MODERNITY AND NATIONHOOD IN INDIAN CINEMA
MODERNITY, NATIONHOOD AND NEHRUVIAN IDEOLOGY AFTER INDEPENDENCE
B.A FILM PRODUCTION
TERM PAPER SUBMITTED TO ASC-UCLAN
COURSE: REVIEW: READING FILMS
SUBMIT BY: BHAVNEET SIROHI
DATE: 28 JANUARY 2013
In this paper I address some of the ways in which ideas of modernity and nationhood is tackled in Hindi films after independence .My primary interest is to understand how modernity and Nationhood was envisaged and narrated by the films of this period. My concerns are the ways in which dislocation of the characters, reconstruction of the narrative space, reformulation of Identity paved the way for treatment of modernity .I will take into consideration “DO BIGHA ZAMEEN” (Roy 1953) and likes of “SHREE 420” (Kapoor 1955). Although, my central Discussion will be around DO BIGHA ZAMEEN. Before entering into argument I would quickly throw some light on modernity and nationhood.
“The idea of world open to transformation, a complex of economic institutions, a certain range of political institutions including nation – state, mass democracy. It is a society which, unlike preceding culture, lives in the future rather than the past” (Giddens 1994) Indian nationhood and democracy are an accommodation between the local and the national, the cosmopolitan and the rooted. Some seek to homogenize from below; others to parochialize from below. Both attempts will and must fail (Guha 2012)
These are the two quotes, perhaps, which define modernity and nationhood in best possible way.
Modernity and nationhood have a broader meaning and context in India. On one hand, modernity
was a confrontation of beliefs, practices, traditions which Indians followed over the centuries.
Ironically, nationhood was a task to gave a democratic and secular shape to a nation which was
deeply fragmented in different religions, classes, sects and belief. Industrialization and secular
state were two prominent aspects of Nehruvian ideology. Nehru’s vision was in confrontation
with the conventional life that Indian had. Indian’s have a agragarian economy and simplistic
life. My review of the film is an attempt to inspect into these confrontations, an attempt to show
how this film takes on these issues .
Reformulation of personality
In understanding the transformation of identity in context of modernity I will take into account the Hindu mythology and traditions which divide life cycle into four stages: “brahmacharya” focus should be on celibacy and learning; “grahsta” the life of a householder; “vanprasta”, phase of withdrawal from worldly life; “sambas”, stage for renunciation of worldly life. In Hindi cinema, before independence the renouncer figure was given preference over the worldly achiever like Raja Harishchandra (Falke 1913) these films attention was given on suffering, loss of emotions, unrealized desire etc. These renunciatory characters were the victims of social injustice, exploitation or troubled relationship who did not find society a suitable place, and instead of sorting a way out of the social dilemma they chose to declare society as an unjust and corrupt place or institution. Despite any clear evidence, I would like to say prevalence of such narratives could be due to many reasons. In India, the renouncer was always given the highest place, it is all evident in Indian mythology, history, folktales. In contrast to renunciation narration, in the 1950s we notice a change in construction of narratives where characters or the hero does not declare society as a corrupt place and alienates himself but has conviction, Determination and commitment to bear the harshness of society with tenacity. This change in the character of the hero is constructed for a new imperative to achieve a stable and just society. In case of “DoBigha Zameen” (Roy 1951) Shambhu, (Balraj Sahni) a peasant is...
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