Humour and satire help us tackle tough times and difficult circumstances. A laugh or two eases our burden momentarily. Much needed in today’s troubled world. A Tongue Untied is a film about humour and satire in Dakhani - a vernacular form of Urdu spoken across the Deccan region. Remember the much-loved routines of the Hindi film comic Mehmood? Beyond his antics and other popular caricatures of the quintessential ‘Hyderabadi’, there is so much more than just funny accents and comic sketches.

Parodied and poorly regarded for centuries, Dakhani’s glorious history and rich legacy has been largely ignored. This film takes a close look at the continuing tradition of mazihiya shayri, or humour-satire performance poetry. From the early poets of the modern era such as Nazeer ‘Dahqani’, the badshah of Dakhani mazihiya shayri Sulaiman Khateeb, to the contemporary ones today including the seniors Mohd. Himayatullah and Ghouse ‘Khamakha’, the film looks at the wide range of humourists and satirists.

Including extensive travels across the Deccan plateau, interviews and conversations with poets, mushaira (poetry show) organisers, litterateurs, Sufi scholars, historians, linguists, actors, film directors, lyricists, playwrights, amongst others, the film also simultaneously uncovers the history of the language and of a composite culture.

From early mystical compositions of Sufi settlers of the 14th century, ornate fantasy tales by court poets, to romantic artistic creations of the sultans of the Deccan of the 15 & 16th centuries, the film traces the journey of the language over time till its precipitous fall in the early 18th century. The language is a marker of a great, rich mixed culture or mili-jhuli tehzeeb as it is commonly known; one that reveals the depth and beauty of syncretic Indo-Muslim traditions of central and south India. This is the story of a land, a people and their beloved language. This is the story of Dakhani.

A funny, affectionate and informed take on the 'Hyderabadi' language, misunderstood and made fun of. This film reveals its hidden charms. It's everything a documentary should be: an eye opener and an entertainer. A must see for one and all!
— Ranvir Shorey, Actor

Dakhani was seen as a language of farce and comedy. And to be made fun of. Laughed at. I don't necessarily agree with that idea, because you lose the seriousness. But the moment I hear Dakhani speech I know that I am home.
— Shyam Benegal, Director

Beyond Mehmood & his filmi parodies, this is the real thing! Meticulously researched and highly entertaining, this film on Dakhani culture and language is a first.
Not to be missed!
— Elahe Hiptoola, Film Producer 
 

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© | A Tongue Untied | 2017