Tag Archives: hindi

Cowbells and Canola fields

17 Oct

Imagine a rolling field of canola flowers, a gentle breeze blowing across the nodding heads of yellow buds, the tinkling of genuine alpine cowbells, mandolin music….a man straightens up, slowly and dramatically, opens his arms up to welcome you in to an embrace….. sigh

(if that doesn’t make your heart go wummmm like a tuning fork, I don’t know what else can- oh yes, forgot to mention, there are dimples involved!)

If you had been a teenager growing up in India in the early 90’s, you would immediately know what I am talking about. The scene that came to epitomise romance for millions of teens in 1995 – ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya leh Jayenge’ lovingly called ‘DDLJ’ – loosely translated: ‘The Brave gets the Bride’ (I like alliterations). This movie made every Indian teen believe that Switzerland is heaven, not just a tax-haven. Alpine cowbells probably beat the sale of Swiss chocolates that year because every Indian that went to Switzerland that year or thereafter did not leave that country without acquiring one for their loved one.

My regular readers know of my turbulent relationship with Shah Rukh Khan (King Khan). A friend asked me recently how can I be so besot with that man – he overacts all the time. It is not just Shah Rukh Khan I adore, it is the character he plays – the larger-than-life romantic hero and yes, he can play that to the hilt and that is not overacting!

He never ever gives up on his lady-love, he never ever would turn away from a confrontation (be it with his father, the girl’s father, his boss, the police or even terrorists), he who would fight till the end with whatever means necessary. He rarely harasses the girl to fall in love with him – he just wins them over by being naughty, silly, with his over-the-top antics and look-into-my-eyes look. In his movies, love develops over a period of time- sometimes it takes the entire length of the movie which can go up-to 3 hours but hey, all good things take time. So you wait till the credits roll, do you hear?

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Sweets Vs Wooden toy

1 Aug

[Order] [Order in the courtroom]

In the case of ‘Sweets Vs Wooden Toy’, I plead not guilty, your honour!

Let me present my case:

India is a complex nation. If you cross a state border in India, you will be in a different culture altogether- different language, cuisine, festivals and traditions. It should actually be called ‘Indian Federation’. We are a cauldron of flavours and texture like a stew rather than the uniform sliced bread.I get carried away by food, sometimes. Please bear with me.

I am a tamilian from South India and had had very little exposure to Hindi, which is a common language spoken in many parts of North India (north Indian languages have some common roots). Bollywood movies, for example, are in Hindi and for a South Indian, not always easy to follow, if the words are not something you hear everyday.

I learnt Hindi in school as my third language – after English and my mother tongue Tamil. My proficiencyin Hindi can be summed up thus: I can read nursery rhymes in Hindi but cannot understand poetry.

20 years later…..

I live in Goa now where the state language is Konkani but almost everyone speaks a smattering of Hindi. I can converse in Hindi and I was mighty impressed with myself as I could pick up the language after being away from the country for 13 years during which there was absolutely no chance to practise it at all. So I try and keep in touch via Hindi movies.

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Babel fish. German. Hindi. Tamil

19 Jun

I wish I could have a babel fish or whatever they did in Farscape *, then I would be able to understand every language on the planet! Speaking a new language is making more friends and it would make a lot of things so much easier, for example, ordering a burger at McDonalds in an entirely different country.

I am married to a German and lived in Germany for 12 years- I speak German as well as anyone, who is not born German, can speak. And anyone who says German language is not, say, romantic-sounding as French or Italian, I have one word for you

Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz” which means “law for the delegation of monitoring of beef labelling”

Okay, okay, its not romantic but by the Gods, its expressive! German is every child’s dream- you can put any number of nouns together and make up any number of words you want, and some of them even make sense and can be profound! Amazing, isn’t it?

German also has simpler words that can mean many things! Take ‘doch’ for example – it could mean anything starting with a simple ‘yes’, to ‘I-told-you-so-but-you-thought-you-were-too-clever-to-admit-that‘. Germans can have an entire conversation just with this one word’doch’, especially kids. When my daughter screams a ‘doch’, I know the argument is at an end. You cannot have a reasonable comeback for a ‘doch’.

