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‘There’s less reverence in language now’

Soon to launch her book The Dialogue of Mother India, Nasreen Munni Kabir, feels Hindi films made more quotable quotes in the ’50s

books Updated: Feb 19, 2010 21:10 IST
Jayeeta mazumder

According to you, how have dialogues evolved in our films?
Dialogue started off being quite theatrical because the writers were from Urdu and Parsi theatre backgrounds. By the late ’40s and early ’50s, the language started reflecting the everyday Hindustani language. But unfortunately, Urdu started getting replaced by English. So, ‘aapko kya mehsoos ho raha hai’, has now become: ‘aapko kya feel ho raha hai’.

But our lyricists still use Urdu… so where does the language stand in our films now?
Our films are still in Hindustani, not Sanskritised. So, Urdu hasn’t faded, but they don’t call it Hindi-Urdu films anymore.

Are films more realistic now?
They were in the ’50s. They dealt with social problems within commercial cinema. Now, Parzania or Firaaq can be seen as marginal interest films. How many films are made on hard-hitting realities? There are new voices, but the purpose of big films is to entertain.

Do writers keep in mind the actor’s image, when writing dialogues for, say, Shah Rukh Khan or Amitabh Bachchan?
The dialogue writer writes for the character; it’s a question of dialogue delivery, that is, the right pronunciation and enunciation. Dilip Kumar, brought about a change in dialogue delivery. Amitabh Bachchan has a musical meter. It means you say ‘ghazal’ not ‘guzzle’. Guzzle is what… Guzzling up your breakfast (laughs)!

A certain film might flop. But its dialogues survive. Would you agree?
Depends on how it’s written. I think Javed Akhtar and Salim Khan were good at it. Whether it was — ‘Mere pass ma hai’, ‘Kitne aadmi the’ or ‘Mogambo khush hua’…or even, ‘All is well’ — they are remembered. There are fewer quotable quotes now. The most interesting writing today comes from Raju Hirani.

Which dialogues do you like best now?

Munnabhai’s… The character reminds me of Anthony of Amar Akbar Anthony. But actresses today aren’t great in delivering dialogue. Their voices are too shrill… they sound like girls (laughs); as if life’s a big party.
I find that exhausting.