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3 novembre 2011 4 03 /11 /novembre /2011 10:01

  The first Indian and Asian Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore's visit to China in 1924 once caused fierce controversies among Chinese intellectual circles, which could be regarded as an important event in the history of modern Sino-Indian cultural communication. This paper tries to divide those who had been involved in a number of hot debates on Tagore's visit to China and his speeches in China into three groups. For the first group, the leading figures like Liang Qichaochao and Xu Zhimo extended warm-hearted welcome to Tagore because they shared some ideas. For Lu Xun and Guo Moruo the two leading writers in the history of modern Chinese literature, their satiric indifference and strong aversion to Tagore reflected either a contempt for India or inner change of attitude towards Indian culture. Such eminent radical intellectuals as Chen Duxiu, Qu Qiubai and Mao Dun belonged to the third group, who were seriously and fiercely critical of Tagore since they dealt with Tagore's visit to China and his speeches in the context of Chinese political realities then. For the second and third group, the hot domestic debates on eastern and western cultures or even the road for modern China in the 1920s had had some indirect impact upon their evaluation on Tagore. One of the key issues here was that Tagore and his Chinese hosts and critics didn't understand each other well enough due to the complicated historical background. Tagore's visit to China, after all, is a valuable reference to Sino-Indian cultural communication today. [Abstract]



So far, we have seen enough multifarious Chinese repercussions to Tagore's visit and his public speeches in China. How to comment on this? When referring to Tagore's visit to China in 1924, Amiya Dev, Professor of comparative literature from Jadavpur University of India once told us in his article, Tagore the pioneer of modern India, "has been misread from many aspects." Why? Anyway, the lack of mutual understanding for each other is really a Himalaya gap waiting for the people from both India and China at present to cross or to fill. Let's cite a Western scholar's review as the conclusion for this article: "Tagore, whose knowledge of Chinese thought was apparently limited to one Taoist classic, and who seems to have known nothing of Confucianism, was ignorant of both the old and the new landscapes of secular Chinese thought. Many Chinese intellectuals, equally ignorant of Hindu thought, were led to the conclusion that he was a Buddhist whose ideas belonged not even to the recent past, which they were actively repudiating, but to the remote and hopelessly antedeluvian world of the T'ang dynasty." Now a new word Chindia has been coined for a new quest for mutual understanding between Indian and China. A number of conferences and seminars to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore have been hosted by different groups of scholars in different countries recently. Therefore it is high time we reflect on Tagore's visit to China and the various receptions at the Chinese side calmly and sincerely. [Concluding Paragraph]



Dr. Yin Xi'nan was born in Chongqing, China. He obtained his Ph.D. degree of comparative literature in Sichuan University in 2006 and studied Sanskrit in Sardar Patel University as a visiting scholar from 2004 to 2005. He did his post-doctoral research work in Beijing University where he continued studying Sanskrit from 2008 to 2010. Now he is working as Associate Professor in the Institute of South Asian Studies, Sichuan University. He is currently (July 2011 to April 2012) a visiting scholar at the Department of East Asian Studies of Delhi University, Delhi for a research project entitled "Chinese Culture in India since 1900." He is interested in Rabindranath Tagore, Sanskrit poetics, Sanskrit Buddhist texts, Sino-Indian Relations, Indian subject in the English world, etc. He has published the following books: Rabindranath Tagore: From the Perspective of World Civilization (2003), The  Discovery  of Rabindranath  Tagore (2005),  India in English Literature (2008), Indian Images of China (2010), Comparative  Studies in Sanskrit Alankara Sastra and Western Poetics (2010), A History of Comparative Literature in India (2011) and Outside of India:  A Study of  Indian Diasporic Writers (2011). His next books will be A History of Indian Literary theories and Critiques, Selected Translations of Sanskrit Poetic Works and Selected Translations of Articles in Comparative Literature in India. [Biography]



Yin Xi'nan, "Tagore's Various Responses in Modern Chinese Intellectual Circles in the 1920s" (unpublished paper delivered at Univ. of Chicago, Tagore Conference, 27 Oct. 2011)

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14 octobre 2011 5 14 /10 /octobre /2011 11:54



Par Ophélie Wiel
Relié
Paru le  : 13 octobre 2011
Editeur  : Buchet-Chastel
ISBN  : 978-2-283-02439-3
EAN  : 9782283024393
Nb. de pages : 223 pages
Poids  : 692 g
Dimensions  : 18,5cm x 21,6cm x 2cm


1896 : Bombay.

Les frères Lumière organisent la première projection cinématographique en Inde. 1913 : Dadasaheb Phalke réalise le premier long métrage indien. 2011 : l'Inde, avec 1000 films par an, est devenue le premier producteur de films au monde alors que ses stars provoquent des émeutes de Bombay à Londres et de Los Angeles à Tokyo. Nous n'avons jamais autant parlé de cinéma indien, mais qu'en sait-on vraiment ? Pourquoi y voit-on si peu de baisers échangés ? Comment les réalisateurs indiens s'inspirent-ils de la princesse Sita pour imaginer des héroïnes à la fois puissantes et candides? Pourquoi Gandhi n'allait-il jamais au cinéma ? Quelles sont les règles incontournables d'un film de Bollywood ? Quelles sont ses chances face à une production made in Hollywood ?...

