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 (and not a slang), 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 brought onto the scene a new genre of Telugu movies, where hero or heroine or both speak Telangana.  K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), 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. 

Cuss words in Arjun Reddy

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 still 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 entendres, vulgar insinuations, slapping the heroine on the butt, pressing 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!

2 comments:

  1. As always, another logical post Sujay. Even if it's a slang or a different accent, nothing wrong with it. It's just different. What matters is the intent behind words. People who say their language is "pure" are ignorant as if they look back, it would have been a variant of another language or quite different than what it was at that time. But people like you come up with a logical way of explaining things. For the rest of us, though their comments are offensive, we just try to ignore the ignorant.

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  2. I disagree your comment on Arjun Reddy. First of all that movie was lapped up by all Telugu audiences across regions and criticism was there by all (ex: VH in TS from congress started it on posters issue. Also some websites wrote comments on misogyny in movie by Telugu and non-telugu speakers also). Dont bring regional bias into it. If movie is good people will watch appreciate across regions. Fidaa and Amitumi are made by non-telanagana directors. Dasari made osey ramulamma movie which was hit before TS formation. TS formation is a political decision nothing to do with Art. Its just that film makers from TS didn't make it big. Now we have good movie directors from TS also (even before state formation, it takes time). How come Ramgopal varma from andhra make Hindi movies and was successfull?

    I found it objectionable when you suggest "You could continue watching your hip-gyrating, double entendres". Who are you say that your movies?. Did the anchors say they like such movies? Is Vulgarity only in Telugu but not in other movies? Limit your point to Arjun Reddy movie saying its ok to use cuss words, understand the intention not literal meaning. Please dont divert from topic. Your argument is bordering on parochialism and misogyny

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