Sandhya Suri’s I for India: Documenting Transnational Subjectivity

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Author: Robert Cross, Doshisha University, Japan
Published: July 2014
https://doi.org/10.22492/ijmcf.2.1.05

Citation: Cross, R. (2014). Sandhya Suri’s I for India: Documenting Transnational Subjectivity. IAFOR Journal of Media, Communication & Film, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijmcf.2.1.05


Abstract

Documentary filmmaker Sandhya Suri’s I for India (2005) is a compilation film that presents and interprets her father’s experience of migrating from India to the UK in the 1960s and settling fully in Britain. It explores through her father’s own amateur filmmaking the process and nature of transnational identity formation. Over a 40-year period her father, Dr Yash Pal Suri, recorded home movies and audio letters, which he sent to his family in India in order to report about his new life. In 1982, after 16 years' residence in the UK, Dr Suri took his family back to India, only to discover that such a return – or remigration – was impossible. Unable to acculturate themselves back into Indian life, Dr Suri and his family migrated for a second time to their British “home”. After her unexpected discovery of her father’s audiotapes, in which he had poured out his feelings of alienation and despair, Sandhya created a documentary from this “found archive”. This paper examines how Sandhya’s film documented and dissected the experience of transnational migration and added further interpretative layers to her father’s filming project. I follow Stuart Hall (1990) in viewing diasporic or transnational identity as “a ‘production,’ which is never complete, always in process, and always constituted within, not outside,
representation” (222). I discuss how Sandhya used a variety of filmic and audio discourses in I for India to document and comment with self-reflexivity upon this ever-shifting process of identity formation.

Keywords

I for India, Sandhya Suri, transnational, voice, home movie, documentary, migrant, hybridity, assimilation