Representing Transnational Masculinity: Identity and Gender Roles in no budget Irish-Indian Films
Dublin Institute of Technology
(at time of presentation)
My research falls within the developing area of Transnational/Transcultural Cinema, looking at Indian cinema as a case study in the Irish context. My research looks to examine Indian cinema through its performativity and the socio-cultural mediations and encounters that ‘Bollywood' in its formation as a broader cultural - not film - industry as argued by Rajadhyaksha (2002) facilitates. The question central to this research is to probe the place and role of film as commodity within Ireland, examining if, how, and in what ways cinema functions as an agent of dialogue and a catalyst for socio-cultural and economic exchange. My research involves a study of sites/events branded around ‘Bollywood' as a commodity, including exhibition spaces, film festivals (especially the Indian Film Festival of Ireland), production ventures, and key social actors involved with these.
I completed my BA in Film Studies at the University of Wolverhampton in England, where I developed an interest in Hindi film.
I have also directed and produced several short films set in Dublin. In 2009 I was awarded an MPhil in Film Theory and History by Trinity College Dublin.
Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice Research Profile:
Slides of 'Representing Transnational Masculinity' (powerpoint)
Links to Films (doc)
This paper examines the short films produced by a group of self-taught filmmakers belonging to the Keralite community in Dublin. The South-Indian state of Kerala has a longstanding tradition of producing independent films and of using cinema to address social issues. These practices are now replicated in an Irish context, where film is used to articulate the transnational experience of a particular kind of Indian immigrant to Ireland. In fact, most of these filmmakers are married to Indian women working as nurses in Dublin; despite being highly educated and skilled, they find it difficult to gain employment, so their wives have become the main breadwinners in their households. Keralite men based in Ireland, however, are very active in their close-knit community and often organize cultural and educational events, which inform and contribute to their filmmaking activities.
Films like Short Sight (2011) by Biju Mullakuzhithadathil, Jijo Palatty’s Happy Independence Day (2009) and Parakayapravesham (To Take Another Human Form, 2013) deal with gender and generational conflicts, as well as difficulties of adapting to life in Ireland. In this paper I will illustrate how film is used to address the shifts in gender roles and challenges to traditional masculinity experienced by Keralite men, along with issues of deterritorialization and cultural difference. I argue that through this avenue, Keralite filmmakers not only shed light on the lived experience of Indian communities in Ireland, but also find a way to reassert their masculinity by becoming active producers of cultural media.