Monday, 23 June 2014

The K word

 During panel discussions organized around celebrity participants from Bollywood , Delhi will often suddenly choose to rehash eternal moral themes . During a recent event it came about that Kaminey , a popular Bollywood expletive may be a three letter word in Hindi , but is actually a four letter word in English . Every mother who takes mothering seriously , should know that . So this tricky word with a long and funny though a tad gory ( Kameeney kuttey main tera khoon pee jaoonga !You **** dog I shall drink your blood !) history in Bolly , suddenly became  the subject of a grave debate during the Centenary Celebrations of Indian Cinema . A lady in the audience hotly questioned the frequent use of a haw ! haw ! word like Kaminay , by Vishal Bhardwaj  screen writer , producer , music composer and playback singer , maker of a film called Kaminey . He protested . This , he said , was a term of endearment . Why , in Delhi even fathers lovingly called their sons Kaminey ! he said . Then he stood the whole argument on its head and began questioning the violence perpetrated on the viewers’ senses by those bleak strips that suddenly split the screen into half and remind the hapless watchers of a juicy film , that tobacco kills . If similar strips are proposed against alcohol usage , he said, he would sit on a hunger strike !

Vishal Bhardwaj comes from the badlands of Western UP and  has an undeniable knack for creating memorable films out of lives of wayward wanderers , small time crooks , gangsters’ molls and crime syndicates . He would starve himself to death before he allowed the certification mandarins to question this knack that elicits applause from the cine buffs all over the Hindi belt , not to mention precious crores for the Box Office . But Vishal has a point . In the past hundred years since the days of Dada Sahib Falke and his androgynous males playing queen Taramati , not just the Hindi belt but also the Hindi language , have come a long way .  Unlike Karan Johar films that target small town Punjabi youth rooted in a mythical joint family system , and their elderly aunties living in terminal denial about social change of any kind , Vishal ‘s Maqbool , Ishqiya and Omkara are ablaze with a blazing irony .  His foul mouthed characters begin to move and sing ,“Aao aao dil nichodein , raat ki matki todein , koi gullak to phodein…

(Lets wring our hearts , and smash the piggy banks and the dark pot that is the night )..

Way back in the Seventies , a genuinely youthful Dharmendra first linked the word Kaminey with another (equally debatable) noun , Kuttey (dawg) . The round of applause it won established that his dialogue writers had raised the swear bar for all Hindi blockbusters to come . Indian filma have since become even more like the world of Shakespeare’s plays where evil potentates roam hurling loud curses , wives deceive , sons kill , friends play the Fool and fathers address their sons as Kaminey ! Language naturally has to soar to match this whirling mess . It is obvious from the success of Delhi Belly and Omkara and Dirty Picture that public opinion favors the new red hot language . So the three or four letter words merit attention not disapprobation !

As the historians are so fond of saying ( also Bong novels ) we must go take another look at the society that coined a certain language and why . That old vixen Colette had advised writers to chase the verb to get to the historical roots of a word .  So we follow the rooted path . And surprise ! surprise !  Kaminey , it turns out , derives from a very politically correct verb , Kamana a, meaning literally to earn a living by manual labour ( hence words such as Kaamgaar ) . In  the age of Kabir , the eccentric and brilliant weaver  poet , the adjective Kameen meant all those castes who worked with their hands . Kabir harangues Lakshmi , that wayward goddess of wealth who seems to favor the rich and the upper caste  saying , Go them that cover you with silks and gold and sandalwood paste . What will you gain by entering my house ? I am a mere Kameena !

“ Vahan jao jhan paat pitambar , agar chandan sub deenha ,

Aay hmarey kahaa karogi hum to jaat kameena .”

So Kaminey is vulgar as India today is . The word you know ( as in the Vulgate Bible)derives from Latin Vulgus , meaning the language of the ordinary folk .  



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