the negative connotations attached with the word. I guess we are still waiting for a Meera Jasmine or a Bhavana to adopt it as their leitmotif in a movie. At the same time it also doesn’t escape one’s attention that the word kalip could be in vogue among the fish mongering womenfolk of Trivandrum district. Close attention needs to be paid the next time someone buys a kilo of matthi or ayala.

Update #4 Skirting the mundu?

The last thing I want for myself is to be misconstrued as a misogynist. Kafka is insistent that celebrations for Kalip Day be more amenable to Mallis. We do not of course expect them to raise anything, Mallis being as conservative as they are. As Kafka himself puts it, we need something a little less kalipesque for them to do. The only suggestion I can make is that they can probably let out koravas like war cries at which all the males will raise their mundukal (just the bare minimum required). And just to make them feel better we can call them chellakilis a la Bellary Raja style. If this is not acceptable then we will have to skip raising the mundu, in favour of more demure gestures. But this is again totally against whatever kalip stands for.

God forbid having to take a retrograde step like that. But this is not the first time that females have caused kalip for me. Although van Kalip has been bowled over by many a maiden before, this is the first time that he has been stumped. It will be interesting to see how it all turns out in the end. It is hoped that the Mallis themselves will come up with some better suggestions to save the day for Kalip Day.

Update #5 Accessories to kalip

Kalip is just one of the words that have caught the fancy of Mallus around the world. And it goes without saying that kalip can be mix ‘n’ matched with most of these other words with effortless ease. I would like to talk here about the most prominent of these accesories – ‘STHALLE‘. The history of this word is probably as interesting as that of kalip. (For non-Mallus, sthalle is the equivalent of Oh My God.) It first came into the limelight along with Munshi on Asianet, where one of the characters (Motta) would yell out ‘THALLE’ just about randomly. The word caught on and was soon a quasi success. Yours truly, however, refused to use the word in its original form out of deep respect for his mother. (For the freaking non-Mallus still reading this, thalla means mother.) So did he come up with the word sthalle? No

The credit for that goes to a certain Karun (pronounced KAAArun) Kurien, no relation to van Kalip but a classmate in school. It was out of deep respect for his mother, or more likely, out of a desire to butcher the Malayalam language that he started saying STHALLE. It became his trademark, his motif and it became wildly popular. Today the word is used extensively as an expression of surprise, joy, disgust, excitement, etc in small talk and as an irritant in conversations. The beauty of sthalle is that it can be used repeatedly without sounding repetitive. (We all know what Friends did to Oh My God.) This is best demonstrated with a sample conversation.

             Dude 1: Did you hear? Kalip payyan George Kurian hit
                     a 9.5 GPA this semester.
             Dude 2: STHalle *
             Dude 1: Did you also hear? Van kalip ** payyan Varun
                     Kishore aka Kishku hit a 10 this semester.
             Dude 2: sthALLE

As you can see, the result of stressing on different syllables each time is that you never feel that the word has become a cliche. This is one of the main reasons why sthalle is preferred to thalle. And the respect for mothers thing too…

* No exclamation marks are required with sthalle.
** Readers are requested to note the different spelling of van kalip here. Van kalip is used as an adjective here, not to be confused with the author of this seminal research work, van Kalip. Although the difference in capitalizing may be subtle, the implied senses are vastly different.


19 Responses to “A Brief History of Kalip”

  1. anna kalip post…. ennu practical test muttan kalip ayirunnu… hah, how convenient???? I fully agree, Kalip => one-word substitute for all our problems. hmm… anna oru doubt! ee Kalip nammal males monopolize cheytha vakkano??? do the other sex use this word?? Why don’t you do some research on that route??? must say, Mamooty via Rajamaanikyam did a lot to popularize Kalip. I suggest the date of release of the movie to be celebrated as Kalip Day every year. Something like halloween for us TVM-bred mallus…

  2. Nov 3 is a good date, making Dec 15 the World Kalip Day will be a great sacrifice from your part. I won’t let you surpass Jesus in that respect…

    pinne, mundu pokkumbol kalippavathe nokkan ellavarum sradhikkanam… we don’t want too many kalips to happen on the Kalip Day and this will be an embarassment for the unassuming bypassers and a great disrespect to the His Excellency Njan Van Kalip who did such pioneering work to make ‘kalip’ our birthright.

    between, by making “mundu raising” as the official act of unity on the Kalip Day you are further alienating females from the domain of Kalip. so if you are not displeased about my repeated concern for the other sex, I suggest you come up with something equally Kalipesque yet less daring act for all the females to feel a sense of belonging to Kalipdom.

    I vehemently oppose actors like Bhavana or Meera Jasmine going about shrieking “Kalip” in their too feminine tone. athu verathe kalippavum!

  3. What about a Njan Van Kalip Memorial Annual Dance Festival for all chellakilis on Nov 3? If beautiful chellakilis turn out in handsome numbers, we pulis will have kalip time getting bowled over.

  4. You are wrong when u say that dileep used the word kalip. he has never used the word anywhere. he uses what i like to call the ‘aluva slang’. kalip is purely a trivandrum phenomenon. however actors from trivandrum (jagathy sreekumar, jagadeesh(i think),etc) have used it, although without the effect that rajamanickam had.

  5. sam Says:

    “Although van Kalip has been bowled over by many a maiden before, this is the first time that he has been stumped….”

    errr…which stump ?????

  6. Varun Says:

    van kalip indeed…

  7. mammu Says:

    da…ive given publicity 2 da Wolrld kalip day by sending a instant mssg to all in my list[:)]

  8. [@ Kishku]

    True, true.

    [@ Mammu]


  9. Varun Says:

    da chettae…
    don make me start my shakesperean play here..
    u r disgracing me beyond all visible humane boundaries…

    i’m gettin a fucked cg over here… and u hav put in a stupid post tht i got 10!!! and tht too wen george got 9.85!!….

    so better redeem ureself before i say

    “kiddo, you and i have unfinished business”!!

  10. DD Says:

    Alliya njeruppu post ketta..nice treatise of kalip
    There is also this phenomenon of adding s to the beginning of every word and keeping it silent if “s” is wht the word begins with, of course used pretty subjectively depending on how the end product sounds..for eg: Salle muttan skalip, Skatta Skalippu, snjeruppu, etc etc

  11. VDG Says:

    Dawg, kalip is a desi version of VDG.

  12. Mathew Says:


    But in all fairness this character precedes VDG’s. You can say that VDG is a maddu version of van Kalip. 🙂

  13. pieter Says:

    Hi there,

    I play in a little band in belgium, we chose the name ‘sarinte’ a few years ago , but what does ‘sarinte’ extually means? If anybody knows, please mail me!

    Thanx, pieter.

  14. Rapsy Says:

    Come, lets kalip! Hope I used it in the right context…..my tamil’s better than my malayalam….tell the juniors that.

  15. Kaaaaaaarun Kurien Says:

    STHAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLEEEEE!!!!!……using my name without my permission!!!!!!!!!…anyway..atleast my name is listed once in google…

  16. All rumors that had been going in the air about Actress Meera Jasmine is belived to have come to a halt.


  17. Tastemaster Says:

    Haha, muttan kalipp 🙂 Also, Sasi.

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