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Aaja Nachle lyrics: Dalit leaders cry foul
Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai
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December 01, 2007 14:51 IST
Now what do you call a cobbler in Hindi?

The obvious answer would be mochi, but Dalit leaders caution that it is a derogatory term and people should refrain from using it.

Speaking to, Avinash Mahatekar, national general secretary of the Republican Party of India (Athavle) says, "You cannot call a cobber a mochi. It is an insult to him. The right word for cobbler would be a charmakar. Mochi is a particular caste and if you call a cobbler by that name, it is derogatory and insulting." 

Mahatekar, like many other Dalit leaders, feels that it was not right for lyricist Piyush Mishra to use the term mochi in the title track of Aaja Nachle.

Certain Dalit organisations have objected to the line �Bazaar Mein Machi Hai Mara Maar, Bole Mochi Bhi Khud Ko Sunar.

"According to our Constitution," says Mahatekar, "a person cannot be referred to in terms of his caste. And if you do so you are insulting him. It is objectionable and therefore they should ban this line in the song."

He added, "In the 1990s, a shop in a five star hotel in Mumbai was called Mochi. We objected and then they had to change the name. These things were, are and will always be a sensitive issue for us. Filmmakers should be careful that they don't hurt our sentiments."

According to Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, "No mochi minds people calling him so in good faith. However, the proper way is to address him by his name."

"It is illegal and unconstitutional to call someone mochi and you can be prosecuted for doing so," says Ambedkar.

When asked why the goldsmith community had not objected to the usage of the word Sunar in the song, he said, "Even they were upset. I was contacted by some of them and they felt that it was not right to use such words in a poem or song."

Justifying his stance, Ambedkar added, "It is like a profession. For example, Bata is owned by Batas who deal in shoes. So will you refer to Mr Bata as mochi? No. So we should be careful and call our cobbler by his name and that is the only right way."

Dalit leader Udit Raj, who was the first one to raise the issue in New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, said that the song had no meaning and it unnecessary hurt the sentiments of people.

"There has to be some poetry in the songs. Unfortunately, there is no poetry in the song. There is no aesthetic," he said.
"Everyone in India knows that mochi is a caste. If lyricist Piyush Mishra does not know that, it is unfortunate. He should have taken care in writing this line and unfortunately, he did not do that," added Raj.

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