Autant de questions qui trouvent leurs réponses dans cet ouvrage consacré à un siècle de cinéma indien, à la fois guide et beau livre, riche en photographies et en illustrations originales. De Delhi à Bombay, de Bangalore à Chennai, de Satyajit Ray à Shahrukh Khan, de la comédie musicale à la vaste fresque historique, Bollywood et les autres est une référence indispensable à l'heure où tous les regards se tournent vers les exploits de la plus grande démocratie du monde.

A parcourir au gré de ses envies ou à lire comme une encyclopédie, à emporter avec soi lors d'un voyage en Inde ou à conserver précieusement dans sa bibliothèque, Bollywood et les autres est la référence la plus complète sur le cinéma indien d'hier et d'aujourd'hui.

AUTEUR :
Ophélie Wiel, née en 1981, est critique de cinéma et spécialiste de cinéma indien.

Elle a contribué à Télérama, aux Cahiers du Cinéma et au Dictionnaire du cinéma asiatique (Nouveau Monde, 2008). Elle vit à Bombay où elle enseigne à l'Ecole française internationale.

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14 octobre 2011 5 14 /10 /octobre /2011 10:43

durga 1

Durga est adorée sous différentes formes.

Elle est la Shakti.

L'évolution de Ma Saraswati, Maha Lakshmi et Maha Kali existent à côté, respectivement, de Brahma, Vishno et Mahesh. Chacune de ces trois déités donnent naissance à tois autres formes et ainsi, ces neuf formes toutes ensemble sont connues sous le nom de Nav-Durga. La nomenclature les nomme:

Shailpurtri, Bhrahmacharini, Chandra Ghanta, Kooshmanda, Skandhamata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagowri, Siddhidatritriya.

 

durga-3.jpg


Goddess Navdurga

Durga is worshipped in different forms. She is a form of "Shakti". The evolution of Shri Maha Saraswati, Shri Maha Laxmi and Shri Mahakali took place from Shri Brahma, Shri Vishnu and Shri Mahesh respectively. Each of these 3 deities gave rise to 3 more forms and hence in all, these 9 forms together are known as Nav-Durga. The nomenclatures are Shailpurtri, Bhrahmacharini, Chandra Ghanta, Kooshmanda, Skandhamata, Katyayani, Kalaratri, Mahagowri, Siddhidatritriya.

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12 octobre 2011 3 12 /10 /octobre /2011 20:01





AUDITORIUM
Palais de la Porte Dorée
Cité nationale de l'histoire de l'immigration
293 avenue Daumesnil, 75012 Paris
www.histoire-immigration.fr
M° Porte-Dorée (ligne 8, direction Créteil) Bus 46


ENTRÉE LIBRE
Réservation conseillée :
hetm@histoire-immigration.fr
www.hommes-et-migrations.f


La société française découvre une migration en provenance du souscontinent indien qui s'installe progressivement sur son territoire. A travers les restaurants, les commerces, les fêtes religieuses et des mobilisations politiques, cette migration gagne de la visibilité, notamment dans les grandes villes. Elle interroge également les processus d'intégration par les ressorts d'une dynamique diasporique.
Les diasporas sri lankaises comptent en France parmi les migrations asiatiques les plus importantes. Pendant près de trois décennies d'un conflit séparatiste sanglant, le Sri Lanka est devenu une terre d'émigration massive vers de multiples destinations. La diversité des flux vers l'Europe, la complexité d'une présence, à majorité tamoule, et la politisation d'une communauté qui se structure progressivement au regard de l'évolution du pays d'origine et des environnements d'accueil seront abordés pendant ces deux séances, sans oublier les expressions culturelles et artistiques, qui façonnent les dynamiques identitaires de ces diasporas.


Programme :

VENDREDI 21octobre - 10h00 à 12h00

Etat des lieux de la recherche sur les migrations sri lankaises en France, à la Médiathèque Abdelmalak Sayad, en direction des chercheurs et étudiants et en présence des auteurs du dossier.

Table ronde - 14h00 à 15h30
Cartographie des migrations sri lankaises et panorama international

Table ronde - 16h00 à 17h30
Diasporas Sri lankaises en France


SAMEDI 22 octobre - 15h00 à 17h00
Table ronde : Réalités des réfugiés tamouls en images

17h00 à 18h30
Intermède culturel proposé par

VENDREDI 21 OCTOBRE


10h00 - 12h00
Médiathèque Abdelmalek Sayad
Etat des lieux de la recherche sur les migrations sri lankaises en France
Ce Rendez-vous de la revue débutera à la médiathèque par une présentation, en direction des chercheurs et professionnels des sciences sociales, des travaux de recherche sur les migrations sri lankaises en France, et plus largement des ressources disponibles à la Cité nationale.
En présence d'Anthony Goreau-Ponceaud, maître de conférence de l'université de Bordeaux IV, Gaëlle Dequirez, université de Lille II.


