Do you remember the last time you were watching a Bollywood film and got a feeling that you were watching an English film instead? Well, you are not alone. The trend of inclusion of the English language in Hindi films has been around for quite some time. Be that as it may, one question needs to be asked. Is the use of English – be it in Bollywood film titles, songs or dialogues – a colonial hangover, a practical necessity or just creative expression? Let us find out.

The trend of use of English in Hindi films probably stared out of sheer necessity. Remember the 1999 Sanjay Dutt starrer, Daag – The Fire? When director Raj Kanwar could not register the title Daag because Yash Chopra refused to give it up, Kanwar had to add an English appendage to his film’s name, rechristening it as ‘Daag – The Fire’. This opened the floodgates of Bollywood’s very own nomenclature revolution – several producers and directors who could not register the film titles that they wanted – started adding English appendages to their film titles. Sample the following: Ek – The Power of One, Dal – The Gang, Golmaal – Fun Unlimited.

Golmaal Fun Unlimited Poster, Daag The Fire Poster

Another way in which Queen’s English made a sly entry into Bollywood films is through the medium of songs. In the mid-nineties, many lyricists started including a few English words in their songs, so as to appeal to the next generation of Bollywood audience – the English-educated youngsters. Sample this: One of the hottest and most controversial songs of the year 1994, Sexy sexy mujhe log bole, starring Karisma Kapoor in Khuddar, had an English word as its hook. However, as it turns out, the song was censored and the lyrics were changed to Baby baby mujhe log bole. The use of English words, phrases and even whole lyrics is accepted practice in Bollywood today.

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