The recent bill-board campaign by the British National Party in London for the Mayor’s election, putting ‘Londoners First’ showing a working white class family – semi obese and content brought to mind Richard Dyers book entitled ‘White’.
In the culture of ‘White is Right’ – where the white majority feel they have to fight back to regain their whiteness and britishness, non-whites are beginning to feel the backlash – recently local council’s are doing away with specialist ethnic community groups in favour of ‘services for all’ and in the process losing vital knowledge necessary to combat racism, especially that of a feminist perspective.
Dyer’s ‘White’ seems somewhat time sensitive. Published in 1997 by Routledge as part of their ‘Cultural/studies/Race and Ethnicity’, much of the writing remains relevant – although it could do with a re-visit by Dyer. The publishers state that ‘white people are not literally or symbolically white. Yet they are called white. What does this mean? In Western media, white take up the position of ordinariness, not a particular race, just the human race… while racial representation is central to the organisation of the contemporary world, white people remain a largely unexamined category in sharp contrast to the many studies of images of ‘black and Asian peoples.’
Richard Dyer in his chapter entitled ‘The matter of Whiteness’ says that ‘this book is about the racial imagery of white people – not the images of other races in white cultural production, but the latter’s imagery of the white people themselves. This is not merely to fill a gap in the analytic literature, but because there is something at stake in looking at, or continuing to ignore, white racial imagery. As long as race is something only applied to non-white peoples, as long as white people are not racially seen and named, they/we function as a human norm. Other people are raced, we are just people.’
Dear folks, I have been extremely busy with a number of projects so have not had an opportunity to put pen to paper until I came across a BNP bill board advertising for ‘real Londoners’.
I live and work in Southall and last week walking with a group of friends we were confronted with a the BNP ‘real Londoners’ bill board opposite the Hambrough Tavern, a pub that was burnt down by the local migrant community in protest of a meeting held by the National Front.
In recent years, BNP has been successful at getting elected but have failed miserably at running a council with in-fighting being the norm and lack of democratic process which is of course against the grain of the BNP as they are basically thugs.
The malaise and the lack of willingness on part of many voters not to come forward or to stay away deliberately is disconcerting. I know for a fact that a lot of young people in my extended family did not vote let alone register for a vote – they are too angry with the Labour government over the Iraq issue.
Perhaps we need the political and social structures to deteriorate to the levels of the early 70’s with ‘Paki bashing’ being the norm – perhaps then the generation of my nieces and nephews will feel compelled to be part of a political landscape.
Capital Woman are promoting and screening “The Winter of Love”, the directorial debut by Shakila Taranum Maan on 8th March at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster SW1P 3EE.
The DVD of The Winter of Love will be sold at a discounted price for the conference participants.
It is ironic that in their 10th year, the Festival has suffered a major financial set back and has lost its main backer. Despite this, both Pushpinder and Harvinder have endeavoured to move forward with an exciting programme which includes British and international films.
Pushpinder and Harvinder state in their Directors notes that “This year marks our 10th anniversary film festival and TOF is extremely thrilled to begin once again with an Opening Gala Weekend at BAFTA. We are proud to present the London premiere of Hope and A Little Sugar and welcome the talented director Tanuja Chandra and actress Mahima Chaudhry to our festival. Our Opening Gala Weekend continues with The World Unseen, a film made by an all-women crew, and we are privileged to present a Q&A with the director Shamim Sarif and producer Hanan Kattan.
This year we are delighted be honouring Meera Syal for her contributions to film, television and theatre. It will be the first of our yearly profiles of Asian filmmakers who have pushed the boundaries in film and media.
This exciting month-long season showcases work by women or stories where women are the central protagonists in order to encourage debate reflecting real-life issues. The festival presents the British premiers of Mira Nair’s Mirabhai Production of AIDS Jagoo and Bhavna Talwar’s Dharm, and an opportunity to screen the Vanaja and Rituparno Ghosh’s Dosar”.
“The Winter of Love is a sensitive drama that gets under the skin of Asian life with its atmospheric visuals and a compelling soundtrack by Kuljit Bhamra” Suman Bhuchar writing in Asian Woman, January issue.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s remarks on the inclusion of Sharia law into British secular law was unnecessary and untimely. Perhaps the Archbishop should read the Quran and assess for himself the extent of the problems and restrictions that Sharia law Arriving at the correct interpretations of the Quran has been a matter of great debate.
With no provisions for dealing with problems that women face, in particular domestic violence, the Islamic organisations in Britain are impotent when dealing effectively and in the interest of women. The Archbishop’s archaic views can only reinforce multicultural attitudes of ‘let them sort it out in their own communities’ approach. His remarks also throws light on the escalation of funding cuts in the voluntary sector by local authorities throughout Britain which has meant that women’s organisations such as Southall Black Sisters are facing an uncertain future. Southall Black Sisters has been at the forefront of rights for minority women but are now facing a core funding cut by Ealing Council depriving Britain of an organisation that is ‘iconic, vital and essential (Keith Vaz). Both the Governments and local authorities mantra these days is that ‘we are not living in Alabama are we?’ meaning there is no need for special provisions for minority groups anymore. According to them, the war on racism and inequality for women has been won.
