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 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:
Wordplay type demonstrated: Homophone
2. Gru, Despicable Me 2 (2013)
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:
Wordplay type demonstrated: Charade
3. Inspector YP Singh, Raja Natwarlal (2014)
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:Rough translation:
Wordplay type demonstrated: Bilingual homophone
Example 2:Rough translation:
Wordplay type demonstrated: Deletion
4. Meeta Sen, Anubhav (1971)
In the song Mujhe Jaan Na Kaho Meri Jaan, Meeta Sen asks her husband not to call her jaan (beloved), with this rationale:
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)
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
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.
- Attention film-makers: Crossworders are not oddballs
- Garson Hampfield, Crossword Inker
- Who says documentaries are boring? Watch Wordplay
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