The Other and the Neighbour: Negotiating Representations of ‘Asia’ in Bengali Films
Identities are rarely unified or fixed even when they are presented as a single unit. Particularly in recent times, identities have become more and more fractured and multiple. Moreover, there are various areas of overlap among sexual, gender, regional, racial, linguistic, religious, national, cultural and other identities. Since identity is a construct, its meanings lie as much ‘outside’ as ‘inside’. Therefore, margins of identities are largely fuzzy and often merge into one another as well as with other areas. While this chapter is not about identities per se, I tackle questions of representations and performances of identities, cultures, communities and their interplay. I refer to Bengali films and Hindi films produced by Bengali production houses1 where Bengali actors masquerade as, or perform certain stereotypes of, Chinese or Japanese characters, which are often believed locally to be interchangeable, and discuss this phenomenon in terms of how the images of ‘self’ and ‘neighbour’ are constructed apart from the ‘other’ by working through the conceptions of both sameness and difference.
KeywordsMiddle Class Nationalist Movement Japanese Character District Magistrate Popular Cinema
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