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  • Writer's pictureMathushaa Sagthidas

My take on Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.

Matangi/ Maya/ M.I.A is an biographical documentary, released in 2018, featuring videography by predominantly Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam and Steve Loveridge, whlist the film was directed by Steve Loveridge. The film is about a Tamil Sri Lankan singer M.I.A who immigrates to London, to start a new life in London due to the Sri Lankan civil war. In Matangi/ Maya/ M.I.A, there is a heavy and raw focus on the south Asian community and it’s culture, but more specifically M.I.A.‘a background and heritage which is Tamil Sri Lankan. Something that I think is very authentic way compared the western take on south Asian culture, in well-known shows such as The Big Bang Theory and The Simpsons. She not only speaks about the difficulties she has faced as a coloured women living in London, but also brings attention to the negative stereotypes such as “immigrants and stuff like that’s it’s that they come take the jobs and the money and everything” (43:34 – 45:00, Matangi/ Maya/ M.I.A, 2018); which is ironic as many European countries colonised and stole from various south Asian countries.

This film is great way to understand the various hardships Tamil people have faced and why immigrating, something that has and is considered “an enormous strain on the system” in London (5:48 – 6:17, Matangi/ Maya/ M.I.A, 2018), was key in helping Tamil people survive especially after the struggle not just from the civil war but from the colonialisation of south Asians. You also see M.I.A trying navigate between her Tamil and western identity, and the struggles around that she often faced; such as judgement for being Tamil and experienced being “spat at for being a Paki” (7:00 – 7:08, Matangi/ Maya/ M.I.A, 2018) when moving and living in London.

However, what is great is that you see her embrace both aspects of her identity through creating music, that has been considered controversial as she takes that opportunity to bring attention to Tamil genocide. Therefore, giving the south Asian community, especially Tamil people a voice within in western media, something that is rare for those of south Asian identity within and outside of the westernised community. However when comparing Matangi/ Maya/ M.I.A which has a more serious and autobiographical approach, to Never Have I Ever which has a more comedic purpose and a staged structure, you see that south Asian women are portrayed very differently in these works; yet both works showcase that south Asian women that are proud of their skin and background but shows people they are not demure or muted but instead have a backbone.

What I think is great about the film and M.I.A is that she use her platform, her career and even this film to bring attention to topic that are considered controversial to western media, topics such as Tamil genocide within the Sri Lankan civil war and something that should be acknowledged and remembered.

Math x

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