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Film Flow And Globalisation Essay, Research Paper

In this paper, DR. ARUP RATAN GHOSH puts cinema into the orbit of Globalisation. The context and texts of ?identity?, MTV, beauty contest, cocacolaisation, localism, regionalism and nationalism, Amartya Sen?s notion on globalisation, block-buster films and cinema in general come with a serious approach to state the global matter of fact of the moving images.

Be it the playfulness of zapping the satellite television or surfing the Internet or jiving with the music of foreign tune the experience of Globalisation rotates. Seeing Titanic all over the world has recently become a global phenomenon after its cultural -economic moving predecessors like Jurassic Park, E.T. etc. This world seems to us as a village. Like a village community sometimes we share the same thing all over the world. For example drinking Coca-Cola. People drink Coca-Cola whether they are in Chile, Ghana, India or in the U.S.A. Staying far away from each other people share the same thing as if they live in a small village. It is the Global Village. So millions of people see Titanic at the same time residing at different corners of the world. So do we browse the websites and take printouts from the far. Effacing the distance we chat. Even we place order for material goods from the virtual shops. To the modern generation national boundaries are becoming relicts. Now the ubiquity of Globalisation is strongly felt with the skulduggery of the electronic media or with the marvels of technological advancement.

In this discourse of Globalisation and Cinema we put some categories.

Film culture specially Indian Film Culture is international recognition including awards and applauds and screenings in the foreign festivals or transmission through Channel four or the other TVs and also the reflections of foreign critics on Indian cinema are embedded in the pulsating global compass of the film makers, film journalists, and almost everyone associated with film. Consider the sequels of Indian Art films down from Satyajit Ray to our contemporaries. Even today a De Sica award to Goutam Ghose gives a global dimension to serious Indian film making. Or when seeing Buddhadeb Dasgupta?s Charachar some German spectators sprang upto their feet reading the film as a momentum to their Green movement. But Dasgupta has reflected 1 that he doesn?t think the film as a camcorder of ecological movement. Though Internationalism and Globalisation are different but for the Indian cinema sometimes they coalesce to some extent sometimes quasi or half globally. Considering the popular entertainment film in the same context we should not forget the zeal of the Russians over Raj Kapoor and his Hindi movies or the present feast of eyes with the Hindi movies through the satellite channels or in the auditoria in the Middle East. The Indian subcontinental countries are also to be included in this rhapsodic periphery.

Cinema from its birth is global. After the grand success of Lumi?re brothers? screenings in France they travelled in many countries to receive honour and felicitation. As a consequence cinema became a global phenomenon effacing the boundaries of nations. Indian celluloid chapter started with the successful endeavours of Dada Saheb Phalke. The essence of folk entertainment had been cinematographed and exhibited regularly. Keeping this in the mainstream Indian cinema continued at least upto the forties. Absorbing the form and techniques of cinema ceaselessly Indian cinema has been in the process of Globalisation but was not in the currency of market economy or culture. We may sum up that Indian cinema records crossover global cultures in different times.

As the billion dollar big budget blockbuster films from Hollywood draining up money from all over the world spreading American culture in a way in the name of Globalisation. Some producers try to reach Indian films in the middle East or South Asian countries to fetch more money and subsequently flashing contemporary Indian culture in perverse versions. Both the Bollywood (India) and Hollywood producers, can be said, are following in their own way almost like Ohmae?s prescriptions ?The customers you care about are the people who love your products everywhere in the world. Your mission is to provide them with exceptional value. When you think of people who share that mission. Country of origin does not matter. Location of headquarters does not matter. The products for which you are responsible and the company you serve has been denationalized. [...]

You really have to believe, deep down, that people may work ?in? different national environments but are not of them. What they are ?of? is the global corporation.? 2

To them the whole world is a market. In this market-economy controlled world Globalisation is in amoebic ramification. Cinema has become its easy and saucy prey. A large number of Indian films have been succumbed to it. Obviously there are many Indian films made for local or regional or for some niche audience which are not moving under the bulldozer of Globalisation.

It is an age when our life is always interpelleted? with images. The burgeoning electronic impulses from television, VCRs, VCDs, computers, virtual reality projections bemused our daily realities. To the Americans Disneyland is hyper-real. But to many who live in the rest of world America appears as if it is constituted of the hyper-real. ?Its an MTV world? says Marc Levinson writing the phrase as a title of an article on MTV. To many MTV appears? as the deliberately obnoxious voice of the next generation, the channel that features heavy metal and the juvenile dialogue of those animated anti-heroes, Beavis and Butt – head. But MTV rocks around the clockk all over the world with a bit of different presentations according to the regional tastes and needs (artificial?). ?MTV combines a global presence and a single global brand with a product designed for separate regional markets. “The container?s the same”, says chair Tom Ereston? “The contents are different”. 3 In Globalisation we find regional or national. MTV is an example of that type. Most of MTV programmes are in English. But ?MTV Europe draws its staff from a generation of worldly youths for whom English is a second language and national borders are outdated relics. 4

This kind of Global marketing of entertainment in the process of Globalisation can be seen in the successful distribution of blockbuster films dubbed in Hindi like Jurassic Park, Speed, Titanic even the children?s film Aladdin.

