Resistance In Masala

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Resistance . . . may be no more than a negative agency, an absence of acquiescence in one’s oppression. The act of reading resistance can be an important political recognition. Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Real and ImaginedWomen It is one of the paradoxes of Indian film, as of Indian life, that the woman is, on the one hand, victimized as a wife and, on the other, venerated as a mother. . . . Self-sacrificing, martyred, and ill-used by the husband, or by fate, she is shown as indestructible when it comes to protecting her sons. . . . Thus the implication is that a woman’s only hope of salvation lies in becoming the mother of sons. Aruna Vasudev, “TheWoman: Myth and Reality in Indian Cinema” India has the reputation of churning out, on an average,…show more content…
Mehta’s use of masala in the title Mirch Masala, then, playfully references the “masala” Bombay Bollywood films (since he uses some of the elements of masala like the chase sequences, slapstick comedy, songs, and dances) inasmuch as the word “masala” refers to the chili peppers that he employs as the central metaphor and motif of resistance among the women of an Indian village. In this essay, I discuss Ketan Mehta’s imaginative uses of chili peppers as a trope that has multiple connotations. The first is an important aspect of the livelihood of the villagers—most women of the lower caste in the village are employed in a factory where chili pepper is ground and made into spices. The chilis in the film also symbolize women’s sexuality from a dual perspective. “The male gaze” is embodied in…show more content…
From the women’s perspective, however, the chilis offer a literal and metaphoric form of resistance. Through the events of the film, the women learn to mobilize, get empowered, and collectively use the chili pepper against the patriarchal authority in that society. Set in the 1940s, Spices portrays India under British colonial rule. The Subedar, the Indian representative of the British colonial government, visits different villages with his soldiers from time to time, plundering and pillaging and operating through corruption. As part of the economic corruption, women are exploited and become sexual objects BEHEROZE F. SHROFF 248 of the Subedar’s pleasure. Among the women featured, Sonbai and Saraswati stand out as they challenge patriarchal oppression—Sonbai resists the dominant patriarchal power of the State, embodied in the Subedar, and Saraswati offers challenges to the patriarchal control of her wayward husband, the Village Chief, within the family. The story revolves around the Subedar’s unabashed and public

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