Nationalism

Nationalism seems to provide a sense a unity within the people of a community, even if there are more common interests shared with foreigners. I saw this portrayed in the film, Lagaan, when Gauri, a local village woman, feels territorial over the main character, Bhuvan. Majority of her time is spent trying to find a husband, and when the fortune teller sees her future with Bhuvan she sets her sights on him. With not too much in common, besides residency and nationality, she fully believes they are soul mates. When an English woman, Elizabeth, goes out of her way to teach the village how to play cricket so they won’t have to pay the English empire triple tax, and starts sharing a connection with Bhuvan this troubles Gauri. Elizabeth is crossing an “imagined boundary” by falling in love with not only a man outside her community, but by stealing his attentions away from someone within his community.

“Imagined boundaries” are mentioned by Benedict Anderson in “Imagined Communities.” Boundaries are set so communities can be distinguished from others in which the style each imagines themselves. Gauri sees Elizabeth as an encroacher over this boundary line, and the film makes the audience see the same with scene set-up. The camera closes in on Gauri’s face while Elizabeth and Bhuvan talk, her eyes dart quickly between the two and she begins to frown.  The camera slowly goes over every detail of Elizabeth’s extravagancy, as if we are seeing her through an imaginary love-induced trance from Bhuvan’s eyes created by Gauri’s jealous mind. Gauri at one part in the film even refers to Elizabeth as the, “white witch.” Perhaps, Bhuvan and Elizabeth could have shared similar interests or an everlasting love if given the chance , but because this would be unsupportive of a nationalist style the film wouldn’t allow it. Bhuvan predictably ends up with Gauri.

 

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