Saturday, April 28, 2007

we move but our words stand become responsible for more than we intended and this is verbal privilege

says Adrienne Rich.


The Namesake,
the movie is better than the book. When I found out that they were making a movie of the book, I wasn't very keen. How would it translate, I thought? For a start, there wasn't much dialogue and most of the book was introspective reflections of the characters, particularly Gogol. But the movie reflects scriptwriting at its best- I loved how the character quirks have been fleshed, especially Ashima and Ashok. And Calcutta was another character as well.

I remember feeling the angst of Calcutta many years ago in Anita Desai's Voices of the City. There it was a city of desperation and pain. Now, in The Namesake, it is a Calcutta of coming and going, heaving and lurching, absence and longing. It's been a long time since I left a cinema hall feeling moved.


I have been holed in at home a lot these days, working furiously. Inevitably have fallen into the routine of watching old TV re-runs at lunch time including Ally McBeal and Sex and the City. What strikes me is how male centred these shows are. Sure, the main characters are women and their friends and lives. These women are successful, beautiful and talented. And yet, their lives revolve only around men, the ones that they like, the ones that they think are cute, the ones that got away and broke their hearts. If these shows were such hits, do they reflect how women are wired? That life must revolve only around men?

I think one of the most progressive series on TV ever has been the Golden Girls. Bunch of girls living a full life with or without their men.

Time to reach out for Marilyn French, who talks about chic-lit type of books but the context is the same:

'Male character is less important than male centrality. In a male centred novel, the heroine clearly needs a man; whatever her fate, the male reader does not feel threatened since he knows she could be happy if only she had the love of a good man-one very like himself'

Introduction to the Woman's Room
Marilyn French

I think of my young cousins who read/watch this stuff and the kind of impact such shows and chic lit can have on them and shudder. I am not anti-man. I live with one and they are generally quite fulfilling (emotionally and physically) but the premise shoved to women of all ages in such literature and media is that without a man, life is somehow hollow and meaningless.

Time to burn all that chic lit? Too radical?


Me said...

about The Namesake - I thought the movie was lovely and I had more emphathy for the protaganist in the movie than in the book.
I could not relate or feel much of anything for Gogol in the book. Maybe it's a cultural thing since I wasn't bought up in the states? I don't know.
And gawd, I didn't think about it - but Cal was a character in the book. uhmm.

may said...

there's an overwhelming amount of chic lit out there, I don't know where to begin! I might check out Namesake if I have the time (the movie, not the book... by your recommendation!).

Kak Teh said...

I bought a few chicklits but never finished them.
Read Women's Room yonks ago when it was fashionable to be seen with Marilyn French and Germaine Greer.

Blabarella said...

Yea, chic-lit never worked for me either. Burn them, i say.

Jane Sunshine said...

ne: I am glad you thought the movie was lovely. Also, Ashok and Ashima are such real, rounded characters in the movie.

May: It's a trend I think, lad lit is also popular but has not exploded the way chic lit has. Try The Namesake if you have time.

Kak Teh: Yeah, I have a couple on my bookshelf as well!

Blabs: Well, I was just playing devils advocate because although they dont work for us, still such books must be allowed to flourish in the true sense of freedom of expression don't you think.