Talking about Urdu’s perception as an Islamic language, eminent film director M S Sathyu said at the Jashn-e-Rekhta festival on Saturday that Urdu “does not belong to any religion. It is the rulers who have exploited it to their benefits”.
While reminiscing an old Urdu play, which was based on Sanskrit epic Shakuntalam, Sathyu, who directed the 1974 classic “Garam Hawaa”, recalled people raising questions about Hindu mythological characters speaking Urdu.
“If we can accept Shakuntalam in Russian then why not in Urdu? Urdu does not belong to any religion, it is the rulers who have exploited the language to their benefits,” Sathyu said during the session Theatre Ke Bhoole Hue Rang.
Mapping Urdu’s journey from its “origin in Deccan”, to its evolvement as part of “Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb” in north India, the veteran director cited examples of Muslims in Kerala, Bangladesh and Kashmir who don’t speak Urdu.
“Kerala has 40% Muslims, but they don’t speak Urdu. People in Bangladesh and Kashmir don’t speak Urdu. Although it originated as Deccani from Hyderabad and became Urdu after reaching north India, it evolved more as part of the Ganga-Jamuni culture,” Sathyu said.
“It is the mix of Hindi and Urdu words. It has nothing to do with any religion. Keep religion away from the language,” Sathyu said.
Also speaking at the session was famous theatre actress and director Nadira Babbar who resonated Sathyu’s views on Urdu by calling it “her mother’s language”.
“People at times have asked me what language is it that I speak, is it Hindi?” said Babbar. “I tell them, this is the language of my mother, who would say it is neither Hindi nor Urdu, it is the Hindustani language.”
The session was also attended by theatre artist Salim Arif and Bollywood actor-director Saurabh Shukla.
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