February 6, 2013
Persona and Disguise
Yet another day unfolds, as the skies mark the dawn. There is something genuinely enigmatic about this hour, as the entire world is stationary and still. The compelling day light has not commenced yet to vex us with daily hassles, nor is it the gloomy mysterious dusk. The murky blues pave way for crimson rays. The hush, tranquility and seclusion boost zest and vigor, bringing the finest out of me. I am a fierce gladiator; finest in his arena just like Maximus in the movie Gladiator.
I recently watched the magnum opus for the N-th time while my friend pointed out that Connie Nielsen (who played Lucilla) robustly resembled an Indian princess, adorned in embellished drapes with brocades and a ‘bindhi’. She certainly did! That instantly reminded me of a recent research work compiled by my ex-Professor (NIFT) Mrs. Toolika Gupta, where she discusses the probable influence of Roman Empire on the Indian sari.
Prof. Toolika Gupta taught us history of fashion and costumes at NIFT and her insightful research on ‘Influence of British Raj on Indian Clothing’ forms the very foundation of my graduate design collection.
To quote from her research, “Fashion is a representation of cultural identity. British entered Indian with their own cultural value and identity; the very British clothing and fashion statement, leaving the Indians admiring the ‘gora-sahibs’ and ‘mem-sahibs’. The average Indian wanted to copy their styles. Petticoat and blouse became part of Indian languages. Dhoti-kurta clad commoners started sporting shirts and trousers. Textile motifs changed from lotus to tulips with flowering trees displaying exuberant Baroque curves.”
The vintage photo shows an Indian man dressed in Western clothing.
Thus, the whole generation that grew up in India under the awe of the white man, constructed disguises to represent themselves as forward minded and educated. During the British Raj, we Indians disguised in large-scale to eradicate caste difference, to feel superior and to represent ourselves as forward minded.
I profoundly associate with the conception of persona and disguise. We construct complex disguises to represent ourselves as socially acceptable. We are so accustomed to disguise to others that in the end we become disguised to ourselves. Being a social animal, we are dual in nature.
We sport a social character (read mask), concealing the deeper identity in order to shield ourselves from being transparent and vulnerable. A persona is essential for us to adapt to the society’s demands. The real trouble however might start when you become identical to your persona, which might result in shallow, brittle and conformist kind of personality which excessive concern for what people think of you.
Rei Kawakubo whose intellectual creations often revolve around disguises.
Probably the persona itself is accountable for the abundant futile relationships. It is the ‘persona’ that ALL humans fall for. With time when the mask unfurls, we are obligated to face the malicious reality – an ideal ‘Bollywoodish’ happy relationships being a big fat lie. The phrase ‘And-they-lived-happily-ever-after’ is systematically cited in fairy tales, bluntly because it’s easier to fool around with kids.
THE WORLD SEES A DISGUISE, I SEE A PERSONA!