India (1): Language & the Urban Migrants “Flute Music,” “Annamalai” and Salaam Bombay Migrant populations flock to the outskirts of cities to find work. (source)
Starting Questions • What are the common points among the three texts? And their differences? • What do you feel about reading them? • All about the lives of migrant laborers (clerks) in Indian cities, how they miss home, and how they get exploited by their bosses—seen from different perspectives (of a migrant adult clerk, a migrant chaipau—tea boy--and a master). • Two concern the issue of language & letter writing; of hometown and two mention Ganesh—the bringer of success.
Outline • Background (1): Caste System • Background (2): Language • Tagore: “The Flute Music” • R.K. Narayan: “Annamalai” • Background (3): Bollywood • Salaam Bombay!
Background (1): Caste system • The main castes: • Brahman (priest); • Kshatriya (ruler, warrior, landowner); • Vaishya (merchants); • Shudra (artisans, agriculturalists); • Harijan "outside" the caste system (once known as "untouchables") (source: http://www.csuchico.edu/~cheinz/syllabi/asst001/spring98/india.htm ) • * “Musicians-- Harijans (god's children) which used to be known as untouchables.”
Caste system -- Determined by • race? “In a verse from the first millennium epic, the Mahabharata, Brigu, the sage explains: ‘The brahmins are fair, the kshatriyas are reddish, the vaishyas yellow and the sudras are black.’” • by work: The Hindus also believe that a man's varna is determined by his profession and deeds and not by his birth. • Varna (caste) came to signify an endogamic(同型、同宗) group, its members linked by heredity, marriage, custom and profession (source).
Caste system -- Today • Seen illegal since 1947; • Two India’s: the rich and the poor, not following the caste lines • In some villages, some lower caste people are still marginalized, and inter-caste marriage is still prohibited; • In 1998, “60 people were killed by the Ranvir Sena, a self-styled armed militia of the upper-caste landed gentry, formed to crush the movements of Dalits (the untouchables) and agricultural laborers.” 21 killed in 1999. (sources: 1, 2)
Background (2): Language “No matter that my name is Greek my surname Portuguese my language alien. There are ways of belonging.”
Language & English literature in India • The Charter Act of 1813 – East India Company's responsibility for native education; • 1857 – the Indian university system • After independence, English is no longer one of the 21 official language; • Major languages: Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Malayalam and Urdu each has more than 10 million speakers.
Narayan’s decision to write in English • “We have fostered the language for over a century. . . And we are entitled to bring it in line with our own thought and idiom.” • Speaking as the English language, he puts: “I will stay here, whatever may be the rank and status you may assign me—as the first language or the second language or the thousandth. You may banish me from the classrooms, but I can always find other places where I can stay. . . I am more Indian than you can ever be” (93.)
Tagore:“Flute Music” 1. A man in poverty-- • compared to a lizard (with Ganesh’s picture ‘stuck’ on the door); • Suffers from pay cuts, high train cost, and wants to save the cost of light; umbrella full of holes; 2. His emotional life: • The contrast between the busy city and his lonely room; • Trapped in his office clothes • his girl—saved from him; 2. The function of flute music
R. K. Narayan • born in Madras in 1906 • full name: Rasipuram Krishnaswami Ayyar Naranayanaswami • -->1935 R.K. Narayan
Narayan the Writer • V.s. Naipaul (1999): “He wrote about people in a small town in South India: small people, big talk, small doings. That was where he began; that was where he was fifty years later. To some extent that reflected Narayan’s own life. He never moved far from his origins.” (“The Writer in India”)
Narayan the Story-teller of village life • “I’d be quite happy if no more is claimed from me than being just a story-teller. Only the story matters, that is all. . . . But if a story is in tune completely with the truth of life, truth as I perceive it, then it will be automatically significant.” • Presenting Mulgudi (an imaginary village) as a peasant community in (southern) India “you see more concentrated life and you can see the types and forces of human relationships, activities, aspirations in greater details.” (97)
“Annamalai” • Annamalai – his views of his job, and of his master? And his master’s views of him? • Annamalai & Language: How does Annamalai look at sending letters home? (e.g. the issues of village names, his use of English on the address, asking one to write and the other to address it.) • Annamalai & home • narrative time and technique: How does the story start? How does it end? Does the story follow a chronological order? • Can you think of any example in Taiwanese literature that is similar to this story?
