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I need to write a research paper. All the details for this assessment can be found in the attached file. Please note that the four peer-reviewed sources must match the sources available in my school’s
Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at https://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=rtrc21 Transnational Screens ISSN: 2578-5273 (Print) 2578-5265 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rtrc21 ‘The past is a foreign country ’: exoticism and nostalgia in contemporary transnational cinema Daniela Berghahn To cite this article: Daniela Berghahn (2019) ‘The past is a foreign country ’: exoticism and nostalgia in contemporary transnational cinema, Transnational Screens, 10:1, 34-52, DOI: 10.1080/25785273.2019.1599581 To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/25785273.2019.1599581 Published online: 25 Apr 2019.Submit your article to this journal Article views: 1132View related articles View Crossmark dataCiting articles: 2 View citing articles ‘The past is a foreign country ’: exoticism and nostalgia in contemporary transnational cinema Daniela Berghahn Department of Media Arts, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, UK ABSTRACTGlobal interconnectedness has resulted in cultural homogenisa- tion and a growing disenchantment with the perceived de ﬁcien- cies of contemporary (Western) culture. This has led, on the one hand, to an elegiac longing for an idealised past and, on the other, a buoyant interest in cultural di ﬀerence, speci ﬁcally, the exotic. The essay aims to advance scholarly debates on exoticism in cinema by tracing its close a ﬃnities with nostalgia, attending to the concepts ’shared aesthetic and ideological trajectories. It the- orises and di ﬀerentiates between the ‘imperialist nostalgia ﬁlm’ and the ‘exotic nostalgia ﬁlm’by using Gurinder Chadha ’sViceroy ’s House (2017) and Wong Kar-wai ’sIn the Mood for Love (2000) as case studies. While the former evokes nostalgia for the British Empire, the latter engenders a universal longing in the spectatorfor a time and place when intensity of feeling was possible. In a second line of argument, the article develops a model of trans- national reception which explores the hypothesis that nostalgia and exoticism evoke di ﬀerent aesthetic responses in local and global spectators. While nostalgia is premised on familiarity and the remembrance of shared local traditions, the exotic gaze is that of an outsider to whom the cultural Other seems enigmatic and alluring. KEYWORDSExoticism; nostalgia; imperialist nostalgia; transnational reception;Viceroy ’s House ;In the Mood for Love This article aims to advance scholarly deb ates on the representation of cultural diﬀerence and, more speci ﬁcally, the exotic in cinema, by bringing exoticism into dialogue with nostalgia. While nostalg ia in Hollywood cinema and in British and European heritage cinema has received a signi ﬁcant amount of scholarly attention, two particular sub-categories which featu re prominently in contemporary transna- tional cinema, the ‘imperialist nostalgia ’ﬁlm (Rosaldo 1989 ) and, what I shall term the ‘exotic nostalgia ﬁlm ’, merit closer attention. Both combine an elegiac longing for an idealised past, constructed ‘as a site of pleasurable contemplation and yearn- ing ’(Cook 2005 , 4), with the spectacle of alluring alterity. However, as I shall illustrate, they di ﬀer in terms of their aesthetics and ideological agendas. Both nostalgia and exoticism stand in an antith etical relationship to modernity and can, in the broadest terms, be de ﬁned as aesthetic and discursive practices ‘intent on recovering “elsewhere ” values “lost ”’ (Bongie 1991 ,5)atsigni ﬁcant historical CONTACT : Daniela Berghahn [email protected] Department of Media Arts, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, UK TRANSNATIONAL SCREENS 2019, VOL. 10, NO. 1, 34 –52 https://doi.org/10.1080/25785273.2019.1599581 © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group junctures. Thus, my chosen case studies are ﬁlms that engage directly or indirectly with major historical turning points. Gurinder Chadha ’sViceroy ’sHouse (2017 ) charts the end of British colonial rule over India in 1947 and Wong Kar-wai ’sIn the Mood for Love (2000 )re ﬂects the anxieties accompanying the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997 via nostalgia for British-ruled Hong Kong in the 1960s. What distinguishes Chadha ’s imperialist nostalgia ﬁlm and Wong ’sexoticnostalgia ﬁlm from comparable period dramas such as Out of Africa (Sydney Pollack, 1985 ), M. Butter ﬂy(David Cronenberg, 1993 ), Indochine (Régis Wargnier, 1992 ), Victoria & Abdul (Stephen Frears, 2017 ), Queen of the Desert (Werner Herzog, 2015 )andRajrevival ﬁlms of the 1980s like APassagetoIndia (David Lean, 1984 ) and Heat and Dust (James Ivory, 1983 ), is that they are made by postcolonial diasporic ﬁlmmakers of Indian/Punjabi and Chin ese/Shanghainese descent rather than by white Western majority culture ﬁlmmakers. Authorship deserves considera- tion in this context since it comes with a part icular set of expectations. Postcolonial diasporic ﬁlmmakers are often seen as ‘native informants ’,whoareexpectedto provide ‘authentic ’accounts of their culture of origin . They are supposed to articulate anti-imperialist resistance instead of pandering to the predilections of metropolitan audiences by appropriating the dominant i mage repertoire and tropes of exotic alterity. Thanks to their multiple cultural attachments, diasporic ﬁlmmakers are exceptionally well positioned to act as ‘culture brokers, mediating the global trade in exotic –culturally “othe red ”– goods ’(Appiah cited in Huggan 2001 , 26) in which alterity has become a prized commodity. Unless strategically deployed to subvert dominant codes of representing the cultural Other (cf. Huggan 2001 : 32, 77), self- exoticisation is commonly regarded with s uspicion because it is imbricated with the burdensome colonial legacy of exoticism. Yet, as exotic period dramas made by World Cinema ﬁlmmakers, including Raise the Red Lantern (Zhang Yimou, 1991 )and The Road Home (Zhang Yimou, 1999 ), Three Seasons (Tony Bui, 1999 ), Water (Deepa Mehta, 2005 ), Lust, Caution (Ang Lee, 2007 ) and Before the Rains (Santosh Sivan, 2007 ) show, the collapsed distances of g lobalisation and the transnational ﬂows of media and people have resulted in a decentring of the exotic, which can no longer be exclusively understood as the projectio n of exotic fantasies of the other from one centre,theWest,butwhichemanatesfrommul tiple localities and is multi-directional in perspective. In contemporary World Cinema, ‘self-exoticisation, in which the ethnic, the local or the regional exposes themselves under the guise of self- expression, to the gaze of the benevolent other ’(Elsaesser 2005 , 510) is deployed as a strategy to garner prestigious awards on the global ﬁlm festival circuit, to engage transnational audiences and reap commercial rewards. In this essay, I propose that imp erialist and exotic nostalgia ﬁlms speak di ﬀerently to local and global audiences. In order to d evelop this hypothesis, I will invoke the concept of ‘enigmatization ’, which Linda Chiu-han Lai has theorised with speci ﬁc reference to Hong Kong nostalgia ﬁlms of the 1990s. Hong Kong nostalgia ﬁlms, she contends, ‘produce messages coded in ways that o nly a local audience can adequately interpret but that, nevertheless, remain co mprehensible to an international audience onamoregenerallevel ’(Lai 2001 ,232).Inotherwords,nostalgia ﬁlms grant local audiences the status of a ‘privileg ed hermeneutic community ’, capable of decoding TRANSNATIONAL SCREENS 35 culturally speci ﬁc references by virtue of a ‘shared textual horizon ’and the ‘remem- brance of a shared popular tradition ’(Lai 2001 : 232, 241). Whereas Lai does not problematise the concept of ‘local audiences ’, I concur with Appadurai ( 1996 , 48), who suggests that in a world characterised by accelerated transnational mobility and de-territorialization, the d istinction between local and g lobal spectators has assumed ‘a slippery, nonlocalized quality ’.I,therefore,conceiveoflocalandglobalspectators not primarily in geospatial terms, bu tratherintermsofthelocallyspeci ﬁcknowledge audiences bring to the reception of a particular ﬁlm, regardless of where they actually live. Whereas Lai suggests that the transnat ional reception of Ho ng Kong nostalgia ﬁlms results in an interpretative de ﬁcit since global audiences are missing certain locally speci ﬁc nuances of meaning, I argue that, for global audiences, there remains a residue of enigma and a sense of mystery, which is an important feature of the ﬁlms ’ exotic allure. In other words, the a ﬀective relationship which local and global specta- torsdevelopinrelationtoexoticnostalgia ﬁlmsisdi ﬀerent: whereas nostalgia is community building for local viewers, exoticism relies on and reinforces an outsider perspective. ‘The exotic gaze ’, Charles Forsdick writes, ‘is a perspective “from the other side ”, from outside and across geograp hical [or cultural] boundaries ’(Forsdick 2001 , 21). It depends on the maintenance of boundaries, to ensure that cultural diﬀerence be preserved and perceived. I shall re ﬁne and probe this hypothesis when considering Viceroy ’sHouse and In the Mood for Love by proposing a model of transnational reception that examines how ae sthetic strategies, anchored in the cine- matic text itself, have the capacity to elicit a nostalgic or exotic response in the spectator. Correspondences between exoticism and nostalgia Thereisaclosea ﬃnity between exoticism and nostal gia. Both mobilise distance, be it spatial or temporal, to enable an imaginat ive investment that replaces historical accuracy and cultural authenticity with th e construction of a sanitised and embel- lished past and an idealised alterity. The famous opening lines of L. P. Hartley ’s novel The Go-Between (1953 ), ‘the past is a foreign country. . .they do things diﬀerently there ’, encapsulates the chronotopic nature of nostalgia. It is simulta- neously the longing for a distant place a s well as the longing for a distant time, typically one ’s childhood or what is perceived to be the golden age in the history of a nation. Both the past, described by Salman Rushdie as ‘a country from which we have all emigrated ’(Rushdie 1992 , 12), and the exotic are premised on the experience of loss and nostalgic longing. Chris Bongie contends in Exotic Memories that the exotic ceased to exist at the end of the nineteenth century as the result of cultural convergence and homogenisation on a global scale and has, henceforth, only continued to exist in cultural memory. Historically, it is inextricably linked to Romantic voyages of discovery during which the encounter with radical cultural di ﬀerence in remote corners of the world prompted a mutual sense of astonishment and wide-eyed wonder (though historical records, travelogues and novels of adventure are invariably skewed towards the astonishment experienced by Europeans). ‘The exotic is not [. . .] an inherent quality to be found “in”certain people, distinctive objects or speci ﬁc places ’(Huggan 2001 , 13). 36 D. BERGHAHN Instead it denotes a particular perception of cultural di ﬀerence that arises from the encounter with foreign cultures, landscapes, animals, people and their customs that are either remote or taken out of their original context and ‘absorbed into a home culture, essentialized, simpli ﬁed and domesticated ’(Forsdick 2003 ,47 –48). Colonial expansion and subsequent postcolonial migration resulted in persistent contact between di ﬀerent cultures so that what was once perceived as strange and exotic became familiar. It is precisely this ‘gradual loss of alternative horizons ’and the deep sense of nostalgia associated with cultural homogenisation and hybridisation that ‘generates exoticism ’ (Bongie 1991 : 4, 5), de ﬁned as a particular mode of cultural representation and discursive practice that renders something as exotic. In this sense, exoticism constructs a desired elsewhere, which is nostalgically imagined as geographically and/or temporally remote (Bongie 1991 , 7). Ultimately, exoticism –like nostalgia –is ‘a story about loss (the loss of tradition, the loss of alternatives, the loss of the possibility of an “authentic experience ”)’(Bongie 1991 , 6). Both discourses seek to salvage something that has ceased to exist. Exoticism and nostalgia both spring from the perceived de ﬁciencies of the pre- sent. Growing cultural interest in the exotic invariably emerges at moments of cultural crisis, when it serves as a spur ious panacea for a nostalgic longing for a time and place imagined as better than one ’s own. This holds particularly true for the nostalgic fascination with so-called ‘primitive ’cultures, imagined as ‘being stuck in an earlier stage of “culture ”[…] when compared with the West ’(Chow 1995 , 22). Primitivism, and exoticism more broadly, re ﬂect ‘a sense of exhausted whiteness ’ (Negra 2002 , 62) which projects fantasies of aut henticity, abundance and sensuous intensity onto Other cultures. A similar sense of disenchantment with the present underpins nostalgia ’s imaginative investment in the past, which operates through ‘historical inversion: the ideal that is not being lived now is projected into the past ’ (Bakhtin cited in Hutcheon 2009 , 250). As Linda Hutcheon suggests, the process of ‘nostalgic distancing sanitises as it selec ts, making the past feel complete, stable, coherent [. . .] in other words, making it so very unlike the present ’(Hutcheon 2009 , 250). Both nostalgia and exoticism have attracted harsh criticism for fetishizing and commodifying the past or alterity and for o ﬀering it up to mass-market consumption on a global scale (cf. Huggan 2001 :28 –33; Spengler 2009 , 2). The visual pleasure nostalgia and exotic ﬁlms are known to a ﬀord is frequently regarded with suspicion because it is seen to weaken or fully anaesthetise audiences ’critical capacities, thereby precluding intellectual interrogation and critical insight. Invoking Fredric Jameson ’s (1983 )in ﬂuential critique, critics have not tired of reiterating that the nostalgia ﬁlm and its close relative, the heritage ﬁlm, project visions of the past in which ‘a critical perspective is displaced by decoration and display, a fascination with surfaces [and] the past is reproduced as ﬂat, depthless pastiche ’(Higson 2006 , 95). Meanwhile Graham Huggan takes issue with the ‘the global “spectacularisation ”of cultural di ﬀerence ’, since it conceals ‘imperial authority through exotic spectacle ’(Huggan 2001 , 15). Far from celebrating the steadily increasing interest in the postcolonial exotic in contemporary societies, which bestows cultural prestige and commercial success onto the works of postcolonial writers, ﬁlmmakers and other artists, he regards it as ‘a pathology of TRANSNATIONAL SCREENS 37 cultural representation under late capitalism ’(2001 , 33) that transforms cultural di ﬀer- ence into commodity fetishism. As this essay seeks to demonstrate, I do not concur with the pejorative attitude, prevalent in particular amongst postcol onial scholars, who denounce exoticism and exotic cinema tout court . By contrast, I argue that exoticism is not necessarily false or politically incorrect but has a ri ghtful place as an imaginary construction of the Other, or indeed the Self as Other. Whether it is ideologically retrograde or not, ultimately depends on the object of ex otic desire. Contemporary transnational and World Cinema o ﬀersnumerousexamplesofwhereexoticismisharnessedto new ethico-political agendas that have nothing in common with its tainted colo- nial legacy (cf. Berghahn 2017 ). I further contend that the visual and sensuous pleasure which exotic cinema a ﬀords is not inevitably divorced from critical insight or even an oppositional stance. As Huggan has shown ( 2001 : 33, 77), exoticist codes of representation can be deployed strategically to uncover and dislodge long established imperi alist power hierarchies. And ﬁnally, exoticism ’s visual and sensuous allure e ﬀectively compensates for the hermeneutic de ﬁcit which arises when World Cinema, which o ﬀers windows onto ‘other ’cultures, is watched across borders. In this sense, i t is an important aspect of World Cinema ’s transnational appeal. Having charted how nostalgia and exoticism intersect and, despite being primarily interested in the exotic nostalgia ﬁlm, it is nevertheless necessary to introduce its ideologically more problematic counterpart, the imperialist nostalgia ﬁlm. Bongie ’s distinction between ‘imperialist exoticism ’, which ‘aﬃrms the hegemony of modern civilization over less developed [. . .] territories ’and ‘exoticising exoticism ’, which ‘privileges those very territories and their peoples, ﬁguring them as a possible refuge from an overbearing modernity ’(Bongie 1991 , 17), identi ﬁes them as di ﬀerent mani- festations of exoticism. But whereas the former serves to assert and legitimise colonial expansion and imperial power, the latter validates Other cultures by projecting those utopic and desirable qualities onto them which are perceived to be lacking in Western societies. The imperialist nostalgia ﬁlm and Viceroy ’s House In a much-cited essay, the anthropologist Renato Rosaldo coined the term ‘imperialist nostalgia ’, to which he alternately refers as an ‘elegiac mode of perception ’,a ‘mood ’and an ‘emotion ’that ‘makes racial domination appear pure and innocent ’(Rosaldo 1989 :107, 108). He proposes that it revolves around a peculiar paradox: Agents of colonialism [. . .] often display nostalgia for the colonized culture as it was “traditionally ”(that is, when they ﬁrst encountered it). The peculiarity of their yearning, of course, is that agents of colonialism long for the very forms of life they intentionally altered or destroyed [. . .] and then regret [. . .] that things have not remained as they were prior to his or her intervention. [. . .] In any of its versions, imperialist nostalgia uses a pose of “innocent yearning ”both to capture people ’s imaginations and to conceal its complicity with often brutal domination. (Rosaldo 1989 , 107-8) 38 D. BERGHAHN Although Rosaldo conceptualises imperialist nostalgia as a longing for the time before colonial expansion and domination, most critics who have adopted the concept and, indeed, the ﬁlms cited by Rosaldo himself as examples, namely Out of Africa and British Raj revival ﬁlms of the 1980s such as Heat and Dust or A Passage to India , actually exhibit a deep yearning for the days when Britain was the largest empire in history. Invariably set at a time of imperial decline, this particular type of heritage ﬁlm simultaneously indulges in a glamorous imperial past and in the exotic allure of Europe ’s former colonies. Gurinder Chadha ’sViceroy ’sHouse is part of a new wave of imperialist nostalgia that has seized British screen culture, examples being the BBC documentary series The Birth of Empire: The East India Company (BBC 2014) and Indian Summers (Channel 4, 2015 –2016, set in the Raj ’s summer capital Shimla in 1932) and the period drama Victoria & Abdul (about Queen Victoria ’sa ﬀectionate friendship with her Indian servant Abdul). In the streets of London, echoes of Empire reverberate everywhere: The celebrated new Indian restaurant chain Dishoom recreates the colonial ambience and food of 1930s Bombay cafes, complete with retro washbasins in the dining area, faded advertisements and sepia photo- graphs of bygone days. Like The East India Company, a new chain of luxury shops in London that, seemingly oblivious to its toxic heritage, markets itself as ‘history-infused tea &co ﬀee