Storm in a Hindi tea cup
Is Hindi the national language or the official language? Should we impose Hindi signboards on Namma Metro in Bengaluru or no? While the language debate seems to be getting heated by the day, comes another twist AR Rahman’s Hindi-speaking fans walked out of his Wembley concert, Netru Indru Nalai, in the UK because most of the Mozart of Madras’ songs were, surprise surprise, in Tamil. Bringing language chauvinism into something as pure as music that unites us all? Please don’t, say musicians from the city.
Disgruntled fans who were allegedly shocked to hear Tamil songs at a Tamil concert took to social media to air their grouses, demanding a refund even. And city musicians believe that it’s a clear case of ignorance. “At least research before going to a concert it’s like preparing for physics before a literature exam,” quips Karthik Gubbi, a Bengaluru rapper who raps in Kannada wherever he goes including at Germany. Thermal and a Quarter’s bassist Leslie Charles adds, “I don’t think this has anything to do with music or language. It’s a case of ignorance and a false sense of entitlement. Who goes to a concert titled in Tamil and expects Hindi songs? So what if it wasn’t what you expected? It won’t hurt to just sit, listen and learn something about a language/culture other than yours for a change. I’m sure the people who gave a sh*t about the music sat through and enjoyed the entire performance regardless of the language.” The problem, Bengaluru-based vocalist Bindhumalini Narayanaswamy, believes is deep roo
ted in the mindset of people. “They assume that music is bound by language, musicians are bound by listeners than the art itself, and that Hindi is all pervading and a default language of presentation just because it is the ‘national language,’” says Bindhu.
The righteous indignation included fans feeling that they “felt out of place”, that since AR Rahman apparently made his career in Bollywood, he was being “disrespectful” by “even speaking Tamil” and the promoter being responsible for not advertising that “99% of the songs would be in Tamil.” “If you judge music based on language then it just shows where you are placed as an individual,” says Bengaluru band Swarathma’s dynamic lead vocalist, Vasu Dixit. Having sung in various languages himself, he believes that the debate shouldn’t involve language. “Those who want to walk will walk. True music and artistes will sing and dance through phases like this, with music continuing its journey irrespective of language or any other barrier,” he says. As Gubbi says, “Language barriers and impositions are causing enough problems already. Being a musician, I hope and pray that at least in something as beautiful as the music we hear or make, there are no boundaries,” Gubbi says in conclusion.