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Vikram Chandra schools Taxi Driver writer on Sacred Games, and the English language

'Indians own English now as much as anyone else, and they use it variously,' says Chandra

Ujjainee Roy @UjjaineeRoy 19 July 2018, 1:00 PM
Helpful tip: Try to watch Sacred Games the way it was meant to be watched — in Hindi

Helpful tip: Try to watch Sacred Games the way it was meant to be watched — in Hindi Image: Facebook/ Sacred Games

Sacred Games might just be the most interesting thing on Netflix right now, but its beauty is lost on American screenwriter and filmmaker Paul Schrader, who made the unpardonable error of watching the show in the dubbed English version.

Schrader, who has written the screenplays for iconic films such as Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, took to Facebook recently to rant about how the show starring Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui doesn't use English slang right, and how the actors didn't know the rhythm behind their usage.

And Sacred Games creator, novelist Vikram Chandra, called out Schrader for his rather embarrassing hypothesis.

"The show is peppered with 'motherfu**ers' and 'c**ts' but the rhythm is wrong, like school kids trying out grown up profanities. This is true not only of Indian movies but Indian slang in general," Schrader wrote on Facebook.

Schrader went ahead to make a claim that is often (too often, we mean) made by native English speakers. "They know the English words but they don’t know the idiosyncratic rhythm behind their usage," Schrader claimed.

Vikram Chandra wants you to watch Sacred Games in Hindi

Vikram Chandra wants you to watch Sacred Games in Hindi Image: YouTube

But does English have only one distinctive rhythm? Who decides if the school kids from a Maharashtrian village are cursing wrong?

Chandra urged Schrader to watch the show — which happens to be Netflix's first Indian original — in its original language with English subtitles. The novelist also corrected his stance about how English should sound.

Chandra's response to Schrader's comments

Chandra's response to Schrader's comments Image: Facebook/ Vikram Chandra

"Indians use English with the rhythms of their own languages underlying the English. Not defending the dub (which I think is... awkward), mind you, but American rhythms aren't 'natural' to English any more than Indian ones," wrote back the novelist, who is credited with novels like Love and Longing in Bombay, and has written about English-speaking Indian voices in many of his works.

"Indians own English now as much as anyone else, and they use it variously — there are regional Englishes within India (Hindi English, Kannada English, Punjabi English, etc)," added Chandra.

Schrader soon revealed he missed out on the Hindi option while streaming Sacred Games and promised to watch it in the non-dubbed version.

Meanwhile, Sacred Games director Vikramaditya Motwane reacted to the situation like most of us did. "The suspense is killing me...," he wrote, as he tweeted the thread of the Facebook conversation between Chandra and Schrader.

Chandra also revealed he is a fan of Schrader's work and even admitted how Taxi Driver changed his life. 

"It’s immensely important to me (and the entire Phantom crew) that you — of all people — watch the series in the best manner possible. I’ve been a huge fan of your work since I snuck out of class in the late seventies to watch _Taxi Driver_, and had a life-changing experience in a Bombay theatre," he wrote.

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