There is yet another Hindi movie in the works. And there is yet another way of spreading Hindi hegemony in the works. And there is yet another battle that the non-Hindi speakers of India have to fight to assert that they too are Indian.
The movie in question is "English Vinglish", a trailer of which effortlessly made its way to my computer screen on August 14th. In it, Sridevi goes to a US Consulate in India seeking a visa and tells an American officer, “My English…weak”. The officer asks her “Ma’am, how will you manage in our country without knowing English?” Before Sridevi can answer, an Indian officer standing next to the American officer pats him on his shoulder and tells him matter-of-fact-ly: "Like you’re managing in our country without knowing Hindi".
Now, if that does not offend you, you have been programmed to consider Hindi hegemony as patriotism, as millions are continuing to be programmed formally in India’s schools and informally by Bollywood. The reason why the above dialogue is offensive is, English in the US is not the same as Hindi in India. To manage in the US without knowing English is not the same as to manage in India without knowing Hindi. For the umpteenth time, there are hundreds of millions of people in India who don’t know Hindi and are managing well enough, as they have done from the ages. They cannot be compared to Americans—i.e., they cannot be called foreigners yet, and this is exactly what the offensive dialogue does.
The US is often described as a graveyard for languages, and India’s Official Language policy already threatens to turn India also into one. But this is not something to take down lying if at all India is to become a moral nation. Casual discussions near the water-coolers in workplaces in India’s metros are one thing, and a movie is entirely another. But both need to change, and non-Hindi speakers of India must not be described as foreigners in India—even casually—if India must remain united as one nation.
The number of people who believe that Hindi is the national language of India, or that it ought to be, has become huge thanks to the lie perpetrated by the education system. Hindi is forced down the throats of hundreds of millions of innocent non-Hindi children, together with the lie that it is the Raj Bhasha or Rashtra Bhasha, depending on which dark political cloud covers the Sun of Truth. It has become increasingly difficult for the Truth to assert itself—the Truth that all the languages of India have the right to an equal status in India. Given that the number of Hindi speakers is growing out of proportion with the rest of the country, the voice of Truth will find it increasingly harder to be heard. Movies must make the voice of truth heard and not amplify the lie as the offensive dialogue in English Vinglish does.
Will the makers of English Vinglish take the necessary corrective action? The minimum that can be done is to remove the offensive dialogue and make an apology to the non-Hindi speakers of India.