What happens when the State and government organisations take over the task of representing ethnic minorities and migrant communities? It ceases to to be about diversity or the people.
What happens when the culture is as complex as Indian culture? Even one billion plus Indians or the millions within the diaspora cannot define or fully represent 'authentic' Indian culture. So how can Western powers seek to define that?
This film is a personal point-of-view; about my space and identity as an Indian in New Zealand looking at how multiculturalism, when shaped by the State, is not about ‘culture’ but an economic agenda. It is about offering a space that controls representation and keep it non-threatening. A neo-liberal model where diversity is a commodity and not a value; diversity that is homogenised vis-à-vis the dominant, host culture into an easy-to-digest byte.
DBD is a sweet film that critiques the same. It sets out to ask questions about what it means to be Indian via the Bollywood dance competition which takes place during the Diwali Mela organised by Auckland Council and Asia:NZ Foundation. The film gets into the personal spaces of four different participant groups and brings out their complexities. When we see the final performances, it becomes clear that there is a disconnect between Diwali, the Mela, the participants and the organisers. Ultimately it is just a gathering of Indians who want to buy into their presence in New Zealand and for the mainstream to feel good about tolerating ‘others’ but not about identity or integration.
This film was presented at the "Interrogating Multiculturalism in Aotearoa/New Zealand: An Asian Studies Perspective." Symposium at Otago University. I wrote a paper along with it that I converted into two posts titled Multiculturalism As Passive Performance Parts 1 and 2. (February 2011) on drsapnasays.com/2011/02/27/passive-performance-as-multiculturalism-in-new-zealand-part-1/
It was also invited to be in the Spring Showcase of the first American Online Awards in May 2014.
PS-I was the one woman crew and mostly shot it myself on a Panasonic NVGS180 attaching a separate audio kit I had put together with bits and pieces from sales and specials. I edited it on Final Cut Express 4 with Edward Sampson supervising. Yeah, the Diwali drawings are mine too. :-)