Les filmi geet : la grande passion indienne
La chanson du cinéma indien :
quelles fonctionalités, quelles significations ?

Mémoire réalisé par Mademoiselle Karthika NAIR
sous la direction de
Madame Françoise GRÜND (Université de Paris X – Nanterre)
DESS "Développement Culturel et Direction de Projet" - UNIVERSITE LYON II – LUMIERE/ ARSEC
Année 2000 - 2001


  « ... Wherein lies the power of songs?
Maybe it derives from the sheer strangeness of there being
singing in the world.
The note, the scale, the chord; melodies, harmonies,
arrangements; symphonies, ragas, Chinese operas, jazz,
the blues; that such things should exist,
that we should have discovered
the magical intervals and distances that yield the poor
clusters of notes,
all within the span of a human hand,
from which we can build our cathedrals of sound,
is as alchemical a mystery as mathematics, or wine, or love.
Maybe the birds taught us. Maybe not.
Maybe we are just creatures in search of exaltation.
We don’t have much of it. Our lives are not what we deserve;
they are, let us agree, in many painful ways deficient.
Song turns them into something else.
Song shows us a world that is worthy of our yearning,
it shows us our selves as they might be, if we were worthy of
the world.
Five mysteries hold the keys to the unseen:
the act of love, and the birth of a baby, and the
contemplation of great art,
and hearing the human voice lifted into song.
These are the occasions when the bolts of the universe fly
and we are given a glimpse of what is hidden;

an eff of the ineffable... »

   Salman RUSHDIE
The Ground Beneath Her Feet
[New York, Picador USA, 2000]

It transcends the vast stretches
of oceans, mountains,
hemispheres. Time zones too.
Haunts my nights by
singing in my blood.
Raucous, dogged the call, yet
forever mine, the only permanence
of an evanescent existence.
Creeping through tissues, neurones
whispering familiar notes
driving me beyond
reason, remembrance
or mortality.
The ache recedes.
I believe the self free.
a few precious moments
when Freedom serenades
fettered spirits, beguiling them
into a burst of
Heady, spiralling
towards the Milky Way.
brush my cheeks.
Then, collision.
Spin, out of orbit.
the earth approaches.
Dizzying, the fall.
Mortal, the impact.
Hard earth opens its arms.
Home is thus.
Shards of me
scatter here, there, all about.
irretrievable, insignificant,
merged with the soil
buried by the dust
swept under fallen leaves.
the Melody resurfaces.
My lament once,
now the earth song.

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( r e m e r c i e m e n t s )

This dissertation, like most of my endeavours, would not have been feasible in autarky: if it has seen the light of day, the credit goes to a large number of people who whetted my appetite for questions, shaped and sharpened the process of reflection and provided the conditions conducive to this study. Others sustained me, gaily, unflinchingly, through these turbulent months. There are more people than I can name in a page or two, but I would like to express my deep gratitude to them all and, in particular, to :

  • Françoise GRÜND, who directed this dissertation, for her valuable guidance and for her enthusiasm over a subject that many others were sceptical about.

  • Jacques BONNIEL, for validating the problematic and for the initial orientation

  • Christine BOLZE, Isabelle, Violaine and Florence of the Information Centre of ARSEC for their constant availability, cheer and help with documentation

  • The Maison des Cultures du Monde, especially Ashok ADICEAM and his team of « Courants », for logistic help

  • Brigadier Thomas MATHEW, Military Attaché to the Embassy of India in France

  • Olivier CAYATTE of the cité de la musique, for loan of precious hardware, without which this dissertation would remain « ineffable » material.

  • Paul Zachariah, P K Nair, N. Madhavankutty, and others from the world of Indian media who lent me their ears and opinions and took the time to answer a host of questions

  • SANAM Videos, Paris, for the musicography and filmography cardinal to my study, for their amicability and generosity, for the opportunity to hear Hindi and Urdu again

  • My parents, for putting a mine of information at my disposal from across 13.000 kilometres, and for marshalling help from resource persons in the Indian film industry

  • Everyone of the DESS batch of 2000-2001 from ARSEC, veritable comrades-inarms, especially Renaud, Emilie, Sandrine, Caroline, Carlos and Grégory

  • Owen BEUCHET, for his unflagging accompaniment of this quest - from the first, meandering steps to the last nerve-racking phase ; for time, energy and thought bountifully bestowed ; for tolerating the invasion of space by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Qawwali, Ghazal, Shayari and Thumri ; for the rediscovery of a distant and dearly-beloved subcontinent; for the shared music, the culinary ventures (stale daal and uncooked gulab jamuns included !), the abundant laughter - even amidst the tempests, the sacrificed slumber; for transforming - sheer alchemy, this - a dreary summer into a blithe, if busy, lark. Bahut Shukriya, badi meherbani, meri zindagi mein huzoor aap aaye...

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