Globalisation in the media, performing arts and film presents a sort of cross cultural presentation. Peter Brook?s Mahabharata is a fine example of that. Where Yudisthira is acted by a Russian, Bhima is a black and Draupadi is an Indian – Ms. Mallika Sarabhai. With such an international cast Peter Brook represents Mahabharata as a global phenomenon or modern re- presentation of a glorious mythical global event. Mythical and theatrical values and practices are amalgamated in this drama. The concept of Greek nemesis and application of environmental theatre techniques with the very Indian values of Mahabharata are mixed in tune with Universalism. Which is in a way in the terminology of cultural production Globalisation. Peter Brook?s Mahabharata is basically a theatre but its widely distributed video-cassette is quite popular to sense spectators it as a film.

A lot of examples can be given in this way. Contemporary Indian examples are Richard Attenborough?s Gandhi, Shyam Benegal?s The Making of Mahatma etc. In this process of globalization we get blended cross-cultural elements. As it is true in the context of MTV. ?Its no only brings culture to your country: it also takes music and culture from your country and exposes it to others.? 5 Its suitable example is MTV India/ Asia. In Hindi with Indian Jockeys with Hindi lyrics and the mobile amalgamation of glancing Indian visuals it does so beaming its telecast from the Indian subcontinent to middle east.

Globalisation with one of its form gets root in Indian soil through the introduction of Ex-finance minister Manmohan Singh?s free economy for boosting Indian economy. With his call for Indian people to bear the hardship we see in astonishment various foreign cars or cars made in collaboration with foreign technology come through the media to the streets. The designer dress materials following the flux of fashion and modelling have made Indian ethnicity global and cross-cultural. From the everyday life or from our popular culture we can cite many examples of global culture or at the least the deep impact of globalisation in our country as well as in other countries too. To take a very serious note on Globalisation we should rethink the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen?s personal comment on the subject in his first press conference on 15th October 1998 in New York that ?I am not against Globalisation but the weaker countries suffer for it?.6 His utterance comes out of a great depth of realisation and feelings, which even touches the context of the film and globalisation in its own way. When the repentance comes from Bollywood that what can be done if the billion dollar blockbuster films from the 20th Century Fox or Warner Brothers or Dreamworks release world-wide and drain out money and arrest attention of the Indian mass movie-goers. How Bollywood be able to compete with them?

To make the movies entertaining, interesting and attractive Bollywood film producers and makers think a lot. A certain style of filmmaking fit in with our subject. It is better to cite the example proper. In the film Genes, we find different shooting spots throughout the world covering the Seven Wonders of the World from the Taj Mahal to the Pyramids of Egypt. In a song picturisation, they move the spectators around the world sensually in tune with globalisation.

In the context of the impact of globalisation and cinema in the everyday life of a third world country, we can go through the quotation given below. This apparently funny story has penetrating suggestion towards market economy, late Capitalism, and Globalisation. To discuss ?deductivism? N?stor Garcia Canclini narrates ?We find these concerns in various theatrical works disseminated in Brazil at the outset of the 1970s by the Popular Culture Centres. One of these, Jose de Silva and the Guardian Angel portrayed an average day in the life of a Brazilian in order to reveal the minute effects of imperialism in everyday life. From the moment he wakes up and switches on the light Jose pays his dues to foreign companies (Light and Power). And so it goes on when he cleans his teeth (Colgate-Palmolive), drinks coffee (American Coffee Company), when he goes to work whether in a Mercedes Benz bus or walking on his Goodyear soles, or when he goes to the cinema to see a western (Hollywood produces more than half the films shown in Brazil). Even inside the cinema, when he simply breathes the air, this is conditioned by Wasting house. Made desperate by so many royalty payments, he decides to kill himself. But then the Guardina Angel appears, with an English accent, in order to collect Smith and Wersson?s royalties from Jose (Boal, 1982:23)

This conceptual approach, in which all aspects of popular life derive from macro-social powers, has characterised the majority of sociological communications and educational studies during the past two decades. 7

Don?t we do the same thing when we go to see Titanic in Globe (Calcutta) and many other foreign films in this way in the name of Globalisation.

