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A Passage to India: Images of India in U.K/U.S Feature Films from 1930-2000
Unformatted Document Text:  A Passage to India Page 18 of 29 Student Paper usually depicted as a backdrop as part of the crowd in Indian streets and as helpers in British colonial quarters in India. However, in movies such as City of Joy, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Black Narcissus, poverty forms an important part of the plot. In such movies, the Western characters (often missionaries) are portrayed as “good Samaritans” who save the poor and wretched in India. Apart from actual depictions of poverty it also shows up in dialogues expressed by characters, as seen in Foreign Body where references are made to poverty by using phrases such as “thousands sleeping in the street” and “the black hole of Calcutta”. Diet. This variable included stereotypical diet and other eating habits that are associated with India. Scenes were coded for absence or presence of stereotypical diet. Stereotypical diet included eating animals (such as snakes, thugs, beetles, monkey brains, eyes), drinking blood, drinking tea, chewing paan, eating tropical fruits (such as melons) and spices (such as turmeric). Apart from actual diet, depictions of starvation, eating with fingers, not knowing how to use fork and knife and fasting were also included in this category. For example, in The Party, the main Indian character is shown as being inept at eating with a knife and fork while also dipping his fingers into the caviar. In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the huge palatial feast includes bizarre items such as snakes, monkeys and bugs. There were no statistical differences between scenes depicted in India and those in the West in terms of traditional diet and food habits. Character Analysis Role. The lead roles in the coded movies were much more likely to be played by non-Indian characters (17.6%, N=39) as compared to Indian characters (9%, N=18), χ 2 (1, N = 421) = 6.7, p < 0.01. Indians were most likely to be portrayed as non-dialogue

Authors: Ramasubramanian, Srividya.
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background image
A Passage to India
Page 18 of 29
Student Paper
usually depicted as a backdrop as part of the crowd in Indian streets and as helpers in
British colonial quarters in India. However, in movies such as City of Joy, Indiana Jones
and the Temple of Doom, Black Narcissus, poverty forms an important part of the plot. In
such movies, the Western characters (often missionaries) are portrayed as “good
Samaritans” who save the poor and wretched in India. Apart from actual depictions of
poverty it also shows up in dialogues expressed by characters, as seen in Foreign Body
where references are made to poverty by using phrases such as “thousands sleeping in the
street” and “the black hole of Calcutta”.
Diet. This variable included stereotypical diet and other eating habits that are
associated with India. Scenes were coded for absence or presence of stereotypical diet.
Stereotypical diet included eating animals (such as snakes, thugs, beetles, monkey brains,
eyes), drinking blood, drinking tea, chewing paan, eating tropical fruits (such as melons)
and spices (such as turmeric). Apart from actual diet, depictions of starvation, eating with
fingers, not knowing how to use fork and knife and fasting were also included in this
category. For example, in The Party, the main Indian character is shown as being inept at
eating with a knife and fork while also dipping his fingers into the caviar. In Indiana
Jones and the Temple of Doom, the huge palatial feast includes bizarre items such as
snakes, monkeys and bugs. There were no statistical differences between scenes depicted
in India and those in the West in terms of traditional diet and food habits.
Character Analysis
Role. The lead roles in the coded movies were much more likely to be played by
non-Indian characters (17.6%, N=39) as compared to Indian characters (9%, N=18),
χ
2
(1, N = 421) = 6.7, p
< 0.01. Indians were most likely to be portrayed as non-dialogue


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