August 16, 2008
A new book on the jargon of bhai-land:
It is a world where anaar (pomegranate) is a grenade, “artist” a shooter, atthais (28) an alcoholic, baja (musical instrument) a handgun, blue a Rs. 100 note, “camera” a weapon, “capsule” a bullet, chabbis (26) a young promiscuous girl, “Clinton” fake American dollar bills, “Delhi” is Dubai, “Indian bat” a country-made revolver, jhadu (broom) is an assault weapon, “Kanpur” is Karachi…The Hindustan Times has an extract here. The author is a well-known crime reporter who's covered Mumbai's crime beat for the Indian Express and the Hindustan Times, so I guess he knows what he's talking about when he tracks the origin of underworld slang terms to specific gangs:
Dana Live rounds, a relatively old term, can be traced back to Dawood and the early 1980s.The extract features a few slang words new to me:
Item Sexy damsel. Originally coined for Meenakshi Sharma, who wanted to join Bollywood but ended up as a key operative in Babloo Shrivastava's gang.
Zero dial The informer, as he was known in Dawood's stronghold Dongri, in South Mumbai.
Gaddi (Train) The position of practising sodomy inside a crammed jail.
Lift-wali building 9 mm Caliber Semi-automatic Star Pistol. So called because bullets are pushed upwards by a spring in an automatic pistol, just like an elevator.
Roti A term used by intelligence officials to denote compact discs (CDs), which are often dispatched through couriers
A dress dada is not a preening street goon or a transvestite toughie, it's a respectful Bollywood term for a senior dressman. 'Dada' here is the Marathi word for 'elder brother' and is used liberally on Bollywood sets, as explained in this posting to Sarai:
As I learnt early on, a production unit has certain unwritten codes such as an established system of address. Everyone calls everyone else 'xyz-ji'. This old-world form of 'respectful' address has found much favour in the film industry. It actually helps maintain a certain amount of professional distance and creates an atmosphere where the very politeness of the form of address disallows (to some extent) ugly exchanges. Representatives of departments like make-up and dress are called Make-up dada and Dress dada respectively. The guys in charge of properties (art direction) are clubbed together as Setting dada. (Debashree Mukherjee, 'Making Of Johny Johny, Yes Papa', Sarai)