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Swear words in Bollywood: A marketing norm?

The Bollywood industry has come a long way over the years. Marketing norms have changed, the concepts have changed, the audience has changed and so has the language of cinema. Long gone are the days when cinema used to rely very much on the heavy duty dialogues by the rusty raw protagonists. Today’s Bollywood cinema serves more dialogues that maintain a casual, relatable touch which connects with the current audience that is getting younger day by day. And just as the audience, so is our censor board getting lenient by the time and using less scissor shots on screen footage.

The dialogues in Hindi cinema today are diluted to the extent of fitting in swear words so as to appeal to our mass audience. It would have been a strict no-no and dammed by the sniping scissors of by the censor board, had it been done a few years back. But the audience has changed and so has the nature of censor board towards expletives being used on screen. These swear words have have started inundating to the final cut of the films gradually, being passed off without hesitance by the censor board and lapped up indefinitely by our audiences as well.

Filmmakers have come up with various reasons for including expletives in their cinema. In the name of authenticity of the situation, the background of characters and demand of our times, the explicit language is used as a new marketing norm and has made their way into the multiplexes and the common vocabulary of Hindi Cinema. While most of the filmmakers try to please the masses as much as they can, and in any way that they can, the use of street lexicon variant seems to catching up with films at a rapid pace. Popular films like No One Killed Jessica, Delhi Belly, Murder 2 and as of recent, Jannat 2 represent and play a vital role in marking the coming of age of the desi swear words. Gone are those restrictive days, when expletives used to be blocked by a beep, as of today, the beep is gone.

No One Killed Jessica had Rani Mukherjee mouthing expletives with full gusto that went on to disport the audience. Later on came Aamir Khan’s Delhi Belly which was released in a ‘Hinglish’ and Hindi version. The film was obviously rated A, but it went on to show the use of swear words in full flow just as much as our local guys do. While in case of Delhi Belly, which was always promoted as an adult comedy flick, the use of expletives were well known, Murder 2 and Jannat 2 seemed to join the race just for the sake of raking in more moolah with the forced in use of expletives. In a scene in Murder 2, Emraan Hashmi, the lead actor of the film, smashes a bottle on a foreigner’s head and asks him to shell out the money he demands not without referring to him as a mother f… (you must have understood) a couple of times. The way the dialogue was delivered and the way it was used in the narrative, looked very unconvincing and stamped the fact that it was only to cater to the front row audience or the ones who are as used to swearing as a chain smoker to smoking.  Same applies in the case of Jannat 2. Words like ch**ya and b*******d (insulting way of calling a fool and sleeping with your sister) were used on several occasions, and while it may be to stick to the “real” side of such characters, it came off as a cheap method to please the younger audience and as mentioned, to rake in moolah with it severe usage. Not to mention, the family audience is kept away.

This might be quite a debatable topic as to whether swear words should be used so often or not, in the Hindi Films, as a section might support the fact that films represent the society while the other section may stick to the fact that it is uncalled for and a cheap trick, I in my humble opinion, believe that even if these words are to be used, they should pass off as convincing and not used frequently just to amuse the audience who live by these words. Apparently, sex sells was a formula applied by Bollywood till now, which has gradually been losing its lustre as of late, so a new formula of “expletives sells” seems to be on the cards. It is only a matter of time, when this norm too loses its shine and we await the next success method that Bollywood would lap up.

Photo Courtesy: Movietalkies


About vinayakchandra

Student,movies and music freak, writer, always aiming to be a better human being. A lot more as i get to know myself.


9 thoughts on “Swear words in Bollywood: A marketing norm?

  1. individual in general use swear words na.. so they just relate to ppl. 😀
    good wriitng 😀

    Posted by Amrin | May 29, 2012, 21:32
  2. Appreciate your perspective. This is an emerging trend which as you said might not be too positive.

    My favourite lines were

    “The way the dialogue was delivered and the way it was used in the narrative, looked very unconvincing and stamped the fact that it was only to cater to the front row audience or the ones who are as used to swearing as a chain smoker to smoking. ”


    “I in my humble opinion, believe that even if these words are to be used, they should pass off as convincing and not used frequently just to amuse the audience who live by these words.”

    Posted by yajuarya | May 30, 2012, 19:25
  3. the thing is movie dialogues have come closer to the local lingo of the audiences. the more the audience relates to whats spoken the more the movie will mean more to them. a trend mostly started from DCH though there were no swear words in the movie, but it was closer to the new genre.

    Posted by Priyanka Ray | May 30, 2012, 19:44
    • I Agree on that. As i stated certain dialogues are used as they are supposed to relate with the language society uses, but dont u think that the excess of its use, forced into the narrative is just for the sake of appeasing the local masses and thus make more money? just like sex scenes are incorporated these days?

      Posted by vinayakchandra | May 31, 2012, 16:35
      • Capitalizing on sex has been in foreign movies from a much earlier period and have been included in Indian movies partly censored, only now. When we Indians were not able to see sexual innuendos in our movies, we resorted to Hollywood movies, isn’t it? So the attraction factor of sex has always been a vital part amongst the audiences, its only now that the Indian masses are coming to terms with the same concept in our Bollywood movies and naturally, since thats the new exploration ground for a lot of newcomers who have never seen Hollywood movies, it becomes a money making material.
        Use of abusive language is again the ‘cool’ factor or the easier way to depict a situation these days, in a scene. There’s not much headbanging to do with a direct dialogue, which is otherwise difficult for the regular movie going masses, where there’s a subtle depiction like Satyajit Ray movies or art films.

        Posted by Priyanka Ray | May 31, 2012, 23:17
      • Thats true what you said abt the sex scenes. And you have a valid point in what you present about the swear words being used in Bollywood flicks, but well sex and swear words are completely different routes. People are attracted to watch sex scenes, that is right, but i don’t think people starve for abusive language, like they do for sex scenes, for which they turn to Hollywood films or Porn. Swear words as you said is considered cool, but filmmakers using it in the name of reflecting the society or coolness , tend to go overboard with its usage, IMO.

        Posted by vinayakchandra | May 31, 2012, 23:35
  4. yes your view is right and audiences don’t really expect swear words all the time, especially when they are watching a movie with their families. These are generally trends which last for a while and then the movie makers move on to something else, after a while. Then that would be that trend which will sell more….and this is how it goes on.

    Posted by Priyanka Ray | June 1, 2012, 19:13

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