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CULTURAL CURRY: Experience India on campus.

Indian culture emerges onscreen

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"Sensation overload," says Tinu Sinha of his first impressions of India's culture. Sinha participated in the study abroad program offered by the University of Calgary, spending three months at the University of Pune, a city in western India. The effect that Sinha's foray into India's culture had on him is evident in the documentary he created after returning to Canada, entitled Emergence of India.

"Arriving in India, [the differences] hit you right away," he said of his Sept. 1999 arrival. "You smell it as you get off the plane."

With 15 other students, Sinha studied and lived at the university. This opportunity to experience Indian culture first-hand fascinated him.

His experience inspired him to create Emergence of India. The portrayal of such a complex nation provided an interesting challenge for the recent graduate. Sinha questioned whether he could "assemble a documentary that captures routines, daily events and major events that we had as a group and at the same time communicates the experience of being so overwhelmed by the environment that India presents."

Frank Davey's poetry in The Abbotsford Guide to India provided an answer.

"A lot of what [Davey] talks about poetically... was what we experienced," Sinah says. "A lot of puzzles, a bombardment of images, sounds, smells; things that just hit you right away. The poetry carries a lot of that montage in its contradiction, it its moves, in its exaggerations, stereotypes and even expectations that you have when you go to India."

Using the poetry as a narrative, Sinha created his documentary which shows Feb. 28 in Science Theatres 145. Created with support from the University International Grants Committee, Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, NUTV and the University of Calgary International Centre, Emergence of India combines video footage and photographs from the group's travels. The photographs are arranged in a montage.

"I use montage in the sense of ... sequential collage, a linear collage," he says. "I use a lot of images one after the other to communicate the overwhelming nature [of the experience.]"

While it may be tempting to view the documentary as a definitive guide to studying in Pune, Sinha asserts that each individual will feel differently about such an experience.

"There's so many experiences of India, especially when you get personal experiences mixed in there. This is an experience of India, and I think its one that captures both the group and individual emergence of India in the eyes of the students."

 

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