Saturday, February 07, 2009

Uruguay Carnival.. for the vegetarians

Vegetarian Carnival... This is how I would describe the carnival parade I saw in Montevideo last Thursday night. No legs, no breasts, no meat. It is sober, subdued and serious. Dressed and disciplined people. The show is limited from 9 pm to 1 am.

It is in total contrast to the all-night, all-displayed, all-out and unlimited, uninhibited and undressed exuberance and excesses of the Rio carnival.

No surprise if you know Uruguay. The Uruguayans are serious and sober people. The country was in fact created as a buffer between the beach-loving Brazil and adventurist Argentina in the early ninteenth century. Uruguay is moderation and modesty between the the two large neighbours who are given to extremes.

Look at the parade of these kids...

Yes .. The picture explains it. The carnival is for the family. Simple and sober. Nothing to shock the innocent.

But there is one similiarity with the Brazilian carnival, as is obvious from the picture below .

There are a few people of African origin who lend their grace and skills at the Uryuguayan carnival. Foreigners tend to have the impression that Uruguay,like Argentina and Chile, does not have people of African origin.
There was no African presence in the Gualeguachu Carnival ( my blog on that It was a blonde and bland show without the people of colour.
But in uruguay there are a few thousand Africans who stayed behind, while transiting through the Montevideo port during the days of slave trade. One does not see them in business or government circles, since they are a tiny minority. But they are in the forefront of the carnival. It is their show. It is they who add colour to the festival. It is their spirit, rhythm and drums which make the carnival vibrant. Most of the parade groups have African names such as Yambo, Sarabanda, Candongafricana, Candombe Aduana, Candombo Zambo, , Kindu, Curumbe, La Mazumba...
Of course, no one would go to the carnival just to see the drums and dress alone. Chicas are the central attraction in uruguay too. Do you see what i mean...

The Brazilian carnival is intense exihibition and enjoyment for one week. But in uruguay it is an extended leisurely get together and celebration spread over a whole month in february. Not continuously but twice a week. The parades are called as Llamadas- meaning calls. This name comes from the old tradition of the families calling each other to join the celebrations with singing and drum playing.
The main parades are held in one of the streets where makeshift sitting arrangements are made on both sides. Since it is a regular residential street, lot of people watch from their balconies and windows. Ticket prices for the benches are nominal costing between 5 and 10 dollars. Besides the parades there are Murgha events in which humour and satire sessions are held in theatres and streets.

Monday, February 02, 2009

La mujer de mi hermano- Latin American film

I watched La mujer de mi hermano- my brother´s wife, last weekend.

It is about Zoe, an attractive woman who has been married for ten years to Ignacio, who is more wedded to his work than the mujer. When Zoe shows up without dress, he thinks only of the need for her to dress. Naturally he is unable to give his wife even the joy of becoming a mother. Facing sexual frustration and loss of passion in conjugal life, Zoe is attracted to Gonzalo, the painter and brother of Ignacio. The two brothers cannot get along.The artistic, Bohemian and adventurous Gonzalo, the opposite of Ignacio in character and value system, adds spice to the dull marital life of Zoe. She later finds out that her husband´s loss of interest in her is due to his attraction to men. And there is another complication. Gonzlao´s anger with his brother originates from Ignacio´s sexual abuse of him when he was a kid. Zoe leaves Ignacio. Later she finds out that she has become pregnant. When she tells Gonzalo he not only denies that he is the father but also tells her to get lost since family and children are not his cup of tea. Feeling guilty and genuine affection for his wife Ignacio comes to Zoe´s rescue, knowing the affair of his wife with his brother. He offers to be the father even if in reality he is not.

There is plenty of sex and sensuality in the film. The movie is like the typical Latino soap operas. But the characters and relationships have been portrayed more subtly and sensitively than in the telenovelas.The flirtings, feelings, expressions,guilt and confessions make it authentically Latino. Zoe is not in love with Gonzalo but she likes the sex , the affair, the games and the stolen kisses. She tells him to stay with her in her bed, when her husband is away. But on one condition... no nothing. Does she mean it? What a question? Not at all. Her ambivalence in loyalty and her capacity to manage more than one man at a time brings out the Latina character. This reminds me of the Brazilian joke. How do two men competing for a girl resolve it in different countries. In Italy, they kill each other making her as a widow. France, being a peaceful and pragmatic country, they do a trois en menage. In Britain the two men embrace each other and send the girl off to cooking. In Brazil? How do the two Brazilian men manage? Hmm. they dont. She does. She marries one and makes the other one as the lover.

Although this is a Mexican film I call it as a Latin American film since it has the stamp of five Latin American countries. Barbara Mori , the heroine , was born in uruguay to a Mexican mother and Uruguyan- Japanese father. After the divorce of her parents, she moved to Mexico, where she lives. She has been acting in Mexican movies and soap operas. Christian Meir from Peru has acted as Ignacio and Manolo Cardona from Colombia has the role of Gonzalo. The other side actors are from Mexico, Venezuela and Chile. The Director Ricardo de Montreuil is from Peru. The movie is based on a novel by the Peruvian author Jaime Bayly. The film was shot in Santiago, Chile.The dialogues are colorful with the the choicest Mexican abusive vocabulary.

The film, released in 2005, was a box office hit in Latin America and US.

Angélica Aragón, the Mexican actress in the role of Cristina ( mother of the two brothers) has an Indian connection. She lived in India and studied classical dance including in the Kerala Kalamandapam Dance School.

Barbara Mori´s acting as Zoe is delightful. In fact I saw the movie specially because of her. She is the lead actress in an upcoming Indian film ¨Kites¨to be released in mid 2009. She is pairing with Hrithik Roshan, who acts as a salsa teacher. The story is about an Indian boy’s romantic affair with a Latino girl. He speaks only Hindi and she speaks only Spanish. Love becomes their language and they sing and dance, like it happens in the typical Indian films. I undertstand that some scenes are quite steamy too...

Sure, this gorgeous Latino beauty is a delicious dish for the hungry Indians. Her eyes, smile, expressions and her back are similiar to those of Indian actresses. So here is an appetiser for the Indian audience before their main dish in mid-2009