this is not the official cultures Cassidy examines aspects of science and space culture production I'm the creator and host all up there I'm delighted to be joined by Andrew she'll to talk about it gold do we have a subtitle finesse films after she always believe in yourself I'm still subtitle for the film that came up in the Senate but it's not the page where it is it well the tagline is the dream that United our nation I'm not stopping cinema theme that's going to run this route what we're discussing today right finally nation is the Republic of India I don't think so the thing okay finished movement is a film dramatization and fictionalizing ation of the true story of India's gold medal winning field hockey team at the nineteen forty at Olympics posted and London otherwise known as the austerity Olympics as no new facilities are built in the post war economy for India it was also their first Olympic Games as an independent country they had previously entered as British India and been winning medals on behalf of Britain it was also the first games for both India and Pakistan post protection now you can go in years ignition Rambo okay this is part of an ongoing project by unite to go and see films which we wouldn't ordinarily currency in part because we're not seeing trailers for them Beijing media outlets that we are exposed to on a regular basis and they're not being reviewed by my review is here's refusing to listen to bake cons press great because of the fresh green nine and you know this may change because I would love to hear what people who are reviewing stuff that's coming from European and US markets some industries think of from cemex circle gold which of course is it's a bit of a spoiler already because she knew what the end point is going to be a film yes just more by they getting there and the narrative let's get this out of the way field hockey we didn't think it would be quite so sexy but filled exciting pretty sexy so this is from the resort at the Odeon metrocentre across the river in Gateshead heads the mattress into early and it has this habit of pressing on the occasional subtitled foreign language film detailing Indian films yeah this is something we learned when we were in Branford recently which is the fact that they %HESITATION didn't invent for dance to show a lot more subtitled foreign language films from South Asia including ones that are in the women's room bangali in addition to ones that are in hand the one that we saw gold foundation using the state's primarily in India because there's lots of bits when people pass into English when we go to see these kinds of from the system the second one would be celebrity come to see at the metrocentre which seems to be another court body was found because that's got connotations are doing to bring in that that is why it was not because it's it's a Hindi film second seed in the mattress into %HESITATION themes already you're beginning to emerge we go knowing that cinema going in South Asia he's an awfully different social experience from what it is here but there are some elements of it the different quite substantially we go knowing for example the talking during the screening is much more widely accepted in India than it is here and there for the crown with strict adherence to what is known as the code we need to be briefly suspended for we do this now that we're gonna talk and eat and make phone calls during the film we have to be fine with us other humans during this I can cope with Janick St it's just week upset and in front of some young people he incessantly at sites from the largest packaging on the planet go to different schools but yes I am after all the stuff they sell at all I started to go just five minutes to break long but we should have mates another thing that I suppose is worth studying is when you get a ticket to sit in a specific price and then of people come along and the person at the desk at the front of the cinema because this is where I was going to be sitting with you on the set of course you're sending that %HESITATION was going to take it before you actually got to sit twelve extra ticket for but not not everyone just sat in the back and we deliberately set the backed off to one side so as to be inconspicuous at the only white people kind of course are conspicuous this as the only white people in the room drew the attention of the person who is selling is the ticket because I said can we have two grown up kids for the seven whatever sure you've got with him she went you do know it's a bold move from there to annoy it's users to Q. yeah because of course we were the wrong color of past history the fact that the metrocentre idea shows seemingly just Hindi films as it's such a different language from tells you something about what what do you think they are able to get from the surrounding area and the work of art thirty people it meant for him except for you and I seems to be off recent south Asian origin another thing which is very good to get out while we're on the subject of the slight difference between the semi going experience and that the U. K. it's going to see that from my consent into war with %HESITATION yeah western I'm gonna phone personal sentiment was arranged that because people were talking and doing stuff on the phone to a ninety degree during Wonder Woman yeah I had a couple of things that's a spectrum that because we'll save during a quiet place not a single other person said a single word to my recollection to request Arbel time doing nothing because there were people behind us having a food on top show yeah well that's an interest in the film I was in is trying to save it they kept telling me I and then people kept standing up and knocking over the glasses that they shouldn't have had in the screen that that that was missing their banks so I can name a phone what we thought was a radio story space name the phone when people are generally quiet we've seen recently probably the best but you don't even see that for a while it's being played no trace wasn't too but that was terrible it was okay many people are saving less and not the recess intended this to stick with the experience of being in the house it's very sad but also I think it's worse because the first Hindi film that we saw was tiger Zinda hai yes that was quite rushes and that's an option may face it had serious things in it but it was not intended to be fairly serious hi there comic relief and it's needed to stand I think what I'm reading Joanna by the Indian sounds as staff is very aware of cinematic language in a bright playful with it so you have these children action scenes he how people taken south face with the film and self respect their friends to write the film and just having a good time and I kind of embraced the Rochas ness of the crime that was quite a big crowd for that one the cinemas movie half fill for that and it's quite a big screen and the noise didn't really bother me because I was swept up in the action the next and of course sections related these explosions shutting I think with this one it was more of a sign it difficult to concentrate because service lots of different languages being used it was hard to follow of course this is a time in India as well where you're coming I does not just colonial rule but the country splitting apart it's fracturing and so there's a lot of different languages to keep up with and then people are slipping into English at times you need to concentrate on things that were being said and then of course you're aware that your ladies and things in the translation and the subtitles but the subtitles need to be accurate enough because that's the common language English is going to be a common line which anyway in this region I didn't really mind so much to talk in the phone so I could kind of pick up but it was not constant I kind of stress that constant the wrestling actually was there was no break and that there was just a lot going on in that film this quarter there was more drama in it and there was a leading figure during those months are sequence which was about they were running through the second World War in these terms of second World War during which there's music going on with lyrics and so we getting tele sized text translating the lyrics and music at the same times getting newspaper headlines as a way of getting us quickly to the second local reading two sets of stuff at the same time was great Turkey so the last thing the experience of being amongst that cinema audiences in the particular cinema or deterrent I wanted to point out was and this of course reveals how the film ended in the nineteen forty and the fix that changes are things about once you happen with it and change this India does win the men's field hockey in the nineteen forty A. Lympics in fact it's just the filter because is that women still don't get it done and it does when you get a gold medal the entire team and there's a sequence when the Indian national anthem is played over the hoisting of flags the culmination of the narrative is quite powerful I was feeling kind of record hot for engines is great stuff so I was into it but to go I think I counted two currents to cause stood up for the national anthem there were women right some people stood up for the national anthem this apparently is a thing in cinemas in India which is that the national anthem will be played once the phone playing phone stands up and it's quite a matter of I'm just trying to put expectation people will stand up for national anthem you %HESITATION always referring to me as %HESITATION calling a friend but at that particular moment three well I think you counts killing or press the two thing there's been stopping you from telling these kids to stop making noise throughout the entire film I spent dental cushion it was a whole lot of yeah we're not going to stand for the national anthem the firm's of thinking what would I do if somebody demanded that I stood up for another country's national anthem because I could just go right I'm not standing up for any country's national I don't think I'm not even when I don't really do nationhood and this I have to but it was quite a rising moment more the film leading emotionally she piece you check yourself you go well that wouldn't be appropriate that was a whole world of are you wouldn't be appropriate they wouldn't be appropriate so you would be appropriate and with a number here we're just here to see the film we would learn %HESITATION the only people who sent over to the credit bureaus to SSJ I didn't concentrate on them as much as I normally read because I just felt really transfer melakukan noise going on behind me we should obey and it was a long film and especially at the point is that and in twenty minutes I was actually doing very specific timings so yeah I think we'll take care of that it was two hours not counting the intermission nine ten min intermission too often I think we've talked quite a bit of by our viewing conditions in the film the film itself there's quite a lot of issues so I think just to write nine if you could play thinking about colonialism post colonialism and neo colonialism and I think that post prefix it's one that I've been preoccupied with for quite awhile coming from a post conflict place that's also on one hand post colonial on on the other still colonial so that will be interesting to think about it %HESITATION so that religious and racial identity so she really big mixture of people from different backgrounds as well as their regional tensions in the film which ten DSM but also there's Sikhism Buddhism Islamism and Parsees mentions the role of women or maybe then that practical non existence of women only when it's I think the main character's wife is actually a pinnacle of the narrative but she still so sidelined and marginalised so things like arranged marriages and Mandy and the blessing of the wife does so I think we should think about those sorts of things probation and alcohol the idea of Bollywood because we're not really I mean here we anyway because neither of us are experts in some from this area of the world I don't know very much but believe it anyway but you do you get that song and dance elements in the film that we come to expect from what we would typically associate with Bollywood cinema and also flanks one of my favorite topics is as such a woman fluffy element of yeah the politics of Northern Ireland yes indeed right so first of all just on a personal level I really enjoyed the experience of watching the film I find it really fun writing getting ready to go after it was forever in the way it was told it's quite funny another time but it hits you pretty hard as well because of course there's a lot of violence the country splitting apart there's a lot of hatred between Hindus and Muslims and the stakes seem to be caught in the middle of all this people from the pitch operation %HESITATION that comes across the town they seem to they picked on by everybody in this class conflict amongst the six it's very for the amount of time that it comes because it starts off in nineteen thirty six the the Indian team is British India have just won the men's field hockey for the second or third time running and so the winning for Britain Britain's relying on them to do it but it's not bothering to sales teams according to the story at least and then we have the nineteen forty Olympics being canceled and that's a really big frustration in the nineteen forty four Olympics been cancelled and finally we get to nineteen forty eight so this film does cover over a decade during which people slightly which gives you a little bit of gray in various currencies have surprises another word for a particular group of Serra streams in India absolutely so something I studied journalism student but I have not seen for example structure I thought this is really working it's having an elected beginning but one just saying the car while this film contains doing donuts the aim is to do this while I was independent India that is a position of deficiency does have to be able to achieve and then mixed in fact we've got enough time it takes to get to know the field hockey big contest the plane is a constant frustration to our main character he's content and dance in the colon bangali if the current school him Mike is a maintenance light pointing up with connect so he's from the east %HESITATION at the time what is India and what course would become the pontiff bangles would become hard to find a passion which initially was expected some of the petition Kevin does he has to wait all this time and we can see his current to begin to crack in the pressure having to wait for so long I see becomes an alcoholic and then there's the challenge of okay now this country's been through war and everybody played their last show talking twenty minutes is now probably too old seven to put the team together from scratch one of these classic reverses when talking does having got permission to put this team together from somebody if he's to win his next season's part of the Indian Olympic management once he finally starts to put the team together does so quite successfully in quite quickly and then petition echoes and as a result they have this hemorrhaging its members from the team say the first one is that everyone who's a Muslim face for their own safety and flees to the nearest city that's going to be part of Pakistan's safely to the whole this is a traitor quite obviously what's happened to us scratching names off his list so we lose Muslims they lose holes are the Anglos this is something which I didn't really I noticed that some of the members have English names James Cullen for example some of members of the team is that putting it together and have the dentist names unveils seem to decide that they're not going to be safe in post independence in post partition India as well and so they'll move to Australia the big damage to the team is not just the cost of these people that they were supposed to captain their ways into yes and it is not occurred to me looking at these people's names the some of them Hindus and some money K. different these people seeks to stay way ahead of me still months but that person must be missing because it's still remaining I didn't make that assumption but then clearly mmhm the film just splits the team and as you just contact these people in the team anymore but then of course some of these people who