The nature of Globalisation today

Globalisation is not an amalgamated process or presentation in which everything ethnic, communal, local, regional or national feature, element or spirit mingles with each other. In the recent time, we find Muslim fundamentalism effects prominently in the orbit of globalisation. The burning example is the bout over Salman Rushdie. It was suddenly suspended after ten years and hovered over him again. Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasrin is also a victim of Muslim fundamentalism. Another reaction to protest against cultural globalisation Muslim fundamentalists block the satellite beams telecasting MTV and other European or American TV channels. ?The attempt by some Islamic countries to ban satellite television have seemed to symbolise resistance to global information and communication flows (those for which Steven Rose was such a powerful advocate) 8. Erasing the traditional culture is not to be erased and we observe in globalisation an interplay of the local, regional, national and international elements. In our discussion and in the examples given above the matter is clearly seen in the political economy of beauty from Miss Belize to Miss World? exemplifies this beautifully.

“Pageants also make ethnicity safe by subordinating cultural identity to gender and sexuality. The contestants first appear clothed in ethnic garb, as representatives of their ?people?. But in the next step the contestants appear in bathing suits, as bodies stripped of their external cultural costume. Since skin color and features are so heterogeneous among Belizeans, in bathing suits ethnicity is gone; the woman remains. Gender transcends the ethnic, but what transcends gender? The final transformation of the image of woman in the pageant occurs when symbolically naked essentialized sexual objects are reclothed, but this time as creatures of modernity and fashion. The evening-gown competition brings the contestants back on stage transformed into cosmopolitans, wearing the latest expensive imported dresses, showing their sophistication and knowledge of the world outside Belize.

The flow of imagery in the pageant makes representational order by linking together different feminine images. We start with woman submerged in the localized, ethnic and ?primordial? community, strip away that identity to reveal woman-as-body as something supposedly more basic and essential, and end with woman transformed by modernity into a transcending figure ready to move outwards to the global stage. (There is a clear structural parallel to the classic stages of a rite of passage).” 9

To look at the world of film and globalisation in a certain way, we get the beauty pageant like behaviour and its reception to some extent. I mean, as Rashoman by Kurosawa with its strong Japanised flavour, essence and culture becomes a global phenomenon in the modern world of film culture. The Seven Samurai and many other films of Kurosawa with strong vigour of Japanism out of the local, regional and national culture of Japan went global. On the contrary, with the European theme, subject, and drama of Macbeth, Kurosawa?s The Thrown of Blood becomes Japanised or Oriental. It is again a part of the process of globalisation. Richard Schechner, a performing arts expert and a theatre personality enacts his theatre in this way to shape his theatre up as a cross cultural environmental theatre. In an interview with me 10 he comments that he does so to find out the root of human civilisation. A few years back he produced Mother Courage (a play by Bertolt Brecht) in the form of a Peaking Opera in Sanghai. From his production any stamp of Westernisation is hardly evident. In the interview, he revealed later that from all over the world he took elements for his theatre. As African rhythm, Raga and Rasa concepts from Indian Natyashastra, from various drama and dance forms of China, Korea and from the performances of South East Asia he took elements to shape up his theatre or Performative circumstances. Globalisation follows this sort of blend of cross-culture and intercultural aspects in the formative perspectives of cultural globalisation at present, Akbar Ahmed, observes a consequence ?both communication flows and human flows: The mixing of images, interlocking of cultures, juxtaposition of different peoples, availability of information are partly explained because populations are mobile as never before. The mobility continues inspite of increasingly rigid immigration control. Filipino maids in Dubai, Pakistani workers in Bradford, the Japanese buying Hollywood studios, Hong Kong Chinese entrepreneurs acquiring prime property in Vancouver testify to this the swirling and eddying of humanity mingles ideas, cultures and values as never before in history. (Ahmed, 1992, p. 26)

Cultures are transformed by the incorporations they make from other cultures in the world. Salman Rushdie (1991, p.394) has famously written of ?the transformation that comes of new and unexpected combinations of human beings, cultures, ideas, politics, movies, songs: ?M?lange, hotchpotch,? he declares, ?a bit of this and a bit of that is how newness enters the world?. This process of hybridization is particularly apparent now in developments within popular culture. The sociologist Les Back (1994, p. 14) describes the bhangramuffin music of the singer/ songwriter Apache Indian as ?a meeting place where the languages and rhythms of the Caribbean, North America and India mingle producing a new and vibrant culture?. ?Artists like Apache Indian are expressing and defining cultural modes that are simultaneously local and global.? Back observes. ?The music manifests itself in a connective supplementarity ? raga plus bangra plus England plus India plus Kingston plus Birmingham?. (ibid., p. 15)

To conclude the context of film and globalisation I would like to back again on the context of film – especially on Indian films, which are accepted globally or help shape the global cinematographic culture. As Kurosawa becomes famous internationally making his films global phenomenon similarly we should place Satyajit Ray with his films bearing the expressive images of the local, regional and national India including microscopic details of the culture of West Bengal villages and towns, into the progressive flux of Globalisation and cinema.