sellers ’, Dishoom is Indian-owned. What makes this latest nostalgia for the Raj diﬀerent from its precursors is that Indians or Britons of Indian descent capitalise on it by selling ‘acommodi ﬁed dream of the Raj to Britons ’(Je ﬀries 2015 ). What exactly has sparked this imperial nostalgia boom in Britain now? Not unlike in the Thatcher era, the heyday of the Raj revival ﬁlms, it has been interpreted as a response to the gloom of austerity resulting in a weakening of national pride and self- con ﬁdence. Hence the rallying cry of the Brexiteers ‘Britain will be great again ’– as if leaving the EU would automatically give Britons the Empire back. In fact, in a recent YouGov survey forty-four percent of Britons declared that they were proud of the British Empire, compared with just twenty-one per cent who regretted Britain ’s imper- ial past (Stone 2016 ). Paul Gilroy o ﬀers a more complex explanation of the imperialist nostalgia boom. In After Empire: Melancholia or Convivial Culture? (2004 ) and, more recently, in an article in The Guardian entitled ‘The best exotic nostalgia boom: Why colonial style is back ’(Je ﬀries 2015 ), Gilroy suggests that the British have never properly confronted and mourned the atrocities of colonial rule and, as a consequence, su ﬀer from ‘postimperial melancholia ’(Gilroy 2004 , 98). Indebted to the psychoanalysts Alexander and Margarete Mitscherlich ’sin ﬂuential study on the West German people ’s inability to mourn Hitler ’s death ‘and the larger evil of which their love for him had been part ’(Gilroy 2004 , 107), Gilroy argues that melancholia is a pathological condition that manifests itself when an individual or a nation wards o ﬀthe process of mourning. Having failed to work through the loss of Empire and the uncomfortable truths about Britain ’s colonial history, the British people revisit it obsessively. Whereas postimperial melancholia is ‘mourning ’s pathological variant ’, imperialist nostalgia is a form of outright guilt denial that allows Britons to ﬂeetingly restore the lost greatness of the British Empire and feel proud of their history and national identity (Gilroy cited in Jeﬀries 2015 ). Despite having been dubbed ‘a British ﬁlm with a Punjabi heart ’(Thorpe 2017 ), Chadha ’sﬁlm is an apt example of the most recent recrudescence of Raj nostalgia. TRANSNATIONAL SCREENS 39 Viceroy ’s House charts India ’s transition from being part of the British Empire to Partition and the founding of the two independent nations, India and Pakistan, in 1947. In India, the British-Indian co-production was released as Partition: 1947 , but it was banned in Pakistan as it was felt to misrepresent Jinnah and the national interests of Pakistan (Bharathi 2017 ). The ﬁlm seeks to tell history from above and below by adopting the upstairs-downstairs formula of Downton Abbey (ITV 2010 –15) and casting Hugh Bonneville, the amiable Lord Grantham of this popular heritage television drama in the role of Lord Mountbatten. The narrative revolves around how Mountbatten, and his formidable wife Edwina (Gillian Anderson) manage momentous political change on the Indian subcontinent. The downstairs sub-plot, situated in the servant quarters, tells the story of star-crossed lovers Jeet (Manish Dayal) and Aalia (Huma Qureshi), whose love cuts across India ’s religious divide between Hindus and Muslims. Only at the very end does this historical epic reveal itself to be a postmemory ﬁlm in which the British- Indian ﬁlmmaker Chadha has a strong personal investment. 1A series of white-on-black intertitles states: ‘The Partition of India led to the largest mass migration in human history. 14 million people were displaced. One million Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs died. This ﬁlm is dedicated to all those who died and those who survived Partition ’. An old black-and-white portrait of an Indian woman appears, accompanied by the text: ‘Including this mother who ﬂed Pakistan for India with her children. Her baby daughter starved to death on the road ’. The camera zooms out of the photo and the mother becomes part of a family portrait, surrounded by four children. The text reads: ‘After 18 months ’search, she was found by her husband in a refugee camp and the family was reunited ’. As the portrait dissolves and black-and-white gives way to colour, the children surrounding their mother are transformed into their signi ﬁcantly older selves, while the mother is replaced by Gurinder Chadha. The accompanying text reads: ‘Her granddaughter is the director of this ﬁlm ’. This revelation enables the ﬁlmmaker of Punjabi descent to assume the stance of shared victimhood with all the ‘political and psychological bene ﬁts [. . .] the honoured place of suﬀering ’entails (Gilroy 2004 , 103). The emotional impact of this unexpected disclosure, underscored by A. R. Rahman ’s stirring sound track, stands in stark contrast to the ﬁlm ’s opening epigram, ‘History is written by the victors ’.Thedirector ’s personal connection turns –what looks and feels like a British heritage ﬁlm –into a postmemory ﬁlm that articulates the trauma of Partition in the attempt to make the nostalgia for the glamour of the Raj ideologically more palatable. Whilst hist ory is written by the victors, the postmemory of suﬀering, which is the avowed impetus behind this ﬁlm, is to pay tribute to the victims; but the victims of what exactly? The violence of Partition or that of the British Empire? Rather than making the su ﬀering of the victims its main focus, the ﬁlm ’s cinematogra- phy celebrates the grandeur of the British Empire, captured in numerous aerial and wide- angle shots of the imposing Viceroy ’s Palace, the British Raj ’s seat of government in Delhi. Everything is on a grand scale, a reference to the vastness and power of the British Empire. The pageantry and the ‘mass ornament ’(Kracauer 1995) of hundreds of liveried Indian sta ﬀ, dressed in pristine white and vibrant red uniforms, and moving in synchrony and symmetry –at the service of the British Viceroy –aﬀord aesthetic pleasure. At the same time, the geometry of pattern reduces the people that form them to mere building blocks, ‘fractions of a ﬁgure ’(Kracauer 1995 , 78), thereby de-individualising the Indian subjects and intimating the supreme order and control exerted by British 40 D. BERGHAHN colonial rule. This becomes all the more apparent if one compares the symmetry of the mise-en-scène and the geometrical patterns of lines and circles in which the Indian sta ﬀ in the palace move and stand with the turmoil of Partition, which puts a sudden end to the ﬁlm ’s visual splendour. Captured partly in black-and-white footage and partly in colour, the incessant stream of Indian migrants is depicted as an amorphous mass that merges with the colour of the sand and the dust of the roads. The marked change in the ﬁlm ’s colour palette, from the vibrant hues of red and orange and crisp white of the uniforms and liveries at the Viceroy ’s palace to a monochrome muddy brown, diminishes the mise-en-scène ’s exotic appeal, given that high colour saturation is one of the hallmarks of exoticism. While on a narrative level Viceroy ’s House does not call into question the ethical imperative of ‘giving a nation back to its people ’(in the words of Mountbatten ’s daughter), on a visual level it exhibits a nostalgic yearning for the grandeur and control of the British Empire. It thus reveals the same sense of ambivalence, or even schizo- phrenia, which Harlan Kennedy described with exquisite sarcasm in relation to the Raj revival ﬁlms of the 1980s: While our ears and eyes swoon to the éclat of majestic scenery, lovely costumes, and gosh all those elephants, our souls are being told to stay behind after class and get a ticking o ﬀ for treating our colonial subjects so badly. For carving up other nations and leaving them to put the pieces together. For snobbery, cruelty and oppression. [. . .] There ’s a love-hate relationship with the Empire in British cinema that ’s totally unresolved. Intellectually, we agree to eat humble pie about our imperial past. Emotionally, the impact of the India movies is to make us fall head over heels in love with the dear dead old days, when even Britain ’s villainies were Big; when even its blunders and failures had tragic status; and when, if we had nothing else, goddammit, at least we had glamour (Kennedy 1985 , 52). What distinguishes Chadha ’sﬁlm from the Raj revival ﬁlms of the 1980s, however, is that it makes the genre ’s irresolvable tension between nostalgia and colonial guilt more explicit. The director ’s British-Punjabi background, with its ambivalent cultural and national allegiances, gives her an acute sensibility for the British, Indian and Pakistani perspectives. Although it was Chadha ’s avowed intention to reach diverse transnational audiences and to convey a ‘message of reconciliation [that would. . .] speak to Pakistanis, to Indians, and to the British ’(Viceroy ’s House Press Kit 2017 ), the ﬁlm ’s critical reception indicates that she could not square this circle. A review in the British Figure 1. The ‘mass ornament ’of Indian liveried sta ﬀintimates control. TRANSNATIONAL SCREENS 41 magazine The Economist (2017 ) praises Chadha for ﬁlling ‘a gap in Britain ’s collective consciousness and cultural memory ’and argues that ‘it will be hard for some to maintain a sense of nostalgia and triumphalism for Britain ’s empire after watching Viceroy ’s House ’. Conversely, Fatima Bhutto ( 2017 ), a member of the politically pro- minent Bhutto family in Pakistan, describes Viceory ’s House as the product ‘of a deeply colonised imagination [. . .and] a sorry testament to how intensely empire continues to run in the mind of some today ’. Arguably, these diametrically opposite verdicts result from the ﬁlm ’s generic hybridity. The juxtaposition of heritage cinema aesthetics and black-and-white documentary footage of the Partition represents an attempt to temper the nostalgia for the British Empire with a sense of postcolonial responsibility. In the Mood for Love –an exotic nostalgia ﬁlm Unlike Viceroy ’s House , Wong Kar-wai ’sIn the Mood for Love does not engage explicitly with Hong Kong ’s colonial heritage nor does it articulate an elegiac longing for a speci ﬁc moment in its past. Instead the ﬁlm exudes a nostalgic mood, a di ﬀuse sense of loss whose appeal is as universal as it is locally speci ﬁc to Hong Kong. Tony Rayns describes In the Mood for Love as a ‘requiem for a lost (colonial) time and its values ’(Rayns 2015 , 43), while Vivian Lee ( 2009 ) sees it as part of the ‘nostalgia fever ’ that seized Hong Kong from the late 1980s throughout the 1990s and that has been interpreted by Ackbar Abbas ( 1997 ) as a symptom of the handover anxieties that accompanied Hong Kong ’s return to China in 1997. Although nostalgia is usually centred on a particular period, Hong Kong ’s nostalgia fever lacked such a clearly identi ﬁable object of loss and nostalgic desire. If there was ‘a place and time that clearly stood out ’as a reference point then it was Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s, ‘the glamorous decadence of the ‘Paris of the East ’(Huppatz 2009 , 15), whose fate as a cosmopolitan capitalist city taken over by China ’s Communist regime in 1949 seemed to pre ﬁgure Hong Kong ’s future. The reference to Shanghai is salient for In the Mood for Love in more than one respect. The narrative is set in the 1960s amongst the Shanghainese diaspora, who live cheek-by-jowl in multi-occupancy rooming apartments in Hong Kong. This is where Chow Mo-Wan (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) and Mrs Chan, née Su Lizhen (Maggie Cheung), meet. When they discover that their respective spouses, who are frequently taking trips abroad, are having an a ﬀair, they spend more and more time together and eventually fall in love with each other. Yet determined not to be like their unfaithful spouses, they ostensibly never consummate their love. Like the protagonists, Wong migrated with his family from Shanghai to Hong Kong when he was ﬁve years old. His childhood memories of a communal way of life, where privacy was scarce and gossip was rife, inform the ﬁlm ’s sense of place and narrative. The vanishing glamour of a nostalgically remembered Shanghai su ﬀuses the mise-en-scène; Shanghainese is spoken alongside Cantonese; one of the many songs, ‘Huayang de Nianhua ’performed by the Shanghainese singer and actress Zhou Xuan in a movie in 1947, is brie ﬂy heard on the radio and, more importantly, lent its title to the Mandarin release version of In the Mood for Love (Teo 2005 ,10). The most striking visual reference to Shanghainese culture is the dizzying array of no less than twenty-two cheongsams which Mrs Chan wears in In the Mood for Love . The dress 42 D. BERGHAHN changes are a marker of temporality, signalling the progression and repetition of time, speci ﬁcally the time loops that characterise mourning as well as nostalgic recollection. As Stephen Teo puts it: ‘Maggie Cheung stepping out in high heels and cheongsam, handbag over an arm, hair perfectly coi ﬀured, is the single most evocative image of nostalgia in the ﬁlm ’(Teo 2005 , 128). For Wong, the cheongsam is a nostalgia object to which he has personal attachments. As he stated in interviews, there was no need for him to research Maggie Cheung ’s dresses, ‘because our mothers dressed like this ’(cited in Teo 2005 ,11). I would like to propose that Mrs Chan ’s cheongsams, ‘careful replicas of the 1930s Shanghai style created by a reputed tailor ’(Lee 2009 , 32), simultaneously encapsulate the ﬁlm ’s nostalgic as well as its exotic appeal, inviting culturally speci ﬁc readings amongst local and global spectators. The cheongsam –exotic or culturally hybrid? Although the cheongsam is widely regarded in the West as a quintessentially Chinese garment, its evolution since the beginning of the twentieth century suggests that it has absorbed di ﬀerent cultural in ﬂuences from the East and the West and is thus hybridised. It was brought to China by the Manchu who imposed it upon the Han people (Clark 2000 , 65). Originally a male garment, it was adopted by urban educated women in the early Republican period (1911 –1949) as a signi ﬁer of women ’s gender equality. The cheongsam ’s transformation into the iconic dress of Chinese femininity occurred in Shanghai in the 1920s and thirties, where it was worn by ‘sing-song girls ’(or prostitutes) as well as ﬁlm stars, who set fashion trends that were adopted by urban cosmopolitan women. When it was abolished under Mao Zedong ’s Communist regime in the 1950s, which regarded it as bourgeois and incompatible with the ideals of communism, it was preserved as a symbol of Chinese cultural identity in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and elsewhere overseas. Since many wealthy Shanghainese migrated to British-ruled Figure 2. Mrs Chan ’s cheongsams encapsulate the nostalgic and exotic appeal of In the Mood for Love. TRANSNATIONAL SCREENS 43 Hong Kong, followed by Shanghainese tailors, the cheongsam really came into its own there and ‘evolved under the in ﬂuence of Western fashion [. . .] and became the everyday wear of the colony ’s urban woman, who wore a very ﬁtted style accessorised with high- heeled shoes to create the fashionable image of slimness and height ’(Clark 2000 ,23). Internationally, the British ﬁlm The World of Suzie Wong (Richard Quine, 1960 ), which is set in Hong Kong in the milieu of seedy bars and prostitutes, reinforced the connection between the cheongsam and the sexual allure of the Oriental woman. During the 1950s and 1960s, the cheongsam had a signi ﬁcant impact on international fashion centres in Paris, Rome and New York on account of its perceived ‘“exoticism ”and its slim line, which was then fashionable in Europe ’(Clark 2000 ,27). The recent fashion revival of the cheongsam during the pre-handover period of Hong Kong has been attributed to the di ﬀuse nostalgia that anchored itself in the glamour of 1930s Shanghai and that led, amongst other things, to the establishment of Shanghai Tang, a luxury emporium that ‘produces Chinese exotica for a global market ’ (Huppatz 2009 , 28). Launched in Hong Kong in 1994, and subsequently in twenty-four other locations worldwide, Shanghai Tang ’s cheongsam, either ready-to-wear or tailor- made by the store ’s‘Imperial Tailors ’, is one of its most popular items. Mainland China eventually re-appropriated the previously outlawed garment and, at the 29 th Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, hostesses were wearing uniforms that paid tribute to the national Chinese dress par excellence. This brief excursion into the sartorial history of the cheongsam illustrates a number of salient features of the exotic, outlined in the ﬁrst part of this essay: In a globalised world, unadulterated cultural di ﬀerence is largely a fantasy and most expressions of exotica, the cheongsam included, are culturally hybrid. Even so, the cheongsam has retained its status as the foremost sartorial icon of Chinese femininity, and is actively promoted as such in the global marketplace. In the process of transnational circulation, the cheongsam –not unlike the English manor houses of English heritage cinema (cf. Higson 2010 , 71) –shifts from being an ordinary marker of Chinese cultural identity to an instantly recognisable signi ﬁer of exotic Chinese femininity. Exoticism and enigmatization It is such discrepancies in the interpretation of foreign, or familiar, cultural signi ﬁers that Lai conceptualises as ‘enigmatization ’(Lai 2001 ), as discussed above. Maggie Cheung ’s cheongsams function as a key device of ‘enigmatization ’. For local audiences they evoke, ﬁrst and foremost, nostalgic memories of Hong Kong in the 1950s and 1960s and associations with the impact of Shanghainese fashion and culture during those decades; for global audiences, by contrast, the cheongsam epitomises the exotic and erotic allure of the Oriental woman, imagined as enigmatic, seductive, yet restrained. Its ﬁgure-hugging cut emphasises the delicate feminine contours of Maggie Cheung while at the same time constricting her movements, forcing her to keep a perfectly upright posture and to take small, nimble steps. The high Mandarin- style collar, which conceals her décolletage, adds an air of self-discipline to her attire. Not unlike the constrictive corset of the Victorian era, which according to costume historian David Kunzle ‘represents a form of erotic tension and constitutes ipso facto a demand for erotic release, which may be deliberately controlled, prolonged and 44 D. BERGHAHN postponed ’(Kunzle cited in Bruzzi 1997 , 44), the tight- ﬁtting cheongsams in In the Mood for Love mobilise a similar tension between sexual desire and its repression. In fact, the cheongsam is the material embodiment of the ﬁlm ’s romantic plot, encapsulating the irresolvable con ﬂict between erotic desire and an old-fashioned moral restraint. Ultimately, the couple ’s unconsummated love speaks to a universal nostalgia for ‘the past as a time when people believed in love ’(Teo 2005 , 126), a feeling that has presumably ceased to exist in contemporary society. It is also pivotal to the narrative of Stanley Kwan ’sRouge (1987 ), another celebrated Hong Kong nostalgia ﬁlm. The fact that Mrs Chan and Mr Chow ’s love is, ostensibly, never consummated makes it all the more poignant. The scene showing the couple consummate their passion was shot but deleted by Wong shortly before the ﬁlm ’s release and is clearly marked as a narrative elision. A montage of shots showing Mrs Chan running up and down the stairs leading to hotel room 2046, which Chow Mo-Wan has rented, seemingly to be able to write undisturbed, but more likely to avoid the neighbour ’s