end up as packs thirty citizens because essentially what the phone does is pull these people would remain citizens of India whether they're Hindus Muslims Sikhs %HESITATION anglers will policies whatever they are they remain citizens of India it's just suddenly this contagion is taking hold inside of India where no one who's known to Hindu or Sikh is safe and so they have one of these instances of Hindu crowd trying to kill in two hours the Muslim captain of this team and it's only because various other members of the team hello that they managed to save his life and he's drenched in petrol and and this is going to be the same so this is the low point of the phone thanks because this is the partition of India amongst and face violence and also the team is now down to about four people have deemed it okay to still stay in India I know this because this is one thing which instantly reminded me of tiger Zinda hai in spite of hundred at very different films this film recounts partition is the worst possible thing that could ever happen to India recounts as this scar that needs to be remedied to the extent of reunifying Pakistan within the conditions in India which still contains text on on Monday and so the rendition of the various rounds of that field hockey Olympics contains both the Indian team impacts commenting these teams put together at the very last minute from position just about whipped into shape then again says the British teams right just about with him said they haven't fielded their own team for twenty years in spite of this will be a very last minute thing the Indians and Pakistanis they give really good accountants are there in the top four classically thanks trying to do the same thing what it points out is that the Indians will be completely fine spec Stephanie's got the gold medal friend are delighted that the Indians skip Copeland this picture of India Pakistani cooperation yeah they both win either way and that tells us something about the way that the Indian film industry views India's relationship artist on moment which is that it's doing its damnedest to be considered tree when there aren't significant tensions between two thirty but also a bit better than you do about this but yet in both of these very same recently with brothers but do you want to know that India is the bigger problem and the starship that's about it one thing I want to confront as a characteristic of this film is there are so okay so this is a historical piece of fiction so what we should expect front is that these are historical versions of real people and serve they want to have the same names these real people but I had a quick look at who play in the nineteen forty eight field hockey at the Olympics and not a single person whose name was mentioned in the film as being a member of any of these fifty teams and for the Olympics appeared in this film the team from India every single person on the list here of who actually right nine names appear in the script some similar settings for example something like five members of the Indian hockey team at the time that same same but that's far from the most common name yeah the firm for jobs so it's not surprising that fence but it never happened I'm the actual count is completely fictional only the India won gold at forty I expected okay I mean that was historically accurate there was a disclaimer at the start of the film to say that it was fictional all of the people are fiction from a pretty big just did the standard everyone's fictional any resemblance to anything on that it's pretty constant it didn't say based on a true story even though it is based on a true story it's just that one part of his story the big part the main part of the story it's an imaginary really I think that in itself is interests and think in terms of a lot of different nations all over the world if they're in some kind of post transitionary a phase stem and there's a question mark over when does not face ever hand twenty not post conflict twenty don't post dictatorship when he notes transitioning from these things when you know transitioning from a partition when do you become stop saying so there is that hanging over it %HESITATION ace with a place like India and then Pakistan as well with them being both of them at the same time post colonial and post partition this is the time to imagine the past reimagine the past reinvent the past retail the past three historic size but there's no %HESITATION came to trace here and it's an entertaining story and it's a story that's probably quite rising possibly in a nationalistic sense of patriotic sense I suppose in a nice way because it's sports rather than I mean sports anyway it's pretend complex but with something like field hockey certainly not time doesn't have the connotations of violence that a lot of other sports to become to have later on they're sporting a separate I think to make it quicker point of sharing crowns in the last thirty six Olympics thirty nine the German problem because they're cheering for India when the allies that are collecting that final and then the same thing with the British people yeah among forty eight Olympics cheering for India because they're the underdogs enough fun now quickly on to the way in which these games run the actual score in the final was India one for now India beat Great Britain for millions on the way in which they do it in the film is that India would go down to now they have to make everyday tasks in the first time yeah and then there's the second half comeback I know this is important the context within the correct %HESITATION that's what's going on in that state isn't just that the team they're the underdogs I have to win it isn't just that it's that there's been class complex but also it seems regional conflicts the same Sir quite separate but also there's the prince his name is regularly attract taps and and what's the other characters her character from the same region he's him out samba him not as the team's best player lose their best player by far but he hasn't been allowed to play on the strategy that no one tells him to do connect the characters what's going on and there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for them not being played even though they know that the bass player of the whole team so he doesn't get to play a toll and the tournaments and it's the last game there in the final top on has been saving him and the Ryans when they're playing in the tables all of the teams are watching each other strategies he's warned by it's the former captain so the captain of the gold winning team from thirty six summer summer Hey everybody knows he's really famous supplier he's really admire terrorising want him as captain but he will death but when protection happens he takes some relief when he comes back to train with the team he advises and to see if he's here what is it the calm he sure trump cards or something along those lines but nobody tells him that that's today the server secret weapons the conflict arises he gets really annoyed because this guy who's very very wealthy from the same region is ham and he's grown up in poverty they're both what is it center field centre forward centre forwards this is how much support things I know so they're both the same position as the primary position for gold and the princess the one he hogs the ball all the time he will not pass C. won't pass to his teammates he just runs rings around everybody and goes for his own glory and it doesn't gel with the team very much but he's made vice captain with him not as a T. in player but he's also really really good show up to he's probably better than this other guy but there's just class tension arises and him and feels very hard done by that he's not getting go and then it comes to half time and there's a big blow up this disciplinary action because they've had a bit of a fight in a bar yeah so there's all these tensions rising it's building up so this kind of Max and then finally top and convinces the heads of the team to maximise play and I think it's just because everyone just goes I'm sorry well they reveal what they were doing in the radios all right nice thing but something about this yeah but nobody goes why don't you tell us even if elected come on but yeah makes for very entertaining second half then again we've got several different narratives going on the same time the other one is just is about to happen to us and whether he can organize this team is basically the manager whether he can get his team organized and get them to the point where they can win gold for India and he keeps promising everyone I will get him to come and go from there and then you've got what's coming to India itself and so whether characters will live or die and then in addition to that we've got this conflicts between record data processing and have that same class conflict when the resolution of that conflict is lost cementing together of the team there's several stages of cementing together the team one of them is that when they're doing training this the potus things simple just on the team but the second version the team the ones put together after partition a train after Buddhist monastery they get very lucky yeah and it's tough and it's quite a Jeremy thank you he's out is what sends you complain training grace finally call together and no thirteen but they can't get anywhere to train they won't give any more money he keeps making afraid of themselves because the case getting really drunk and messing stuff up and spray themselves to beat pretty unreliable even though when it comes to the team he's really dedicated and he knows what he's doing but he's a liability in terms of this behavior three of us next to nothing yeah what is his struggles to get this team put together as he struggles to become a functioning human being yeah because his alcoholism lost a long time yeah I think it's the last hurdle that has to be cross to to get the team as he wants it to be to Britain I think they even leave without him initially team has to be yeah he has to be reinstated it's because there's a levels of control over the team and as in the Saudi I he said in the United States for a while and it's his second in commands he is really trying to get rid of top on schools Mr master he's one of our many antagonists expose in this film he's one of those antagonists he also has a point you know what's right he's coded as you're not supposed to like or trust me but actually he has a point hello this time because Toppin's behavior sure getting a mix of people coming and there's the whole thing but how he treats his wife salinity get inside of that tape so there's this other thing going on with his alcoholism yes he goes to this address mama straight trying to ask for space and boards for training initially they say no they later yes is there a senior member he's taken a five year five silent C. hasn't spoken in five years of course you're set up for what's coming up and it's asking an intermediary monk communicating on his behalf there's a flat nose or chin up say they know they can come a day and then second us says something about a bounce and he just mentioned mentioned some routes because someone's going to be the coach so then the head of the ministry of course except those somewhere else he his name is yes will he be coming this is one of the four five and the firmware it just delivers a brief check yes and it did seem like someone had got the how to make a drama menu in which you have to just occasionally diffuse the tension with a joke about that yeah one of those I'm going to keep this might have been able to reset the desires of the stuff we can and so they make then and that's a really nice part of the film where they're at a ministry setting it up and then their training weekend %HESITATION team building stuff does he get some of the characters complaining that there will be eating any meat for three months I felt very self righteous about women yes I think the comic moments are quite well within that sequence and top and has managed to manipulate his wife into helping quite a lot he goes from initially stealing and pawning her jewelry to find stuff and also she's pretty neglected spy him she seems okay with that because she's got a mind she seems to be independently wealthy families we need ambitious it seems like she's been married to him I think she refers to her father choosing him over somebody she prefer hurts so there's that hand to various marriages and there he says words she's really sassy character but she's not really characterize beyond her socks with hand there are moments where most of the time she seems really quick setup in Paris by him especially when parties when he gets drunk and the song and dance numbers speak and one of them's even bite him trying to get her to dance with him and she's not interested but when she becomes the person who's looking for the team is heading up the entire kitchen mystery cooking for the team then she becomes a hands on contribute to a larger project who is a valuable member but I think on the on the way to that happening she's really quite integral I mean he manipulates her and it's quite a funny saying you know you're finding it funny but also it's a bit problematic and that he's got the ministry secured but he's trying to get all the other stuff you need security and so he speaks phone call saying that somebody else's wife is going to help with the kicking and provide the means for the first time pay for it all as trials no no I don't think that person is going to think oh they did yes there are other states so he manipulates her into helping and then when they're on the way the card gets stuck in the months and then you go to a major plot point here because the car gets stuck in the mud it's tough on a chain of patient trying to free the whale that's stuck in the mud he keeps that thing she says to him you need to take your shoes off because that's what is making me sick but Homer grant if you take a she softened semantically Texas she self financed correct from his back feet in the months this is a plot points because and the final game ferry English whether characters it's blisteringly hot summer and dry and then ask them to storm happens and it's very heavy downpours the commentators even say stuff like well we engage where you say yes but the ending second Honda rand and I was thinking this is their own sayings surely there is still more than we are in the country is a software as a strength of the British team but they can yeah right I thought well that should be a star Shuster this problem and then it becomes apparent that the English team has spiked shoes and state Indian team has normal pencils westrock so %HESITATION some of them I thought alright so having standardized equipment wasn't at this point it seems you could just like one team could have guns yeah that's good no I have things on their stacks top on is watching this and he gets one of those memories floating and then the audio of his wife telling me I need to take your shoes off and so he tells the team thank you she's %HESITATION selected probably symbolic because there there is these %HESITATION people have been training in circumstances where it is all right okay so any issues anyway but more in the relevant not wearing shoes he played the rest of the match actually even when it stops raining I'm not positive what helps them to it it is one of those films that goes around and things that you might not think is useful but of course it's going to be remembered as being something up front so can do this we'll do it right I had to look this up so the way in which it works is one of the nineteen thirty six Olympics the pre war team which is the British India team that flying is the unifying with a metal symbol to indicate that seemed rather Great Britain as the team is going in to play in this finals this is the first few minutes of the film couple of Indian protesters coming from the front of the Indian team's box and they have the flood of what the time was proposed to be the flank of four would be independent India by the Congress so this is a party in the Indian parliament that wants independence and the front is very familiar yeah it's just that the symbol in the middle isn't quite what it is now because the symbol in the middle in this pre independence version of the proposed version was the spending where is the symbol in the middle man