In this presentation, I will focus on Sanjay Gupta’s Kaante/Thorns (2002; India) which remakes Reservoir Dogs (1992; USA), which itself is indebted to Ringo Lam’s Lung fu fong wan/City on Fire (1987; Hong Kong). Kaante foregrounds the categories of race and the nation-state which are peripheral to Reservoir Dogs and Lung fu fong wan, thereby compelling us to consider the role these categories play in constructing action genres. Kaante’s bank robbers are marginalized Indian males residing in Los Angeles who, due to various circumstances, have not been able to achieve the “American Dream.” Lung fu fong wan does not delve into the lives of the gangsters, focusing on the ambivalent figure of the state informant while Reservoir Dogs distances viewers from the white male criminals, constructing them mostly as unsympathetic characters. In contrast, Kaante invites audiences to identify with the bank robbers through the use of melodramatic mise-en-scene as well as the insertion of song-dance routines and heroines. The use of these devices as well as the figure of the ‘emotional’ male robber follows a script which would be familiar to Hindi films fans. In doing so, it demonstrates the ways in which the remake is constrained to be faithful to differing film industry conventions and audience expectations. At the same time, I show that Kaante’s distance from the lavish “family films” of the nineties which contained largely wealthy diasporic characters, offers us a dystopic vision of diaspora, which can only realize its dreams by stealing them.
Click to visit Monika Mehta's faculty page.
This essay amplifies the aurality of Blackboard Jungle—a film in which “music and sound are major characters” according to director Richard Brooks—by examining Mr. Dadier's pedagogical use of the tape recorder as indicative of the film’s engagement with cold war ideologies of race, technology, sound, and citizenship. At a time when racism continued to be perpetrated under the newly unfurled banner of colorblindness and citizens were urged to remain vigilant for “enemies within” who looked just like them, “Reproducing U.S. Citizenship” argues that the listening practices developed in concert with sound reproduction technologies functioned as especially key arenas in which difference was exposed, engaged, and eradicated in the name of American national identity.
Click to visit Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman's faculty page.
Last Updated: 10/7/10