BERLIN CHAPTER: House of World Cultures, Berlin
August 11th, 2005
10.00 am – 2.00 pm

An outsider’s inside view or an insider’s outside view. Changing media perceptions of India in German TV 1957–2005.

Regrettably, German television, particularly within public broadcasting, has become an irrelevant source of information about India. This may sound like harsh criticism but it hits a point.
Since the introduction of the Green Card for IT experts from India there has been a definite shift of focus. Previously conversation about India would inevitably turn to poverty, hunger and widow-burning. There were, of course, other associations such as Fritz Lang’s movie “Tiger of Bengal”, Mahatma Gandhi and the inevitable Holy Cow! Then came the green card and the internet which catapulted the land of bullock-carts into a virtual wonderland of Ayurveda, Bollywood and Computers. This new German media-ABC of India has taken over the older media mantra which read, Caste, Creed and Corruption.
My lecture traces nearly 50 years of media patterns in public broadcasting. Born and educated in India, but determined to make it in German Television, I entered the scene in 1964. Working within the television system as part of an editorial staff compares to being some sort of chameleon gone berserk - changing perceptions, switching from exotic to normal, deconstructing each and trying to reconstruct them in my own terms. The unresolved debate of authenticity is a no-win situation. Is my ethnicity a handicap or is it a bonus? Fractured identities, fragmented identities, and yet I am at ease. How to use this in my work? And do they let me use it in my work?

Navina Sundaram (Delhi/Hamburg) grew up and studied in New Delhi/India. Since 1970 she has worked as a political television editor-cum-reporter and as a foreign correspondent for North German Radio & Television in Hamburg. In her capacity as filmmaker, roving correspondent, news-reporter, anchor woman, she worked for programmes including “Weltspiegel”, “Gesichter Asiens”, “Panorama” and “Extra Drei”. She has also made many documentary films.

Respondent: Harun Farocki, filmmaker, Berlin


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