so otherwise it's still the same orange white and green horizontal checker with a spinning wheel in the middle of the whites behind bars now the Indian flag exactly same colors but the thing in the middle it's not spinning wheels it's not even an actual object it's a simple this could be a shocker chakra it represents the eternal wheel of little apartment and it was deliberately picked over the spinning wheel as an indication at the point when India became independent as performers Inbal because it suggests willingness to move into the future with a spinning wheel suggest and to use them that's the finding of courses hosted in the nineteen forty at live pictures on the table the company prior to having their own national anthem having a look at the different types of flags that were proposed for India three independence the one that looks very similar to the ones used now the woman and the spinning wheel and it was one of a variety of different flags that were proposed during the very lengthy period when India was agitating for independence that flank that was hosted by others to Indian ports is one of the beginning of the film that's only very recently been proposed as the national flag what happens is this is Nazi Germany in nineteen German officials they grab these two Indian guys and stopping them up one throws the flag why ends up it happened at six feet he could grab that stuff sits in his jacket and at the moment when that Indian team in nineteen thirty six has won the girls and then being lined up on the podium and it say we're gonna place their petition defiant I'm gonna play god save the queen and you're gonna saluted in semi urban desi reaches inside his jacket needs pulls out cores this flag and everyone who's lined up the whole team is lined up the stocks with some accountant sees it and puts his hand across his heart and not just the person next to me the season because his own because all the way down the line so that what they're doing is they're actually just very quietly saluting the flag well this is poking out of Tampa messes jacket so the whole thing in the beginning setting up this will be done legitimately at some point you have to do it surreptitiously circling your present moment number one quite seventy in this film and of course the times when we actually get British characters they are quite useful we've got the people who were running the police force in the city the pendulum went him out saying the strong fit in this is this is well before he becomes part of the national team directed against as well to be a police officer because he's wanted for the police forces okay and the person who tells him to do this is a member of the white the ministration and then after independence we get lots of different ways to scenes where the English organizes of the group info continued federal discussing things around the table and what was their smoking of course there is a conspiracy of evil people which I suppose is far enough this is a fun way it's quite okay for Great Britain to be antagonistic both of people from different you can take the same pretty dirty as well and the thing is we specifically have a commentator he talks about musically because it vigorous marking the seventy from isn't for me I just knocking people over okay yeah because something happens back in nineteen thirty six in German team in nineteen thirty six and the ref seven looking at %HESITATION something happens in nineteen forty eight hello I. people there's no difference between them that's the film's implicit insistence that the Germans who %HESITATION the oppresses in nineteen thirty six as just as the organisers of the event yeah %HESITATION replaced the bridge that's the thing is even if you feel free I'm not impressed in your own country if your country colonizes another one you can make those people feel oppressed so the way the Nazis make most of their fail type thing well let's face it the English it's been making India feel for two hundred years among many others the ship portion of the British Army that was made of Indians turn signal one of the top it's something like twenty percent yeah India it's wise if you look at other things it was so cool needs at the time it was one two percent India was very significant when you go back to the partial war as well it's a similar story and then you've got I didn't as well as part of that Terry it's worth noting as well that top and keep southside southside doesn't go away he keeps it and it re emerges I thought very heartfelt talks that they all have that argument still having the dressing rooms said Hoffman and I'm in the final a post it again just to remind everybody this is what we're all United against what we're fighting for it's bigger than all of us it's bigger than our petty conflicts between us personally this is the whole nation we're doing this for this seven pleasant weather kind of thing is in case didn't do it for India is made and it does seem to just instantly work everyone okay yeah I completely poverty for five minutes business so I think there's the post colonial thing which is pretty massive but then the idea of neo colonialism because there's a huge mines of western influence not just and the culture that's depicted in the film but also the film itself and how it's made how it's put together and say song and dances to the song and dance numbers both of them lads by the character of top on both of them concerning him being really drunk and I think at least one of those is during the time of probation where he's got secret T. hese smoker and sent champagne or something and say he's got poor strings actually can replace talking to us been in for a hundred he would seem to be quite the Indian films being a singer and a dancer the way that it's fifty eight into the narrative and this is in contrast to the rules of soaring tiger Zinda hai is inventive because rather than having a storage space in which it's completely fine to be able to just break into singing and dance which gives the storage space for the fantastical failed they create ways of doing it that doesn't change the nature of the story and I mean to make you go all right we live in this much closer I'm sorry in tiger Zinda hai it was to do with having musical accompaniments weights not soon Bonnie the characters that the it will be in a do you want to say for example whether to force isn't doing a very similar and what they're saying and the way they sounds to the voices of the two main characters three seventy six kind of coming out of the polls and then during the ending sequence there's a musical number of the films coming out to them they were like music videos yeah and the film and then another one is actually there's only those take their music other points there's no mistaking especially if you consider what a lot of people would regard as the language that I did to a deadly signifying that the interesting me again yes they don't necessarily fix Macy and Mrs story space you could actually read them as this is tough and strong confirmed the same and he's run amok you know because only twice the weekend characters singing and dancing and the both at social events whether celebrations going on in the first ones to do with temple Texas got the team together the first incarnation of the team together after the second World War and the celebration and people go oh type industrial grades it sing sing us a song it does this graphics on dancing and then the second one is the latest celebration Morris put the second version the team together but this one was to show us that his alcoholism is still not make any sense for yeah being quite grumpy records also for a lot of women and there's quite a few western white women that make up the backing dancers that suddenly appeared like that and the same and that's been laid down for that event ten people but then they end up amongst the crowd insulin because people sitting in this section I used and I think it's not second one is the one where he's trying to get his wife to dance with him it's been unsavory actually and then ends up in Poland with not one of the dancing white women a white woman who was not the social events it's quite well today and ends up hitting your interest homes with them the space he had so much to drink does this thing seems been sparked production yes there does seem to be an indication of subsurface each from one of the process the guy under Wadia yeah he seems to have directed a couple of guys to the spike tampon strings so the eagles radio serials so if you can get rid of him the songs in themselves so even hide a fan is a bit different to what we would consider what we've made make assumptions about I believe it's a stink but also they're quite modernized it's quite contemporaneously and arrangements that are being used there stop man hi much of the western influence is there and maybe in terms of neo colonialism in terms of the film production it's actually more how much of an American influences are rather than the predation plants because you count radiation twice well you would assume to be any kind of British film and these specially with the action films it was very exploding action name we say so yeah all the really cool stuff making everything look really cool and slash with this it was aggressive stand Sunday and was never repaired by was never so low it was sold out there is that we should see more Hindi films the next couple of months because I want to see just how normal it is to maintain song and dance numbers but not in the standard musical form of people just do this but to have some sort of storage space justification for wonderful singing and dancing to see more that are failing because we've seen the trailers who may have been exposed to the sounds and stitch it actually so before tiger Zinda hai movie fascinating that there was still in the bike path man that guy he based on a real story this real guy this revolutionary guy who took it upon himself to make menstrual products for women in his life and his speech in November he made a very simple machine that you can use to make your own that was a state thing the machine which you can buy for next to nothing so that women can save masses of money on that these luxury items section comes yeah and of course also in some cases just be able to have the module because yes you can physically get a hold of them to be difficult where's the trends we saw before gold definitely he there was one that was quite an aggressive I was coming across me like a sexual comedy or something it was really quite difficult to tell what the narratives could be the tone of these films if they're being funny or system is falling from one scene to display of sexual comedy and no I just wanna park from one tech indexes wife's name yeah and yet this mono something if I have a name or anything that's one group camp there wasn't really enough sure enough there was nice bits without ever quite funny but says her quite sweet baths where she'd be really annoyed at him and then she would say being away and cut off and he goes I know and of each other when they're both shopping to provision the monster yes just before that the Congress talking about music she's on the beginning of the month or sequence there with music with lyrics right and that's remarkably common aspects of narrative cinema when you have a couple in it whose relationship you want to suggest is improving that was an unusual moment it was quite a musical film for a film about field hockey that builds as well with their relationship because them and they're preparing the pads for the players there's a wee bit of innovatively stuff going on the ship and sometimes happens %HESITATION it's implied that it will happen it's very beautifully choreographed it's almost like a tent space in itself where they got this read send us one rose the mattress the other posters sheet over the internet got this beautiful with them as they go across the bags in the dorm the one points they get really affectionate the nicer Darlington's close to mesquite a matter this is actually causing focusing and there's an implication that they have some special time together I wanted to just point out that there was one moment very early on the film I think it's what we knew about twenty minutes from where we see worse for the closest stop close out of that conducts lying in the streets it's just three after having this long as an honest so I've been thinking throughout the film this is a following the sculpted depends on the Starz series and then realized it was just make up they have someplace I happily have mainly just how does the stock room to his face this was a lot so very very forties face rows for which is to say everything I had I'm twenty one think this thing with training this phone has a it's going to message is whatever your conflicts may be they are insignificant next to the needs of your country we get this in a loss of some locations will do nationalistic message that says you'll need to pull together for your country stop thinking of yourself as individual agents you want to collect but this film developed quite some length and it made it possible the drummer of putting the team together because when they got the second team and they've got personal time and then when the street field and trying to the team is keeping so that people can print job from various bits of India from three to two or three thousand clicks and not really speaking to each other is that on some routes rotating releases of notes being part of the team was training them now because yes yes will train and he comes in he realizes that they're not so full steam from that that's what led him to his father okay nice to meet you back in nineteen thirty six is being part of the world for services okay everyone's pretty okay six pounds and then it's something else yeah yeah that's exactly I don't I figured out before he says okay I want everyone to pick up this huge pile of bricks here take it to the other side of the Hokies %HESITATION individual team members of picking up to three bricks each running around saying he failed to put him down and then he says all right after you've done that well done now do you get this back and forth back and forth and after what three or four times a day you know you're just going OR senator does it's okay it's okay just tell in a moment when I do teaching I'm quite big on these kinds of situations work out his books of limitations which have to do with things just got over and I could tell you how to do it well I'm gonna let you mess it up three of all time yeah and then you can go and of course the best thing to do is that they should form a human chain impossible hello and that's the least effort way of getting the breaks from the sort of fell together and that's part of the building a team here we got to work together thing and that's something that the team in general has to learn but it's also what the prince character negative processing has to learn because he's the one who wants to send forward who just wants to score this is new one pulse and someone tells the story about the game he's most proud of which is the game for this team only won one and he did himself score single government okay and it was a game where the other team and realized it was pretty good and so they surrounded him with other clients yeah same for four people around him but he just can't speak people occupied so that his fellow players could do the work things are so proud because what he did at one point was nice to get the ball away answer this circle of other teams circle of people looking out to one of his other team members who attend school and that's the model and it takes a long time the whole phone to get that message yeah yeah said one of things in the second half of the final is that one of the yeah something's worked it says that he passes to him so that he can score so there's something going on they pasticcio therapy goes I think you get a phone I thought the team though they had actually happened before we went to the Olympics and I have been to the final that's how extreme yeah that was great for the film and it was a way for them to lay out this morning actually message now of course to be part of a collective is not necessary to be part of the national collective there are different sorts of cotton I like that idea of a film which says it doesn't cost you anything as an individual to