quinta-feira, 22 de março de 2012

Bombay Talkies in 'Midnight’s children'

“Nobody from Bombay should be without a basic film vocabulary.” With this sentence, the narrator of “Midnight’s children”, Saleem Sinai, ask for an excuse to use jargon of the cinema within his work. He will describe the massacre which takes place in Amritsar with his grandfather as a witness. It is not the only moment Rushdie, through his narrator, describes a scene with a script language. As the quote above suggests, living in former Bombay – now Mumbai – the citizen is metaphorically influenced by the city’s huge film industry. It cannot be a coincidence that both Rushdie and Saleem were born in Bombay.

“Midnight’s Children” uses cinema jargon, quotations of movies and stars, shows the Lifafa Das’ peep show – a kind of proto-cinema –, connections with the film industry [Saleem’s uncle is a filmmaker, his aunt, an actress], the memory that the main character was a member of the Metro Cub Club, which has the same initials as the “Midnight’s Children Conference” [perhaps the main plot of the book], the metaphor of the big screen – when Saleem sees his mother with her ex-husband – and, at last, the language used by filmmakers. But, besides all of these, Rushdie also includes in his work some very common themes to a Bombay talkie, or, how the western call them, the Bollywood movies – as a parody of Hollywood –, mainly in the Book 2. Bombay talkies was the first movie company in India, founded in 1934 and extinct in 1954. However the expression can be interpreted as the movie industry itself – as the word “Bollywood” is never written.

The author makes an allegory of the melodramatic plots so usual to the most known movies of this industry. He uses some signs that could be identified with this production, such as undefined parenthood, children rejection, infidelity, incest, babies changed in the maternity, but under a different angle. He takes the smoothness of these productions out of his writing.

In Bollywood movies, one of the melodramatic components is chosen to be the path to an invariably happy end. Instead of creating a story of great suffer and a final redemption, Rushdie employs these elements only to construct parts – even important parts, but only parts – of his novel. Moreover, the conclusion of his work is not cathartic, but a resolution of the issues, not simple and not tranquil. Rushdie accumulates these features in the same character to create an intricate and multiple personality. This way, even with a exaggerate tone in all the narrative he gives his conflicts more credibility.

Saleem, himself, complains when his live gathers a succession of tragedies, of how this bad luck could not be possible outside films – and only in the more exaggerate ones. In the beginning of the Book 2, he assumes that “melodrama piling upon melodrama; life acquiring the colouring of a Bombay talkie” [106].

The expression is written a second time to describe the environment where he will live after being expelling of his parents’ house: “My mumani – my aunty – the divine Pia Aziz: to live with her was to exist in the hot sticky of a Bombay talkie” [175]. The phrase can be understood in two ways: 1/ how his aunt, which is an actress, behaves like she was acting all the time; or 2/ how Saleem feels at home, inside of warm family, as he was used to watch in the cinema.

When a columnist wants to describe the Commander Sabarmati, who had just killed his wife and her lover, the journalist writes: “In the Sabarmati Case, the noble sentiments of the Ramayana combine with the cheap melodrama of the Bombay talkie” [191]. We can read that the opinion about the quality and themes of the Bollywood is not a strong one among the media components. It is not necessary Saleem’s view, but the narrator does not contradict it.

In the beginning of Book 3, when Saleem is amnesiac, the narrator uses the quote again to say that he was employing one more time a usual Bollywood plot, very improbable outside the screens: “I accept that my life has taken on, yet again, the tone of a Bombay talkie”.

Some pages further, another quote admits that real life – or at least his life, which he assumes it is real – does not follow the rules of the Bollywood productions, in which the main characters is supposed to overcome – or to forget - everything that has happened throughout the movie when the end arrives: “Love does not conquer all, except in the Bombay talkies”.

For Saleem, life cannot have a sweet end, because it would not be coherent with the rest of the narrative. As we learned during the read of the book, he tries to avoid in the course of “Midnight’s Children” what he calls as “the epidemic of optimism”. At the end, we see a narrator more mature and resigned to his own destiny of not to be the protagonist of the India history, but to act only one “peripheral role” in his own story.

2 comentários:

Rodrigo Elias disse...

Cara, não sei por que cargas d'água (talvez falta de conexão com o mundo, além do fato de não ter lido a obra), mas o tom da coisa me lembrou "Cocaine Blues" do J. Cash.

Ronaldo Pelli disse...

vamos escutar, então. :-)