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Defining the Indefinable: Delimiting Hindi

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Edited By Agnieszka Kucziewicz-Fras

The nine extensive essays of this volume are by specialists on South Asia whose research focus includes the extremely complicated problematics of the linguistic situation there. It is devoted to the broadly understood problem of defining Hindi as well as indicating the different ranges of its use. The authors of the included texts come from Europe, the USA and India, and grapple with questions such as what Hindi is, how it functions in the social, political and cultural dimensions of present-day India, and how it is being used by authorities and various influential actors at different levels of Indian reality. The volume should be important and useful for all those who are interested in Hindi, its official and non-official status, and in Indian linguistic policy and politics generally.
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Filmī Zubān. The Language of Hindi Cinema Anjali Gera Roy

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Anjali Gera Roy

“What is the language of what we call Hindi films? We have always called them Hindi films but what is the language?” (AKHTAR 2007: 266). As a cinema defined by a language that is not its language, Hindi cinema presents a conundrum that is posed by one of its best known script and lyric writers Javed Akhtar.1 Akhtar answers the riddle himself while sharing his own compositional practices: “When I write the dialogue, my basic concern is to reach out to as many people as possible” (Ibid.). Viewing purity of culture or language as an impediment to communication, he explains that he switches between Urdu-Persian and Hindi guided by their familiarity to the average filmgoer. Similarly, the renowned Urdu poet, lyricist and filmmaker Gulzar states that the “the language that we use in films” is perhaps “the most appropriate, and speakable without any pretences” (GULZAR 1999). He thinks “that’s the right language of the people” whether one names it “Urdu, Hindi or Hindustani” (Ibid.). While Akhtar considers the language of Hindi films as “a language in its own terms” and insists that “we do not use the word Hindustani for it” (AKHTAR 2007: 266), Gulzar names his language “Hindustani,” the “Hindustani that Gandhi wanted” taking care to add that this language is “not merely a mix of Urdu, Hindi and Persian—it also features Punjabi and Bangla words” (KOTHARI 2011: 184).

Tejaswini Ganti’s description of the language of Hindi cinema as Hindustani was...

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