Interracial Relationship in the Movie A Passage to India

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The characters of The Buddha of Suburbia and One Out of Many were experiencing identity crises in a foreign country. Haroon, Santosh, and the other characters settled down in a new country and pushed their limits to adapt to the foreign lifestyle, which was really difficult, as it collided with their own cultural backgrounds. The characters were in between two worlds: their past and the present; their homeland and their new place of settlement; their ethnic community and the host society. Unlike them, in A Passage to India, the setting takes place in the city of Chandrapore in India in the early 1920s when the British occupied, colonized and controlled India. A Passage to India is a movie that deals with the problems thrown up by the relationships formed across cultural boundaries between Western and Eastern. Throughout the movie, some of the Indian characters portray Bhabha’s ambivalence in their mimicry/admiration and rejection.

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Dr.Aziz is the protagonist who appears as a cultured Indian at the beginning of the movie. Because Aziz is the main character in the movie, he is expected to have some special qualities, on the contrary, he is shown as sheepish, bewildered, illogical, and sometimes exhausted, broken. Aziz’s relationships with the British, his environment, lifestyle, and his house put him in negative thoughts. The bedroom used by Aziz is quite neglected, people and his friends live a superficial life by engaging in intrigues and rumors. His friends are described as third-rate people. It is said that the minds of the Indians are rough and weaker. Dr. Aziz is depicted as embarrassed of his environment and house, which he considers as a slum. To avoid a potential embarrassment, Aziz invites Miss Quested and Miss Moore to the Marabar caves without ever seeing or visiting this place before. All these events reflect the effect of imperial culture upon the native culture and identity. He is shown as an educated Indian, who has assimilated the Western culture to the degree, that he has created a British point of view. This kind of perspective leads him to self-pity and self-hatred. As it happens in all colonial regions, the Indians like Aziz suffer from duel identities and hybridity, on one side, they are already identified by the colonizers, and on the other side, they mimicries themselves so as to hide the gap between the colonizers and them. Homi Bhaba‘s mimicry term takes its place in the movie and is shown by the character Aziz. He continuously performs his endeavors to be a British, but every time he fails to understand the Other and he becomes what Bhaba calls a mimic man, as a subject of a difference almost the same, but not quite.

Dr. Aziz has positive thoughts about Cyril Fielding and he attempts to connect with him and his English friends whom he perceives as different from the other British people. Aziz wears Western clothes when he is in a British company. For example, on the day of the trip to the caves, the discrepancy of imposing British culture is apparent, particularly as it is shown that Aziz's dress is inappropriate for the situation. Walking under the sun in those dark tight clothes, he feels uncomfortable, hot, and constrained by them. From the very moment he agreed with himself to end his relationship with the British colonialists, he puts on his cultural clothes again. This kind of replacement in the style of dress indicates a psychological evolution in the relationship of Aziz with the British and it scales up his ambivalence between two areas. When Fielding comes to his place to see him after the judgment situation that happened to him because of Adela, Aziz, wearing an elegant smock, says: ‘I’m an Indian, at last’. Fielding laments that Aziz has requested money for damages in this sequence, but the Indian doctor, Aziz replies in frustration that if he hadn't, the English would just comment: ‘Here is an Indian that almost behaves like a gentleman but for the color of his face might not let him get into the club. Is that why you came to see me? In the end, you all English stick together … Tell her (Adela) to keep her money and tell her to use it to buy herself a husband!’ However, after this condemning explanation, Aziz asks Fielding: ‘Are you coming with me (to the celebration of the trial resolution)?’ In other words, although the relationships between these cultures at a time of conflict are not that easy to continue, Aziz still makes an exception with his white friend, in spite of his rage. Therefore, through this scene, the movie demonstrates that friendship is possible between people belonging to different ethnic communities, as these people are able to overcome cultural prejudices.

The picnic scene before the incident in the Marabar caves is also an example of Aziz’s mimicry. In Reviewing Imperial Conflicts, Mendes and Baptista note that picnics were introduced by the British in the early seventeenth century and thanks to them, the notion of 'picnic' leaked into India (172). Unexpectedly, before the tour of the caves, Aziz organizes a picnic although Mrs. Moore and Mrs. Quested wanted to see the real India. The Indians who were there with them wandering around waiting to enter the cave, Aziz offered them port wine with specially arranged tables and chairs. Similar to the British set up clubs and hill stations for the purpose of having the upper hand, security, and control, Aziz builds imitation of the club way of life to make the women feel at home in a totally foreign because the British try to refrain the indigenous environment at all costs. This fake British feeling of the trip to the caves is also arranged by the food that is served on the train: “poached eggs and tea”. These are classically British and it is a hint that he is contributing to the made-up British space politics in India. As it is seen obviously, Aziz has problems between adapting to the British culture and sticking to his own roots. All of his attempts fail as Mrs. Quested unfairly accuses Aziz for supposed molestation and almost everyone, except Fielding, believes her because of inequality.

Horrified by the news, Aziz finds no friend so encouraging and sympathetic as Fielding. Intentionally, Fielding positions himself to the center of difficult situations and discovers himself replaced by the subject of the colonized in several situations in spite of the truth that he is the colonizer within the sense of postcolonial discourse. He is no longer the colonizer but rather the colonized since he created a new identity through the ‘hybridity’. He defends Aziz fiercely, and while some Indians have a suspicion about Aziz’s innocence, he is confident that Aziz is innocent. Fielding pushes his limits to make Miss Quested accept her delusion and drop the accusation and has discussions with the Club members for the sake of his support of Aziz, which makes him decide to quit the Club certainly. As seen in the movie without any doubt, the British people consider themselves superior to the Indians. Unlike them, Fielding doesn’t approve of the ethnic differences between himself and the native population. Instead of focusing on the racial distinctions, he communicates with the native population on an individual basis. Despite all the negative events and struggles, the movie demonstrates that friendship is possible between people belonging to different ethnic communities, as these people are able to overcome cultural prejudices.

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