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Exploring Crisis of Identity in Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maa: Studying life of Naxalism in Bollywood

By 12345678ravi12345678 Apr 20, 2014 3181 Words
Exploring Crisis of Identity in Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maa: Studying life of Naxalism in Bollywood Chitra Tanwar Srivastava1
Ravi Shankar2
Assistant Professor, Mass Communication, Govt P.G. College, Hisar 1 Head, Department of Mass Communication, Govt P.G. College, Ambala Cantt2

The Indian Cinema has carved a special place for itself in its audiences across the globe. It is believed to be capable of raising issues and at times changing people’s perceptions. One of the major issues that are of concern in India today is the ongoing war between the state and those branded naxals. These naxals claim to be the indigenous of the state. Since Naxalbari the war has grown many folds and incidents like Dantewada has put every Indian to shame. Cinema too has tried to draw and explore this crisis of identity a number of times. One such attempt was Govind Nihalani’s Hazar Chaurasi ki Maa produced in 1998. The film received critical acclaim for its impeccable adaptation of the Mahaswetadevi’s novel of the same name. The film is a landmark in portraying the war taken up the so called naxals against the state. Also as the journey is through the character of a mother whose son is killed by the police for being a naxal makes it all the more interesting to be studied. This paper tries to study the complexities in establishing identities within those branded naxals and those who are closely related to them. The paper would explore crisis of identity in Govind Nihalani’s Hazar Chauirasi ki Maa thus studying the life of Naxalism in contemporary Bollywood. The study would take up a paradigmatic semiotic analysis of the films and construct various codes bringing to light the hidden meanings in the analysis and thus deconstructing the complexities of identity of the naxals in Bollywood. Introduction

Cinema has been an influencing factor across the world. Considering this universal obsession about cinema it starts a discussion and also provides for food for thought. Among such films is a film called Hazar Chaurasi ki Maa by acclaimed director Govind Nihlani .The film questions the societal divide of the ruler and the ruled through the equations of the so called bhadralok and the naxals. The film diligently handles the adaptation of Mahasweta Devi’s novel of the same name. It effectively portrays the growing unrest of period post Naxalbari. It brings to life the complex relations through the characters of a family. The study intends to look at the film from the angle of the sign and signified and bring out the cinematic representation of the ongoing tussle of the right and wrong in the society which has been questionin the very basic structures of the society. The paper aims at finding out colloquial practices in a confused society using semiotic analysis under the umbrella of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to offer with critical recognition to Nihalani’s Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maa. This study applies qualitative analysis to the selected film as its prime sources complemented by secondary data sources such as documents related to the film. The study is based on, Chandler’s (2000) categories of codes so that it matches with CDA and the significant conversational practices in Hazar Chaurasi ki Maa. In the film, issues of Naxalism and those associated to it on either sides is articulated via societal, explanatory, syntagmatic and paradigmatic codes. These codes are progressed by two regulatory codes class andmoney. Background, music, images, customs, happenings, natural phenomena (darkness) and psychosomatic state of characters are other signs which imitate implied meanings. Also obscurity and brilliance have been deployed for echoing inherent meanings. Thus, this paper underwrites suggesting a systematic approach to the study of the exploring the crisis of identity in Nihalani’s Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maa.

The concept
The issue of class struggle has existed for ages. Studies claim it to be as old as the human civilization itself. In today’s age of modernity there is a complex arrangement of this issue in our societies. On one hand people publicise their indulging in class struggle whereas on the other people condemn of it and fight it. But one thing is for sure that it cannot be ignored. Hence the issue has even found representations on the celluloid putting forth various views of the society on the issue. Cultural references beckon a strong presence of Naxalism in Bengali films of Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen that were produced during the time that followed the Naxalbari revolt. The films take up a social setting where the protagonist is generally a common man. On the contrary, the contemporary Hindi cinema, along with the regional cinema, is rather hard hitting and talks of hardcore Naxalism as shown in Nihalani’s Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maa. The study would focus on establishing relations between the signs and the signified portrayed in these films. It will also analyse the cinematic representations of the Naxal movements in the Hindi cinema and explain the ideologies presented in the film. A powerful statement is expected to emerge out of the analysis which would be a manifestation of the customary ideologies in the modern society. Crisis of Identity:

