The Filmi Influence on East Indian Dress and Dance in Trinidad



Clothing for East Indian immigrants in Trinidad was a visible form of cultural memory and identity and was used to construct a code of visibility that contributed to their sense of identity. This codified construction of identity by East Indians created a visible front, which was the initial self that was presented to others. It created a partial cultural face and aided in the positive construction of their identity that not only served as the basis for continued cultural commonality among themselves but also was a bond by which they made a strong collective statement of identity in terms of their past, their present and their evolving future in Trinidad.

The historical context within which the East Indian identity in Trinidad was situated, such as transplantation from their homeland into a Christian society that was made up of Spanish, English, French, and ex-African slaves, functioned as a distinctive cryptogram that triggered a “herding” mentality among the flock. This linked them together although they came from different parts of India with varying regional contradictions. They had distinctive traditions, customs and dialects and were placed within the colonial social structure of Trinidad’s post -emancipation society. Moreover, their general working and living conditions were similar to the slaves who previously occupied the same barracks and worked the same sugar plantations under similar planters. Despite these constraints they were able to discover commonalities within their collective evolving identity that embodied aspects of their past which became fused with adaptations of elements of the new environment that enabled them to survive in the new land.

Their dress was the most visible aspect of all the commonalities of identity that were embedded in their new society, because, unlike in India where the type or style of clothing worn was an identity symbol that indicated the region of origin for the individual, in Trinidad this was no longer of any significance. Survival was the name of the game and refined niceties such as caste identity, type and style of jewelry or apparel worn, which held meaningful connotations in India, had lost a great deal of significance in Trinidad and was consequently not applicable in the new settings here.


Dress, as part of the cumulative consequence on identity must be viewed and recognized within the social and cultural contextualities that formed the individual’s environment. Stone[1] Stryker[2] and Goffman[3] share similar views that dress as a medium of communication bears a direct relationship to identity and assumed a symbolic interactionist relationship therewith.

Stone, however, expanded this interactionist theory and posited that dress was seen before any conversation was initiated in social and other encounters. It therefore assumed a definite priority over any discourse in the establishment of identity as the clothing that people wore and the way they dressed sent a message to the onlooker long before any conversation took place.

Within a society, particularly a multiethnic one such as Trinidad, the types of dress worn by people, communicated meanings that were for the most part disseminated based on their cultural and religious environments, the social setting and the extent to which the past was brought to bear upon the present. By wearing the dress of the group even on special occasions, such as Divali and Indian Arrival days, there was the creation of a certain amount of cultural affinity, identity and cultural authentication of the group focus. Craik [4]suggested that by the way we use or wear our bodies to present ourselves to our social environment, we also map out our codes of conduct and send messages to our audience in terms of who we are and our identity.

East Indians in Trinidad, therefore, particularly in the early period up to the 1950s, wore the clothing with which they were familiar and which had cultural meaning and identity for them. Women wore long dresses called ghangri, with jhula and orhni, while the men wore dhoti with kurta and pagree or capra. In addition, men and women also wore their dhoti and ghangri to work in the fields up to the late 1940s.[5]

Following on the views of Stone and Goffman with respect to dress as a communicative tool, one can postulate that within the East Indian society in Trinidad the types of dress worn and the communicative meanings that they disseminated depended largely on the cultural and religious environment, social settings, and the extent to which the past was brought to bear on their present. The early East Indians in Trinidad wore mainly traditional outfits in their daily routine but as time went by subtle changes in their apparel were forced upon them due to climate, working conditions, westernization and other environmental factors. With the advent of Indian movies in 1935, further changes in that arena took place due to exposure to western trends visible in Indian movies. Local East Indian women did not wear the sari in public before the advent of Bala Joban. Only the wives of Indian traders living in the city wore the sari. However, after Bala Joban and subsequent Indian movies local East Indian women began wearing the sari in public and East Indian men also began wearing kurtas at East Indian public functions where before this was not the norm. [6]

While wearing the sari in public was regarded as an identity feature of East Indian life in public, there were certain particularities associated with the sari that many of them were not aware about, such as wearing the inappropriate sari on certain occasions. There was the story of a Trinidadian woman of East Indian descent who attended a concert of a visiting Indian playback singer wearing a sari she had seen in an Indian movie. She was adorned in her finest Indian jewelry and obviously thought that she was well dressed as she entered the concert hall where several Indians from India were also seated. Some Indians (from India) who were at the show laughed and giggled at the “well dressed” Trinidad East Indian woman. To the local East Indians she appeared well dressed but to the Indians something was amiss with her apparel. It was eventually realized that only a particular class of people in India known as “toilet cleaners” wore the sari the local East Indian woman wore that evening. As far as the Indians were concerned the particular sari was clearly inappropriate for the occasion but to the Trinidad East Indians that was inconsequential.[7] This episode suggested that in copying another’s culture East Indians in Trinidad needed to be careful about how others, including those from whom they copy, interpret their mimicry.

As time went by, many East Indians began wearing westernized clothing and certain aspects of East Indian clothing eventually became associated with particular events in the life of East Indians here. For example with Hindus, the dhoti, which was worn by all the early male East Indian immigrants, later became associated with the Brahmin pandits, pooja and other religious events. The mere sight of the male East Indian dressed in a dhoti and kurta denoted a certain amount of religious fervor. In the period leading up to the 1970s, the dhoti and the kurta came to be associated with the pandits and those performing pooja ceremonies but after the 1970s, due to its popularity in Indian movies, and with additional disposable incomes, many local men and women began wearing East Indian outfits in larger numbers at Indian functions. Similarly, the sari and certain jewelry items had also become associated, for the females, with pooja and religious events but that changed after the 1970s. Certain utensils such as the tharia and lotah, formerly regular eating utensils, as were seen in Indian movies, eventually became associated only with pooja and religious occasions. Although they continued to observe those utensils being used for eating everyday meals in Indian movies, they steadfastly maintained their “new tradition” of using those utensils only for religious purposes. In the process, they gravitated to using western eating and drinking utensils in their place.

Furthermore, several external factors also contributed to the increase of traditional wear among East Indians. The oil boom in the 1970s and the surplus spending money that went with it and the increased exhibition of Indian movies (particularly with Indian movies being shown on national television) contributed to a new reawakening of East Indian identity in terms of dress during that period. Furthermore, with the surplus disposable incomes at their disposal, there was a noticeable increase in Ramayan and Bhagwat yagnas during the oil boom era and a concurrent explosion among East Indians in the donning of traditional clothing such as the kurta, sari and shalwar during that period at East Indian functions.

