Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Jhalak Dikhhla Ja and it’s Shiamak Davar discontents

Mind Rush speaks up on why Shiamak Davar's khel with Hindi is so annoying on JDJ

I've heard people say what a nice guy Shiamak Davar is. So I watched him on the small screen with positive feelings. But right from the beginning he made me hugely uncomfortable. It was his language difficulties that made me sit up and cringe. Not because he does not know Hindi. (BTW, Some folks even think that he pretends not to know Hindi.)

Shiamak Davar annoys me because he uses his lack of knowledge of Hindi as a way to set himself apart. He waves it like a flag of identity. He wears it like a badge of pride.

Actually Shiamak and his shtick can only thrive in post-colonial India. Let me explain.

For a moment, imagine Shiamak being unable to speak English. Now not knowing a language would not be a comical, quirky thing. If you didn’t know English and were on a show like JDJ people would laugh at you, not with you. Contrast the way people perceive Rakhi Sawant versus Shiamak Davar. See my point?

That’s Bharat and the Indian hang-up with English. You can advertise that fact that you do not know Hindi and people will perceive you as amusing but still upper class. But if you don’t speak English you’d better hide it because you would be seen as uneducated, regardless of your level of education.

And I feel that Shiamak’s persona is derived from being “different.” It’s unfortunate that he uses his lack of Hindi to showcase his uniqueness. He pokes fun at himself at one level. However he can afford to do so knowing fully well that this deficit will be perceived as a strange asset. If he did not speak English people would look down on him. Ironically, showing off his lack of Hindi has subtly elevated his status.

Even when he speaks the “language of the locals” on the show he does it as a joke. Sadly enough, such behavior is not only tolerated by desis but people actually find him funny. I find it audacious that his lack of command of Hindi is being used by Shiamak for image-management, aka, branding.

It’s time to let go of this desi hang up that angrezi is somehow better.



Leera said...

True that brother.
Intelligence speaks no language and stupidity can't be hidden by a language barrier.
Shiamak only wishes he had half the sound bytes of a Rakhi Sawant in hindi or english!

Ozza said...

I agree wholeheartedly Aspi, what Shiamak does is very, very annoying. It's hardly funny and amazing that desis tolerate it.

cool_guy said...

Well on this issue , as you must be aware of a famous indian Ad these days , " Angrej chale gaye hame chod gaye " for jones and smith , actually they could have done better instead of hiring two goras they could have hired Shimak Dawar and Upen patel ..

that would have been an instant catchy tagline then to sell all their food products ..

well seriously shimak is as much annoying as much this ad or as much embarassing as one Lux underwear ad in which the model is shown having orgasms while washing clothes on the river front . must say the model is so sexy ..

Tania said...

Though I am not a believer in PDA
A big hug for this post.
You voiced my feelings about Shiamak and all the other noeveau desis who think knowing angrezi is so HS and anot knowing it is so LS. My thoughts for them "Please take your sorry a** to UK or USA or some other angrezi speaking nation and see how well you assimilate with them.

girlie girl said...

Amen to that Mind Rush!! I wholeheartedly agree with what you said. Shiamak looks like a total jackass trying to sound 'cool' and 'foreign'.

Tania, as far as having him come to US or going to UK, he wouldn't last a day here!

Tania said...

girlie girl
thats the point I am trying to make.
All these phoren sounding desis will find the concept of being in phoren too phoren for them.
Only thing they are good at is showing other down in India by showing off their angrezi badge.And about others as Mindrush says, they strangely indulge these people.
This reminds me of my English teacher in class 10 Ms.Sarkar who was born and raised in UK and came back to India during her undergrad years. This lady was a family friend too and wouldn't use a single word in English while conversing with other Bong moms. That I think is commendable.

ritha said...

I absolutely agree with you! OK I guess not that many shows on TV are totally english based, after all the soaps are in hindi...but what abt progs. like koffee with karan and other celebrity interview based shows?...why do the celebs always have to speak in english that too with too proper an accent! I would love it if celebs wud try and stick to hindi even if its not their strong point.C'mon...People should really promote the national language! I am a part of this very system where we are used to anglicizing everything and its not something I am proud of. The result is that am excellent at this 'khichdi' at the cost of being able to speak chaste mother tongue and national language. I wish we could stay true to atleast one native language without sacrificing our fondness for English (afterall its coz of our 'command' over english that we are ahead of China!). Too much wishful thinking happening at the start of the day!

Aspi said...

Actually thats what I liked about SRK on NB3 - he's tremendously articulate in the mother tongue.

Tania said...

So Aspi
Are you teaching the kids to speak in Gujrati or Parsi? :)

Saritha said...

