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Punjabification of Hindi cinema

People from different regions of India may not know how to speak Hindi properly, but thanks to Bollywood songs, know what what a ‘soni kudi’ means.

entertainment Updated: Jan 17, 2010 13:04 IST

There is something about Punjabi. ‘

Balle balle’

, ‘

chak de phatte’

and ‘

maahi ve’

have been part of the Bollywood lingo for as long as the industry has existed. People from different regions of India may not know how to speak Hindi properly, but thanks to Bollywood songs, know what what a ‘soni kudi’ means.



Lyricist Shellee, who has written Punjabi songs for

Dev D

,

Quick Gun Murugan

and the band, Agnee, has an explanation behind the Punjabification of Bollywood songs. “A major reason for the same is that the film industry consists predominantly of North Indians.



Not surprising


“We’ve had Gulzaar saab, who is a Sardar, Javed Akhtar saab, who’s studied in North India and Anand Bakshi, who incorporated Bulleh Shah’s poetry in his lyrics. It’s not surprising that Punjabi has been extensively used.”



Amitabh Bhattacharya, who has written for

Chance Pe Dance

and

Dev D

, among others, feels that the Punjabi lingo has a sweet sound to it. “Punjabi phrases are very catchy. Two lines of Punjabi can substitute for four lines of Hindi, and yet, the lyrics are deep.”


So even though words like ‘

Shaava shaava’

and ‘

balle balle’

are oft-repeated in lyrics, Bhattacharya opines they work because they are always used in an intelligent way. “For the common man, it’s always the song and the groove that works. So even if ‘Maahi ve’ comes four times a year, if the melody is great, he’ll still swing to it.”



Yash Raj effect


Shellee gives a lot of credit to Yash Chopra. “Through Yashji’s movies, Punjabi culture, values, lingo have become known. Plus, Punjabi is very similar to Hindi, and has words from Farsi, Arabic and Urdu in it, so at one hand, it’s easy for the common man to understand, and on the other, it has a new flavour in it every time.”



But Shellee feels that it’s high time some of these oft-repeated words were given a rest. “We need to bring in more freshness into our songs,” he says. Bhattacharya agrees, “Whatever Punjabi has been used in Hindi films, is not even the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot yet to be explored.”