Re-viewing Cotton Mary By Dr. Glenn D'Cruz School of Contemporary Arts Deakin University, Melbourne Australia.


Traditionally, Anglo-Indians have sought to correct perceived distortions or misrepresentations of their community by disputing the accuracy of deprecatory stereotypes produced by 'prejudicial' writers, historians, social scientists and film directors. Typically, Anglo-Indians are stigmatised as a 'marginal' minority group who compensate for their marginalisation by seeking solace in the dissolute trappings of western culture. Consequently, they are generally 'represented' as people corrupted by alcoholism, sexual promiscuity, indolence and lax morality.

Ismail Merchant's film Cotton Mary (1999) recycles many of these stereotypes, and was harshly condemned by many Anglo-Indians, including Gillian Hart, a community leader and MP in West Bengal. Hart tried to get the Indian government to ban the film, and her campaign was reported in the Australian press. Hart claimed that: "the whole film is pointless and makes a mockery of us and our women". What do Australian Anglo-Indians think of Cotton Mary?

Rather than answer this question by presenting an academic paper, I have made a short video, which presents a wide range of Anglo-Indians discussing the film, and its relationship to their lives.

Cotton Mary Links

Merchant/Ivory Site