Indian Anglophony, Diasporan Polycentricism, and Postcolonial Futures


    Before I come to my main argument, let me propose a slightly different way of classifying the world of the colonizers and the colonized. Such a re-classification has bearing, I believe, not only on the question of centres and peripheries, but also on diasporic creativity. The colonial encounter was not just a clash of political and economic regimes, of civilizations, of different ways of apprehending the world, of two or more epistemological and representational styles, but also, for the purposes of my project, of monolingualisms and multilingualisms. Not just centres and peripheries, metropoles and colonies, collaborative and resistant colonial cultures were produced by these encounters, but also cultures that can be differentiated as being monologic or dialogic, uniglot or polyglot, unisonic or polyphonic, orthoglossic or heteroglossic. Though the Manichean cultural economy of colonialism and neo-colonialism, in a way, ensures that these encounters continue to be framed in binary or oppositional terms, we, however, know that the situation on the ground is much more complex. For the time being, though, I should like to retain this distinction between monolingual and multilingual cultures because it suggests a crucial area of difference which I find useful.

          I would argue that colonialism, modernity, capitalism, indeed the various interlocking systems of power, oppression, and exploitation that were brought to bear upon subject peoples might be construed as a series of mutually reinforcing and supportive monolingualisms. The cultures that received them, in this case the various regions of India, were, in contrast, constituted by interlocking sets of *multilingualisms. When these two structures collided, then, newer kinds of cultural systems were produced. English, for instance, became the dominant cultural mono-system in the colonies, a sort of centre of power, even though it was a different kind of English. An English that eventually, as Raja Rao says, was meant to "convey in a language not one's own the spirit that is one's own" (Kanthapura 5). This English, although already transformed through carrying the burden of native tongues, was nevertheless a cultural system at odds with those of the other native tongues of India, which it peripheralized. Thus, I would like to distinguish not only between various kinds of English, but also between English and non-English signifying systems. I would suggest that in the Indian context, language is a space, a worldview, a 'destiNation'. Of course, by language I mean the whole complex signifying and mediating terrain through which Indian realities are translated and interpreted. Thus, linguistic positions, not just historical or geographical, caste, or gender, locations are important determinants in the problematic of representing India which is at the heart of several postcolonial debates today. What I thus propose to do is to look at the question of centres and peripheries through this notion of language as place.

    To illustrate, I shall briefly review a well-known text produced by a diasporic filmmaker: Deepa Mehta's feature film, Fire (1996). Not just the choice of the film but the choice of the episode might be suggestive of my larger method. I choose this film because I think it is as good a representative as any of what may be called, after Sara Suleri, "the rhetoric of English India," or, to use an even better phrase from my friend Rakesh Bhatt's work, India as an "English-sacred" imagined community (76-78). In what follows, I shall endeavour to interrogate the cultural politics of this English-sacred India. The episode that I shall invoke is, as you will see, very 'minor', even insignificant, to the plot and theme of the film, but is crucial to its representational grammar. If read in a certain way, it opens up the whole complex range of concerns that govern both cultural production and reception, especially the manner in which the tensions and contradictions between what might be termed location and locution are played out.

    The scene in question is a thirty-second conversation between Mundu, the servant, and an anonymous milkman. The milkman greets Mundu; Mundu asks for two litres of milk (instead of one) because it is the karva chauth festival; the milkman tells Mundu that Mundu looks weak; Mundu retorts by asking him to stop adding water to the milk. The conversation is totally marginal to the central action or theme of the film, but in its very careless, almost absent-minded retention in the film, exposes a major fault line in its mimetic logic. I would like to think of it as the inadvertent slip in which the rhetoric of English India betrays itself. For the extraordinary thing about this conversation is precisely what might have been most natural outside the film, say in the daily interaction between servants and milkmen in Delhi, is rendered odd and sharply foregrounded in the careful viewer's attention. And this special feature has to do with the medium of the exchange, not its content. This is the only bit of dialogue in the otherwise English film that takes place in Hindi. In other words, this is the sole occasion in which any two people speak to each other in an Indian language. Otherwise, everyone in Fire – Radha, Ashok, Sita, Jatin, Ashok's Guru, and even the servant Mundu, speak only in English.