14h00 - 17h30
Auditorium Philippe Dewitte
Les dynamiques migratoires des Sri lankais
Tables rondes animées par Marie Poinsot, rédactrice en chef de la revue et Anthony Goreau-Ponceaud, coordinateur du dossier


14h00 - 15h30
Cartographie des migrations sri lankaises et panorama international
Avec (dans l'ordre) :
o Anthony Goreau-Ponceaud, maître de conférence
de l'université de Bordeaux IV, Diasporas sri lankaises : l'international au coeur des dynamiques migratoires.
o Eric-Paul Meyer, professeur émérite de l'Inalco, Les étapes des migrations sri lankaises en France.
o Marie Percot, chercheure, membre du Laboratoire d'anthropologie urbaine-Cnrs, Regards historiques sur les migrations sri lankaises en France.
o Delon Madavan, université Paris IV, Une situation atypique : la diaspora sri lankaise en Malaisie.


16h00 - 17h30
Diasporas sri lankaises en France
Avec (dans l'ordre) :
o Anthony Goreau-Ponceaud, maître de conférence de l'université de Bordeaux IV, Diasporas sri lankaises : de l'invisibilité à la participation politique.
o Véronique Bouiller, directrice de recherche au CNRS, Justice française et affaires familiales : les risques d'incompréhension.
o Brigitte Tison, institut René Descartes, laboratoire de l'université de Paris V, Mineurs isolés et traumatisme de l'exil.
o Gaëlle Dequirez, université de Lille II, Mobilisation associative et construction d'un récit sur le Sri Lanka.
o Blanche Mattern, présidente de l'association Inmalanka, Un programme de co-développement à Sri Lanka et en Inde sur l'enfance et les minorités migrantes.
o Stéphane Gatignon, maire de Sevran et conseiller régional de l'Ile-de-France, Les élus locaux et la mobilisation associative tamoule (sous réserve).


SAMEDI 22 OCTOBRE


15h00 - 18h30
Auditorium Philippe Dewitte
Réalités des réfugiés tamouls en image


15h00 - 17h00
Iles intérieures, diaporama réalisé et commenté par
Vasantha Yogananthan, photographe indépendant :
Rassemblements, fêtes, théâtres de guerres : à travers une mise en scène extrêmement élaborée, les Tamouls
rejouent l'"Histoire" de leur propre pays en région parisienne.
Projection du court-métrage, fiction, Les Ombres du silence (2010), réalisé par Pradeepan Raveendran, production Exil Image et Lamplighter Films, qui évoque les cauchemars et réalités d'une personne d'origine Tamoule, exilée et déprimée.


17h00 - 18h30
En partenariat avec l'Organisation Globale du Peuple Indien d'Origine (GOPIO francophone) et en présence de son président Goojha Ved Prakash et de Anusuja Ravishankar, responsable culturelle de l'organisation : o Musique Carnatique (violon & tabla), avec Ravikanth Tisenthini et Sivapillai Subakar
o Danse classique Bharath nathyam, par Ravikanth Thisenthini, professeur
o Danse Bollywood Avatharam, en compagnie de Jay suivie d'une présentation de tenues traditionnelles.


Verre de clôture.

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4 octobre 2011 2 04 /10 /octobre /2011 12:39

durga 1

Goddess Durga is the mother of the universe and believed to be the power behind the work of creation, preservation, and destruction of the world. Since time immemorial she has been worshipped as the supreme power of the Supreme Being and has been mentioned in many scriptures - Yajur Veda, Vajasaneyi Samhita and Taittareya Brahman.

The Meaning of "Durga"

The word "Durga" in Sanskrit means a fort, or a place which is difficult to overrun. Another meaning of "Durga" is "Durgatinashini," which literally translates into "the one who eliminates sufferings." Thus, Hindus believe that goddess Durga protects her devotees from the evils of the world and at the same time removes their miseries.

The Many Forms of Durga

There are many incarnations of Durga: Kali, Bhagvati, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Gauri, Kandalini, Java, Rajeswari, et al. Durga incarnated as the united power of all divine beings, who offered her the required physical attributes and weapons to kill the demon "Mahishasur".

Durga's Many Arms

Durga is depicted as having eight or ten hands. These represent eight quadrants or ten directions in Hinduism. This suggests that she protects the devotees from all directions.

Durga's Three Eyes

Like Shiva, Mother Durga is also referred to as "Triyambake" meaning the three eyed Goddess. The left eye represents desire (the moon), the right eye represents action (the sun), and the central eye knowledge (fire).

Durga's Vehicle - the Lion

The lion represents power, will and determination. Mother Durga riding the lion symbolises her mastery over all these qualities. This suggests to the devotee that one has to possess all these qualities to get over the demon of ego.

Durga's Many Weapons

  • The conch shell in Durga's hand symbolizes the 'Pranava' or the mystic word 'Om', which indicates her holding on to God in the form of sound.
  • The bow and arrows represent energy. By holding both the bow and arrows in one hand "Mother Durga" is indicating her control over both aspects of energy - potential and kinetic.
  • The thunderbolt signifies firmness. The devotee of Durga must be firm like thunderbolt in one's convictions. Like the thunderbolt that can break anything against which it strikes, without being affected itself, the devotee needs to attack a challenge without losing his confidence.
  • The lotus in Durga's hand is not in fully bloomed, It symbolizing certainty of success but not finality. The lotus in Sanskrit is called "pankaja" which means born of mud. Thus, lotus stands for the continuous evolution of the spiritual quality of devotees amidst the worldly mud of lust and greed.
  • The "Sudarshan-Chakra" or beautiful discus, which spins around the index finger of the Goddess, while not touching it, signifies that the entire world is subservient to the will of Durga and is at her command. She uses this unfailing weapon to destroy evil and produce an environment conducive to the growth of righteousness.
  • The sword that Durga holds in one of her hands symbolizes knowledge, which has the sharpness of a sword. Knowledge which is free from all doubts, is symbolized by the shine of the sword.
  • Durga's trident or "trishul" is a symbol of three qualities - Satwa (inactivity), Rajas (activity) and Tamas (non-activity) - and she is remover of all the three types of miseries - physical, mental and spiritual.