Exactly the same way, you cannot translate ‘Schnulze’ – tear-jerker just doesn’t cut it. It evokes a barrage of imagery when you say ‘Schnulze’ – its your heart-warming, hand-wringing, head-shaking tear-jerker which will turn your brain into a mush. Say that in one word now…

German language, as I have come to appreciate, is a language made for precision and aerodynamics – just like German cars. The Indian languages, I speak on the other hand, are more meandering and poetic. There are times I wish I could explain the joke to my husband but things just get Lost in Translation. There was this hindi dialogue from ‘Yeh Jawaani hai Diwaani’, Ranbir looks at Deepika and says :”Samalke rakun ja bindass flirt karoon” – how do you explain the word Bindass?!? Casually shameless is what I can come up with. But it sounds much cooler and roughish in Hindi.

Then there is my native language ‘Tamil’ – the written form and the spoken form has so less in common with each other that children learning the language are completely confused even though they have been speaking it since they could speak and have been listening to it since they could hear. There is so much beauty in the language that I do not know where to even start. One word that comes to my mind is ‘Ezhil’ – means gracefully beautiful. How can that not evoke a picture in your mind? I used to sing lullabys for my children in Tamil and they would ask me”mama, what does that word aararo mean?”. It has no meaning but it is the sound tamil children associate with warmth and comfort, a cuddle and safety. It means, everything is going to be alright, so close your eyes.

I am sure all languages in the world have such words that bring pictures to your mind or words that mean something profound and philosophical, words that move you to tears of joy or sorrow. I just wish Google Translate would grow up and become the babel fish we all need to enjoy and appreciate each other’s language and culture.

Wouldn’t that be a beautiful world?

*you haven’t seen Farscape, what the frell?

Completely Jawaanied and Diwanied!

13 Jun

‘Yeh Jawaani hai Diwaani‘ is an adorable film. This movie was the best 120 rupees I had spent in a long time! It has been quite a while since I had watched a Bollywood movie in a theater and loved it. Not many spoilers, so please continue reading.

The word ‘adorable’ is the only thing that comes to my mind when I see Ranbir Kapoor. He is a consummate actor that makes you feel relaxed and comfortable. He is so natural in his timing and delivery that the situation remains on this side of exciting instead of becoming unbearable – if the balance but tips even a little, the scene would have ended up being a run-of-the-mill hamming. He does it effortlessly or atleast makes it look that way. Wonderful performance. He should skip growing beards in his movies though – it does not make him look more grown-up or serious or artsy. It just makes him look unkempt (unless and of course it is necessary to look dishevelled as in Rockstar). He will do just fine, as long as he delivers his dialogue with that kind of a twinkle in the eye and restraint. Have I mentioned that he was just adorable? Yes, I would like to adopt him, please.

In the lat 80s and 90s, advertisement for Liril soap used to scintillate the Indian public with a girl in a bikini, half-seen, half hidden by some waterfalls. The word that was associated with the ad was ‘refreshing’. Kalki Koechlin’s performance was just that – refreshing! Deepika looks refreshing but Kalki is refreshing! Kalki’s character was dazzling – pure panache! Refreshing to see that portrayed in a Bollywood movie- without any moralizing or proselytizing. It was full of no-excuses, this-is-the-way-I-am, take it or leave it. Her enthusiasm was infectious. The director has done a fantastic job with that character.

DP did well too. She can just walk into a scene, smile her dimpled-smile and not just sweep the hero away but also everyone else in the audience. She was convincing as a butterfly coming out of a cocoon but then with those legs, its not possible to be a caterpillar.

Aditya Roy Kapur was there to add spice to the storyline and did a good job considering he had limited scope. Farookh Sheik performance was heart-warming, Tanvi Azmi and Dolly were perfect in their roles. I wish there had been a scene where Bunny meets Dolly (the pun is intentional).

The director gets all the kudos for such a well-constructed plot and for making the characters so believable. Little nudges here and there tell you why Bunny wants to see the world, how Naina can’t lose, that Avi is an incurable loser and that Aditi is a free-spirit. The songs are not memorable but the picturization gives you a happy buzz. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and came out with a feeling of contentment.

Please don’t leave your seats yet. Ishtory abi bakhi hai bhai! Credit roll:

I could completely connect with the women in the movie. Till I left for university at the age of 18, I was Deepika’s character – I had to come first, always, even when I was not good at something. I was a sore loser and serious as hell. When I went to university and realized that I am not as good as I thought, it was a relief and I turned into Kalki’s character and had a blast. Now, my hope is, that I will still remain as flexible as Madhuri Dixit and if necessary, rock a party! Madhuri does a look a bit weary (don’t know if that was bad make-up) but her dancing skill and speed is still amazing!

Okay, now you can all leave the theater and please do not forget to take your popcorn bags with you! Have a nice day!

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