Watching Coco

d8a8e01bd6ee75d8d23f77100acf9ee6.jpgI wanted to watch Coco since I first watched the trailer. Being a new-age animated movie lover, I have watched almost everything this genre has to offer and still keep craving for more. When the film went on to win an Oscar, I finally sat down and watched it, and for the lack of anything better to say, completely lost my mind.

The story of the film follows a little Mexican boy called Miguel Rivera (voiced by Anthony Gonzales), who wants to become a musician, against the will of his family. When he tries to steal something from a dead musician on Dia de los Muertos  (the Day of the Dead), he accidentally ends up in the Land of the Dead. Dia de los Muertos, a widely celebrated traditional ritual in Mexico, is the day when families welcome the spirits of their deceased ancestors. Miguel, in his frenzied dream to become a musician, chooses this very day to leave his house to perform for the people. He steals a guitar from the deceased musician Ernesto de la Cruz’s (voiced by Benjamin Bratt) gravethus ending up with a curse whic hleaves him half-dead. As a result, only his dead relatives can see and feel him.

They quickly take him to the Land of the Dead to meet his great great grandmother Mama Imelda (voiced by Alanna Ubach). We soon learn that it was Mama Imelda who had forbidden anyone in the family to pursue music after her husband abandoned her.

Unwilling to compromsie with his dream by promising to give up his music, Miguel runs away again, risking death. He then tries to search for Ernesto de la Cruz, the deceased musician, who he believes is the great great grandfather who ran away from his family. Another friendly ghost, Hector Rivera, agrees to help Miguel on one condition: he has to put Hector’s picture on an Ofrenda so that he can go and visit his daughter Coco (voiced by Ana Ofelia Murguia) in the Land of the Living. The mesmerising journey that these  two undertake leads to some shocking revelations, but as is the ritual in the Disney movies, everything resolves in the end, and we see a very promising Happily Ever After.

The reason everyone (children and adults alike) should watch the movie is its fascinating storyline. The story, which is based on an age old Mexican practice, is as classical as it gets. It shows us how important one’s family is in their lives. It teaches the young why they should never leave their family, which is a constant beacon of support and solace one has. On the other hand, it also teaches us how important it is to let the younger generation follow their dreams.

It is also a particularly telling narrative, in the context of the current political atmosphere in Trump’s America where all Mexican immigrants are branded criminals importing drugs and lawlessness. Miguel and his family are neither learning English nor trying to escape into America. They have everything that they hold dear in their little town, and in each other. The all brown cast of the film that topped the film charts across the world seem to be winking in the face of the chest thumping White supremacist rhetoric and unabashed xenophobia. Mexicans in Coco, as in real life, are a people steeped in their culture, too fiercely proud to even acknowledge the presence of a powerful adversary in the neighbouring land.

Other than the beautiful storyline, what left me spellbound was the music throughout the movie. Every song is Coco touches the heart, while ‘Remember Me’ lifts your spirit up and brings it crashing down to realise that people exist just as long they are remembered. To be forgotten alone is to die. Coco is a beautiful quest narrative, liberally endowed with spectacles, grandeur and soul-stirring music to drive the point home.

 

Gargi Chatterjee

 

From Despair to Hope…

 Image result for tripura lenin statue demolitionImage result for farmers long march  in azad maidan

From the broken statue of Lenin in Bilonia in Tripura to the sea of red, created by agitating farmers, led by All India Kisan Sabha, in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan, the Indian political spectrum has been a saga of surprising contradictions over the last fortnight. But perhaps that is not really a surprise. This is a land of multiple temporalities where apparent anomalies are unblinkingly commonplace.

Yet, there is no denying the fact that it came as a shock to many when the Left suffered a chastening defeat at the hands of the BJP in Tripura, despite having a rather satisfactory performance record, a leader whose austere and honest lifestyle is not even blemished by opponents and the dearth of any concerted popular opposition against the ruling party. More than the electoral defeat of the Left, which happens at regular intervals in Kerala and more often now in West Bengal, what was shocking was the rise of a polarising and divisive force like the BJP in a state that had witnessed sustained peace for more than two decades after terrible episodes of violence. And almost to confirm widespread apprehensions among anyone tinged with sanity, secularism and sagacity, the electoral success of the BJP was followed by rampant violence against CPM workers in different corners of the state, acts of plunder and vandalism and of course, the visually telling demolition of the statue of Lenin at Bilonia. None of this could be termed unforeseen. The ideological progenies of Nathuram Godse are past masters of murder and mayhem as evident from the many traces of barbarism which can still be seen and heard in corners of Bhagalpur, Ayodhya, Mumbai, Naroda Patiya in Gujarat, Kandhmal in Orissa, Muzzaffarnagar in U.P….and many other sites. Tripura became and will continue to be, for at least a few more years, yet another laboratory of the religio-fascist violence which is the hallmark of the Sangh Parivar and its hydra-like branches. The unquiet corpses of Akhlaq Ahmad, Rohith Vemula, Junaid, Gauri Lankesh, M.M. Kalburgi, Govind Panesaar or Narendra Dabholkar continue to howl in the wind about these ongoing atrocities which the notorious sieve of public memory lets so easily slip by. All these murders, as well as the aforementioned examples of organised violence, are the handiwork of various groups directly or indirectly affiliated to the Sangh Parivar and the centre therefore either ignores these crimes or abets them through provocative remarks of one kind or another. Given such political realities, what would prompt voters to vote for BJP en masse? One has to wonder if we Indians are, after all, contrary to popular perception, a people which condones and at times even encourages various forms of brutality without either remorse or redress. While a statue of Lenin is less important than his historical role and his ideas, and breaking a statue does nothing to weaken belief in his ideas, the assault against the statue of course stands for a virulent form of intolerance which is embodied not just by ordinary karsevaks but also by those occupying administrative positions such as the existing Governor of Tripura. Since then, similar attacks against statues of Ambedkar and Periyar have been seen in different parts of the country, all symbolising this rising discourse of intolerance which of course has a fair amount of popular support as well. Had it not been for such support, the murder of Junaid in a crowded train would not have been possible, nor would the murderer of Mohammad Afrazul in Rajsamand in Rajasthan receive thousands of rupees for legal assistance nor would BJP secure a victory in Dadri in UP where Akhlaq Ahmad was murdered on the suspicion of possessing and consuming beef. Each such event bares the stained conscience of a nation whose people grow more intolerant, more violent, more inhuman. And if that is the case, why should we hope for a popular upsurge that might bring a better world? Couldn’t it well be, if ever, a more diabolical monstrosity?

And it is in the midst of such despair that the sea of red in Maharashtra brings such relief about the idea of the ‘people’. 50000 farmers marching barefoot to the state capital and also the financial capital of the country, in a peaceful and organised procession, without disrupting either citizens or students sitting for examinations, with a clear set of demands for mitigation of long-standing agricultural crisis, and eventually securing written assurances from the government for fulfilment of every single demand – is an unprecedented resource for hope in crisis-ridden age which has virtually forgotten the possibility of collective movements by subaltern populations for social good. What is also interesting to note is the great outpouring of support which the march has received from urban citizens who have greeted the protesting farmers with flowers, food and footwear for their sore and bleeding legs. Such actions signify a sense of solidarity which also overcomes divisive machinations of religion or caste or even gender, especially since the agitating farmers included men and women in equal measure.

Interestingly, while most media outlets have identified this as a proverbial long march, thus drawing a parallel between this one and that led by Mao in China, a more apt international comparison would perhaps be with the Zapatistas. Just as the Zapatistas from Chiapas in South West Mexico would march to the national capital to present their charter of demands to the elected representatives, so did the farmers led by AIKS. Just as the Zapatistas mostly consisted of landless peasants belonging to indigenous tribes, so also were the farmers in this march mostly landless people belonging to various Adivasi communities. And like the Zapatistas, these farmers were also not trying to stake a claim to political power; they are simply trying to assert their right to lead a dignified life which would not be beset by the constant menace of rising debt, inadequate prices and unavailability of sanctioned compensations due to bureaucratic rigmaroles. Demands met, like the Zapatistas, they will go back to their fields and till their lands, hoping that the governments would not renege on their promises. Could this then be India’s ‘zapatismo’ moment? Will it trigger further concerted struggles of the same vein in other parts of the land where there are similarly uncaring governments? This is too early for that. But for now, there is hope. Hope in a politics of the people that does not include violent, destructive mobs, videos of cold-blooded murders and barbaric glee over crumbled statues. Hope in the belief that the right kind of organic leadership might uplift the downtrodden from being cretinised instruments of havoc to inspiring agents of collective welfare.

                                                                                                                         Satyaki Shasmal

 

LEGO-Teamwork
Dear All,
We at Postcolonial Interventions are looking for new members in our Assistant Editorial Team to help us take our journal to new heights. In the past few issues, the response to the different call for papers has been exemplary with submissions pouring in from different corners of the globe. As a result, there has been enormous pressure upon the existing team members to meet deadlines and maintain the high standards that the journal has reached and intends to maintain. As one might be aware, we have also managed to enlist our journal in the list brought out by the UGC.

As things stand, we are looking for interested candidates who would be willing to be a part of this endeavour. The profile would include, proof checking the various articles that have been submitted, correct errors in note and reference making. It would be helpful if one is proficient with the Chicago Manual style and the MLA 7th edition. Due to various constraints and since the journal is not a profit making venture, we would not be able to provide any honorarium to the candidates holding the post. But it is the joy and thrill of being associated with an international journal slowly gaining a foothold in international academia that should be spurring one on.

Interested candidates should mail their cv to the following email ids:

  1.  abin_chakraborty@yahoo.co.in
  2. jishnuthe1@gmail.com
  3. prithamukherjee.12@gmail.com