A few weeks ago, I committed the two biggest blunders of my life:
1) I saw the Hindi version of Delhi Belly, not knowing that there were two versions.
2) I saw it with my parents.
During those 96 minutes of my life I felt more embarrassed than Mithun Chakraborty would have ever felt watching his son’s movies, or maybe just watching his son.
As we all know, a few things said in English sound very regular and colloquial, and the same words translated in Hindi sound crass and cheap. Now there was this sequence in that movie, right before the Jaa Chudail song, when Vir Das yells in the middle of a wedding that the bride is his girl. In the English version, he yells, ‘this girl has given me a blowjob,’ pointing a finger at his crotch. Now if you thought that was vulgar, just compare it with the Hindi version where he yells, ‘Is ladki ne mera choosa hai!’ (I swear this is true)
Leave your body Kalpak is what I commanded my soul when I was watching that with my parents sitting beside me.
Watching that movie reinstated my belief that every movie should only be watched in the language it is made in. I had developed that belief when I had seen a Harry Potter movie in Hindi, where they called ‘Mad Eye’ as ‘Baanware Nain’ and ‘Godric Gryffindor’ as ‘Gaurav Gadudwar’. I mean imagine the introduction:
GG: Hello students. Welcome to Hogwarts. I am one of the four Founders of this Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I am a master Wizard!
Random Student: What is your name?
GG: My name is Gaurav Gadudwar.
Student: Yeah right! All the best being taken seriously by us dude!
At times, the translations of Hollywood movie names go horribly wrong, and yet they connect to the masses. What actually I believe happens is that they name the Hindi version on the basis of the plot, and not on the literal translation. How else do you explain the Hindi version of ‘Dunston Checks In’ to be called ‘Ek Bandar Hotel Ke Andar’? (Ah nostalgia!)
I don’t remember many such examples, but one case that is etched in my mind forever, because I couldn’t stop laughing when I had seen the poster, is of the Nicholas Cage starrer Ghost Rider, which was translated as ‘Mahakaal – Aag Laga Dega’. It felt like the movie was about a mentally retarded Bhojpuri protagonist who for no reason would set up places on fire.
Talking about Fire reminds me of the most meaningless movie title Bollywood ever came up with: Daag – The Fire.
Now when this movie released, I was fortunate enough to be of an age where I could understand the bullshitness of that name. But what about kids who then were of such an age that they themselves were as senseless as the name of the movie? What about those brainless little ‘Taare Zameen Par’s who actually liked Pokemon? (By the way, doesn’t Pikachu sound like an abuse? Imagine - ‘Saala Pikachu!’ There was also a cartoon named ‘Hagemaru’, who from what I deduce from his name, used to kill villains by pooping on them.) I still fear that there is at least one kid who has always believed that Daag means Fire. Such kids would eventually grow up to burn down the neighborhood, and when confronted would justify saying ‘Daag Acche Hain’. (Lame. I know.)
Since we’re talking about movie names, let me mention a few things about our songs too. I have nothing against the lyrics, but I believe the singers should learn to pronounce a few words clearly.
I swear I’m not making this up, but when I first time heard the Ik Junoon (tomatina) song from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’, I actually thought the starting was ‘Ooh! Aah! Take the world and Penetrate’. The moment I heard it wrong I knew I was hearing it wrong. Why would they show tomatoes and sing about a horny man’s revenge on the world? But I wasn’t completely confident, because that line did start with ‘Ooh! Aah!’ So talking about penetration seemed okay. I later Googled it to realize it was ‘Ooh! Aah! Take the world and paint it red’
I can bet my life on the fact that at some point in our lives, we all thought that the lyrics of the Afreen Afreen song of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan actually were, ‘Uske nana ki tareef mumkin nahi’ (Praising her maternal grandfather is not possible). I still remember singing this out loud in childhood, without understanding what the fuck I was saying.
I would also like to share a hearing blunder made by a friend of mine. Let’s call him Aditya, because that is his name. For a long time he used to think that the Himesh song “Aa aa aashiqui mein teri, ja ja jaayegi jaan meri” was actually “Aa aa ashiqui mein teri, aa aa strawberry strawberry”
I would like to end this post with one last hearing blunder of my own. When I heard the title song of Akshay Kumar’s Hey Baby for the first time, I actually thought it was, “Hey, HEY, Baby, BABY, chu lene de nipple ko” And what made it worse was that that line coincided with a shot where Riteish Deshmukh is sliding Riya Sen’s top down her shoulder. At that point my exact reaction was “Whoa man! I have GOTTA watch this movie!!”