Recently I heard a Kannada song and got instantly hooked on to the same. Even though I did not understand much in terms of lyrics, the song was so addictive. This brings me to the question that why people put so much emphasis on language. I remember few years back when I was in college here in the US, I happened to go out with a bunch of other south Indian friends. I had just landed in the US, so I happened to have some movie audio cassettes in my mother tongue with me at that time. I took those with me during that trip and since no one had any other options, offered to play them. These were songs from a movie which was popular in all the languages but the guys were completely opposed to playing that cassette. They were ready to listen to the radio but not that song in any other language. The reason given was that they were not able to understand the lyrics and this was a song which was there in their language already. This is just an example and there are people from various languages who despise listening to any song which he/she does not understand.
That was very strange to me. The reason I am calling that strange is that, we hear so many international songs which we don’t understand. Take for example, Ricky Martin’s 1998 world cup soccer song or the “Livin’ la Vida Loca” song after that. Everybody was crazy about those songs at that time but very few actually understood what those songs meant. They enjoyed it because of the rhythm and the music in those songs. I have seen people listening to Spanish songs, how many of us understand or speak Spanish? We are ready to listen to Korean, Arabic, Spanish, German etc but not songs from other Indian languages. Is our so called diversity coming into play here too?
I feel that music is something which is beyond boundaries. I can hear to any song in any language and just appreciate the music and forget about the rest. I know there are lots of them like myself in that regard. India is varied and has different languages. Each language has their own style of music which is enjoyable in terms of their uniqueness. I listen and enjoy any song to which I am exposed to. It can be any language, any meaning I don’t care, if the music is good I will listen. Music has such a quality which brings down the barriers. How do you explain a Hindi song winning the “Best Original Song” at the Oscars? I am sure neither the international audience nor the jury had a clue what the song meant. That’s the power of music, it’s a universal language.
I currently have a CD with me which has Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada songs in them. I have an entire CD with just Hindi songs. Except Hindi the other languages I can understand a little bit when spoken but have no clue what any of those songs mean in the entirety. If I like a song from a language which I don’t understand I make a conscious effort to find out the meaning. In this day and age, technology also helps in bridging the gap as anything and everything is available over the internet. I always appreciate people who post comments on internet such as“The song is beautiful, can someone explain the lyrics please?” That shows that the person is a music lover and is making an effort to try and put meaning to what he is listening.
People in Indian speak about national integration and keep fighting over languages all the time but at least they can keep music out of it. I hope that this does not come out as preaching as it is not meant to be that way. I was just trying to make a simple point about how music can bring people together and we should not block ourselves out of that unity. If we do allow ourselves to enjoy and appreciate music from other Indian languages, we might actually grow to appreciate the varying cultures within our country. We might even see that our country might actually be able to give a meaning to the phrase “Unity in Diversity”, which I feel still exists only in books.
Please leave your thoughts and tell me what you feel about the topic.