Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
What’s in a name? The truth about “Kaminey”
When a friend went to buy movie tickets for Vishal Bhardwaj’s “Kaminey”, she felt uncomfortable.
She had never before used the word — Hindi slang for ‘scoundrels’ — and was embarrassed to utter it at the ticket counter.
The film, set in Mumbai streets, is a crime thriller about petty desires that turn two brothers against each other.
Director Bhardwaj says the title, though unusual, is apt. He went ahead with “Kaminey” after his mentor, filmmaker and lyricist Gulzar, approved it.
In a scene from the 1987 classic, actor Naseeruddin Shah uses the word as a term of endearment for his wife (Rekha) after she makes a cup of tea for him.
Bhardwaj said this usage of “kaminey” as a romantic expression stuck in his subconscious and changed his perception of the word as used in everyday language.
Not everyone was convinced.
A schoolteacher said she was concerned by the number of children using the slang word after Bollywood gave it legitimacy. She urged filmmakers to be more responsible.
But would “Kaminey” have retained its charm under a different name? And would that name have taken away the essence of the crime thriller.
Should Bollywood filmmakers have the artistic freedom to use slang words in the names of their films? Why or why not?