be part of the group in fact it can benefit you as an individual Diversicare even though the way of grouping the film was so very Keena properties nationhood was itself the ideology which propelled the British administration to partition India at the same time is giving its independence what they thought would be the best thing to do would be okay these people want to have third representation these people have the representation so just give each in the country and splitting this groups that was %HESITATION an initiative unit into two separate countries so twenty three because I work so well with Ireland yes indeed that's not to say that the right thing to have done would have been to %HESITATION created a single country because that would still have bombs and explosives or still have yeah it's important to note sorry just that a lot of the characters actually coal India Hindustan while so I think that's a whole other aspect of this the movie's orders even before partition stuff this is this is a Hindu country which would be the same thing as your uncle in Europe or the UK or the British Isles Christendom which we wouldn't do that because that's not the way nation and does or should work should be theoretically organized tool maybe some of these words that's been emptied out with pre existing meeting such that's just a nickname for India about combining some sense that India is a Hindu country interests from one secular nation and even the film demonstrates how are you very people's beliefs and their customs there is a degree of Hindu nationalism in India this film seems to be against that form of nationalism please yeah idea this resistance is David just more like these things can coexist the six members of the team are invaluable actually the film seems quite strategically to grow this petition was about putting in these games mostly and we're not gonna give up on either of these groups the position of being the best players in the team we are going to send both of them aside for that particular part of place we can get that to six of the show the different economic backgrounds and so there's this really knows it's a problem that's pointed out quite a bit there is this we gonna party lines may need different types of citizen of India we can expect even final impact something a different country some people used to be in the Indian team now playing on a different team I still have as soon as they arrive things this shaking hands and hugging where what there seem to be expected to do this with the scene seems stuff at least this weather in Great Britain and having a great team seems the way it's supposed to happen is that Pakistan and India teams posted what pasta each other when I knowledge of it exist but then actually what we do with handshakes and hugs there's no internet is for people who are very good friends and colleagues the four countries were ripped apart from each other most agree that politicians giving one of at least because things like a million people don't want to create that that was a very bad thing to happens yeah and there's no democracy yeah and we must agree with the film's imposed to explore the benefits for the individual of being part of collectives %HESITATION level of this stuff but it is also still a highly nationalistic cinema which is only so the U. K. because one of I'd love to get this a kind of hackneyed simplistic idea about the sacredness of nation it might be skeptical about yes but this part of the world that we're in right now I it hasn't been very work being picked three not for a thousand years what's India and Pakistan three by this country so it's difficult seven can you just have to try and see it from the other side like it's a different form of nationalism when it's by taking back control of something this is a country that has been in control for a very long time and has exerted control over other parts of the globe for a very long time if you're in the country that's taken some of that back for yourself after you hundreds of years of colonialism colonial room I mean I think it's understandable that you're trying to find your own identity I mean I don't know enough about India I can really only speak from my own experience being on another island that has been colonized by six one six next identity the sense of place is nice and recklessness that package she I think it's very natural for humans to try and understand what they are and the world at their end and the place that they ran it down today is so much a part of he if he's being colonized because you don't know what your rate item today is necessarily if that makes sense coming from that perspective I understand why they would feel such a sense of attachments cherry and national identity when you haven't been allowed to have one and he don't know it's such a small part of the film but the Anglo Indian ones because he won double highly diluted by white western jeans do you need to be to be angry I was at one time Sastre somewhere is that enough to just Palestinians were women married off to fight or something thirteenth place you have to go back to the eighteenth century we are talking about rather rich white men he would move to India and deliberately specifically take Indian one as to whether there was choice involved I've always seen them but then again we can only three choices rolled back in place and spitting in the film there's the strong implication that the main character is an arranged marriage and the tests get on with it I suppose nationhood it means many different things according to circumstance because we're living in a nation where is the printer recently we would start to get completely okay with that nation being an administrative unit in the larger maybe that was something that we're getting some very okay with because the major nations in Europe until a point none of them have lived under the yoke of another nation from various say Catalonia which is just recently asserted its independence nation her to something that they very much want to hear because it's something that's really been deprived of and then you can set individual stories call in the middle of that with the likes of colonia with the likes of Ireland and I dare say race India Pakistan people get ripped away from the country and I'm not sure I don't think that they feel that they have because of the majority feeling they haven't got much choice I mean the kind of the only ones very problematic because they weren't allowed in the convo the people were intimidated into not voting there is no no side against independence there's no no arguments happening because people were intimidated into not giving them there were a lot of people he feels like I am both command and Spanish and European I feel that I am all of these things thank you my identity and British and Irish and Ulster and European I'm all of those things under responding units to respond I think it may be in a party that wants to be in the Mediterranean because I'm already freezing and there's ten more months success come Kokoraleis somebody all guests and I'm already two goals for India and Pakistan and you see this in the in the film actually it's emerging in the politics going on in the box office the film for people don't want to be ripped away but they have to stay in one place or another for their own safety they can travel anywhere in the way that K. they can expressively aren't anymore the way they K. they're not welcome in a country they feel is their own when that happens and you think well okay I'll just go and be this other thing because they won't he it's very difficult I think if you've been born into a legacy that hasn't had to think about those things then it's difficult maybe for you to say that I can get it I can see this identity such a huge issue where I come from as your sense of belonging to your nation continues just struck me that this constraining on India having won the field hockey I'm in the middle of the foldable twice for more in the morning and again afterwards this president is that message there is in is an awesome mission and even appointment was part of an empire it was already a moral some nation van the mention the reserve ahead of time that's how it works to your keeping trying to people this came up for me to break out artist while to keeping trying to people here better thinking conserve better basically they get stuff done so he kicked in tiny cakes and shake their heads you keep them working free you don't let them believe that they can be anything other than your servants that's what they're born to date because of their funny colored skin and then third silly voices or whatever arbitrary reason you are led to believe that there the last year humanly it's a similar thing slavery by another name for most brave to acknowledge that independent India walls and less tolerant nation moving having a sit down conversations people going yeah I simply cannot remain in this nation guess what I implied was things were back to previously even though that meant things were better %HESITATION the imperial rule transaction I want to go out of nine inter community phone and service from spoken about the idea of India being something that had to be built so a lot of effort after independence from something that serves its internal medicine just automatically became this highly caring country this was a film is still growing India is incomplete without Paxton and you think well it's a relatively young country and it's a very old country in one sense in a very own country and another what was put together into India by the British was a sensitive dozens of independent kingdoms monarchies one of our characters in this film is a prince is a member of the royal family all of an area of the Punjab which is still living in Kuala luxury even though it doesn't have its power so this new knowledge meant that there is this whole sensitive medical dynasties and what I think that my running shoes well then now ones that looks at different levels ruler full still existing and nesting even now still maintain the status is being part of the world from where India is not eighteen century things throwing off its shackles India it is a thing made by third even that's implicitly being influenced by this phone let's just mention for a moment be just taking off all of his clothes because negative to show that he's a really generous prince I think it was a redeeming thing about item that is completely out of now and it's not in line with anything else that he does but just after he's been headhunted buying top industries driving to contest back to the station is owned come on the way that regulate see someone sitting next to the road stops without explaining what he's doing Nick server to this writer who sitting in the sun right takes off all his clothes except for his underwear gives them to the crime scene on side of road gets back in the car and drives off and that's it interesting no no site characterization is picked up on let's run of him being on this but knowing that haven't realized none of that so I do wonder how many different edits that script to consider whether that malicious acts in the left hand there's no other heads of him being mildly humanists in anyway so I just wanted to get a naked scene and before week yeah yeah I think we're ever unfolding about the different issues and things that it's nice actually to go to different places in the world and I think this is probably the first non anglophone films that we've discussed on the recording because we didn't do one for tiger Zinda hai it into one for that we didn't do one for the spirit of the beehive I think when they watch that we do watch quite a lot of films and all different languages I think partly because you're concentrating on subtitles it's difficult to take notes so I'm waiting for caixabank taking notes during films so this one actually I think we've done quite awhile everybody because we saw this film days ago and speech you could see notes on the internet with us tonight John is a few things signed this morning because of the mass we have not done this with notes into were totally awesome they're not models and brands are still working we will do this again because the phone they then films from outside of the versus national cinema we used to watching friends stories and traditions even though there you can be part of the conversation on Facebook and Twitter where we welcome suggestions for future topics and guest speakers please support the podcast on Petri on dot com many thanks for listening and supporting catch you next time
Audiovisual Cultures episode 76 – Tamasha transcript
Because we recorded 76 using Andrew’s fancy-pants paid university Zoom account (shhh), we had a transcript of the conversation. It has taken me days – I really mean days – to correct the mistakes and make it readable. Providing transcripts is absolutely something podcasters ought to consider for accessibility, but it’s so labour-intensive and most of us are grossly under-resourced and under-funded, so please be kind when we can’t. These are here now anyway for anyone who can benefit from them. (And please do see the support page for ways to help that funding situation).
Paula Blair: Andrew, you have not been on the podcast for a wee while. Dare I ask: how are you?
Andrew Shail: I’m so angry at how little I’ve been involved in the podcast recently.
Paula Blair: Are you? Really?
Andrew Shail: You’ve been having such dalliances with so many other people.
Paula Blair: Oh
Andrew Shail: You’re so lucky you got me back. I’m fantastic Dr. Blair. How are you?
Paula Blair: I’m hanging in there thanks yeah. I’m really, really thrilled to be joined tonight by Arnojya Shree. Arnojya, would you like to say hi and tell us a wee bit about yourself?
arnojyashree: I’m Arnojya. My full name is Arnojya Shree. So in case anybody has problems pronouncing it you can just call me Arnie. I’m an international student here at Newcastle. Well, I used to be. I’ve just finished my Masters in film. And before film I’ve done a degree in literature, so my Bachelor’s is in literature and then I switched medias. Came here to do film because I was so fascinated with everything that I had seen ever since I was a child. And I think this is the opening line of my personal statement that I had sent to the college. It said that you are so fascinated by films that you actually become like the characters and the narrative, so you get so sucked into it. All my life people have made fun of this thing, but while I was contemplating what to do for my Master’s I realized if I am so into it then might as well do a bit of venturing into how things pan out and what actually goes behind the films and why is it that we find it so fascinating and ever since I’ve done the Masters I feel like that curiosity has only gone deeper instead of being satisfied so that’s that and I have done my dissertation… Actually my dissertation is inspired by the film that you’re talking about… we’re going to discuss. It was really interesting that everybody like ever since I knew about this episode, I was really moved by the fact that people see the film in the same light that I have. There is so much to unpack there and I think by now I’ve seen it like six, seven times. So if I really like films I watch it a lot. I think that’s the one thing about me that I love anything that has to do with arts. Be it music or film or even photography. I love the fact that cinema sort of brings everything together. I think that’s one of my passions in life to look at these various bits and find out how they work together.
Andrew Shail: Now just we need to point out here that Arnojya has submitted her dissertation for her Master’s degree about a week ago and so is now entirely free of being one of my students and can tell us what she really thought about a year of being a member of film nerd club. Which I’m sure is ‘I’m a richer person for it, Andrew.’ So we’re just gonna ask you a bunch of questions for the next hour.
arnojyashree: Yeah lovely!
Paula Blair: It’s so great to hear your energy, your enthusiasm for the subject still. I think a Masters is a really special thing. Of my degrees it’s my favorite one.
arnojyashree: Definitely, yeah.
Paula Blair: Now we don’t know the correct pronunciations so please correct us all the time. Tamasha, is that right or is it said a different way?
arnojyashree: It’s Tamasha. It’s very, very subtle.