Bravo!the post and the comments here covered everything I ever wanted to say.I love anyone who can speak crisp hindi(b'coz I can't speak good hindi) as opposed to thick angrez - someone like Dia Mirza who said 'Kamseen Umar'(used to refer Abhaas's age) without sounding fake or forced OR Minisha lamba who hosted GIFA and Screen awards,speaking refined and shudh hindi.

Davar Saheb,on the other hand,has a penchant for african music too.
mohabbat karle re

headmistress said...

excellent post. It is something that alternately fascinates and disconcerts me. It is definitely good for drawing in the 'phoren' crowd like myself, whose command over the native language is often shaky at best - I used to love Koffee with Karan - partly for this accessibility (partly for its cheese). But the more you're exposed to it, you realise what a mark of insecurity it is, this need to anglicise everything to assert your intellectual superiority. It feels like a linguistic version of skin-whitening creams - by speaking poor hindi/gujarati etc, you distance yourself further from that poor, brown identity and get an honourary sense of intellectual whiteness.

meena said...

Excellent post mind rush, agree with you completely!

But this putting down of our local languages goes deep into our colonial ass culture. How many of us dont remember the unspoken assumption when we were growing up - English medium schools are the gold standard while the kids in the local language schools will end up no better than no-account country cousins.

Joules said...

Well, personally I am not against people talking in English. After all Hindi is not the mother tongue for a significant number of people in India. Ofcourse, I speak Hindi fluently, my mom and dad both being from UP, hindi was predominantly spoken in my home.

However I do see Mind Rush's point. Shiamak has to say 10-12 lines an episode. He could memorize those but he does wear not knowing hindi as a badge of honor.

But I do have problems with people who do not have a command over the language trying to speak the language like Alisha Chinoy spoke in English in Indian Idol and was'nt very good at it.

Here is my advice to actresses that come on TV.

1) Stop giggling
2) Dont use like after every other word.
3) Dont use "whatever" unless you are a teenager.
4) Stop swearing. When you use shit and damn understand what they mean.

Aspi said...

4) Stop swearing. When you use shit and damn understand what they mean.

Or in Alisha's case, don't say "you blew it" when praising someone.

Tania, I teach the kids neither because I don't have an opportunity to. But whatever little I teach them is in Hindi since the wife and I both speak it. (If I taught them to speak Parsi Gujarati, my Dad would kill his own son).

BTW, my younger one is turning out to be quite a fan of Sharruk kaan and threw a fit when he found out we were not planning to take him to OSO. He ended up coming.

Tania said...

Didn't you know that saying like and whatever is copying the American college kids which is considered pretty hep or hip or whatever :D
My little one too is a big fan of Shahrukh khan and looks like even she got some of the jokes in OSO.

Aspi said...

Hopefully, SkD will stop by here and give us fuddy duddies a lesson on how to speak coolish.

skd will say said...

*giggle* *giggle* Damn you guys are like to uncool like old fuddy... *giggle* whatever

megan said...

Desis are weird i swear. They speak in English with desis and talk in Hindi with the non-desis WTF?

in Nach Baliye, the judges speak in Hindi when they are cmmenting on alex and sweta's performance.. like the same judges would comemnt on the other contestants in english

these desi girls at my college talk in punjabi in classes etc but i have seen the same girls in the gurdwara sahib conversing in english

m said...

yeah shit is used to often in desi TV, is it not considered swear word in india? little kids say that in ads and stuff lol

m said...

kinda off topic but its weird how the new desis (i wont use the "F" word to describe them as it might be tabboo) try and be more westernized than the 2nd/3rd generation desis like me who have never been to india..

I could never figure out how some auntyjis would be like "my kids dont know Hindi" when they moved over here a few years ago???

Is that supposed to be something to brag about? because frankly i think their kids aren't very sharp..

also, its weird how when they are bragging about "back home" they say something like

"I dont know how to make a cup of tea..we used to have 10 servants who'd do it"

i would be thinking "thanks lady you just demonstrated your IQ if you can't figure out how to make a cuppa..


some even say "i didn't know how to boil eggs until i came here"

also its funny how the newborn kids are always "younger" than we are.. why do they lie about their kids' age??

meg said...

i meant newly immigrated noT newborn LOL obviously their newborn kids would be younger than me and mah sis/bro

also they are so mean.. they KNOW that my brother is our half brother and yet they always say stuff like "*mah brother's name* looks like a white person... he doesn't look like you and *sister's name*"

thanks genius...

Mind Rush said...

Leera, ozza, tania, meena, cool guy, girlie girl, aspi headmistress, saritha, ritha, skd and meg,

"Dhanyawaad. Aap ka samarthan hum ko prerna deyta hai."

And for you Joules: "Like, (giggle) thanks (giggle), you know?

well? said...

when is the unveiling of your love guru blog?

Aspi said...

Megan, terrific observation about the cool language of choice in different environments.

well? Working on it. If you have any questions, post them here or shoot me an email and I'll publish it incognito.

Lata P said...

