B’luru boy’s debut song takes Dakhni Urdu to mainstream hip-hop

Yunus Y. Lasania

Hyderabad: Dakhni, the language spoken in Hyderabad and the Deccan, has always been associated with classic literary works that go back to the mid-15th century when it was first born as a vernacular at Bidar. While it is widely spoken, unlike other languages like English and Hindi, Dakhni (often mistakenly called Urdu’s dialect) however never has been a part of other modern mediums or pop culture.

And that is all set to change, thanks to a 22-year-old youngster from the economically backward area of Neelasandra in Bangalore. He may alter the very course of Dakhni’s history as we know it. ‘Eid ka Chand’, a single released by rapper Mohamed Affan aka Nex earlier this month, is quite possibly the first official Dakhni rap song that has been made.

Not Hindi, not Urdu, but Dakhni, which is a mix of Persian, Dehalvi (Old Urdu), Kannada, Marathi and Telugu. The language is typically mistaken as (modern) Urdu or “Hyderabadi Hindi” (or “Bangalori Urdu”), given that most people are not aware of its complexities and history. Commonly spoken words like “kaiku”, ‘Nakko”, “hao”, etc, are Marathi which have become part of Deccani language. 

Even Affan had to do his own research before he could actually figure it out. Many in Bangalore, especially Muslims, also speak in Dakhni (the language varies from place to place, depending on the influenes of regional languages). Even today in Hyderabad and the Deccan at large, we speak in Dakhni, but read/write in the standardised modern Urdu, which has its roots in Delhi and northern India.

His song ‘Eid Ka Chand’, which has thousands of views on YouTube already, is probably the first full-fledged rap song in Dakhni.

From the poem Kadam Rao Padam Rao by Nizami, that was written in the 1460 at Bidar, to ‘Kulliyat’ written by Mohammad  Quli Qutb Shah (1566-1611), the founder of Hyderabad, Dakhni has always been more of a literary language that speaks from the heart and to the heart. 

It has always been a medium which both the ruling elite and common folk have communicated in, thereby making it a true language of the soil.  

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And that is exactly what makes Affan’s work more endearing, if not hard-hitting. Just like classic Dakhni poetry, the song still has the same characteristics and sends a similar message acros. Anyone from Hyderabad, Bidar, Gulbarga, Bangalore, or any other part of the Deccan will be able to instantly connect and relate to his lyrics. Here’s a part of the lyrics from ‘Eid Ka Chand’ as an example:

Gutter’an se uthko mai abar’an tak aaya,

Khadaman se uthko mai khabr’an tak aaya

Kachra samajhko ghinn aati thi jinku ab

Dhagad’an ke jhuk’ko hin, tagad’an khamaya

It almost sounds like poetry, as if sung by a classical Dakhni poet. Far from it however, the rap song and its settings more importantly capture the area of Neelasandra Affan grew up in. Shot by Karim Poocha, a Bangalore-based indie film-maker and produced by Manas Sharma, a producer based in Raipur, ‘Eid ka Chand’ is in fact Nex’s debut music video. 

Affan’s video also has a special mention for AMshu Chukki, Each shot is a natural representation of what Nex see’s in his regular day to day life, right from a leg of beef being roasted with the flame of a lighter in the opening, to the locals hyping him up in the video. 

“I wanted to make something in our language, and began doing some research on it. Even our people try to appropriate Mumbai/Delhi slangs and it’s just sad.

But mai try karleko hoon Bangalore ke sab Dakhni speaking rappers ku Dakhni me rap karane ke vaaste and inshallah jaldi hotai woh (But  I am trying, and hopefully Dakhni speaking rappers will soon rap in the language),” said Nex, while talking about his debut single with siasat.com

Affan, or Nex, also thanked his “family” or ‘Wanandaf’ (derived from one-and-a-half, the phrase used by auto drivers in Bangalore when they ask for 50% more fare), the hip-hop community which he represents with others, for helping him with his debut video. “My father was also an auto-driver so, I came up with that name”– laughed Affan.

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While some youngsters in Hyderabad like Ruhaan Arshad earlier created their own songs (like ‘Miya Bhai’, his first song), which some argue are earlier attempts of creating hip-hop songs in Dakhni, there is however a stark difference, as Nex’s work is more socially conscious.   

History of Dakhni

Dakhni (or Deccani) is usually mistaken to be a ‘dialect’ of Urdu, especially among north Indians. In Hyderabad, we speak in the language (our version can be called Hyderabadi, as it is more of Urdu peppered with Dakhni words), but learnt the standardised Urdu in reading and writing. 

Words like ‘Kaiku’, ‘Nakko’, ‘Manjhe’, ‘Haula’, etc, are all imports from other regional languages (Marathi, Kannada, Telugu) to create Dakhni. 

Sufis had used Dehalvi freely, but that spoken idiom was unestablished. Dakhni was born in the mid 14th century when ‘Dehalvi’, northern India’s spoken idiom, mixed with Marathi, and later with Kannada and Telugu, under the Bahmani Empire, which was carved out of Mohammed Bin Tughlaq’s empire in 1347.

Dakhni is a mix of Persian, Old Urdu (Dehlavi), Kannada, Marathi and Telugu. It was created when Dehalvi mixed with the 3 aforementioned languages, especially under the Bahmani empire at Gulbarga(1st capital). Later at Bidar (2nd capital) around 1460, ‘Kadam Rao Padam Rao’ by by Nizami was the first written literature to be recorded.

The standardised Urdu we learn today, was created in Delhi in the 17th century, and came to the south after the Mughals fully conquered the Deccan, after Hyderabad (Golconda Sultanate) was the last kingdom to fall in 1687. The entire Deccan eventually came under the Mughal-appointed Nizams in 1724 (with Aurangabad as its capital), who first made Persian and later Urdu the official languages replacing Dakhni, which however continues to be a spoken language, till today.

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