Hinglish conversational chemistry and Bollywood

Indrani Medhi Thies, Microsoft Research India

These days Bollywood songs, as we know, have gone international. There’s an increasing number of English phrases being used in these songs. From Shahrukh’s “You are my Chammak Challo” in Ra.One, to Aamir’s “Love is a waste of time, pyaar vyaar waste of time” in PK, many leading men are mouthing code-mixed Hinglish songs to woo their women. If the older superstars are doing it, can the younger brigade be far behind? Remember Shahid Kapoor’s “Saree ke fall sa kabhi match kiya re, Kabhi chhod diya dil kabhi catch kiya re” in R…Rajkumar?

They say art imitates life. As the numbers of young, aspirational, upwardly mobile, movie goers steadily rise, Bollywood film makers are leaving no stone unturned to make their music and movies contemporary. And one the most effective way of making things relatable for the young crowds seems to be by having the protagonists speak and sing in code-mixed Hinglish.

One of the best recent examples of this is the warm, fuzzy and fresh ‘Jab We Met’ starring Shahid Kapoor as Aditya, and Kareena Kapoor as Geet. Aditya is a depressed young man getting through a miserable breakup when he meets an extremely vivacious, and talkative Geet on a Delhi-bound train. The story is the usual boy meets girl, headed to different destinations, and eventually falling in love. But the treatment of the story is so fantastic, the screenplay so refreshing, that you want to watch the movie over and over again. The characters are very easy to relate to, they look and talk (in Hinglish) like you and me. Initially the dejected Aditya gets irritated by Geet’s overenthusiasm. But as their long, eventful journey progresses, Aditya starts opening up and eventually falls in love with Geet thereby redeeming himself. And as the credits roll you’re left wondering, “I’ve travelled by train so many times. Wish my journey was as exciting and I met someone as interesting”.

What ‘Jab We Met’ has really going for it, is its everyday conversations-inspired Hinglish dialogue.  Sample this, where the vivacious, self-loving Geet, who’s dating another guy, Anshuman, acknowledges her chemistry with Aditya…

[Geet] Tum us type ke ho ki – dekho, meri shaadi Anshuman se hone waali hain and all that. But vo agar meri life mein nahin hota, toh you never know, shayad main bhi tumse pat jaati. Just imagine.

(English translation: [Geet] You’re the type who…see, I’m about to be married to Anshuman and all that. But if Anshuman was not in my life, then you never know, even I could have fallen for you. Just imagine.)

[Aditya] Tum apne aap ko bahut pasand karti ho na?

(You like yourself a lot, don’t you?)

[Geet] Bahut… Main apni favourite hoon.

(A lot…I’m my own favourite.)

 Or the times when the dejected Aditya is starting to open up to Geet and her ways…

[Aditya] Tu original piece hai

(You are an original piece)

[Aditya] Tum hamesha aise hi bakwas karti ho ya aaj koi special occasion hain?

(Do you always talk nonsense like this or is today some special occasion?)

Kareena, as Geet, and Shahid, as Aditya, are excellent in their performances, but the real hero(ine) of the film is the conversational chemistry between the two. And that is made possible by their natural, believable exchanges. Geet and Aditya talk like you and me, the many Hinglish speakers, who generously mix English words in our Hindi speech and vice versa, in everyday lives. We may not realize it, but like Geet and Aditya, we do it almost all the time.

If you’re interested in anything even remotely related to code-mixing or are just looking for something to uplift your spirits, go watch ‘Jab We Met’!  Kyonki kya pata, even if you don’t run into your own Geet, you might feel inspired to take an exciting journey, jo shayad zindagi bhar yaad rahe.

(Because who knows, even if you don’t run into your own Geet, you might feel inspired to take an exciting journey, which will remain with you for a lifetime).

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