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English in film songs from India: An overview: Exploring the presence and functions of English lyrics in Bollywood and other Indian films
Published in Cambridge Core
Volume: 27
Issue: 3
Pages: 21 - 24

‘C-a-t, cat. Cat mane billi; r-a-t, rat mane chooha’ went a song from a Hindi film of the fifties (mane = ‘means’, billi = cat’, chooha = ‘rat’). The song, enormously popular with Indian youth of that generation, was scoffed at by the then contemporary purists who found it hard to accept such ‘blatant’ dilution of the Hindi language. This song, like a few more of its times, was merely an exception to the largely acceptable language of songs, then largely a mix of Hindi, Urdu and Persian. English was, thus, used in songs either when it depicted (literally, since songs are acted out as autonomous scenes in Bollywood) a comic actor in a light-hearted situation or a semi-literate character desperate to accommodate to the urban ways of life. A celebrated song from Gopi, a Hindi film of the early seventies, goes a step forward with its novel coinage. The hero is a rustic who tries to impress his fellow villagers by dressing up in city (read English) style and sings:

About the journal
JournalEnglish Today
PublisherCambridge Core
Open AccessNo