Within recent years, particularly the last twenty years, there has been a tremendous upsurge in East Indian wear in public and this could easily be traced back to Indian movies.[8] While Indian outfits such as the sari, the gharara, the shalwar and the kurta had been around for some time, there was a tremendous increase in their local visibility at public functions within recent years. It became almost commonplace to see males and females wearing East Indian clothing at Ramayan yagnas, Indian weddings, poojas, Indian Arrival Day celebrations, Divali celebrations, and other East Indian public events where before that was not the case.

Many of those outfits could be traced back to Indian movies. For example, Gayatri Mahabirsingh identified one of her shalwars as a Kajol outfit from the movie Kal Ho Na Ho and another as a Rekha outfit from another popular movie. Similarly, men were seen wearing kurtas, called Salman Khan Kurta or a Shah Rukh Khan outfit from one of their popular movies. Not to be outdone, youngsters wore Indian traditional outfits to almost every East Indian cultural event imaginable at great expense to their parents. At a recent Divali Pooja, 2008, at the Tunapuna Hindu School where it had become the custom for students to wear East Indian outfits at “Indian” school events such as Indian Arrival Day, Divali Pooja and Saraswati Pooja [9]students were dressed in their best traditional East Indian outfits. When questioned about the outfits that they wore some of the girls were quick to identify their outfits as a Kajol outfit or a Rekha outfit while the boys identified their outfits as Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan or Hritik Roshan outfits. Many were bought at local stores such as Preetanjali, Priya’s, Pooja Bhavan and Praimsingh or at one of the multitude of Indian trade shows that dotted the commercial landscape throughout the year.[10]

There were times, however, when journeys were made overseas to procure exceptional clothing for special occasions such as the wedding ceremony. Many local East Indian women, when planning a Hindu wedding, viewed Indian films to acquaint themselves with wedding outfits and decorations used at Hindu weddings. Special attention was paid to the saris worn by stars in Indian movies for the Hindu wedding scene. Having discovered something that they liked, many were known to scan filmi magazines or Ijternet Bollywood sites to order their stuff directly from India. In many cases, they travelled to the USA, England or India to purchase their wedding outfits and other paraphernalia first hand. To the local Hindu bride, the wedding sari was a keepsake item that was kept for life and very great care and attention was paid to the purchase of such items. They sought the exact replica of the outfit seen in the Indian movie. Deo Seeratansingh indicated that his wife and daughter, after choosing a wedding outfit they had seen in an Indian movie, travelled to the United States of America to purchase the outfits with all the other regalia such as earrings, bracelets and headpiece for his daughter’s wedding.[11] This was also true of the dulha or bridegroom whose parents, lured by the filmi elements, generally spent as much time and effort in tracking down an excellent looking kurta outfit based on what they had seen in Indian movies. The East Indian marriage ceremony, replete with traditional East Indian clothing and other paraphernalia that accompanied this ritual, was an important identity symbol among East Indians in Trinidad. While this identity symbol had its roots in the religious traditions brought from India much of the decoration used in the wedding and the apparel worn by the bride and groom were highly influenced by Indian movies.

As indicated earlier, dress was the most visible aspect of the early East Indian identity in Trinidad and formed the nucleus around which other aspects of their identity were formulated and evolved. For the early Indian indentured immigrants who came to Trinidad, their dress then became pivotal to the evolution of their Indian identity. However, as time went by there was a loss; almost a total loss of Indian dress in terms of their daily routines as traditional dress was replaced by western clothing of shirts, pants and dresses in their everyday life. The “Indian identity dress code” therefore gradually came to be reserved for religious occasions such as Divali, Shiv Raatri, Eid-ul-Fitr, Ramayan and Bhagwat yagnas, weddings, attendance at Temples, Mosques and Indian cultural events such as Indian Arrival Day and Indian concerts.

The loss of traditional Indian wear on an everyday basis after the 1950s was partially because of the negative influence of Indian movies on traditional East Indian apparel where local East Indians saw “India” Indians wearing westernized clothing in Indian movies and used that as validation for the change to western type clothing. The loss of the everyday traditional wear was also heavily influenced by needs in terms of the type of clothing required for work, schools and offices. However, seeing western clothing in Indian and Hollywood movies and on local television after 1962 hastened the process and emboldened some to give up the everyday traditional wear for western attire.

Nevertheless, when one lives in a westernized society such as Trinidad, certain changes were sure to occur and, the younger generation, in an effort to “fit in” with the local population began to wear westernized clothing at both school and social occasions. Eventually it became the norm. However, many East Indians, even some who were converted to Presbyterianism, continued to wear Indian outfits to East Indian events. This trend continued until the 1970s when mainly Hindus and Muslims wore those outfits to temples, mosques and other East Indian events.[12] After the 1990s, the trend gained widespread acceptance among East Indians here particularly with the release of family oriented movies such as Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayengi and Bhagbaan. It is noteworthy that many Christian East Indians also wore traditional Indian outfits as a mark of Indian identity since it was not seen as a religious icon.[13]

Those public occasions became for many East Indians in Trinidad a focus for demonstrating their Indianness through the donning of elaborately decorated saris, shalwars and kurtas. It became the norm of cultural expression and social interaction for many of them and an opportunity to present a different face, an Indian face to the public. This feature of their Indianness was highly influenced by Indian movies as most of the outfits were copied directly from the movies. Even local Islamic wear has been influenced by Indian movies as could be ascertained by a cursory glance of outfits worn to the mosques. This compartmentalizing of East Indian wear only to Indian events was a dialectic reflection of the new East Indian identity in Trinidad tensioned between the need to preserve East Indian identity and the need to belong to the nation-state of Trinidad. In addition, many workers, including parliamentarians, on the day preceding public holidays such as Divali, Indian Arrival Day and Eid-ul-Fitr, wore East Indian outfits to work. For instance, employees (both East Indians and non-East Indians) at major banks such as First Citizens Bank, Scotia Bank, Royal Bank and Republic Bank wore Indian outfits to work before the national holidays while Members of Parliament, both East Indian and non-East Indian donned their finest traditional Indian outfits on the last sitting of parliament before the public holiday. Several of those outfits were influenced by what was seen in Indian movies.