    What do those few lines of dialogue in Hindi signify in a film which entirely in English? What questions do they raise about the production and consumption, the source and the target, the content and form, of images of India? The likely answer is that English, the language the characters speak in, is supposed to stand in for Hindi. As members of a middle-class, business family in one of Delhi's modest neighbourhoods, Lajpat Nagar, the characters would normally speak Hindi. However, since the film is in English, it is the language superimposed on the dialogue. In other words, both the actors and the audience are expected to imagine that Hindi is in fact spoken when hearing the characters speak English.

    This metonymic substitution is also suggested by several other devices in the film. For instance, the use of different accents, plus other linguistic signals such as translation, code-switching, code-mixing, use of collocations, norm-deviant syntax, diction, and so on, further reinforce the idea that the speakers are not monolingual. So we might say that the film only asks us, as indeed does all art, to suspend our disbelief in its own particular way and thereby to comply with the director's directive to imagine Hindi being spoken when listening to the English dialogue.

    But is the problem this simple? What do we make of the dialogue the dialogue between Jatin and his Chinese girlfriend, or between the latter's father and Jatin? It is clear in the film that they speak English. This raises the interesting question: when does English stand for Hindi, and when is it merely itself? The filmmaker, unfortunately, does not help us by clearly signalling when the shifts are supposed to occur, nor does she make any attempt to offer us different varieties of English, apart from the various accents that I have already noted, that may suggest different social or linguistic registers. I would argue that the problem of the cultural and linguistic dissonance that I have identified is compounded by the fact that Radha and Sita, both shown to be suppressed and traditional wives, speak in a more Anglicised accent than Ashok, the husband. In Jatin, the same Anglicised accent serves to emphasize his modern ways as opposed to his brother's, but in Radha's and Sita's cases, the incongruity of oppressed, house and tradition-bound behenjis1 speaking like foreign-returned or convent-educated memsahibs is not lost on an audience that would instantly associate that kind of accent with a class that is exclusive and powerful, not powerless and oppressed – at least in India.

    For someone who is otherwise quite self-conscious about her artistic intentions, Mehta is rather nonchalant about her choice of English. In her note on the official DVD "Why Fire is in English" she says,

I am a victim of post-colonized India. The medium of my education was English. In fact, not unlike many children of middle-class parents, English was my first language and Hindi, my second. I wrote the script of Fire in English, a language I am totally at ease with. … I thought about translating Fire into Hindi, but more for the Western audience rather than the Indian one. Western audiences find a 'foreign' film easier to imbibe, easier to accept in its cultural context, if it is in its indigenous language. 'A foreign film can only be a foreign film if it is in a foreign language.' And if it isn't then somehow it is judged (albeit subconsciously), as a Western film disguised as a foreign one…. Well, how to explain to people in the West that most middle-class Indians speak Hinglish?

This is quite an extraordinary statement from the writer-director that helps to squarely place the film – quite contrary to Mehta's professed intentions – as an Indian film to (western) foreigners and as a foreign film to Indians. That Mehta is concerned throughout this statement with how westerners will read her film is all the more evidence for the fact that she never once thought of how Indians would see it. Instead of producing the instant identification that she expected and took so much for granted, the same middle class organized protests against her film. The use of English as the medium for her film, far from being natural or unproblematic as Mehta had assumed, actually estranged her from her material. Had Mehta done the opposite, that is, translated the script into Hindi, I am sure the film would have been different – it would have been foreign to western audiences not only on account of its language, and been received as being Indian by Indians. What Mehta has created is not the western film disguised as a foreign film as she had feared, but a foreign film disguised as an Indian one. Whereas foreign and western for her are contrasting categories, to Indians they are synonymous.

