Exploring issues of identity and belonging in the films of Mira Nair : Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala and Monsoon Wedding

Van Lill, Hilda (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2010-03)

Abstract

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The aim of this thesis is to study the themes of identity and belonging in the films of Mira Nair. Three films form the basis of this study namely Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala and Monsoon Wedding. The approach is thematic, i.e using the film to explore different socio-political themes of identity rather than looking at the methodology she uses as a filmmaker. The analysis of each of the three films looks at a particular form of identity namely national, cultural or personal identity, and makes reference to Nair’s own comments on the films as well as academic articles on the films, her work and issues such as identity, nostalgia, home, belonging, marginalization, immigrants, street children and the like, in order to interrogate Nair’s exploration of the particular ideas within these films. It examines the films as if it were a work of literature, and looks at how it deals with these issues within a filmic context. What symbols does she use to show us we are dealing with cultural identity? Which character is symbolic of the modernist movement? Finally it examines the potential effect of these films on the society from which they derive, and comes to some conclusions about the effect these films may have in challenging, shaping and/or influencing ideas about nostalgia, home, identity, and so on. The discussions of the films show that she has been superbly able to exploit all the advantages of her chosen medium to bring her remarkable visual inventiveness and artistry into play in order to communicate this to an international audience and to make them think about the issues at hand. The filmmaker is finally established not only as simply a creator of film, but ultimately as a thinker and poet.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die doel van hierdie tesis is om die temas van identiteit en ‘n gevoel van behoort in die films van Mira Nair te bestudeer. Drie films vorm die basis van die studie naamlik Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala en Monsoon Wedding. Die aanslag is tematies van aard, m.a.w. dit gebruik die films om die verskillende sosio-ekonomise temas van identiteit te identifiseer en ontleed, eerder as om die metodologie van haar as filmmaker te bestudeer. Die analise van elke van die drie films kyk na ‘n spesifieke vorm van identiteit, naamlik nasionale, kulturele of persoonlike identiteit en maak verwysing na kommentaar deur Nair haarself, sowel as akademiese artikels oor die films, haar werk en kwessies van identiteit, nostalgie, die konsep van ‘n tuiste, ‘n gevoel van behoort, marginalisasie, immigrante, straat kinders en dies meer. Die doel is om sodoende Nair se idees oor identiteit binne hierdie films te bevraagteken en ontleed. Die tesis ondersoek die films asof dit ‘n literere werk is, en neem in ag die maniere waarop dit na hierdie kwessies kyk binne ‘n filmiese konteks. Daar word byvoorbeeld gekyk na watter simbole sy gebruik wanneer sy verwys na kulturele identiteit. Watter karakter is die simbool vir die modernistiese beweging, ens. Uitendelik bevraagteken die tesis the potensiële effek van hierdie films op die omgewing en omstandighede waaruit dit ontstaan het, en kom tot sekere gevolgtrekkings met betrekking tot die mate waarin hierdie films kwessies van tuiste, nostalgie, identiteit ens beinvloed en/of vorm en bevraagteken. Die besprekings dui daarop dat sy baie bevoeg is om al die voordele van haar verkose medium tesame met haar indrukwekkende visuele verbeelding te gebruik om aan ‘n internasionale gehoor die kwessies te kommunikeer en hul te dwing om aktief te dink oor die kwessies aan hand. Uiteindelik word die filmmaker Nair nie slegs as ‘n skepper van film beskryf nie, maar ook as ‘n denker en digter.

Thesis (MDram (Drama))--University of Stellenbosch, 2010.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/4316
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