From my friend Michael (aka "Dr. Marcus" from the trip to India), anthropologist, teacher, and very insightful Bollywood-watcher, whom you may remember from reserach question 1, back in September:
I am relatively new to Indian films (have seen fewer to 20, maybe; more info in member profile) and also, new to Jaman (thanks to Beth Watkins with whom I traveled throughout India summer '06) For the past two months or so I have been obsessed with Swades. I have only seen this film once in its entirety via Netflix, but the visuals remain in my head vividly. The music is also wonderful, I think it is restrained compared to other "Bollywood" products. Do people agree? I would like to raise a few ideas or questions about it, and hoepfully some in the group will reply. First, I have to say that this is SRK's best that I have seen (including Dil Se, DDLJ, Paheli --- I have only seen some clips of song and dance from many of his other movies). Perhaps because the telling of Mohan's story is so steady and slow and sure, and the actor really effaces himself. Do people agree? You really feel his pain (sorry to use the phrase) in the train station scene. I have seen the same dire ctor's Lagaan and I have to say that imho Swades is far superior. Do people agree? I am also interested in the questions that the film raises about diaspora identity and womanhood; the conflation of family and nation/mother and the portrait of this most highly successful NRI finding his true self in village India with a teacher who makes sacrifices of her own for the sake of the greater good. OK, so the narrative resolves any issues of transnational identity in too pat a way, and the whole problematic of the teacher's rage (too strong a word, because the actress conveys it beautifully through silence and body language) against the status quo and implicitly against casteism. Do people agree that these are indeed themes of the film? Do we presume that she and SRK will have a "modern" marriage, and this is what an NRI and upper middle class Indian audience sees? I am wondering. I know that many NRI's are returning to India, and in some ways Swades is an appeal (in more ways than one). Does this film appeal more to diaspora than to people in India for this reason? Is the rural life too romanticised and false nostalgic? I am thinking not. I think that whole scene in which SRK sings and dances with the children argues against that. The film is saying: "do what you can." Do people agree? Lots of questions, I should stop babbling. The more I think and ponder about this film the more magnificent I think it is. I remember at first thinking the hitchiking holy man singing was a bit silly, now I can't get over it. It is a great song! Am I crazy? I am very interested in hearing people's opinions...thanks! MichaelPlease post in the comments, or if you'd rather be more private, email me and I will happily forward them on to him. Thank you!