There are many gujratis in mumbai who do not speak hindi. When I was in college there were many NRI kids in national College that could not speak hindi.So I am not surprised to see him not knowing it. Hindi language is predominantly spoken in the upper India.The states in India where hindi is not spoken,you would still find people not knowing how to speak hindi.This takes back to the whole issue of how the choice of Hindi as national language was made.He said in one of the shows he can speak Gujrati.So that shows his love for the country.At least he knows his mother tongue.

Aspi said...

Lata P, good point. I think that is why Mind Rush clarifies that its not his lack of Hindi that is annoying but the fact that he makes a joke out of it in order to gain points.

Personally I'm ok with people who can't speak Hindi. I admire people who can't speak it but still try. I am jealous (like Saritha) of people who are fluent in it.

Dhanno Driver Megan said...

OMG i just realized i talk too much.. i am this blog's official BASANTI

Aspi said...

And didn't Dharminder climb the water tower for her?

m said...

yeah he did! he did some drink climbing!

ritha said...

megan, those girls prob talk in punjabi in classes coz they dont wanna be understood by other non-desis?

बेनाम-अनामिका said...

क्या हम यहाँ हिन्दी (देवनागरी) में अपने विशेष टिपण्णी लिख सकते हैं?

Aspi said...

बेनाम-अनामिका, I don't see why not.

Mind Rush said...

Benaamji, aap ki tippani se Mind Rush kush hua!

anu g said...

Mind Rush, very nice article.I forgot to include u in my thanksgiving speech for being a stress buster. I was quickly reading thru all the articles, and didnt realise that it was u who had written it(and I have the audacity to nag my son saying he doesnt read well and concentrate:)).
We had a Spanish guest onc He said he thought he could speak reasonable English, unil he came to India. He said 'Just as I follow all that people r talking, suddenly there is a word or phrase or sentence that i simply fail to understand". Thats when I realised that many of us (me included) tend to talk english with such a medley of hindi/tami/telugu words.Sometimes its just a particular word/expression that cannot be expressed in English, and which is very apt in the vernacular language.
I then consciously tried to speak in pure English, and found myself sometimes struggling for the right word. And this is the same with so many of my friends.I am talking about desis here.
But then as my cousin said once when I was very solemnly discussing the same issue, "What the hell!!Why r u analysing this so much'.As long as we can understand what each other is saying, how does it matter".
I know I have strayed away from the subject, but I just had to have my say too!!!

Lata P said...

You got a point there. I am a southie from Bombay. Now I am states. I meet so many Hindi speaking from north side complaining about how southies don't speak hindi. One was making sure I teach my son at least Hindi.They do not understand it is so different than the south indian languages. I never have any bias towards religion or language but in my experience there is not only a disputes in caste system but also between north and south.Last year one of my friend arranged a new year party. She invited everybody. Then one guy goes "hamare ghar par bhi party hain.Par sirf North Indian ke liye." Amazing ! And did you notice that English is treated like hindi. For example my name Lata. South the spelling is Latha. In Bombay I was teased as La -Ta (as in table). I never understood why Latha is wrong. Its because Ta is small tha and Tha is ta. I come in States and am being called La -ta(as in table). When I prononced it for them they went oh! you should spell it Latha. Like Anu, I also had to say it . Phew feel better :)

Aspi said...

And with that being said, I propose all Indian restaurants in the US that serve north indian food be listed as "Delhi Palace". Heck, if you've got Mutter Paneer on the menu, that name should be mandatory.

And if there is a "Bombay" in the name, vada paav should be mandatory as should be some Parsi dish.

Leera said...

Amen to that Aspi.

anu g said...

Lata, I am glad ur friends atleast called Southies as Southies rather than as 'Madrasis'!!!!Actually I have had this argument already earlier with a drifter.

Mind Rush said...

Folks reading this...Any ideas on why Shiamak Davar has disappeared from JDJ???

Anonymous said...

may be he has gone for his I Believe concert in india

Anonymous said...

COOL GUY 1st of al its smith n jones......n den if al of u think ..dat shiamak is jus usin dis as a publicity stunt or wateva ..gess wt he dsn need al dis 2 get popular...he has gained enuff popularity over d tym anyway ...its jus al stupid jobless ppl ..who hv tym 2 criticise al famous ppl ..!!!!!!!..n u kno wat ..shiamak has put indias name on d world map..evr been 2 his institute..wel u ll realise how hes helpd special ppl 2 stay happy n reach 4 der dreams..!!!!..in a way m happy u fools r criticisin him ..cos dey say famous ppl always hv ppl against dem ...JERKS!

Anonymous said...

n u claim he wont survive in US n UK ..well hes alrdy made a place 4 himself in australia n canada ..so US n UK r not dat far m sure..n m sure he has tonnes of fans der aswel..!

Aspi said...

Our first German poster - awesome!

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