Oct 6, 2009

Indian Mona Lisa

I saw this magazine cover and was impressed by the artists rendering of an 'Indian' Mona Lisa.

Note the Indian-style jewellery on the neck, wrists, hands, ears, nose and upper forehead. The garments display the rich design work favoured by Indian women. The make up is restrained to original Leonardo da Vinci, but with the touch of bindi, in the centre of the forehead. In the two insets in the main portrait is, first the original work, and below another alternate rendering of an Indian Mona Lisa - in perhaps Mughal-style garb and the whole painting being in Indian classical style.

Oct 1, 2009

Kuch bhi Jhel Jaye

My parents are getting their wardrobes fixed. In a tropical country, wood is rarely a long lasting building material. My Mum & I had a good laugh when we noticed the product byline on the plywood boards being used ..

'Kuch bhi Jhel Jaye' or कुछ भी झेल जाये, translated into simple english would be 'can deal with anything'. There's a lot lost in translation there.

Hindi, as it has spread over the huge number of communities in the India, had acquired distinct flavours across social strata. The 'street'-Hindi slang definitely, a more colourful cousin of the traditional respectful formalised Hindi, is gaining traction in the media and in people's conversation. The 'in-your-face' language uses cynicism and black-humour phrases to express the difficulties faced by rich, dense, low-resourced, and slow moving masses. It is an outlet of emotions, that many subscribe to. Therefore it is this language that now ad agencies use to form by-lines to their products, and connect to their target audience.

Coming back to our phrase, the verb 'Jhel', can be more accurately describe as 'to deal with or tolerate - without actually wanting to be in that situation in the first place'. Such as to forced to listen to somebody going on-and-on without stopping, would be a good example of 'Jhel'. In this case the plywood advertisers want to convey that their wood can deal and tolerate anything, be they termites, humidity or any other foe. By using 'Jhel' it becomes a humourous encounter.