Monday, October 01, 2007

A relevant Indian movie at the NY film festival

While the fact that two movies (The Darjeeling Limited and Outsourced) largely focus their attention on the Indian sub-continent might be flattering for a lot of Indians (currently playing in NY at the 45th New York film festival), most of the attention, headlines and ad dollars have been working in favor of the film by the famed wunderkind Wes Anderson who made 'The Darjeeling Limited'.

I might aver to say that the second of the two movies (Outsourced) might be more worth watching if you are into globalism, its effects and implications for the society at large.

Of course, if you are into quirky, enigmatic stuff (Trainspotting, The Big Lebowski, The Life Aquatic with… etc.) that you could lounge with in the company of friends with copious quantities of wine and the occasional experimental smoke - then the Darjeeling Limited might not be such a bore.

Some quick snippets about the movies:

The Darjeeling Limited
This shaggy-dog road trip, in which three semi-estranged brothers travel by rail across India, is unstintingly fussy, vain and self-regarding. The fraternal trio in “The Darjeeling Limited” — Francis, Jack and Peter Whitman — express, and perhaps construct, their personalities largely through their attachment to things. Francis has an expensive leather belt, which he tentatively offers as a gift to Peter, who cherishes a pair of sunglasses that once belonged to their father. The third brother, Jack, is a bit less of a commodity fetishist, though he does have a thing for the savory snacks served on Indian trains (and for the women who serve them).

At first it threatens to be just another fish-out-of-water story. Todd (the protagonist), being American, has no sense of himself as an American. He has an allergic reaction to Indian culture (embodied by the intestinal distress he suffers after eating local food). He is also taken aback by Indians’ emphasis on family ties and social obligations, and they in turn are politely aghast at Todd’s disconnection from his own relatives.

The film shows that individuals in every nation are nearly powerless before the global economy, a force that shatters tradition and compels people to think of themselves as self-interested free agents. This pragmatic point of view is articulated by Asha, who rhetorically asks Todd why it’s necessary for Indian call-center workers to pose as Americans while selling cheap junk made in China.

The last paragraph is just a classic. Both of the reviews are from the Times.

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