Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mangal Pandey

Due to plenty of accurate summaries and descriptions of many events within the movie and comparison to the literature, I’d like to analyze a few scenes within the movie and possible underlying messages and their association with the literature and discussions we’ve had within class.

Transition Music & Smoke Shop Group

The singers on the back of the elephants, who are also in attendance at the smoke shop, frame the different sections of the movie by foreshadowing within the songs. The beginning song is repeated at the end of the movie to illustrate the actual “arising” resistance. Scenes of the different groups planning and forming together are presented throughout the song.

During the Bazaar song there are overtones of how anything is for sale now (perhaps sarcastically thanks to the Company). One line during the song explains, “Honor and dignity…all battles and lies all music and noise. All for sale.” As the song comes to a close, the viewers are presented with the true underlying message: The Company allows the sale of slaves despite slavery being illegal in England.

During the first encounter at the smoke shop, a discussion occurs regarding telegraphs. A person reading a newspaper states, “The Company connected the entire country through wires.” In response to the disbelief of his fellows in attendance, he explains, “It’s got to be true! It’s in the newspaper!” I believe this is an integration of a post-modernist statement on the reliance of facts and media.

During the second encounter at the smoke shop, a man begins by stating, "When traders become rulers then the common man pays the price." Here is another example of these men foreshadowing events to come. Immediately preceding the forced testing of the new cartridges, this same individual comments, "Gun is a treacherous lover, there's no telling whom she'll set her sights upon!" And sure enough, the gun eventually turns on the Company.

New Year Celebrations at the Governor General’s Palace

This part of the movie is a critical statement on the different viewpoints of the occupation of India. From the perspective of the Governor General, the Indians are receiving the “benefits of modern governance, scientific progress, and above all, justice.” Additionally, he suggests that “we have earned the love and gratitude of the people of India…and we shoulder the burden of the white man without complaint.” Beyond being extremely pompous speech, his statements present a vast disconnect from the Indian population. Throughout this speech there are two Indian characters that playfully translate and comment on his statements. One continuously waits for the moment where he must praise the Queen while the other translates the Governor Generals statements into shorter, blunter messages, stating, “they are doing us a favor…we are grateful to them,” while obviously dissenting at these comments.

Emily = Child or ignorance

Emily wears a sari to the Governor General’s New Year Celebration and is said to look like a “nautch girl.” Upon being insulted, Emily calls out Mr. Hewson about visiting local prostitutes in front of other white women, resulting in his subsequent denial. Mr. Hewson’s statements are in line with our discussion on Tuesday regarding how the integration of English women into India changed the integration between English males and the locales. Additionally, Emily is used later within the movie as the ‘ignorant child’ to provoke Gordon’s explanation of the opium trade.

Opium Explanation

Leading up to Gordon’s explanation of the opium trade, he is accosted regarding his schooling, status, and fraternization with the Indian population. This scene presents a distinction that classes or castes not only exist within India, but elsewhere as well in more subtle ways. This disrespect leads to Gordon’s distasteful explanation of how the trade operates in a full circle: “Forcing Indian farmers…to help turn an entire nation [China] into opium addicts.” He then finishes by explaining that the East India Company wants the Indian sepoys to fight and die in a war to force the Chinese emperor to accept opium, completing the “Free market cycle.” Gordon, during this explanation presents a couple other ideas. He suggests that the English, like the Chinese, are equally addicts but for Chinese goods instead of opium. In his final statement, “I’m just a common soldier. It’s a subject you would know more about,” Gordon acknowledges his place within the English ‘caste’ and insults the host by suggesting that he, instead of Gordon, should have been the one to explain to Emily the opium trade system as he is the responsible one.


The noose, at the introduction of the movie is framed around Mangal Pandey’s head; however, near the end of the movie there is a scene where Gordon is standing, staring at the camera with the noose framed around his head. I believe these scenes to be methods of foreshadowing Mangal’s death (at the beginning of the movie) and later Gordon’s inevitable death once the Indian population fights back.

Woman Nursing

I found these scenes to be out of place initially, but upon further analysis I believe these scenes are used similar to Mother India; making an important statement in the most subtle of ways. The mother supplies all her milk to the Governor General‘s (?) wife, leaving none for her own baby. I believe this mother to represent India and that the Company, like the baby, is “sucking dry” India, leaving nothing left for her own children. This entire time, the actual mother (Governor General’s wife?) lays around paying absolutely no attention to her own offspring. This mother I believe is representative of England and the lack of intervention with the Company.


Similar to the mentally handicap individual within Gadar, I find the Untouchable within this movie to be the most sane and insightful person. Upon being insulted for his crossed-eyes, he responds stating, “A twisted rope is strongest, a twisted eyesight is deepest.” This statement proves to be true as his ‘visions’ turn out to be true. Later he states to Mangal, “We’re all untouchable now. The Company reigns. All trash is equal.” It is through reflecting upon statements made by the Untouchable that Mangal has his epiphanies. Additionally, the untouchable refers to the enslaved prostitute (Cannot recall her name) as Mangal’s “Juliet”, referencing Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo and Juliet

After the untouchable references the enslaved prostitute as Mangal’s Juliet, there is a balcony scene that is remarkably similar to Romeo and Juliet. Additionally, later in the movie Mangal is approached and petitioned to “run away.” While not being directly a link to Romeo and Juliet, there are underlying similarities being made.

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