As early as 1935 when the first Indian movie was shown in Trinidad East Indians were deeply influenced by what they saw in the movies. After Bala Joban was shown, many East Indians wore the orhni and long Bala Joban earrings that were seen in the movie. Women from all over the country, even those who had not seen the movie, wore filmi items as the filmi fashions took root in the community. Sarjoo Jhagroo, a housewife from Penal, recalled wearing the Bala Joban earrings, which were nicknamed Chokha earrings together with the Bala Joban orhni. She further added that Pandu, the star in the Bala Joban movie wore his hair long and every young man in her area, tried to look like Pandu with a shoulder-length haircut. After Bala Joban, traders imported Indian movie memorabilia that came with the promotion of the movies and East Indians purchased them because it was an opportunity to identify with India and things Indian.[14] In addition, East Indian men and women copied the makeup, hairstyles and clothing of stars from Indian movies. Young men shaved their moustache to look like Raj Kapoor while young girls copied the long eyebrows and dress patterns of Sadhana, Vijayanthimala and Asha Parekh. Some young girls such as Gayatri Mahabirsingh and Sandra Sookdeo did everything possible to dress and mimic the stars, spending hours in front of the mirror trying to impersonate their favorite female Indian stars.

A feature from Indian movies that became popular among East Indian girls was the tikka or single black dot worn in the middle of the forehead. The bindi or the tikka was popularized in Trinidad by the Hindi films and many East Indian women regularly wore those for decorative or other reasons. Some women, to ward off evil, wore the black dot in the middle of the forehead.[15] Mothers regularly put this black dot on their babies’ forehead for protection from evil. The young women, dressed in their saris or shalwars wore the bindi for decorative purposes whereas married women adorned themselves with a red dot (sindoor) in the middle of the forehead or placed the sindoor in the middle path of the hair as a sign that they were married. For the East Indian woman in general the bindi or tikka was an identity symbol, while for the Hindu woman the red dot on the forehead was not only an identity symbol but was also a marriage status symbol. Today many women wear the sindoor or the bindi or tikka to work and other places and others have copied these in the local and international fashion society. Many of these new styles for the bindi or sindoor were copied from Bollywood movies or from Bollywood magazines.

From the earliest days of Indian movies in Trinidad, East Indian women donned their best clothing and finest jewelry when attending Indian movies because the cinema-outing was a very special occasion for them. Included among the jewelry worn on those occasions were anklets, bracelets on the arms, jewelry on the nose, various headpieces, chest pieces and earrings. The only event that competed with the cinema in terms of their dress was the Indian wedding.[16]

Dress therefore as an identity symbol for East Indians in Trinidad, although highly influenced by the Bollywood movies, remained one of their most visible aspects of East Indian identity.

Indian Dance

The East Indian community in Trinidad, like any other immigrant community, faced the initial problem of preserving its culture and identity. In addition to dress, dance was one of the most common vehicles that were used in this reestablishment and reinforcement of their cultural identity. As a medium of expression, it provided tremendous capacity for entertainment and it reflected their social, religious and cultural values while contributing to their search for identity.

The early East Indians who came to Trinidad brought with them several dances. However, these dances were limited to a form of play or dance drama performed by men only. The early dance dramas that the East Indian indentured immigrants brought to Trinidad included the Indra Sabha, Raja Harischandra, the Rahas Mandal dance, the Sarwanneer Dance, Raas Dhaarie and others. These were all group dances. Other dances such as the Khatghora dance (horse dance), Ahir Dance, Kaharwaa Dance (Dhobi dance), Ghatka dance, (stick dance) and Jharoo dance (broom dance) were mostly individual or small group dances and were very popular in Trinidad up to the 1970s.

While those early dance dramas and dances originated in India, over the years, they came to be regarded as local dance dramas because of the various local inputs that were incorporated into them in terms of the dialogue and the portrayals while every attempt was made to keep loyal to the text, which many had never seen. Siew Gosine, an Indra Sabha exponent and one of the few surviving players of those dramas indicated that some of the local inputs into the dramas included local classical songs, dances, music and English dialogue including jokes, political commentary and picong. With the advent of Indian movies, there were many filmi influences in those dramas after the 1940s with film songs and filmi dances forming part of the repertoire of the entire dance drama.[17] Actors in those dramas also looked to Indian movies such as Raja Harischandra and the Ramayan for ideas with respect to improving their costuming and acting.[18]

These dance dramas gave authenticity and identity to the early East Indians in Trinidad and were portrayed at most public events such as poojas (Satnarayan Pooja), wedding nights (cooking night) and the other community events. At Hindu weddings, these dances were performed as entertainment for the wedding guests during the night.[19] During the drama performances particularly at wedding nights, in an effort to localize the content of the dance, references were made to the dulha and dulhin, their parents and other current or community affairs matters, to the amusement of the audience. This major event, the presentation of a dance drama in the village setting, was indeed a welcome opportunity for everyone and was considered a great occasion for the villagers. For the hosts and all present, this was a show of identity, of presenting a form of entertainment that was inherently Indian in origin. It was common knowledge that East Indians were expected to provide “Indian Entertainment” when they hosted such functions as weddings and this applied not only to Hindus but to Christians and Muslims as well. Many Christian weddings in the 1950s and 1960s included Indian entertainment during the cooking night with Indian orchestras and mike men though not as elaborate as in Hindu weddings. However, within the last two decades this practice has almost disappeared.[20]

Siew Gosine’s Indra Sabha group performed in several parts of the country including places such as Couva, San Fernando, Arima, Tunapuna, San Juan, Sangre Grande, Biche and Cumuto although the group was based in Mundo Nuevo. East Indians identified with the dance dramas and by the 1940s, there were at least fifty dance groups in the country, ten of which were Indra Sabha groups. In the pre 1950s, the dialogue in most of the Indian dance dramas was in Hindi but after that, there was a gradual change with bits of English dialogue being included in the play. However, by the 1960s the dialogue in the dance dramas had shifted towards English while there was the inclusion of Hindi film songs as part of the drama in an attempt to compete with Indian movies. With reference to the Sarwan Kumar dance drama, many people witnessed the singing of film songs during the presentation of the dance drama at Felicity in 1981. The song — John Johnny — from the movie Naseeb (1981) was sung as part of the drama presentation. This was not an isolated case because film songs were popular in those days and it was what the people wanted to hear and many of the dance dramas of the time, inculcated aspects of film songs for audience appeal as part of their presentations. In some instances, the names of some of the Indian movie stars such as Raj Kapoor or Vijantimala were referred to in the dance dramas but despite those changes, by 2000, most of the dance dramas in the country had almost disappeared.[21] At the last count in 2010, there were less than five surviving Indian dance drama groups in the country.