    An opposite example of what I have just described can be found in the films of Dev Benegal, another very talented young Indian English film maker. In English August, for example, adapted from the novel by Upamanyu Chatterjee, Benegal, who co-wrote the script with Chatterjee, ensured that several languages were spoken and heard in the film. The novel itself exploits a mixed Hindi-English idiom of sorts, but apart from such hybridity, which is by now rather commonplace in Indian English texts, English August is a book written entirely in English. In it, Hindi and Bangla are languages referred to, but never heard in the book, except through their distant echoes in English. The novel is set mostly in Madna, a fictional territory supposedly somewhere in Central India, and the language spoken there is supposedly Hindi. In the film, Madna is in Andhra Pradesh, and when Agastya, the protagonist, moves there, we begin to hear Telugu spoken pretty regularly, and there are, of course, English subtitles to help out non-native speakers. In addition, one of the characters, Sathe, occasionally breaks into Marathi. The Collector, Mr. Srivastava, is shown to be a Hindi speaker; among the government officers, then, not just English, but Hindi is spoken routinely, too. The film thus possesses a linguistic texture that is even more complex than the book, which had in the first place presented a diaglossic, polyglot English. Unlike Fire, which flattens the linguistic complexity of India, the film English August actually augments it by vernacularizing the original Indian English text.

    The way the two films Fire and English, August, use language is, of course, symbolic of their larger representational politics. What can offer more of a contrast to anglophone diasporic 'elite' cinema than a production from Bollywood? I would like to cite a film with a strikingly similar motif: Raj Kumar Santoshi's Lajja. Although structured as a typical blockbuster, the film manages to make some fairly bold statements on behalf of women. The film vernacularizes English which, along with computers and modern education, is seen as the carrier of modern values. Beginning and ending in New York, it suggests both continuities and discontinuities between the diaspora and the homeland in a manner which is at once critical and sophisticated, while retaining elements of the conventional and stereotypical. There are four 'Sitas' in the film, each with her own struggle against patriarchal norms. The women are neither defeminized nor turned into avenging angels, nor forced to turn lesbian as in Fire, but each is shown to resist a major aspect of oppressive tradition. The film is not only a powerful satire on the double standards and economic cruelties of arranged marriages, but it also questions several patriarchal assumption about a woman's place in a male-dominated society. Some examples include the idea that women must be faithful, but men can play around; or that a woman, whose betrothed leaves her just before they are take their vows, stands disgraced; or that it is the groom's right to receive dowry; or that women who are educated will not find good husbands; and so on. Throughout the film, the agency and the worth of women are emphasized, sometimes in predictable and at other times in unusual ways. Control over one's own biology, sexual and reproductive freedom, female desire rather than male control, and liberation from caste oppression are all portrayed in the film. In one of its most effective scenes, the main character, Janaki, rewrites the famous agnipariksha scene of the Ramayan. Santoshi's Janaki boldly departs from the traditional script reserved for Sita, not only by blaming Lakshmana for disfiguring Shurpanakha and thus inviting the enmity of Ravana, but also by asking Ram to join her in the agnipariksha. Since he has been separated from her during her period of abduction, it stands to reason that he, too, should be asked to prove his chastity. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time that such a question has been asked in any re-enactment of the many of versions of the Ramayana, not only on celluloid, but in any other medium. In the film, the irate audience sets fire to the theatre. Janaki thus endures her own agnipariksha as the actress who had dared to rewrite the script of the Ramayana.