Devi Durga stands on a lion in a fearless pose of "Abhay Mudra", signifying assurance of freedom from fear. The universal mother seems to be saying to all her devotees: "Surrender all actions and duties onto me and I shall release thee from all fears".

 

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4 octobre 2011 2 04 /10 /octobre /2011 11:17

durga-1.jpg

La déesse Durga est la Mère de l’Univers et on dit qu’elle a le pouvoir de création, de préservation et de destruction du monde. Depuis des temps immémoriaux, elle a été adorée en tant qu’être suprême et pouvoir suprême et on parle d’elle dans de nombreux textes: Yadur Veda, Vajasaneyi, Samhita et Taittareya Brahman.


Le sens du mot « Durga »

Le mot « durga » en sanscrit signifie un fort ou juste un lieu qu’il est difficile de prendre. Un autre sens à ce mot est « durgatinasini » qui se traduit littéralement par « celle qui enlève toutes les souffrances ». Ainsi, les Hindous croient que la déesse Durga protège ses dévots des enfers du monde et enlève aussi leurs misères.


Les diverses formes de Durga

Durga a plusieurs incarnations : Kāli, Bhagvati, Gauri, Kandalini, Bhavani, Ambika, Lalita, Java, Rajeswari.

Durga incarnée réunit les pouvoirs de toutes ces déités qui lui offrent  tous les attributs physiques et toutes les armes nécessaires pour tuer le démon Mahishasur.


Les armes de Durga

Dans l’iconographie, Durga a huit ou dix bras. Ils représentent huit ou dix directions dans l’Hindouisme. Cela signifie qu’elle protège ses fidèles venus de toutes les directions.


Les trois yeux de Durga

Comme Shiva, Durga est aussi appelée « Triyambake » (la déesse qui a trois yeux). L’œil gauche représente le désir (la lune), le droit représente l’action (le soleil) et l’œil central, la connaissance (le feu).


Le véhicule de Durga – le Lion

Le lion représente le pouvoir, la volonté et la détermination. Durga chevauchant un lion symbolise la maîtrise de toutes ces qualités réunies. Ceci suggère aux dévots qu’ils doivent avoir en eux toutes ces qualités pour vaincre le démon de l’ego.


Les armes de Durga

§ la conque symbolise le « pravana » ou le mot mystique « Om » qui indique son appartenance divine par le son.

§ L’arc et les flèches représentent l’énergie. Durga indique ainsi son contrôle sur les deux aspects de l’énergie : puissante et cinétique.

§ L’éclair signifie la fermeté. Les dévots de Durga doivent être aussi fermes que l’éclair dans leurs convictions. Comme l’éclair peut détruire ce sur quoi il tombe sans en être lui-même affecté, les fidèles doivent relever des challenges sans perdre leur confiance en eux.

§ Le lotus que tient Durga est en bouton. Il symbolise l’assurance d’un succès mais pas sa finalité. Lotus en Sanscrit se dit « pankaja » qui veut dire « né dans la boue ». Donc, ce lotus symbolise l’évolution continuelle des qualités spirituelles des dévots mais admet dans le même temps la boue de la luxure et de l’avidité.

§ le « Sudarshan Chakra » ou disque magnifique qui tourne autour du doigt de la déesse sans le toucher signifie que le monde entier est soumis à la volonté de Durga et sous ses ordres. Elle utilise cette arme pour détruire l’enfer et produire un environnement qui conduit à la croissance de la droiture.

§ L’épée symbolise la connaissance qui a l’acuité d’une épée. La connaissance libérée de tout doute a la brillance de l’épée.

§ le trident ou « trishul » est le symbole de trois qualités : Satwa (inactivité), Rajas (activité) et Tawas (non-activité) et il enlève les trois problèmes qui sont : physiques, moraux et spirituels.

Devi Durga est assise sur le lion sans aucune crainte dans la posture de « Abhay Mudra » qui signifie l’assurance de la liberté face à la peur. La mère universelle semble dire à tous ses disciples : « Livrez toutes vos actions et vos devoirs et je vous libérerai de toutes les craintes »

durga_slays_the_demon_mahishasur_hh27.jpg

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3 octobre 2011 1 03 /10 /octobre /2011 19:12

A home away from "home" for the British in India, hill stations are a window into the discourse of British colonialism and the practices they generated.  A 19th-century invention, the hill station has been memorialized by Rudyard Kipling as the quintessential playground of the Raj.1  Even today in the 21st century, writers like Ruskin Bond continue to tap into the fascination that hill stations exercise over us.2

Systematic British exploration of the Himalayas began after the Anglo-Gurkha wars of 1814-16.  At that time, the biggest mountains in the world and its wild terrain could not be easily incorporated into their imperial project.  In order to make colonialism viable in this alien landscape, the landscape itself had to be domesticated.3  This was done through using a picturesque aesthetic.  The picturesque aesthetic was  a way of seeing that emphasized the suitability of a scene to be included in a picture, that is, it was pictorially assimilable.  This was the dominant aesthetic used in the colonies to not only portray the landscape, but to also change it. Hill station picture postcards show how this aesthetic was used to make "mountains" into "hills."  They show us the aesthetic shifts that took place in order to create a "home away from home."

