Sunday, May 06, 2007

THE UNTOUCHABLE aka L'UNTOUCHABLE

OR HOW TO MAKE A FILM ON INDIA



If it is India, the setting must be Benaras. Or the forts of Rajasthan. If these don't work, any random place can be filmed as long as the Taj can be made to figure in every alternate frame. Not be forgotten of course are the camels and bovine creatures with their respective dungs scattered around.

Benaras must at all times be referred to as Varanasi. And this V word must be uttered on screen to the accompaniment of soft strains of sitar in the background. To break the monotony it is allowed to loan a few bars from Zakir Hussain. For better effects, the sitar-tabla drill can be substituted by a deep OM that must seem to emanate off a sadhu from the depths of his dark cave.

Of course with a subject like India, can words like "caste" "half caste" "untouchable" be far behind. Never mind that in public spaces, nobody goes around checking people's castes. For instance when was the last time an airliner checked your caste! One can only guffaw at the idea of Air India hostesses serving the twice born better. In fact the mere thought of those hostesses serving anyone well, is worth a lot of guffaws. Thus in matters of service to the public the Indian state apparatus and allied machinery are truly egalitarian. Which means that everyone gets equal BS, unless of course one is a minister's nati. In which case things are different.

Now that Varanasi and music have been suitably dealt with, welcome to the ghats. Obviously this implies the burning ghats by the Ganges. For anyone thinking of those obscure mountain ranges, let it be known that while they may be able to drench India they have zilch potential when it comes to dunking the screen in nirvana, moksha, karma, dharma, gyana, Om and what have you! For that one has to turn to Ganges ghats.

Then of course, the Western belle must meet the Indian man. But wait! she must first be introduced to the "kaalchaar" and "bhelues" of the Indian family. These two words are shorthand for:

a. saying namaste every 5 secs.
b. eating with your hands
c. showing a wedding that absolutely MUST be an arranged one (no ifs and buts here)
c. women getting bedecked with zari, gold and nagra jooti for aforesaid wedding while men sport smart achkan-churidaars
d. a wedding decor that is actually a borrowed set from Ramanand Sagar's Ramayana
e. elephants (and some cell phones thrown in for good measure ostensibly to show the ancient-modern dichotomy)

After all this it is time to head back to the paschim but not before that mandatory vedic oil massage with a bunchful of agarbattis going hyperactive in the background. The sound track in the meantime has been handed over to our sadhu from the depths of the cave!!!

HARI OM

Inspired by The Untouchable and Wainaina.

3 Comments:

Blogger Nautilus said...

Yesterday saw a promo of a new movie called Americanizing Shelley or something stupid like that...and I was thinking, when will they stop making these stupid cross-cultural movies!!!!

4:28 PM  
Blogger shampa said...

i dont know why filmmakers must keep upping this divide...and it isn't limited to some random directors...even someone like mira nair does it with namesake where she simply accentuates the divide for maxing on the cross cultural effect.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Nautilus said...

At least The Namesake was a little deeper than a story of some FOB guy/girl with a very silly sing-song accent assimilating into the great melting pot of America. I hate the low-budget quickie flicks with really bad actors (most of them second generation Indian-Americans themselves who can't speak in their mother tongue to save their lives) who keep doing the desi stereo-type routine over and over again!!!

5:05 PM  

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