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  Life   More Features  25 Mar 2019  Mind your language

Mind your language

THE ASIAN AGE. | NIRTIKA PANDITA
Published : Mar 26, 2019, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Mar 26, 2019, 12:00 am IST

While a petition has been filed demanding the ban of ‘Kya re, Alibaug se aaya kya?’, the phrase does have a historical context to it.

Alibaug fort
 Alibaug fort

The next time you want to give an earful to someone, pick your words carefully as it may land you in trouble. A businessman from the coastal town of Alibaug has taken offence to the phrase ‘kya re, Alibaug se aaya kya?’ and has filed a PIL approaching the Bombay High Court, demanding a ban.

While phrases such as ‘ghati’ and ‘pav wala’ are quite common slangs, ‘Kya re, Alibaug se aaya kya?’ is often used in the Mumbaiya lingo for those oblivious to their surroundings or are naive. The use of the phrase has irked petitioner Rajesh Thakur, who called it offensive and humiliating for the people of Alibaug.  The petition further states that apart from its culture, history and various tourist attractions, the town had a highest literacy rate than any other village in the district.

A reference that has been a commonplace for decades actually has a historical context.  Dr. Suraj Pandit, Head, Department of Ancient Indian Culture and Archaeology, Sathaye College in the city, explains that the origin of this phrase could be traced back to the time when Alibaug used to have non-urban inhabitants in comparison to Mumbai. “It is basically a colonial phrase. In those days, there was good connectivity to Aibaug. Most of the time cheap labour and non-urban population would travel from Konkan region via Alibaug to Mumbai. They used to be innocent, and would often be pulled up by the city people in Mumbai. Then they would refer to them as “ye Alibaug se aya hai’,” says Dr Pandit. He adds,“There is a book called Mumbaiche Varnan published in 1865 which talks about people migrating from Alibaug to the city and refers to the people from Alibaug as innocent.”

While the petition also states that the phrase is highly objectionable to the people of Alibaug as it projects them as illiterates with no common sense, food writer and comedian Kunal Vijayakar believes it is high time people stop getting offended so easily.  “It is a democracy and everybody should be able to express themselves the way they want. Rather there should be ban on the word ban. Will Alibaug collapse if someone says, ‘Alibaug se aya hai kya?’ How does it even equate to some one being mad,” he laughs.

But Dr. Pandit points to another connotation that could have been the potential reason for the Alibaug reference. “There was Dharamtar jetty, which was a major junction from where people use to come to Alibaug, and vice versa. Many people also believe that there was a mental hospital that came up at Alibaug. That is the other nuance associated with the phrase,” chuckles the historian.

Reportedly the petition also reads, ‘Every time the petitioner hears this dialogue, he gets hurt sentimentally. This phrase always makes an adverse emotional impact on the petitioner and every person of Alibaug.’    Stand up comedian Sorabh Pant says, “I have heard the phrase bunch of times and I don’t know how you can prevent people from using the phrase. These days, you could have an innocuous opinion and people will get offended with even that. Its not like you can stop people from using the phrase or term.”

For comedian Karunesh Talwar, he first heard this reference being made some 15 years ago. “We used to give the Alibaug reference when we were in school. I don’t even know who says this anymore. If this guy is filing a PIL over the ban of this phrase, I think he is crazy,” says the comedian adding that by filing the petition, he has made the phrase stand out. “ If you want to prove that people from Alibaug are not crazy, then don’t file a petition about it, rather do something productive in your life,” adds Talwar.

As for Vijayakar, he heard of this reference once many years ago in a play he was acting. “But those were the days when things were little more tolerant. If you look at old comedies such as Mind Your Language, it was purely based on stereotypes and comedy emerging out of stereotypes and that would not be able to run in today’s age and time in any part of the world. We have become far too conscious and careful but also get offended far to easily,” he says.

The petitioner, reportedly, has also urged the HC to direct the state government, Directorate of Cultural Affairs and Central Board of Film Certification o not use “Kya re, Alibaug se aaya kya” in Hindi and “Kaire, Alibaug varun aala kay” in Marathi in films, TV serials and comedy shows in future.

Tags: bombay high court, alibaug