Monday, March 23, 2015

Talaash, India, and language(s)

The 2012 Indian suspense/noir/police movie Talaash includes too much supernatural wiffle and at least one crappy pop song. I’d have known the song was crappy even without the English subtitles – soaring bathos comes across just as well in Hindi as it does in English.

English also comes across in Hindi, the actors' lines sprinkled with please and thank you and investigation and case and Shut up! Just shut up! in a way that makes me not chauvinistic about the primacy of my language, but tickled by the flexibility of theirs.The mix of languages is beguiling. I love it as much as I love those multilingual, multigenerational conversations I hear in which the elders speak Chinese or Spanish, and their interlocutors answer in English, and everyone speaks in calm and perfect mutual comprehension.

I'm not sure what India's ruling Hindu nationalists think about such matters, but I like the headlines that accompanied an essay by the author Vikram Chandra some years ago: "The Cult of Authenticity: India’s cultural commissars worship `Indianness' instead of art." (Read about Chandra in these Detectives Beyond Borders posts about language and India.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2015

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Blogger seana graham said...

Your post reminds me of a time in my life when some friends and I watched a lot of Bollywood movies, and I have to say that they are some of the best mood lifters ever.

You also remind me that I've been meaning to read some more Vikram Chandra.

March 24, 2015  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The first mystery in this movie is the death of a movie star, and news reports in the movie occasionally mention the word "Bollywood," But even before this happened, the thought "Boy, this is anything but Bollywood" crossed my mind several times.

March 24, 2015  
Blogger adrian mckinty said...


Off topic but its a real shame that the ACNI has fucked over the Guildhall Press and Blackstaff Press. When I think of the arts in N Ireland over the last 30 years I think of the poets and novelists who were first published by Guildhall and Blackstaff - everything else is largely bullshit.

March 24, 2015  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yeah, I had heard that the plug had been pulled on the funding. I think a fair amount of Guildhall's stiff had received funding, but I don't know the details.

March 24, 2015  

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