    I mention this because Fire, indeed the title of the film itself, makes much of this episode and its symbolic significance. What is more interesting to me, however, is that the reaction anticipated by Santoshi in the film was not replicated by Indian audiences. The same audiences that reacted so violently to Mehta's film accepted the rescripting of tradition that Santoshi offered. One explanation could be that Santoshi's film was not, after all, really radical. Like all Bollywood masala films, it both violated and reaffirmed social norms. How could a film designed to titillate, to offer an escape from reality through the feminist political fantasy of women's emancipation, be revolutionary? In contrast, it may be argued that Mehta's film had the ability really to shock and shake the bastions of Indian patriarchy and get the fundamentalists out on the street baying for her blood. But one might argue, on the contrary, that it is Mehta's film which is sensational, insulting, and deliberately injurious. That Mehta should have used all the controversy Fire generated to sell the film should not be surprising, even though in "Why Fire is in English" Mehta is quick to point out her dismay at the reaction to her film. Every DVD of the film makes a virtue of this controversy: there is a whole section highlighting the outrage that the film generated as part of the Director's Notes; in addition, there are interviews with the stars of the film and a full feature on how Indian women are oppressed by tradition. This propaganda, of course, also fits into the neat anti-Hindutva political agenda to which the film offers itself for easy assimilation, thereby ensuring its continued currency among the ever-widening circles of the politically correct postcolonials the world over.

          Mehta frames her problematic in classical modernist/feminist terms as "the extremely dramatic battle that is waged daily between the forces of tradition and the desire for an independent, individual voice" (Mehta, "Director's Notes"). She also contrasts her own supposedly serious and interventionist cinema with the entertainment factory that is Bollywood, which turns women into vacuous objects of fantasy and desire. There is a kind of supercilious claim to superior cognition made here in implying that Bollywood blockbusters serve up a variety of visual popcorn while it is to Mehta and her kind that we must turn if we wish to have a better insight into Indian 'reality'. Ironically, Bollywood is used as a trope throughout the film, not only to show its pervasive influence on the life of the characters, but as a romantic counterpoint to the drudgery of their daily lives. Jatin not only runs a video parlour, but his Chinese girl-friend wants to be a film star in Hong Kong; Sita dances to Hindi film music, and acts out her fantasies, in full costume, to the accompaniment of an old Hemant Kumar-Lata Mangeshkar duet with Radha. Analogously, A. R. Rahman's score uses his own hit songs as background music to the film: Mehta's attitude is thus characterized by the peculiar paradox of a parasitic appropriation of Bollywood combined with an utter contempt for its ethos. Though I would not venture to valorise Bombay cinema ideologically or politically, Mehta's deliberately reductive accusation against it does it an injustice. Mehta simply disregards the complexity of popular cinema in India, which must, at one and the same time, respond to multiple and contradictory ideological, aesthetic, thematic, and commercial, compulsions. Contrary to Mehta's assertions, these compulsions and complexities actually make the Bombay films not just highly intelligent and sophisticated, but also multilingual, multidimensional, multilayered, and multistoried, in ways that Mehta does not even consider. In fact, one might even argue that Bollywood cinema has always had a progressive dimension to it, whether it is on questions of Hindu-Muslim relations or the status of the lower castes and women. This evolutionary and reformist dimension of popular cinema cannot be rejected in the name of a 'purer', more radical or politically engaged, rhetoric of art cinema.

    Eleanor Hall, the narrator of the propaganda clip that accompanies the feature film on the Fire DVD, reinforces the dismissiveness Mehta displays towards the popular taste of Indians who watch Bombay films. She takes us to the set of one such film during the shooting of a song and dance sequence, and then quite contemptuously describes Bollywood as not only "India's entertainment factory" but as "the keeper of Hindu culture as well." Precisely. Mainstream Hindu culture, if we are to go by films like Lajja, knows how to revise its own texts in ways which are different from those sanctioned by monolingual modernity. But to dismiss these internal corrections and revisions, and to brand the whole community as somehow delinquent and "fundamentalist" shows another sort of intolerance, an intolerance which has also contributed to the polarization of discursive space. In other words, secular modernity, not just Hindu fanaticism, contributes to violence and intolerance. In their own peculiar ways, both are monocultures which block heteroglossia and pluralism.

