Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Fart - no more a taboo

The print edition of Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary explains the meaning and usage of fart at length but has marked the word as taboo and slang. The dictionary says – a more polite way of expressing this is ‘to break wind.’(Can there be a polite and a more polite way?)

If you regularly watch Hindi movies and television, you will realise that the Hindi translation of the word is no more a taboo. You will feel that the dictionary has become archaic and the word has become too common and is no more a taboo.

Our enjoyment while watching Dabangg would halved if Chulbul Pandey had not threatened Chhedi Singh by saying – Hum tumme itne chhed karenge ke confuse ho jaoge ki saans kahaan se le aur paade kahaan se. (I will riddle your body in such a way that you will be confused – from where to breathe and from where to fart).

Chulbul Pandey in a way has beaten Gabbar Singh of Sholay. Now contestants of reality shows, when asked to deliver a dialogue, do not say Gabbar Singh’s dialogue – ‘Kitne aadmi they?’ or ‘Tera kya hoga, Kalia?’

Instead, exuding Chulbul Pandey’s confidence, the contestants repeat his dialogue, without inhibition and hesitation.

Chulbul Pandey or Salman Khan is the actor who introduced farting in Hindi movies. Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam was released in 1999. In the movie, he not only uses the word several times but also farts loudly.

Shootout at Lokhandwala is another movie in which word is used a couple of times but nobody is shown farting.

With the word fart being no more a taboo, we now have a movie on fart – Padduram.

The movie is similar to Taare Zameen Pe, which is the story of a boy suffering from dyslexia.

Padduram revolves around a boy who is suffering from too much flatulence and because of his condition he is mocked at in his class and has been nicknamed Padduram. But ultimately he is able to convert his weakness into strength and helps his father in business.

Nobody could have played the role of the protagonist child’s father better than the actor Suresh Menon.

I wish to watch the movie but am unable to get the CD. I have watched the promo (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1KKjlkg_Rw) several times.

Paresh Rawal as Lambodar Chacha also suffered from flatulence in Atithi Kab Jaoge. No other actor could have done justice to the role of Lambodar Chacha, an aged, uncouth man hailing from eastern Uttar Pradesh, frequently breaking wind.

And who can forget Chatur Ramalingam of Three Idiots who ate ‘chooran’ and released silent and warm intestinal gas. He was rightly nicknamed Silencer in the movie.


There are some people who find farting too funny. They burst out laughing the moment you tell them about farting or if they hear somebody breaking wind.

A friend from Bhopal uploads everything related to farts on facebook. I am too happy to read and share them.

And there are some who are not at all amused. They glare at you and say, ‘What’s so funny? It is a normal bodily function. Everybody does that.’


While living in Bhopal, I would spend my afternoons at the Indian Coffee House with journalists.

One afternoon, a senior journalist started telling the group about a bizarre contest held in Rampur in Uttar Pradesh every year. The contestants have to blow out candles or earthen lamps (he had used the word deepak) with their farts. The Nawab of Rampur is the patron of the contest and he invites best farting men from all over India. He pays for the travel expenses of the contestants and arranges for their stay in Rampur. The Nawab sees that the contestants get proper ‘gas generating’ food and give their best performance in the contest.

I was surprised by the knowledge of the journalist about the contest. He is considered an expert of Indian politics and the Congress Party. When important political events take place, news channels beg him to visit their studios and are ready to pay him handsomely. I never knew he was also an expert matters related to the body.

An elderly and much respected journalist, the leader, missed out everything as he was busy lighting his cigar with a troublesome lighter.

Once he had lighted the cigar properly, he took a couple of long drags and leaned across the table.

Blowing out white smoke from his nose and mouth, he asked in his husky voice, ‘What is blown out?’ and cocked his right ear.

Everybody replied in unison, ‘Candles.’

‘With what?’ he asked again.

The group replied, ‘With farts.’

The elderly journalist straightened his back. He was neither amused nor impressed. His facial expression did not change. He swallowed and started sucking his cigar.

The other person in the group who did not laugh hysterically was the only woman journalist sitting with us.

She was in a dilemma.

She was also finding the matter too funny and was bursting with laughter. But being a woman, she could not laugh openly on matters that are considered a taboo.

In order to suppress her laughter, she tightly pressed her hand against her mouth. But her head kept on jerking up and down. I could hear her muffled laughter.


As far as writers are concerned, Khushwant Singh is the only Indian writer who has written much on the subject. He has covered the topic extensively in his books. He keeps on writing about farts in newspaper columns.

According to him, Uttam Padvi is the fart of the highest order. It is too loud but odourless.

Whenever I read about Khushwant’s Singh Uttam Padvi, I think about a photojournalist friend in Raipur. I wanted to see how he developed photographs. One day, in the darkness of the dark room, I was trying to ‘see’ how he developed the films when without any warning he released one of his resounding Uttam Padvis. Dead scared, I nearly fainted. I rushed out of the dark, gasping, my body covered with sweat. It is still a mystery to me why after farting he would recite the words, ‘Hari Om, Hari Om.’

Among American writers, Bill Bryson is the only one who has written much on the subject. In his autobiography ‘The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid’, he writes how as a kid he would eat a chilli burger and start farting.

In another book, he mentions how once he ate loads of roasted chicken and ice cream and a few hours, later starts emitting gas from both ends of his intestine.


  1. Nice really nice :-). You have done a lot of research on the subject.

  2. So what happens when women fart in India? No biggie or is it suicide-worthy?

    1. Score! In Thailand, you might as well kill yourself if you fart, especially in the presence of your boyfriend or husband. Would it be rude on a "first date" for the girl to just rip one? He he he...