The 'Outsider' Perspective in 'Only Yesterday', 'Howards End' and 'Kumare'

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Art, especially movies and films are compelling tools in communicating and informing people about underlying world issues. The themes, characters, and performance in such performances always mirror the societal perspective concerning different aspects of life. Regardless of the setting and genre of movies, they exist primarily to entertain and educate. Therefore, this paper aims to critically analyze three films- Only Yesterday, Howards End, and Kumare- to explore the “outsider” perspective as presented in each movie. Further, outlining the parallel themes present in the film, and, seek to evaluate the struggles and journeys of the different characters in the movies.

The “Outsider” Perspective

An outsider is a person who does not belong a particular entity, society, or party. In the three films, the concept of an outsider has been depicted in various forms. Being an outsider results through many factors such as societal standings, wealth, norms, and culture. This section examines how the concept is exhibited throughout the movies.

The “Outsider” Perspective as Exhibited in “Howards End”

The 1992 movie directed by Merchant Ivory based on a story of intersecting classes between the Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, and the Wilcox's. Throughout the film, various characters are exhibited as not belonging to a class. For instance, the Schlegel sisters represent the middle class while the Wilcox’s represent the upper and extremely wealthy class. The film, set at a time when emancipation of women and equal rights was increasingly becoming popular, which the Schlegel sisters aimed to take advantage of the situation. However, they received stiff resistance from the members of the Wilcox family and considered "outsiders" in different ways.

            For instance, the marriage between Hellen, one of the Schlegel sisters, and Paul, youngest son of the Wilcox's did not materialize and ended in absolute embarrassment to the Schlegel sisters. This was despite mutual feelings of affection between the two lovers. The romance primarily ended because Hellen represented the lower class hence undesirable to the Wilcox family. In the movie, it appears Hellen alone is not romantically by the social and economic status. When the Schlegel's accompany their aunt and cousin to the music and art concert, Leonard Bast had to flee the concert despite craving for culture and intellectual conversation and Margaret feeling affection for him after Hellen accidentally commented about his worn-out umbrella. It is also understood that Leonard Bast was from a poor class and felt embarrassed.

            Another instance where the outsider perspective is shown in the movie is when Mrs Wilcox leaves a handwritten will dethroning the Howards End house to Margaret. When the other members of the Wilcox family learn about the will they refuse to divulge the information to Margaret. Moreover, during the meeting with Leonard Bast and his wife Jacky, after two years of first meeting, the Schlegel sisters despite enjoying Leonard's company felt his financial status as inadequate and unfortunate. Jacky who is a former prostitute also feels not worthy her husband especially when she thinks he had gone “calling” elsewhere.

            Additionally, Mrs Margaret feels surprised when Mr Wilcox proposes to her specifically given the status difference. Margaret as Mr Wilcox's wife find difficult to mingle with Mr Wilcox's friends during parties and weddings. Also, Jacky is left to fill up on the leftovers of the wedding. Nevertheless, Mr. Wilcox refuses pregnant Hellen to spend with them together in their house, Howards end in what he as transgressing acts of Hellen. 

The “Outsider” Perspective as Exhibited in “Only Yesterday”

The movie is based on the reminiscence of a 27-year-old Japanese girl, Taeko. While she was growing up, Taeko displays different behaviours. At one point at the age of 10 during school holidays, all of her school mates had places to go, but she had none. When she accompanies her grandmother, Taeko realizes that there exists variation in interests between her and grandmother. She felt restless and wanted to move around while the grandmother preferred to stay indoors. Taeko resorts to visiting the local baths but passes out either due to the overwhelming heat of the water or the beauty of baths,

            Taeko also felt as different as the other family members when she is the only one enjoying pineapple in the whole family. During her years in school, Taeko recalls how she differed with her other sisters. Her sisters love trends, and fashion does not interest Taeko. She also remembered a day when a discussion was held in class covering a range of issues. However, Taeko noted that much was not discussed except yelling and bickering. Conversely, she is not interested either in Hirota and doesn't see him in light as other girls do.

