Devan & Anuradha Sriram
"Benny Lava" (Tamil/2000)
If you’ve been on the internet long enough, you’d have seen Buffalax’s hilarious video titled “Benny Lava”.
It’s a Tamil song, but Buffalax transliterated the lyrics into English, i.e., typed what they “heard”. This resulted in the song with absolutely bonkers English “lyrics”, including such misheard gems as:
“My loony bun is fine, Benny Lava!
“I heard the nuns are gay”
And of course:
“Who put the goat in there?”
Far from being mad, this had me in absolute splits. Granted, I’m Tamilian, so I had to listen to it a couple of times to override my natural tendency to hear the actual Tamil lyrics. I’m also happy because this introduced Tamil culture and music to a global audience who might have a well-intentioned, yet monolithic view of India as a country with curry, elephants, Bollywood music, and biryani.
The song’s name is Kalluri Vaanil Kaayndha Nilaavo (transl: Are you the shining moon in the college sky?) and it’s from the 2000 movie Pennin Manathai Thottu (transl: To touch a woman’s heart). It features Prabhu Deva, a versatile actor, director, and choreographer. Many Indians revere him as our Michael Jackson.
Anyway, let me clarify the three lines:
Heard: “My loony bun is fine, Benny Lava!”
Actual: Maanavar nenjil maintha nilaavo?
Translation: [The moon] that grazed the students' hearts?
Heard: “I heard the nuns are gay”
Actual: High Speedil vanthaye
Translation: You came to me so quickly (with high speed)
Heard: “Who put the goat in there?”