Mobilizing   India
Remo Fernandes and Denise Belfon - Reply to "Indian Man":
In the 2004 Soca Monarch Competition, a crowd favourite was Afro-Trinidadian Denise Belfon a.k.a. Saucy Wow. Growing up watching Mastana Bahar and Indian films on television, claiming to be fascinated by Hindi cinema, Belfon, a former beauty queen, had picked up Indian melodies and dance styles which included intricate head movements from classical Indian dance. Clad in a glittering blue sari which she drapes herself, and surrounded by chutney dancers, Belfon, who did a popular English/Bhojpuri re-mix of Sonny Mann's Lotay La in 1996 and who - singing in Hindi/Bhojpuri - also contests at present in the Chutney Monarch Competition, comes onstage to the beat of a musical phrase from the Hindi film Takshak (Govind Nihalani, 1999). This beat heralds Belfon's hit song I am looking for an Indian Man. In her high-energy performance, Belfon casts off her sari and emerges in orange tights as she proceeds to wine down the house. While for decades male calypsonians had sung about the exotic Indian woman, representing her as the normative feminine, this was the very first time that an African woman was representing in music a desire for the Indian man. And in doing so, performing an implicit critique of normative Creole Trinidadian masculinity

Remo's Reply suggested that not knowing how to wine made him her "Indian man from India" (rather than from Penal or Port of Spain). As his lyrics indicate, he is "One hundred per cent", "genuine" and "unadulterated", with "no additional flavour". The cultural risks of entering a conversation about Trinidadian masculinity with descriptions such as these can be immense. In proclaiming the Indian from India as the answer to Denise's prayers, Remo's lyrics almost verge on a disavowal of the specific history of Trini Indians. But the humour of his lines lie in how they gesture to his own, often challenged, claim to Indianness in India as someone from a former Portuguese colony, Goa. Nowhere else in our journey did he capture so profoundly his sense of connection with East Indians in the Caribbean, both joint heirs to the formations of modernity rendered illegitimate by the narratives of nationalism in India.

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