The Hyderabadi dialect has long been used in slapstick comedy, but theatre artistes in the city feel that it can depict a wide range of emotions as well.
When someone from the old city uses the phrase, Baigan ke Baataan, being a Hyderabadi you know the person is telling you to cut out the nonsense. But someone not from Hyderabad may understand it as, Baigan ka Bharta; the famous eggplant cuisine. It is this comedy of errors that makes the local lingo so interesting and amusing to the rest of the country.
Darpan theatre’s play Khatarnaak Khaala, performed in Hyderabadi, aimed at exploiting just that. The play aimed to tell a funny story, made funnier by spicing it up with Hyderabadi. But is there more to this quick-witted and loud dialect, than just being funny? Can a language be the brand ambassador of an emotion? Even though the play is a slapstick comedy, it does have shades of grey, but did the audience lap up the correct emotion? Not really, according to Ali, writer and director of the play. “The audience laughed it off, sometimes they do connect with the emotion, but those are exceptions, not the rule.” Ali, who grew up in old city, has seen people laugh, cry and be angry in Hyderabadi, and he does want to explore other genres in the dialect, but according to him, the movies have set a pretty strong stereotype.
R.K. Shenoy of Dramanon agrees. He feels that even the local movies like The Angrez have set a specific tone in the audiences mindsets about the dialect. “Yes, it is loud and peculiar, and may also sound confrontational, but it also covers a whole gamut of emotions, which for some reason eludes the creative fraternity,” he says.
While Vinay Verma of Sutradhar, has staged Hyderabadi comedies like Biryani aur Haleem, he believes in challenging the status quo. According to him, poets have successfully used the lingo to express the vagaries of life. “Don’t people grieve or express love in Hyderabadi,” he asks frustratingly. He even staged a play about child sexual abuse in the local lingo, which went on to be the most appreciated in the series. According to him, there is no harm in using the lingo if the characters or the situation demands it. It seems like, on this issue at least, everyone is in agreement; which is such a rare occasion in our country anymore.