You must be wondering…
Why I chose “The world respects those who respect themselves” as the title of this article?
Doesn’t it sound “Bollywoodish?”
You’re right; it does. And this article has quite a lot to do with Bollywood.
You see, Bollywood movies give an impression that “village” in North India means a village in Bihar or Eastern UP. The moment you hear the word “villager”, you think of a guy with a talisman around his neck, wearing a dhoti-kurta and speaking, “Arey o babua, tanik hiyan ta aava” or “Ka babu Ji, kaisan baat karat rahe?”
And what’ wrong with that?
Except that it typecasts North-Indian villages. People start believing that village dialect means Bhojpuri, Maithili, or dialects of Eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh.
Bollywood Rarely Features Western UP’s dialect “Khari Boli”, or “Khadi Boli” and that too, Incorrectly
Mostly, the Bollywood movies exclude other villages of India. I belong to Lakshminagar (Muzaffarnagar), Western UP, so I shall talk about my region.
In 2006, Bollywood released the movie “Omkara.”
The director claimed the language actors spoke was “Khadi Boli”—the dialect of Western Uttar Pradesh.
I have watched that movie, and I can tell you that the language in “Omkara” is some idiotic, imaginary dialect which they projected to the world as Khadi Boli. Nothing except the word “Behanchod” was from Khadi Boli, and guess what, even Wikipedia mentions that the movie “Omkara’ used “Khari Boli.”
It happens when native speakers of a language do not even object to some idiotic, inauthentic, and imaginary language projected as their language.
Later, in 2013, another movie “Zila Ghaziabad” was released. They also claimed the actors spoke Khadi Boli, which again, was a lie—only a few words including the opening line of the song “Yo hai Zila Ghaziabad” had Khadi Boli flavour, and that’s it.
Is Khadi Boli Not Significant Enough?
It’s not the fault of Bollywood movie producers.
The culprits are tens of thousands of people of Western Uttar Pradesh, especially young college students, who try to hide the fact that they belong to Lakshminagar, Meerut, Baghpat, Baraut, Saharanpur, Ghaziabad, Bijnore or Bulandshahar. They feel ashamed of Khadi Boli, their own goddamned mother tongue.
She Was Ashamed of Her Language
I once had visited one of my maternal aunts. Her husband’s shoulder got injured in a road accident, and I, along with my mother, went to see him.
She lives in West Delhi. I had a vague idea about how to reach her house, so I phoned her for directions.
The way she spoke was shocking.
She sounded too phoney for me to believe. When I arrived at her place, I asked, ‘What happened to you? Why were you speaking like a stranger? Have you forgotten how to speak your mother tongue?’ “Well, people consider Khadi Boli an indecent language and some of them even comment I speak like a “Ganvaar.” She replied, with guilt on her face.
‘And aren’t you “Ganvaar”-a person belonging to a village?’
She had no answer.
I explained it’s not about the language; it’s about the choice of words one makes. If you call someone names, even in English, it wouldn’t be a gentleman’s language at that time, right?
He Dumped His Mother Tongue to Sound “Educated”
A guy named Sunil (name changed) approached me for tips on self-confidence.
We met in the district centre in Janakpuri, West Delhi.
He was a nice guy, dealing with low self-confidence and career-related issues. I advised him the best I could. And before we left, I commented he could get confident only if he takes pride in his mother tongue. I told him, “Sunil, you say you belong to Western UP, but the language you speak doesn’t support your claim.”
He replied, ‘Sir, I don’t want to sound uneducated or uncivilised, that’s why I’ve had to dump my language.’
‘Dumping your mother tongue is like a tree saying no to its roots. No matter how high the tree rises, it can never be strong enough to survive the harsh weather. I don’t care how uneducated or arrogant you may sound; you need to own your language. That’s the first step toward getting confident.’
She Wanted Me to Change the Way I Spoke; I Said, “No”
It reminds me of another incident. I was working as a Radio Jockey for FM Dilli Channel (100.1 MHz) in 2010 which was launched to cover commonwealth games in Delhi.
One of my fellow female radio jockeys, who is from Uttarakhand, commented, ‘Avdhesh, your language sounds quite harsh.’
‘It does,’ I replied.
‘Why don’t you do something about it?’
‘Try speaking in a bit softer tone, maybe.’
‘No, ma’am. I speak my mother tongue the way I am supposed to. The dialect of Mathura or Agar or Kanpur or Gorakhpur indeed sounds softer than Khadi Boli, but that does not mean I should also speak the way people from those areas do.’
‘It’s the sounds of a language that makes it stand out from other dialects. The sounds are unique characteristics of any language which help you differentiate it from others.’
‘You see, the harsh and direct sounds of my language is its uniqueness, and that’s why it’s called “Khadi Boli.”’ I respect my language, and I also respect your right to respect your language.”
It’s Not Just About Khadi Boli
The lesson here is to respect your mother tongue no matter what people may or may not think about it.
What people think of you is none of your business.
And it’s not just about Western UP or Khadi Boli. It’s true about every language and dialect.
It does not matter which part of India or the world you belong to. You must learn to respect your mother tongue. It’s by recognising your mother tongue that you learn to appreciate others mother tongue. But yours comes first.
Remember: The world respects those who respect themselves.