Those dance dramas with their filmi influences, gave East Indians a sense of identity and belongingness because they were Indian, and brought to the fore their Indianness and many aspects of their culture and religious values. This indigenization of those dance dramas that were brought to Trinidad from India was a major source of identity formation in the evolution of East Indian identity in Trinidad as it called into question the local cultural appropriation of Indian dance in Trinidad.

In the introductory remarks of a lecture demonstration by Mary Ann Richards, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) expert and regional consultant, at the NCIC center in Chaguanas, Brinsley Samaroo suggested that ownership of a traditional item, event, or idea was largely dependent upon the level of local input in the re-creation of the event by local people. He explained that if the item, borrowed from another culture, remained unchanged and was passed on from one generation to the next, then it could not be claimed as traditional knowledge but if the host society added to it and shaped it over time to their own needs, then they could claim it as their own.[22] The presentations of those dance dramas that were performed in Trinidad, while generally adhering to the overall text, had many local inputs including filmi influences. The dance dramas therefore had changed vastly over time from the original product brought from India. They were passed on from one generation to the next locally, with several alterations that included local inputs, and had therefore become part of the local cultural expressions.

According to the WIPO definition, the dance dramas had become local through indigenization. This concept had far-reaching consequences for Trinidad’s multicultural communities and more so East Indian culture. WIPO’s definition of ownership of culture and indigenization as explained above has far-reaching consequences for this thesis.[23] Those dance dramas were also the genesis for the evolution of individual and group dances that were to evolve later in Trinidad. It must be recalled that those dance dramas were originally court dances that for centuries were performed in the palaces of the ruling elites in India before they were transported to Trinidad through the indentured immigrants. They were performed in the courts of royalty and in the homes of the rich and famous who supported the art form through their patronage in India. When they were brought to Trinidad, they were performed for the benefit of the average person, unlike in India.

Before the 1930s in Trinidad, there were no female stage dancers and men played all the roles in the dramas. All were classified as group dances. The first female solo dancer that appeared in public in Trinidad in the 1930s was Alice Jan. She broke with tradition and was “a crowd pleaser who mesmerized the men with her flowing spinning movements, which many times revealed parts of her lower body.” [24] Alice Jan also used the catchy filmi music in her performances and was instrumental in opening the way for others to follow. Soon Champa Devi appeared on the scene and she too was a big hit with film song dances. She was at her peak as a solo Indian filmi dancer in the forties and by the sixties, her daughter Patricia Rahim had joined her. Both Alice Jan and Champa Devi were also singers and Alice Jan also sat among the men and competed with them in the singing arena. She was described as a “bold and beautiful woman with a powerful will of her own. No man dared suggest to her that she could not sing in the ‘Mehfil’ ” (concert) as the singing sessions were termed.[25] The songs rendered at those sessions were mostly classical songs.

Alice Jan and Champa Devi both participated in two premier local “Indian” national variety shows in the 1940s and were star attractions with their filmi dances. The shows were the Gulshan Bahar and the Naya Zamana shows.[26] Both shows were heavily influenced by Indian movies and most of the artistes on the programs such as Tarran Persad and Nur Jahan (Irene Montrichard) sang film songs.[27] Indian movies showed women in lead dance roles or solo dance roles and both those women copied the movements from Indian movies for their performances. They were in demand everywhere and after the Naya Zamana shows in 1945-1946, they were regular features in the Naya Zamana Orchestra wherever it performed. The band was formed out of the Naya Zamana show,[28] which consisted mainly of songs, music and dances that had a heavy influence from Indian movies. Wherever the band performed after that show, they were expected to include filmi dances and film songs in their presentations. After viewing an Indian movie many young people harbored dreams of becoming a star boy or star girl in Indian films and some were seen imitating the dances and the songs from the films. However it was through Alice Jan and Champa Devi that they lived those dreams on the dance stage.

Alice Jan and Champa Devi’s bold break with local East Indian dance traditions had further repercussions in the 1960s and 1970s as more women came to the fore to present their dances to the public at weddings, cooking nights and birthday parties culminating with such individual dancers as Fazlin Ward, Chan Chan Mala (Deborah Dabreau), Baby Sandra, Sarojini Beharry, Raymond Cameo, Devika Ragoobarsingh, Baby Susan (now Susan Mohipp), Indarpaul Beharry and Radica Laukaran. Later, by the 1990s, group dances became the norm replacing the individual dancers of the previous era. Some of the popular dance groups that emerged included Devika Dance Group, Devika Dancers, Kiss Nataraj Dancers, Sri Devi Dance Troupe, Cunaripo Cultural Dancers, Bollywood Dance Group and Shiv Shakti Dancers. Most of their dances were locally choreographed using filmi songs as background music.

One area of commonality among the individual dancers and dance groups was the influence of the filmi songs chosen to accompany the dance. Almost every dance item was taken from an Indian film. In the 1940s and 1950s, they performed their dances as an almost exact replica of the dance in Indian movies. However, later, by the 1970s, they began to improvise and choreograph dance sequences to the accompaniment of the songs taken from the Indian films. In many cases, they also choreographed their own dances to songs that appeared in Indian movies that were not accompanied by dance sequences.

Today local dancers use Indian film songs to portray locally choreographed dance sequences on the national stage. In some cases, local dance groups such as the Shiv Shakti Dancers, Radha Krishna Dance Group and the Cunaripo Cultural Dances, “cut and splice” songs from two or more movies in their dance sequences choreographing dance movements in the process. Local Indian dance groups such as Shiv Shakti Dance Dancers and Cunaripo Cultural Dancers choreographed their own dances using Indian film songs as accompaniment. Michael Salickram and Jassodra Kistow, manager of the Cunaripo Cultural Dancers emphasized that most of the non-traditional dance groups used film songs as accompaniment for their locally choreographed dance performances.[29] It must be noted here that the filmi dances captured the imagination of the Trinidad and international public and groups such as Shiv Shakti Dancers have appeared individually as well as alongside international artistes from India and other countries on local and international programmes.

Over the years, those dances were portrayed as Indian culture in Trinidad and represented Indian culture in a large way. It provided a sense of identity, belongingness and Indianness for East Indians in Trinidad. While these local filmi dancers started by copying the dance sequences from Indian movies, most of those dances have evolved over the years into something uniquely Trinidadian in nature. This was particularly true in instances where they took songs that were not accompanied by dances in Indian films and choreographed their own dance movements to those songs. Those dances were considered local creations even though they used Indian film songs. In those circumstances, those locally created dances were therefore indigenous to this country and further contributed to the development of East Indian identity in Trinidad.