    I have been suggesting that Lajja may be construed as presenting a special kind of critique not just of tradition, but of diasporic Anglophony. Its polycentric and polyphonic multilingualized Hindustani contrasts with the stilted Anglophile monolingualism of Fire. That is why even its critique of Hinduism, though radical and far-reaching, is nonetheless not hostile to certain non-negotiable elements of the very tradition that it seeks to reform. To that extent, it is an attempt at re-engineering Indian society from within. The plurality of its mimetic styles, its internal contradictions and ideological confusions notwithstanding, Lajja manages to delineate the complexity and multiversity of Indian society in transition. Fire, on the other hand, is a monolingual discursive infliction that can be seen as foreign and interfering. Consequently, its cultural politics is divisive and, ultimately, counter-productive. In demonizing tradition, it desecrates and insults what it wishes to change. That is why I cannot endorse Mehta's "mimetic logic" in this film, even if some parts of it move me deeply. Mehta, I must acknowledge, has moved on. Her next film, Earth, mixes Indian languages much more adventurously and effectively. Traditions are both sacred and profane; they are subject to change, but I would resist any attempt to dismiss them by distorting them. I shall therefore be so bold as to say that that is the reason why such 'hard' versions of secularism and modernity have failed in India.

    What I have been trying to propose is that the centre/periphery dichotomy is not just territorial, economic, or cultural, but also linguistic. Furthermore, that linguistic centres and peripheries operate both within and across geographical and national boundaries, thereby complicating the representational terrain in ways which conventional Anglocentric criticism fails to recognize. I suggest that by foregrounding the conflict between Anglo-centric monoculturalism, which peripheralizes all other linguistic spaces and locations, and alternative ways of representing postcolonial realities, we might open up radical spaces for criticism and social change that have the potential not just of redefining curricula, but of redrawing academic maps. What is more, neither monolingualism nor multilingualism need to be interpreted in solely literal terms; they may be seen to stand for two different cultural and representational systems. That these are overlapping and (op)positional rather than rigid, mutually exclusive binaries goes without saying.

    It should be obvious at this point of my argument that the centre-periphery model, even when it is reversed, is ultimately inadequate to understanding the nature of cultural flows and interactions in the contemporary world. At the very least we need to theorize multiple centres and multiple peripheries in order to account for the nature of cultural exchanges today. If this is granted, it follows that diasporan imaginaries are constructed in terms of multiple and shifting notions of 'homeland' and 'domicile', which are realized through overlapping and contradictory narratives of longing/belonging. While this can be obvious, the question to be asked is whether some heuristic benefit might be derived from a binary between 'centres' and 'peripheries', especially when they are reversed.rvc I have just proposed that using languages as locations is one way of re-framing the centre-periphery dialectic so as to give it a new salience. I shall now suggest that the way out of what would otherwise be a perpetually reinforced binary of domination-subordination is to use translation and multilingualism as strategies for promoting cultural difference and countering cross-cultural inequalities. Postcolonial futures need to resist both domination and subordination, by marking out areas of hope and cooperation and constructing alternatives. To that extent the centre-periphery model may remain useful in that it underscores relations of inequality between agents scattered all over the world, but integrated into a global system of exchange and domination.