Andrew Shail: You could just be shitting us up, of course.
Paula Blair: Arnojya, would you, for listeners, would you be happy to outline the film a little bit? I know it’s a really complex film but would you be able to try to sum it up a bit for us?
arnojyashree: So I’ve read a lot of reviews about it and I’ve written some as well. And the film is actually, it can be seen from so many perspectives and there isn’t like a definitive story going around, I think. So from all the times that I’ve seen the film. Sometimes I’ve seen it from the perspective of a storyteller telling the story of his life. Sometimes it’s a love story. Sometimes it’s just a narrative that the sometimes you feel like it’s the director. It’s his autobiography, in a way, that’s what I thought for a long time. But the story is essentially about this guy who was named Ved and Ved and Tara they accidentally meet in Corsica and they get into a few adventures, go back home and meet and somehow the energy that is between the dynamics has completely shifted. For Tara, she’s the same throughout. So she’s trying to understand what has changed in Ved and what has changed in their relationship
but he doesn’t seem to give any answers. So the film is really in a way about Ved and Tara discovering what Ved is all about. Because he’s the one who is the mystery here and I sometimes feel like they’re the same people, very, very similar nature but Tara is what Ved aspires to be: somebody who can claim all of their sides and every personality, every aspect, all the dark and the bright bits of your life. And Ved is somehow stuck in the labyrinth that is modern life and it’s one thing after the other. It’s a race. And people are putting so much energy and effort into something that they don’t even feel passionate about and it’s meaningless. But you have to do it because it’s your responsibility because that’s what we’ve been taught. It’s a lot about how Indian youth, people my age, go about in their lives. And I think I’m at the same turning point as well so it’s a really interesting film about how young people deal with career, relationships, themselves, what they want to do in life, their families.
Andrew Shail: It’s quite a star studded film, both in front of and behind the camera, isn’t it?
arnojyashree: Yeah it is.
Andrew Shail: Can you tell us about who was involved in making it?
arnojyashree: So, the director is Imtiaz Ali. He is one of the greatest contemporary directors in India right now. The music has been composed by A R Rahman, again one of the most respected names in Indian cinema when it comes to music. The film lead is Ranbir Kapoor who is considered one of the very versatile actors in Bollywood right now and Deepika Padukone is very a very successful actress. She’s done Hollywood films as well. It’s definitely a very star-studded cast. But I think what sets it apart from the commercial Bollywood films is the fact that it has substantiality in it like there’s quality. There’s content going on, which is sometimes missing from other films. Imtiaz Ali usually, the director, he usually has written the script as well. And he usually works with these kind of narratives with young people and all the kind of things that they face in life. It goes from very grotesque and abuse and trauma to love stories as well. It’s all sort of moving together.
Paula Blair: And so the term Tamasha, that’s to do with theatre isn’t it, that’s a type of theatre practice and there’s a huge amount of theatricality in the film. Could you tell us a little bit more about that?
arnojyashree: Tamasha is… in India we have a sort of theatrical play form; it’s usually played by young students in universities and schools. So they go out on the either performance stage or they go out and perform it in public. And it’s a very impromptu thing.
They would perform the same thing over and over again. So this is the thing that you would find in urban spaces. When you go to more rural areas, you’ll find things like Ramlila happening. And I’m I’ll tell you what it is so, do you remember in the beginning of the film,
you see all the plays happening and there are people dressed up in all sorts of costumes. That’s the actual Tamasha, that’s where the word comes from. So it’s just a play that goes on for pure entertainment. And it happens on festival and like occasions, whenever it is celebrated, a group of people that perform and it would include people from villages, you know, people who are neighbours. So everybody does it. It’s a thing to celebrate, they present the narrative which is related to the festivals and it’s just a way of appreciating the traditions in the mix and where our culture comes from.
Andrew Shail: Quite tellingly during that the opening sequence where we see young, of course, I’m calling him Ved. The young Ved as a boy watching these performances. It’s also intercut with him watching performances of Shakespeare plays as well. And when he first meets Tara, as an adult, the first thing he learns about her is that she’s come to Corsica because she likes ‘Asterix in Corsica’. so the film it kind of insists that the there’s this category of Tamasha that includes mythologies and storytelling traditions from well outside India as well.
Arnojya Shree: Definitely, yeah.
Andrew Shail: The fact that it opens on a play was truly baffling. Now you’ve mentioned when we were discussing Imtiaz Ali before that he basically counts as a postmodern director. Just for the benefit of people listening to and watching this who haven’t seen it, can you explain what the whole purpose of this play opening sequence is because it’s the play that we open on it isn’t a piece of traditional Tamasha, is it? It’s a much more commercial form of urban theatre that goes on in a very large auditorium that’s new and it’s very high. The lightings really amazing. And it’s huge. It’s what we call spectacular theatre. And it’s completely unexplained and who we later learn is the main male character we see him portrayed in the form of a robot walking on a treadmill, which is why I say it’s truly
baffling because that metaphor’s only explained after about an hour and a half?
arnojyashree: Yeah, towards the end of the film really.
Andrew Shail: Okay, so can you explain for our listeners and viewers what the whole point of that framing theatre performance is?
arnojyashree: When I first watched Tamasha, after two hours I was like, Okay, fine. This is a beautiful film, but I don’t understand anything. Like, I have no idea what just happened. So I had to watch it a couple of times to really get what he was saying. And believe it or not, this film didn’t work on box office. It did really poorly and it’s actually the internet where the people have started appreciating it. Because they downloaded and watched it a couple of times to actually understand what’s going on. This is something that I discovered recently that in the starting song there’s a frame before the intertitle appears where the camera
sort of zooms into Ved’s face.
Andrew Shail: Is it a zoom?
arnojyashree: I mean I think it is – it’s a little bit of zoom!
Andrew Shail: Or is it a dolly-in by any chance?
arnojyashree: I think… you could be right.
Andrew Shail: I’ve got the film open right here.
Paula Blair: We have a pedant among us. Here we go!
Andrew Shail: My sole job in teaching on the MA in film is to go ‘is it a zoom? Really?’
Paula Blair: We’re precise about the aesthetics on this podcast.
Andrew Shail: Usually, the answer is no, it’s not.
arnojyashree: It could be a dolly because literally it lasts a split second.
Andrew Shail: Okay.
arnojyashree: It’s very, very minor. Maybe you are right Andrew, it is a dolly shot, but the thing is we go forward and it just blanks into a black screen. So I usually think that, at that point, the play begins, because even though he’s trying to portray a story to his diegetic audience who we do not see at that point. So it could almost appear as if he is doing a play, just for us, the extra-diegetic audiences. But it seems that he starts telling a story in his head. Instead of doing it on the theatre-like style, it’s not happening in reality it’s actually happening in his head. Before he performs it in front of the audience he’s actually
sort of giving us a flashback of what has happened in his life. When he starts doing this, he makes himself a character because in the song all the imagined bits come into a sort of grained aesthetic and if you guys have noticed in the song he features and Tara feature as well for brief seconds and they come in that grained aesthetic as well. So I think it’s him trying to show his narrative through a flashback sequence. And it only closes out when we finally reached towards the end of the film. And we see that. Oh, so he’s the play’s actually going on and we were in his head the entire time. And that’s where we come out. yeah, I really think that the entire film is literally just a flashback sequence.
Andrew Shail: After the frame bit with the play with Ved as a robot and then after the opening song Chali Kahani… actually no, after the opening sequence and before Chali Kahani we have an intertitle that says ‘Shimla, flashback’. So what that implies is that what we’ve just been seeing is, it is in the present and that we’ve now started a flashback thing and the vast majority of film is just one huge flashback. Now, of course, as the pedant in the room, that’s how I would read the entire film that what we get is, we get the opening of this play and then it pauses and then we have this massive almost two hour long flashback that explains how the guy who both wrote this play and starred in it did so and came up with it in the first place and then everything made sense in retrospect. Or as you say that could be nonsense and we could just be seeing an imagined mental landscape that will be happening when our main character is writing this play.
Arnojya Shree: That could be it, yes.
Andrew Shail: But of course when it ends, we see the play conclude and the play’s autobiographical so it kind of tells the story of his life, and he ends up having this robot costume stripped off him, which is the story of him shedding his crap job. And then Tara appears off stage and he kind of leans offstage and kisses her and it’s a big uniting thing. So, it seemed like the whole purpose of that opening segment with the play in that closing segment of the play was to dramatize him removing himself from a life he didn’t want and then getting himself into the life that he did want while simultaneously getting the girl because he was being kept from true happiness in loads of different ways through being stuck in this life he didn’t want. But even if it isn’t the really quite down to earth pedestrian
reading where it’s simply a nonlinear narrative, rather than all happening in his head that it’s simply a nonlinear narrative, it’s still a nonlinear narrative that starts off with this thing, which isn’t explained for two hours. Why’s this guy in a robot costume walking on a treadmill on stage?
Andrew Shail: And everything that happens in that little opening performance is meaningless until we’ve got a load of metaphors explained to us, you know, an hour later, an hour and a half later, and so on. So for that, at least it is proper postmodern but it just goes, you’re just gonna have to wait.
arnojyashree: And there’s another thing. I don’t know if you guys noticed it, but do you remember when you proposes to her? And then we see their conversation going on from a full frame and then she leaves and it almost seems as if his narrative starts from there on, because up until now we had seen Tara and then Ved’s story starts. That’s also something that’s very interesting. And then it contradicts this the point that I was initially talking about that maybe it’s his flashback sequence. But even in his flashback sequence he’s including hers as well.
Andrew Shail: It’s one of those elements of this film that really struck me as unusual from a European cultural perspective is that it starts off focalized in his character as a boy and then it leaves off that and it becomes focalized in her character as an adult meeting him as a stranger as an adult, remains focalized in her when she leaves Corsica, leaves this holiday romance and goes back to India, goes back to Kolkata with her. Very much delves into her psychological state, she gets a musical sequence explaining how she feels and then when she finds him again he’s still this stranger and then the only at that moment when she goes, ‘oh, I made a really big mistake’ do we get any sense of what’s been going on in his head the entire time. I’m a big one for finding the slider and looking at just how far through a film we’ve got and it’s almost exactly at the halfway mark that that happens. It’s just a bit before the halfway mark, it’s about one hour four – no it’s exactly the halfway mark at about one hour four out of two hours eight altogether of runtime. We’re essentially being asked to wait for half of this film to get an explanation of why this character pretended to be someone he wasn’t during this opening Corsica.
arnojyashree: It’s really funny because it’s only after you finish the film that you realize that like 90% of the film is actually a meta narrative. It’s not even the actual narrative of the film, the actual one is the play and we are inside the story of a story which is which is really baffling because it’s literally all of the film.
Andrew Shail: I spend a lot of time when I’m teaching dwelling on films like Saving Private Ryan, which have really tiny frame stories. So we have some sort of present day event that lasts for about 10 seconds and then boom, we’re back into the past and but after about an hour and a half of that your average viewer has forgotten that we’re still in flashback. Or that that that that even having some sort of present day thing that links you to the past through some flashback recollection, that it even is supposed to be what’s happening. So it becomes completely reasonable that the viewer sees things that the character doing the
remembering in the present day couldn’t possibly remember. So this does exactly the same thing. It goes, ‘We’re gonna start you off in the present day. And then just forget about that for about two hours.’
arnojyashree: That’s basically it.
