mr.tharoor's high perch

soumitro das nails it:

If you ask a Bollywood filmmaker whether this is actually what he is defending, he will be surprised. He believes that the values he is defending in his film are universal — love, family, country, religion... The word ‘caste’ would never cross his mind. Then how do we say that Bollywood films defend caste society?

The arranged marriage or marriage with parental sanction is an institution that supports, that takes the load of caste society through absolute parental authority when it comes to marriage or any other kind of relationship with the opposite sex. This parental authority is taken for granted in Bollywood films. There is no need to even explain it. The world of Bollywood cinema is so cleansed of caste and religion that one is almost tempted to believe that one is dealing with a bunch of ultra-liberals for whom caste and religion do not define the human personality. But the real reason for this absence is that women must not make the wrong sexual choice that could lead to the collapse of society as we know it. So, the world of Bollywood cinema is shown to be a ‘natural’ world, where upper caste Punjabi men are linked up with upper caste Punjabi women without the problematic obstacle of caste ever coming in the way of their union. Whereas, in reality, especially for the middle-class, caste is an overriding factor in marriage in particular and sexual relations in general.

didn't expect the hindustan times to carry an article which contains such plain talk. and here's shashi tharoor, minister in the government of india, unveiling bollywood power:

That’s soft power, and its particular strength is that it has nothing to do with government propaganda. The movies of Bollywood, which is bringing its glitzy entertainment far beyond the Indian diaspora in the United States and the United Kingdom , offer another example. A Senegalese friend told me of his illiterate mother who takes a bus to Dakar every month to watch a Bollywood film – she doesn’t understand the Hindi dialogue and can’t read the French subtitles, but she can still catch the spirit of the films and understand the story, and people like her look at India with stars in their eyes as a result. An Indian diplomat in Damascus a few years ago told me that the only publicly displayed portraits as big as those of then-President Hafez al-Assad were of the Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

Indian art, classical music and dance have the same effect. So does the work of Indian fashion designers, now striding across the world’s runways. Indian cuisine, spreading around the world, raises Indian culture higher in people's reckoning; the way to foreigners’ hearts is through their palates. In England today, Indian curry houses employ more people than the iron and steel, coal and shipbuilding industries combined.

When a bhangra beat is infused into a Western pop record or an Indian choreographer invents a fusion of kathak and ballet; when Indian women sweep the Miss World and Miss Universe contests, or when “Monsoon Wedding” wows the critics and “Lagaan” claims an Oscar nomination; when Indian writers win the Booker or Pulitzer Prizes, India’s soft power is enhanced.

one'd think das and tharoor put their heads together, collaborated, to produce two contradictory versions of the same story.

i'd like to sit in mr.tharoor's enchanting armchair and watch india turn into a bollywood movie, starring miss worlds and miss universes, and wowing critics like mr.das and claiming an oscar nomination or two. wish manoj majhi could sit in mr.tharoor's chair too.

1 comment:

Hari Batti said...

Yes. Mr. Tharoor and his High Perch! Very well said.

Add to Technorati Favorites