gossip, captures the moral conundrum accompanying her ﬁrst visit. A cut to Mr Chow shows him inside room 2046, smoking and waiting for her. When she knocks on the door, the camera does not follow her inside. Instead a hard cut marks the ellipsis and shows Mrs Chan on the threshold, already leaving. His remark ‘I didn ’t think you ’d come ’is followed by her non-sequitur, ‘We won ’t be like them ’, a reference to their spouses ’aﬀair –and perhaps also an oblique statement that, whatever may have happened between them, will not be repeated. Only the crimson billowing curtains in the dimly lit hallway and Mrs Chan ’s bright red coat function as material correlatives of the couple ’s desire, gesturing towards a possible passionate encounter o ﬀ-screen. The emotional reticence surrounding the relationship is in large measure attributable to the ﬁlm ’s elliptical editing, which with- holds narratively signi ﬁcant information and evokes a sense of mystery. Although I am not suggesting that local viewers are able to resolve the ambiguity surrounding the true nature of the lovers ’relationship, for global viewers, the enigma is heightened by the awareness of being cultural outsiders, who can never fully fathom the Other. In this sense, the ﬁlm ’s many elisions contribute to its exotic allure. Conversely, the theme of romantic love whose q ualities of renunciation and steadfastness are linked to the past invites comparisons with similar, old melodrama s, such as David Lean ’s Brief Encounter (1945 ), Douglas Sirk ’sAll that Heaven Allows (1955 )andFeiMu ’sSpring in a Small City (1948 ). Meanwhile Wong himself mentioned early Hong Kong melodramas, featuring the Chinese singer-actress Zhou Xuan such as An All-Consuming Love (Zhaohang He, 1947 )alongsideHitchcock ’sVertigo (1958 ) as sources of inspiration (Teo 2005 , 118 –19). These various intertextual references go a long way in explaining the transnational appeal of In the Mood for Love since they allow for the exotic to be ‘domesticated ’,thatistosay, translated and integrated into a familiar cont ext, thereby becoming legible. Bill Nichols describes the process of de- and recontextual ization that underpins exoticism as making ‘the strange familiar [. . .by] recover[ing] di ﬀerence as similarity ’(Nichols 1994 , 18) and suggeststhatitisoneofthepleasuresWorldCinemaa ﬀords transnational audiences. According to Nichols, ‘recovering the strange as familiar ’(Nichols 1994 ,18)cantaketwo forms: either discovering a common humanity that transcends cultural di ﬀerences or recog- nising aesthetic forms and patterns familiar from European art cinema in World Cinema. In theMoodforLove is a perfect example, insofar as it deploys the universal theme of love and renunciation, coupled with the genre conven tions of melodrama, to temper its foreignness TRANSNATIONAL SCREENS 45 and allow spectators across di ﬀerent cultural backgrounds to marshal diverse repertoires of cinematic reference points in the process of cultural translation. The ﬁlm ’s eclectic musical score, which combines the sad waltz of ‘Yumeji ’s Theme ’by the Japanese composer Umbeyashi Shigeru with popular Chinese songs by Zhou Xuan and Latino pop performed in Spanish by Nat King Cole, ful ﬁls a similar function. At the same time this musical mélange blurs the line between exoticism and nostalgia given that tunes like ‘Aquellos ojos verdes ’and ‘Te quiero dijiste ’by Nat King Cole were international hits in the 1960s and therefore likely to evoke nostalgia in spectators all over the world. Exoticism and the aesthetics of sensuous indulgence Although a sense of enigma is unquestionably an essential feature of exoticism, it cannot fully account for exoticism ’s allure. Exotic cinema is inextricably linked to spectacle. Ever since early cinema ’s travelogues or ‘scenics ’assumed a prominent role as a purveyor of exotic pleasures, inviting audiences to become armchair travellers who marvel at the ‘wondrous di ﬀerence ’(Gri ﬃth 2002 ) of far-away lands, strange peoples and their customs, this particular type of the ‘cinema of attractions ’(Gunning 2011 ) has become associated with the spectacle of the exotic and the visual pleasure it a ﬀords. Contemporary exotic cinema continues to prioritise spectacle over narrative absorption, even if not throughout then at least in key ﬁlmic moments. If then Wong Kar-wai has been criticised for privileging visual pleasure and for furnishing stylish images that ‘elude narrative justi ﬁcation ’(Bettinson 2015 , 58), then these critics have either failed to grasp the aesthetic principles of exoticism or have decided to deliberately denounce them. In other words, ‘moments of pure visual stimulation ’(Gunning 2011 , 75) which invite the spectator to indulge in the elaborate visual style of In the Mood for Love , have by some critics been misconstrued as shallow MTV aesthetics, a ‘fashion magazine sensibility ’(Scott cited in Bettinson 2015 , 59), and as a form of aesthetic self-indulgence (Thomson cited in Bettinson 2015 , 59). These charges are not dissimilar to those regularly levelled at the museum aesthetics of heritage cinema, namely, an obsession with glossy images that invites spectators to become absorbed purely on an aesthetic level, which allegedly precludes any form of critical engagement. Chris Doyle and Mark Lee Ping-bin ’s distinctive cinematography coupled with William Chang ’s retro production design create a self-consciously aestheticized world in which even the banal and quotidian reveal their immane nt beauty. The many tableaus in which the colours of door and window frames echo those of Maggie Cheung ’s cheongsams, lend the ﬁlm an overtly painterly quality. In addition to nuanced colour palettes, the repetition of similar geometric patterns in the wallpaper and the fabric of the dress, invite the spectator to feast their eyes on carefully composed images and symphonies of colour. The insistent use of frames (reminiscent of Douglas Sirk ’s visual style) and visual obstructions that are unmoti- vated by a character ’s point-of-view self-consciously emphasise the gesture of display. Perhaps the most prominent cinematographic device, which invites the spectator to pause and surrender to the visual splendour of images, is what Vivian Sobchack has termed ‘the exhibitionism of slow motion ’(Sobchack 2006 , 347). Slow motion defami- liarizes mundane activities, such as Mrs Chan ’s descent down the narrow winding stairs to fetch noodles in her pale green and silver thermos at the nearby daibaitong , or Mrs Chan and Mr Chow ’s walk home along the dimly lit streets of Hong Kong, and 46 D. BERGHAHN trans ﬁgures them into moments of intense aesthetic pleasure. The slow motion, accom- panied by the sad waltz of Yumeji ’s Theme and Nat King Cole ’s‘Aquellos ojos verdes ’, lends these sequences a dance-like quality, while the character ’s seemingly weightless, ﬂoating movements underscore the ephemeral nature of fading memories. Visual spectacle alone does not adequately account for the exoticism of Wong ’sﬁlm, which goes far beyond an ‘aesthetic of visual indulgence ’(Lee 2009 , 23), provoking instead a multisensory response in the spectator. The camera seems to caress the texture of surfaces, whether it is masonry pock-marked with greenish lichen in Angkor Wat, the crumbling plaster and peeling posters in the alleyways, the smooth re ﬂection of speckled old mirrors, or the glistening wet rain on a street lamp and on Chow ’s jet black hair. The close-ups of these coarse, smooth and wet surfaces emphasise tactile impressions and, as such, would appear to deftly illustrate what Laura Marks has theorised as ‘haptic visuality ’if it were not for the fact that Marks asserts that ‘haptic images refuse visual plenitude [and deliberately. . .] counter viewers ’expectations of [. . .] exotic visual spectacle ’(Marks 2000 ,177).YetMarks ’assertion is arguably borne out of her programmatic intent to promote an ‘intercultural cinema ’of a more experimental, ethnographic type that ‘represents sense knowledges not from a position of wealth but of scarcity ’(Marks 2000 , 239), which she contrasts with more dominant cinemas, including ‘art-house imports ’that represent ‘sense knowledges [merely] as commodities ’(Marks 2000 , 239). Wong ’s aesthetics of sensuous indulgence depends precisely on the combination of visual spectacle and haptic visuality, referring to a particular type of embodied perception that invokes memories of touch, with other forms of synaesthesia (the perception of one sensati on by another modality) and intermodality (the linking of sensations from di ﬀerent domains) in order to reproduce the multi-sensory pleasure associat ed with exoticism. ‘Sense longing ’, to use Laura Marks ’(2000 , 240) evocative term, denoting the pursuit of sensory stimulation and indulgence, has always been one of the chief driving forces behind exotic quests and conquests, be it the importation of spices and stimulants like Figure 3. Nuanced colour palettes lend the ﬁlm a painterly quality and reveal the beauty of the ordinary. TRANSNATIONAL SCREENS 47 coﬀee and cocoa which was part of the colonial enterprise, or the exotic/erotic pleasures which Louis Antoine de Bougainville, Paul Gaugin, Victor Segalen and countless other travellers described and depicted when they believed to have found paradise on earth in Tahiti and other Polynesian islands. The encounter with the exotic Other has tradi- tionally been imagined as a re-awakening of the senses that have been dulled by the repetitive humdrum of modernity. Hence, for Segalen, an important commentator on exoticism, the experience of the exotic Other culminates in an ‘Intensity of Sensation , the exaltation of Feeling; and therefore of living ’(Segalen 2002 , 61). In the Mood for Love speaks to contemporary Western societies ’anhedonia and desire to escape the perceived blandness of Western culture by inviting spectators to sense ‘how other people sensuously inhabit their world ’(Marks 2000 , 241). Paradoxically, however, the quote from the Shanghainese writer Liu Li-Chang, with which the ﬁlm concludes, appears to contradict the ﬁlm ’s numerous haptically charged images: ‘He remembers those vanished years as though looking through a dusty windowpane. The past is something he could see, but not touch. And everything he sees is blurred and indistinct ’. The lines are worth citing here since the inherent contradiction heightens the sense of enigma while simultaneously identifying In the Mood for Love as a nostalgic memory ﬁlm that emphatically foregrounds ‘the imperfect retrieval of memory ’(Rayns 2015 , 81) as one of its key concerns. Conclusion As I hope to have demonstrated in the close analysis of the two case studies, imperialist and exotic nostalgia ﬁlms di ﬀer from each other in terms of their aesthetic and ideological trajectories. While both types of nostalgia ﬁlm glamourise the past through sumptuous images and high production values, the wide-angle shots and mass orna- ment which fetishize imperial power and control in Viceroy ’s House have (except for the use of vibrant colours) little in common with the spell-binding beauty of images and aesthetics of sensuous indulgence of In the Mood for Love that engenders a more universal longing for a time or place where intensity of feeling was possible. Both case studies complicate my initial hypothesis that imperialist and exotic nostalgia ﬁlms deploy particular aesthetic strategies that e voke a nostalgic yearning for an idealised past in local and a desire for an exoticised Other in global spectators. Viceroy ’sHouse is a British heritage ﬁlm that, arguably, exoticises Britain ’simperialpastmorethanitexoticisesIndia, thereby calling the distinction between an exotic and a nostalgic spectatorial response into question. While there is no doubt that the ﬁlm has the capacity to evoke nostalgia in some, ideologically so predisposed British spectators, it is questionable whether it can elicit a similar aﬀective resonance on the Indian sub-continent. The Indian ﬁlmreviewsIwasabletoaccess do not suggest this. IntheMoodforLove is ultimately a sophisticated pastiche of Eastern and Western in ﬂuences that challenges the notion of a pure, unhybridized local culture and, by implication, the idea that only a local community of spectators with insider knowledge into 1960s Hong Kong culture can experience nostalgia. I wish to illustrate this point with a personal anecdote. I remember my own mother wearing cheongsam-inspired silk dresses in 1960s West Germany. Perhaps, this is not surprising given the cheongsam ’s well-documented impact on international fashion. One in particular I have never forgotten. It was a beautifully tailored black silk dress 48 D. BERGHAHN with a large bright turquoise and a pale yellow stylised ﬂower printed diagonally across from the waist to the hemline. And she wore her dark hair coi ﬀured in a style similar to that of Maggie Cheung, elegant yet entirely motionless. For me, watching Wong ’sﬁlm over and over again has been an exotic, but simultaneously also a nostalgic pleasure, because the ﬁlm ’s costume and production design, alongside Nat King Cole ’s Latino pop songs, continuously oscillate between the strange and the familiar. Note 1. According to Marianne Hirsch, who developed the concept in relation the children of Holocaust survivors, postmemory is ‘distinguished from memory by generational distance and from history by deep personal connection ’(Hirsch 1997 , 22). Whereas history may elide or even purposely obliterate memories that cannot be reconciled with o ﬃcial (often heroic) accounts of the past, the ‘deep personal connection ’that underpins postmemory accords a rather di ﬀerent meaning and a ﬀective value to events that would otherwise be forgotten or repressed. Acknowledgments I presented an earlier version of this essay, entitled ‘Nostalgia and Exoticism as Tactics of Audience Engagement in Contemporary World Cinema ’at the NECS Conference in Amsterdam on 28 June 2018. Disclosure statement No potential con ﬂict of interest was reported by the author. Notes on contributor Daniela Berghahn is Professor of Film Studies in the Media Arts Department and Associate Dean for Research at the University of London, Royal Holloway College. She has widely published on post-war East and West German cinema and on the relationship between ﬁlm, history and cultural memory. Her extensive work on migrant and diasporic cinema in Europe has been supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of Great Britain. Her publications include Head-On (BFI, 2015), Far- ﬂung Families in Film: The Diasporic Family in Contemporary European Cinema (Edinburgh UP, 2013), European Cinema in Motion: Migrant and Diasporic Film in Contemporary Europe (co-edited with C. Sternberg, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), Hollywood Behind the Wall: The Cinema of East Germany (Manchester UP, 2005), a special issue of New Cinemas (2009) on Turkish German cinema and Unity and Diversity in the New Europe (Lang 2000). She is currently working on a project that explores exoticism in contemporary transnational cinemas. References Abbas, A. 1997 .Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance . Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Appadurai, A. 1996 .Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization . Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 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Transmission Films, Australia. http://www.transmission ﬁlms. com.au/ ﬁlms/viceroys-house Filmography Birth of Empire: The East India Company . 2014. UK: BBC2. Bui, T., dir. 1999 .Three Seasons . Vietnam, USA: Giai Phong Film Studio, October Films, Open City Films. Chadha, Gurinder, dir. 2017. Viceroy ’s House . UK, India, Sweden: Pathé, Reliance Entertainment, BBC Films, Ingenious, et. al . Cronenberg, D., dir. 1993 .M. Butter ﬂy. USA: Ge ﬀen Pictures. Fei, M., dir. 1948 .Spring in a Small City / Xiao cheng zhi chun . China: Wenhua Film Company. Frears, S., dir. 2017 .Victoria & Abdul . UK: BBC Films. Herzog, W., dir. 2015 .Queen of the Desert. USA, Morocco: Benaroya Pictures, H Films, Raslan Company of America. Hitchcock, A., dir. 1958 .Vertigo . USA: Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions. Indian Summers , Season 1 and 2. 2015, 2016 . UK: Channel 4. Ivory, J., dir. 1983 .Heat and Dust . UK: Merchant and Ivory Productions. Kwan, S., dir. 1987 .Rouge / Yan zhi kou . Hong Kong: Golden Harvest Company, Golden Way Films Ltd. Lean, D., dir. 1945 .Brief Encounter . UK: Cineguild. Lean, D., dir. 1984 .A Passage to India . UK, USA: Emi Films, Home Box O ﬃce. Lee, A., dir. 2007 .Lust, Caution / Se ,jie. USA, China, Taiwan: Haishang Films. Mehta, Deepa., dir. 2005 .Water . Canada, India: Deepa Mehta Films. Pollack, S., dir. 1985 .Out of Africa . USA: Mirage Enterprises. Quine, R., dir. 1960 .The World of Suzie Wong . USA: World Enterprises. Sirk, D., dir. 1955 .All That Heaven Allows . USA: Universal International Pictures. Sivan, S., dir. 2007 .Before the Rains . USA, India, UK: Merchant Ivory Productions. TRANSNATIONAL SCREENS 51 Wargnier, R., dir. 1992 .Indochine . France: Paradis Films, La Générale d’Images. Wong, K-W, dir. 2000 .In the Mood for Love / Faa yeung nin wa . Hong Kong, China: Block 2 Pictures; Jet Tone Production, Paradis Film. Zhang, Y., dir. 1991 .Raise The Red Lantern / Da hong deng long gao gao gua . China, Hong Kong: Taiwan: ERA International, China Film Co-Production Corporation, Century Communications, Salon Films. Zhang, Y., dir. 1999 .The Road Home / Wo de fu qin mu qin. China: Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia, Guangxi Film Studio. Zhaohang, H., dir. 1947 .An All-consuming Love / Chang xiang shi . Hong Kong: Wa Sing Film Company. 52 D. BERGHAHN
