To speak in Hindi or English, IFFI'18 left in quandary
There's a reason why IFFI 2018 is International Film Festival of India and not 'Hindi', and the day three of the ongoing movie gala saw the organizers grappling to find a common ground for those who know and do not know English. The argument was that since it was an "international" festival, it was logical that English be used to express one's ideas.
At IFFI's 'Redefining Stories' session yesterday, an audience member objected to the cinematographer, Aseem Bajaj, using Hindi in his speech. To which actor Pankaj Tripathi, a panelist, quickly interjected in Hindi, "Uska kya jisko English nahin aati (What about those who don't know English)." Fellow panelist, Rahul Bose, joked, "I can speak in English, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, and Hindi. We can take a vote."
Replying to Bose, an audience member said, "You're known by Hindi films, please talk in Hindi." Bajaj asked the man, who objected to Tripathi's Hindi, if he understood Hindi, to which the person said, "Not so well." Soon another audience member said, "I am from Korea, please speak in English." Then Bajaj declared that the panel will talk in English to make things "easy".
When Tripathi got his chance to speak after others in the end, he helplessly told the man in question that he was unable to speak in English. The audience member then said, "You're wearing jeans and all, you should be knowing English." Tripathi replied, "The age in which we learn a language, I wasn't that privileged to be able to wear jeans."
Tripathi's honest and transparent answer won many hearts. Tripathi spoke in Hindi when he got the chance, "Main yahan baitha hoon apni story sunane 'Redefining Stories' mein. Ye apne aap mein redefining hai ki main baitha hoon aur aap sun rahe hain." He added, "Aap mujhe gaur se meri aankhon mein dekhenge na, to saari kahaani aapko pata chal jayegi...Main itna hee filmy hoon."
Tripathi said the language isn't an issue and in his inimitable style translated the bit in a mix of Hindi and English. "Gaur se (closely) look into my eyes, and you'll know the story," the actor said to resounding applause and laughter from the audience.
The speech skirmish also continued in the 'Konversation with the Kapoors' session that had Boney Kapoor and Janhvi Kapoor with writer Rumi Jaffery as moderator. Someone from the audience objected to Jaffery speaking in Hindi, saying it's an international festival, speak in English. To which a stern Jaffery said, "Hindi is our 'rashtra bhasha' and I will speak in it."
Amid lots of interruptions, Boney tried to assuage the angry crowd, saying, "I'll speak in Hindi and also translate in English." The producer then spoke about his son, Arjun Kapoor's absence, who was scheduled to attend the session. Arjun is currently working on his look for Ashutosh Gowariker's period drama Panipat and the film's team wants to keep it under wraps for obvious reasons.
Boney first talked in Hindi and then translated it to English. But he couldn't fully honor his promise as the session moved ahead. Jaffery too continued posing questions, mostly in Hindi, with some words of English and Urdu sprinkled here and there.
At NFDC's Film Bazaar, Knowledge Series 'Badlands & the Gender', however, conversation ran quite as melodiously as some of Vishal Bhardwaj's compositions. The director was in conversation with London-based documentary filmmaker, Nasreen Munni Kabir. Kabir was asking questions in English and Bhardwaj was answering them in the same language. When two audience members posed questions to him in Hindi, Bhardwaj answered in English.