Bombay’s Strength During Political Strife

I think one of the strongest messages I took from Bombay, was that family will always be able to overcome obstacles. We see this when Shekhar and Shaila’s families were able to set apart their religious differences and come together during dangerous times. The Hindu vs. Muslim fighting and the political strife it caused with the killing of innocents, burning of buildings, and social collapse was what allowed Narayana and Basheer to finally agree on one thing: Family is the most important thing. This was sort of a contradiction from the beginning of the film, when the two father’s believe their religious differences almost made them different creatures. Basheer even says, “Our blood is different then Hindu’s.” We are able to see when Basheer stops believing this to be true, as he saves Narayana when a group of Muslims cornered him and the twins with knives and threatened their lives. Without the political circumstances or the birth of their grandsons, I don’t think this unity would have been possible. So, I guess even in difficult times with extreme pressures, the test against the unit of family will stand strong.

The Namesake

For my open topic I wanted to talk about The Namesake and the way it heavily centered on family dynamics. The main character, Gogol/Nick, is embarrassed through most of the film by his parents and is almost resentful that he is Indian and comes from immigrant parents. Instead of appreciating the sacrifices his family made so he could live a good life, he constantly disrespects them or doesn’t acknowledge their love and affection. He was super ungrateful, and even when his father asked for one thing, just to check up on his mother from time to time since she would be alone, he chose not to do so. This comes back to bite him when his mother repeatedly tries calling him to inform him of his fathers death, but he’s “too busy” vacationing. His mom had to handle the news of the death alone with no support from her children.  It saddened me that Gogol only learned to appreciate what he had until it was gone.

Mississippi Masala and Transnational Identity

Mina’s father struggled with the fact that he associated his homeland and best way of life with being in a land that no longer accepted him. It created distrust for a group of people he at one point considered his own. Even though they  may not have been the same color or have the same heritage, it was experience and love that made Uganda his home. At one point he says, “Uganda first, India second” classifying himself with his peers and experience over blood and heritage.

Being forced to leave this home, Mina’s father wanted to protect her when she professed she was in love with a African American man and forbids the coupling by telling her, “People stick to their own kind, which I’ve learned through time.” After his best friend told him Africa was only a place for black Africans, it is easy to understand why he became jaded. But, in trying to protect Mina, he almost made her lose out on a opportunity for love and happiness. Having a transnational background is what allowed Mina to be so open minded about falling in love with a black American, and this wouldn’t have been possible if her father hadn’t opened her eyes to so many different cultures and ethnicities. Transnationalism, the thing that created the most inner turmoil for Mina’s father, was also the thing that brought his daughter a bright future.

Progression of Success

A point of significance for me in Gangs of Wasseypur was the way success was defined in the film. I usually see the upper class as being the most successful, in our society this is typically achieved by power through wealth. In the film, we see how a family can rise from the bottom of the totem pole to becoming one of the most feared and well known families in their town.  This progression happened through murder, revenge, and greed.

Shahid Khan is murdered because of his greed. Then his son, Sadar spends his whole life seeking revenge on his father’s killer, and along the way becomes a feared mob boss. Then we see the cycle start again with Sadar’s sons, because he spent too much time focusing on his hatred for his father’s killer instead of raising his children. There was also a link between the raise from their class system and the role of a father figure. It showed one must be sacrificed, and most of the time it was the family left behind. Sadar leaves his first two sons, to start a whole new family, then only reappears when they can be of value to him by becoming one of his lackeys. Sadar lost his father at a young age, so you would think he would value that role. Instead, he’s blinded by vengeance.

Is becoming successful measured any less if it’s achieved through immoral routes?

Slumdog’s Forced Independence

Slumdog Millionaire highlighted a social issue that is also prevalent in U.S. culture. There seems to be a rocky relationship between law enforcement and lower class citizens. We are introduced to this relationship when the police are seen chasing a group children off by yelling obscenities. With this tactic, the policemen come off as as unprofessional and scattered. This conflict probably stems from a long history of mutual disrespect. Jamal and Salim start mocking the police during mid-pursuit by grabbing themselves and laughing in their faces. The police seem to get back at them later, when the village is being attacked and they ignore the issue by continuing to play their card game. Even going as far as to tell Jamal and Salim to “piss off” when they ask for help, after just witnessing their own mother’s murder. It’s almost a ludicrous game of tit for tat, but it’s grown men versus little boys.

We are seeing this currently in America with campaigns like #blacklivesmatter, that focus heavily on police brutality and a cultural distrust in the law.  Does society no longer view law enforcement as a symbol of protection? Instead, have they become the uniformed enemy?

Gender and Sexuality

Is everything women do driven by male gratification? The film, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, may suggest such. The whole thing kind of centers on the idea, actually. For one, Anjali wasn’t noticed sexually by her best friend, Rahul, their entire careers at college. But, at the end when she dresses feminine, wears makeup, and grows her hair out, he suddenly can’t take his eyes off her. I’m sure the transformation and their eventual love was supposed to be romantic, but I’m surprised she allowed his affection since it only seemed to stem from her appearance, and the fact he could no longer have Tina (since she unfortunately died).

This idea is also portrayed in the scene where the principal is yelling at some of the girls on campus for wearing short skirts, because they’re “trying to excite the boys.” Maybe the skirt was a gift or it made them feel confident. I don’t think “exciting the boys” was the sole reason for their wearing short skirts. In a more extreme reaction to this, it reminded me of how some people label rape victims as “having it coming,” because in their eyes they were dressed provocatively or flirted a little too much. We almost see women’s entire existence as revolving around male attention.

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.