Mobilizing   India
 Chapter 3
Drupatee Ramgoonai singing Hindi film remix:
Hum thay jin ke sahaare

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This chapter and the next two analyse the invocation of the 'Indian' in Trinidadian popular music in the context of debates about sexuality and cultural identity. The music ranges from what has come to be generically called "chutney" (including folk-derived Bhojpuri lyrics and rhythms at the one end, Trini English and Afro-Caribbean beats at the other) to calypso to soca. East Indian women, whether as performers or narrativised characters, are central to this music, with their centrality being commented upon, criticized or celebrated by the various interlocutors in the discussion. Deriving from North Indian folk wedding songs, chutney - originally in Bhojpuri/Hindi - began to be sung with added English lyrics early on by Indian migrants. From being a segregated dance form, chutney by the 1980s became a public event. Instead of being a performance watched by an audience, like the older forms of "Indian dance", chutney turned dancing into a public participatory form for both men and women. This chapter moves from chutney to chutney-soca and its key exponents, in particular the flamboyant and controversial Drupatee Ramgoonai. In a section called "The Body in the Voice", I try to account for the specific anxieties chutney-soca seems to invoke. The chapter also offers a history of the emergence of the genre, and a critical account of the multiple interpretations, both popular and scholarly, that are available.

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