The Hari Putar Dialogues - 29
(Sify News; 28 October; Mumbai: Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan has justified the cause of Hindi. And this comes at a time when the conflict between the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and migrant north Indians is assuming alarming proportions in Maharashtra. Amitabh's reaction comes in the wake of a few comments posted on his blog in (http://bigb.bigadda.com/) about his recent penchant for writing in Hindi. However, considering the current political scenario in the state, this can spark off a political debate once again. Big B has been blogging for the last few months and is immensely popular both among his fans and media. However, since he was discharged from hospital he has been writing in Hindi as well)
Putar: According to a report in Sify News today Amitabh Bachchan has started writing his blog in Hindi.
Hari: That's an interesting development, putar.
Putar: One of the interesting things about Amitabh Bacchan is that he is equally fluent in Hindi and English.
Hari: Many people are fluent. Why do you think this is interesting?
Putar: A lot of people can speak and write both languages, but not at Mr. Bachchan's level of competence.
Hari: That's true. I guess the English comes from his schooling and the Hindi as a result of being born in an illustrious Hindi poet's family.
Putar: That is part of the reason why he has become such an impressive cultural representative of the country.
Hari: But I'm certain many of his English speaking fans who read his blog are now disappointed that he is writing in Hindi, because they cannot read or understand that language.
Putar: That's true. A few have even threatened that they will stop reading his blog if he continues to write in Hindi. Bacchan writes in his blog. 'There is some consternation among a few of you about the writings in Hindi. They want a translation or some threaten to leave the post altogether.'
Hari: And what has been his response to that?
Putar: The report quotes Bachchan as saying: 'If I have an opportunity to express some of my sentiments in my mother tongue, I shall not hesitate to do so, whether there is someone to read it or not. I have always maintained a balance in my life and in my conduct. I shall continue with that. If there is thought in English that needs to be put in Hindi, I shall endeavor to do that and vice versa. The English language too is a great absorber of other tongues within its European ambience. We must never disrespect the mother tongue of another, nor its belief or its importance.'
Hari: I'm sure these fans don't mean any disrespect. They just feel frustrated that they cannot understand what he is saying any more.
Putar: Well, let me continue to read Mr Bachchan's response. He writes: 'Firstly, what has been expressed in Hindi is a recap of what has appeared in English, so readers are not missing anything special that may have been expressed in another language. And secondly, I have never put any pressure ever on anyone to visit my blog. All of you came on voluntarily. I have enjoyed your presence, your accolades, your abuse and your criticism in a fair democratic manner. If you desire is to leave this facility, I really am no one to stop you.'
Hari: Surely there is some way out.
Putar: Well, I'm sure that a fan can volunteer to translate Mr Bachchan's blog into English, and with his permission the translated section can also be put on to the blog.
Hari: What if other fans want to read his blog in Kannada or Telugu? Mr Bachchan has fans all over India.
Putar: Some fans might want to read his blog in Swahili or German. Don't forget Mr Bachchan has fans all over the world. Hence the success of his recently finished world tour.
Hari: He has been voted to be the most popular human being on the planet.
Putar: Yes, but we can't have all these translations going around on one blog. That's too much. A simple Hindi to English should be enough.
Hari: Well, now there will be thousands of fans who read his blog in Hindi, but who cannot speak.
English. They will feel upset if and when he reverts back to Hindi. All said and done English is better because he has more English speaking fans in the world.
Putar: Tell me something papaji?
Hari: Bol, putar?
Putar: There is a story about a famous linguist in Ancient India who spoke fourteen different languages, but each as if it were his mother tongue. The king arranged a competition for anyone to guess his mother tongue.
Hari: And did anyone succeed, putar?
Putar: When the linguist was coming down a staircase having finished a recitation in all these languages, someone tripped him and as he fell he uttered a shout.
Hari: And so?
Putar: And the person who had tripped him said, 'And that shout has been uttered in your mother tongue?' Because when we get emotional we always speak in our mother tongue.
Hari: That was an interesting ploy. And it's almost certainly true that in our more emotional moments we tend to revert to our mother tongue. But what is your point and what is your question.
Putar: Well, as you know Mr Bachchan was admitted to hospital not long ago.
Hari: It was covered all over the global media.
Putar: And he has started writing his blog in Hindi only after leaving the hospital. He has obviously been through an emotionally turbulent time and therefore for some time many of his thoughts will come to him in Hindi, his mother tongue. This could be explanation. What do you think, Papaji?
Hari: I don't know, putar.