However, what was generally accepted in Trinidad as “Indian dance” was completely divorced from what was considered Indian Dance in India. For instance, “the sexy, Cabaret film dances” and other filmi dance sequences were replicated in Trinidad by local dance groups and presented as Indian culture. Those film dances were not considered Indian culture in India. Within recent times most of the dances that were taken from Indian films, were modified choreographically for local presentations.

Pooja Malhotra, a former dance teacher at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Cooperation in Trinidad, in discussing Indian folk dance presentations that she saw in 2008 at a Maha Sabha Baal Vikaas competition at Sangre Grande where most of the folk dance presentations were taken from films such as Mother India, commented that the “folk dances that were presented on stage as Indian culture were not representative of Indian culture.”[30] While these filmi items did reflect some aspects of folk culture in India, they were diluted and presented merely for entertainment purposes and could not be considered folk culture. The Indian filmi version of folk songs and dances did not reflect authentic Indian culture “and the presentation of these filmi items on stage in Trinidad to represent Indian culture left much to be desired in terms of authentic Indian folk culture.”[31]

Sandra Sookdeo, a Trinidadian India- trained classical dancer, added that while filmi folk dances were not considered authentic representations of Indian culture, the Indian filmi folk songs were influenced by existing oral folk culture in India. This raised the question of the viability of copying items from Indian movies and presenting them in public performances as representative of Indian culture in Trinidad. For some critics this did not represent Indian culture in Trinidad. However, it was interesting to note that once these items entered the public domain in Trinidad, they became part of the overall Indian cultural expressions regardless of whether they emanated from the Indian films or from the traditional culture of India.

Rajkumar ‘Krishna’Persad, one of the experts on Indian classical dance in Trinidad, declared “classical dances from India represented authentic Indian dance both in India and in Trinidad.” Of the seven styles of Indian classical dancing known in India -Kathak, Manipuri, Odissi, Bharatha Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali and Mohiniattam, only the Kathak, Odissi, and Bharatha Natyam, were taught in Trinidad in addition to some of the folk dances of India such as Ghatka (stick dance).[32] Among the exponents of these dances in Trinidad were Rajkumar Krishna Persad, Satnarine and Mondira Balkaransingh, Sandra Sookdeo, Rajesh Seenath and Susan Mohipp. Rajkumar Krishna Persad was one of three people granted scholarships to India in 1965 to study aspects of Indian culture. Upon his return to Trinidad three years later, he opened the Trinidad School of Indian Dance to teach authentic Indian dance for the first time in this country.

This effort was later joined by Prof. H. S. Adesh who had been working at the Indian High Commission in Port of Spain and decided to remain in Trinidad and teach authentic Indian classical music and dance after his tour of duty ended.[33] The other persons mentioned above all went to India either on their own or on scholarships and returned to teach authentic Indian classical dances and Indian folk dances in Trinidad. In addition, the celebrated husband and wife team, Pratap and Priya Pawaar and later Pradeep Shankar all from India came for short stints and taught authentic Indian classical dances in the country. Over the years, thousands of Trinidadians have benefited from these exponents of Indian classical dance and music and have displayed their talents in hundreds of programs.

Returning to Krishna Persad’s point that the filmi dances did not represent Indian culture in Trinidad, and Malhotra’s view that many of the local folk dance performances were in fact taken from films and as such did not represent Indian culture in Trinidad (or in India), there were many aspects of Indian movies seemed to present Indian culture in Indian movies.For example, one of the requirements for being a good Indian actress remained the ability to perform Indian classical dancing and there were numerous examples of classical and semi-classical dances in Indian movies. In movies such as Kohinoor (1960, Mountain of Light)and Baiju Bawra (1952, Crazy Baiju), many Indian classical raagas were used in the songs and those raagas were authentic Indian classical raagas.[34] Furthermore, many of the folk songs that were used in Indian movies were copied from the villages and had their origin in the active folklore of the country. Many songs that were used in Hindi films were either remakes of songs from other filmmaking areas of India such as Tamil Nadu and Madras or songs that were already in existence in Indian folklore. In the presentation of these items for filmi entertainment purposes some alterations were certain to take place and that gave purists room for such arguments. While many of the classical dance items that appeared in Indian movies were influenced by authentic Indian classical styles, they were nonetheless adulterated for filmi entertainment and could not be considered authentic Indian classical dances. Sandra Sookdeo and Krishna Persad were resolute in their views that filmi dances did not represent Indian culture either in India or in Trinidad.

Based on the foregoing discussion one of the issues that needed to be clarified was whether “authentic Indian classical dance,” as propounded by local experts, represented “traditional Indian culture” in Trinidad. What was called “authentic Indian classical dance” was a recent phenomenon in Trinidad and was not brought here by the ancestors of present day East Indians. It was rather an interpolation in the postcolonial, post-independence 1960s and might be seen as an attempt to turn back the tide of the filmi dances that were sweeping the country at the time.  In considering the traditions that were brought by East Indian immigrants from India those classical dances did not form part of what they brought from India between 1845 and 1917 so that in any discussion about Indian traditional culture in Trinidad reference has to be made to what can be termed “traditions that were brought from India by the indentured immigrants” and those aspects of Indian culture that “continued to arrive” after indentureship had ended. Both Indian movies and Indian classical dance arrived in Trinidad after the end of indentureship and as such were “post-indentureship cultural influences” that came from India. However, most people preferred to see the filmi dances because of their catchy music and fast rhythms. One major difference it can be argued, between the “local filmi dances” and the “authentic Indian classical dances” was that there were many local inputs into the local filmi dances whereas the authentic Indian classical dances were not permitted variations and remained true to the original Natya Shastras.[35]

Rajkumar Krishna Persad and Satnarine Balkaransingh emphasized that Indian classical dance was taught exactly as it was learned from Indian and local dance Gurus with little or no deviations. Nevertheless, despite its late arrival in Trinidad classical dance became popular with performances at numerous functions. However, many of its proponents preferred to perform in concert-type atmospheres in enclosed surroundings as opposed to other local dances, which were performed in open-air settings and concert halls. In addition, classical dances or adulterated entertainment versions of them were popularized in Indian movies shown in Trinidad.

Both local filmi dances and local Indian classical dances provided a degree of identity, belongingness and Indianness in terms of East Indian culture in Trinidad. Therefore, Indian dance as presented on the national stage constituted a major pillar of East Indian identity in Trinidad.

