Monday, 30 June 2008

Punjabi women in vogue

Trinh T Minh-ha writes in Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism:
"'Wo-' appended to 'man' in sexist contexts is not unlike 'Third World', 'Third', 'minority', or 'color' affixed to woman in pseudo-feminist contexts. Yearning for universality, the generic 'woman', like its counterpart, the generic 'man' tends to efface difference within itself...'All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men, But Some of Us are Brave' is the title given to an anthology edited by Gloria T Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith...'Third World', therefore, belongs to a category apart, a 'special' one that is meant to be both complimentary and complementary, for First and Second went out of fashion, leaving a serious Lack behind to be filled".

Does the 'special' status currently bestowed upon 'Third World' sufficiently explain why formerly rustic and primitive traditions (in the Eurocentric mind that is) like those of Indian writing and film are now considered chic, and not merely exotic? Does it also justify the growing popularity of Bollywood amongst mainstream and arthouse audiences in the west? And finally, what is with the trio of fiery Punjabi women - Deepa Mehta, Mira Nair and Gurinder Chadha, residing in the diaspora and effortlessly embracing the cosmopolitanism accrued from making 'crossover' films?

I wonder if diasporic Indian men or non-Punjabi women would make the same kind of films, or would make films in the first place. I would like to think that the 'Mehta-Nair-Chadha phenomenon' is a mere coincidence. But it doesn't help that I am Punjabi too. And female. I'm trying to make a film. And negotiate my diasporic identity.

No comments: