"Suku suku what shall I do?" : Hindi cinema and the politics of music in Trinidad

Document Type

Book chapter

Source Publication

Remembered rhythms

Publication Date


First Page


Last Page





Ever since Bald Joban (Childhood, Youth [dir. Baburao Patel, 1954]). the first Indian film to be shown in Trinidad, arrived in 1935. East Indians have been fascinated by this manifestation of “Indian culture." Calypso and the newer soca are important musical genres in a spectrum that includes chutney and chutney-soca, forming, as the previous chapters show, a crucial arena of cultural-political intervention. This chap¬ter will discuss how all of these genres draw on Hindi film music, marking yet another area in which “Indians" and “Africans” are engaged in craft¬ing Trinidadian cultural forms. As Paul Gilroy and others have suggested, music is arguably the most significant cultural practice in areas of African hegemony in the New World. This is so much the case, I would contend, that even in a country like Trinidad, whose population of “Indians" is more than equal to that of “Africans,” Hindi film as a visual product is down¬played in favor of film music, which for decades seems to have performed a crucial role in the formation of “Indian" identities. The Hindi films them¬selves have aroused a host of ambivalent responses among East Indians while the songs and their many “versions” continue to circulate in diverse spaces, including Creole-dominated ones. One indicator of the popularity of film music is the existence of “camps” dedicated to the 1950s and '6os playback singers K. L. Saigal, Mohammed Rafi, and Mukesh—groups of people in localities and villages who were not formally organized but all the same were “very real.” This phenomenon seems to have been quite preva¬lent in Trinidad in contrast to what would be familiar in India—that is, fan clubs for film stars.

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2010 Taylor & Francis

Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Additional Information

ISBN of the source publication: 9781905422494

Full-text Version

Accepted Author Manuscript



Recommended Citation

Niranjana, T. (2011). "Suku suku what shall I do?": Hindi cinema and the politics of music in Trinidad. In S. Chaudhuri & A. Seeger (Eds.), Remembered rhythms (pp. 54-80). Kolkata: Seagull.