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Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at https://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=riac20 Inter-Asia Cultural Studies ISSN: 1464-9373 (Print) 1469-8447 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/riac20 Screen violence and partition John Hutnyk To cite this article: John Hutnyk (2018) Screen violence and partition, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, 19:4, 610-626, DOI: 10.1080/14649373.2018.1543287 To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/14649373.2018.1543287 Published online: 21 Dec 2018.Submit your article to this journal Article views: 389View related articles View Crossmark data Screen violence and partition John HUTNYK Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Ton Duc Thang University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam ABSTRACTRecentﬁlm and television treatment of South Asia from UK producers have introduced new angles on the violent politics of colonial past, whether this be the activities of the East India Company in the early days of Empire, or about Partition, at the ostensible Raj’s end. The controversy over Gurinder Chadha’s 2017ﬁlmViceroy’s Houseis taken as an opportunity to consider the new South Asianﬁlm and television studies and the emergent scholars that are challenging conventional media studies models. The co-constitution of here and there is given as an analytic lens through which to comprehend representation and stereotyping inﬁlms“about”politics in South Asia, and the view taken is that a debilitating divide and rule, via mechanisms of representation, remains strongly in place, despite theﬁghting eﬀorts of the new South Asian media scholarship. KEYWORDSPartition; colonialism;ﬁlm; Gurinder Chadha; South Asia; media studies This essay addresses aﬂurry of recent commer- cialﬁlm and television on British colonial rule and the partition of India. Films likeViceroys’s House(2017) and television serials likeTaboo (2017) seem to return in only slightly recon- structed ways to the Raj nostalgia of the mid- 1980s, as then exempliﬁed in Merchant Ivory romances and television serial dramatisations: Heat and Dust(1983) andJewel in the Crown (1984). Yet at a wider level, the essay will also be necessarily less about new partitionﬁlms as such and much more framed by the critique of division and divisiveness in media and politics and the need to renew contextual recep- tion. However speculative my argument about diﬀeringﬁlms, genres and formats, the larger task of making an analysis across multiple divides raises questions that must hold the co- constitution of here and there, now and then, together. Forced into continuing historical reas- sessments of capital, exploitation, and war–asan unavoidable ever-present backstory–what imposes itself is an originary violence, so that even thoseﬁlms on partition that are not violent have avoidance of violence as their mission. While it would not do to think of South Asia only in terms of violence, or even violence brought from Europe to crush the romantic idyll of pre-colonial times, or the non-violent resistance to that civilisational attack, or even the promises of a successful and shining future beyond violence, all are just too handy not to be understood and examined as enablingﬁctions. Nevertheless, a second set of questions revolves around the issue of who makesﬁlms and with what intent–the colonial project perhaps con- tinues even as a new South Asianﬁlm and tele- vision scholarship is largely overlooked in the old metropolitan centres. It is, this paper agues at the end, a new scholarship that could suggest new and better renderings ofﬁlm as his- tory and understand the history of“over there” © 2018 John Hutnyk. All Rights Reserved. CONTACTJohn Hutnyk [email protected] Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Ton Duc Thang University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam This article has been republished with minor changes. These changes do not impact the academic content of the article. INTER-ASIA CULTURAL STUDIES 2018, VOL. 19, NO. 4, 610–626 https://doi.org/10.1080/14649373.2018.1543287 as bound up by what was and is going on“over here,”and, in a formula that applies whichever way the here and now is oriented, back then is bound up with us now, just as now is conse- quent on back then. The attempt to study aspects of Europe and South Asia as an intertwined and irrevocably interconnected formation seeks out examples of ﬁlms or television media that profess a decidedly post-colonial perspective. This means choices that may be initially attractive, mixed and hybrid, with a steam-punk aesthetic, which perhaps for that reason, also means inevitably suspect. For example, the BBC television seriesTabooon East India Company activities in the London docks, written by Stephen Knight and Christo- pher Hardy, is a somewhat implausible example of how a story has at least two ends. The East India Company is portrayed as run, in this per- iod if not always, as a personalﬁefdom by a ruth- less Governor with no scruples, in cahoots with the back-room operatives of The Palace, and guilty of corruption, murder and“worse.”In the series of course the protagonist, aﬂawed and tattooed hero, will give them their comeup- pance, and ultimately the moral standing of Brit- ish character need not be abandoned because the East India Company was a barrel of bad apples, deservedly beaten. If this to and fro sounds at all familiar, be assured from some perspectives what will be considered a whitewash is a way of selling product as colonial India carries an exoticist and fantasy charge to this day. Raj revisionistﬁlms are a genre unto them- selves, andViceroy’s House(2017) by the acclaimed British-Asianﬁlmmaker Gurinder Chadha is an example worth extended consid- eration. Chadha’s previous eﬀorts such asI’m British, But…(1990),Bhaji on the Beach (1993),Bend it Like Beckham(2002), and Bride and Prejudice(2004) form an enviable record for any director. Increasingly command- ing mainstream attention, she is now able to cast actors such as the iconic Om Puri, in one of his last ever roles. Chadha had known Puri for quite some time and spoke eloquently inhonour of him in London at the London Asia Film Festival in March 2017. His character leant gravitas to theﬁlm in ways to be discussed further. Also on the strength of a string of box oﬃce hits, now Chadha could negotiate the use of prestigious shooting spaces unparalleled in her previous career. Part of theViceroy’s Houseﬁlm was shot at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Viceroy’s former palace and now oﬃ cial residence of the President of India. Shooting spaces were also found in period hotels and palaces in Jodhpur–themselves so atmospheric that a tour company has seen the tie-in poten- tial: Cox and Kings has set up a guided vintage car tour to theﬁlming locations, with a bonus side-visit to the Taj Mahal for good measure (full disclosure: I have not had the chance to join this tour, and patiently await a promotional invitation). I do have a long record of paying attention to Chadha’sﬁlms and to representations of South Asia, especially within diaspora, so I feel able to some degree to justify the presumption of reporting on theﬁlm, making critical com- ments, and oﬀering a wider contextualisation. Thus, when aﬁlmmaker of Chadha’s stature turns to history, she enters an already existing deep reservoir of images such that emphases and interpretation become issues of evaluation. And the interpretations were many; theﬁlm was not everywhere well received. In a heated review, Fatima Bhutto was concerned that the veryﬁrst scene“opens to the sight of bowing, preening and scraping Indians at work on the lawns, carpets and marbleﬂoors that are to greet the last viceroy of colonised India”(Bhutto 2017). The hostile tone quickly drew a response from Chadha. Herﬁlm is a personal account, she said, and she had not wanted to show the ﬁghting that characterises partition in so many other renderings. This is an admirable non-violent move, except it is of course carried out with violence, an elision of a very large and considerable body of sensitive visual and textual work on partition. Scholarship and research programmes abound, as do otherﬁlms. There INTER-ASIA CULTURAL STUDIES 611 is much readily available and hugely respected work by researchers such as Urvashi Butalia (1998) and Gyanendra Pandey (2002) alongside museums and commemorations in the Red Fort, Victoria Memorial and Raj Bhavan, plus a small private memorial at the Wagah border crossing, though curiously, until the launch in August 2017 of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust (TAACHT) of India“Partition Museum” in Amritsar (see Bhatia2017), there had been no signiﬁcant permanent tribute to victims in Pakistan, India or Bangladesh, prompting ques- tions as to why partition had not hitherto excited the same oﬃcial remembrance as the Jewish holocaust (see Parmar2003). There is much in terms of cultural production, plays short stories, novels and indeed a number of otherﬁlms, ran- ging from those that comment profoundly on the aftermath of partition, such as Ritwik Ghatak’s claustrophobic trilogyMeghe Dhaka Tara (1960),Komal Gandhar(1961)andSubarnare- kha(1962) through to popular versions such as Gandhi(1982) where Ben Kingsley had the lead role and including several other prominent British actors, and the CanadianPartition (2007), where non-South Asian actors again played the main South Asian roles (particular well in the case of Chinese-Dutch Canadian Kirstin Kruek as Naseem, resplendent in the Mela sequence and love interest for British/ Irish-Asian Jimi Mistry, as Gian). There are of course also a number of documentaries and other commentaries, making up a vast archive of texts and debate, with veritable armies of stu- dents over the decades pouring through the archival remains of the India Oﬃce, now held at the British Library.Viceroy’sHouseis not, to be sure, a documentary, and the criteria for assessment, and interpretation, must be diﬀerent for imagined history even if many of Bhutto’s cri- ticisms demand attention. Chadha instead claims to have contributed important“new”facts. In an interview with aGuardianjournalist, Chadha is said to have made some signiﬁcant discoveries: Studying the archives, Chadha came across conﬁdential government documents that sup- port a revisionist view of the lead-up to Indian independence, which wasﬁnally declared at the stroke of midnight on 15 August 1947. The British decision to draw a line through the whole of south Asia, creating two reli- giously deﬁned new nations, was not entirely forced on them by the warring communities. It was, in fact, an idea hatched by Churchill during the war to protect British strategic interests. (Thorpe2017) The question of whether there was a Churchill- endorsed plan to keep control of Karachi away from the Soviet-friendly and socialist Nehru needs separate conﬁrmation, and it is to Naren- dra Singh Sarila’s(2005) book,The Shadow of the Great Game, that Chadha directs us. The discovery then already belongs to Sarila, who was in a sense on the spot as an aide to Mount- batten. In a slippery slope of connections and coincidences Chadha reveals that while Sarila was“working on another book with an assis- tant in the British Library in 1997, he found documents that prove that early plans for the shape of a future Pakistan were kept hidden” (as quoted in Thorpe2017). The version of this discovery offered by Sarila himself is worth consulting. The book’s preface reads almost word for word the same as Chadha tells it, although in this version Sarila’s assistant has disappeared: While researching on the Oriental and Indian collection of the British Library, Lon- don, in 1997, on another matter, I came across certain documents which revealed that the partition of India in August 1947 might not have been totally unconnected with the British concern that the Great Game between them and the USSR for acquiring inﬂuence in the area between Tur- key and India was likely to recommence with even greater gusto after the Second World War […]. Under the circumstances Britain could ill aﬀord to lose control over the entire India subcontinent that had served as its military base in dominating the Indian Ocean area. (Sarila2005,9) 612 J. HUTNYK In addition, […] a working relationship had been estab- lished between the British authorities in India and Jinnah during the Second World War and he was willing to cooperate with Brit- ain on defence matters if Pakistan was created. (Sarila2005, 10) The preface then goes on to document various other collections and library sources, Sarila’s role as ADC to Mountbatten in 1948, in that role his chance to catch“glimpses of some of the players,”andﬁnally a sudden leap to the twenty-ﬁrst century, the attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001, the Taliban in Afghani- stan and his problematic view that“many of the roots of Islamic terrorism sweeping the world today lie buried in the partition of India”(Sarila2005, 11). Britain’s crimes and Mountbatten’s negligence notwithstanding, thisﬁnal commentary on terrorism is an extra- ordinary claim on several counts that hardly need debate–it can be rebutted that what ter- rorism there is in the world today is not“Isla- mic,”nor in fact is terrorism“sweeping the world,”though certainly in 2005, as now, the scale of Western arms sales, shipment and deployment does count as terrifying. Certainly also a kind of pantomime paranoia tends to ﬁnd terrors under every left luggage or freedom petition, but ultimately, if the chain of links that bind the Taliban to Osama bin Laden to Jamaat- i-Islam to Abdul Al Mawdudi to a Sharia- inspired war on unbelievers and to the US use of the Pakistani military to counter jihadis can be taken seriously as a framing context, then to suggest this also can simply“lie buried”in partition must seem quite a long and detailed justiﬁcation for a bit of cinema entertainment. Separate from historicalﬁdelities, it is also important to consider Chadha’sﬁlm as a polemic open to interpretation and so evaluate the critical responses. Bhutto is not the only one to call outViceroy’s Houseas an anti-Mus- limﬁlm, but has a strong point when listing the numerous scripted, imagined, incidents where Muslims initiate violence, whereas when theHindus or Sikhs attack Muslims, the sympa- thetic point of contact character for the audi- ence at least survives. Indeed, where Bhutto diagnoses a prejudice there is a strange double politic. She argues that we do not ever“witness any violence on behalf of India’s foreign rulers; they are serene and encouraging, weighed down with the heavy burden of soothing these wild, intemperate people.”On the other hand, all the riots are“caused by Muslims,”even as there are some“brushes with symmetry,”such as when Aalia’s house is burned down and we fear–soundtrack eﬀects–that her blind father has been killed. But it is a false alarm:“don’t worry! Her father didn’t die; he’s just sitting at a neighbour’s house. No harm, no foul”(Bhutto 2017). Similarly, Aalia’s father acts to save her from near certain death on the night train to Lahore–Chadha is correct to defend herﬁlm from Bhutto’s criticism on this point at least– and while we hear no more of Om Puri, that Jeet’s love interest has survived for Bhutto pro- vides the essential cover for the otherwise barely credible denouement where Nehru is slapped in public. The slap was perhaps an actual event, but why had Chadha not instead recreated the equally fabled story where Nehru stops his taxi to save a Muslim tailor from a mob in Chandi Chowk (see Patel2015). In a telling contrast, the Mountbattens are portrayed as the epitome of selﬂess, practical, not Gandhian, service. Against the charge that she has told the story from an anti-Muslim point of view, Chadha (2017) insists“everyone sees history through their own lens; some only see what they want to see. Myﬁlm is my vision of the events leading up to India’s partition.”Claiming the relativist interpretive high ground, she insists that she “took inﬁnite care to show that responsibility for the violence lay on all sides”and that her process was to“share the script and theﬁlm with many Muslim, Hindu and Sikh academics and historians to ensure that the scenes I depicted were a fair and reasonable representa- tion.”It might be churlish to then complain that INTER-ASIA CULTURAL STUDIES 613 “some,”if not all, academics and historians also see“history through their own lens”and “vision,”of course they do, just as much as do British Asians. It is a well-taken point that inter- pretations are contested sites, but then it becomes diﬃcult to let the signiﬁcance of the sympathetic Muslim character Ali Rahim Noor played by Om Puri pass without noting a theme; he is blind throughout theﬁlm, a vio- lent punishment inﬂicted in a British jail, and in the script. It might be interpretive license to look elsewhere in the cinema archive, but it is possible to see this theme in severalﬁlms in South Asian cinema traditions. Recall for exam- ple that inSholay(1975) Imam Rahim Chacha is also without sight. The blinding of the most sympathetic senior political Muslim character inViceroy’s Houseis an instantiation of the ﬁlm’s opening epigraph. There is no subtlety in the textual declaration that“History is writ- ten by the victors”–a phrase variously sourced by historians both to Niccoli Machiavelli and to Winston Churchill. In an interview about the ﬁlm for Desiblitz (2017) Chadha saysViceroy’s Houseis told from a unique British-Asian point of view. It is hard then to square this with comments about what really happened and victor-written history. What is sure is only that questions of interpretation are to the fore. The epigraph must invite interpretive con- fusion, and a challenge. The phrase is also attributed, if not in so many words, to Walter Benjamin, who uses it in the context of a more interesting assertion about all documents of culture simultaneously expressing barbarism. In the“Theses on the Philosophy of History”he writes:“with whom [do] the adherents of his- toricism actually empathize. The answer is inevitable: with the victor”(Benjamin  1968, 256). Of course interpretations willﬁnd other sources. Om Puri may be blind but I ima- gine a grumpy Churchill picking it up from sur- reptitious reading of a left Labour Party newspaper–the phrase appears in a 1944 George Orwell article inThe Tribune(Orwell 1944), though in this example the word“Winners”is used instead of“ Victors.”Orwell was the literary editor at the time. These historical squibs and the frisson of controversy around Bhutto’s article, besides get- ting theﬁlm discussed in a crowded market- place, which is of course good publicity, are also welcome if they serve to raise important issues beyondﬁlm connoisseurship. The politics of interpretation between continents with a volatile historical charge is no small matter; so it is curious to see insistence that people be cau- tious when treating a personal history. Except that the history is only rhetorically personal, and in every sense nevertheless prejudiced and biased, exactly in its subtlety. For example, the ﬁlm hints at aﬂirtation between Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten, but does not further exploit that sub-plot as Chadha considered it less important and anyway“the relationship was consummated after this period”(as quoted in Thorpe2017). Melodrama however insists on a love story and so Chadha prefers instead the Upstairs-Downstairs side-tale of the viceroy’s valet, a Punjabi Hindu, having an unrequited romance with a Muslim girl, Ali Rahim Noor’s daughter Aalia, who was promised to the driver of Jinnah’soﬃcial vehicle. This dis- placement has many of the features of an often used plot device, such as one that is found in Mira Nair’sMonsoon Wedding (2001). In terms of overwriting sexuality onto class politics, it is unfortunate that in a discus- sion ofMonsoon Wedding, Jigna Desai does not push further insightful comments made about the working class roles, where: Theﬁgure of the domestic servant Alice is an incredibly rich site of analysis and investiga- tion in relation to the issues of gender, sexual- ity, and political economy. The Christian Alice is depicted in primarily romantic terms. Her sweetness and simplicity render her an idea- lized and remote subject in relation to the other modern women […]. As the urban domestic worker, theﬁlm continually presents her from the perspective of someone else; unlike the other women whose subjectivities are established through intimate conversation 614 J. HUTNYK with other women, family members, and their partners, Alice is observed almost entirely from the voyeuristic gaze modulated through Dubey. (Desai2004, 214) Unless they battle their way into the action, there are few examples of domestic servants granted a signiﬁcant role or personality in pop- ular cinema. Credit is due then to the key char- acters in the de facto“main”sub-plot of Viceroy’s House, and yet in this displacement, these key relationships are almost always identi- ﬁed from the perspective of someone else of rather more elevated class status, from which they are rendered as romantic, as fool, or as sacriﬁce, or forsaken. The possibility of interpreting aﬁlm by opening up the subordinate characters for criti- cal attention is a useful strategy. Spivak (1999) does this in literature with Bertha Mason from Charlotte Bronte’sJane Eyre, discussed inCri- tique of Postcolonial Reason. Considering the love story of the Mountbattens’servant however is high cliché standard in this respect, and in fact oﬀers up a chain of substitutions that are revealingly selective. Picking