FRONT PAGE / POSTS
by Hamsini Shivakumar| New Delhi, India
Monday, 19 July 2010
tags: asia, culture, global vectors, making sense
A recent trend in the lyrics of songs in Hindi movies is the juxtaposition of English and Hindi lyrics to create bi-lingual songs. It can take the form of a refrain in English that intersects Hindi stanzas or the presence of bi-lingual sentences. The adoption of this genre of song writing by leading lyricists as well as the growing popularity of this format with several hit songs, calls out for a semiotic interpretation of this new phenomenon.
Of course the songs are trendy and cool and targeted at youth. And “Hinglish” is an old phenomenon in advertising, used for well over a decade. So, what’s with the “Hinglish” lyrics now? One explanation that suggests itself is that, we now have a post-liberalization generation (born after 1990) that is coming of age. This is a generation who are the children of a global and materialistic age, who believe that they are simultaneously global and Indian. “Global” is sexiness, glamour, fun, challenging authority, freedom of choice, action orientation. “Indian” is sentiment, romanticism, gentleness, family values and tradition. This is a generation that is exploring dating and the mating game, new life possibilities and risks in a way that no previous generation in modern India has done before. They are seeking a new language with which to describe their angst and their thrills, the highs and lows of their love life and indeed their life itself.
The bi-lingual song whether a romantic ballad or a youth anthem, talks directly to the contradictory impulses of their fusion soul. So, the English lines are often suggestive of action and movement while the Hindi lyrics explore inner feelings in a more descriptive, metaphorical and romantic manner. Sexy is fun and cool in English, while it is the fire of a burning lust in its Hindi expression.
What would a philosopher or a psychoanalyst make of the fusion soul? It is hard to place this soul into an elitist cultural hierarchy or indeed on to a salvation quest that follows the dictum of “Know thyself” in order to be true to yourself. Is their story to be written as one of eternal angst, forever caught between two places? Or is it to be a story of freedom and choice and a celebration of the human spirit in a new avatar?
© Hamsini Shivakumar 2010