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The Impact of Culture on the Function of Sound in Masala Essay

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The Impact of Culture on the Function of Sound in Masala


"I declare the National, uhh, sorry...the Canadian National Museum of Philately officially open."

- Minister for Multi-Culturalism, Masala

Although there are moments in Masala when the surface dialogue is loaded with irony and satire, the background or ambient sound of the film is also used to examine the central theme of the film, the search for personal and cultural identity. This theme of cultural representation and personal identity is additionally expressed through director Srinivas Krishna’s technical approach toward the function of sound in the film. In fact, the different approaches to life and art that distinguish one culture from another are evident in a brief comparison of the employment of sound in the Japanese films Gonza The Spearman and Fireworks and the Canadian production Masala. The influence of Western technical conventions upon Krishna’s use of sound, both through the narrative and sub-narrative (or background sound), is quite distinctive. Masala presents the viewer with an approach toward sound that is clearly influenced by the culture the film was created in, using dialogue and background sound to enhance the central theme of the search for cultural and personal identity.

As a result of different cultural approaches to the art of film making, Japanese directors such as Masahiro Shinoda (Gonza) and Takeshi Kitano (Fireworks) typically employ sound in an effort to enhance the storytelling aspect of cinema. This ‘storytelling’ approach to film supports the gratuitous use of sound effects to emphasise punches, kicks, and the extreme violence and excessive amounts of blood that have come to signify fight scenes in Japan cinema (particularly to ...


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..., just as the real estate agent states "Your momma gave you a bum steer when you were 4 years old. We need to clean that up right now. If we don’t clean that up right now, you will be emotionally prohibited from creating wealth."

In short, the use of sound in Masala is the culmination of the life of Krishna - the character - as a minority struggling for both personal and cultural identity in an increasingly satirical world, and Krishna - the director - using film, specifically dialogue and background noise, to ask questions about social and cultural status. Krishna’s eventual death - a reaction against stereotypes - and his grandmother’s acceptance and desire for the technology (among other facets) of a foreign culture - a shattering of stereotypes - reveal that director Krishna’s intent is to raise questions, to provide a solid background for deeper discussion.


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