up an incidental or seemingly inconsequential moment as a way to unpack the whole works to help under- stand the interpretive investments. Oﬀering another nuance, somewhat unsubtle but in need of explanation, the inter-title near the end of theﬁlm modestly refers to the“director” without at that moment naming her but insert- ing her image. The notes explain that the direc- tor ofViceroy’s Houseis someone with direct family experience in the tragedy of partition, in this case through a grandmother and a mur- dered aunt. Powerful and heartfelt, but it is a curious intervention in theﬁlm and works, at least for this viewer, as a kind of subvention that softens the polemical eﬀect of other moments, and especially the reveal of Sarila’s secret Oriental and India Oﬃce“found”docu- ments. These documents, central to the duplici- tous diplomacy narrative that has the unpleasant Jinnah character cutting a deal to create Pakistan as a buﬀer state, appear as afolder slapped on the table, passed among the keyﬁgures and studied by Mountbatten as a kind ofﬁnal moment of realisation that he had been the unwitting patsy of it all. In the ﬁlm it seems as if everyone else was in on the secret anti-Soviet plan. Sarila’s archival justiﬁca- tion is reduced to a few lines on a stage prop, but the eﬀect of the director stepping into the narra- tive in person is to a ﬃrm, through escalation since her personal involvement gives the intri- gue the imprimatur or truth, that centuries of great game manoeuvres over Afghanistan are the context–and of course, substitution again, that the duplicity can be explained, via Sarila, as a topical and important directorial intervention. The intrigues of theﬁlm can con- tribute uniquely to understanding tactical approaches to Islam, Soviet history and diplo- macywhileas allegory, questioning things like contemporary investment in the port at Karachi with its possible transport route from China to the sea, or the Russian annexation of Crimea as an access route via the Bosporus Strait to the Mediterranean. The point about substitution and escalation is that in Chadha’sﬁlm“partition”becomes a tool for doing other things, and this is the case with many examples of overworked and overde- termined themes. This might be all well and good if the other parts of the narrative were built upon what had already been achieved in historical research and recording. Even better if the scholarship that exists in oral history and memory studies from the 1980s onwards could have been acknowledged. Exempliﬁed by the work of Butalia (1998), Pandey (2002) and others, this is material that, along with the many“high politics”studies that go beyond the popular histories produced by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins (1975,1983), deserves serious attention. Pakistani, Banglade- shi and Indian study on partition already amounts to a vast literature and although also replete with interpretive variations, it is harsh indeed to be both ignored and to endure the suggestion that there were any“victors”of INTER-ASIA CULTURAL STUDIES 615 partition who could write the history. Yet it is an example to doing other things to see claims made for theﬁlm’s relevance reach directly into the present political drama. In a milieu where claims for the signiﬁcance and relevance of one’seﬀort is not only a publicity anecdote, it is probably only to be expected that most astute commentators, directors and actors would make associations that stress the allegorical pur- chase of their work.Viceroy’s Houseactors were no diﬀerent in this regard when in publicity interviews the couple who play the star-crossed lovers–not Nehru and Edwina, but the domes- tics Jeet and Aalia–channelled another current contextualisation when theﬁlm was claimed as relevant to then unfolding events around the election of new US President Trump and his anti-Muslim travel bans (Pape2017). Theﬁlm is presented then as a polemic against prejudice and racism, which is stunning in its condescension, since in telling the story of British duplicity it turns out that each one of the senior South Asian–representative ethnic pro- totype–“negotiators”are unsympathetic. Nehru with his upper Hindu elite“Cambridge debating skills”is the best of them; Gandhi, in the often repeated Churchill slur, is a“half naked fakir,”also a vegetarian enthusiast for goat’s cheese and dentally challenged maverick, which might be true to type or myth but will not please either fans or balance critics of his role. Admittedly all the English are cynical except the naïve avuncular Mountbatten–“he could charm a vulture oﬀa corpse”–and the worthy charitable“righting wrongs”Edwina. The por- trayal that has the unsavoury opportunist Jin- nah, and indeed Churchill and the other British tops, playing politics over such tragedy in such a calculated, inhuman way is of course as horriﬁc as the slaughter of the entire night train carrying Muslims from Delhi to Lahore. The documents found by Sarila are then work- ing as a claim to scholarship that must conﬁrm not only the assertions about Jinnah, but also all the other characterisations of this historical ﬁction as written by the victors. Of coursewhile Chadha’s grandmother was travelling the other way in just as grim circumstances, and while sympathy for the Indian side may have been inherited as family history it could also have come from the Lapierre and Collins ( 1975) book upon which theﬁlm is also avow- edly based. The racial and ethnic valuation here are marked, but inFreedom at Midnight Lapierre was self-confessedly laudatory of Mountbatten and ways that betrayed the authors’Eurocentric and rather presumptuous approach–travelling around India in a hired Rolls Royce to conduct interviews. It is regretta- ble that although Lapierre and Collins released another book,Mountbatten and the Partition of India(1983), that includes the transcripts of interviews they did, including with Mountbat- ten, this is from a small subsidiary publisher and less likely to be found and therefore not so readily available for interested parties to read and evaluate. Reading that text indicates just how strongly the received versioning of par- tition was promoted in this unoﬃcial main- stream colonial justiﬁcation. The declarations of impartiality from the director in this case do not then mesh with the partiality of the sourced reference toFreedom at Midnight, and raise questions that could be articulated in Ben- jamin’s terms where a historian, orﬁlmmaker, risks“becoming a tool of the ruling class”(Ben- jamin 1968, 255). If the timing of an anti-Muslim and anti-Soviet story is considered, the all-too-loving fascination with the silver cut- lery of the Raj must tarnish this project. Chadha has made betterﬁlms, usually with songs. Other partitions Meanwhile in India, other contemporaneous partition dramas add to a vast archive that reaches from beforeGandhi(1982) and beyond Jinnah(1998). In Pakistan, viewers apparently may“prefer”to watchﬁlms from the India side of partition because“Hindi dialogue and song is more familiar to ordinary citizens than the increasingly Islamicized oﬃcial idiom of 616 J. HUTNYK news bulletins”(Ahmad2016, 472). A separate register would be needed to track all the possible permutations and contradictions in partition ﬁlms in their various signiﬁcances and details, for example that it was controversial for Chris- topher Lee to have played Mohammed Ali Jin- nah in the 1998 biopicﬁlm. Lee was primarily famous for his role as Count Dracula, which was considered problematic not because he was European and playing the secular leader of Pakistan, but because of the association of Jinnah with the dead. Casting Lee was an impressive match in terms of bearing and looks, and the actor considered it his best ever role, but at a fundraiser for theﬁlm there had been curious comments about the lead, with Ben Kingsley also suggested as a possibility in terms of balance and prestige with the Shake- spearean actor having already portrayed the Mahatma. Why shouldn’t Chadha add to this archive and make a partitionﬁlm, since it seems almost everyone does? A pity though she did not think to unpack her eﬀort over against the tradition of ﬁlms that broach its never exhausted signiﬁ- cance for the subcontinent as trauma and love story, for example inMela(1948) starring Nar- gis and Dilip Kumar as star-crossed lovers, through toPinjar(2003) which follows the complex dilemmas and experience of kid- napped women across the borders. The ways new directors add to the ever-burgeoning parti- tionﬁlm archive deserves attention, for exam- ple, two recent contributions are inspired concurrent and obvious alternatives toViceroy’s House: the“identical”stories ofBegum Jaan (2017) andRajkahini(2015). Srijit Mukherji directs bothﬁlms, andBegum Jaanis the Hindi adapted version of the BengaliRajkahini. The repetition here has a secret signiﬁcance, with much to be said about casting and charac- ter–theﬁlms tell a well-worn story of sex work- ers whoﬁght the prejudices of partition chaos, with signiﬁcant scenes of women wielding riﬂes,ﬁ rebombing and killing, and triumphant survival against the odds in the end. That wealready seem to know the plot should come as no surprise, since the literature on partition is also vast and the formula symptomatic. What is curious in this case is how the promoters have made a virtue of marketing the remake as a remake. As a marketing strategy, they have staged a debate about who is the better Begum out of the two actors Vidya Balan and Rituparna Sengupta. A smart promotional angle is extended with a series of other character match-ups, and while the trailer forBegum Jaanis dynamic, the one forRajkahinicomes, inevitably, with a Tagore song and the clip lovingly follows the studio artists making the record, interspersed with lush images from the ﬁlm. While neitherﬁlm comes close to the Raj-a-philia ofViceroy’s House, the Hindi eﬀort is focussed more on action while the Bengali one asserts cultural speciﬁcity by featur- ing a more contemplative stance. Theﬁreworks of both are real, and a cutthroat killing in the Bengali is not outshone by the pyromaniac skills of the stunt-person managing to impersonate a map of India inﬂames in the Hindi version. What is noteworthy is the duplication, with a few diﬀerences, of these stories, and of course the near contemporaneous release of Chadha’s Viceroy. What ifViceroy’s Househad been diﬀerent? I mean diﬀerent from Merchant Ivory-style fan- tasy. Theﬁlm in form and style owes little to oral history or to the memory studies that dom- inate partition scholarship and it does not at all referenceﬁlms that break with the wholly con- ventional formats of narrative realism. That Chadha includes herself at the end of theﬁlm would have been a chance to problematise per- spective, especially at a generation or two beyond the events shown. The generational dis- tance might have been given more space and conﬁrmed the“unique”perspective the director claims to have oﬀered. The generational story can have powerful resonances, for example where referred or inherited memory exists among those giving testimony to oral history projects, for example–the partition scholar INTER-ASIA CULTURAL STUDIES 617 Chandrika Parmar told of interviewing a man who said he had survived a train attack by hiding behind his murdered mother’s sari. Only in a later interview when he repeated the story did it become clear that the man was not old enough to have been there, and was relating his father’s experience as if he believed it was his own (Par- mar2004). What would aﬁlm capable of taking account of this level of interpretive variance look like? The experiments with form that have addressed such variance have not always been successful, but the question of who writes history implies a much bigger conversation than any to be had about a speciﬁcﬁlm made in the UK or Bengal or Mumbai. Popular pleasures and new styles of media studies The burden of representation (Mercer1990; Tagg1984,1988) also applies to truth, and ﬁlms made from one place and time must carry a context. There is a signiﬁcant body of work that can provide that context and it would surely seem strange to consider South Asia on screen without reference to such works. Of British South Asianﬁlms such as those of Chadha’s early oeuvre, especially Bhaji on the Beach(1993), Sanjay Sharma describes them as often primarily concerned with struggles over the politics of racialised representation in a particular way:“this cinema articulates a range of‘popular pleasures,’rather than operating as formalist pedagogic works that explicitly employ avant-garde strategies, as found in other Intercultural or black/Third Cinema”(Sharma2009, 22). It is perhaps better to recognise a multiplicity of perspectives and tactics where protagonists do not always agree yet exist in a generally shared community of reference. Sharma’s analysis is focussed upon teaching in the UK“pedagogical”context, but his points make sense for a wider questioning of the sort of things that can be said aboutﬁlm, including South Asianﬁlm, in gen- eral, or globally. His points about race andrepresentation can be extended. He notes a speciﬁc burden and opportunity: [W]hen we turn toﬁlms marked by their ethnicity–for example, labelled as“black,” “South Asian,”“Intercultural”or“Third Cinema”–concerns over representation, belonging, identity and diﬀerence, and so on, frame much of the analysis. Such approaches yield signiﬁcant insight, particularly in relation to the operations of racial ideologies, stereotyp- ing and nationhood. (Sharma2009,22) The question of historical veracity and who gets to write the history of the struggles against racism, stereotypes and nationhood remains a contested point. Recent work draws inspiration especially from the ways scholars andﬁlm- makers, in theﬁlm schools and in regional ﬁlm traditions, can now think of the near and far together. In what can be considered both a related and yet radically diﬀerent approach to that of Sanjay Sharma, the Warwick-based sometimes Lahori music scholar, Virinder Kalra, and his co- author Shalini Sharma (no relation), present an excellent genealogical survey of radicalism for the Punjab Research Group. They report on that study group’s solution to the dilemma of reference in having coined the portmanteau phrase“three Punjabs: East, West and the dia- spora.”They stress the need for an approach maintaining“a space of analysis in which the national is also held in question”(Sharma and Kalra2013, 438). Extrapolating the same senti- ment still wider, not every resident or citizen of the named countries of South Asia need grasp the parameters of multiple designations when all this can be examined together without homogenising, and still have some echo of a Global South movement. The space of analysis is a critical and sustaining one that belongs to a long and unevenly reproduced tradition. Without romanticising community, since it can also have its reactionary sides, there is a habit of care in identiﬁcation with migration. In settlement and at home, looking out for village, caste, relatives, region, state, nation, 618 J. HUTNYK cricket team, neighbours, and general outlook entails a co-constitution of here and there. It means brothers sending cousins abroad, co- workers smoothing the way; as reciprocity is the essence of sociality, the social reproduction of community operates a wide fall-out net to support members and associates. This co-con- stitution as a movement is conscious by neces- sity,ﬁghting compromise by context, continually subject to capture and recuperation, but still something not yet wholly subsumed under the privatisation and homogenisation of the globe. Such speciﬁc work corresponds with media studies work in a Global South framing that should be aﬀorded much greater visibility. In the last thirty years questions about knowledge, disciplinary focus and reference have been raised and challenged in ways that have not yet been read as carefully as their implications might suggest. In South Asia in particular a body of work has emerged, ostensibly gathered together asﬁlm studies and extended to televi- sion and other media platforms, that has trans- formed the possibilities for consideringﬁlm material in a global context. This work can be an inspiration for thinking generously and criti- cally about other media practices and politics, both in diaspora and in relation to other aspects of South Asia and its dispersals, or potentials. The new approach inaugurated by Madhava Prasad’s magisterialIdeology of the Hindi Film (1998) and Ashis Nandy’sThe Secret Politics of Our Desires(1998) came around the same time controversies overﬁlms likeRoja(1992, see Gaur2011),Fire(1996, see John and Niran- jana2000) andZakhm(1998) took over pages in political journals, especially theEconomic and Political Weeklybut also the less forthright Times of India. Both the new work and theﬁlm debates of course also traded upon signiﬁcant ﬁlm discussions in a longer tradition that would take varied antecedents such as the work ofﬁlmmakers Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen, the communist party in some forms, the Progressive Writers Association (PWA) andthe Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA), the struggle in Bangladesh for separa- tion from Pakistan (see Hood2015), the Tamil struggle in Sri Lanka and its musical echoes, and theatre traditions such as the work of Safdar Hashmi or even Badal Sircar (see Katyal2015) as well as the literature of Kashmiri and Punjabi diaspora. In this discus- sion, a follower of the debates need not worry too much about the precision of who is in and who out of traditional disciplinary“ ﬁlm stu- dies,”whether the school is a“coherent”school, whatever that would mean, or if the authors named even recognise each other in terms of schools or suchlike aﬃnities. Perhaps what is refreshing here is that the politics of contextua- lisation of these works has already inspired pro- ductive controversy–there is for example by now a well worked debate over what is new screen media: does it refer toﬁlm or only hand- held devices, is television a new electronic media, as yet not fully understood; what of the network ontologically? Has satellite trans- formed theﬁeld of operations that, for a period, presented a local–pirate?