May 4, 2006

Race, what is it good for?

We’re watching "Anita and Me" at the moment. It’s one of those rare Indian movies made in English. There are a few of those around and we’ve gathered all of those together and watch them avidly since these movies have an experience beyond Bollywood and Hollywood. They are unique in their own terms because they provide an Eastern perspective of the West – or something like that :)

"Anita and Me" is the story of Meena, an Indian girl living in an English backwater village in 1972. She is fascinated by Anita Rutter (though the way they pronounce it, it sounds more like "rotter" :p) the local troublemaker and glamour girl. It’s an unlikely friendship and highlights a lot of things that we’d rather not think about. There is of course the racism, it is an underlying theme throughout the movie – both the racism of the British towards the Indians as well as the reverse racism of the Indians towards the British. But there are all the other subtle variations – wanting to be somebody you are not, wanting to belong, wanting to be your own person.

We haven’t seen the whole movie yet but so far it is interesting though sometimes a bit hard to understand because of the thick brogue of some of the characters. Even Meena, who is Indian, has a real thick accent which is unlike any Indian accent I’ve heard but then again, given she was probably brought up in England, it probably makes sense that she’d speak more like the natives of her village rather than her own parents :)

What interested me was the strong undercurrents of racism of all stripes and colours that the movie portrayed. We’re used to the usual stereotypes of racism and how the brown/black/coloure (make your choice) people are always looked down upon by the white folks. But what about the reverse? Sure, it’s true that most of the folks in post-colonial countries (at least) bow down to those with white skin as if they were aliens, or messengers from God :p But at the same time, they have this habit of disparaging the whiteys (or "goras" or whatever the common local term) and their morals and culture and so on. Is this not racism as well?

In truth, what should matter to us about another person is how they conduct themselves and how they treat you and others around them. Their skin colour or the country they were born in (or brought up in) should not matter at all. Unfortunately, it might be a long time before all of the human race comes to realize this ….

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Tags: Entertainment, Movies, Reflections
Posted by Fahim at 7:13 am   Comments (0)