The fight for identity has given birth to the ongoing debate of the class and caste. Nihlani’s Hazar Charasi Ki Maa brings forth this class struggle in a hard hitting manner .The audiences of cinema in India are completely awed by the medium. But the popular recognition of the medium is yet only professional. Thus it calls for a critical recognition of the medium that has immense potential of social transformation and bringing to light the positivity or for that matter issues that can be directed towards positivity. This popular recognition of films, however, needs to be strengthened by professional and critical recognitions for film is a medium extremely powerful and can encourage human behavior change. The study aims at identifying contextual meanings of third party reproduction in the selected films with gender and religious orientations from a hypothesis that there are veiled meanings and social semiotics which signify different representations. Thus, this study intends at narrowing the research gap in the study of a case of anidentity conflict for there is a dearth of such studies which saw the conversational practices and this contemporary issue from the perspective of CDA and semiotics. Objectives of the Study

The drive of this study has been to analyze audiovisual representations, in terms of physiognomies specific to the audiovisual events and actions. General Objective:
This study is essentially intended to look into the socio-political complexities and identity constructs of Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maa film using Fiske’s (1989) model of semiotic analysis and types of codes Chandler’s (2000) . Specific Objectives:

Based on the above general objective, this study is geared towards: Finding out the body of language utterances, symbols, visual images and other forms of semiotics in Hazar Chaurasi ki Maa; Exploring the crisis of identity in different sociopolitical contexts; Examining the contribution of the discursive practices used in the films to social transformations in different social context;

Significance of the Study
This study has fundamental uses to uncover inequalities that emerge from the powerrelationships of different groups in the selected film. The present research would helpviewers to see the hidden meanings of films which are revealed by CDA using filmsemiotics as a research tool. Moreover, other critics and other stakeholders in filmindustry could possibly take this research work as an input to see micro and macrosocietal values from different perspectives. Besides, to nominate films to awards and toconsecrate films of the past, this research work will provide some guidelines. Thisresearch may also enlighten stakeholders’ vision on the necessity of professional criticson media texts in general and the produced films in particular. Methods of the Study

This study has used qualitative method of study.
Selection Criteria of Films
The film has been selected based on some parameters set by the analyst. The criteria that was used to choose the film was: 1. Fame during the time of making,
2. the essentialities of their themes to the social values,
3. the period of the film, and
4. their literary merits.
Sources of Data
The researcher has used primary and secondary data to his research work. Primary Data
The particular film Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maa was used as primary data. This data sources were chosen among other films based on the above criteria. Secondary Data
The study has used text analysis to find data. The documents (secondarysources) were: records, papers, articles, periodicals and other related writings aboutthe selected film, semiotic and CDA.
Methods of Analysis
The researchers have used qualitative method of analysis which is more of analytic and descriptive nature. Scope of the Study
This research work is limited to a discourse and semiotic study of the Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maa film hence the scope is limited to Semiotic Critical Discourse Analysis and the analytic Procedures thereof.

Analysis of ‘Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maa’
Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maais a melodramatic film which reflects strongly the social complexes around class struggle. The analysis is based on signifiers that can be put into categories of semiotic codes, social codes paradigmatic in nature.

Background Information about the Film
Hazar Chaurasi ki Maa was produced by famous director Govind Nihalani. The cast of Bol includes the talented JayaBachhan, Nandita Das , Anupam Kher and Joy Sengupta in lead roles. The issues of class and identity form the basics of the film . The film has a regional setting to reflect the days after Naxalbari , so the background music, dressing (custom of actors and actresses), names of actors and actresses are all given a backdrop to suit the premise. .