    In approaching my conclusion, I would like to spell out my central thesis once again. I have tried to juxtapose Indian English, that is, not just the language, but its entire range of literary and cultural production, with its con-texts: I use this word in the sense in which my friend John Thieme has in his recent book, Postcolonial Contexts. By con-texts, let me hasten to clarify, are meant not just the social, economic, and cultural backgrounds and grounds of production, which is the normal meaning of the word. By contexts are meant a whole range and group of texts that serve as contrary points of reference. These texts, then, are the contrary or opposing texts, in conjunction with which this body of cinema and writing needs to be read and understood. What I have been suggesting is that Indian English texts can best be read in conjunction with these con-texts written in the vernacular languages of India, and containing the contrary portrayals of India in juxtaposition to which Indian English literature is best understood. In other words, my argument posits that the literatures of India are complex not only because they are multilingual and multicultural, but in forming a cultural system, they cannot be contained in a single language. In other words, India, Indianess, and Indian literature are not arithmetical and cumulative – the sum total of the creative output in various languages, but something slightly different altogether: the total in this case, is more than a sum of the parts. In a peculiar sense, it is also less than a sum of the parts because every once in a while we may encounter a text which aims at expressing nothing short of the totality of India, even if it is in only one of its multitudinous languages. So, Indian creativity, and by extension, India and 'Indianness', belong to a different dimension than the mere accumulation of texts and tongues. It is somewhat akin to how a translated text is neither the original nor an entirely new text, but a different kind of text, a trans-text, if you will.

    Translation is, of course, central to my argument. Analogically, let me suggest here that Indian literature is thus not just a literature but a trans-literature and that Indian culture is not just a culture, but a trans-culture. That is why it is all the more pernicious for Indian English literature to usurp the entire or the overwhelmingly significant part of space given to India, as is increasingly the case. Not only is Indian English literature not the entirety of Indian literature, but any special claims that it might make either in terms of quality or quantity must be rigorously questioned. This is not to question either the validity or the raison d'être of Indian English literature, but to seek to reposition it in the continuum of Indian literatures.

    In other words, I am making a case against any claims to autonomy and self-sufficiency that Indian English literature or its advocates might advance. To speak of a tradition of Indian English literature, then, is at best fraught with major problems. To teach this literature in and of itself, as is done in universities all over India, and the world, is even less sustainable. Being a hybrid literature, Indian English literature demands a dual set of parameters, both national and international. There is, on the one hand, an international tradition of writing in English, called by any name, of which Indian English literature partakes, but it is also a part of the trans-tradition called Indian literature. To extend the argument to texts of the diaspora, I would simply say that these must be read in conjunction with and juxtaposition to Indian English texts, just as the latter need to be studied along with our so-called vernacular texts.

    If I were to put my argument in a nutshell, I would say that it pleads for a process of continuous vernacularization – a vernacularization not only of English, but of the whole project of modernity and nationalism. We will recall that M.N. Srinivas made both Sanskritization and Westernization very famous as key concepts in Indian sociology.2 What we need, to complete the trinity, is this idea of vernacularization. If I had more time at my disposal, I would have argued that one of the reasons for the importance of diasporas is their vernacularization of the nation.

    In this final section of my essay, I wish briefly to turn my attention to the question of postcolonial futures. This phrase alludes not only to the title of Bill Ashcroft's book published in 2002, but also to the last section of the newly-written sixth chapter of the just released new edition of The Empire Writes Back (2002). In the latter, the authors not only touch on the question of globalization (216-217) and diaspora (217-219), but seem to suggest that postcolonial studies can be not merely analytical, but engaged, and even constitutive of new futures. I am in sympathy with this drift. As Ashcroft says, in his Introduction to On Postcolonial Futures, postcolonial productions are not merely reactive, locked in a "prison of protest", but can also be proactive; this is because postcolonial discourses are primarily those of transformation (1). But Ashcroft is wrong in assuming that all postcolonials can do is to be able to take over "dominant discourses" and to transform them "in the service of their own self-empowerment" (1). Obviously, he is still in 'The Empire Writes Back' mode. There are discourses which neither write back to the imperium, nor do they react to it – after all, writing back is also a way of reifying the centre. Discourses which are at least partly independent of metropolitan centres are, instead, part of the internal expressions of a culture or civilization. These are societies that, so to speak, simply "do their own thing," although, in the process they may be implicated in a larger world.

