Dakhni suffuses campaign in Hyderabad with earthy mirth and impishness

In the run up to the Telangana Assembly election, leaders, cutting across political lines, pepper their speeches with Dakhni

November 19, 2023 03:55 am | Updated November 23, 2023 02:24 pm IST - HYDERABAD

Telangana cabinet minister K.T. Rama Rao addresses the gathering during a road show ahead of Telangana Assembly elections, in Kamareddy district, on Nov. 18, 2023.

Telangana cabinet minister K.T. Rama Rao addresses the gathering during a road show ahead of Telangana Assembly elections, in Kamareddy district, on Nov. 18, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI


As election campaigns cutting across party lines in Telangana heat up, the jibes have become blunter, the swipes harder, and verbal skirmishes sharper. But when all these blows are delivered in Dakhni, it adds an element of mirth and impishness. And what is more the crowds love it.

At a recent meeting, Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) working president K.T. Rama Rao encouraged members of the public to put up with queues and cast their vote. In a jocular fashion he sought a show of hands of those who were from Hyderabad, and proceeded to pepper his Telugu with Dakhni. “Maloom Hyderabad ke logaan bhot busy rehte [I know that the people of Hyderabadi are busy],” he said. Then came the Dakhni clincher, “Khaali peeli baithke: ino kya hai, uno kya hai, ye baigan hai, woh hai? Em osthadi?”

Interestingly, “baigan” in Dakhni displays dexterity, and is used in a wide range of contexts. It can be an intensifier, a replacement for an expletive, softening the blow, and in this context, appears to have been used to describe, in a hypothetical situation, a person who is useless.

At another public meeting, it was Mr. KTR’s father and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao who chided a member of the public for interrupting him, and called him a fool in Dakhni. “Haula”, he said.

In other political meetings and gatherings, hau, meaning “yes”, and the nakko, meaning “no”,were commonplace in political rhetoric in the run up to the Telangana Assembly election. The case was the same with the Dakhni contractions of aataou and jaataou, words which mean that one is coming and going respectively.

But, it was All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) president Asaduddin Owaisi who brought out, from his verbal arsenal a less-heard idiom. Criticising the Opposition at a public meeting he quipped, “Apni Dakhni mey ek kahaavat hai: Divaanay uthhay, sirr ku mussal laptay [simpletons got up and wrapped a wooden pestle around their heads].

Telangana’s Congress president A. Revanth Reddy too used Dakhni to attack Mr. Owaisi. At a press conference, Mr. Reddy, flanked by cricketer Mohammed Azharuddin, his party’s Jubilee Hills candidate, told the AIMIM chief not to lie. “Aap aise jhootay baataan mat karo [Don’t lie like this],” he said, even as he used the aataou, an expression meant to state that he would go to a particular place. Challenging Mr. Owaisi to refute his allegations with an oath at the Mecca Masjid, Mr. Reddy said, “Jumme ki din mai aataou [This Friday, I will come].”

The opinion about Dakhni, whether it is a language in its own right, distinct from Urdu, or a dialect of Urdu has polarised scholars and speakers alike. Given that it has absorbed words from Telugu and Kannada and Marathi, it remains popular in many parts of South India, Telangana included.

But for Sajjad Shahid, a chronicler of Hyderabad from the Centre for Deccan Studies, Dakhni is a separate language. He pointed out that over the past few decades, Dakhni has been used for humour and satire. “Dakhni is popular because it is an embedded language. Despite North Indian influences, and given that it being sidelined from serious subjects, it has become the language of humour and satire. It was fully developed in the mid or late 1300s as can be seen from the poetry of great Sufi Hazrat Khwaja Banda Nawaz. Therefore, to say that it is a dialect of Urdu is wrong,” he said.

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