The erosion of provisions in law and civil life for minority women of all religions has ensured an increase in violence, destitution and abandonment. In many cases there are high risks to their lives where women are killed (Banaz, Surjit Atwal) or commit suicide (Navjeet Sidhu). The Archbishop’s careless remarks can prove to be very costly indeed.
Which religious interpretation does the Archbishop suggest we follow? Saudi Arabia, Iran, India? Religious laws have no place in democracy as in essence, it operates outside of these realms. It is not just the matter of divorce in Sharia law. There are other implications for women too, for example the rule for husbands on ‘wife beating’.
According to six eminent scholars, this is their reading on the law governing wife beating:
Men are superior to women on account of the qualities with which God has gifted the one above the other, and on account of the outlay they make from their substance for them. Virtuous women are obedient, careful, during the husband’s absence, because God has of them been careful. But chide those for whose refractoriness you have cause to fear; remove them into beds apart, and scourge them: but if they are obedient to you, then seek not occasion against them: verily, God is High, Great! Rodwell
Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme. Dawood
Men are in charge of women, because Allah has made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah has guarded. As for those from whom you fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High Exalted, Great. Pickthall
Men are the managers of the affairs of women for that God has preferred in bounty one of them over another, and for that they have expended of their property. Righteous women are therefore obedient, guarding the secret for God’s guarding. And those you fear may be rebellious admonish; banish them to their couches, and beat them. If they then obey you, look not for any way against them; God is All high, All great. Arberry
Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in their sleeping places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great. Shakir
Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whom part you fear disloyalty and ill conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance) for Allah is Most High, Great (above you all). Ali
Hardeep Singh Mangat, the youngest of the cast in ‘The Winter of Love’ (formally A Quiet Desperation) fitted in perfectly – at the time of the shoot, Hardeep was in his late teen’s – tall and charming – a child in a man’s body. Playing the role of Sonu Singh, Paji’s youngest child, Sonu Singh is left with the responsibilities of caring for a mentally disturbed elder sister after the death of their father. Their world is turned upside down and further complicated by the arrival of their uncle, Shammi Singh, played by Shiv Grewal.Hardeep’s route into acting was through community theatre which he was involved in from his early teen’s where in appeared in a play at the National Theatre, A Indian Summer by Harwant Bains, qualifying for a runner up in a competition run by the National.
A versatile and natural actor, Hardeep was un-phased by the tumultuous activity around him. Delivering a very natural talent, Hardeep delivered a poignant performance of a teenage unable to cope with adversity.
Although Hardeep is no longer acting, his contribution to The Winter of Love remains exemplary.
Manta Anand’s quiet portrayal of Banger’s wife in ‘The Winter of Love’ (formerly ‘A Quiet Desperation’) reveals the loneliness and sorrow in a woman who has put everything into a marriage but finds herself rejected.In love with Banger, Mamta explores effectively the pitiful nature of the character’s need to be wanted by an uncaring husband. In the brief scenes that she has, Mamta manages to encapsulate an experience that is common for so many women, and she effectively transcends race.
Mamta has appeared in a number of productions produced by Falcon Films, in a few she has played the lead and created memorable performances. In Restless Sky, she played a homeless woman, living on memories. In Talking About Suicide, Mamta played the role of a depressed and battered woman on the verge of suicide.
A versatile actress with great depth, Mamta has appeared on stage and television. Her television appearances include Casualty, Waking The Dead, The Bill, 15 Stories High, Kismet Road and Dilly Down Town.
A regular artist with the Asian fringe theatre, Mamta has created many memorable roles ranging from a battered wife to supreme comedy. Productions include at the Lyric Hammersmith, When Amar met Jay. With RIFCO, she played the role of Shanti in Bollywood – Yet Another Love Story and she also appeared in RIFCO’s production of The Deranged Marriage. She has also worked extensively in Punjabi theatre as well as been involved in productions with Kali Theatre.
Recently, Mamta has ventured out in directing for community theatre with productions based at Watermans in Brentford.
Shekhar Bassi plays the villainous character of Banger in ‘The Winter of Love’ (formerly ‘A Quiet Desperation’). The character is fashioned on the real life ‘Banger’ of Southall. The name is actually pronounced as ‘Bungur’ as is a well known Punjabi surname.Banger’s character soon took on the ‘shadow’ in the film. A family friend, unknown to all, has been abusing the mentally unstable Preeti in
As the film develops, we come to see Banger manipulating the family members for his own sexual gratification. Played with a quiet sinisterism by Shekhar Bassi, the darkness of the character envelopes the film.
Shekhar also came on prior to shooting as script editor and helped with developing aspects of the story. Being a low budget arthouse feature, the script had to be modified to meet with the low budget demands of the production. Shekhar along with his brother Shalinder Bassi were great asset in making sure that the production did not fail.
The duo has been writing since 1996 and has to their credit the theatre play ‘Chemistry’ along with a feature script based on a short story by Rabindranath Tagore, ‘Kabuliwalla'(1998). Other credits include Dress Code, Blazing Bras, Come Home, Six Points to Living, Indian Summer, Charmed Offensive and much more.