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The Invisible Coolie Shines in ‘The Cutlass’ (Comment: Special to Newsgram)

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The Cutlass
Dr. Kumar Mahabir

Aug 21, 2017: “Coolie” is the name of the character played by Narad Mahabir in the play directed by Errol Hill titled Man Better Man.

The local play was performed at NAPA in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago in June and an excerpt was staged in August during the premiere of the CARIFESTA festival. Mahabir was given a minor role as the lone Indo-Trinidadian (Indian) villager in the musical which was laced with humorous dialogue, Kalinda dances and calypso songs.

Except for recent plays written and directed by Indians like Victor Edwards, Seeta Persad and Walid Baksh, Indian actors and actresses have been given minor roles or none at all (“invisible”) in “national” theatre and cinema. In this context, The Cutlass is a movie with a difference. And indeed, the tagline of the movie on the cinema poster is “A breakthrough in Caribbean Cinema.”

Surprisingly, Arnold Goindhan is given the lead role (by the non-Indian TeneilleNewallo) as of the kidnapper named “Al” in The Cutlass. Paradoxically, he is given only a fleeting presence in the film’s trailerHe is the only Indian actor and the only character who is Indian, in a movie that is based on crime, race and class.

As a villain, Al is portrayed as an evil Indian Hindu. A calendar painting of the anthropomorphic Hindu god, Lord Hanuman (The Remover of Obstacles) is captured fleetingly on the wall of Al’s forest camp. In the film world of poetic justice The Cutlass, light must overcome darkness, whiteness must overwhelm blackness, and Christianity must conquer Hinduism. The pendant of Virgin Mary in the hands of the white kidnapped victim must overpower Hanuman.

Goindhan is a full-time Indian actor from Malick in Barataria who also sings and plays music. The “Island Movie Blog” on August 11 noted that when Goindhan “keeps his portrayal subtle, he really shines.” The July/August edition of the Caribbean Beat magazine stated that The Cutlass has delivered “compelling performances” to audiences.

The kidnap movie premiered to a sold-out audience at the T&T Film Festival in 2016 received rave reviews. It copped the T&T Film Festival’s Best Trinidad and Tobago Feature Film and People’s Choice awards. The Cutlass was also screened at international film festivals such as the Cannes Film Mart at the Cannes Film Festival in France.

The last time an Indian was chosen for a major role in a local feature film was 43 years ago in 1974. That film was titled Bim which featured Ralph (Anglicised from Rabindranath) Maraj playing the role of Bim/Bheem Sing. Bim was based on the composite life of a notorious assassin, Boysie Singh, and aggressive trade unionist and Hindu leader, Bhadase Sagan Maraj.

As an actor, Ralph Maraj was preceded by Basdeo Panday who became the first Indian in the Caribbean to appear on a big screen in Nine Hours to Rama (1963). The movie was about the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Panday also acted in two other British cinematic movies: Man in the Middle (1964) and The Brigand of Kandahar (1965).

But the Indo-Caribbean actor who has earned the honour of starring in the most movies – Hollywood included – is Errol Sitahal. He acted in Tommy Boy (1995), A Little Princess (1995) and Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (2004).

Valmike Rampersadand Dinesh (“Dino”) Maharaj is rising stars to watch. Originally from Cedros, Dinesh is the lead actor in Moko Jumbie, a new feature film by Indo-Trinidadian-American Vashti Anderson. Moko Jumbie was selected for screening at the 2017 LA Film Festival.

Dinesh acted in the local television series, Westwood Park (1997–2004). His cinematic film credits include portrayals in Klash (1996), The Mystic Masseur (2001) and Jeffrey’s Calypso (2005).

Nadia Nisha Kandhai is the lead actress in the upcoming screen adaptation of the novel, Green Days by the River.

There is a real danger in marginalising Indians in theatre and film when they are in fact the largest ethnic group in T&T according to the 2011 CSO census data. Cultivation theory states that images in the media strongly influence perceptions of the real-world. This theory was developed by communication researchers George Gerbner and Larry Gross of the University of Pennsylvania in 1976.

The Cutlass can transmit the following wrong perceptions of reality: (1) Hinduism is evil, (2) Indians are one percent of the population, (3) there are few Indian actors, (4) Indians constitute the majority of kidnappers, and (5) the majority of kidnapped victims are white.

I presented a research paper in 2005 based on 40 cases of kidnapping in T&T. My findings revealed that 78% of the victims were Indians, and according to the survivors, the overwhelming majority of the kidnappers were Afro ex-police and army strongmen.

Watch Trailer: The Cutlass

 

The Writer is an anthropologist who has published 11 books


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What is the Symbolic Element Christening Gowns in Christendom?

Significance of Baptism in Christian tradition

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baptism is a highly-revered Christian ceremony that has a lot of symbolism. Pixabay

First of all, baptism is a highly-revered Christian ceremony with a lot of symbolism that is traced to biblical times. We will tell you a story that will both excite as well as educate you on the origin of this highly symbolic Christian tradition.

According to Christian beliefs, everyone born on earth comes with the ‘original sin.’ The history of this concept is traceable to the biblical story about the origin of mankind.

Where It All Began

It’s said that when God created the world, he created a man called Adam and later created his wife called Eve from his ribs when he was caused to fall asleep. They were both living in the Garden of Eden.

One day, the devil came to convince Eve to eat the fruit from a tree at the center of the garden against God’s instructions. The tree was called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The devil told Eve to eat of the tree and also give to Adam. That they will be as wise as God.

Eve did as she was told and also gave to her husband. Their act grieved God a lot, and He cursed and banished them from the garden.

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Christian attachment to the act of baptism or christening is very strong. Pixabay

The Coming of Jesus Christ

Many years later, while mankind was suffering from the consequences of the original sin committed by our progenitors, God decided to have mercy and sent His only begotten son, Jesus, to be the Messiah that will save the whole of mankind.

When Jesus was grown up, he requested John the Baptist to baptize him in the River Jordan as a sign that all sins have been washed away from him.

Immediately after Jesus’ baptism, a white dove descended from heaven and perched on his head while God’s voice bellowed from heaven telling the world to behold His beloved son with whom He is well pleased.

Baptism as a Christian Tradition

Thus, began a serious Christian attachment to the act of baptism or christening. This particularly significant ceremony or tradition is performed at babyhood with white as the most preferred color as it was the dove’s color.

White is said to symbolize purity after the washing away of sins. This is why most christening gowns canada, just like a huge fraction of Christian countries, come in white.

Christianity
Baptism is a highly symbolic Christian tradition. Pixabay

On the Use of One Christening Gown Passed Down for Generations

The significance of the christening gown has gained massive acclaim within the Christian fold in such a way that most families have adopted the use of a single christening gown for baptizing or christening their babies for generations.

You will be surprised that quite a good number of christening gowns canada are pieces of a family heirloom that has been used for generations to preserve family legacies and heritage of many great Canadian families.

Also Read: Trump Administration Significantly Weakens U.S. Endangered Species Act

The significance attached to the christening gown is further heightened by the fact that it is used only once in a lifetime. It is quite a memory to preserve, and most adults always appreciate the feeling of nostalgia that they have when they set eyes on their christening photographs.

In conclusion, in some Christian denominations, one can never be fully accepted if one did not undergo baptism as a baby.