 

The north-west view of Nainital in Figure 01 with its beautiful lake, pretty cottages and verdant hills does not show an accidental landscape. The trees and cottages have been placed in the picture, and  their geographical location is shaped by the logic of colonial discourse. In other words, to make Nainital look like the Alpine shores of Lake Geneva took some work.  A European aesthetic of landscape had to be imported in, and the landscape had to be viewed through the  lens of that particular aesthetic in order to make it amenable to colonial society.  Examples like the view from Garkhal, Kasauli Hill in Figure 02 demonstrate another aspect of this transplanted aesthetic.  Not only did the domestication of mountains require an aesthetic response in how they were to be viewed, but the landscape of the hill stations had to be transformed, through architecture, gardening, and institutions like the army and the church.

 

Hill station postcards aren't just encoders of colonial discourse, they also tell us about the sorts of practices that hill stations generated. So Miss Doris Grassby of Simla, who is addressed in the postcard in Figure 03, wasn't just receiving a polite greeting from somewhere far away.  She and her correspondent were also engaging in the mundane transactions (often criss-crossing the globe) that gave the hill stations their raison d'être.  Its not a coincidence that one of the correspondents is a woman, and presumably a white woman. The domestication of the wild mountainous terrain was also reflected in the gendering and racializing practices of the hill stations.  Sometimes we see this in the images of the postcards, and sometimes they make their presence known by their absence in the imagery.

Picture postcards were immensely popular in Europe and its colonies between the 1890s and the First World War. The fact that this period also coincides with the heyday of European imperialism is not mere coincidence.  As Saloni Mathur points out, the picture postcard is “both a cosmopolitan form and a constant reminder of the imperial conditions that establish a basis for modern cosmopolitanism.” 4   Considering how the postcard culture was produced by the material conditions of empire, it is no surprise that postcards, especially the colonial postcard, were particularly well suited to encode the project of empire with all its attendant anxieties and feats of discursive gymnastics.


1 19th-century Western medicine considered higher elevations as antidote to the diseases rampant in the plains. While there was no proven scientific evidence for this, nevertheless, hill stations were  established across India starting in 1827 when a sanitarium was set up in Ootacamund (Kenny, Judith. "Climate, Race, and Imperial Authority: The Symbolic Landscape of the British Hill Station in India." Annals of the Association of American Geographers 85, no. 4 (1995): 694-714).
2 For example, see this regular column by Ruskin Bond, Mussoorie Diary <http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?265335> in Outlook India, May 17, 2010.
3 Mitchell, W. J. T. "Imperial Landscape." In Landscape and Power, W. J. T Mitchell, 5-34. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2002.
4 Mathur S. India by Design: Colonial History and Cultural Display.  Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press; 2007:230.

Picturing Mountains As Hills


By Shashwati Talukdar

 

He saw many things which amused him; and he states, on honor, that no man can appreciate Simla properly, till he has seen it from the sais's point of view. He also says that, if he chose to write all he saw, his head would be broken in several places.

-Rudyard Kipling, Plain Tales From The Hills (1888)

Fig.01
Fig.02
Fig.03
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3 octobre 2011 1 03 /10 /octobre /2011 19:09

Simply put, film posters are frozen images of narrative cinema whose primary object is to arouse the curiosity of potential spectators, to persuade them to enter the movie theatre. These posters are essentially created just before the film is ready for distribution. As a publicity icon, the poster is meant to convey the theme, the genre, the locations, the emotional contour and the primary star cast of the film. Don was released in 1978 at the peak of Bachchan’s career. In the poster of the film presented here as fig. 01, the actor is reproduced thrice in the frame. We see him in action right in the centre. We see Helen on the left as she pours a drink for the actor. Finally, the typical Bachchan face is profiled on the right. The bottom center shows Zeenat Aman, pointing a gun at the spectator. This poster of Don is a clear example of how cinematic elements get distilled into a set of frozen visual codes through which we imagine the film. The three avatars of Bachchan in the poster convey action, dramatic interiority and seductive charm. Helen’s presence in the poster conveys the possibility of a cabaret, while the presence of female oriented action is conveyed through Zeenat Aman, sporting a short haircut, a determined expression on her face as she points the gun at the viewer.

