Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Unlikely Movie Characters as Potential Crossword Setters

Unlikely Moviiew Characters as Potential Crossword Setters There are times when, while watching a movie, we find a character say something that prompts us to think – here's someone with the makings of a cryptic crossword setter. This character need not be in the mould of a glib-tongued Bond; s/he may be a person ordinary within the film's framework who lets out an unexpected flash of lexical wizardry.

Some such characters from movies I've seen.

1. Lata Srivastav, Chupke Chupke (1975) 

Lata Srivastav, potential crossword setter

Why her?
Lata asks Vasudha why the man has given her a ring with the letter 'S' on it, when her initial is 'V'. The exchange between them:

Vasudha: Wo mera naam hai na Vasudha, V-A-S-..., wo S hai.
Lata: Wo S nahin, tu ass hai.
Rough translation:
Vasudha: That's from my name Vasudha, V-A-S-..., that's the S (pronounced 'ass').
Lata: That's not the S, you are the ass.

Wordplay type demonstrated: Homophone

2. Gru, Despicable Me 2 (2013)

Gru, potential crossword setter

Why him?
Gru resists being arm-twisted into an undercover job for the Anti-Villain League (AVL), and takes his leave from the head of the league with these words:

Gru: Good day, Mr. Sheepsbutt.
Silas Ramsbottom (AVL head): Ramsbottom.
Gru: Oh, yeah, like that's any better.

Wordplay type demonstrated: Charade

3. Inspector YP Singh, Raja Natwarlal (2014)

YP Singh, potential crossword setters

Why him?
This policeman's mission in life is seemingly not just to nab Raja, but to craft all possible cryptic clues around the word CON. Not a chance for crossword-style wordplay slips by when he's around.

Example 1:

Heroine (answering her phone): Hello? Kaun?
Policeman: Con! Con hi to karne gaye ho wahan tum log.
Rough translation:
Heroine: Hello? Kaun (Who's that)?
Policeman: Yes, you've gone there for a con.

Wordplay type demonstrated: Bilingual homophone

Example 2:

Heroine: Wo ek chhota-mota contractor hai.
Policeman: Contractor! CONTRACTOR mein se TRACTOR uda de. Kya bacha? Con!
Rough translation:
Heroine: He is a small-time contractor.
Policeman: Contractor! Strike out from CONTRACTOR the word TRACTOR and see what you get. Con!

Wordplay type demonstrated: Deletion

4. Meeta Sen, Anubhav (1971)

Meeta Sen, potential crossword setter

Why her?
In the song Mujhe Jaan Na Kaho Meri Jaan, Meeta Sen asks her husband not to call her jaan (beloved), with this rationale:

Jaan na kaho anjaan mujhe, jaan kahan rahti hai sadaa
Anjaane, kya jaanein, jaan ke jaaye kaun bhala
Rough translation:
Don't call me jaan (beloved), anjaan (ignorant one) - jaan (life) does not last forever
Anjaane (naive people) kya jaanein (do not know any better), nobody departs jaan ke (on purpose)

In true cryptic crossword tradition, when the word jaan appears multiple times in the opening line, the hearer does not know that the one of the jaans refers literally to life. The cryptic reading is revealed only a little later. The meaning of jaan keeps switching fluidly from 'life' to 'beloved' to 'know' and the hearer has to keep up with the shifts to make sense of the song.

Wordplay type demonstrated: Multiple Definitions 

5. Danish, Shamitabh (2015)

Shamitabh, Name Wordplay

Why him?
Aspiring actor Danish is speech-impaired, but with the help of "voice transfer" technology, he manages to speak in the voice of another man (Amitabh Sinha) and lands a big role in a Hindi film. He is then asked to choose a screen name. Danish picks the name "Shamitabh", and explains his choice in a way that would do a pro setter proud.

(i) Shamitabh is hidden within 'DaniSH + AMITABH Sinha'
(ii) Shamitabh is a charade of SH (silent) + Amitabh, which implies that behind the mute front stands the voice-lender

Wordplay type(s) demonstrated: Hidden Word, Charade with Cryptic Abbreviation

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Over to you. Can you add to the list?

PS: In case you missed the memo - an Open Magazine feature about cryptic crossword solvers in India: The High of Hidden Words.

