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!


  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.

  2. You are partially right and partially wrong here. Telangana is a region not a language or dialect. Yes slang and dialect are different. Telugu is a language and it has many dialects, infact in telangana itself has many dialects but slang is a way we pronounce. and dialect is a version of language.Person from Adilabad slang is different from Khammam. Whatever words you mention like Thokku are used in other regions also. same with word uruku (for run) but may not be in daily conversation. Main difference betwen Telugu in Telangana and other regions is the usage of urdu words which are more in Telangana and less in other parts (infact Andhra region also has some urdu words like Asalu, Sisalu, Khaidi etc as it was ruled same nizams before british came which many in telangana and andhra are ignorant). If people in telangana are afraid to speak their slang till now, its their problem you can't blame other for it. No one is forcing anyone to speak in a way but nothing wrong in letting grammitical corrections (Do you say Bookku in office for book or you say book?)

    PS : Hindi is not a language (like Telugu, Tamil, Marathi). It is derived from AL-hind which is a persian arabic word and Khariboli is a languauge spoken around delhi which is standardized as Hindi. Haryanvi and Bhojpuri are languages not dialetects or slangs of hindi. all these Awadhi, bhojpuri, haryani are closely related of a language group

  3. Sujai, I have gone thru your blog complete and want to comment on Telangana identity. First Identity is something which is based on positivity (and not negativity) based on Language, culture, history etc..My 1st identity is Indian whether china is rich or strong or pakistan is poor and 2nd Identity is Telugu irrespective if Tamil is rich or poor. When Telangana got merged with Andhra the basis was shared history (before 1800), Language and culture, Not that there is no diversity within Telugu. The gentlemen agreement was based on economic and social reasons that telangana is less developed in nizam rule compared to british ruled andhra. Identity was not a point raised by majority. Please dont lie saying even 1969 agitation is about identity, its about political reasons and state govt jobs. Infact many TS intellectuals critised 1969 agitation as feudal. Do refer to news items from 1969-72 for knowing complete information. IF we tell a lie 100 times it doesn't become truth

    If people of telangana are talking about indentity then there shouldn't be agreement at place in 1956 as the assumption of agreement is shared identity. They should have told then only that they have different identity. Telugu(andhra) people did form a agreement to unite with marathi or oriya as they have different identity. Andhra separation from Madras is based on Language (i.e. identity), its not economic.
    Your identity if based on culture and strength of others becomes negativity. ex: Pakistan was created based on Muslim identity as they got negativity because british rule ended the mughal colonial rule (Just drawing a anology not comparing both are same). By 2010 based on statistics it became evendent that TS is not backward not only economically but even culturally, socially so that started this Identity. There is no consistency in their arguments. Telangana identity is not based on strength of Andhra. Again if change your argument and say we are economically backward, it has been proved your not in 2010. KCR himself said we are 2nd richest state after formation (due large revenue coming from HYD. Dont compare HYD of 1956 with that of 2010). Thats why many have said division of AP or formation of TS is un-scientific

  4. 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

  5. KA Kumar, you're the one who have diverted the entire topic. Read Sujai's blog again.

    1. I didn't divert the topic, read my points again. Its a reply in a nice way

  6. Sujai,

    I agree that the formation of the Telangana state and the later mainstreaming of Telangana dialect is a good thing. It is emboldening directors to use it in their films (and certainly making the content fresh). People who grew up with Andhra sensibilities may not come to terms immediately with such content, but they will do so eventually. So far so good. But, there are so many things in Arjun Reddy that made me cringe. In fact, so much that the fact that it is now considered a "Telangana film" really concerns me. What about all its misogyny, artlessness, hero centrism? It's just a movie and it has its own nods to what I believe is the worst in Telangana culture today. At what time does all this love for Telangana culture become fatuous grandstanding? At what time do we start countenancing deplorable stuff just because there is a bit of Telangana in it?



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