    That is why English is so important to Ashcroft, but not to us in India. In Australia, presumably, they have nothing else to write in. They have no alternative but to write back; so all that they can do is to seize the power of self-representation rather than allow others to represent them: "The central strategy in transformations of colonial culture is the seizing of self-representation" rvc(2). In India, however, many other languages persist. For Ashcroft, the key to decolonization is the seizing of English for the colonized subject's own use, thereby fracturing the power of the colonizer's medium and its civilizing function. But for us in India, the counter-strategy is not only to use English against its grain, but also to use translations, vernacular writing, and other means of self-representation, to resist and combat neo-colonial cultural domination. Ashcroft says the "strategies by which colonized societies have appropriated dominant technologies and discourses and used them in projects of self-representation" is "a model for the ways in which local communities everywhere engage global culture itself" (2). Once again, we are confronted with a dualistic model which presupposes that there is some kind of global culture somewhere out there distinct from pre-existing local cultures. Actually, we might argue that what is termed 'global culture' is merely an abstraction, while the only realities on the ground are its multiple local mediations.

    In "The Future of English" (7-21), Ashcroft says that English has been dismantled and replaced by "a network of local post-colonial practices" (18). This "network of post-colonial practices" is precisely what I call the vernacularization of English. Like Ashcroft, I am concerned not just about postcolonial futures, but about the role that English can play in shaping them. Like Ashcroft, I, too, believe that transformation rather than reaction or sheer opposition is the key to a more enabling and equitable prospect for us, the once or twice or multiply-colonized peoples of the world. Nevertheless, I have argued that the one special type of postcolonial transformation that happens through "vernacularization" is much more than simply using the colonizer's language or technologies of representation, though it does involve both these strategies. "Vernacularization" is not just writing back to the centre, but finding an alternative space and mode of self-representation. It is therefore a way of being and communicating which cannot be simply appropriated or assimilated by the master-narratives of colonialism or even postcolonial high theory.

    The real challenge for postcolonial futures is not so much to abolish centres so that only a plethora of peripheries exist, nor to abolish a centre with a capital "C" so that only multiple centres remain scattered all over. In the first instance there will be only peripheries, and no centres; in the second, only centres, and no peripheries. Such exercises, however persuasive theoretically, do not transform or overrule the material realities of a complex and highly unequal world order. The real challenge is to try to resist a certain kind of power through the amplification of another kind of power. Such a manoeuvre is exempt from both the naïve self-deceptions of utopians and the brutally cynical exercise of power of those whose business it is to dominate. Postcolonial transformation requires a critical redeployment of power rather than an escape from, or the denial of, the reality of power. In the more specific context of my paper, this is effected by invoking the multilingualism and polyphony of India against the monolingualism and univalence of both colonial and neo-colonial power. And a key device in such a strategic intervention is translation.

                                                              Works Cited

    Ashcroft, Bill. The Empire Writes Back. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2002.

    Ashcroft, Bill. On Postcolonial Futures. London: Continuum, 2001.

    Benegal, Dev, Co-writer and Director. English August: An Indian Story. Feature Film. Bombay: Tripicfilm, 1994.

    Bhatt, Rakesh. "Experts, Dialect, and Discourse." International Journal of Applied Linguistics. 12.1 (2002): 74-109.

    Chatterjee, Upamanyu. English, August. London: Faber, 1988.

    Mehta, Deepa. "Why Fire Is in English." Official DVD of Fire.

    Mehta, Deepa. "Director's Notes." Official DVD of Fire.

    Mehta, Deepa, Dir. Earth. Feature Film. India, 1999.

    ---, Dir. Fire. Feature Film. Canada/India, 1996.

    Rao, Raja. Kanthapura. 1938. New Delhi: Orient Paperbacks, 1970

    Santoshi, Raj Kumar, Dir. Lajja. Feature Film. Bombay, 2001.

    Srinivas, M.N. Caste in Modern India and Other Essays. Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1953.

    Thieme, John. Postcolonial Contexts: Writing Back to the Canon. London: Continuum, 2001.

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