Notes and References

1.In an interview with the author of this paper, Buddhadeb Dasgupta reflected that

2.Ohmae, 1990, pp. 94, 96 as quoted in The Production of Culture: Cultures of Production (Ed.) Paul de Gay, Sage Publications, London, 1997, p. 49.

3.Marc Levinson, Its an MTV world, ibid, p-56

4.ibid, p. 57

5.ibid, p. 57

6.The Telegraph, Calcutta, 15 October 1998

7.Paddy Scannell, Philip Schlesinger and Colin Sparks N?stor Garcia Canclini (eds.) Culture and Power: the state of research: Culture and Power ? a Media, Culture and Society reader, Sage Publications, London, 1992.

8.Gay (1990)

9.Mark Levinson in Gay (1990) pp. 63-64

10.In an interview with Richard Schchner with the author of this paper

Pattern is the soil of significance;

and it is surely one of the hazards

of emigration, and exile, and

extreme mobility, that one is

uprooted from that soil.

(Hoffman 1989: 278)

In December 1993, the Italian Centro Scalabrini, in South London, celebrated its 25th anniversary. The Centro Scalabrini, and Italian religious-cum-social club, is part of the Scalabrini congregation, an Italian missionary order founded in 1887 to minister mainly to Italian emigrants and their descendants around the world. Aside from the administration offices, the building houses the Italian Women’s Club, a club for retirees, a youth club, and the Church of the Redeemer (Chiesa del Redentore). The Scalabrinian fathers in London also edit the most widely read Italian newspaper in Britain: La Voce degli Italiani (LV hereafter).

The Centro’s anniversary was marked by a series of events spread out over a seven-day period. During this momentous week, the Centro re-assessed its role and re-asserted its ecumenical character. That year, the Chiesa del Redentore was also consecrated, and was completely renovated in view of the festivities in December. The inauguration of the new church coincided with an attempt to re-orient the meaning of the organisation as a whole, in order to adapt it to new social parameters that the ?fathers of emigrants? now have to contend with. This signalled a shift away from the idea of ?ethnic church? toward the ??migr? church?, in an attempt to solve the anxieties about the future of the Italian Catholic faith in London. As Padre Giandomenico Ziliotto stated on the final night of the celebrations, ?the future of the centro depends on its creative capacity to construct a community.?

In this particular context, the manufacturing of this new identity relates to the shaping of physical spaces into mirrors of who ?we? are. In light of the ongoing redefinition of the centre’s purpose, I shall explore the ways in which the Centro and, more specifically, the Church, embody the project of identity. What interests me here is how, in the process of turning physical buildings and spaces into cultural objects, ideas of collective identity are crystallised in particular images and narratives.

A former resident-priest of the Centro once dubbed it a ?habitual space?. But in order for a place to be recognised as a ?habitual space?, some kind of ?architecture of reassurance? (2) is required. That is that the material organisation of space is such that it will interpellate its users and call upon them to ?feel at home? in the setting. This, at least, was the objective of the Scalabrinian priests when they had their church renovated in view of the 25th anniversary. In the words of the architect in charge of the renovations, the church’s interiors were restored in the Italian classical style ?to bind a Church loved by many of our community, to our history, to our cultural tradition? (Centro Scalabrini di Londra 1993: 9; my emphasis). For the church leaders, this represents ?the best of our culture, that the community, and particularly the younger generations, could proudly identify with in front of the English. It is an accomplishment worthy of the fantasy, enterprise and generosity of the Italians who live in South London? (Centro Scalabrini di Londra 1993: 9; my emphasis). The church is a space where these leaders express and hope to transmit the purpose and pleasure of their selves as Italians in London. It is objectified as a distinct marker and expression of the Italian presence in South London, standing at the junction of identity/difference, at once locating and projecting Italians in relation to English culture and in relation to themselves. England emerges as the ?significant other? which is located outside, yet which surrounds, thus includes, the church and Centro. Consistently represented as a hostile environment ? ?the great cold of the anonymous city? ? where Catholics are but a ?small minority? who must proudly display their cultural heritage ?in front of the English?, Britain is also coveted as the necessary, indeed unavoidable site of integration. There is a narrow clearing for the establishment of a ?habitual space?, or comfort zone, where the projected identity can be at once different and integrated. For the Scalabrinians, the challenge is to provide such a space that draws individuals outside of the privacy of family life and fosters a communal sense of belonging in Britain. The inauguration of the new church, in December 1993, provided the opportunity to lay down the new grounds of Italian ?migr? belonging in present-day Britain: an idealised form of belonging born out of, and liberated from, migration.

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