Should Hindi be imposed?

My friend Shrikant wrote on Facebook a very sensible note about an alleged imposition of Hindi all over India. He is a മരുമകൻ– son in law of Kerala. So, I presume that he is in a better position than me to comment. This led me to read the original statement made by Amit Shah, our home minister on the subject. The gist of what he said is in the statement below. 

Mr Shah said, Hindi is spoken by most of the people and can unite the whole country. He said efforts would be made to expand Hindi to different parts of the country but not at the cost of other languages. Shah later also said that the foreign language English is predominant in India, so instead why not Hindi?  

I have not understood the controversy in the statement. Shah has not said that it should be promoted at the cost of the regional languages, anywhere in the statement.  

Culture is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behaviour, and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of the individuals in these groups.  

Even 200 years back, India was not known as India as it is recognised today. Till then there were Rajahs, Badshahs who used to run their own kingdom. In those times, travel and communication facilities were inferior. Going from place A to place B would take hours if not days. With these limitationsthe bouquet of knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of the individuals would remain disconnected with other cultures. The possibility of the merging of cultures must have been within a distance of about 50  to 75 km if the terrain was not steepWith rough terrain, that also would be difficult.  

1947 created India and Pakistan. British had started the railways; road transport had become better than before. Travel had become a bit easier. So some mixing of culture started automatically. If we consider only the state of Maharashtra, people spoke different Marathi in Bombay, Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, JalgaonThe spoken languages were distinctly differentLocal dialects also merged with spoken wordsSo when we speak of Marathi, nobody is really sure Marathi of which region we are talking about.  

HIndi1

So why then the emotional reactions about Shah’s statement. In the year 1978, I remember that in Bangalore we had shared a taxi for a tour with two couples, one Tamil and the other Kannada. We communicated with each other in English. What Shah has suggested, instead of English, why not Hindi? It is just a suggestion; does it amount to imposition? Central Government has offices in all the states and Hindi day is celebrated in each office, irrespective of which state it is. What is the point in looking at every statement from a political angle? Are elections the only important aspect in life? Kashmir had even more serious issues due to decisions taken by Britishers. But the government has resolved it in one stroke. Rules and regulations must be enforced but culture? No way, but who is forcing the culture? A statement made at a function was not a policy declaration. 

Culture seeps on its own. Let us look at the airports. A large number of people travel by air these days. For some reason, almost all CISF personnel are Hindi speaking individuals. You got to any airport from Chennai, Kochi, Vizag to Guwahati. They communicate many times in Hindi, but nobody objects to that. Idli-Dosa is the South Indian staple food, but it is almost becoming national food. You are out and want to have some food quickly. You go to Idli-Dosa joint in any city, and you are out in 20 minutes. Even Mcdonalds has not been able to penetrate their market. Has anyone made it compulsory to eat Idli-Dosa? Hindi films is another medium which merges cultures beautifully! When Shah Rukh dances to the tune of Lungi Dance, Lungi Dance, the whole of India likes it, not only Tamils or Malayalis 

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=lungi+dance+video+youtube&view=detail&mid=4AAD8BE78B35602C090E4AAD8BE78B35602C090E&FORM=VIRE 

The so-called resistance to Hindi is in the Sothern States of India. Script for these languages is quite different compared to Hindi. But the alleged differences are historical as India became India for the first time in 1947! For reasons already discussed, these differenopinions were natural, and people thought that Hindi was being imposed on them. I will share one example which indicates the complexity due to the technological changes that have taken place in the last seventy years. The regional languages naturally could not keep pace with technological changes. The onslaught of technology was felt by German, French, Spanish and Chinese too! English has come back strongly and has now almost become a global language, thanks to Computerisation!  

The way languages world over are facing the issue,  our regional languages also faced the same problem. These languages cannot cope up with the technological changes. But WhatsApp and Facebook have facilitated all local languages to be used for communication. Thereby the feared obscurity of the languages is gone. Now people chat in Tamil, Marathi and Telugu; and many other languages. Those who are English educated but know the mother tongue, use the Roman script to communicate in their language! “Barobar ahe na?” (Am I right?) I wrote Marathi in the roman script. So, nobody is going to kill local languages.  

How rich the regional languages will remain, depends on people using itAfter all most people “think” in the mother tongueDon’t worry too much. Tyre repair guy will be mostly Anna from Kerala! Idli-Dosa guy will be from Udupi! Recently I have observed that in the construction business, Bihari workers in Pune are being replaced by those from Bengal. In the hospitality industry, we see many ladies from North-East states working in large cities and even in distant hill stations like Mahabaleshwar. But mind you, most of them are conversant with the local language when their stay is long enough, but they also know Hindi!  

One thing we should never forget that language richness, quality and type changes with era. What was considered classic when I was in school, does not appear so today. The same thing is true with songs and movies too! Yesteryears classics seem a bit naïve today! Today’s generation loves today’s classics better than classics of my school daysThere is nothing wrong in that; tastes changevalue system changes! 

So friends, don’t get excited and start slanging matches; don’t begin your protests. Go and see a Hindi movie or a Tamil movie! You will love it! Nation’s unity is more important, not the regional language! 

Advertisements

Sridevi Meri Chandani!

