Saturday, September 23, 2017

Telangana in Movies, Is it a Dialect, Accent or Slang?

Warning: This article has A-rated content. Not for people younger than 18.  Definitely, not for the two peevish Telugu Anchors.

During the peak of Telangana Movement, I wrote two articles, Telangana 59: Why do we accept Telugu movies? And Telangana 58: Impact of Movies.  In one of them, I wrote:

For a very long time Telangana people were ashamed to speak Telangana in front of others, and the practice continues even now though it is declining. Many Telangana people hide their accent when heard in public forums.  In some families, Telangana people ridicule their own folk who speak Telangana and try to correct them.  Some Telangana families grew up imitating their Andhra neighbors completely rejecting their identity. They hate being associated with the tag of Telangana.

Formation of State of Telangana has changed all that.  Now, people are not afraid or shy or embarrassed to speak Telangana.  In fact, there is a generation of young Telangana people who think it is uber cool to speak Telangana.  Therefore, it is not a coincidence that formation of State of Telangana has heralded four successful movies in the last one year that have a dominant Telangana element.  Pelli Choopulu, Ami Tumi, Fida and Arjun Reddy. 

When referring to Telangana language in Telugu movies, what I have noticed is that most people in the film industry refer to it as Slang. That’s when I find that characterization problematic.

So, is Telangana a dialect, an accent or slang?

Dialect is another version of a language with completely different words and phrases for expressing the same, sometimes following a different syntax and grammar.  We have many dialects of Hindi in India like Bhojpuri and Haryanvi.

An accent is when you pronounce the same word differently.  Australians, New Zealanders, and Americans pronounce the same words differently.   In India too, Bengalis and Malayalee would pronounce similar words quite differently.

Slang is an informal version of a language.  The way Blacks in United States use informal words, like chill or tripping.  Most often, slang is spoken colloquially, and is not considered acceptable in written form, because it is informal.  Of late, what Black people speak is considered Ebonics, a dialect of American English.

For a long time, Telangana was derided, ridiculed and insulted because it was considered informal, something not worthy of being written in a formal context, a slang.

But in reality, Telangana is a dialect, with its own history, culture, and words and phrases (like Thokku for pickle), and now in the State of Telangana it is a formal language, and therefore words spoken in Telangana are no longer considered informal, but acceptable.  That is one of the moot points of Telangana movement.   

As predicted long ago, formation of Telangana has heralded a new genre of Telugu movies, where hero or heroine or both speak Telangana.  K Chandrasekhar, while delivering on the State of Telangana, inadvertently delivered on something else, a new film industry which is based in Telangana.

Now here comes another problem.

The movie Arjun Reddy depicts in-your-face Telangana, incorporating those cuss words that some Telangana youth speak quite freely.  And that has created furore amongst some Andhra TV anchors.  It goes without saying that the objections raised now against Arjun Reddy have the similar Andhra-Telangana bias, where those who grew with Andhra ethos could not digest how people could speak such a language.

Arjun Reddy used the Indian version of Motherfucker (Madarchod) which created outrage amongst two Andhra Telugu anchors.  They started calling it an insult to Mothers.   In reality, most cuss words are really not a direct reference to one’s mother, one’s sister, one’s father.  

To understand Arjun Reddy, one should look at Irish language.  It is a dialect of English language, but the population in Ireland use cuss words quite freely in their day to day life.  They use words like fuck, bollocks, shite, cunt even at a family dinner and the same is reflected in movies.  Not everyone does, but some do.  And it is quite OK to hear those words in an Irish film. 

Not everyone in Telangana uses the cuss words spoken in Arjun Reddy, but some do, and it is quite OK to hear those words in a Telangana film. 

Here is a small history of usage of swear words in Hollywood movies:

Looks like Vijay Deverakonda is the Samuel Jackson of Indian movies, if we were to go by how many times Samuel Jacksons says it.
Use of Motherfucker by Samuler Jackson:

When Samuel Jackson says it, it is not an insult to a mother.  It is a part of the language. We can debate whether that language is a good thing or not.  But it is part of the language. 

A word to the two peevish Telugu TV anchors: Arjun Reddy is an adult film, to be watched by adults. If you have a problem, don’t go to the movies.  You could continue watching your hip gyrating, double meaning insinuations, slapping the heroine on the butt, showing her bosoms, in the other Telugu movies with your families, as is your wont.

But no one can stop the sweeping phenomenon. Telangana movies are an in-thing now, and they come with our idiosyncrasies, our habits, our cuss words, and our endearing words.  You may not like it, but they are not going to go away.  

So, Welcome Telangana! The new Hollywood of Indian movies!

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

‘I hate India’

When you hear on TV that Someone said the above statement, the first thing that comes to your mind these days is, that Someone must be anti-national.  That Someone doesn’t deserve to be in India.  Ministers who have the important job of running the country are stopping their work to tweet, or grab the nearest TV camera, to say, ‘Someone should be thrown out of the country.  Why live in this country if you hate it?’ 

So what does it mean to say ‘I hate India’?

‘I hate India’ says an activist

An activist who is fighting against construction of dams, after being harassed, arrested, and tormented, says, ‘I hate India, for its apathy towards those who have to leave their homes’.  All of a sudden, this sentence doesn’t look anti-national anymore.

‘I hate India’ says a tourist

A Indian tourist who travels the world gets back to India, and looks at the pollution, the dirt, the trash, and the garbage everywhere, and says, ‘I hate India. I think we should start cleaning our cities first’.  All of a sudden, this sentence doesn’t look anti-national anymore.

‘I hate India’, says an angry mother

An old Indian mother who lost her husband, says, ‘I hate India. Which makes me stand in line for many months before giving me my pension’.  All of a sudden, this sentence doesn’t look anti-national anymore.

‘I love India’, says a terrorist

Before blowing up a big bomb in an Indian city, a terrorist records his voice and puts on internet, ‘I love India.  I love it so much that I really want every Indian to feel the pain of love I have for them’.  All of a sudden, ‘I love India’ doesn’t sound so endearing anymore. 
 
Spoken words should not be legalized

Words, these are merely words.  They can have different interpretations.  The one who uses the word ‘hate’ for India is not anti-national, the same way the one who uses ‘love’ for India is not a patriot.   Getting riled over what every Indian citizen says on social media is going to be quite exhaustive exercise for Indian Ministers who stop in their tracks each time someone says ‘I hate India’. 

The spoken word should have unequivocal freedom, its citizens the inalienable rights.  No ifs, No buts. The State cannot dictate what can be spoken in what form, because words have different meanings, and one cannot simply conclude what they could mean. 

Laws such as sedition (IPC Sec 124A), which says, that ‘Whoever, by words, attempts to bring into hatred towards the Government in India shall be punished with im­prisonment for life’, have no place in modern societies.  This was the law that was used by British to jail Indian nationalists.  Now, India uses it against its own citizens.

Grow up, India  

Especially, Grow up, Indian Ministers.  Get on with your work, and please ignore what every young person living in India says on social media.  Just because one young angry woman says, ‘I hate India’, it doesn’t make her anti-national, and it doesn’t mean she supports terrorists, or the enemy state, or that she is bent on breaking up India. 

And ah, this goes to Cricketers and Actors as well.