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Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna 
11th-Aug-2006 10:42 pm
India
I just saw Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna.

The story was about two married Indian couples. They meet each other, and gradually the man from one couple and the woman from the other fall in love and have an affair.

Now, I'm told that premarital sex in Indian cinema is rare, and usually results in the woman dying by the end of the film, but extramarital sex? Even stranger, the woman not only doesn't die, but several years after they both get divorced (also quite scandalous), they get back together with each other, and presumably live happily ever after.

Here is where the interesting twist comes. This movie took place in the US (mostly NYC), and the Indians were actually Indian Americans. There was more English spoken than there generally is in Indian movies, and the characters demonstrated strong connections to the culture around them.

So, it's okay to show Indian people doing things like this, because they are not really Indians, they are Indian Americans. Indians in the diaspora have been tainted, and have lost their Indian values. This could not have happened in India, where people still have such great moral fortitude. It could only happen in America, where Indians absorb the host cultures tendency toward promiscuity, infidelity, and non challant divorce.

This stereotype of Americans, which I have heard before in India, outside of films (but curiously, is based largely on what Indians see of us in our films) was repeatedly made clear throughout the movie, as Americans, and American women in particular were repeatedly typecast as promiscuous.

Also curious was the following brief exchange between one of the stars and a random guy on the street:

-Hey you! Are you willing to fight for your marriage?
-I'm not married, I'm gay!

I find the way in which the diaspora was portrayed by this movie very interesting. They are simultaneously other and not other, but in order to be able to behave in the way they did in the film, they needed to be more other than not. The degree of alienation this implies is quite striking.
Comments 
11th-Aug-2006 11:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I'm an Indian American + 3rd culture kid, so this kind of stuff is very much in my scope of interest.
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