24th Feb 2018 was a shocking date for all us film lovers when Hawa Hawaein lady Sridevi passed! It looks like HE likes all beautiful people and decides to take them away early. Sridevi was just 54, very young by today’s standards when she died. She had just started her second innings. Madhubala died at the age of 39 and Marilyn Monroe at the age of 36! In case of Madhubala at least her health issue was known to the close ones, Marilyn was veering towards her death but in case of Sridevi there were no known issues; her sudden passing was all the more shocking to everybody!

She started acting in the film industry at the tender age of 4; so, she was in the industry for 50 years! That is a very long time to be in any field and I am sure that she must have been doing her work on auto pilot! She was a beauty, she was a fantastic dancer in classical mold and a terrific actor. People always talk of her dancing prowess but I feel that her acting prowess was even better! The classic example of this, is the film Sadma. In this movie, she is a modern young lady who loses her memory due to retrograde amnesia, following an accident. Her mental age becomes 6 or 7. She goes through a horrible phase in her life as she is pushed into prostitution. Kamal Hassan meets her in a brothel and realizes that she has been cheated to go into prostitution. He takes her away and nurtures her back to life; a doctor finally is able to cure her and she becomes original modern girl. After this change she simply does not remember Hassan, as her amnesia is cured! Life goes on! Her acting in this movie is seen to be believed. Behaving like a 6/7-year-old girl is not easy when you are a normal person! She was nominated for film fare best actress award. She won a lot of critical acclaim for her role! This gem of a song, from the movie Sadma, “Ae Zindagi” is to me the best song picturized on her, ever! Suresh Wadkar, the singer, is also at his best in the song! Did she enjoy her childhood in this song, as she may have missed the real one?

Public life has it pluses while going is good, but when things turn up differently it is really nasty, what with our TV shows, newspapers, WhatsApp and FB! People in general and reporters and commentators in particular forget that the celebrity is normal human being like you and me. They have their family, husband or wife, children like all human beings have. When stupid and nasty things are mentioned, poor jokes are circulated, they forget that they are troubling a family and a group of friends; it was a heart wrenching experience to see this tamasha. When celebrities are alive they can ignore, smile and sometimes rebut! But when Sridevi died it was pointless to discuss everything threadbare. There was that unfortunate change in the reason for death, found in autopsy. This took the rumour mongering to crescendo! Naturally, I do not want to go into details but I have the usual questions why, why and why? Why get into this mode? Why discuss threadbare unnecessary details? Why not let the family be, in their sorrow? Everybody simply forgot that someone had died.

Sreedevi Boney Kapoor Ayyapan was born in a Tamil orthodox family. She started working at the age of 4! When you start working at that age, I am sure that you never have a normal childhood; again, I am not going into details. According to Ram Gopal Varma, she became penniless when her father, who looked after her finances, died because he trusted wrong people with money. Later her mother made wrong investments and she became penniless the second time. When her mother died, Sridevi’s own sister cheated and looted her money! She finally got her solace in Boney Kapoor! I am sure that also must have been a tough call for her because she became his second wife. How much can a person take in a life time, I really don’t know. Even he her death, there was no peace but a great turmoil for her family!

We only look at the glamorous side amongst lovely people, beautiful dresses, going to exotic locations, traveling all over the world. According to Ram Gopal Varma she had a fantastic ability to switchover, once she was in front of the camera. Probably films was the only thing that gave her peace!  She turned into a different persona! Her eyes would sparkle and feet would start dancing to rhythm and what rhythm she had, what expressions she had, what flexibility she had! She had a tough time when she moved from South to Hindi movies because at that time she was not at all proficient in both Hindi and English. It was not rose petals all the way in Mumbai but she came up with sheer talent, hard work and brilliance of her performances! She became the first lady super star of Hindi movies.

Who would want to die at prime and a young age of 54! At this stage now people start new companies, new projects! Sridevi had started he second innings with a fantastic performance in a movie called English Winglish! She looked so natural all through the movie, it felt as if the role was written specifically, for her! She had kept herself perfectly fit in real life by way of exercise and diet. There are murmurs going around that she had gone through many surgeries; this beautification is probably need of the profession, and people do like to look beautiful and young all the time. People dye their hair suitably, they follow various anti-aging regimens which include procedures and surgeries, some of them can be risky. But Sridevi’s death was not because of this; she somehow fainted and died!

There is a turmoil going on in my mind, after I read about her cremation; but I will be a little selfish and say that my last memories of her will always be beautiful, bubbly Chandani! How can Madhubala and Monroe and  Sridevi be 80! Who knows she could look beautiful even at 80 but I will surely not be around! In our younger age we had Waheeda Rahaman, Sharmila Tagore who have kept themselves very graceful at their current ages 80 and 71 respectively. But not all manage this!

So what is my favourite memory of Sridevi? There are so many dances, performances, expressions, it is impossible to choose! I will give her 9 on 10 for everything or maybe 9.5 but I will give HIM 10 on 10 for his decision to take her away! What a selfish decision. He made a surprise move to have her back with Him! Perfect 10 on 10, bhagwan! Tusi great ho! Teri Lila agadh hai!

With moist eyes, and heavy heart! Alvida Sridevi!