analytical essay on gattaca
Whether or not he ever read Nandy, director Ashutosh Gowariker had the genius to combine all three in one allegorical package, and to sell the idea to Aamir Khan, who then produced and starred in the resulting screenplay. This episode, only a few minutes into the film, typifies its manner of distilling two centuries of colonial encounter into a few broad gestures, necessitating a somewhat free hand with history and politics. So does another early scene in which the hero Bhuvan Aamir Khan attempts to save forest animals from the relentless sport shooting of cruel Captain Russell.
The representation of the Raja as a benevolent and paternalistic dharma-king elides the fact that most princely rulers were no less exploitative than their colonial overlords, with whom they worked comfortably and closely. Most were meat-eaters as well, and much addicted to hunting, for which many kept their own well-stocked reserves, strictly off-limits to their subjects and which, in some parts of the country, were later plundered in an orgy of post-Independence animal-slaughter and tree cutting by real-life Bhuvans.
Lessons from Lagaan, the movie
The film is not interested in such factual subtleties, however, and in suggesting that feudal landlords were pious nationalists and natural allies of peasants in the battle against a demonized foreign foe, it slips into the jingoistic terrain of popular historiography. Its progressivism lies elsewhere.
When Captain Russell doubles the tax assessment despite a second year of drought, the villagers beg for relief. Over the protests of his comrades, Bhuvan accepts the challenge. The remainder of the first half of the film shows him slowly converting his reluctant neighbors into team players, aided by the simple faith of his village sweetheart Gauri Gracy Singh and his widowed mother Yashodamai Suhasini Mulay , and then by the coaching of the sympathetic and cricket-savvy Elizabeth—a stand-in for Annie Besant, Sister Nivedita, Mira Behn, and other Memsahibs who took up the Nationalist cause—who of course also falls in love with him.
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