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13 comments

Kishore said...

1. A 6 minute+ song from the movie Dillagi (1999) has just the word Dillagi said many times during the first minute. The auditor is not sure whether it is a reference to dillagi (banter/joke) or a charade made up of Dil lagi (lost heart (to):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoH-IfzxTlg

2. Jaan used in the multiple sense in this personal favourite song from Rajkumar(1964):

Tumne kisi ki jaan ko jaate huay dekha hai, (have you seen anyone's life/beloved going away?). The next line reveals the meaning used in the previous one:
Woh dekho mujhse rooThkar meri jaan jaa rahi hai (look, my beloved is cross with me and is going away)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEIpsHOpaMU

3.(Tongue in cheek) A song from Joru ka Ghulam (1972) says "Mera Chain khoya hua hai" (my peace is lost). I had thought he is saying he has lost some jewellery he was wearing around his neck ... (DD)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-m4SQbq79So

4.(TIC again): A very popular song from Suraj (1966)says "Baharon phool barsao, mera mehboob aaya hai"(Spring blossoms, shower flowers, my beloved has come/my beloved is an aayah (children's nursemaid)" (DD)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VboKHdEpns8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hB0Ue_tXEEI

Kishore said...

In the last one, the second video is a better choice.

Shuchi said...

@Kishore: Thanks for adding to the list in no time.

1 and 2 are good, but 3 and 4 don't qualify! They are examples of misinterpreted song lyrics (is there a term for that?) rather than deliberate wordplay. They show *you* have the makings of a crossword setter if you could read the words in another way :-)

Kishore said...

How could I have forgotten absolutely hilarious Ek Chatur Naar from Padosan

1.In the middle of the song,where after losing the 'Sur' (note) (around 3.00 in the video), rediscovers it and goes on to say:"Ham choDega nahin ji, ..., ham pakaD ke rakhega .."(I will not let it go, I will hold it tight). Is he referring to the musical notes he had lost track of, or, as the visual shows, the heroine's arm ...

2.The 'hum marat jaat'(I continue to die) almost sounds like 'hum marad jaat'(I belong to the male group), especially since he is talking about the 'naar'(female)

3.Around 4:40, comes the line 'taal pe naache langDi ghoDi' and this 'ghoDi' with further use of the word around 5:00 leads to the confusion at 5:30 between GhoDa and Chatur, both words for horse, though all through the earlier part Chatur meant clever...

DDs/homophone ...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HwrMGpFaik

Kishore said...

@Shuchi 10:38:

I agree 3 and 4 were my interpretations. That's why I added the TIC tag.

Me and the makings of a crossword setter?! I thought you were going to say Hindi Song lyricist!

Kishore said...

Both of us seemed to have missed this one from Saudagar (1973)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0igLfw3kM0

Remember, this song was the one which prompted me to write this cryptic clue?:

प्रियतमा के लिए श्रृंगार करना (3)

which I first sent to you and became the genesis of the second Hindi cryptic you made (with another setter ;-) )

Kishore said...


Tumse Achha kaun hai (1969)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT1-pc3VJpI

The dialogue preceding the song has Shammi Kapoor saying these words into a telephone "Hello my love, my dove, my pigeon, my cactus plant!”. Following this, if one heard the song without the visual, one would think the first few words are "Kiss, kiss kiss", probably blowing kisses into the telephone, and then realise he is saying the Hindi word Kisko (whom) in fits and starts, wondering which of his admirers should he choose.

Kishore said...

Jaan seems to the favourite word among Hindi lyricists for this type of thing: Umrao Jaan has

Dil cheez kya hai, aap meri jaan lijiye ...

Shuchi said...

@Kishore: Tumse Achha Kaun Hai is a fine example!

Umrao Jaan? Can't see any intentional wordplay in that line.

Kishore said...

Taking just that line it can be either "know what sort of thing my heart is" or " what is my heart, you can have my life too"

Shuchi said...

Kishore, you can twist the simplest of words to mean something else :-) I am sure the first option was not meant - it is not grammatical. Or will you say next that DIL in that line could be "daughter-in-law".

Kishore said...

Now, there's a thought ...

Shuchi said...

Update: New potential setter (#5) in the main post.