Annamalai and his Master • Annamalai –p. 117 “a custodian of me and my property”; cannot intervene A at work; p. 133 take him as he was. • Annamalai at work • – 121 vs. in the master’s study; • Simple-minded, dividing plants into the flourishing and the evil ones; • balances the good and the evil p. 128 • a lot of water and garbage on the plants; p. 128 • Stubborn and with self-contradictory reasoning:129
Annamalai and his Master • Annamalai off from work • go for news but cannot comprehend a lot (Kannedy) (telepoon, trunk call= long-distance call p. 132) • The episode of fowl killing his fear and dignity p. 135 his past
Annamalai and Home • Very far away – p. 120 • Keeps ‘postcard’ connection, which is cheaper; • Revulsion and curiosity his brother’s postcards. • A’s choice between home and work pp. 140-
“Annamalai”—language & race/class division • The postcards serve as connection between A and his home; • linguistic hegemony: English vs Tamil; • When the master gets his letters, he is not even sure if it is from Annamalai. • As a whole, the story shows the distinct personality of this peasant worker, his sense of duty and honor, and an inevitable gap between him and the master.
Background 3: Bollywood • 位於孟買(Bombay, Mumbai); • 印度人的夢工廠(Dream Factory)：大量製造，情節簡單（固定的男女愛情公式），含帶大量歌舞，票價便宜，電影院成了印度人一大休閒場所。 • 「根據印度影評人Meenakshi Shedde提供的數據，印度在2002年的電影產量依舊是世界第一，多達942部，遠高於第二名美國的650部；而且在沒有任何設限及保護政策下，好萊塢依然攻不陷印度，美國片在印度市場的佔有率連5%都不到」（聞天祥http://movie.cca.gov.tw/COLUMN/column_article.asp?rowid=27）。
Bollywood 電影：例子 • 《寶萊塢生死戀 》Devdas • 改良式：《榮耀之役》Lagaan • 包含Bollywood 的歌舞或運用其形式的藝術電影： • Salaam Bombay (早安孟買) －－ 貧民窟的小孩以唱歌為樂，也去看電影。－貧窮問題”Go to Bombay, come back a hero.” • Masala－－ 成為幻想空間﹔ 印度移民文化認同問題 • Monsoon Wedding（雨季婚禮）－－成為結婚的餘興節目，Punjabi 社群團結、歡慶的方式。 • Desperately Seeking Helen－－ 尋找Bollywood 女明星Helen, 實際是在追憶空難而死的母親。
Outline: Salaam Bombay! • Background:Mira Nair & the history of the production of Salaam Bombay. • Major Theme 1: Migrants in the city • Major Theme 2: family/comradeship and betrayal • Major Theme 3: Larger Social Forces (Language Differences and Illiteracy; slums in Bombay, government inefficiency; Colonialism/tourism -- in the background)
Introduction to Mira Nair • Born in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa in 1957 (middle class family) • Attended the University of New Delhi (Sociology and Theater) • Went to Harvard in 1976 (Sociology) (source)
Films by Mira Nair • Jama Masjid Street Journal (1979) • So Far From India (1982) • India Cabaret (1985) • Children of a Desired Sex (1987) • Salaam Bombay (1988) • Mississippi Masala (1991) • The Perez Family (1993) • Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1997) • My Own Country (1998) • Monsoon Wedding (2001)
Salaam Bombay! History of Production • Interviews of street kids in Bombay. • Out of these interviews emerged a screenplay that was a composite of several lives. • “Then many of the children were enlisted for weeks in a daily workshop, not to teach them "acting" (for that they already knew from hundreds of overacted Indian film melodramas), but to teach them how to behave naturally in front of the camera.” (source)
What happened to the children? • "Our whole attitude was to meet them halfway and help them realize their own self-worth and dignity," said Nair in a recent interview with The Christian Science Monitor (12 Oct 1988, p.19). "[We] wanted to help them create opportunities they want for themselves." Responding to this respectful approach, some children entered school, some returned home to their villages, some got jobs, and some have stayed on the streets. • Nair is using proceeds from the film to open learning centers for street children in both Bombay and Delhi. (source)
Salaam Bombay! • Awards: • the New Director's Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1988 an Academy Award nomination for best foreign film in 1989 • Neo-Realism; A departure from Bollywood Musical.
