research question #7
Here's a political/cultural question from my friend Dr. Michael (anthropologist, high school teacher, fellow Fulbrighter, and keen observer of Indian cinema) (and poser of questions 1 and 3):
I'm happy to collect answers or further questions here. (And thoughts from anyone [as long as they're not troll-ish] are welcome.) I've never thought about this particular point before, but he does start me thinking about what popular Hindi cinema does to influence its primary audiences' perceptions of one another.
Kal Ho Naa Ho was a big hit in the NRI market a few years ago. It was set in the States and appeared one year after the terrible communal violence in Gujarat. The male leading character (SAK, not SRK) comes from a typical Gujarati NRI business-oriented family, and there is a scene at the wedding or engagement party where his family members sing a song about being "G-U-J-J-U...what a community." It is quite funny and intended simply to be comedy, period. [You can watch it here.] But what I am wondering is how such a number is received by non-Gujaratis. I have a feeling that many in India have a negative reaction to anything Gujarati not only because of what happened in 2002, but also because of Gujarati voters' overwhelming support for Narendra Modi in the most recent elections. Modi is not simply a BJP type nationalist; he is former RSS Hindutva extremist who many believe (or wish) could be the next PM of India. I am trying to get a "read" on how much Gujarat and Gujarati NRIs are tainted by Modi and the politics of Hindutva, or alternatively of how much pan-Indian support Modi really has - but I am inspired to ask because of the "G-U-J-J-U" scene in the movie. Many in India might not find a song about "Gujjus" being "What a community" as so funny, after all. I would love to read responses! BTW I am fully aware that non-Hindus and secularists and leftists and Congress Party affiliates loathe Modi. I am wondering how "ordinary" Indian film viewers react to that particular scene, that's all.