New Delhi: When Amitabh Bachchan says he "can walk Engliss", "talk Engliss", and "laugh Engliss" you tend to forgive him. Not because English is a very funny language, but his job interview with Ranjit in Namak Halal is one of most heart-warmingly amusing scenes scripted in Hindi cinema. But films like Bol Bachchan and Rowdy Rathore, milking the charisma of the hinterland hero of the 70s, have concocted a fusion of English that is as funny as a toothache.
Akshay Kumar's 'Don't angry me' got the ball rolling and Ajay Devgn's "necessity is the mother of Discovery channel" put the "last nail polish in the coffin" of the Queen's language. In fact, Bol Bachchan has set a high benchmark that makes you wonder if the intentionally silly dialogue were written by a four-year-old learning her alphabets.
Devgn's role in Bol Bachchan is that of a wrestler who wants to master the English language and staggers through mindlessly absurd phrases in the film to prove his point. Oh, his comic timing is perfect and he draws guffaws in several scenes, but he's handed jokes that have been brought out of the freezer, thawed to room temperature and served to an audience hungry for gags.
I agree that language is constantly evolving. My concern stems not so much from this deliberate mutilation of English than from its consequences. Accept the reality that people may now proudly quote "My chest has become blouse" during water cooler discussions to draw a chuckle. A sense of humour is a subjective thing but for heaven's sake the "let the atmosphere come in" is as old as Pitamaha Bhishm.
Here are some samples from Bol Bachchan:
When elders get cosy, younger don't put their nosy
My eyes have fallen from my face
Necessity is the mother of Discovery channel
Tu toh mind blow drier hai (mind blowing)
Fish and chips without water (jal bin machhli)
Your ear drums are playing (tere kaan baj rahe hai)
Happy birthright to you
Every penny discounts
Isse superman ki naukri de do (supervisor)
I will make them remember milk number 6 (chchathi ka doodh)
Increasingly, writers are weaving in English to target the hip, college-going audience that will hopefully take toilet humour sportingly. You are too stuffy if you think a greater part of 'Delhi Belly' is in poor taste.
I remember wild whistles inside the theatre to the line "your g*** is like a solar eclipse" in DB. We have had heroes who have tried the broken down English fusion with charming effect. Ranveer Singh's 'binness' idea in 'Band Baja Baaraat' was right out of the streets of Karol Bagh.
It's a good thing that Devgn has nailed the comic timing in Bol Bachchan, because the jokes are terrible. The laughter is a defence mechanism against the mind-numbing absurdity.
Here's what Bol Bachchan has done.
It has revived the horrific 'let the atmosphere come in' jokes suffered in tuition classes.
It has prompted the media to use 'my chest has become blouse' as a news headline.
It has assured lazy readers that they are in a comfortable majority and do not need to better their English.
It has given the office slackers the courage to use "Bring fresh flowers and fruitables" as 'cool' lines to update their Facebook statuses with mid work.
It has lowered the bar for comedy and has grossly abused the trust audiences put in their humour writers.