–dimension in the activity of illicit cable operators and their embedded community operations? That ques- tions about social media, satellite and network structures, big data and language policy, and so on, are important should be obvious, and if not, Ravi Sundaram’sPirate Modernity(2009) provides explanations as to why. Shared discus- sion in a circuit of perspectives requires risking the eﬀort of reading. Rajagopal bursts the reﬂexive indulgence with commentary on the December 1992 Babri Masjid demolition. His bookPolitics After Television: Hindu Nationalism and the Reshaping of the Public in Indiaaccepts not only a certain newness to news, but more importantly sees that: [N]ew electronic media set up circuits of com- munication across the realms (of polity, econ- omy, and culture) that […] allow […] Hindu nationalism to fashion a range of diﬀerent rhetorics outside the political sphere proper, INTER-ASIA CULTURAL STUDIES 619 and to suggest a homology between forms of consumption and voting behavior, and between cultural identiﬁcation and the requirements of electoral aﬃliation. (Rajagopal2001,2) Wanting to extend Bollywood or South Asian screen cultures to a wider social technological spread, taking in more and more dimensions of labour, organisation, marketing–an entire socio-economic cultural-industrial construct– the new South Asian media theorists seem to be driven by an underlying formation that is not hard to identify: a Marxist training is stan- dard in the institutes and histories within which South Asianﬁlm criticism thrives. Even when making variously grounded or esoteric com- ments about the condition of modernity–for example Ravi Vasudevan (2011, 14) pointing out that“Bollywood has provided a brand name for publishers to position their product” or Ravi Sundaram’s(2009) diagnoses of a “pirate modernity”as a condition without respect for origins–the traces and desire for a political impact beyondﬁlm studies or media scholarship is grounded in a foundational nar- rative with proper names, heritage and inﬂu- ences. To understand these as a heritage of Marxism is one perhaps not of the party or cadre fold, in the way that IPTA is for the origin for a certain Bengali art cinema, but identiﬁable nevertheless. That aﬁlm studies or media course cannot now stick only to media orﬁlm studies seems self-evident. This is acknowledged in all pro- grammes that ask their students to pick “option”courses alongside theirﬁlm and televi- sion“technical”or“theory”modules. This cur- riculum arrangement admits that a theory of media cannot rely upon the media alone. Courses in media and politics, media and archi- tecture, media and anthropology or media with sociology are increasingly common where an overlap with the visual arts or cultural studies is readily assumed even as it has not yet any structural integration. Ashish Rajadhyaksha (2012, 41) is correct to observe that“the legacy of our cinema is far more complex.”Indeed, thespillage beyond media, and beyond discipline- based courses, is a limit and a possibility, with the requirement that practitioners and analysts bring experience and maturity to bear if insight is to be developed. With implications for the content of all media courses, it is possible to point to a reor- ientation that acknowledges the often quite good intentions of those who would search out an ethical practice in learning to know what others think of themselves and relating to them in those terms. While welcoming this, seeing it as a privileged, and insuﬃcient, move, should also be the lesson learnt from reading South Asian media theory over against the mainstream. European diasporicﬁlmmak- ing is no more immune from exoticist seduc- tions in theory and content than any other modes of creative benevolence. The danger here is that benevolent othering makes an exotic object of that which it uses and appropriates–a dubious return, a slippery slope on the way to commercial exploitation. A degree of vigilance must be earned alongside the institutional degrees that remain the passport to recognised participation in knowledge creation–despite the often-mentioned collapse into commercial training of the university. Spivak also talks of the“new globalisation”of the“Indian migrant […] class heterogeneous migrant subcultures” and notes as evidence video hire available in thousands of stores spread across the US, and indeed the world, now via YouTube. Here, the “space of cosmopolitan diasporic culture”(Spi- vak1996, 260) gives culture mass exposure as a joke circulating the overdetermined sexual pol- itics of patriarchy as distribution and commun- alism. Her modest ambition that cultural studies can alert teachers of literature andﬁlm to concerns that disciplinary historians cannot is a hope that“decolonisation of the mind” can begin without positing any too easy self– other, East–West, North–South split. Why this is important is that if the Global South is con- ceived as supra-geographical and includes the movement of the global proletariat into the 620 J. HUTNYK metropolitan North, with cultural supports and video-camera-wielding grandchildren ready to make radical documentaries on partition, then this decolonisation is potentially in place, wait- ing only miraculously to be enacted. It cannot be considered unusual that most of those writing onﬁlm and television in South Asia and across its diasporas are writing about so much more. Rajadhyaksha (1999) writes on music and London; Abhijit Roy (2014)on“live- ness,”Midnapore and the Aum Party; Moinak Biswas (2006) about the declining fortunes of the CPI(M); Madhava Prasad (2014a) on sartor- ial styles of the revolutionary heroes; Tejeswini Niranjana (1999) on feminism and the Shiv Sena, closer toﬁlm than not; Gayatri Gopinath (2005) on desi protest marches; Amit Rai (2009) on aﬀect theory; Sunaina Maira (2000)on henna and hip-hop; Rajinder Dudrah (2006) on queer political mobilities–all in all diver- gences from the script ofﬁlm studies through consumerism, queer and transnational mobili- sations are all very welcome and show an excit- ing and robust promiscuity that cannot only be said to have been prepared in the institutional turbulence of a thriving multi-disciplinarity. In Rajagopal’sPolitics After Television, one of his many footnote speculations spills out from the text proper to permit him to muse on the theme of commodity consumption. He astutely relates this to modiﬁcations in the orthodox Marxist perspective: Recent historical work has challenged assump- tions about consumption as an activity follow- ing automatically upon the development of industrial production, or about mass consump- tion as having a merely emulative quality, as lower classes enacted their aspirations for the lifestyles of their economic betters. Consump- tion as a middle-class activity began not in the late eighteenth, or early nineteenth, or in the twentieth century, but in fact appears to antedate the rise of industrial capitalism and mass production. (Rajagopal2001,317) Rajagopal argues that consumption studies gained favour in part because a new middleclass emerged willing to shop. While Marxist orthodoxy in some of the more moribund party forums might not wish to consider consu- mer society as a viable context for intervention, within a culture industry and media perspective it becomes a necessary project to politicise cul- tural production. The now burgeoning work on queer perspec- tives in South Asia has its ownﬁlm focussed con- tingent, with the excellent work of Gopinath, Desai, Dudrah and others, perhaps working in a space initially opened up, to some degree, by the controversy over Mehta’sﬁlmFire(1996) in which Sita is renamed Nita in Hindi after the Censorship Board’s order (John and Niran- jana2000, 371). If there was any doubt that ﬁlm has a wider socio-political life, then just a few words from John and Niranjana’s original response toFireshows how convoluted and obscured things quickly become once the Board and other interest groups get involved: Women’s organisations and especially gay and lesbian groups […] raised key issues relating to questions of obscenity, on the one hand, and gay/lesbian rights, on the other […] how- ever, these issues tended to get deﬂected if not lost in the dominant focus on the Shiv Sena attacks. (John and Niranjana1999, 581) It is instructive to see how the political debates extend beyond the theoreticalﬁrst moves ofﬁlm appreciation and a separate discussion would be warranted of the ways Indian cinema, in the several genres considered together here, have responded. Signiﬁcantly Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Queer and Trans perspectives–it seems unu- sual these days to even spell out LGBTQ–are standard inﬁlms as varied as Leena Javed’s Parched(2015) and Mukherjee’sGandu (2010). InParched, the breaking of patriarchal normative sexualities gives theﬁlm a joyous and successful escape from poverty and preju- dice. Though despite uplift–mocking on the way the trinkets-exotica NGO handicrafts pro- ject that brings satellite television to the village –theﬁlm also shows the practicalities and INTER-ASIA CULTURAL STUDIES 621 setbacks of informal sector survival in ways that go well beyondFireand certainly leave the het- eronormative frame ofViceroy’s House’s love tangle looking merely frayed. At the end of Parchedhowever, the characters in a Thelma, Louise and Lajjoo denouement are still left with nowhere to go but out of theﬁlm theatre. Consider then how inGandueven straight-up heteronormative desire gets shaken up in ways that connect with a youthful alienation and dis- affection, also strikingly absent in the contrast- ing middle of the road Merchant Irony stylings ofViceroy’s House. It would not be fair to expect aﬁlm to be all things, but already in theﬁrst issue of the Jadav- pur Film Studies journal, Biswas wrote (1999,9): “The increasing circulation/dispersal of cinema in the mediaﬁeld, through video, TV, digital fares of every variety demands that we develop a critical framework.”Believing with Desai (2004,7)that“the study of the role of cultural politics ofﬁlm in the production of diasporic aﬃliations, identities, and politics is crucial to an understanding of transnationalism and globa- lization,”this critical framework tends towards the universal, even as it is speciﬁc, regional and located-demarcated. Like travel,beyondis the code word here. It is not necessarily correct, nor is it an imperative that escapes structured refer- ence. The questions to ask have to do with how these theorists frame a critical approach, and to what, with what extension. Madhava Prasad (1999, 39) calls us to move beyond the“political communication”model–the idea that“cinema is used as a transparent medium to transmit mes- sages and thereby win the hearts of spectators”is not problematic because there are no messages, but because transparency and a simple message code model does not account for“the speciﬁcity of the cinematic institution nor the complexity of political processes.” Going beyond conventions of earlierﬁlm talk, the proliferation of screens and the digital“con- vergence”invokes a quiver of enthusiasm. With- out dismissing innovations in theﬁlm technology ﬁeld, Gehlawat’s(2010) survey of the work of theaforementioned three theorists is rather curt, and has to do with aﬁlmi-focus which overlooks tele- vision and other screens, such that narrowly, in Vasudevan (2011), only the reach of the mean- ings of the name Bollywood are questioned; in Rajadhyaksha we deal only with Bollywood as a “diﬀuse cultural conglomeration”(Rajadhyaksha 2008, 20); and with Madhava Prasad we see no further than how“the term itself seems to serve diﬀerent purposes for diﬀerent people”(Mad- hava Prasad2008, 41). The limits of these demar- cations are obvious if you know these authors do of course write about Hindiﬁlm, but crucially much else besides, including the new wave art cinema from Bengal, the regionalﬁlm traditions of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, the star sys- tem, representation–darstellenandvertreten (Madhava Prasad2014b, 147, 155, following Spi- vak1988)–regionalism, nationalism, globalisa- tion, and so much more. But while a few comments should not be levitated to the status of paradigms so quickly, nor short essays be taken to stand for substantial bodies of work, Gehlawat (2015, 12) is correct to note that the terms used in any demarcation may gather“argu- ably disparateﬁlms under one umbrella.”This is the case, he notes for example, with Joshi’s(2010) distinction between Bollywood and Bollylite, which refers to US friendly South Asianﬁlms likeMonsoon Wedding(2001) or, we might add,Viceroy’s House. M. K. Ragavendra (2012, 31) contends that“the term ‘Bollywood’may have become a more acceptable label […] because it does not signify any speciﬁc national identity.”There is no injunction on applying demarcations for diﬀerent media“products” under reference to the digital or to the global, since here the point is that electronic capitalism comes both in pirate and corporate forms (Kumar2013, 257). The“public archive of the contemporary”comes as a demonic and manipu- lated ideological apparatus and as a niche seg- mented one, it is regionalism and identity in slices of time and frequency, and the universal schedule of programme planning is never inno- cent (Sundaram2013,3,122). 622 J. HUTNYK The great game So, how is it possible to best conclude an essay that has not been only onViceroy’s House, but on the implications of its critics for a wider South Asian inﬂected media studies? I want to do so by recognising how a cultural eﬀort neces- sarily accompanies the war on terror addressed to global audiences, as Gargi Bhattacharyya (2008, 113) so perceptively said? Aﬁlm that hides its ideological investments under roman- tic orientalist storytelling and the mechanics of historical edits–not only cut, pan, zoom, montage, time, audio, narrative–develops a symbiotic relationship with the alienated but global commodity circuit, enforced by commer- cial and military means. We are dealing here with something that is not only a war scene, but is also the war of colonialism against itself. If the multivariant versions of South Asia have always been screened in narrowcast terms–a double play of the good guys–temples, Bolly- wood songs and Sanjay Dutt–and the bad guys–terrorists, pogroms, Ravana, Gabbar Singh/Amjad Khan, and Sanjay Dutt, today it is moderate Muslims and unknown terror, the double play at work again. In bygone years Heat and Dust(1983) was the cinematic ver- sion. Art Malik coming to grief inJewel and the Crown(1984, ITV), and a little later as a goonda inCity of Joy(1992) or even more gro- tesquely, as a Mujahedeenﬁghter in the Bond ﬁlmThe Living Daylights(1987) and at the bludgeoning hands of Arnie Schwarzenegger as the hapless terrorist Salim inTrue Lies (1994) repeats the typecasting. Malik himself as a specialist terror example of where an actor’s persona acrossﬁlms“begins to communicate through other channels than theﬁlms”and even in“parallel to the diegetic content of the narrative”(Madhava Prasad2014b, 142). Today for Global South Asian starﬁgures– Om Puri, Roshan Seth, Shah Rukh Khan– and we might add the scene of Osama bin Laden pictured in his blanket in the Abbottabad compound as an inverted echo of Thakur/Sanjeev Kumar inSholay–we can see by way of Madhava Prasad’s analysis, a non-diegetic patterning of characterisation and caricature. This is alternately exotic or demotic, which inﬂates rates of paranoid xenophobic scaremon- gering, even with the proliferation of vernacular views of the global (Mukhopadhyay2012)of home movies and camera phone newscasts uploaded directly to the satellite international of Skynet. It will be worth looking again at how often the same actors keep popping up over and over inﬁlms likeEast is East(1999), Viceroy’s House, and in reimagined period seri- als likeIndian Summers(2015). An impressive genealogy of retrospectively back-cast“terror- ist”nationalist miscreants are all fathered by Roshan Seth inMy Beautiful Laundrette (1985),A Passage to India(1984),The Buddha of Suburbia(1993) and alongside Art Malik yet again, inIndian Summers. Where predict- able typecasting is replaced by avoidance, for example in the darker serialisation ofTaboo on BBC (2017), is it not also all too predictable that the East India Company is defeated by the one good honest butﬂawed mixed race soldier hero? In theseﬁlms and serial fantasies, there is no sense in which the black and white synco- pation of local and global escapes the play of mere colour illustration. Subject citizens are corralled from remote to metropole, all gath- ered together to work the pantomime scene. In the 1990s the heavy presence of South Asian cinema on very late night British TV was insuﬃcient to disabuse the rest of the Brit- ish public of its stereotypes of the violent exotic subcontinent and the threat of otherness. Even the by now standardised choices of“contem- porary”British-Asianﬁlm did little to clarify– the new programming updates the repertoire with reruns ofBend it like Beckham(2002), but notMy Beautiful Laundrette(1985);East is East( 1999) but notWild West(1992); nor could it be said that popularity marked out the parameters of anti-coloniality–Heat and Dust (1983) but nothing by Ritwik Ghatak. The clarity of ideological whitewash is evident in the ways INTER-ASIA CULTURAL STUDIES 623 “military savagery”trumps the critique of fetishising exoticism on the part of“rapacious corporations”(Maira2008, 65). It is no longer enough to only note that critical analysis of the ways an anti-Muslim pogrom had taken hold in the wake of 2001, or 7 July 2005, did not dis- place that pogrom. The less safeﬁlms were on heavy rotation and box set specials, as television celebrates the East India Company in its reno- vated form as a kind of steam-punkTaboo (2017) alongside cheap security service-foiled plots against airlines or sci-ﬁscenarios with sui- cide Jihadists. All the while, in the commercial cinema the Empire image remains intact. Gurin- der Chadha’sViceroy’s Housedoes little to sug- gest that Raj nostalgia reruns of comprador complicity and divide and conquer will not still be the rule for the foreseeable future. Notes on contributor John Hutnykis the author of several books, includ- ing 1996The Rumour of Calcutta: Tourism, Charity and the Poverty of Representation, 2000Critique of Exotica, and 2014Pantomime Terror: Music and Pol- itics. His bookGlobal South Asia on Screencame out with Bloomsbury in June 2018. ORCID John HUTNYK http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4826- 8949 References Ahmad, Ali Nobil.2016.“Explorations Into Pakistani Cinema: Introduction.”Screen57 (4): 468–479. Benjamin, Walter. 1968.Illuminations. Translated by Hanna Arendt. New York: Schocken Books. Bhatia, Arjun.2017.“Partition Museum Project: Creating a Refuge for the Memories of Partition.”South Asia @ LSE, 10 March. blogs.l- se.ac.uk/southasia/2017/03/10/partition- museum-project-creating-a-refuge-for-the-mem- ories-of-partition/. Bhattacharyya, Gargi.2008.Dangerous Brown Men: Exploiting Sex, Violence and Feminism in the War on Terror. 