Before you read what I have to write, you must know that I speak the Telugu dialect from Telangana. And for virtue of being raised in Hyderabad, my spoken Telugu is an amalgamation of Urdu, the convent English from school education, and of course my mother tongue, ‘the’ Telangana Telugu. My parents were born and raised in remote villages in Warangal district. Our family is a typical representative of rural way of life. We never made any effort to exude any popular dialect sophistication and my mother says I am still a poster child for our indigenous dialect.
When Shekar Kammula’s song “Saranga Dariya” was released I was excited for his continuous undertakings to depict and glorify Telangana. Lyrics and music seem to have invaded households and resulted in gazillion covers and dance videos of some amazing dancers (not the actress) gyrating to energetic moves. I have not stopped tapping since it has been released a month ago.
Even though this particular song was an adaptation of folklore, the lyricist took creative liberties to make it palatable for urban and commercial taste. In his interviews he mentioned that upper class lyricists and singers leave their ‘signatures’ unlike God who does not leave his signature on his creations. And that folk songs are up for grabs by anyone. Hence this particular song was readily distorted and destroyed based on his whim and fancy. That is exactly why perhaps the lyricist chose to retain some parts of the original song for which I am particularly very grateful. Not.
There are few instances where words have been truncated into forced rhyme. In some instances it seemed that the lyricist is objectifying the folds of the waist of a woman. Upon more thought I was in awe of his true machismo serenading the curves of pleasant sized women. In another stanza, he writes about strumming a ‘Sarangi’ without strings (indicating a girl) and forcing on her too. Just glad that the girl in his lyrics turns into a cannon. But again, why is he assuming that a girl should or could be forced or coarsed into something? Wonder if we should have more femlae lyricists who can find similar finer folds on the male body and objectify. Too bad we don’t have many in that part of the world which screams discrimination and gender inequity.
In the original song which was obviously not copywrited and sung by someone at a music competition where lyricist was a judge. It seems like he was reminded of the same song he heard when he was a child from his mother while it was passed onto the singer from her grandmother. And shocking that he waited ten year to ‘adapt’ and rewrite it. Glad that the original singer wrote to the Director to get credit where due and I hope she did get what she deserved.
What bothers me is that the original song had lyrics in tribute to an honorable woman who is known for her virtues and courage not just the beauty and definitely not the curves of her body or folds of her waist. Village women like my grandmother who worked hard in the fields, wore ‘raike’ or the blouses with knots. The yegenta is the Telangana melody for the color, magenta. There is a certain pride in such legacy and language which people like me are proud to be born into. And I have least tolerance for those that commercialize a piece of history.
You might wonder why I am perturbed now when such instances may have happened many times. I was hesitant to be a buzz killer. And, I never paid attention until I stumbled upon the original which epitomized vigor and soul that the jingle, twerks, grand picturization of the movie song and even a gracious actress may never do justice. This write-up is not about feminism or man-hounding but it is about preserving our culture; whether it is from the intrinsic parts of Telangana, Andhra or Rayalaseema or any language or it’s dialect. It is about, not corrupting age-old language sensibilities that only the creators have the right to amend.
(Posting the original song so you can appreciate and give it the same love as the movie song.)
#quotidianblessing #language #Telugu #Telangana