VIJU VANNATHAN VALAPPIL
Thattam and the Hijab: Intersections of Local and the Transnational in Muslim Women’s Identities of Contemporary Malayalam Cinema
Kerala, one of the southern states of India, differs in several ways with the general demographic, socio-cultural and political characteristics of the country. The region has a rich and diverse heritage of Islam and Christianity compared to other parts of India. This diverse nature of the society often reflects in cultural expressions, including films. Malayalam cinema, the film industry of the region of Kerala, has a significant influence in shaping the lifestyle of the people and formulating perspectives on various issues that persist in the society. Films in India, especially in the postcolonial scenario, play a vital role in the formation of subjectivities and the regional cinema mostly address the production and reification of linguistic and ethnic identities. These identities have been reconstituted in the wake of globalisation and the recent emergence of religious nationalism in India. Such transitions and transformations of ethnic identities are visible in contemporary Malayalam films. In these contexts, taking costumes as a reference, this paper attempts to analyse the subjectivities of Muslim women portrayed in two contemporary Malayalam films, Thattatin Marayath (2012) and KL 10 Pathu (2015), to examine the factors that influence the formation of Muslim identity and also to look at the negotiations between local and transnational elements. This paper specifically looks at two costumes, purdah and hijab as an expression of Muslim self and practice of Islam which operate in the intersections of religion, fashion, nation and globalisation. This discussion on Islamic clothing practices also provide insights into the intra-religious group formations, such as ‘traditionalists’ and ‘reformists’, and also gives an idea about how regional political affiliations are embodied in film costumes of Muslim women characters.
Viju V. V is a PhD Research Scholar in the Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences (DoHSS) at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India. His present research is on the Ethnic Representations in Costumes of Malayalam Cinema of South India. After completing a Master’s degree in Mass Communication and Journalism (MCJ) he served as a journalist in Mathrubhumi, an Indian language newspaper. His research interests include Dress studies, Material Culture, South Indian Cinema and Film Music.
Viju Vannathan Val_Film Snaps TM&KL10
Film Snap Thattathin Marayathu