Academic journal article International Journal on Humanistic Ideology

Local-to-Local Dynamics of Regional Popular Culture (Re)Imagination of South Asia

Academic journal article International Journal on Humanistic Ideology

Local-to-Local Dynamics of Regional Popular Culture (Re)Imagination of South Asia

Article excerpt

In schools in India it is common to see children debating on the theme of globalization. On one such occasion, I noticed an interesting argument. With youthful passion and verve, a young debater argued, "the contemporary sense of globalization, largely economic in implications, is a consequence of new world order and international trade negotiations; but culturally, globalization has an antiquity. Hence, in India, the thousand years old text of Vedas offer the couplet2 which means that the parochial minds are confined to self-benefitting calculations, while the generous have the whole earth as a family". While the schoolboy rests his case, the author of this paper deals with an intellectual unrest due to the gloss on the dynamic local, which dominates our theoretical reasoning on globalization in social science. The proposition of the schoolboy paves the way forward to understand as to how, despite the age of Vedas long over, the global is extremely homegrown reality in South Asia. This homegrown reality, of global, springs from the dynamic nature of the local arguably steered by cultural forms in circulation. And the cultural forms of the ordinary people, in the region of South Asia, includes popular culture of Cinema and thereof music.

This paper examines the phenomenal circulation of the content of Hindi cinema in the region and fathoms the validity of 'dynamic local' as an alternative to the overarching category of globalization. Within cinema, the case of Bollywood and popular Hindi cinema songs is taken as an anchorage to traverse the region and sneak into diverse locations and thereof popular cinema and music. Thus, this paper is an attempt to understand the local-to-local dynamics, which is somewhat ignored category in the wake of the vacillation between local and global. Thereby, the paper also troubles the fad of linear taxonomical reasoning, which dubs art as either local or global, either folk or classical or popular, either for class or for mass, cosmopolitan or regional/nationalistic, et cetera. In the same way, cinema too has been judged through either Indian cinema/regional cinema, or global Bollywood. By transcending this limitation, this paper also implies an alternative way of imagining South Asia beyond the dominant mediated imagination of the region as afflicted by political violence, discrimination and deprivation, state sponsored inequality and injustice. While these thematic concerns are equally valid, this is imperative to think of the everyday cultural lives of people in the region, which encapsulates moments of celebration as much as moments of lamentable loss.

Introduction: Dissecting South Asia

It seems we are too literally an imagined community3 governed by a strong mediascape and a conditional ideoscape4 and hence our sense of cinema, music, art and aesthetics, is ruled by the popular ideas about the region. The local, thereby, is configured in the matrix of global as 'relational and contextual', but mediated by global-deterritorialized mass media (Appadurai, 1997). While there is no denial of the deterritorialization thesis, there is a problem in this formulation pertaining to the fact that it persists with the idea of imagination through modular modernity of Benedict Anderson (1983). The flip side of this reasoning is quite vociferous too. By the way of reflecting upon the idea of South Asia, in terms of international relations and diplomacy, there has been a tendency to perceive only the features of modern nation states. Even if this stance appeals for a re-envisioning of South Asia, and it does so with reference to conflict torn countries of the region, it demands to seek beyond 'monological imagination'; ironically enough, it perpetuates the peculiar picture of South Asia as a conglomerate of upset nation-states (Krishna, 1999). In a pithy critique of the dominant way of imagining and discussing South Asia, Nandy calls it 'acultural, emotionally empty, territorial concept' (2005, p. …

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