Locations: The situated influences of Deepa Mehta's film trilogy



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Imagining Home Extract

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The peer-reviewed essays presented in this interdisciplinary volume explore the many facets of migration and the consequences of displacement on the biographies of those individuals who undertake the experience. As such, they provide an insight into the complexity of migration as an event and as an object of study. The core intent of the chapters is to analyse how migrants both experience and express the complex nature of migration, and how this biographical event of tremendous importance can affect and transform individual lives and community networks. The title of the volume – Imagining Home. Migrants and the search for a new belonging – is a synthesis of the key issue that is shared to varying degrees by all of the contributors in their analysis of the conflicting concepts of migration and home, and the many ways that the two notions can question and redefine each other. In other words, the assumption that the migrant’s sense of disorientation about their home and their sense of belonging – which can be a consequence of the pluralisation of self-identities, languages, biographical plans and places that inevitably occurs in a migratory experience – turns out to be a more or less active search for a new home and a new sense of belonging.


This chapter locates Indo-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta, the director of the elements film trilogy, in relation to the various cinematic traditions that have influenced her personally, culturally, as well as creatively. Mehta may be considered representative of a growing breed of privileged South Asian intellectuals and artists in the diaspora whose lives and work are receiving increasing coverage in the home countries, in the diaspora, and in the 'liberal' west. While the complex location of such individuals and of their creative and critical work may at first seem difficult to theorise, they have been preceded by other 'ethnics' (diasporic and non-diasporic) who appear to disturb the east-west binary and cross over in terms of the content and form of their cultural products. For example, Chinese cinema in the mid-1990s is symbolic of such a disturbance, as it was considered to be 'undergoing a tension in redefining nationalisation and internationalisation' (Lau 1995: 22). The same may be said of recent Indian and Indian diasporic cinema, even though there are differences in the respective cinematic forms.

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