research question (seriously, it is)
One of my favorite people from the Fulbright program in India this summer is Dr. Michael Marcus, who teaches high school world history and anthropology. His project from this summer is on textiles and trade in Indian history. However, he has an increasing interest in Bollywood - and has even come up with the a bang-on description: "a strange combination of the kitsch and the socially and culturally meaningful" - and the two are beginning to overlap. (Bollywood overlaps with a lot of my life, I find, so I'm not at all surprised.)
Dr. Marcus has asked me the following question and wants readers' help.
Dr. Marcus has asked me the following question and wants readers' help.
I have had this strange fascination lately with Raj Kapoor, and on my "shemaroo" disc "showman of the millenium" (not too hyperbolic, eh?) there is a song from RK's old Barsaat called "Hawa Mein Udata Jayen," which is in the genre, I believe, of what is called a "Dupatta" or "Chunari" song. Now that means a piece of cloth imbued with lots of meaning, head covering, veil, married, unmarried, I don't know. I understand there is also the use of a song called "Chunari Chunari" in Monsoon Wedding which thanks to netflix I will be looking into soon. Anyway google searching the subject only turns up examples of the genre, no fuller description or explanation of what (I suspect) is the rich meaning lying underneath. So, could you possibly ask your readers to contribute info to me about this song type? and its appeal? its deeper meanings and how tie in to social customs, ritual and so on? are their issues of "unveiling" or removing taboos as well? Anyway, that's the idea.Can anyone help? Even if you don't want to post a comment, if you'd be willing to email me any ideas or leads, I will happily forward them on to him. Thank you!
A dupatta is not a head covering, nor is it a veil. It is simply a scarf. Both married and single women wear them.
The Dupatta is a symbol of modesty in North India, mostly. Married women who wear dupattas (instead of saris) are supposed to cover their heads with their dupattas - of course now, the tradition is mostly vestigal in cities...some token covering is done in temples and so on.
Dupattas flying in the breeze is a typical representation of carefree childhood or youth...some songs that evoke this:
- lal dupatta mal mal ka
- there are other lal dupatta songs as well - Raaga has a whole bunch!
Dupattas being wrapped around a girl - used to represent her union with her lover
- Odhni from Tere naam
- Odhni from Tango Charlie etc.
(BTW, Odhni is another word for dupatta, which you probably knew)
Dupattas being removed or caught - imples possession - to catch hold of someone's dupatta or anchal (the end of the sari) is similar to catching hold of their hand...
I can only think of songs that feature this in a brothel setting, like the Inhi Logon Ne song in Pakeezah, but I know there are more..
A "duppata", "odhni", "chunari" usually represents modesty.
Girls usually wear 'chunari' with 'salwar-kameez' ..kind of like a scarf. They use the same chunari to cover their head at some religious cermonies, in the presence of elders etc. Very few people do this in the cities...but its still a tradition in smaller towns and villages.
"hawa mein udata jaaye..mera laal duppata malmal ka" signifies a sense of independecne, youth, romance and free-flow of emotions.
Its interesting to note here that quite a few women these days don't wear the traditional "chunari". Its meant to be a kind of statement (not just a fashion statement)..but one with a more socio-political undertones. Most of the women activists, hard-hitting journalists (who usually cover women's matters) don't wear the traditional "chunari" with salwar kameez. Thats just my observation.
The "Chunari Chunari" song from Monsoon Wedding is originally from the David Dhawan comedy Biwi No. 1. The song is picturized on Salman Khan and Sushmita Sen, who play an adulterous husband and his mistress - Karisma Kapoor plays the eponymous biwi in the film who fights to regain her husband's affection (rather than cutting the cheater loose!).
I can think of lots more songs that have to do with scarves/shawls/whatnot, if they are at all relevant (two that spring to mind right away because of their titles are "Lal Dupatta" from Mujhse Shaadi Karoge and "Oodhni" from Tere Naam). I wouldn't be surprised if we could find a songs DVD completely focused on these types of songs!
I'd like to add a personal observation to the above comments. Traditionally, conservative and orthodox Indian women will cover their heads and at least partly obscure their faces in the company of unrelated adult males. So one theory to explain the abundance of dupattas fluttering around in film songs: it might signify that the heroine has freed herself from the shackles of tradition, abandoned all reserve and declared her love for the hero. Melodramatic, yes. But allusion, thy name is Bollywood.
I have no brown person street cred, huh?
Seriously though, I think bitterlemons has caught the significance of the dupatta in song, though I'm not sure there are enough 'dupatta songs' to constitute a whole genre.
I think this is a regional thing. In South India, Hindu women almost never cover their heads, ever.
are their issues of "unveiling" or removing taboos as well?
Definitely. A woman's dupatta cannot be removed by a man, if she is not affianced or married to him, else that is translated as 'enraging the modesty', insulting or even raping the woman.
Also, when the song says, 'Odh Li chunraiya, tere naam ki' (translated as 'draped myself in the chunariya in your name'), it means that the girl accepts the person,in whose name she draped the chunariya, as her fiance or husband. Of course, different cultures have different symbols of marriage, but this is one of them.
And special hi to Pinke V, my new favorite blurker, who should tell me if she has a blog I can read each morning for giggles, as she is clearly quite funny.
Bollywood outstrips Britain at box office
But we all know what he's really getting at with that question. As all North Indian girls know, North Indian men are breat men and mamma's boys...Go figure the cultural connotations of that. Oedipus is alive and kicking.
1. Kaaton se khich ke ye aanchal, todh ke bandhan baandhi payal.. from Guide. Here the character played by Waheeda Rehman, in actually breaking free from the clutches of her achaeologist husband, and those words that mean "removing this scarf from thorns, breaking free from the bondage, I wear anklets on my feet (to dance for life, in a way)..".
2. "Chhod do aanchal, zamana kya kahega.." The flirting hero grabs the aanchal, and the heroine protests, wondering what people will think.. !
A not very popular film of Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Kareeb, had the dupatta on the film's main posters. It was an interesting spectacle. Vinod Chopra is a man who is fascinated by this part of the woman's attire and he has used it in other films too. But here, on a hill top, he used some obscenely long length of a specially constructed dupatta, and with the help of huge fans, he got the dupatta to fly high and away into the sky. The beautiful orangish yellow dupatta filling up the blue sky made for a breathtaking view.
Just a few asides to add to this discussion.. !