In the days of Amitabh Bahchan’s stardom, film posters were the most important vehicle for film publicity along with official theatrical trailers and printed advertisements in newspapers and magazines. Television made its entry as a domestic item only in the early seventies and was controlled entirely by the government until the 1990s. Most of TV programming was still predominantly pedagogical in nature and film content was only allowed as part of the Sunday feature, or as short programmes on film music. No advertising was allowed on television and therefore the medium was not available for filmmakers to publicize their films. It was the printed poster, plastered on walls, buses and trains that operated as the primary pre-release publicity vehicle. As a major component of visual culture, the film poster added tremendous signage to street life and created a parallel discourse for the marketing of films. This period also saw a combination of the hand painted poster and the “cut and paste” form. For the hand painted poster, the artist painted the poster design on canvas on the basis of stills provided by the producer. The “cut and paste” method on the other hand was a combination of photographic cut outs and painted embellishments. In both versions, a master copy was prepared by hand, shot on camera and then the photographed image was used for mass printing.3 The cultural iconography of the poster as we will see always relies on both cinematic and extra cinematic discourses to evoke a form where industrial practice, spatial and cultural value, historical circumstances, questions of stardom and melodrama come together. While these elements are central to the films themselves, the posters not only offer a parallel discourse, but also directly highlight changes in the film industry, making certain tensions more visible. These tensions include conflicts between stars, between the creative vision of directors and the publicity drive of producers. One could then treat these posters as documents of contradictions, absences, and subterranean narratives of the film industry, where the visible, the invisible, and the conflictual, jostled for space.

The Arrival of Amitabh Bachchan

Amitabh Bachchan’s “superstar” status has been documented considerably, both by journalists and by academics.4 Imagined as the “angry man” in the 1970s by the writer duo Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar, Bachchan found himself catapulted into a strikingly new cinematic imagination of political and social turbulence. Writing about the actor in 1996, journalist Avijit Ghosh sums up the moment well: “The hollowness of official slogans like Garibi Hatao ["Eradicate Poverty"] reflected itself everyday in rising prices, growing unemployment and rampant corruption. Cynicism bred easy, accentuated further by the State’s insensate treatment… of the JP student movement. But there was also a sense of helplessness that spawned a bitter and impotent rage. It simmered until Amitabh Bachchan showed how the underdog and the underprivileged could strike back. When his clinched fist and baritone boom burst with primeval intensity, in darkened cinema halls smelling of sweat and urine, a nation’s eager fantasy came to fruition.”5 Bachchan’s image as the “angry man” circulated widely and gained the currency of a modern myth. Never before had an actor had this kind of presence, embodying the social and political turbulence of his time. This iconic presence of a single actor also signified major transformations that were taking place in the film industry from the 1970s onwards, an issue that is not always highlighted in existing accounts of Amitabh Bachchan.

The most prevalent industry discourse positioned the star as a “complete actor.” 6 This term essentially referred to Bachchan’s ability to handle comedy, action, dance, drama and romance. The process that went into the making of the “one man performer” who could do it all himself slowly ushered in a marginalization of comedians and several other peripheral characters who had traditionally provided interruptive relief, on the margins of the main story. Amitabh Bachchan as we all know was a versatile actor who could move easily between brooding anger, comedy, romance and most of all action. Bachchan’s stardom coincided with a particular kind of professionalization of action in the industry with stunt directors creating their own space. Bachchan himself became well known for doing his own stunts, something that was taken note of and appreciated by many action directors. M.B Shetty who had simultaneously emerged as the industry’s most highly rated stunt director said in an interview, “Show me one actor anywhere in the world who can do the kind of stunts Amitabh does without a double and I’ll give you my right arm.”7 Bachchan’s achievement with stunts was widely reported in the popular press and contributed profoundly to the consolidation of his masculinity.8 Bachchan’s limited but well known dancing steps became a familiar presence in several of his films, emerging as the quintessential Bachchan style. Most of all the female lead became marginal as Bachchan reached the position of the highest paid actor in the film industry. The idea of the “complete actor” therefore indicated an overwhelming consolidation of industrial practices around one figure. It is not surprising that the label of “one man industry” was used to identify Bachchan’s presence and power.9 Films sold because of his name and presence in the film. The actor was known to move at times between the shooting of three different films, all during the course of a single day. This mythology of stardom can be accessed in the Bachchan posters and reveal carefully worked out iconographic techniques. This was also a marketing strategy in which the industrial landscape, the turbulent political milieu of the period, Bachchan’s new style of acting, and stardom, came together.

Amitabh Bachchan’s tryst with action was a major highlight of the 1970s, represented with some creativity in posters of films like Zanjeer ("Chain;" Prakash Mehra: 1973), and Don (Chandra Barot: 1978). These posters generate a sense of the kinetic through body movement, agility with guns and a mise-en-scene of violence, establishing Bachchan as an action hero. Zanjeer is the film that catapulted Bachchan to fame, even as he was the fourth choice for the lead role.10 Written by Salim Javed, Zanjeer is a straightforward revenge film based on the childhood trauma of a young Vijay (Bachchan) who witnesses his parents’ murder. Two posters of Zanjeer (figs. 02 and 03) display all the major characters of the film, but the themes of anger and action have a centrality that becomes a recurrent motif in other Bachchan posters. This was thus, the first film to display the iconography of anger that marked Bachchan’s stardom in the years to come.

A low budget film that ended up becoming a huge success at the box office, Zanjeer was subsequently re-released. As evidenced by the caption on the posters, “Prakash Mehra’s smash hit now in cinemascope,” these are obviously re-release posters of the film designed after a new cinemascope version was created to add to its value. The change in projection technique is highlighted in the poster as an additional attraction. The caption also makes it clear that the producers were capitalizing on the success of the star after a series of hits and re-released the film with a new print blown up to cinemascope. In the days before the arrival of the VCR, the re-release of films was a major source of revenue for the film industry and was always accompanied by a new set of posters. Additional information is therefore added to the Zanjeer poster for the film’s re-release.


