Iim calcutta indian social structure - the diaspora comes home disciplining desire in ddlj
Patricia Uberoi(Reading No. A3)
Context Analysis of two popular commercial Hindi films :a) Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge 1995 (Director : Aditya Chopra)b) Pardes 1997 (Director : Subhash Ghai)
Why films ? Films tap into, play on and ultimately resolve through strategies the concerns of everyday life. Films as texts Films construct an ‘idealised moral universe’ reflective of the values, beliefs and ideas that go into the making of a nation
What is common in the films ? Love stories involving Indians settled abroad Concerned about the notion of ‘Indianness’- defined through an exploration of family values, courtship and marriage
What is common ?- IIThe films reflect the dilemma of moral choice at two levels :-a) Conflict between individual desire and social norms/expectationsb) Contradiction between transnational location and retention of Indian identity
Contention-I The modernisation of Indian society was expected to undermine the traditional ‘rules’ of marriage (caste endogamy) and lead to the development of an individualistic ethos, but this has not happened to the extent that it was expected.
Contention - II What we witness today is the phenomena of the ‘internationalisation of the middle class’ and the consequent problem of the cultural reproduction of Indian identity in transnational locations.
Indianness : At home and abroad Indians traditionally have had a contradictory attitude towards their own diaspora. Earlier regarded as ‘out of sight-out of mind’… Now the Indians abroad, ‘a model minority’ in many places, are expected to be ‘patriotic investors’ in their country’s future!
Attitudes to the Diaspora-I NRI’s have not responded as expected, resented being treated as ‘Kamdhenu’, do not seek Indian citizenship any longer. In fact they shy away from investment here- Bureaucratic obstacles Infrastructural snags Generalized mistrust
Attitudes to the Diaspora -II The foreign-returned Indian or the excessively westernised Indian Vs the one who has stayed behind- The latter more authentic than the former!
DDLJ(Story) 1995 Son of a successful, self made NRI businessman, before joining his father in his family business goes on a holiday in Europe, with his college friends... meets a girl who has convinced her authoritarian father to allow her to go on a similar trip to Europe with her friends before she settles down in an ‘arranged marriage’ with a boy from Punjab, who is her father’s old friend. The two meet, fall in love, but do not elope, they come together finally with the consent of parents.
DDLJ-I Primary aim of the director ‘to make an honest love story’, ‘a wholesome film’, ‘to show the international audience that India is not only about snake charmers’ ‘to show the world how we live, love, think and react today’ to make a critique of the trend of love stories which showed young boys and girls eloping in order to get married.
DDLJ -II To make a comment on the position of girls in the Indian household The film made under the Yashraj banner, was a launching pad for Aditya Chopra, son of Yash Chopra, who devised the plot and scripted the screenplay of the film. The film like HAHK was regarded as a clean, non-violent family entertainment.
DDLJ –III (Invocation to IndianIdentity ?) Reference to the self-identity constituted in relation to the nation : ‘makke di roti sarson da saag’ (pg 174, 176) References to the ‘shy, modest behaviour of the daughter’ as reflecting Indian culture (pg 175) References to shared Indian origins and expectations arising from it (pg 175)
DDLJ and Indian Identity- IV Invocation of Indian identity especially with reference to sexuality, ‘izzat’, marriage, gender related behaviour (pg 175-176) References to a marriage solemnised with the consent of parents Vs marriage by elopement (pg 176) The celebration of ‘Karva Chauth’ (pg 176, 177)
DDLJ and Indian Identity- V Attempting to win the affections of the elder ones, seeking forgiveness for earlier transgressions – an Indian trait ? Confrontation between the heroine’s father and the protagonist, where the daughter is symbolically entrusted back into her father’s care- assertion of love as well as the willingness to renounce it for the sake of honour of parental authority…echoes quintessentially ‘Indian’ sentiments.
DDLJ and Indian Identity - V Multiple references to honour and how it is challenged - challenge to patriarchal authority -challenge to the sacred duty of the Hindu father to ‘gift’ his daughter - challenge to the principle of ‘alliance’ whereby marriage is constructed as a union of two families -challenge to the notion of the ‘purity’ of the daughter
Construction of ‘true Indianness’-I Upholding one’s commitment to the Indian ‘culture’ of kinship (winning over the heroine not by displacing the father, but by being Indian himself) Tribute to paternal authority is rationalised as gratitude.. (gratitude to parents should take precedence over individual self gratification, respectfulness to the point of self denial, even identification with patriarchal authority…crucial for construction of Indianness).
Construction of true Indianness-II Principle of ‘affinity as value’ upheld by the active participation of parents Assumption of continued chastity of the woman- tied to her ‘honour’ … this is preserved by male self control that is valorised A comment on the status of women : lack of choice /agency or exercise of free will due to the tyranny of tradition(pg 181, 182)
Pardes –I NRI here positioned as the hero- an increasing social trend Reflects emergence of a transnational elite class as the reference for the upwardly mobile Indian middle class in a liberalised economy. Just like DDLJ, Pardes too situated its story in a foreign locale : Indianness constituted in the course of a confrontation of Eastern and Western values .
Pardes -II East versus West invoked through contrasts of characters and the values that they embody Attempts to forge marriage alliance between NRI boy and Indian girl (to reform all that is bad about the West, to stem the tide of Americanisation in the family References to the security of the mother’s lap when the the motherland (India) is invoked :
Pardes-- III Two moments of crisis in the film : Encounter between Rajiv (the bad NRI) and Ganga (the innocent Indian) over the issue of sex before marriage Fight between Rajiv (the bad NRI) and Arjun (the good Indian)--- the latter saves the heroine from the clutches of the former, and also exercises self restraint even when he has the opportunity.
Pardes - IV The ‘true Indian’ (Arjun or Shahrukh Khan), though his future lies in America, remains emotionally and morally an Indian and he upholds Indian tradition in many ways. An attempt to preserve the Indian family values among the diasporic Indians is an unsustainable ambition. Depletion and alienation are bound to follow with dislocation.
Commonalities Commonalities both at the overt as well as at the substantive levels - Use of foreign locales - Shared focus of the NRI nostalgia for India - Return to India for denouement - Emphasis on family values as the core of Indianness - The attempt to discipline the younger generation by marriage with Indian partners
Commonalities - II The preoccupation with feminine virtues especially one of chastity The role of women characters in critiquing patriarchal authority Reconciliation of parental authority and individual desire achieved through the young couple’s demonstration of adherence to norms Demonstration of self restraint – sexualisation of love relationship before sacramental consecration and an act of self denial though women criticise it
Commonalities - III Shared Ideology of Kinship is emphasised in 3 ways : A) Idealisation and naturalisation of the institution of the patrilineal joint family B) The family considered as a patriarchal institution C) Marriage as interfamily alliance rather than arrangement between a young couple in love
The problematics of a transnationalidentity The two films are at variance over the question as to whether the Indian identity can survive de- territorialisation DDLJ proposes that family values are portable assets, have to be periodically replenished Pardes - more ambiguous, suggests Westernisation/Americanisation can at best be delayed Over all a conservative agenda for the Indian family is portrayed
Problematics - II These films are an important site for contestation of popular culture- of how the middle class diaspora are coming to terms with the national identity This is significant as for a substantial section, especially the young, the West is a desired destination The young do not need to choose between ‘arranged’ and ‘love’ marriage, between tradition and modernity, when one can enjoy the social and material benefits of an ‘arranged love marriage’.
Problematics- III This conservative construction of family values also mirrors the middle class anxiety of reconciling our cultural identity in a modern, globalised world. -----------