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Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at https://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=rsad20 South Asian Diaspora ISSN: (Print) (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rsad20 Diasporic visions: colonialism, nostalgia and the empire in Gurinder Chadha ’s Viceroy ’s House Clelia Clini To cite this article: Clelia Clini (2021) Diasporic visions: colonialism, nostalgia and the empire in Gurinder Chadha ’s Viceroy ’s House, South Asian Diaspora, 13:1, 23-36, DOI: 10.1080/19438192.2020.1767894 To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/19438192.2020.1767894 Published online: 28 May 2020.Submit your article to this journal Article views: 367View related articles View Crossmark data Diasporic visions: colonialism, nostalgia and the empire in Gurinder Chadha’s Viceroy ’s House Clelia Clini Institute of Media and Creative Industries, Loughborough University London, London, UK ABSTRACTReleased on the 70th anniversary of Partition, Gurinder Chadha ’s ﬁ lm Viceroy ’s House, which is narratively and stylistically constructed in the fashion of heritage cinema, chronicles the last days of the empire in India and is said to provide a ‘British Asian perspective ’on Partition. This article addresses the debate that followed the release of the ﬁlm and, in particular, the analysis focuses on the interplay between Partition, diaspora, and representations of the imperial past. Through the analysis of the ﬁ lm ’s structure and narrative, the article discusses its representation of British India and argues that, notwithstanding its potential to unsettle traditional representations of the empire of period dramas, the ﬁlm ’s glamorous depiction of the British rulers ultimately feeds into the contemporary wave of colonial nostalgia. ARTICLE HISTORYReceived 21 October 2019 Accepted 30 April 2020 KEYWORDSIndian diaspora; Partition; colonialism; empire; nostalgia; heritage cinema; imperialist fantasies Introduction ‘ British ’most of us were, at one time, but that was long ago and, besides, as Shakespeare said, ‘ the wench is dead. ‘English ’we cannot be (Hall 1999, 13) In March 2017, as India celebrated seventy years of independence from British colonial rule, Gurinder Chadha released Viceroy’s House (2017 ), aﬁlm that dramatises the ﬁnal days of the empire and which narrates the events that led to, and followed, the indepen- dence of British India and the Partition between India and Pakistan. Described by the ﬁ lmmaker as her own ‘upstairs and downstairs ﬁlm in the tradition of Downton Abbey and Gosford Park ’(2016 ),Viceroy’ s House opens with the arrival of the last viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten, and his family, to Delhi and it chronicles the unfolding of the events that led to Partition. By interweaving the stories of the Mountbattens and their entourage (upstairs), and those of the servants (downstairs) the ﬁlm dramatises the nego- tiations taking place between British colonial authorities and the Indian political leaders over the transfer of power,while portraying the consequences of these same negotiations on the Indian servants who are employed in the house. The ﬁlm emphasises in particular the disruptive e ﬀects of the upcoming division of the country on the otherwise harmo- nious community constituted by the employees of the Viceroy ’s residence. Among them are Aalia and Jeet, two star-crossed lovers whose relationship challenges the ever rigid religious endogamy in the run up to Partition –as Aalia is a Muslim while Jeet is © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group CONTACT Clelia Clini [email protected] 215 St James ’s Crescent, London SW9 7HS, UK SOUTH ASIAN DIASPORA 2021, VOL. 13, NO. 1, 23 –36 https://doi.org/10.1080/19438192.2020.1767894 a Hindu. The scale of the tragedy on the Indian (and soon to be Pakistani) people is con- veyed through the insertion into the narrative of Movietone newsreels, which chronicle the growing communal violence taking place around the country, and remind the audience that theﬁlm is based on true events. With an estimate of nearly two million people killed during the riots that accompanied independence and some ﬁfteen million people uprooted (Darlymple 2015; Mishra 2002, 211), Partition remains, in the words of Bhaskar Sarkar, ‘a festering wound in the collective psyche of South Asia ’(2009 , 1). It is therefore not surprising that, upon its release, Vice- roy’ s House triggered a heated public debate over its representation of the events. In an article published in The Guardianon the very day of its release (3 March 2017), Fatima Bhutto de ﬁned Viceroy ’s House as a‘ﬁ lm of a deeply colonised imagination ’and wrote that it was a ‘servile pantomime ’, also accusing Chadha to blame Partition entirely on Muslims and Jinnah (Bhutto 2017). In response to Bhutto ’s article, journalist and writer Suﬁ ya Ahmed, a few days later, retorted from the pages of the Huﬃngton Post that Bhutto ’s allegations were a consequence of her inability, as a member of the Pakistani elite, to ‘get the Brit Asian experience ’(2017 ). She especially took issue with Bhutto ’s state- ment about the ﬁlm reproducing a ‘colonised imagination’– a claim that, Ahmed wrote, was especially insulting for a child of immigrants ‘who lived through the extreme racism of the 60 and 70s ’and was ultimately an attack on all ‘Brit Asians ’(Ahmed 2017). Indeed, Chadha herself had described Viceroy’s House as her own ‘British Asian perspective on Partition ’(Chadha 2017a) and in several interviews given before and after the release of the ﬁlm, the ﬁlmmaker explained that this is, for her, a very personal ﬁlm, as it was inspired by the su ﬀerings of her own family at the time of Partition. This article is concerned precisely with the British Asian point of view that Chadha advocates for her ﬁlm. By analysing its style and narrative structure, the article discusses the interplay between Partition, diaspora, and the representation of the imperial past. The nature of a diasporic perspective on Partition is explored by discussing the ways in which Viceroy’ s House frames colonial India, both visually and narratively, and how it re-con- structs the relationship between and within colonised and colonisers. After an introduc- tion on Partition and its legacy in present-day Britain, the ﬁlm is contextualised within the socio-cultural context of an increasingly melancholic postcolonial Britain (Gilroy 2004 ) and it is framed within the tradition of heritage cinema. The second part of the article engages in the analysis of the ﬁlm ’s narrative and discusses the ﬁlm ’s potential to subvert the ideology embedded in heritage cinema and to ‘rewrite the margins into the centre ’(Hall 1999, 10). Finally, the article will close with a re ﬂection on Chadha ’s approach to heritage cinema in relation to her own diasporic position, questioning what it is that makes Viceroy’s House a British Asian ﬁlm. Partition, historical memory and the diasporic subjects As the ‘underside of independence ’(Sarkar 2009, 1), the 1947 Partition of British India led to the creation of a new geography of South Asia, with newly drawn borders which, cutting across entire regions (particularly a ﬀected were Bengal and Punjab) demarcated the terri- tories of the two sovereign states of India and Pakistan. The decision to partition the country in two, creating a new state (Pakistan) for the Muslim minority, was reached after months and months of consultations between the Indian political leaders and the 24 C. CLINI British colonisers, a time during which the relationship between the two main parties which had spent yearsﬁghting side by side for independence went deteriorating, as did inter-communal relations within the country (see Khan 2017). The period of transition between plans for independence and Partition saw the unleash of unprecedented violence between religious communities, and, on the o ﬃcial publication of the physical boundaries between India and Pakistan (not made public until two days after the British had o ﬃcially left, on 17th August 1947) millions of people crossed these new borders seeking refuge from communal violence. The scale of the violence was such that now the word Partition is often used metony- mically to refer to the communal violence that accompanied independence. With violence came trauma, and, for decades after 1947, a deafening silence fell on this tragedy, both o ﬃ cially and uno ﬃcially (Butalia 1998, 9; Mishra 2002, 211). O ﬃcial narratives of nation- alism, rather than addressing Partition violence, focused on the struggle for independence and downplayed it as an exception, ‘an illegitimate outbreak of violence [ …] against the fundamentals of Indian (or Pakistani) tradition and history ’(Pandey 2001, 3). The di ﬃ culty of making sense of the events was re ﬂected also in the inability of survivors to ﬁ nd a language that would allow them to describe, and make sense of, such violence, an idiom that would allow to speak the unspeakable (Butalia 1998,2005 ; Das and Nandy 1985; Nandy 1999). This is the reason why Partition has been mostly theoretically analysed in terms of trauma, loss, mourning and melancholia (Butalia 1998; Mishra 2002; Nandy 1999; Sarkar 2009; Sengupta 2015). According to Mishra, for example, the down- play of the violence of Partition as an aberration, an exceptional, temporary period of madness, prevented the nation –and its citizens –from the possibility of mourning: This occluded history of India is the unspeakable canker that is silenced through what Don Miller has referred to as the economy of melancholia. If mourning became Electra because she knew what an ‘uncompleted ’mourning was like, then it is melancholia that becomes the India because we tend to carry our loss, unresolved, as painful splinter in our side. It is there for all to see, but we have never confronted it. ( 2002, 211) As such, the legacy of Partition extends to the present day (Butalia 2005; Sarkar 2009; Sen- gupta 2015) casting its long shadow on the lives of those whose families have lived through it –both in the Subcontinent and the diaspora. The relevance of the legacy of Partition in the diasporic context is clear if we think of the signi ﬁcant role that memories and narra- tives of the past play in the formation of diasporic identities. Diasporic communities, as explained by Avtar Brah, are complex formations whose identities emerge at the intersec- tion between present-day experiences, memories and re-memories of the past and real or imagined homelands ( 1996, 181–198). For diasporic subjects the past, Stuart Hall argued, ‘ is always constructed through memory, fantasy, narrative and myth ’(1990 , 226) and if, as he maintains, ‘identities are the names we give to the di ﬀerent ways we are positioned by, and position ourselves within, the narratives of the past ’(1990 , 225), then we see the rel- evance of memories, and narratives, of Partition in the diasporic context. Gurinder Chadha, a ‘self-identi ﬁed Punjabi ’, born in Kenya and raised in London (Desai 2004, 130) admittedly ‘grew up in the shadow of Partition ’(Viceroy ’s House Press Kit 2017, 1), as her family was directly aﬀ ected by it: forced toﬂee their home in what was deemed to be Pakistan, they had to relocate to India –one of her aunties starving to death along the way (Chadha 2016). The legacy of Partition, according to the ﬁlmmaker, SOUTH ASIAN DIASPORA 25 are still of‘huge importance ’in Britain, and yet she feels that ‘the events of 1947 are largely forgotten in the UK ’(Chadha 2017b). This ﬁlm represents thus for Chadha the means to bring attention to such a pivotal moment in South Asian (and British) history and to address all the parties involved in Partition with the stated aim of o ﬀering ‘a message of reconciliation ’that would speak to Indians, Pakistanis and British people alike (Viceroy ’s House Press Kit 2017). Viceroy ’s House, heritage and melancholic Britain Writing about the revival of the British Raj on screen in 1984, Salman Rushdie drew a con- nection between the popularity of narratives of ‘Raj revisionism ’and the social and econ- omic decline of the country at the time, arguing that Thatcherite Britain encouraged people to ‘turn their eyes nostalgically to the lost hour of their precedence ’( 1992 , 92). In light of his comment, the context within which Viceroy’s House was made deserves some re ﬂection. The ﬁlm was released in Britain not only on the seventieth anni- versary of Partition, but also during a period of growing (post)colonial nostalgia in British public culture. The 2010s in fact have seen the emergence of a number of ﬁlms, TV series, popular music videos which o ﬀered a glamorous look at the ‘exotic ’former colony of India 1(Andrews 2016;Jeﬀries 2015 ; Kumar 2016). This nostalgic wave also encompasses British politics and in ﬂuenced the public debate over the British membership of the Euro- pean Union: in this respect Alexander Davis noted that, in the lead-up to the Brexit refer- endum, colonial nostalgia became the dominant force in British foreign politics ’(Davis 2018 , 162). New dreams of a ‘Global Britain ’project (also known as Empire 2.0) identiﬁed former colonial possessions, India in particular, as central for a post-EU British economy, o ﬀ ering a romanticised view of the empire completely whitewashed of its violence, one in which former colonies are described not as imperial possessions but rather as ‘old friends ’(Davis 2018, 154 –155; see also Beaumont 2017; Law 2019). If, as Baena and Bekyr suggest, ‘nostalgia is less about the past than it is about the present ’(2015 , 261), this wave of colonial nostalgia in British cultural and political life can be read as a response to the challenges faced by contemporary society, undergoing an identity crisis after years of austerity and growing inequalities, combined though with the unresolved issue of coming to terms with the demise of the Empire and ‘to deal with its legacy ’(Gardner 2017, 10). The inability of Britain to process the end of the empire has been thoroughly analysed by Paul Gilroy, who remarkably observed that Britain ’s continuous re-visitations of its imperial past is the melancholic reaction ‘to the loss to a fantasy of omnipotence ’, i.e. the loss of the Empire ( 2004, 99). In an interview given to The Guardian in 2015 regarding the ‘recycled Raj fantasy ’, Gilroy observed that: The idea of the empire gets (re)visited obsessively because its loss remains painful but it cannot be worked through. Britain might learn too many uncomfortable truths about its history if it was known and considered. In the absence of that encounter, phenomena such as the Raj get recycled as fantasy. The lost greatness of the imperial period can thereby be ﬂeetingly restored (Gilroy in Je ﬀries 2015). The renewed popularity of colonial India in popular culture thus appears related to unmourned loss of the Empire. As a ﬁlm modelled on the tradition of period dramas such as A Passage to India (David Lean,1984) and Gandhi (Richard Attenborough, 26 C. CLINI 1982),Viceroy ’s House appears to ﬁt in well within this wave of (post)colonial nostalgia. And yet, the very subjectivity of the ﬁlmmaker, as a British Asian woman, has the potential to add layers of meaning to the narrative that complicate melancholic fantasies of the empire. Discussing the in ﬂuence, in terms of style and concept, of period dramas such as Gosford Park (2001 ) and Downton Abbey (2010 –2015 )on Viceroy’ s House, Chadha explained: I love those huge, epic-canvas British ﬁlms. I think it’s sad that we don ’t make those kind of epic, populist ﬁlms as much because they somehow help deﬁ ne who we are as a nation. They tell us who we are by going back, looking at our history to understand our present. That is exactly what I wanted to achieve here, to reach out to the broadest audience possible and remind them of this hugely important event that has been largely forgotten. (Viceroy ’s House press kit 2017) Chadha thus aims to use the format of period dramas to make people re ﬂect on Partition and its legacy. Importantly, Partition is here intended as part of a shared forgotten British Asian history. Chadha ’s remark about heritage dramas de ﬁning the identity of the nation is quite interesting because, as much as heritage ﬁlms do construct an image of the nation, this image is very selective and tends to project an exclusionary national identity. The visual grammar of heritage cinema, Andrew Higson explains, is aimed at reprodu- cing ‘imperialist fantasies of national identity ’, which emerge as a ‘conservative response to a collective post-imperial anxiety ’(2006 , 104). Heritage ﬁlms on the British Raj, such as A Passage to India, Jewel in the Crown (1984 ), Heat and Dust (1983 ), invariably display a longing for a stable, idealised past in which the British Empire was still ﬂourishing, and the social structure of society was neatly de ﬁned and unquestioned. Even when these ﬁ lms ‘chronicle the corrupt and last days of imperialist power, a period when that power was already coming under attack ’, they still display a nostalgic tone for a social order which is no more (Higson 2006, 104). This appears to be in contrast with the contemporary diverse character of British post- colonial society, to which Chadha belongs and to which she has been giving voice since the beginning of her career –so much so that, after the success of Bend it Like Beckhamshe earned ‘the title ‘queen of the multi ’(which can ambiguously mean both multiplex and multiculturalism)’ (Desai2004, 65). And yet, if the diasporic presence in Britain functions as a constant reminder of the imperial past, in a sort of, ‘we are here because you were there ’, as Kobena Mercer suggests (1994, 7), then Chadha ’s ﬁlm might potentially adopt the period drama formula to subvert its logic, and to expose the human cost of British poli- tics in the subcontinent. Indeed, following Stuart Hall, Chadha ’s adoption of the heritage ﬁ lm style could ﬁnally ‘rewrite the margins into the centre [ …] representing more ade- quately the degree to which ‘their ’history entails and has always implicated ‘us ’across the centuries and vice versa ’(1999 , 10). Colonial relations at the end of the empire The opening scene of the ﬁlm strongly recalls the style of Downton Abbey’s opening credits, as it o ﬀers a panoramic view of the magni ﬁcent mansion of the viceroy, where an impressive number of Indian servants (hundreds, we are told) are fretting about to SOUTH ASIAN DIASPORA 27 get the house ready for the arrival of the Mountbattens. The emphasis on sumptuous man- sions and the careful recreation of costumes and locations is a staple element of heritage ﬁlms (Byrne 2014, 312), where it is used to emphasise the splendour of the lifestyle of the upper classes but also the greatness of the lost Empire (Higson 2006, 97, 104). This is a sentiment distinctly voiced by Jeet Kumar, the newly appointed valet of the viceroy, who, upon entering the residence, contemplates it in awe and comments that this was exactly what he ‘imagined England to look like ’. The characterisation of the Mountbattens closely recalls that of the ruling family of Downton, in turn deeply indebted to the heritage ﬁlms of the 1980s (Byrne 2014, 325). It is no coincidence that the viceroy is played by the same actor who plays the Earl of Gran- tham in the ITV series, Hugh Bonneville. Just like the Earl of Grantham, the viceroy is a liberal, just ﬁgure, who is conscious of his class and status but demonstrates a paternalist benevolence in his relationship with his servants (Byrne 2014, 319). Mountbatten ’s wife Edwina and his daughter Pamela, for example, repeatedly de ﬁne the task ahead of the viceroy in terms of ‘bringing freedom to India ’–with no afterthoughts about the irony of the statement. The Mountbattens also display genuine concern about the political fate of the soon-to be independent country and Mountbatten ’s love for India is remarked upon a few times in the ﬁlm, both by his friend Nehru and by Cyril Radcli ﬀe, the lawyer who is appointed the task of drawing the borders between India and Pakistan. Despite being the cousin of the king –Aalia ’s father sharply points out that he has ‘Empire in his blood ’–the viceroy seems not to be acquainted with the policies, and politics, of the empire: his shock at learning that Partition had all been settled by Churchill two years prior to his appointment –Chadha follows the events as narrated in Narendra Singh Sarila ’s book, The Shadow of the Great Game (2006 )– reveals his naïve faith in what he regards as a ‘just ’empire. Indeed, when he expresses his shock at learning that India was divided for oil makes one wonder whether he ever knew what colonialism was all about. In this the ﬁlm complies again with style of heritage ﬁlms, which, Higson observes, ‘ seemed to articulate a nostalgic and conservative celebration of the values and lifestyle of the privileged classes, [ …] in doing so an England that no longer existed seemed to be have been reinvented as something fondly remembered and desirable ’(2003 , 12). In this case, England is metonymically the empire as understood by Mountbatten, this paternalist institution looking after its subjects, which is very far from the reality of colo- nialism. And yet, if the ﬁlm is so much indebted to heritage cinema, it is crucial to note that, despite its association with ‘a nostalgic modern English upper-class ’(Desai 2004, 59) heritage ﬁlms can also be highly ambivalent and subversive, potentially challenging the very system that they seem to uphold (Dave 2006; Monk 2002). Despite the character- isations of the Mountbattens as the well-meaning colonisers, Viceroy’s House also shows a more brutal aspect of the empire. As a counterpart to the viceroy, the British oﬃ cials who should overlook the transfer of power are not as thoughtful regarding Indians or the fate of India. General Ismay in particular is portrayed as the brutal face of the Empire: he is not concerned about the human cost of Partition, but rather wants to leave the country as soon as possible and make the most of it by dividing the country in two and securing British access to the Arab Sea via Pakistan. In line with the culture of the empire, he also adopts zoological tropes to describe the Indians (who are ‘as slippery as eels ’)a discursive device to strip colonised subjects of their humanity so to justify colonialism. 