13 September 2005 | sanjeev-6
An epilogue to the end of the Empire in India.
36 Chowringhee Lane is a very sensitive account of a lonely old Anglo Indian lady (Violet) living in Calcutta. In the time of this film, India has been independent from the British Raj for about 30 years. A new Indian identity is emerging. Calcutta has a cosmopolitan young culture, well versed with the west. However, in this culture Violet has no place, she is an outsider.
We need to look at the 'Anglo Indian' class before we can completely understand the tenderness of this film. 'Anglo Indian' was a class created by the ruling British. They were Christian and well educated. The colonial masters needed this class as much as the Anglo Indian class needed them. They were given jobs in the Civil Service, Army, Customs, Railway (as in the case of Violet's father), and other plum government jobs.
When India became independent, this privilege was withdrawn. These jobs were thrown open to the wider populace ( as one character moans -'even the natives are getting educated now').
Most of the Anglo Indians left India and settled in USA, UK and Australia.
Violet lived in these changing times. Her family are dead, and she tends to their graves with care. Her only surviving relative is an infirm brother....and she had lost her betrothed to the War.
Yet she struggles on in life with fortitude, and without bitterness. She loves the country she was born in and treats everyone with kindness.
As her age creeps up on her, she realises that the new times have no place for her. Her naivety and her emotional weakness is exposed, and she is left pondering her future in a large and a ruthless city.
This film serves as an excellent epilogue to the end of the Empire in India.It shows the individual suffering that the ordinary people went through.
Especially the Anglo Indians, after their privileged status was withdrawn by history and some were left to fend for themselves.