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Home » Opinion » Mozart of Madras AR Rahman, a victim of language chauvinism

Mozart of Madras AR Rahman, a victim of language chauvinism

Beware of the politics of language!

By Shibangi Sinha Roy
Updated on :
We've to market our culture to our kids first: AR Rahman
Image Source: The Indian Express

At a time when the Centre is proselytising one language for a nation like India, often known for its cultural and linguistic diversity, the repercussions are ought to be incendiary. And in the context of politics of language taking a centre stage in India, an unexpected outrage was observed on Twitter. Indian music maestro AR Rahman, who played in London, drew sharp criticism from the audience for playing a number of Tamil songs as part of his set.

The outrage was as such that Twitter is buzzing with complaints asking for refunds, some claim to have left the concert halfway. Hatred grew so much that one audience went ahead to say that Rahman should remember he “made his name in Bollywood” and have played more Hindi.

A spire of language chauvinism:

The war between languages are holding no bounds, it is transcending from one sector to the other at light speed and has even infiltrated the music world. This is exactly what triggered people to slur bizarre comments on the ‘Mozart of Madras’ despite the fact the Tamil, is after all is Rahman’s mother tongue. When Rahman won prestigious awards, the nation cheered but when he chose to sing a few songs in Tamil, he was subjected to massive criticism. Considering that India is a heterogeneous, plural and diverse country and we are a multitude of ethnicities, religions, castes and sub-castes, it is baseless to expect one national language for the entire nation.

Also read: The draw of Kanhaiya Kumar, from slogans for the marginalised to advertising for Congress

Additionally, it is also to be noted that Rahman’s musical genius is not only entitled to Bollywood, so associating him to one such genre is a mere fallacy. He’s composed for films and albums native to English, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi, Telugu, Mandarin, Persian, and Kannada among other languages.

Stop the politics of language:

This comes amidst the boiling debate over whether Hindi should be made India’s “national language”, with both support and opposition to the proposal. The non-Hindi speakers fear the death of country’s heterogeneity while the Hindi speakers believe in homogeneity. In India, the Tamils, Kannadigas, Telugus, Malayalees can’t speak Hindi while Haryanavis, Rajasthanis, Madhya Pradeshis, Biharis and Uttar Pradeshis have no knowledge of all of Tamil, Kannadiga, Telugu or Malayalam. And leave aside the entire valley of the North East and plains of Bengal.

No one can force someone to learn something until the individual has the interest and the quest for knowledge, precisely why it is only fair to shamelessly excel in the language you desire. While there is no problem if the Centre wants to promote Hindi as both central and state governments offices are located in the Hindi heartland, batting for a language might in-turn demeaning the remaining 22 languages which have been a part of the Indian history from its genesis.

How far do you think will this parochial, insular approach towards language slant?


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