Monday, July 23, 2007

Filming: A Love Story

It seems that Indian novelists (in this case all NRIs) are turning their attention to the issue of communalism in India, among other themes.

Sujit Saraf deals with it in his admired work of fiction, The Peacock Throne. So, does David Davidar in his recent novel, The Solitude of Emperors (this one is mainly focused on communalism). Now, Tabish Khair's Filming is said to be on this theme too, though the story is situated in pre-Bollywood Bombay.

Here's Navtej Sarna's take on Filming: A Love Story.

Tabish Khair’s Filming draws a unique connection between photography and barbed wire: both inventions, intended to freeze movement, were perfected in the year 1880. In many ways, the rest of the novel is the story—romantic, tragic, bloody—of how these two inventions played out in India. The story of how still images began to flicker on white screens in dusty villages and then started to move, then to talk and sing—first in black and white, then in scintillating, money-churning, record-breaking colour. And of how barbed wire was stretched across the subcontinent, to separate and to secure, and how its sharp points killed unsuspecting souls or left deep wounds in those who got past, their identities in shreds—wounds that continued to ache decades later, at the memory of a song, or a childhood caper, or a youthful love.

And here's an interview with Khair where he discusses issues of hybridism and exile. Here's an interesting quote from him on writers:

Actually, I feel that the attention Indian writers get occasionally is greatly over-rated in India. Even in terms of prizes and advances, Indian writers corner only a very small fraction of the global market. Rushdie and Naipaul are not really 'Indian' in any case, and even they are not among the global bestsellers like Rowlings and Dan Brown: the pomp and spectacle they invite is due to the literary quality of their work. So I am not too worried. Finally, as a writer, you have to decide for yourself whether you want to sip cocktails in five-star bashes, or slog away in the loneliness of your study.

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