Andrew Shail: You said that it’s got more meat to it. It’s got more content than your average Hindi musical film. I don’t want to just go ‘tell us about your entire Master’s dissertation.’ It has some elements to it that are quite narratorial in that it feels like the film isn’t just sitting back and rather objectively spectating on events, that it’s overtly saying things like it has a form of implicit personhood in it. And one of the most blatant ways that that manifests is the
posters. Those kind of they’re a bit like intertitles. They’re in the style I think of Toulouse-Lautrec posters, and they break the film up into, I think it’s four different segments. I think there’s four of them. Maybe there’s five but the first one is called ‘Teja’s Gold’.
Andrew Shail: I think. And then second one’s called ‘Love Story’ and they just go: ‘All right, here’s a new chapter’. When dividing something into chapters, it’s quite a narratory thing to do, you know, giving something characteristic chapters, it’s quite a narratory thing to do. Is that one of those elements that you see threaded throughout this film?
arnojyashree: That’s definitely one of the things, because I don’t think it’s very common, especially not a animated vintage thing going on. And it’s a very consistent theme. Usually what intertitles do is that they would disappear. And you remember the one where it says Shimla? Yeah, yeah. So it’s usually like that. That’s where they leave it. But this one puts more effort and tries to actually show it in a somewhat linear frame that this is how it happened. This is not something that’s very common in Indian films, but I think what I’m leaning more towards is the fact that commercial Indian narratives, Bollywood films, essentially, they do not have a lot of complexity going on in the narratives, it’s pretty easy to follow. It’s a formula and they just repeat the same formula over and over again. This film is very different. Imtiaz Ali usually does love stories, but his love stories are a bit different from others. So this one I think is the one that outdoes any of them, any of his films. Yeah, it’s very layered. Definitely. I don’t think layering is a very common trait in Indian films, especially not in Bollywood films. So yeah, that’s something that, that’s why I always think that this is something that’s not very unlike Indian cinema.
Paula Blair: I felt there was very much a European arts influence really strongly in it.
Andrew Shail: One of the points that our storyteller character who’s telling stories to the young Ved at the beginning, one of the points that he implicitly makes is these stories in Hindu mythology, are entire – well it’s not in Hindu is it? It’s Indian Subcontinent mythology. These stories that we’re used to, they are the relatives of stories that exist in Europe, they exist in the Mediterranean, that exist in the Middle East, it just kind of slips back and forth between them. So I suppose that character as a surrogate for the director is saying what the director is doing as well, that slipping between styles.
arnojyashree: I’ve actually seen an interview of Imtiaz Ali a few days ago. It’s on Netflix. It’s called creative Indians. So you’ll find a lot of good actors and directors on there. So his interview was one of them and he was talking about how he hates the story writing process, but he loves directing it and he has absolutely no background in direction, no connection to cinema industry. He just happened to love films and somehow bumped into filmmaking, because nothing else was working out for him. He says that whenever he makes a film what he actually wants to do is he wants to put through a very emotional story. Because he’s making a film about human beings and he says that he doesn’t like to intellectualize things or make them seem complex or say that, ‘oh my God, there’s some grand mystery to
the universe’. He’s not trying to do that at all. He just wants to present stories, basically, of people being people. So a lot of his characters he has taken inspiration from his surroundings, how he goes about in his life, and he says that sometimes he doesn’t even remember that he’s doing this, but his in his story writing process these people translate into characters. And when he’s directing the scene and one character says something to the other character he’d be like, ‘Oh my God, this person had told me this years ago’. So it’s a very subconscious emotional process for him to genuinely make a story.
Paula Blair: I suppose that’s what any of us are. We are vessels for the stories we collect throughout our lives and I really get the sense that the film is almost like a regurgitation of all the stories that Ved collects throughout his life.
arnojyashree: It’s a very same similar characteristic, because if you see, even as a child web is collecting stories from the storyteller, but he imagines them happening to real people around him. It just happens throughout his life.
Andrew Shail: In part of the film, one of its crisis moments being that Ved goes to the now very, very old storyteller, Ved’s an adult, he goes to the storyteller
and says, ‘Tell me how my story ends’, and the crisis moment is that the storyteller says to him, ‘Don’t be an idiot. You have to decide how your story ends’. To an
extent the film seems to be saying that there’s a sensible limit to one’s obsession with stories, and that it’s just as important to try to create your own. Does it mean trying to create something original as far as the film is concerned? I suppose what the early lesson in the film is that there are no original stories, there are these many, many stories are all very much related. There’s even a bit with the storyteller talks about how just the names of characters in different mythologies are similar enough to indicate that they’re related. I suppose if Imtiaz Ali is trying to create a film which is unlike previous Indian Hindi language films that he may feel that in addition to paying homage to all these existing storytelling traditions that he has to also kind of assassinate them to go ‘In order to do something new I’m going to have to throw out expectations, and that means having a character symbolically reject his childhood obsession with stories.’ That may be completely wrong, of course. The doing it on a stage element. The doing it with other kind of snapshots for your own life from your life behind you element. That seems to be the thing that’s he is missing from his life is the ability to tell his own story is what’s missing from his life. So it may not even be whether the story is original or not. That is the deficiency in him. It’s just the ability to be a storyteller. So I suppose that bit with that storyteller saying to him ‘No, you have to finish your own story.’ The problem is not that his story might be unoriginal, the problem is that he’s not been the one telling it.
Andrew Shail: And I suppose that does fit with the fact that for the first half of the film, he’s a mystery. He’s been this someone who other people encounter. He’s been this audience member when we did meet him as a child. And that may explain why it is that in the rough second half of the film when it starts to focalize in him that he’s so angry.
Andrew Shail: That was something that struck both Paula and I when when he has that crisis. So he’s been dumped by Tara because she goes, oh, having met you in the flesh in real life, not pretending to be the character who you pretended to be in Corsica, you’re a different person. I kind of find you boring. I don’t want to do this and she says no to his proposal. Then suddenly we’re focalized in him. And from that moment onwards, he’s having this kind of disintegration and, of course, initially, it seems that he’s disintegrating because he’s been dumped, but then it becomes apparent that he’s disintegrating because he realizes how far he’s gone from his story-loving youth that he’s become a very boring work-a-day office employee and he’s become that in his everyday life as well. That scene when he goes to her apartment. I think the next scene after she said, No, no, I can’t marry you, you’re a different person from who I thought you were.
Andrew Shail: That scene where she goes, he goes to her apartment. And he goes, he just wants to explain but every few sentences he just breaks into a shout. And that was one of those moments where I think do I remember correctly here Paula that when you and I were watching it we went oh this is kind of borderline violent the way that he’s shouting at her.
Paula Blair: Yeah it tipped over. Yeah, it’s a very fine line. I think it was more when much later when they meet in a bar and she’s trying to be quite friendly with him and he gets really aggressive. But then she’s almost scared and she’s apologizing. And she says, Oh, I’ll take the ring. I’ll be with you. It’s all fine and it feels like gosh it’s almost like an abusive relationship. It’s quite scary. So the tone really shifts in quite a scary way I think. But I don’t know if that’s a, maybe it’s a cultural thing or I’m not sure. But yeah, I just felt like because the rest of the film was so joyful, it feels. I don’t know if you’ve any thoughts on that.
arnojyashree: Well, one of the interpretations of the film is that Ved actually has a multiple personality disorder.
Paula Blair: Yeah.
Andrew Shail: It would explain a lot.
arnojyashree: Yeah. Not to like to look at it from a sort of disorder thing, but I like to think that you know how you go through life and you don’t really find
connections with anybody. And even if, like you’re talking to somebody and they you tell them, okay. I’m fine. And you’re not really fine. They don’t see it.
They’ll just believe you by word. But if somebody actually really sees you, and feels that connect with you, they will know that you are going through something or
they’ll know the real you just through that connection that you guys have. And that’s how I like to think that Ved actually has never found anybody who is as
passionate as he is or who thinks and feels and acts the same way as him so when he meets Tara in Corsica, they get on really well and they find this connection
between themselves and when he goes back he gets into a role because that’s exactly what he says that I came to Corsica and I’m going to play a role, I didn’t come
here to be myself who I’m every day of my life. So when he goes back into this robotic routine of his and he realizes that this person that I had a connect with,
she’s the same as she was before. And then she starts pointing it out in him. And he’s like, Who are you to tell me who I should be? I’ve lived so long like this
and I’m fine and everything is fine and balanced in my life. The way it’s supposed to be. Everything is normal, you know, and she’s like, No, you’re not normal.
This is not normalcy. This is actually you playing a role and he’s just he feels called out, he feels like somebody’s just seen his truth basically and exposed him
to himself. So I think that point of somebody telling you something about yourself that you have never noticed, I think that’s where he has a breakdown, he realizes that all of his life has basically been a facade that he has created in his own life because he’s not brave enough to live his own story. He’s heard all these stories since his childhood and he tries to live in them in his head. But he forgets that he himself is in a story, that’s his story. All of us have our own realities and narratives going on and he forgets that he is alive in one. That’s why I think I the storyteller scene where you know towards the end when they finally meet. That’s one of my favorite bits from the film because he literally asks him, like what is your story? You have to. You’re the one who’s going to decide that. I can’t tell you that. And even though all of the stories around the world are the same. And that’s what Imtiaz Ali was trying to point out that we are all living the similar lives. But in different clothes in different sort of forms. But that doesn’t mean that you know you can look at another person’s life and
go by how they have done things, not really. You can get inspired from a story, but you can’t live it that way. You have to find that originality within you and learn how to implement that in your life. So I think that’s one of the major things that Imtiaz is trying to talk about and that’s what Ved gets to realize in his story, like the film is actually him just realizing this that I’m a story and I have to decide how I write it.
Andrew Shail: It’s appropriate than that the revealed source of Ved’s metaphorical enslavement in this robotic job is his dad’s insistence that he do was an engineering degree, his dad just you have to go go to university and do this. And enough dreaming. I basically dictate your career to you and so it’s appropriate that the way that he escapes that family drama is by telling a story. As an adult, he just sits down in front of his dad, who’s been constantly disapproving of him and is now even disapproving of him now that he’s an adult and he’s having this crisis where he he realizes that he’s become a bit of a robot. Still is disapproving is still saying why don’t just Buck your ideas up and get back to work. He sits down in front of his dad and his what seems to be his mum and
Paula / Arnnojya: grandmother
Andrew Shail: yeah sits down, sit down in front of the oppressive family and tells them a story and it’s the story of himself and what he’s going to do to escape this imprisonment and then that’s the moment of completely implausible reversal of his dad’s position, but his dad just he does that kind of melodramatic standing up and hugging somebody at the same time kind of that physical virtually rugby tackling somebody kind of move. And I suppose on the literal level. It’s like, you know, it’s a character going I refuse to be part of this particular family control system anymore, but it’s also it’s figuratively pushing back against story
conventions, because it is such a convention in Indian film. And I speak from so much authority! Such a convention in Indian film that one’s family’s desires for you are determining of your life choices.
Arnojya Shree: Yeah.
Andrew Shail: I’ve been meaning to ask – you’ve pointed out various elements in which this film is, it tries to break apart the mould of Bollywood storytelling conventions, but at the same time, it does seem to stick with some of them. Now correct me if I’m wrong here, but the exotic location, which is not in anywhere in the subcontinent at all where a couple of young cosmopolitan characters have a whirlwind romance. Isn’t that relatively characteristic of recent indian films?
arnojyashree: A lot of them. That’s… My dissertation mentions this that post 1980s, I think, just shooting an international locations became such a thing for like the Indian directors, because what they wanted was to increase the element of identification with their other audiences and to make the film more relatable to like show that Okay, we can reach beyond the diaspora, basically. So that’s why you would always see a lot of globalized aspects in the films. One of them is shooting films in international locations and sometimes it’s literally just a song, but you have to bring that one element of going beyond India, going beyond the Indian culture.
Andrew Shail: See, we’re talking here from the total experience of me having seen about five or six films and Paula and I having seen Tiger Zinda Hai. Is it Hi? Hey?
arnojyashree: Hey. Hey.
Andrew Shail: Having seen it at the Metro Centre Odeon recently. And it starts in Switzerland. Most of the drama takes place in somewhere in the Middle East on a spy mission and then it concludes in Greece. And we have almost exactly the same kind of structure in Tamasha it in that it starts, well doesn’t quite start, after those opening sequences, it starts in Corsica. And then we have that seemingly completely pointless ending sequence in Japan.
arnojyashree: Oh, yeah.
Andrew Shail: It’s just another another exotic cosmopolitan location.
Andrew Shail: So it seems that he he may have had a quota. You have to have two exotic locations. It may also be that that moment in the middle of the film where things get quite vicious where he gets quite shouty and he and Tara get into what is nearly a fight. It’s really interestingly choreographed isn’t it where she’s trying to grab hold of him and he’s trying to stop her grabbing hold of him and their arms get kind of tangled up in each other. It’s kind of elbows in ears kind of territory. And then, and then they both kind of collapse onto this this desk. And they’ve got their heads on the desk and I think he’s holding her head against
the desk in a slightly joking, but also slightly not joking kind of way. That the tonal shift there was outside of the territory of romantic comedy. Because ordinarily, the sphere of the genre of romantic comedy is that there’ll be a kind of break up and some rather melodramatic shouting at each other in the street, but it won’t get to the point where it’s physically threatening. Those tonal shifts. Those seem to be endemic to Bollywood films, because of the Masala principle. Now that might not apply at all anymore, but this is the principle, isn’t it, where you have to basically pack in about five different genres into the same film.
arnojyashree: That’s true, yeah.
Andrew Shail: You have to get in action and romance and comedy and musical and Tamasha didn’t do that. But it seemed to be pulled in the direction, just slightly in the direction of doing that. Hence that rather incongruous feeling bit in the middle where it really stepped outside of the boundaries of romantic comedy. So I know we’re kind of licking Imtiaz Ali here by going he’s really moving outside of the box. But you can see bits of the box there, I think.
arnojyashree: Yeah. I’ll tell you guys a very interesting trivia about this, which I even learned like So, like that. The song that where they sort of start getting into a fight in a bar. That song was actually not entirely directed by Imtiaz Ali, he just left the two actors to improvise on it and he never improvises. He literally has said that if they improvise in acting, that’s fine with me but words and all, I get to do that, that’s my story. So I will tell them what to say and what not to say. These two actors were actually in a relationship, a very intense relationship ages ago. And when the scene was happening, everybody felt like it was not Ved and Tara.
Andrew Shail: Ah right.
arnojyashree: Two actual people going through the whatever trauma was there left in the relationship that was coming out. The acting in that scene is different from the rest of the film like that just automatically comes out because it’s so intense. And you see that a line of acting has been crossed and it’s become a very real life thing in its own way. It might not have been his intention to make it so out of com like romantic comedy, but it just became its own thing.
Andrew Shail: I wonder if he regrets it
arnojyashree: I don’t think so, because this scene has been talked about a lot. And if you YouTube this, I think there’s a complete analysis of this that he has done himself. Actually it’s one of the, people love the song and scene the most throughout the film, just because of that energy that the characters have.
Paula Blair: There’s tremendous chemistry between these two actors and characters. Before you mentioned that story I was wondering if… Because the film becomes so subjectively aligned with each of them at different times, if that was part of it. If there was a crossing over into a bit of reality because when we remember things we will add our own spin on it, you know, our memories are never fixed. We will change and we will warp them. We will imagine different outcomes for the same memory, something from the past. So I was wondering if you could read it like that, that maybe that’s what one of them imagined was happening, but that’s really fascinating that there’s a tipping over into actual, real life. And so there’s a theatricality of the real on top of the theatricality that’s going on in the film.
arnojyashree: It is, it is, it’s exactly like… The fact that you can sense it means that’s what anybody who doesn’t even know about their past probably thinks that an element of acting in film and stories sort of crosses over and becomes a very real to real life thing right there.
Andrew Shail: I wouldn’t take the job if it was an ex partner is going to be playing of this film.
Paula Blair: It’s different for actors, though.
Andrew Shail: There’s no amount of money.
arnojyashree: I couldn’t imagine like especially a love story. And that to such an intense love story. I don’t know how they did that. I would be throwing bricks!
Andrew Shail: While we’re on the grown up elements of this, we have we have two questions for you. There seemed to be a bit of taboo-breaking going on in the Corsica segment in that both of our main characters were drinking openly and enjoying it openly and not getting punished for it openly. And they were they were doing plenty of kissing. And then just as she’s leaving. She seems resolved to leave and to just do it without saying goodbye. But then when the cab is just outside the hotel she runs back up to his room, goes in, takes off her shoes and climbs into bed with him. And it seems that what they do is they just do some kissing there. And I thought, hang on. She’s taken off her shoes. Is that symbolic that they’re doing more than just kissing?
arnojyashree: Basically yes. I would, I was surprised because there is so little. Usually these days there are more, there are entire sequences around it, and it’s not that frowned upon any more like in Indian narratives, you’ve got like kissing going on, public kissing like and everything like intimate scenes do come on a lot, which is something my mother has a lot of problems with. It’s hard to watch anything with her anymore!
Andrew Shail: The reason why we thought that might be a bit unlikely, is that it might just be she literally takes her shoes off and it’s not a code for something. She does it while there’s a cab waiting. So if they do have sex, they either have it really quickly
arnojyashree: There you go.
Andrew Shail: or they really test the patience of that cab driver.
arnojyashree: I think it’s the former.
Andrew Shail: Okay and while we’re on grown up things, we noticed, when we watched this on Netflix. Right. And we know that that’s not necessarily how it would have appeared in cinemas. But when we watched it and of course it’s subtitled almost entirely in English the version that we’re watching, even the points where they keep they keep switching into English. Why is the subtitled? But just for cleanliness’s sake. There’s that one moment where where they’re in character as the two people they are playing in Corsica. The people they are playing, one of them is an Interpol agent.
arnojyashree: police officer
Andrew Shail: And Tara is claiming to be working for a local gangster. And then she just lapses into for a moment into another character where she’s saying, Okay, so obviously you brought me here for sex right and then she lays out her price structure and in the subtitles it said what she was talking about. So she mentions anal, she mentions doggy style. Right. But at that moment, I noticed that the audio cut out
arnojyashree: Oh yeah. And some bits you can’t hear it. But obviously, you do know what it means. So they cut out the actual word without actually cutting it out. So you just hear a little bit and then it cuts off.
Andrew Shail: Ah right. So that’s how it would have played in cinemas then originally when it came out is that she says the beginning of the word for anal and then… Oh right. I suppose that’s a way of getting around censorship.
arnojyashree: Well, it is, but, actually frankly I was quite confused why they cut off the audio because if you watch any of the Indian films or web series nowadays, everything is so frank and out there. There’s no regards for censorship at all, especially in our languages because they do tend to show more raw conversations going on between characters. So, it was not necessary really
Andrew Shail: Maybe it was a ratings thing. You often hear about films having tiny changes made to them right at the getting rated stage, just in order to get down to a PG 13 or equivalent rating.
Paula Blair: I think just we’re on language, this is going to be a very silly British thing to ask because obviously, there’s the legacy of colonialism. I find it really fascinating that the language dips in and out of English so often. You know they’re speaking in Hindi, but then you’ll get a word or a phrase in English. The few Hindi films that we’ve watched together, this is just a really common thing that happens, and I don’t know if it’s generational or if it’s always like that. I don’t know if there’s anything… For any other Western Anglophone people watching it, is there anything you think would be useful to point to help us along with
arnojyashree: Well, I think that’s a very common thing to do. I think because you everybody has been taught English since they were children so they apply it in how they converse with each other. You would expect me to say that, well, this is how I talk with my parents, but no, this is actually how I talk with my grandparents as well. So it’s always been there English has just always been there in our vocabulary. So you’ll find it like a lot of films, actually, this is, this is going to be surprising that films tend to make their scripts more inclined towards Hindi, and that’s actually not how people in India talk. Do you remember Andrew you’ve
seen Devdas the one with Sanjay Leela Bhansali. The 2002 film.
Andrew Shail: I know it’s one of the most. It’s like a landmark film of Indian cinema history, um no I haven’t.
arnojyashree: Well, if you see something like that and they talk purely in Hindi there. It’s not how we talk. So that’s something that’s just for the narrative purpose, but usually people just talk the way Ved and Tara talk.
Andrew Shail: For people whose first language is English the phenomenon of switching is almost exclusively associated with being pretentious. It’s almost exclusively associated with switching into French to try to sound culturally sophisticated and it’s now known as the Del Boy Trotter phenomenon and almost invariably you get it wrong. And so switching’s just associated with people being idiots in fiction. But if it’s a normal part of life, given that you live in a multilingual culture, then I suppose we’re looking at an attempt to try and make these characters relatable.
arnojyashree: Mm hmm. That’s that. Yeah.
Andrew Shail: I’ve been to India a couple of times. And one thing I found is that the version of English that I encountered there, it felt like reading 18th-century fiction. 18th-century version of English where these words, these naval words that we don’t use in everyday English now had somehow found a place to survive.
Andrew Shail: A guy once was talking to me about yoga exercises that I could do in bed and he said you could do this in your cot. And that’s a term we use for what babies sleep in. It actually used to be the name for any bed that wasn’t a hammock on ships. So that word survived in India as a result of unfortunate historical relationships.
Andrew Shail: When it hadn’t survived here at all and so many elements like um I’ve heard the word avail the verb avail used in India quite commonly. We get we talk about how we might avail ourselves of a certain discount.
arnojyashree: Yeah, that’s how they talk.
Andrew Shail: It’s oddly formal. When you learn any language as a second language, what you tend to learn is a slightly older version of the language than what is spoken by native speakers anyway. The French I learned at school apparently is the French spoken by the grandparents of the current generation. So there’s it’s automatically going to happen. Tell us about the music.
arnojyashree: That’s my favourite bit. Well the music is by A. R. Rahman. By now I’m pretty sure, I mean, I think the entire world, if anybody’s ever read my blog
or my Instagram account, they know I love it. Yeah, I praise the guy so much. His music is really, really, really, really beautiful in this film, because every song
is like a story on its own. And that’s actually how I stumbled upon the concept of my dissertation that Chali Kahani is actually not a song. It’s a narrative.