Salaam Bombay!: Questions • How does Krishna go to Bombay? What is his first experience of it? (clip 1) • Why is he away from home? Why does he go to Bombay and what does he want to do there? (clip 7;11 ) • How does he relate to the people he meets in Bombay? (e.g. Manju, Sweet 16, Manju’s mother, Chillum, & the other street kids.) e.g. Why does Krishna fall in love with Sweet Sixteen? • Are there any traces of Bollywood musical influence in the film?
Major Theme (1) in Salaam Bombay • Migratory identity: people drifted to the metropolis, lost in the crowd, e.g. shots of the train station -- Chaipau: his name (Krishna); no home address -- Chillum: completely lost (not trusting anyone) hybrid culture and identity (e.g. Chillum, Manju’s dance—clip 3; Ms. Hawaii in the movie clip 6)
Major Theme (2) : desire, betrayal and survival Desire for home & family e.g. Krishna -- tries to write home -- needs 500 rupees so that he can go home -- forms a “family” in Bombay (Chillum, the other children). • What about Manju’s family?
Salaam Bombay: The migrants in a city (2) • Manju’s family— • Baba – child-abuser and pimp • Mother –loving but cannot help • Manju– lonely and in desperate need of love. (e.g. clips 8, 9, 12, 14)
Major Theme (2) : desire, betrayal and survival • How do Krishna and the other kids survive? • Work as Chaipau taken advantage of by the other kids; • Skin chicken, clean chicken coops; fired by the boss; • rob an old man, Krishna throws up; money taken away by Chillum. • serve in a rich man’s wedding party arrested by the police, money taken away. • For Krishna, it is a continuous process of loss and disillusionment.
Salaam Bombay: a series of betrays & disillusionment Chillum His wife Baba Manju Krishna The other street kids The Sweet Sixteen The circus boss
Major Themes (2) • Comradeship, betrayal and rebellion/survival-- Pattern of Repetition: • Drug-dealing: the death of the previous drug dealer, Chillum and then another Chillum. • Cheating: Manju’s mother cheated, The Sweet Sixteen Some are self-destructive and some, surviving • Chillum – has no friend; cheats Krishna with his “bank.” • Krishna’s setting fire as a way of rebellion against his brother, and then against the whorehouse • Finally, the major forces of frustration are those of society: the government and the crowd.
Major Themes 3: Larger Social Forces An urban tragedy– characters with no names. • Why are Baba and his wife not named? • Why do people call Krishna Chaipau? • What roles do Krishna God play in this film? And the “Chiller room”? (clip 20, 22) • Who sends the two kids to Chiller room? • How is the chiller room presented?
Salaam Bombay: social factors • State intervention: Chiller Room • drug, prostitution and Bollywood • traces of collonial influence: • cricket, tourists, statues, movies • Religion: helpless. E.g. Ganesh
Salaam Bombay : the ending • What do you think about the ending of Salaam Bombay? Is there any hope for the street children? What does the spinning top mean? • Can you think of any other film that is comparable to Salaam Bombay? • Children of Heaven 天堂的孩子
Next time . . . • Women’s experiences of Racial, Class and national division—esp. children’s.
References: • Roger Elbert. SALAAM BOMBAY!