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Keywords:

  • remediation;
  • Bollywood;
  • music;
  • media studies;
  • globalization;
  • circulation

ABSTRACT

This essay considers the process of remediation in two North American reproductions of the song-and-dance sequence Jaan Pehechaan Ho from the 1965 “Bollywood” film Gumnaam. The song was used in the opening sequence of the 2001 U.S. independent film Ghost World as a familiar-but-strange object of ironic bewilderment and fantasy for its alienated teenage protagonist Enid. But a decade before Ghost World's release, Jaan Pehechaan Ho had already become the lynchpin of a complex debate about cultural appropriation and multicultural identity for an “alternative” audience in the United States. I illustrate this through an ethnographic analysis of a 1994 videotape of the Heavenly Ten Stems, an experimental rock band in San Francisco, whose performance of the song was disrupted by a group of activists who perceived their reproduction as a mockery. How is Bollywood film song, often itself a kitschy send-up of American popular culture, remediated differently for different projects of reception? How do these cycles of appropriation create overlapping conditions for new identities—whether national, diasporic, or “alternative”—within the context of transcultural media consumption? In drawing out the “ghost world” of Bollywood's juxtapositions, I argue that the process of remediation produces more than just new forms and meanings of media, but is constitutive of the cosmopolitan subjects formed in its global circulations.