1 See Sara Dickey, “Still One Man in a Thousand,” and Rosie Thomas, “Zimbo and Son Meet the Girl with the Gun," in David Blamey and Robert Desouza ed., Living Pictures: Perspectives on the Film Poster in India. London: Open Editions, 2005, 27-44 and 69-78. Also see R. Srivatsan, “Looking at Film Hoardings: Labour, Gender, Subjectivity and Everyday Life in India,” in Public Culture, Vol.4, Number 1, Fall 1991, 1-23.
2 For a detailed account of the production, design and technological transformation of posters in India, see Ranjani Mazumdar, “The Bombay Film Poster,” in Seminar, Vol. 525, May 2003, 33-41. Also see Rachel Dwyer and Divya Patel, Cinema India: The Visual Culture of Hindi Films New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2002, 101-183.
3 Ibid.
4 Madhava Prasad, The Ideology of the Hindi Film: A Historical Reconstruction, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998, 117-159; Vijay Mishra, Bollywood Cinema: Temples of Desire, Routledge, 2002; Ranjani Mazumdar, Bombay Cinema: An Archive of the City, Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2007, 1-40; Sushmita Dasgupta, Amitabh: The Making of a Superstar, Penguin Global, 2007; and Valentina Vitali, Hindi Action Cinema: Industries, Narratives, Bodies, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2008, 184-229.
5 Avijit Ghosh, “India’s Journey with Amitabh Bachchan” The Pioneer, November 24, 1996. The term “JP movement” refers to the powerful movement of students and youth against government corruption led by the Gandhian Jayaprakash Narayan, particularly in the states of Bihar and Gujarat. During this movement, Narayan gave a call for peaceful “Total Revolution”. The JP movement was a significant opposition to the Central Government in power and Indira Gandhi, the then prime minister, responded by arresting Narayan and thousands of activists, finally imposing a state of National Emergency. For more on the JP movement, see Francine Frankel’s India’s Political Economy 1947-77: The Gradual Revolution New Jersey, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978 and Bipin Chandra’s In The Name of Democracy: JP Movement and the Emergency Penguin Books, India, 2003.

6 In interviews with script writers Salim Khan, Javed Akhtar and Javed Siddiqui and directors Ketan Desai and Mahesh Bhatt, the term “complete actor” constantly came up during discussions to refer to Amitabh Bachchan. It was also widely used in Screen and the Trade Magazines, Film Information and Trade Guide. Komal Nahata, the editor of Film Information was the first to explain the concept to me. It is rumored that the French filmmaker François Truffaut first used it for Bachchan. All interviews conducted in Bombay, July, 1995.
7 Quoted in Udaya Tara Nayar, “Amitabh Bachchan Superstar” Indian Express, June 24, 1984.
8 Vijay Mishra, Bollywood Cinema: Temples of Desire, New York: Routledge, 2002,130.
9 Tarun Tejpal, “The Mirror has Two Faces,” Outlook, July 20, 1998.
10 Interview with Javed Akhtar, Bombay, April, 2003. Raj Kumar, Dev Anand and Dharmendra were the other actors

The Man Who Was Seen Too Much:
Amitabh Bachchan on
Film Posters

By Ranjani Mazumdar
The film poster as a publicity icon has been around for most of the 20th century, creating its own parallel universe and history alongside that of celluloid. Along with billboards, posters in India have played a pivotal role in creating a colorful and vibrant buzz around cinema.1 As film memorabilia, the poster operates in public memory literally like a device that triggers off a series of associations linked to cinema, stars, stories, public spaces, events, music and more.2 This essay attempts a journey into the recent past to look at a collection of posters that showcase one of Hindi cinema’s biggest stars, Amitabh Bachchan, during the most significant period of his career. I undertake this journey with knowledge of the films and the position the star had in that period. While we may now recognize the importance of the poster as an ancillary production unit of the film industry, a close look at posters of a particular historical moment which got identified with a star can reveal the complex mechanisms of a visual culture associated with cinema. A relational reading across a set of posters displaying one star’s iconographic journey can help us understand the film industry’s negotiation of the box office and the way star value was assessed. An analysis of these posters will also reveal the tussles of the 1970s and 80s when a superstar such as Bachchan was operating alongside the multi-star form, generating interesting tensions within the film industry.
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The Taj Mahal today has become an international icon and of this there is no doubt.1 For example, an advertisement in a Japanese subway for grave markers features an image of the Taj Mahal to underscore the point (fig. 01). Much imagery of the Taj Mahal, particularly that used in western advertising, however, gives no indication that the Taj Mahal is a funerary monument. Examples include an advertisement promoting the late hotelier Leona Helmsley’s Helmsley Palace in New York that compared her hotel to the Taj Mahal, thus thoroughly misunderstanding its originally intended use.2 So too I recall the day many years ago when my daughter came home from her secondary school in St. Paul, Minnesota (USA), telling me that I was going to be very upset because her teacher informed the class that the Taj Mahal was a Hindu palace.3 With these few examples of how the Taj Mahal is viewed outside of the subcontinent, I would like to consider how the complex and by extension the Mughals were and perhaps still are understood in India for a period ranging roughly from the formal end of the Mughal empire in 1858 into the post-independence period as evidenced in part by visual ephemera in the Priya Paul collection (fig. 02).

