South Asian Diasporic Writing from 1990 to the Present
The book argues that two key dynamics have developed from this shift: on the one hand, London, once the destination of choice for migrants, becomes a «transit zone» for onward movement to New York; on the other, different cities are perceived to coexist and come together in one single location. To investigate these new webs of interactions and power relations, this monograph employs Bakhtin’s model of the chronotope. Serving as a magnifying lens, the chronotope inserts different spatial and temporal segments within wider narratives of urban space. This book promotes a new understanding of the cities of the South Asian diaspora as subversive sites for defining processes of cultural signification.
Chapter 5: Bollywood’s Bombay
← 172 | 173 → CHAPTER 5
Whereas in the previous chapter frequent trips between the US and the Indian subcontinent signified global belonging, here I focus on the sense of commonality represented by the increasing importance of Bollywood cinema among diasporas.1 Providing a rich visual archive that allows South Asians to re-imagine Bombay from abroad, the contemporary Hindi film itself presents an image of the city as a transnational and global nodal point. As a response to the importance of Bollywood cinema in the diaspora, Maximum City by Suketu Mehta and Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra include cinematic intertexts that act as further imaginary chronotopes to materialise Bombay from abroad, ‘to bring it close’ to the diasporic communities. Chandra and Mehta re-capture the contested duality of Mumbai and Bombay, indicating respectively the Shiv Sena-BJP’s political control over the city since 1995 alongside its endorsement of global capitalism, and the secular inclusivity the old name used to signify in the collective imaginary.2 This chapter contextualises Bollywood cinema, investigates its ← 173 | 174 → significance for the diasporic communities, its inclusion into South Asian American narratives and its function in the process of re-imagining the city from a ‘dislocated’ perspective.
In an article on Maximum City, Suketu Mehta examines the impact of Bollywood cinema on his writing. Here Mehta sketches the plot of the book and reflects on how the Hindi movie constitutes part of his identity: ‘Why do I love Bollywood movies? To...
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