28 C. CLINI Other references to the violence of the British Empire are made throughout theﬁlm: both Nehru and Aalia ’s father (the late Om Puri) had been jailed for supporting indepen- dence, while references are made to the Jallianwala massacre, where Jeet’ s father was killed. And yet, these references, which have the potential to subvert the characterisation of the colonisers, remain somehow at the margins of the narrative as they are placed in the past, a place remarkably di ﬀerent from the viceroy ’s house. In the ﬁlm, the residence appears like a peaceful island amidst, we are told, the chaos that is pervading the rest of India, which is visible through the Movietone newsreels. The violence of the colonisers remains ﬁrmly out of the house, and so does the violence between communities, except for a few skirmishes between servants. Occupied by the Mountbattens, the viceroy ’s residence is a safe haven amidst the chaos that is descending on the rest of the country. The goodwill of the Mountbattens is reiter- ated when they o ﬀer their sta ﬀthe opportunity to bring their relatives at the residence, so to save them from the atrocities which are taking place in the rest of the country. Such a division of space, the threatening outside world inhabited by Indians, juxtaposed to the safety of the house magnanimously opened by the viceroy, resonates uncannily with colo- nial narratives which, as Pramod Nayar noted, drew a ‘clear binary ’between ‘the innocent, heroic, and stoic Englishman versus the barbarous and unfair Indian ’(2012 , 77). Even if the ﬁlm blames Partition on the British government, it still seems to reproduce the colonial discourse of di ﬀerence according to which, as Nayar again observed: ‘the English man or woman, no matter what the provocation, retains his or her civil behaviour ’and keeps stressing ‘the benevolence of the English “conqueror ”’(2012 , 28). The benevolence of the Mountbattens is nevertheless met with ambivalence by his Indian counterparts, the political leaders. Mountbatten treats them with the same patern- alism with which he treats his sta ﬀ, scolding them like children who are misbehaving when they are unable to agree on the future of India –‘how can we leave –he tells Nehru –when you can ’t agree on what your future should be? ’And yet, they are the ones who remind him of the shortcomings of his beloved empire. Nehru provides Mountbatten with some home truths regarding British imperialist politics: as a response to the Viceroy ’s rep- rimands for their inability to reach an agreement, he reminds him that they ‘have done everything to foster hatred between their di ﬀerent communities: separate schools, elec- tions, that was always your policy: divide and rule ’adding: ‘now you have divided us, you ask mefor a solution? ’ His observation is an important reminder of the devastating e ﬀect of colonial rule on the social texture of India, where the imported politics of group representation had the eﬀ ect of creating a majority-minority dialectic which turned ‘indigenous ideas of di ﬀer- ence [ …] into a deadly politics of community ’(Appadurai 1996, 135). As Appadurai observes: The process by which separate Hindu and Muslim identities were constructed at a macro level and transformed not just into imagined communities but also into enumerated commu- nities is only the most visible pathology of the transfer of the politics of numerical represen- tation to a society in which representation and group identity had no special numerical relationship to the polity (132). And yet, this point is not explored further in the ﬁlm. In a previous meeting with the cabinet, one o ﬃcial bemoans the fact that ‘this hatred between Hindus, Sikhs and SOUTH ASIAN DIASPORA 29 Muslims’was ‘poisoning everything the British had built ’, rather than being the product of their very politics. When the prospect of Partition begins to acquire substance and the echo of disorders reaches the viceroy ’s residence, no reference to British imperial politics is made. Instead, the focus is on the ﬁrst skirmishes between members of sta ﬀ. No expla- nation is o ﬀered as to why people are ﬁghting: it all seems to explode out of the blue, especially considering Jeet ’s remark that in his village, just like in many others, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims have been living together like brothers for centuries. 2What is proble- matic about the representation of communal violence is that it is treated matter-of-factly and is not historicised, as Nehru ’s comment would have wanted. As Partition looms, the sta ﬀof the viceroy begins to unrest and a feeling of resent- ment towards the British, Mountbattens included, begins to emerge. The only two people who seem immune to this feeling are Aalia and Jeet, who are portrayed as ﬁ rmly trusting the Mountbattens. Jeet ’s admiration for Mountbatten was declared at the beginning of the ﬁlm, when he praised him for having freed Burma and his upcom- ing task to free India. Even Jeet does not see the anomaly of ‘liberating ’a country that you had conquered in the ﬁrst place. Incidentally, it is worth noticing that throughout the ﬁlm Indian independence is described as a something granted by the British, not obtained by the Indians after decades of struggle: despite the references to political marches and to independence supporters being jailed, independence is still presented mainly in terms of the British granting it, except made for lady Mountbatten ’s comment that Gandhi ‘had brought the British Empire to his knees ’. Describing inde- pendence as something that is given rather than taken is an interesting choice because, it resonates with the cultural strategy of colonialism which, as Fanon noted, ‘ wants everything to come from it ’(1965 , 63), meaning, in this case, that even indepen- dence is a gift o ﬀered by the magnanimous coloniser as part of his civilising mission. This perspective is certainly in line with the Churchill ’s quote that opens the ﬁlm, ‘ history is written by the victors ’, but the ﬁlm remains ambivalent here. It would certainly also be plausible that Indian civil servants would have adopted this perspective and bought into the myth of England just as colonial culture would have wanted, as Macau- lay (  1995 ) eloquently explained (see also Lamming  1992). Jeet ’s faith in the viceroy remains strong until Partition kills his romantic dream of mar- rying Aalia, thus making it a very personal a ﬀair rather than a political one. His anger at Mountbatten, at the end of the ﬁlm, is addressed at the person who has betrayed him – although lady Mountbatten stresses that ‘this tragedy was not of his making ’–rather than at the political system he represents, thus somehow weakening the potential to raise questions about the imperial system in itself. Partition through a diasporic lens After having considered the ways in which colonial relations are portrayed in the ﬁlm, the task is now to understand what makes the ﬁlm British Asian. From the point of view of style and concept Viceroy’s House , being fashioned on the model of English heritage costume dramas, undoubtedly provides a British structure to the narrative. The narration of the events through a personalised love story also resonates with many Indian and Pakis- tani ﬁlms on Partition, which for years have focused on the impact of Partition on ordin- ary people rather than engaging directly with its violence (Viswanath and Malik 2009, 65). 30 C. CLINI Moreover, Viswanath and Malik note that‘the recurrent themes in most post-Partition cinema in both India and Pakistan of ﬁlms made after 1947 are separation within a single family, or between lovers ’(64), just like Jeet and Aalia. Looking at the ﬁlm in this perspective, one can see why Chadha calls it ‘British Asian’ . But by describing Viceroy’s House as her own ‘British Asian’ take on Partition, Chadha also raises the issue of the relationship between the diaspora and the British empire. In doing so, she calls into question ideas of community and nation, which, at a time of resur- gent imperial nostalgia, 3are central to current debates on national identity in Britain. In her notable work on cinema and Partition, Ira Bhaskar observed how ‘cinema not only refracts history through the prism of representation, it also forms a collective memory of momentous events and mobilises memoryfor animagining of thecommunity –both national and local ’(2005 , viii). Portraying Partition does indeed o ﬀer the opportunity to mobilise memory for the imagining of the British Asian community, especially because it allows to raise questions about the empire and its legacy, and to oﬀ er a counter-narrative to uncritical representations of the empire. Yet, tackling Partition is par- ticularly arduous because ‘the corporal, material and psychic losses, the widespread sense of betrayal, the overwhelming dislocations –in short, the deep lacerations in ﬂicted on one ’s sense of self and community –bring up intense and consuming passions ’(Sarkar 2009 , 9), as seen in the debate triggered by the ﬁlm. The challenge is rendered even more di ﬃcult by the fact that, if we accept Gilroy ’s( 2004 ) and Mishra ’s( 2002 ) suggestions, neither the empire, nor Partition, have been mourned yet, hence the violence which is embedded in both is yet to be confronted, by Britain as well as by its former colonies. In an interview published upon the release of the ﬁlm Chadha re ﬂected on her take on Partition and its inherent British Asian character in these terms: By using the upstairs, downstairs formula I was able to access both sides of me as a British Asian -that ’s an important point of view that we don ’t often see on the screen. I was able to look at it from di ﬀerent points of view and for me the challenge was to humanise all the char- acters rather than villainise say, the British (Hawes and Curtis 2017). In this light it appears that a British Asian perspective would encompass both the ‘British ’ and the ‘Asian ’point of view. Viceroy’s House certainly put the spotlight on the impact of Partition on both the British rulers and the Indian subjects. It also shows how people belonging to both groups positioned themselves di ﬀerently regarding Partition, a very important reminder that, the ‘British ’and the ‘Indian ’points of view do not represent two monolithic, and necessarily juxtaposed, sets of perspectives. And yet, the ﬁlm is largely dominated by the struggle of Mountbatten, a principled ruler who only wants the best for his country. The problem is not that the viceroy should have been, in Chadha ’s words, ‘villainised ’, it is the distinction that the ﬁlm operates between the econ- omic and the cultural aspects of imperialism, the second one strongly advocated by Mountbatten who is portrayed as unaware of the fact that the ‘civilising ’mission was a mere excuse for exploitation, looting, slavery and violence. This way, the ﬁlm feeds into the very English ‘fantasy that the British Empire represented something ‘noble ’or ‘ great ’about Britain; that it was, in spite of all its ﬂaws and meanness and bigotries, fun- damentally glamorous ’(Rushdie  1992 , 101). There is no doubt that Viceroy’s House holds the British empire accountable for Par- tition. Following Sarkar, what is narrated in the ﬁlm is: SOUTH ASIAN DIASPORA 31 An instance of‘colonial ’partition, when a departing colonial power seizes the opportunity a ﬀ orded by competing indigenous nationalisms to produce political and social chaos, to suggest –as a way of legitimizing its own colonial project, now largely denuded –that the colonized are not capable of self-rule ( 2009, 16). But notwithstanding the several remarks that challenge the imperial narrative on coloni- alism, especially in the‘downstairs ’area of the house, the ﬁlm does not follow up on any of the cracks and ﬁssures that emerge, and which have the potential to subvert the colonial discourse. Therefore, even though the ﬁlm clearly holds the British responsible for Par- tition, it does not explore for example the roots of communal animosity, which, as Nehru remarks, are grounded in colonial policies. By putting the spotlight on both the upstairs and downstairs parts of the house, Gur- inder Chadha said she was able to look at Partition from di ﬀerent points of view and to ‘ humanise ’all characters. This is perhaps the key to understand her British Asian point of view: as mentioned in the introduction, the aim of the ﬁlm is to provide a ‘fair ’represen- tation of all actors involved and ‘to o ﬀer a message of reconciliation ’(Viceroy ’s House Press Kit 2017). By emphasising the personal struggles of the actors involved, the ﬁlm places all parties involved on a (forced l) equal level that displaces the political dimension of Partition to highlight how everybody was in fact a ﬀected by it. And yet, by so doing the ﬁ lm unwittingly reproduces an image of colonial India according to which the colonisers were not so bad after all. This way the ﬁlm, to borrow Ponzanesi ’s words, ‘while addressing the undercurrent of inequalities’ , does not engage with them, leaving them ‘unchallenged and untransformed ’(2012 , 177). Viceroy ’s House might speak to everyone, but not every- one was aﬀ ected in the same way. Conclusions In her work on postcolonial cinema adaptations ( 2012), Ponzanesi de ﬁnes Gurinder Chadha ‘a South Asian diasporic ﬁlmmaker who proudly appropriates the many legacies her postcolonial condition o ﬀers her ’(176). Indeed, her features ﬁlms, from Bhaji on the Beach (1993 ), toBend it Like Beckham (2002 ) and It’s a Wonderful Afterlife (2010 )oﬀer a complex portrait of diasporic life in Britain, one which, through humour, contributes to ‘ destabilize essentialist notions of identity, including those identities associated with domi- nant and cultural nationalism ’(Desai 2004, 65). Upon its release, Viceroy’s House triggered a heated public debate on British Asian identity. Ahmed ’s reply to Bhutto ’s criticism of the ﬁlm in particular emphasised the complex layers that make up the ‘British Asian ’label –for example multiple loyalties and shared memories and experiences with di ﬀerent groups, both in the subcontinent and Britain. At the same time, she also raised the issue of the expectations laid on post- colonial ﬁlmmakers as producers of a kind of cinema that turns its gaze back upon ‘imper- ial ways of knowing ’(Ponzanesi and Waller 2012,9)–hence her remark that Chadha ‘was going to make it [the ﬁlm] her own way ’(Ahmed 2017). Yet, even if we accept Ahmed ’s argument, and Chadha ’s stated aim to send a message of reconciliation, it is impossible to discard the fact that the ﬁlm is dominated by Mountbat- ten and his paternalistic approach to colonial India. This way the ﬁlm ends up replicating the same sort of fantasy of the empire that, according to Higson, permeates certain heri- tage ﬁlms such as A Passage to India ,orJewel in the Crown (2006 , 104). Just like these 32 C. CLINI ﬁlms, Viceroy’ s House conveys a feeling of nostalgia for the past that is ‘both a narrative of loss, charting an imaginary historical trajectory from stability to instability –in this case Partition –and at the same time a narrative of recovery, projecting the subject back into a comfortably closed past ’(Higson 2006, 104). This is in stark contrast with Shashi Thar- oor ’s recent description of colonialism in India, one characterised by ‘practices of loot, expropriation, and outright theft, enforced by the ruthless wielding of brute power, con- ducted in a spirit of deep racism and amoral cynicism, and justi ﬁed by a staggering level of hypocrisy and cant ’(2017 ). Viceroy’ s House has the merit of bringing to the forefront an important part of history that runs the risk of being forgotten, 4and yet, its preoccupation to provide a humanised portrayals of all character hinders the ﬁlm ’s potential to subvert the ideology that underpins heritage cinema. Chadha explicitly said that she did not want to make a ‘purely political ﬁlm ’(Viceroy ’s House Press Kit 2017), but a ﬁlm on Partition (one of the few around) has the political responsibility not to nurture romanticised versions of the empire, especially at a moment in which postcolonial nos- talgia is so strong that, according to data collected in 2014, 49% of the British people still believe that former colonies are better o ﬀ‘for having been part of the empire ’ (Dahlgreen 2014). Notes 1. Most notably Channel 4 ’s Indian Summers (2015 –2016), Stephen Frears ’s Victoria and Abdul (2017 ), but also ﬁlms suchThe Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (John Madden2011) and its 2016 The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (John Madden2015). In popular music, see Rashmee Kumar ’s criticism of Coldplay for reproducing colonial fantasies on the video clip they made for the song Hymn for the Weekend(2016 ). Kavi Raz ’s The Black Prince (2017 ), on the story of the maharajah Duleep Singh, was also released in 2017. While less successful than the aforementioned ﬁlms, it is notable for providing a counter-narrative to this wave of colonial nostalgia. 2. The idealised image of the multi-religious village complies with Nandy ’s observation that, after Partition, ‘resorting to an idyllic past was a way to relocate people ’s journey through violence in a universe of memory that is less hate- ﬁlled, less buttered by rage and dreams of revenge ’(1999 , 323). 3. A 2014 poll conducted by YouGov revealed that 59% of the British public were still proud of the British Empire, with only 19% claiming to feel ashamed of it. Moreover, the same poll revealed that a third of the British population would have liked Britain to still have an Empire (34%), while only under half of it declaring to not wanting it (Dahlgreen 2014). 4. In Britain in particular, where it is not part of the British national curriculum (Elahi 2017). Acknowledgements An early draft of this article was presented at the Challenging Perspectives on Indian Diaspora Con- ference held during 5 –7 October 2017 in the city of The Hague, The Netherlands. The author wishes to thank participants for their precious feedback. Disclosure statement No potential con ﬂict of interest was reported by the author(s). SOUTH ASIAN DIASPORA 33 Notes on contributor Clelia Cliniis a Research Associate at Loughborough University London, where she works on the project Migrant Memory and the Postcolonial Imagination. Her research interests lie at the inter- section of migration and diaspora studies, South Asian postcolonial cinema and literature, race and gender studies and cultural sociology. Before joining the MMPI project she was a Research Associ- ate at UCL, where she worked on a project on forced displacement, creativity and wellbeing. Clelia has taught Media, Cultural and Postcolonial Studies at John Cabot University and at The American University of Rome. She has also been a visiting lecturer at the University of Venice Ca ’Foscari, the University of Roma Tre and at Vilnius University. She received her PhD in Cultural and Postcolo- nial Studies from the University Orientale of Napoli (2011). 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Directed by Stephen Frears. 36 C. CLINI