As people settled down in their respective seats on a lazy winter Sunday afternoon at Alliance Francaise, little did they know that the cinematic journey of the 90-minute-long documentary A tongue untied: The story of Dakhani by Gautam Pemmaraju would turn into a full-fledged session of knowing Hyderabad and its language right from where it all began.
Dakhani, the sweet neither-Urdu-nor-Hindi tongue born during Nizam’s time, has for long been made fun of either by people or by filmmakers. But no one before Gautam did much effort to bring forth its literary legacy which is as time passes on, in a dwindling mode.
The Mumbai-based writer and filmmaker though originally from Hyderabad began working on the project in 2012. “It took me more than five years to get all the information and do the research. The film features interviews with poets, Sufi scholars, historians and literary figures who left their mark on Dakhani like Sulaiman Khateeb, Mohd. Himayatullah and Ghouse ‘Khamakha’. The film looks at the wide range of humourists and satirists, even comic Mehmood in movies. Mehmood portrayed a Hyderabadi character full of antics and caricatures. I was always interested in the cultural history of Hyderabad but my love for Dakhani rose as and when we progressed into the filming,” shares Gautam.
Sharing the dais with Gautam was one of the doyens of Dakhani poems, Syed Mustafa Kamal, who is still striving to keep alive the mazihiya shayri (humour-satire performance poetry). Elaborating on why Dakhani is on a decline and how it originated, Syed Mustafa Kamal says, “There’s no proper manuscript of written Dakhani. It is only the accent and the style in which it is spoken that makes it unique from Urdu, Persian or Hindi. It is in simple words people’s tongue, the tehzeeb. Dakhani came into existence through an interaction between Urdu and languages of the South due to migration. Interestingly, Dakhani is not only spoken in Hyderabad but also some parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka. But the decline of Dakhani as a serious literary form is linked to the development of Shumali Urdu (Northern Urdu) and its simultaneous spread to Punjab, Delhi and Awadh.”
“Humour and satire help people tackle tough times and difficult circumstances. And Hyderabad has seen a lot of troubled uncertain times right from British rule to transfer of powers from Nizam after independence,” feels Syed Mustafa Kamal. But for Gautam, he hopes that more and more people come forward to revive the lost glory....