Here’s why Hindi films’ love to use the funny language English

The success of movie ‘Hindi Medium’ at the box office has taken everyone by surprise. Its a sleeper hit that is still making money. Audience are still flocking to the theatres to watch the movie, which means it correctly highlights the issues with the present education system, which puts unnecessary pressure on people to get their English right.

So what about the use of English in Hindi films?

Here we take a look at ‘Hinglish’ – Hindi film’s rendezvous with English, and why English is used so much in Bollywood’s Hindi films.

Three movies come to the mind immediately when you talk about the use of English in Bollywood films.

  1. Hrishikesh Mukherjee directed Chupke Chupke, where Dharmendra asks the question to Om Prakash “t-o is to, d-o is do, buy why is g-o pronounced as go and not as ‘gu’ (sh*t in hindi)
  2. Amitabh Bachchan’s famous dialogue ‘Because English is a funny language’ from Namak Halal.
  3. Amitabh Bachchan’s famous dialogue in English before the song ‘My name is Anthony Gonsalves’ from ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’.

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Watch: English is a very funny language scene from Namak Halal


Watch: Dharmendra’s first meeting with Omprakash in Cupke Chupke (Funny Comedy Scene)

For a long time, Bollywood filmmakers have used English words in Hindi movie titles and songs to sound peppy, to sound high class, some have used popular English phrases, and some have used English words because “it fits in there“.

And the fact is that Bollywood movies have always attained a lot of success by peppering their Hindi songs with English words.

Here are some popular examples of Bollywood Hindi songs peppered with English words.

  • C A T Cat, cat mane Billi, R A T Rat, rat maane chuha – Dilli Ka Thug (1958)
  • Monica…Oh my darling from ?Caravan (1971)
  • Hum bane tum bane ek duje ke liye
  • My heart is beating, keeps on repeating (Julie 1975)
  • I am a disco dancer (Disco Dancer 1982)
  • Din g Dong, baby sing a song (Hero 1983)
  • Dilmera churaya kyo – Akele hum aele tum (1995)
  • Hare Krishna, Hare Ram title song – Bhool Bhulaiya (2007)
  • O Sana song from Ek Deewnan Tha (2011)
  • 1,2,3,4 … Chennai Express
  • Then there are numerous movie titles that use English words.

Here’s what lyricists and writers have to say about this trend.

  • Indians like to use English words while speaking in their regional languages
  • Literary language is always different from spoken language, and the language used by hindi films and songs is an improved version of the spoken language
  • Remember, Amitabh Bachchan’s famous dialogue in English before the song ‘My name is Anthony Gonsalves’ from ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’. In the movie Anthony was a christian, and back in those days only Christians (and the educated lot) in India spoke in English, but things have changed a lot now, and almost every other person in India knows to speak the language.

    3 Idiots had the songs ‘Give me some sunshine’ and ‘All is well’ that used English words.

    “3-Idiots is about college students, so they all speak English. Everybody knows the meaning of the word ‘All is Well’, and the words were so important in the film, it was basically the philosophy of the film, so I decide to use it,” says Swanand Kirkire, lyricist of 3-Idiots.

  • Current trend in Bollywood films is 80% English and 20% hindi. Even if they don’t want to use it, they’re are requested to use English words to increase the X-factor of the song, says a lyricist.

    “Har dilbe bud bu karta H2So4 hai” (Remember Masti ki Paatshaala song from Rang de Basanti -2006)
    Lyricist Prasoon Joshi says, he used the word ‘tezaab’ initially, which means acid in hindi, but then later changed it to H2So4 as he thought the word will appeal more to college students, and obviously they will understand it.

  • One music director, who uses lot of English words in Hindi songs, says how do you say ‘cool’ in hindi. Another music director counters by saying the song ‘Mauja Mauja’ was a peppy song, was played in discos and didn’t have a single English word.
  • Another lyricist says that while you can experiment with a Language, care should also be taken to protect the core of the language, and you cannot justify everything in the name of experimentation

A singer who doesn’t like English words being mixed with other languages says, “If you speak in any language (and don’t introduce words from English), that language sounds beautiful”.

However, going by the current trend, it seems Bollywood is not only using English words, they are open to using words from other languages as well. For example ‘Navrai Majhi’ song from English Vinglish, which was a huge hit.
By the way, the words ‘Ramaiya vastavaiya’ in the famous Raj Kapoor song from Shree 420 are Telugu words.