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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 13 September 2014
OPINION: OLGA KANDINSKAIA DIATRIBE DEAN KALIMNIOU 26 SATURDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 2014 BollyGreek I have always idly enter- tained the implausible the- ory that Cypriots have some manner of connection with the subcontinent. I base this absurd hypothesis on the generally darker hue of the Cypriot skin and the undulat- ing lilting tone of their ac- cent, which reminds one of spoken Gujarati. Yet I believe I have, of late, discovered the final, incontrovertible piece of evidence that backs my claim forevermore. Watching the 1975 Indian film classic Sholay recently, I stumbled upon a music/ dance number entitled Me- hbooba, supposedly com- posed by the great Rahul Dev Burman. With only min- ute adaptations, this song basically is identical to the Cypriot folk song Τα ριάλια, the only difference being that while Mehbooba talks of roses blooming in the de- sert, Τα ριάλια is a love song whose chorus mysterious- ly fixates upon the search for riyals (a Middle Eastern form of currency) deposited in the bank by a malcontent. Given that Sholay is both a love story and a story about robbers, the two sets of lyr- ics are not as disparate as they may first appear. The successful reception of a Cypriot song within the complex constructions of the Indian musical tradi- tion raises the question as to whether other songs of this nature have been subsumed by this most prolific of In- dian industries. While the wading through the multi- tude of songs composed in India every year is a weighty task, rather than demand damages for breach of the copyright held for Τα ριάλια and other possible musical borrowings, it is worthwhile to consider that the Greek purloining of Indian songs has deep roots and, in fact, has had a significant effect on the development of Greek popular music. The modern connection between Greece and Indi- an music surprisingly lies through 1930s Australia, when an Australian of Greek and Scottish origin became one of the biggest stars of Indian cinema. Fearless Na- dia Hunterwali, resplendent in mask and hat and with whip in hand, became one of India's most successful female actors and stunt- women. Early bondage footage notwithstanding, it was the bleak economic condition of Greece in the early 1950s that facilitated the influence of Indian music via film in the country. Post-war Greece had been devastated by the occupation and civil war. An atmosphere of depression and mourning prevailed as people tried to rebuild their lives. Social dislocation as people fled the countryside for cities or foreign lands, of- ten living in unhealthy and oppressive circumstances, caused a climate of desper- ation in which Indian mov- ies made an indelible im- pression. The plots of the overly emo- tive Indian films resonated with the wounded Greek psy- che. Suffering women, street children who had to drop out of school, jealous sis- ters-in-law, vengeful moth- ers-in-law, interdependen- cies, betrayals and frequent unhappy ends were all cir- cumstances one could eas- ily identify with. Maidser- vants and factory workers saw themselves depicted on the movie screen, hoping for deliverance via a transcend- ence of class and other bar- riers via marriage to a rich young man they worked for. The exoticism and exuber- ance of Indian film sets and costumes was matched by the musical score underly- ing them. Actresses such as Madhublala have featured in songs by no less a person- age as Kazantzidis, while such is the enduring pres- ence of Mangala (from the Angelopoulos hit "Manga- la, the daughter of the ma- haraja" borrowed from the song Gao tarane man ke) in the Greek psyche that she even features in a recent In- dian-themed children's song performed by the bizarrely named Mazoo and the Zoo. Indian film tunes pervade Greek music of the '50s and '60s. Kazantizidis' classic Καρδιά μου καημένη, is di- rectly derived from Dunia me ham aaye from the film Mother India, whereas the equally classic Αυτή η νύχτα μένει is taken from Ulfat ka saaz chhedo from the 1953 hit movie Aurat. Angelo- poulos' famous song ΄Οσο αξίζεις εσύ is also an Indian adaptation, from the song Duniawalon se duur, featured in the movie Ujaala. Simi- larly, Petros Anagnostakis' song Κάποιο τρένο is adapt- ed from the Indian Pyar hua ikrar hua. Voula Pala and Apostolos Kaldaras were also prominent exponents of the art of Indian adaptation. Apart from their emphasis of the soulful themes of the films, the songs were pop- ular with the Greek people because they were rendered in an oriental style that was popular with Asia Minor ref- ugees and with residents of remote villages, where older musical traditions were re- membered. Original Greek songs with Indian motifs be- gan to be created. In order to Hellenise the music, com- posers often sped them up, simplified sections where they could not reproduce the trained voices of the In- dians, and changed instru- ments, using the bouzouki. Not all Greek musicians ap- preciated this craze. In his autobiography, the great Vasilis Tsitsanis had this to say about the exploitation of Indian music: "Indian rule (Ινδοκρατία) started to prevail in the field of Is Cyprus prepared for a new Cold War? I am not an expert on in- ternational politics, nei- ther am I a historian. I am writing this article from a point of view of an econ- omist who happens to be Russian and who has grown up during the Cold War era. The fundamental distrust between the USA and the Soviet Union, which had been brewing since before World War II, culminated in more than 45 years of extreme hostility between the two superpowers which effectively divided the whole world into two op- posing camps. That was the original Cold War, 1945- 1991. Coined by George Orwell in 1945 and picked up by politicians in 1947, the term 'cold war' has nev- ertheless stayed as part of history for 23 non-confron- tation years - reminding us of that dark period when sus- picion penetrated all levels of international relations, from politics to culture. It has become evident in the last few months that this term is no longer just part of history. It is increasingly be- ing used by journalists and now also politicians to de- scribe the escalating tension between Obama and Putin. Some prominent writers, such as Robert Legvold, pro- fessor at Columbia University, specialist in the international relations of the post-Soviet states, have appealed against the return of the term saying that "no one should casually label the current confronta- tion between Russia and the West a 'new Cold War'. After all, the current crisis hardly matches the depth and scale of the contest that dominated the international system in the second half of the twen- tieth century. And accepting the premise that Russia and the West are locked in such a conflict could lead policy- makers to pursue the wrong, even dangerous strategies." No matter how we prefer to label this new rising wave of mistrust between Russia and the West, the confrontation is back. After the European Un- ion (EU) summit in Brussels on August 30, EU Commis- sion President Jose Manuel Barroso openly referred to the crisis as "a new Cold War" un- derlying that strategically "it makes no sense to have this kind of conflict". Certainly from a point of view of an economist, this type of confrontation will be highly damaging because it will waste resources, erode economies and undermine the well-being of people. In the world which is split- ting once again into two op- posing camps, Cyprus has suddenly found itself in a rather awkward position. De- spite its historical ties with Russia and having an econo- my which is highly depend- ent on the income from Rus- sian tourists and Russian off- shore companies, Cyprus at the same time is obliged - as an EU member - to support the official EU line of sanc- tions. This has already re- sulted in €13.5 million loss from agricultural exports due to the Russian embargo on EU food products in re- sponse to the EU sanctions over Ukraine. Yet this loss is nothing compared to the damage which may occur should the confrontation es- calate further. As reported on July 29 by the pro-Kremlin daily news- paper Izvestia, Russian law- makers have drafted amend- ments to introduce a new legal term 'aggressor coun- try'. The document describes as an 'aggressor country' a state that has "imposed sanc- tions on the Russia Federa- tion, Russian citizens, or Rus- sian companies". The new bill would give "the government the right to approve a list of aggressor countries in order to defend the foundations of constitutional order, to en- sure the state's defence and security, to protect the do- mestic market of the Rus- sian Federation and the de- velopment of the national economy". Izvestia quoted Yevgeny Fyo- dorov, a deputy from the rul- ing United Russia party, say- ing the new proposals would allow the Russian govern- ment to restrict auditing and consulting companies regis- tered in 'aggressor countries' in their operations in Russia. Fyodorov, who is one of the main advocates of the new amendments, named six ma- jor international auditing and consulting firms - De- loitte, KPMG, PWC, Ernst and Young, Boston Consult- ing Group, and McKinsey - that the government would be able to restrict. Such legislation would mark a significant escalation in Moscow's response to sanc- tions, and would upgrade the current confrontation to an entirely new level. Cyprus could be labelled as an 'aggressor country'. As bi- zarre as it may sound at the moment, it may be a reality of the not-so-distant future. To say that our financial sec- tor and tourism will be af- fected is an understatement. Indian film tunes pervade Greek music of the '50s and '60s.
20 September 2014