The “Outsider” Perspective as Exhibited in “Kumare”

In the movie Kumare, even the perspective of “outsider” is depicted in the difference in beliefs and aspirations. Even though Kumare is the leader of the group cult-like group, he does not share with them their belief. The followers consider him a guru due to his pretense, however, deep inside him, Kumare knows he is a guru. In the movie, Kumare find it extremely hard to cope with his parents enforcing the Hindu beliefs. He even struggles to imitate Hindu accent like her grandmother.

Parallel Themes Identified in the Movies

An analysis of the movies reveals similar themes depicted throughout the movies. Transformation, identity crisis

Transformation Theme

The aspect of transformation regarding behaviors, beliefs and physical growth. The characters in the film Howards End” clearly display behavioral conversion at the end of the movie. Hellen, for instance, softened her stance towards the Wilcox family after the engagement of the Margaret and Wilcox's son. Hellen also changed her attitude towards Leonard to a point where Leonard's economic situation no longer inhibited her connection to him. Interestingly Hellen got pregnant with Leonard. The Wilcox also changed their view towards the poor. Mr Wilcox got engaged with Margaret, offered her the house and even went at length to help Mr Leonard look for work. Jacky also changed her ways and stopped prostitution.

            Taeko, the main character in the film Only Yesterday, has undergone a lot of physical and behavioral transformation throughout the movie. She has grown from the little ten-year-old little girl to a 27-year-old lady. Her view of men and fashion has also improved significantly. When she was young, Taeko remembers leaving her friends in dismay while they chanted her name that she was watching Hirota perform when she rushes off the field. In her reminiscence, Taeko ponders how relationships have changed over the years. She remembers the innocence associated with youthful romance. Further, the train ride provides Taeko with the opportunity to think about how transformed her interests are. She remembered as a ten-year-old her hobbies would be to walk around and explore things, but all that has changed now.

 On the other hand, Kumar transforms people and can transform himself in the movie Kumare even though through presence. The main actor was an average Indian American kid, however, to fulfil his goal of becoming a guru, he transforms himself immensely. He trains himself yoga, changes his accent to match his grandmother's and exchanges all his clothes for orange flowing robes. Kumare also goes ahead to grow his beard and even hire a PR consultant to assist him to portray himself as a guru. His followers also undergo significant transformations in the quest for better spiritual and healthy lifestyle.

Identity Crisis

Cases of identity crisis are present in all the three movies. The Schlegel for instance, in the movie Howards End

always want to be seen as part of the upper class or associate with them. Whereas, it is clear they belong to the middle-class society. However, with the opposition, they receive from the Wilcox family they are left in between without specific class or group to belong. The same case is exhibited by Jacky, a former prostitute, strives to get married to Leonard despite the clear differences.

            In the movie Only Yesterday, Teako the main character experiences difficulty to identify herself concerning her friends and family members. In her childhood, Teako tries to discover a variety of things like walking around, trying the baths, and enjoying the pineapple when all her family members discern the fruit. She also finds it hard focusing on issues that other people like most.

            Moreover, Kumare growing up as a young Indian American finds it hard following a specific way of life. He is particularly weary Hindu religion and practices and prefers the western culture more. However, is forced to rethink his beliefs as the popularity of yoga and gurus grew in America. In spite being a “guru” Kumare still found it challenging to transform completely.

Analysis of the Struggles and Journeys of the Characters

An evaluation of the three movies reveals similar and varying challenges and journeys the characters had to contend and deal with in the course of the films. The challenge acceptance was explicitly universal in all the movies. The Schlegel specifically had to challenge the issue being accepted with Wilcox family despite past failed previous marriage severely damaged the relations between the two families. Teako on the other had was dealing with the feeling of being different from classmates and family members. Kumare was battling the issue of an acceptable way of living. While he was an Indian America, Kumare was struggling to be seen more as westernized.

            However, the characters were also battling issues that were unique to each of them. Margaret, for instance, was facing the challenges of economic difficulties. The Schlegel family were facing dire matters of housing. Teako was facing personal issues relating to getting along with other people. Her ambitions and interests sharply differed with those around her. Lastly, Kumare was facing religious and cultural problems. Kumare was at a cross-roads in regards to which way of life to follow.

Conclusion

Regardless of the period, the movies were released, they clearly communicate the challenges facing people in the contemporary world.

September 25, 2023
Category:

Art Entertainment

Subcategory:

Movies

Number of pages

7

Number of words

1652

Downloads:

60

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