The scene which you just saw is a perfect example of പണി പാളി - paṇi paali. This is when you set off to do something and things don’t work out the way you planned. Say you have an important business meeting and some political party declares a hartal. Or you’re making tea and you accidentally put in salt instead of sugar. In the Harihar Nagar Gang’s case, they are always making plans to woo the new neighbor Maya, but things always go wrong in the most comedic ways.
More പണി - pani:
പണിയോട് പണി - paṇiodu paṇi
This means a constant or never-ending flow of problems.
എട്ടിന്റെ പണി - 8nte paṇi is an extreme form of പണി - paṇi. Apparently, the origin of the phrase comes from the Indian two-wheeler driving test. The test takers must ride the motorcycle or scooter in the shape of an eight without their feet touching the ground- an incredible feat!
പണി പാലും വെള്ളത്തിൽ കിട്ടി - paṇi paalum vellathil kitti
This is another version of പണി - pani which says you get a problem in diluted milk. It refers to being screwed over by something that seems innocent. We’re not sure of the origin although we have some theories. If you know, please let us know below.
FYI In Harihar Nagar is a classic Malayalam comedy by Siddique-Lal that never gets old. It follows a gang of young men (Appukuttan, Thomaskutty, Mahedevan, and Govindankutty - Jagadish, Ashokan, Mukesh, and Siddique respectively) as they try relentlessly to woo the new neighbor. It has several dialogues that have become immortalized, one of which is തോമസുകുട്ടി വിട്ടോടാ - ‘Thomaskutty, vittoda!’ When we hear this, all Malayalis know it’s time to run!
Ps. Have you ever gotten a 8nte paṇi? Or given someone a memorable paṇi? Let us know!