However, within the context of the views expressed above, because Indian classical dance has been here for “such a long time” in the public domain and was passed on from one generation to the next there was a predisposition to look upon it as part of our Indian culture. In addition, it was imperative to note that despite the fact that Indian classical dance was imported and taught in Trinidad long after indentureship in much the same way that many African dances were taught to local groups especially at the Best Village level, there was always a question with respect to its appropriation as local Indian culture.[36] Nevertheless, in terms of what was considered Indian culture in Trinidad, once the attribute was present in India, was practiced in that country and was similarly practiced in Trinidad it could be termed “Indian culture in Trinidad” or “Indo-Trinidad culture.” In other words, whatever was practiced in India and coexisted in Trinidad in similar fashion constituted “Indo-Trinidad culture.” Therefore, Indian classical dance formed part of the wider concept of Trinidad’s “Indo-Trinidad culture.”

If however, as Samaroo has pointed out, changes had been made in sufficient quantity to the particular cultural expression in Trinidad that changed the particular cultural expression from its original form in India, then that particular cultural expression can be considered Trinidad Indo-culture. Krishna Persad, Sandra Sookdeo and Balkaransingh indicated that while they taught their particular styles of classical dances in the exact formats in which they had learned them, they also created new dances out of their repertoire. While Persad had not given his new creations any names, Balkaransingh had taken the basic mudras of the Kathak style of dancing and created new pieces such as Ram Katha (Ram’s Story), Hamare Taal (Rhythms of our People), Penal Harvest and Kathak Vandanna (Dance Worship) while Sandra Sookdeo had done the same with Krishna one of her local productions. The attempt at indigenization of classical dances placed them within the context of Samaroo’s argument on the question of ownership in that while the original ownership of Balkaransingh’s Kathak style of classical dance remained with India, his new creations automatically became part of the local Indian culture, what was referred to as Trinidad Indo -culture. While Balkaransingh did not admit to filmi influences in his productions, Sookdeo admitted that her new creations were influenced by filmi inputs because of the popularity of Indian films with local audiences. The locally choreographed Indian dances, whether filmi or otherwise influenced, represented local efforts and can be termed Trinidad Indo-culture.

In the case of the chutney dance, which has over the years evolved from within the East Indian community, drawing upon filmi engagements, Indian classical dance movements and filmi and folk dance styles, it has developed its own ‘wine and jam’ style of presentation. The chutney dance, which accompanied the chutney song, may include an individual portrayal or a group portrayal mimicking many Indian filmi motions and in some cases selected classical mudras (gestures) drawing upon influences from these quarters. These chutney dances were mostly done by women and had their roots in the earlier Chathi and Barahi closed door dance sessions that were held at the birth of a child or at Matkoor (Hardi) night, which was held two nights before the Hindu wedding. No men were allowed in those private sessions but after the 1970s with the birth of chutney singing, this type of chutney dancing was introduced onto the local public stage by Sundar Popo in a Carnivalistic atmosphere. To many people this was a local product and became identified with East Indians despite the fact that many middle and upper class East Indians did not support chutney singing or chutney dancing in public. Nevertheless it was one of the very few Indian dances that found mass appeal among the grassroots because while it was true that the average East Indian enjoyed the filmi dances, many of them did not indulge in the act of the filmi dances themselves but at the chutney sessions many of them, both men and women, could be found on the dance floor dancing to the chutney music in large numbers.

Balkaransingh identified sixteen varieties of local chutney wine (dance movements), as indigenous to Trinidad.[37] However, most of the current chutney dances were heavily influenced by the filmi cabaret dances, filmi music and mudras or postures from Indian classical dances.[38] Many people such as Rambachan, Krishna Persad and Jamal Mohammed (son of the late Sham Mohammed) condemned chutney singing and chutney dancing as not representative of Indian culture in Trinidad because of the lewd, spicy and vulgar behavior of the singers, dancers and the audience, yet it was enjoyed by many of the grassroots people. At times, it seemed the only form of entertainment for them.

Recently most of the lyrics in chutney songs have changed from Hindi to English giving it greater appeal to the younger generation yet retaining an Indian slant to the music. Chutney dancing and singing have become quite popular within the last decade and can be found at cooking nights, birthday parties, special events, Indian Arrival Day functions and its own special chutney events. Many chutney dancers borrowed “mudras” or dance movements from classical dance styles and included them in their repertoire to the dismay of classical dance exponents such as Sookdeo and Rajkumar Persad. In addition, there were several national chutney competitions held at various times of the year, even at Carnival time – (National Carnival) Chutney Soca Monarch Competition when chutney dancing was on display as an accompaniment to Chutney singers. Chutney dance, influenced by Indian films and local Indian culture was a local phenomenon and therefore fell within the concept of Trinidad Indo-culture.

Indian dance, whether folk dance, filmi dance, chutney dance or Indian classical dance gave credence to the concept of Indianness, Indian culture and East Indian identity in Trinidad and presented a connection with India to East Indian cultural heritage in Trinidad. Local filmi dances choreographed by local dancers in Trinidad were unique to Trinidad culture since in India when a dance was performed it usually told a story. However, in Trinidad, local Indian dance, with the exception of the productions by Sookdeo and Balkaransingh, had developed its own repertoire of local movements that seemed to suggest a wide freedom of movement in the performance realm. There was a relaxed propensity among local chutney dancers that gave license and creativity in the appropriation and use of Indian film songs that influenced the final product in which could be observed a variety of movements such as wining, folk movements, belly dancing, techno- moves and classical styles.

Indian dance in Trinidad, highly influenced by Indian movies, formed a major bond between the individual, his identity, the Indian connection and Trinidad, and was a major pillar of what was generally portrayed as Indian culture in Trinidad.

Local Stage Productions of Indian Movies

Indian films have been the mainstay of film entertainment for East Indians in Trinidad for many years. The mere mention of an Indian movie can evoke diverse memories for different people. Within the last decade or so Indian movies have prompted the production of local stage dramas based on Indian movies or been influenced by Indian movies using local actors and actresses, local music, props and other local inputs. Some of those stage dramas actually carry the name of the Hindi movie after which they were patterned while other plays simply used the filmi music, songs and dances as inserts or playback music for the productions.