Because there are repeated bits for sure, but the song is structured in the form of a play or multiple stories happening at once, and then they are intervening in
each other’s worlds. So you’ve got like pairs like Romeo and Juliet. And then you’ve got Helen and Troy [Paris] and somehow Helen is with Romeo and Troy [Paris] is
with Juliet. So it’s like all meshed into one another. That’s one thing and another like the song, which is the one where they’re fighting. That has that actually does not function as a traditional duet. It’s more like the woman starts singing first then she finishes. And then the guy. He has been singing in the background of the female vocals and then he sort of takes his own verse. So every song is very, very, you know, different from another another again here the song which comes during Tara’s narrative when she is upset and she’s thinking about what’s going on in my life that song is Punjabi; Tara is not a Punjabi woman. She’s not from
Punjab, but it’s a Punjabi song. You’ve got all the traditional singers and they are the actual sing local singers of the area. So again, it’s the cultural interaction happening there. In a traditional sense, everything is very mixed into one another. And that’s another thing that complements the storyline, because just like stories dipping into one another. It’s songs in the way they have been you know visualized or vocalized or composed, they also sort of tag along the same parallel concept that everything can everything can talk about another thing. So like, even though I am Indian, my life can be very similar to an English person. And just because we’re different doesn’t mean that there are different ways of living or different things are happening in these two areas, not really. So I think that’s a similarity that that music has in this film as well.
Andrew Shail: There’s a magical realist element to some of the songs isn’t there in that the one that’s called Wat Wat Wat, the one sung by the the auto rickshaw driver. That one is shown to be taking place to be performed in a very small musical venue. But then it keeps flicking to other locations to indicate that this is actually happening in someone’s head and that is actually performing it sitting at a roadside cafe without a musical accompaniment, without lights, without anything. So there’s lots of showing us things as if they’re happening in the diegesis, where they’re actually in their internal scenes, the imaginary scenes for one of the characters, if at all, you know, they could be imaginary scenes for some implicit narrator. So here I’m pushing you back into your dissertation topic.
arnojyashree: When I was watching the song last night actually, I thought that when Ved stares so intensely at the rickshaw driver it almost seems that in Ved’s head the narrative control of the song has been gone to rickshaw driver and he’s seeing him perform and sing about something that he is going through. So in the starting initial part of the song, then like vocal controls are over to the driver and then when he sees him in real life again just sitting there just singing without any instruments, he sort of you know come go comes out of his head, and he’s like, Oh shit, this, this guy knows what his story is, but I don’t. And then he
goes back into his mind again and take so that there’s a switch in the vocal singers that it’s not the same guy singing the entire song.
Andrew Shail: Oh right.
arnojyashree: When he looks at the rickshaw driver singing, he goes back in his mind and then he got again start singing in the stash back sequence.
Andrew Shail: And am I right in thinking that none of the people who we actually see singing except for that Punjabi group no one else is actually singing what we hear.
Andrew Shail: Okay, then it’s all playback singers?
Andrew Shail: Now that now that is one of those very odd things about one of those elements of cultural difference that does tend to strike Europeans as being a really weird way of doing films, but it’s probably just more overtly the case in Hindi films than it is in musicals made elsewhere because it’s probably quite a common practice having someone…
Paula Blair: I would say so yeah.
Andrew Shail: It’s just that the voices are so much more incongruous. This voice is very clearly not the voice that would have come out of this person’s mouth. What’s it called, Matargashti song, the one in Corsica. Yeah, the singing, there appears to be, it’s like the singers have been taught to make it even more shrill than they normally would to indicate that this is not coming out of the mouths of these two people, even though that’s how its presented, you know, I may be way off on this.
arnojyashree: This is something that I discovered when I was doing my dissertation actually that singers were chosen for their vocal abilities and how they can match to the tone of the singer just to make sure that the audience who was not aware of playback singing like you guys you would confuse it with the actual person singing. It’s made to sound like that. So if you actually go to and check the tone, the tones really do much with the actor and the singer. Except that again he’s his vocal capabilities. Yeah, he makes it shrill in one song, but he’s more subtle and horse in the other bits. In Matargashti the shrilling more has to. It has to do with the theme of the song that it’s so upbeat and they’re so happy and excited so I think that’s the element that’s trying to come out in the vocal tone.
Paula Blair: They’re very catchy tunes as well, they’re earworms. I’ve found myself you know they’re going over and over in my mind actually for the past few days since watching the film. Really enjoying them!
arnojyashree: The songs are catchy, yeah.
Andrew Shail: Arnojya sent me a playlist of up upwards of 30 songs I think it was the ones that are you going, you’re going to be working on for your dissertation. And one day, Paula and I just sat down and we just watched as many as we had time to watch.
arnojyashree: Oh wow.
Andrew Shail: And Kun Faya Kun, I cannot get that out of my head now. Because it’s one, it’s from one of Imtiaz Ali’s earlier films. And it’s sung by a character played by Ranbir Kapoor. So the same person who plays Ved. I’m definitely in agreement that AR Rahman is quite a good composer.
arnojyashree: He is.
Andrew Shail: It’s an understatement.
arnojyashree: I mean if you’re interested in his music, even the best one, like the worst ones have the best music ever and Rockstar is actually known for its music and Kun Faya Kun is definitely one of the classics that Rahman has ever done because it brings out that Sufi element of the song. And this song is actually… the singles that you still seeing the visuals, they actually perform in the same spot in the same … in India, and this is the same song. They have literally just been invited to the studio to record the track and they just sing it there and then the vocals of other company like singers are added. But yes, original song.
Andrew Shail: We’ve got our next podcast, then haven’t we, next episode. You see we had a Sofia Coppola season, about a year ago.
Paula Blair: No. It’s longer ago than that. It was way back at the start yeah 2018.
Andrew Shail: Was it two years ago?
Paula Blair: Yeah and this year has been a write off, I know, because of pandemic reasons. But yeah, a lot of the things you’re remembering are from ages ago.
Andrew Shail: Do you remember Arnojya that thing I did which was a very thorough analysis of the thematic and stylistic signature of Sofia Coppola looking at all of her commercial feature films? I did that because I had a dissertation student who was working on Coppola and so I just had watched all of her films. And because I had done those, Paula and I recorded podcast episodes and so I thought well I’ve done most of the work now so I’ll just do this analysis. Imtiaz Ali has directed what 10, 12 films, though?
arnojyashree: Yeah, not all of them are good but you know he has his good ones. The thing with him is that it’s the same theme going on. It’s different but it’s almost similar because there’s traveling, there’s self discovery. There’s sort of spirituality, there’s love, there’s family, there’s relationships. So different narratives, but the same things.
Andrew Shail: You were originally going to write entirely on Imtiaz Ali for your dissertation, weren’t you, so it shows quite some restraint that you worked on more than one director.
arnojyashree: Yeah. That was a hard decision, but then I was like, it’s fine.
Paula Blair: It’s getting quite late, we’ve been going for well over an hour now. We’ve taken a lot of your time and you’ve been so informative. It’s been brilliant. Arnojya, you mentioned that you have a blog and Instagram and stuff. Would you like to just point people towards those?
arnojyashree: Sure. Thank you so much for the opportunity. Well, I have an Instagram account that’s basically my name, but it’s literally @arnojyashree. So I usually post reviews there and video edits, my poetry. I started getting into film writing and review writing because of the poetry stuff. Just gave it a shot and just happened. So my film blog is the one where I post reviews of all the films that I’m reviewing and I almost review one every week because I do it for the Courier, the university newspaper. You can find it at letterstofilm.wordpress.com.
Paula Blair: Great. And is that just anything that’s out at the minute, or is it just anything at all that you’re watching that you would write about?
arnojyashree: It’s almost anything. Like if I watch a film, and it really intrigues me and things start to come up in my head I just write down a review.
Paula Blair: Cool, it’s good to keep those writing muscles flexed, I think.
Andrew Shail: Do you know how I flexed my writing muscles over summer? Emails to you! This summer, just, I just have to tell some humans about this. Understandably the university that I work for has done some really serious reorganizing of itself over the summer. Which has been, which meant that we’ve actually just replan all of our teaching and so the summer is where we normally do research that’s just been wiped out completely. So the only outlet that I’ve had over the past three, four months for doing any thinking through actual ideas has been dissertation supervision and so I’ve had, Arnojya, I’ve had a student writing about representations of Muslims in American films, I’ve had a student writing about Douyin, so the Chinese version of TikTok. I’ve had a student writing about Spike Lee. And I’ve had a
student writing about journalistic representations of the civil war in Syria. So I’ve just been vicariously doing research over the summer. So this is a an attempt just to put some of these thoughts down in a form that’s more than just a dissertation, although I probably shouldn’t put the word just before the word dissertation, should I? Because what it’s 18,000 words worth a third of an entire degree and if it’s something that you intend to continue to do I always recommend that your Master’s dissertation should be the basis of the very first scholarly article that you get published. For me, it was the basis of one of my entire research areas, Cultural History of menstruation and you feel the same way about your Masters Paula, don’t you, that this was the beginning of part of you.
Paula Blair: There were definitely seeds in mine. Yes. I wrote mine about surrealism and documentary. That’s something I’m still working through I think.
Andrew Shail: And all degrees should be one-year degrees. Enough of this three year nonsense. Do it in one!
Paula Blair: The Masters is so special. It’s my, it was definitely my fave, the dissertation was my favourite, favourite thing.
Andrew Shail: Because people just left you alone for a long time wasn’t it? You’re ready to be left alone at that point. Arnojya what are you going to do next, long-term?
arnojyashree: Well, I think writing’s just always going to be a part of me so films as well. So right now I’m just looking for any editorial positions that are open up. But recently, I’ve actually in fact today. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a really renowned Indian photographer. He’s a specialist in panorama pictures and he goes about photographing the lesser known architecture and historical buildings in India. So things which are literally left behind, or nobody talks about anymore. So he’s doing a project and it’s literally a voluntary position so I don’t know if I’m taking it yet, but he’s asked me to lead a group of storytellers.
So basically, I’ll be looking at all the scripts that go online for the project. So that is something that might be happening over the course of three to six months from now. Apart from that, I’m just looking out for jobs at the moment and doing a bit of writing here and there. So I continue to write for the university and my own blog, of course. So yeah, a lot of writing, I guess.
Paula Blair: Great. Well, open door. If you ever want to come back and chat about whatever you’re working on it’d be really lovely to hear from you, I’ve really enjoy this so much. Thank you.
arnojyashree: Thank you for having me here. This is seriously one of the most wonderful opportunities I’ve received yet. This… amazing!
Paula Blair: Your bar is very low Arnojya.
arnojyashree: No, it isn’t. Working with Andrew is like outside of uni. I’m just like, holy shit!
Andrew Shail: One of the reasons we’re doing this is that I’m not marking your Master’s dissertation. In something like five weeks and you’ll have another degree. And one that really like as the figures indicate that having a master’s degree really does give you an edge on people when it comes to getting management level jobs. Although I don’t think any of us want to get a management level job.
Arnojya Shree: No, I don’t. Yeah.
Andrew Shail: Maybe you’re going down exactly the right route of selling your labour for absolutely zero money. Long may this last. I’m going to press a big red button.
Paula Blair: Good luck with everything Arnojya, and honestly keep in touch, it would be lovely to hear from you again. Thank you so much.
arnojyashree: Thank you for having me.