Friday, 9 April 2010

nostalgic? not me!

i finally got around to getting a broadband connection earlier this year, and have recently found out what a great timewaster youtube can be! ok, i know i'm a little behind the times, but i do evolve, just a little slower than others...

anyhow, i found that there is a whole heap of bollywood stuff available, and while i have generally given up on bollywood movies in the last few years, i couldn't resist going back to look at a couple of my favourites like taj mahal and sholay. i also caught up on a couple of movies that had caused a huge stir back in the 70s for being very risque. one was called bobby and the other julie.

well, aside from reminding why i hate so much of what comes out of bollywood, these two movies also surprised me from another angle. the main characters in both films are young girls from an indian christian background. in fact, julie's mother is anglo-indian. and it is this background that is the excuse to have these young girls wear skimpy clothing (because of course that's how all christian girls dressed in the 70s - not!). and in bobby, it was the first instance of an indian heroine in a bikini - the actress was only 16 at the time.

but more than that, the christian background also appeared to be an excuse to portray the fathers of these girls as drunkards. and in julie, the heroine complains about the disgusting smell in her house consisting of alcohol and meat.

i don't know how it seemed to audiences at the time, but i found both of these films to be promoting a significant level of bigotry, and wonder whether there was any significant protest from the local christian community. i have no memory of this, mostly because i was very young when the films came out but also because i was living in nz so have no idea of the reaction in india.

to me, it's an interesting case of a world-view colouring the portrayal of a community that the majority in that country wouldn't have known too much about. maybe it's a study of how a majority group views a minority group in that society. or maybe it's just a product of the sexual revolution of the 70s and producers were looking for an excuse to bring that to india without offending the local traditions and views of how women should be portrayed.

whatever the reason, the films didn't sit well with me and i certainly don't feel any better for having watched them.

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