The responsibilities of Bollywood fandom are many, but a particularly critical skill is talking the talk. Luckily, by adding just a few terms to your vocabulary, you can sound like a diehard fan! This Thanksgiving, as you gather with friends and family for some quality time, throw these basic Bollywood terms into conversations (when appropriate), and you’ll earn some valuable street cred! For context, it’s my pleasure to introduce Akshay and Amir, best friends reuniting for a very desi Thanksgiving!
“Desi” (pronounced THEY-see) — Anyone or anything originating from South Asian culture.
Example: “There sure are a lot of desis celebrating Thanksgiving this year,” noted Akshay. “True story,” agreed Amir. “I had to fight for the last turkey at the grocery store with a desi grandmother!”
“Masala” (pronounced muh-SAH-lah) — Literally, a blend of spices/curries. In the Bollywood context, it’s a movie that blends a romantic musical with at least one other genre.
Example: Akshay tasted the holiday dishes, asking, “What did you use in this chicken masala? It’s delicious!” Amir replied, “Oh, that’s actually turkey but with desi spices. I was going to put on some random masala movie and feast.” “Another wild Thanksgiving!” said Akshay.
“Yaar” (pronounced yaah-r, ideally without pirate-like intonation) — Friend, man, girl, girlfriend, buddy, bro, dude. Often used either at the beginning or end of a statement/question for emphasis.
Example: “Yaar, can you do me a favor and pick up some Shan masala from the desi store? I used all of it for the turkey!” asked Akshay. “No problem!” replied Amir, “Anything for you, yaar.”
“Timepass” (pronounced exactly how you’d expect, but with a soft “a” as in “father”) — Movies/TV shows that lack depth but are enjoyable enough for leisure or passive viewing. Often said with a hand gesture emphasizing the speaker’s indifference (but that’s advanced, don’t worry about incorporating movements just yet!).
Example: “All of these desis keep raving about that new masala movie ‘Happy New Year’! We should go see it,” said Akshay as he waltzed into the room, face covered in recently cooked chicken masala. “No way, yaar, it’s just another timepass,” mused Amir. Akshay wiped some masala from his brow and gazed downwards, feeling supremely uncool.
“Filmi” (pronounced FILM-ee) — The accompanying music of Bollywood releases, typically from masala movies. Identifiable by its (often formulaic) mix of Eastern and Western musical sensibilities.
Example: Akshay washed the masala off his face and put on some filmi to cheer himself up. I'm thankful for my great taste in desi music, he thought to himself. Who cares if Amir thinks it’s just timepass?
We agree, yaar. This Thanksgiving, we’re thankful for diversity in opinion, which is what makes Viki and the world such an incredible place!
Now go forth, socialize and feast, comfortable with your newfound knowledge of Bollywood buzzwords. Come back soon for more language insight and tips!