The world respects those who respect themselves. Why did I choose it as the title of this article? Doesn’t it sound “Bollywoodish?” You’re right, it does. In fact, this article has quite a lot to do with Bollywood.
Bollywood movies give an impression that “village” in North India means a village in Bihar or Eastern UP. The moment you hear the word “villager”, you think of a guy with a talisman around his neck, wearing a dhoti-kurta and speaking, “Arey o babua, tanik hiyan ta aava” or “Ka babu ji, kaisan baat karat rahe?”
Is there something wrong with such language? Not at all, except that it typecasts villages of North India. People start believing that villages mean Bihar or Eastern UP, and village dialect means Bhojpuri, Maithili, or dialects of Eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh.
Western UP’s dialect-‘Khari Boli’, or ‘Khadi Boli’ is Rarely Featured in Bollywood Movies
Essentially, the Bollywood movies exclude other villages of India. I belong to Lakshminagar (muzaffarnagar), Western UP, so I shall talk about that region.
In 2006, the movie “Omkara” was released. The movie claimed the language actors spoke was “Khadi Boli”- the dialect of Western UP. I watched the movie. I can tell you the language in “Omkara” is some idiotic, imaginary language that had been projected to the world as Khadi Boli. Nothing except the word “Behanchod” was taken from Khadi Boli. Even the Wikipedia mentions that “Khari Boli” dialect was used in “Omkara.”
That’s what happens when native speakers of a language do not even object to some idiotic, inauthentic, and imaginary language being projected as their language.
Later, in 2013, the movie “Zila Ghaziabad” was released. That movie also claimed that the language used by the actors was Khadi Boli. Again, a fallacy. Only a few words including the opening line of the song “Yo hai Zila Ghaziabad” had Khadi Boli flavour, and that’s it. Nothing else.
Is Khadi Boli Not Significant Enough to Get Featured in Bollywood Movies?
It’s not the fault of Bollywood movie producers.
It’s the fault of tens of thousands of people of Western Uttar Pradesh, especially young college students, who try to hide the fact that they belong to Lakshminagar, Meerut, Baghpat, Baraut, Saharanpur, Ghaziabad, Bijnore or Bulandshahar. They feel ashamed of Khadi Boli – their own mother tongue.
She Was Ashamed of Her Language
I once had visited one of my maternal aunts (who, by the way, is younger than me). Her husband’s shoulder was hit in a road accident and my mother along with I went to see him.
She lives in West Delhi. I had a vague idea about how to reach her house, so I phoned her for directions. The way she spoke was shocking. She was sounding too phoney for me to believe. When I reached her place, I asked her, “What happened to you? Why were you speaking like a stranger? Have you forgotten how to speak your mother tongue – Khadi Boli?” She replied, hesitatingly, “Well, people consider Khadi Boli an indecent language and some of them even comment I speak like a “Ganvaar.”
“And aren’t you “Ganvaar”-a person who belongs to a village?”
She had no answer.
I explained it’s not about the language; it’s about the choice of words one makes. If you call someone names, even in English, it wouldn’t be a gentleman’s language at that particular time.
He Dumped His Mother Tongue to Sound “Educated”
Once a guy named Sunil (name changed) approached me. He wanted to meet me to get some tips on personality development. We met in district centre in Janakpuri, West Delhi. He was a nice guy, dealing with low self-confidence and career-related issues. I advised him the best I could. And before we left, I commented he could get confident only if he takes pride in his mother tongue. I told him, “Sunil, you say you belong to Western UP, but the language you speak doesn’t support your claim.”
He replied, “Sir, I don’t want to sound uneducated or uncivilized, that’s why I’ve had to dump my language.”
“Sunil, dumping your mother tongue is like a tree saying no to its roots. No matter how high the tree rises, it can never be strong enough to survive the harsh weather. I don’t care how uneducated or arrogant you may sound, you need to own your language. That’s the first step towards getting confident.”
She Wanted Me to Change the Way I Spoke, I Said, “No”
It reminds me of another incident. I was working as a Radio Jockey for FM Dilli Channel (100.1 MHz) in 2010. The channel was launched to cover commonwealth games in Delhi.
One of my fellow female radio jockeys, who is from Uttarakhand, commented, ”Avdhesh, your language sounds quite harsh.”
“It does,” I replied.
“Why don’t you do something about it?”
“Try speaking in a bit softer tone, maybe.”
“No. I speak my mother tongue the way I am supposed to. It’s true that the dialect of Mathura or Agar or Kanpur or Gorakhpur sounds softer than Khadi Boli, but that does not mean I should also speak the way people from those areas do.”
“It’s the sounds of a language that makes it stand out from other languages. The sounds are unique characteristics of any language. That’s how it gets differentiated.”
“I don’t care much if my language sounds harsh to your ears. It’s supposed to sound harsh. That’s why it’s called “Khadi Boli.” The sounds are harsh and direct. That’s its uniqueness. I cherish it. I respect my language and I also respect your right to respect your language.”
It’s Not Just About Khadi Boli
The lesson here is to respect your mother tongue no matter what people may or may not think about it. What people think of you is none of your business.
And it’s not just about Western UP or Khadi Boli. It’s true about every language and dialect.
It does not matter which part of India or the world you belong to. You must learn to respect your mother tongue. It’s by respecting your own mother tongue that you learn to respect others mother tongue. But yours comes first.
Remember-“The world respects those who respect themselves.”