Some of the local drama productions included Kal Ho Na Ho by Crazy Catholic (Sheldon Narine) based on Karan Johar’s screen production by the same name and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Mujhse Dosti Karogi and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayengi by Braveheart Productions. Shunnel Roopchand, one of the co-founders and an actress in Braveheart Productions explained that they gavea Trinidadian slant to the productions. They used thestoryline from the original Indian movie together with the filmi music and Hindi songs, but the scenes were condensed and in some cases, new characters were added to the production. The dialogue was not in Hindi as in the movies but in English, which made it appealing to the local audiences especially the younger generation.[39]

Numerous other local stage productions were influenced by Indian movies. For example, Seeta Persad in her Princes Town Theatre Workshop’s (PTTW) production of Radha and Raja (names of persons) in 2009 utilized at least ten Hindi film songs in the play as both background music and onstage singing. An example of how the filmi songs were used in the play was revealed in a scene when the daughter was leaving her parents’ home after the marriage ceremony and the song Janewale dulahin (The Bride is Leaving) from the movie Beti Bete was played in the background to a tear-filled scene on stage. The songs that were used as background music in the productions were carefully chosen in an effort to evoke certain nostalgic emotions from the audience. The play seemed to have successfully tapped into surviving memories of East Indian songs of the 1950s and 1960s by linking the play to filmi songs that were popular with cinema audiences of that period. Members of the audience were seen singing along with the song at its presentation at the Divali Nagar in 2009. A similar production entitled Dekh Tamasha (Amidst Confusion) was also presented to audiences nationwide in 2010.[40] In this way, there was a connection, an identity, not only with the play but also with the filmi past, as it brought back memories of Indian movie songs that were familiar to many in the audience. Those productions, however, by using filmi elements, defined themselves within the East Indian cultural milieu in the country as another important factor in the localization and indigenization of Indian culture in Trinidad, this time localizing the Indian film itself, thereby contributing to another aspect of East Indian identity in the country.

Many people who attended those shows were able to identify with the shows because of the inherent Indianness in them. What they were actually witnessing in plays such as Kal Ho Na Ho and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai was a local attempt to remake an Indian movie that was shown in the country using the exact elements of the movie including the storyline and the songs whereas in plays such as Seeta Persad’s Radha and Raja and Dekh Tamasha the storylines and the setting were local but the songs used were from Indian movies dating back to the 1950s and the 1960s. Many of the people who attended Seeta Persad’s play indicated that the Indian film songs used in the play brought back nostalgic memories of Indian movies they had seen during the Golden Era of Indian movies.

Indian Influence in Local Film Productions

Since the inception of Indian movies in Trinidad in 1935, many young boys and girls fancied themselves budding Indian movie actors and actresses portraying scenes from movies to local and mirror audiences. From the early village movie storytellers, who narrated the entire movie with embellishments of their own, to local imitators of the songs and dances, Indian movies were close to the hearts of many who dreamt of being a Shammi Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan or a Nargis.

Basdeo Panday, a descendant of Indian indentured parents, was the first East Indian to act in a movie of any kind even though his role was a minor one. That movie was a British production Nine Hours to Rama (1963). He also acted in two other British productions Man in the Middle (1964) and the Brigand of Kandahar (1965) all while he was a law student in London. Those movies were in English and were not considered Indian movies but marked the entrance of the descendants of East Indian indentured immigrants into the realm of filmmaking.

The first locals to act in a local “Indian movie” were Ralph Maraj and Angela Seukeran who acted in the Right and the Wrong (1970). This movie was scripted by Freddie Kissoon and produced by an Indian national in Trinidad, Harbance Kumar, who originally came to Trinidad to distribute Indian movies in the region. Using local material and finance, Harbance produced this movie with two Indian playback film songs in Hindi although the movie was in English. Those songs were specially recorded by Indian playback singer Mukesh for the movie. Hugh Robertson directed and produced Bim (1974) while Harbance Kumar directed and produced Girl from India (1982) also known as Man from Africa in which the language used was English. Bim featuredRalph Maraj and Angela Seukeran once more while Girl from India featured Grace Maharaj and Ralph Maraj in the lead roles. Many East Indians identified with these movies because of the local Indian themes and the preponderance of East Indian actors and actresses in the movies. However, most East Indians identified with the two Indian playback songs from the movie Right and the Wrong (1970) in a similar manner in which they identified with Indian playback songs from Indian movies. Those songs were regularly played on local radio stations and many East Indians who heard the songs and never knew that they came from a locally made movie mistook them for Indian film songs.[41]

While these films were considered local productions, with the exception of Bim, they were produced and directed by an Indian national and in that respect, there are still ongoing discussions with respect to whether they should be considered truly local productions because Harbance Kumar was not a national of Trinidad. However, they created a stir among Trinidadians and the movies were well patronized at cinemas throughout the country. The movie was sold out at almost every showing in the country and won international awards at film festivals abroad. The Right and the Wrong was of special interest to East Indians because of the two Indian songs it included, and interestingly East Indians who were accustomed to viewing Indian movies with Indian actors and actresses acting out scripts linked to Indian themes, were now viewing their own version of an Indian movie in which the stars, script and theme were Trinidadian.

Another film of interest to East Indians was the Mystic Masseur (2001) produced and directed by India-born Ismail Merchant and based on a novel of the same name by V.S. Naipaul, a descendant of Indian immigrants to Trinidad. The movie, the first film adaptation of a novel by Naipaul, was filmed on location in Trinidad, New York and London and utilized several locals such as Sunil Maharaj, David Sammy, Danesh Khan, Nirad Tewarie, Mitra Maharaj and Rhea Suedeen (dancer) in various roles. However, when it was released in the country in 2001 the response from local audiences was lukewarm unlike other international productions such as Harold and Kumar (2004, 2008 USA) in which a local, Errol Sitahal acted and Bend it like Beckham (2002, U.K.) which were also in English but received tremendous audience support locally.[42] Several other movies filmed locally afforded descendants of Indian indentured immigrants various roles. Some of those persons included Kenneth Boodhu (The Caribbean Fox), Simon Bidessie (Bim), Devindra Dookie and Hansley Ajodha (Men of Grey II, 1996).[43]

Movies such as the Right and The Wrong, Girl from India and Bim can be seen as attempts to indigenize local movie production in a language understood by all Trinidadians. The attempt to initiate and indigenize a fledgling local film industry was noteworthy for East Indians since the narrative related to their local conditions. For instance, Bim (Bheem Singh) was a “narrative based on the composite life of the notorious assassin Boysie Singh an aggressive trade unionist and Hindu leader Bhadase Sagan Maraj.”[44] The narrative of the Right and The Wrong was also based on a local Trinidad story that included a mixture of slavery and indentureship.[45]

In Dulha Mil Gaya (2010, Found A Groom,) an Indian movie produced by Trinidadian Anthony Maharaj, and partly filmed in Trinidad in which local artistes such as Michael Salickram and the Shiv Shakti dancers performed, East Indians saw themselves and their Indian counterparts in the same movie. From being in the audience looking on at Indian movies and forging their identity in the process, they were now watching themselves on the silver screen where before they had seen their Indian counterparts. They were now on the silver screen witnessing their own stories in fulfillment of their new identity that was being beamed back at them in the cinematic space.

