Naam gum jaayega, chehra yeh badal jaayega, meri aawaaz hi pehechaan hai...
This was a fabulous Bhupindar Singh - Lata Mangeshkar song from the movie Kinaara. So very apt for two fabulous singers.
What is there in a ‘Name’? A rose would smell as sweet by any name! Is it true? It has been an obsession for me to follow ‘Names’. Not just the high and the mighty, but just about any or all names.
Let us look at some examples. Imagine Mohammed Yusuf Sarwar Khan becoming a Super Star in immediate post-independence era. So he became Dilip Kumar. So many famous movie stars have changed names, rechanged names and then added or deleted letters to their names. All for the sake of 'Fame and Name'. Future generations will not even know Rajesh Khanna was actually Jatin, Amitabh was Srivastav and Dilip Kumar was a Khan. Coming to Khan, the most awaited Hindi movie of 2010 is ‘My Name is Khan’. This again deals with 'Name'. Kamal Hassan, a Tamil Hindu faced harassment with the Xenophobic US Authorities because of his ‘Name’ that sounded like a Muslim name. So this ‘Khan’ too might have to face a similar fate.
In the massive hit comedy ‘3 Idiots’, the character ‘Piya’ played by Kareena Kapoor tells Aamir Khan that she doesn’t want to change her surname because Chanchad was unacceptable to her. During the feel good climax, she is happy that Aamir Khan is not Ranchod Das Chanchad. But when he divulges his original name, she is the only one upset in the scene. She finds Phunsukh Wangdu much worse than Chanchad. She is somewhat confused but still emphatically declares that she’ll not change her surname after marriage. This is typical of human race, or at least most of us. Be it individuals, people, castes, religions, regions, states, nations and continents; we are prone to this discriminatory attitude at every level. Anything we are not used to, has to be funny, unacceptable or worse! So Piya fails to understand why her own father’s name was twisted by his hateful wards. Veeru Sahasrabudhdhe becomes Virus Budhdhe for the irate Farhan in the movie.
When I was in class V, a teacher used to call me, Govinda Raya and how I used to hate it! Being a huge fan of ‘Raj’ Kapoor, I always wanted my name to be Govind Raj. Anyone adding the additional ‘a’ was unacceptable and ‘Y’ was yuck! Today living a busier life, I have started realizing something even worse. Looking back at many places where I had written my name on paper, there was something extremely funny. The curve at the tail of ‘J’ had gone missing many a times when I had written my name in a hurry and I had become… GOVIND RAT :-)
Malayalees have this tendency to choose unique names for the kids. This has been there for ages I believe. Earlier, it used to be names of freedom fighters and heroes. So there were a lot of local born Bhagavat Singhs or Raveendranath Tagores. Then came the craze for short names. Aji, Biji, Ciji, Diji, Fiji, Giji and so on. Ani, Bini, Cini, Dini, Fini, Gini and so on. When I first landed in Kerala in 1995, this used to be a culture shock. I still am not able to remember names of most of the girls in our hospital because I am always confused which alphabet to begin with!
Then there are some really outrageous names. Nespu, Crispi, Typsi, Cissy, and Lovesy. Now, the last name was definitely a lousy one, but do the rest of them make any sense? But when it comes to most outrageous name ever, how about a girl named… Vagina! I leave it to your imagination how she must have felt once she understood the meaning of it.
Recently a fast bowler is doing rather well for England and his captain has called him a legend. His name is ‘Onions’. South Africans must be feeling a really pungent taste every time they see this guy. After all, he is responsible for a 3-1 verdict in a 4 test series ending up as a 1-1 tie. Now let us come to India. If a north Indian were to have a surname ‘Pyaj’ or ‘Batata’ what a miserable life he would have had. I haven’t so far met a Malayalee or Tamil named ‘Ulli’ or ‘Sawala’. But in Karnataka we had a senior lecturer from Hubli who was called ‘Ullagaddi’. I don’t know if Mr. Onions is related to this gentleman. They both mean the same!
My surname too was ridiculed by some of my friends. Shenoy means someone who maintains accounts in my mother tongue, Konkani. But once one Devendra Reddy, a very good friend of mine told, “Hey Shenoy, your name can be spilt like this, She Nai… Nai in Kannada means Dog. Everyone around laughed big time. Well, I have never been known to keep accounts. Settling things then and there, was my policy. So I told him this story...
A father was going for an evening walk with his 5 year old son. The curious lad used to ask a million questions to his father. The father had real tough time answering them. When they saw a man walking with a white dog and the boy asked, ‘Papa, what is the name of this dog?’ Father told, ‘Whitey’. A little later, they saw a black dog and the boy again asked the name. The flustered Father told it was ‘Blackey’. As they moved further, they came across a ‘Browney’ too. And then they saw a Red Dog! I stopped my story here. My friend just looked at me blankly for some time and told, ‘You Bloody fellow, you never like to lose!’
With this I sign off, but hope to be back with more! The stupid, the funny and the outrageous!