Adipurush: Why use such a language?

   By Vijay Darda | 26-06-2023

A grave and crucial question amid uproar over distasteful & controversial dialogues

Vijay Darda

A barrage of protests is raging around the dialogues from the film Adipurush. This tempestuous reaction is justified as the issue revolves around the language, for language is more than just a means of communication. It determines the conduct and character of any individual or society. According to an old adage, words once spoken, like an arrow released from a bow, cannot be recalled. Only their effect or side effect is felt. ‘Words’ in this adage means language, be it spoken or written.

We all know what kind of language has been used in the dialogues of Adipurush. It cannot be justified by saying that the dialogues have been written in accordance with the present times. If you try to drag history to the present day, the consequence will be disastrous. Here I would like to remember Rahi Masoom Raza who wrote the dialogues of the epic television serial Mahabharat. So dignified the dialogues were that they are still on everyone’s lips. Let me give an example of the film Lagaan, which depicted the British era, but Javed Akhtar wrote a song in it: “Madhuban mein jo Kanhaiya kisi gopi se mile, Radha kaise na jale.” The film was made in the new era, yet Javed Bhai wrote such a graceful song! Manoj Muntashir’s dialogues, on the other hand, resemble the street language. However, if you open YouTube, you will find many so-called saints speaking the same language. As for Manoj, when he saw a problem with just the word Muntashir in his name, he quickly added Shukla with it. But will that make his offence less serious? Manoj Muntashir forgot that the film dialogues reach the masses. Many original dialogues have become timeless. And those who live in glass houses should not throw stones!

It is unfortunate that a horrible joke about the language is being made in India, which has been at the top for centuries in terms of purity of language. When I talk about language, it reminds me of Sushma Swaraj ji. She once quoted an episode from Ramayan which exemplified the richness of language. She said: Lord Ram recited Rudrashtakam in the honour of Shiva before the Ram-Ravan war, while Ravan recited Shiva Tandav Stotra. Even today, people recite Rudrashtakam, but no one recites Shiv Tandav Stotra. This is the influence of language. Sushma ji cited another example on accuracy of language. Noted writer Dandi authored a play Dashakumarcharitam. In it, a prince named Vishrut goes hunting and one of his lips gets severed by someone’s arrow. Consider this: If a person has only one lip, he will be unable to enunciate Pa, Fa, Ba, Bh and Ma. You’ll be surprised to learn that these words uttered using lips do not appear in any of Vishrut’s dialogues in the play after that incident. This is the miracle of language!

It will be unfortunate if we start speaking the street language and use them as dialogues in films, and if society begins to suffer due to the bitterness of language in politics, especially in a country known for such richness and purity of language. On March 27 this year, I wrote an article about language in this column. When the language begins to degrade, when the language begins to take the colour of religion, and when the language fails to take care of the sentiments, society faces collapse. Keep in mind that major wars have been fought over language. Perhaps, the Mahabharat would not have happened if Duryodhana had not thumped his thigh and insulted Draupadi. Language has its own set of constraints. Language is more than simply words.

The irony is that we’ve given Sanskrit a saffron hue while wrapping Urdu in green. This approach has confined these popular languages and it would not be a surprise if these languages perished with time. Do you know that Covid has not only killed people but also a language? With the death of fifty-year-old Lecho living in Andaman and Nicobar, a language named ‘Sare’ perished. She was the only one left to communicate in that language. Similarly, only two-three people are left who still speak the ‘Jeru’ language. Language has its own set of rules. Language consists of more than just words. UNESCO’s list includes 197 languages that are thought to be on the verge of extinction. 220 languages have vanished in the last 50 years, according to the People’s Linguistic Survey of India. I’m putting these frightening statistics so that you can see what we’re doing with language, wittingly or unwittingly!

So the most important question is, what should we do? The first requirement is to improve one’s own language. Why should we use street language or the language of taporis? If some fools use abusive language while talking normally, should we accept it as a societal norm? Absolutely not! That cannot be the societal norm. Keeping aside the question of when the law will take its course, we should boycott such web series on OTT which brim over with vituperative language. If you don’t patronise them, those who use abusive language in the series will think 10 times before doing so. It is critical that we safeguard our children from these abuses.

In old times, elders used to suggest that language should be used with decency in front of children. While speaking, you must consider the impact of what you are saying. I’d like to emphasise, particularly in the context of religion, that we should undoubtedly follow our own religion, but the religions of others should not be criticised. This breeds hostility and animosity unnecessarily. If hostility grows, society will suffer. On a global scale, we are making rapid progress. The most significant impediment is hostility. We can avoid numerous problems if we keep our tongue and pen restrained. Only when you and I change will the world change! If language fosters love, it creates bitterness too. We have to make a choice between love and bitterness.

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