Synopsis of the story:
Dibyanath Chatterji, his bank-employed wife, Sujata, and youngest son, Brati, are a part of aprosperous existence in Calcutta, West Bengal, India, circa early 1970s. Sujata is a soft, heartfelt Hindu, spiritual, and sympathetic woman, and Brati has completed his school and is now joined college. His close relatives are proud of him, and keep track of his development. Then their world is traumatized during the early hours, when theylearn by the police that Brati has been killed. Dibyanath and Sujata go to ascertainBrati's body, bewail, wailing inconsolably. They now know that their lives have changed forever - for by the police they will be termed the parents of corpse No. 1084. Sujata tussles to understand Brati's death and causes, by meeting his friends one by one, she finds out that Brati had a girlfriend named NandiniMitra, and that's when discoverts that Brati was part of a rebellious group often referred to as "Naxalbari", a radical leftist group. As she investigates deeper to look intoBrati's former life, she begins to comprehend and appreciate her son's struggle, and decides to continue to further this. What Sujata is unaware of is her and Dibyanath's lives are endangered, and they will end up dead and as numbered bodies in a police mortuary. Broadcast and Narrowcast Semiotic Codes of the Film

Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maa consists of some broadcast and narrowcast codes. . There are frequent signs around the acts which display the activities, conducts and dialogues of these people and their contenders. The signs in the film may be divided into two different categories: broadcast and narrowcast codes. Broadcast Codes

The film carries a dark setting to portray the darkness associated with the issue .the name Brati given to the protagonist which means a love indicates the positive thoughts of Brati on equality. His name is an umbrella name to all those who vote for spread the fragrance of equality. Sujata the mother means one belonging to a high class which is a representation of a high class female who seems to have all the luxuries of life. Similarly Nandini the only female protagonist means joy and that is what she tries to bring to the lives of people around her The other broadcast codes are more of colors. For example, Black and white colours are very frequently used in film denoting the characters .Sujata is generally shown wearing white clothes signifying the purity of her character.Semantically other colours are used to broadcast opportunities and prevailing situations in the film like yellow is used as the background of the house signifying hope .

Narrowcast Codes
The conversations between the Brati and his friendssignify a possible hope to break the barriers of caste and class though slowly. The important conversation between the father and Brati about the fight for equality and is shown not face to face but in the first instance they talk across a closed door meaning the doors of discussion are shut from the side of those who use class for their own benefits and don’t want to broaden their horizons whereas in the second incident Brati confronts his mother though lovingly. Red and pink colours are used while people are enjoying a party signifying love and happiness. The scenes in the police station are void of colours denoting the harshness of the place and the people. Lastly Sujata too pledges to take forward the cause of her son forwarding the hope in the film. Social Semiotic Codes

The social codes include verbal and nonverbal codes, commodity codes, behavioral codes and regulatory codes. Let us see these codes in Hazar Chaurasi ki Maafollows.

Verbal and Nonverbal Codes
The first verbal code signified in the film is the conversation between the family and his mother where she pleads to be told what’s happening but the family creates a suspense and she finds out on her own that her son is now a body whose number is 1084. The second salient verbal code is the is that between Somu’s mother and Sujata that brings to light the grave in equality and how their lost their son and his friends to the hatred and caste struggle. The conversation is hard hitting comment on the state of affairs which was relevant at the time the film is placed as well as today.The third importanta verbal code that one cannot miss is the conversation between Sujata and nandini where they both trace their ideologies and give an insight into two different worls through the character of Brati.Where Sujata tries talk of Brati as a loving and dotting son Nandini talks of him being a revolutionary and how he attained martyrdom after being cheated by a fellow comrade. All the verbal codes of the film hint towards the hypocrisy of the world where class fight is very much prevalent where the life of a fighter converts to a mere number.Talking of the nonverbal codes of the film the use of the body language and colours effectively speaks for the message the film wants to convey.In the above quoted code, audiences can very well comprehend the macro societal practices thatare needed to be highlighted.