I commence my discussion of the attitudes toward the Taj Mahal in the subcontinent itself with two post-Independence examples. One is a booklet on Brajbhumi entitled The Lands of the Legends of Love featuring on its cover not an image associated with the terrain of Krishna’s childhood but rather with an image of the Taj Mahal,4 considered by many as a symbol of undying love. The Taj Mahal, as Kajri Jain notes, was a favorite backdrop, whether the actual monument or the backdrop of a photo studio, for posing couples in public places.5 In this same spirit, although devoid of any couples, is an oversized New Year’s Card, probably inspired by Valentine cards, purchased in Kolkata in 2010, underscoring this notion.6 The interior’s pop-out image of the Taj is emblazoned with the following: “You are my passion;” “You are the sunshine of my soul!” and “I have a heart full of love, which I always like to give you” (fig. 03). Clearly, the notion that the Taj Mahal is the penultimate symbol of love is alive and well in India today.

A second Indian image of the Taj Mahal is evoked in a 1979 interview by historian and blogger Jyotsna Kamat with nationalist historian R.C. Majumdar whom Kamat considers India’s greatest historian; it was conducted shortly before Majumdar’s death.7 What is noteworthy for our purposes is that this interview took place in Majumdar’s living room, which was embellished with a painting of the Taj Mahal. This might not be unusual given the vast number of wall calendars that bear images of the Taj Mahal, including ones in the Priya Paul collection (fig. 04). However, considering Majumdar’s approach to Indian history as witnessed in his eleven-volume work The History and Culture of the Indian People, which essentially celebrates both India’s ancient past and independence from foreign rulers, among whom he included the Mughals, the presence of the Taj Mahal in this scholar’s living room appears ironic.8 This seeming paradox raises questions about the place of the Taj Mahal in Indian thought and imagination, and, who so to speak “owns” this architectural masterpiece. Is the Taj Mahal essentially a national icon, considered distinct from the larger Mughal legacy?


1 I would like to thank Sugata Ray for his help with this essay. For accessible sources on the Taj Mahal see: Ebba Koch, The Complete Taj Mahal and the Riverfront Gardens of Agra (London: Thames and Hudson, 2006), and Giles Tillotson, Taj Mahal (New Delhi: Penguin Books, 2008).

2 This advertisement was featured in the 1980s in up-scale food magazines such as the now defunct Gourmet. See Pratapaditya Pal et. al., Romance of the Taj Mahal (London and Los Angeles: Thames and Hudson; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1989), 10-11.

3 See Koch, 250. Tillotson, 112-14; 163.

4 The Lands of the Legends of Love: The Braj Circuit (Lucknow: Prakash Packagers, 2001). No author’s name is provided.

5 See Kajri Jain, “Monuments, Landscape and Romance in Indian Popular Imagery” http://tasveerghar.net/cmsdesk/essay/37/index_1.html (accessed September 25, 2010).

6 For Valentine cards, see Christiane Brosius, “The Rhythm of Romantic Love,” http://tasveerghar.net/cmsdesk/essay/92/ (accessed September 25, 2010). Another source of influence could be Christmas cards (editorial remark by CB).

7 http://www.kamat.com/kalranga/itihas/rc_majumdar.htm (accessed July 24, 2010). I want to thank Sandria Freitag for bringing this to my attention.

8 The sections on the Taj Mahal were not written by Majumdar, but by other scholars who tend to praise the building. They make virtually no mention of its Timurid prototypes, thus treating the Taj Mahal as wholly Indian. See S.K. Saraswati, “Mughal Architecture,” in The History and Culture of the Indian People, Vol. VII, ed. R.C. Majumdar (Bombay” Bharatiya Vidha Bhava, 1974), 793-99.

Fantasizing the Mughals and
Popular Perceptions of the Taj Mahal

By Catherine B. Asher
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Here is the invitation to our special exhibit of paintings and photographs of India for DIWALI - please try to come!

Kathleen Scarboro Studio

9 rue de la Révolution Montreuil  93100
14 - 17  October, 2011     14h - 20h,
contact : 01 49 88 08 38   scarborokat@gmail.com  
www.kathleenscarboro.fr
métro Croix de Chavaux

 


works by Nadine Le Prince, Joël Cadiou, Iqbal Malhotra, and Kathleen Scarboro
portes2011web.jpg

 

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Présentation

  • : Les Portes de l'Inde en Midi Pyrénées
  •  Les Portes de l'Inde en Midi Pyrénées
  • : Réseau artistique et culturel INDE en Midi Pyrénées Propose une photographie du paysage des associations, professionnels et amateurs en lien avec l'Inde. Création d'actions communes
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  • Les-Portes-de-l-Inde
  • Le réseau culturel et artistique&quot; Les Portes de l’Inde&quot; regroupe des membres dont l'ambition est de préserver, protéger et promouvoir le patrimoine culturel, artistique et historique de l’Inde en Midi-Pyrénées.
  • Le réseau culturel et artistique&quot; Les Portes de l’Inde&quot; regroupe des membres dont l'ambition est de préserver, protéger et promouvoir le patrimoine culturel, artistique et historique de l’Inde en Midi-Pyrénées.