Modern Cinema and the flexibility of the English Language


In 2012, a late Sridevi acted in English Vinglish, which received a five-minute standing ovation at the Toronto International Film Festival. The movie’s title is interesting to note that English is a kind of language that can quickly adapt to any social structure and culture.

It talks about a housewife’s struggle to learn English to earn respect, mainly from her husband and daughter.

‘Vinglish’ is a combination of two words. The first part does not make any coherent sense, but ‘lish’ is an English word which when joined with ‘Ving’, becomes Vinglish. Its literal translation in English would be ‘whatever’. It makes sense without making much sense in the English Language’s standard form.

Another example is the 2017 Rom-com Jab Harry met Sejal, which again shows a mix of two languages. It is a Sharukh Khan starrer movie that didn’t make much noise at the box office, but the title does. Jab Harry met Sejal, a Bollywood remake of the famous Hollywood movie, When Harry Met Sally, which Shahrukh denied in an interview.

But the title is evident to show the close connection between the two films. In Bollywood’s version, the play of Hinglish is prominent, which is the Indianization of the English Language.

The versatility of the language spoken first by English is that it fits everywhere, which is very unlikely of any other language. One can learn English quickly, and it also mixes well and gives rise to a different form of speech.

Hinglish is one such example, followed by Ebonics, the English Language spoken by the Blacks in America.

The usage of English in Modern Cinema

It is noticeable that the very concept of modern cinema has changed with the evolving time. The word ‘modern’ is no longer a link to only one group of people, the Whites. There is ever-growing diversity, especially in the film industry worldwide. Parasite, a Korean film, made history by winning an Oscar for the best picture category.

The recent Korean Netflix hit; Squid Game also had an Indian origin face by the name of Anupam Tripathi. But English as a language continues to maintain its supremacy in one way or another.

There are altogether 1.132 million speakers of English worldwide, and it is by default a universal language. The subtle use of English subtitles in foreign movies to cater to the larger audience speaks about the hierarchical position of the English Language, which is always at the topmost. English is also the language of Hollywood and to win its accolade is to win worldwide attention.

The borrowed history of the English Language

Several foreign languages contributed to the birth of the English Language. Some of them came with the invaders’ Language like Romans, Norse and French who came to Britain. And later from Portuguese, Spanish, Italians and Arabs during trade and commerce.

It is argued by Henry Hitchings in his ‘The Secret Life of Words’ that English as a language came into its form by borrowing from other languages. It has its colonial history, as many words also come from India.

It is rather interesting to note that English is moulded into many shapes in India, with many different native languages by the speakers speaking a particular Indian language: Marathi, Tamil, Malayali, Kannada, Telugu Khasi, Mizo, Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali etc. There is no one form of Indian English because every speaker will have their language version.

Modern Cinema has also incorporated another form of English Language with the Internet. It is already popular among Millennials and Generation Z and in the movies.

The 2011 movie Muhjse Fraandship Karoge captured the essence of digital romance and shared several dialogues about the ‘Internet English’.

Edited By- Subbuthai Padma

Published By- Saloni Agarwal



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