Commodity Codes
Talking of commodity codes, the setting of houses of Brati and Somu have a striking difference. Where the house of Brati is well furnished and has every modern luxuries the house of Somu is void of even the basic necessities of life. Also the degree of torture shown with the Naxalites in the film showcases the extent of war between the Naxalites and the state. The setting of rooms where Brati and his friends meet for their secret meetings in an important commodity code signifying the secrecy and importance of mission of those involved in the fight

Behavioral Codes
The film talks of stark realties that existed at the times post Naxalbari . The behavior of the character of the father and Brati show diligently the ongoing struggle signifying the authoritarian and the oppressed. The importance of equality is pushed through SimaBiswas’s character of Somu’s mother and how it is denied to people on basis of caste and class. The struggle of high class people to maintain their family relations and the complication in their lives too is potrayed through the characters of Brati’s brother and sister. .

Regulatory Codes
There are two main regulatory codes in the film. These are: class and money The first regulatory code is class , which is the motive of the struggle. The so called upper class people don’t want the lower class to see them eye to eye. They would violate the human rights and make the poor suffer. The other regulatory code is money . It is the trigger that creates the classes. Those who are have it consider themselves superior than the others. The regulatory codes are repeatedly used in the film to justify the actions of the characters. SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

Hazar Chaurasi ki Maa is an attempt to bring to public view multiple contemporary issues related to class, this study concerning war of naxals with the society. The war considered an important issue in contemporary times finds portrayal in Hazar Chaurasi ki Maa which gives it a language and provides the audience with food for thought. From time class struggle has been prevalent in our societies. It has been biased as all other issues when it comes to class. As Hazar Charasi ki Maa beautifully portrays that how one class is looked down upon in the society for conducting in a certain way and the other is glorified and celebrated for the same act. All the settings, clothes music and other signs have been used in the film to represent embedded social practices concerning the class struggle. Dark settings of the film signify thepredominant margins (like poverty, famine, ignorance and loss of consciousness) ofthe naxal affected areas. The study has looked at the paradigmatic aspects of semiotics to derive the implied meanings conveyed in the film. Hazar Chaurasi ki Maa is a land mark film that has talked of issues which need to be given voice. This title itself explains the state of human beings reduces to just a number when they are dead and upon that blamed of being naxals.. To sum up, scholars in the field of Moviemaking, Literature and other relatedareas can watch signs from semiotic standpoints and uncover concealed social practices.

1. Banerjee, S. (1980).In the wake of Naxalbari: a history of the Naxalite movement in India: Subarnarekha; 2. Dudrah, R. K. (2006). Bollywood: Sociology Goes To the Movies: SAGE Publications; 3. Dwyer, R., & Patel, D. (2002).Cinema India: The Visual Culture of Hindi Film: Reaktion Books; 4. Kavoori, A. P., &Punathambekar, A. (2008).Global Bollywood: New YorkUniversity Press; 5. Gokulsing, K.M., &Dissanayake, W. (1998). Indian Popular Cinema: A narrative of cultural change U.K., Trentham Books Limited; 6. Hogan, P. C. (2008). Understanding Indian Movies: Culture, Cognition, and Cinematic Imagination: University of Texas Press; 7. Mehta, R. B., &Pandharipande, R. Bollywood and Globalization: Indian Popular Cinema, Nation, and Diaspora: Anthem Press; 8. Meher, M. Growing Industrialization & Growing Naxalism: A Study of Tribal People in Odisha: Lambert Academic Publishing; 9. Rai, A. S. (2009). Untimely Bollywood: Globalization and India New Media Assemblage: Duke University Press; 10. Singh, V. N. Naxalism: A Great Menace: Prashant Publishing House; 11. Singh, P. (1996). The Naxalite Movement InIndia: Rupa;

12. United Service Institution of, I. (2007).National security: rise of naxalism. Global strategic architecture: economic contours. Information security: imperatives: United Service Institution of India in association with K.W. Publishers.

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