Despite the oil boom of the 1970s, the fledgling local film industry, which was initiated by Harbance Kumar, was not sustained due to several factors, the major one being finance. In 2006, the Trinidad and Tobago government established the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company (TTFC) to facilitate the development of the film industry in Trinidad and Tobago. However, despite the fact that by 2007, the Trinidad and Tobago film industry consisted of twelve production companies, thirty -three companies offering production support services and nine television stations, very little was done in terms of the promotion of the local film industry and Bollywood co-productions. However, by 2011the TTFC had produced over one hundred short films, documentaries and feature length films. 

The first time that the company was associated with a Bollywood producer was in the Trinidad –Bollywood co-production of Dulha Mil Gaya in 2007.[46] This movie was screened as part of the Indian Film Festival that was held at Movie Towne (Port of Spain and Chaguanas) from 17-23 November 2010 to commemorate 75 years of the arrival of Indian Cinema in Trinidad.[47]

This was the lead movie in a twelve-movie Indian film Festival (2010) to mark the 75th anniversary of the exhibition of the first Indian movie in Trinidad. Since Dulha Mil Gaya, there has been no collaboration between local producers and Bollywood. In addition, other local productions such as Yao Ramesar’s Sadhu of Couva and Journey to Ganga Mai; Pat Mohammed’s Coolie Pink and Green (2010) and Seventeen Colours and a Sitar (2011) which are short films andErrol Singh’s Kuchursingh Family (television series) allemploying local talent may well be a new start in the revitalization of local film productions relating to the Indian Diaspora in Trinidad.


Dress as a cultural projection transmitted an unspoken message to other members of the society silently relating stories about one’s identity and belongingness. As an identity marker, dress can be worn by every member of the group so that there was an unspoken publication about identity. Dance, on the other hand, was a skilled activity indulged in by fewer members of the group but had a wide audience, which included non-members of the group. As identity markers, Indian dress, dance and drama were significantly influenced by Indian movies in Trinidad.


[1] Stone, G.P. “Appearance and the self.” Rose, Arnold M. Human Behavior and Social Processes An Interactionist Approach.1998. 86-118.

[2] Stryker, Sheldon. Symbolic Interactionism: a Social Structural Version. Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin/Cummings Pub., 1980. Print

[3] Goffman, Erving. Behavior in Public Places: Notes on the Social Organization of Gatherings. Westport, CT:Greenwood, 1980. Print.

Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986. Print.

        [4] Jennifer Craik. The Face of Fashion: Cultural Studies in Fashion. London: Routledge, 1994. 5

[5]. Nanlal Ramcharan.

[6]. Ramaya and Ralph Narine.

[7]. Narine. Narine who was an eyewitness to the event related this incident.

[8]. Rambachan; Ashram B. Maharaj.

[9]. Worship to goddess Saraswatee, goddess of learning.

[10]. The researcher was Principal of the Tunapuna Hindu School at the time.

[11]. Interview with Deo Seeratansingh 52 years, Penal Rock Road. 9/8/08.

[12]. Deoraj Harrikissoon.

[13]. Kelvin Boodoo.

[14]. Sarjoo Jhagroo.

[15]. This black dot was made from kajal, a black paste usually made on Divali night from the soot of the burning deeya collected on a spoon or other receptacle.

[16]. Narine

[17]. Gosine.

[18]. Ashram B. Maharaj.

        [19]. A dance drama such as Raja Harischandra could last for 8-10 hours.

[20]. Kelvin Boodoo

[21]. Ashram B. Maharaj.

[22]. WIPO seminar on Establishment of a Regional Framework on the Protection of Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Cultural Expression and Genetic Resources. NCIC Headquarters. Brinsley Samaroo and Mary Ann Richards. 2/5/09.

[23]. For more on WIPO see: WIPO – World Intellectual Property Organization. Web. 26 Aug. 2010. <;.

[24]. Narine

[25]. Narine

[26]. The Gulshan Bahar show was held in 1943 to raise funds for Indian famine victims while the Naya Zamana show was held in 1945-1946 as a local variety (charity) show. Both shows were held in Trinidad.

[27]. Narine.

[28]. Ramaya.

[29]. Interview with Jassodra Kistow. 15/08/09.

[30]. Puja Malhotra, Indian Dance Teacher, Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Cultural Cooperation. Sangre Grande. May 15, 2008.

[31]. Puja Malhotra.

[32]. R.K.Persad.

[33]. Adesh’s wife conducted Indian classical dance classes on behalf of the Bharatiya Vidya Sansthan at Tunapuna from 1969-1973.

[34]. Raaga (“colour” or “mood”) refers to melodic modes used in Indian classical music. It is a series of five or more musical notes upon which a melody is made. In the Indian musical tradition, rāgas are associated with different times of the day, or with seasons.

[35]. The Natya Shastra is an ancient Indian treatise on the performing arts, encompassing theatre, dance and music. It was written by Sage Bharata. Its date of origin is uncertain.

[36]. Best Village was an annual folk competition organized by governmental agencies in Trinidad.

[37]. Satnarine Balkaransingh. Lecture demonstration. UTT, Corinth, San Fernando. 27/05/10.

[38]. Satnarine Balkaransingh.

[39]. Trinidad Express. Bollywood play celebrates Arrival. Sateesh Maharaj Friday May 22nd 2009.

[40]. Interview with Seeta Persad16/10/10.

[41]. One of the playback “local” Indian songs from the movie The Right and The Wrong was O Mere Humrahi ( O My Companion) by Mukesh. This song is regularly played on local radio stations along with other Indian playback songs.

        [42]. Bend it like Beckham  was directed by a person of Indian descent, Gurinder Chadha, and contained many Indians from India as actors and actresses.

[43]. See Kumar Mahabir. “ – Caribbean Indian Actors in Cinematic Movies.” – The Cultural Centre of Trinidad and Tobago. Web. 28 Dec. 2010 for other local actors who have made it big in Hollywood.

[44]. Kumar Mahabir.

[45]. Paddington, Bruce “Caribbean Cinema: Cultural Articulations, Historical Formation, and Film Practices.” PhD Thesis. UWI, 2006.

        [46]  See and for more details.

[47]. The film festival was organized by the Indian High Commission in Trinidad.