Journal Article

The Colonization of <i>Madame Bovary</i>: Hindi Cinema's <i>Maya Memsaab</i>

Mary Donaldson-Evans

in Adaptation

Volume 3, issue 1, pages 21-35
Published in print March 2010 | ISSN: 1755-0637
Published online October 2009 | e-ISSN: 1755-0645 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/adaptation/app009
The Colonization of Madame Bovary: Hindi Cinema's Maya Memsaab

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This is the first in-depth analysis of Maya Memsaab (1992), Ketan Mehta's Hindi film adaptation of Flaubert's 1857 classic novel, Madame Bovary. Using the taxonomy established by Thomas Leitch in his recently published Film Adaptation and Its Discontents, the essay argues that in addition to updating its novelistic source and adapting it to the screen and to Indian culture, Mehta's film effectively colonizes it, imposing new meanings on the original text. If, like her fictional elder, Mehta's heroine is a victim of illusion (a concept inscribed moreover in the name ‘Maya’), she also falls prey to the nefarious influence of the West on the culture of the subcontinent. Mehta's coup is to have created an ostensibly respectful adaptation while infusing it with a distinctly Indian ideology. Designed to satisfy its British and French co-producers and its disparate audiences (indigenous and diasporic Indians accustomed to Bollywood song-and-dance numbers as well as the international public familiar with the novel), Maya Memsaab reincarnates Emma Bovary in order to comment on the plight of the Westernized Indian woman.

Keywords: Hindi cinema; film adaptation; Madame Bovary; Maya Memsaab; Mehta; Ketan

Journal Article.  8191 words. 

Subjects: Film ; Television ; Literature

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