Literary Criticism of Critics on The Novel Coolie

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(1) Saros Cowasjee: Delineation of English Characters in “Coolie”

      Saros Cowasjee examines the common charge that Anand does not fully understand his English characters, and that he either caricatures them or depicts them unconvincingly. Cowasjee gives the instance of Mr. WP. England in the second chapter of Coolie and suggests that he is the best-drawn Western character in Indo-English fiction. Cowasjee concedes, however, that in chapter four of the same novel, where the milieu is Bombay Anand does caricature the baronet and his English foreman. This, in his view; is deliberate on the novelist’s part, for this is how such characters would appear to the Indians. (One may question, however, the likelihood of any Indian ever having the opportunity of looking at the sahibs as they speak to each other and conduct themselves in privacy). Cowasjee draws attention to an important shift of technique in this part of the novel: the earlier emphasis on Munoo has been discontinued, and he is now presented as one of the toiling, suffering masses, whose outlook is distorted by their inhuman plight. The critic adds that of the five English characters in Coolie, only the two that occur in the Bombay chapter are caricatured, very much on the lines of the nineteenth-century Indian novel Fasana-i-Azad. Otherwise, Anand’s technique in chapter four appears to Cowasjee to be wholly expressionistic, and has the function of dramatising and universalising the basic theme of the natural man’s essential innocence. (The characterization of Dr. Marjoribanks may be described as natural). The English Health officer is ‘a short, fat man, about forty bald-headed and prim,’ who like most Englishmen in India, ‘played tennis, cricket, polo, drank whisky and tried to retain the affections of his wife....’ The English inspector of police who makes a brief entry and can hardly be referred to as a character, allows Prabha to be foully whipped. “Now, it is not always true that the English police officers were more honest and just than their Indian counterparts, but nothing is here achieved by showing that the English police officer is callous and brutal. Had Anand shown the English officer as upholding the law and trying to put some restraint on the Indian policemen, he would have weakened his case against British misrule and at the same time he would have revealed himself as unbiased.” (However, such a change would have made the novel more convincing, for not all Englishmen who occupied positions of power in India were monsters).

(2) Saros Cowasjee: Picaresque Element in “Coolie”

      Saros Cowasjee rightly observes that Coolie relates a series of adventures in the picaresque manner, with this difference that the hero is not a rogue as ‘picaresque’ would imply but himself a victim of the world’s rogueries. Munoo is beaten from pillar to post as millions are beaten even today. Unlike Bakha (whom Cowasjee calls a ‘negative hero’ what is questioned in Munoo’s case is not his place in the old caste system, since by birth he belongs to the second highest caste. As Cowasjee remarks, what is questioned is Munoo’s place in the economic order which Cowasjee calls the new caste system, which has the cash nexus as its basis, and is a peculiar phenomenon of Kaliyug, the Iron Age. Cowasjee expresses the view, which no one would controvert, that the magic of Coolie lies in Munoo’s innocence, in his naive warm-heartedness, his love and comradeship, and his irrepressible curiosity and love for life. Cowasjee adds the rather extravagant compliment that Munoo belongs with some of the most endearing juvenile characters in modern literature, like Dickens’ David Copperfield. (No one who has read both Coolie and David Copperfield will endorse this view without strong reservation).

(3) Srinivasa Iyengar: Juxtaposition of Good and Evil

      Srinivasa Iyengar designates Munoo’s misadventures in Bombay as another ‘book in the prose epic of India which Coolie constitutes. He observes that good and evil are thrown together higgledly-piggledly, though more often than not it is evil which gains the upper hand. Iyengar enumerates some of Munoo’s experiences in support of his viewpoint—life on the pavements or in the slums, service in the Sir George White’s Cotton Mills, collision with human sharks and hyenas, the friendship of Hari and Lakshmi, the companionship of Ratan, the descent into the Red Light district, involvement in the ‘labour trouble’ and the Hindu-Muslim disturbance. As he runs up the hill to escape the rioters and the police, he is knocked down by a car and taken by the owner of the car, Mrs. Mainwaring, to Simla. This woman of vast pretensions and questionable morals, makes Munoo her rickshaw-puller and page (and perhaps something more as well): and worn out by work, he hastens to his grave, the tide of his life reaching back to the deeps, (Iyengar fails to point out the improbability of an experienced woman like Mrs. Mainwaring wanting to make a fourteen-year old servant her paramour). Iyengar draws a valid comparison when he remarks that Mother India receives Munoo to her bosom with the words: “We belong to suffering! We belong to suffering! My Love!”

(4) Mulk Raj Anand: Defence Against the Charge of Propagandism

      Mulk Raj Anand has tried at length to defend himself against the charge of propagandistic writing that is often levelled against him. He argues that the charge is based upon a misconception, since many of his subjects, such as class and caste, are such as easily lend themselves to propaganda tracts. He recalls that Mahatma Gandhi had at first asked him to write a straightforward tract on the subject of untouchability but he had replied that he would prefer to write a novel, because he wanted to represent a total personality in response to the challenge, in preference to a cut and dried statement denouncing untouchability Anand justifiably asserts that the novel goes deeper into the roots of human personality than a didactic work, because of being more life like.

      Anand confesses that in so for as he has dealt with changes, he has been accused of indulging in political and social propaganda, but vindicates his own approach on the plea that fundamentally, his exposition of character and situation is to reveal life in as total a manner as possible. He protests that his critics have seldom seen the symbolism, the attitudes, and the rugged poetry beneath the prose. Anand is right about the occasional presence of rugged poetry beneath his prose, but his claim about symbolism and attitudes is rather exaggerated. Anand himself would like to call his approach expressionism, which he defines as an enactment of the body-soul drama of human beings, through the imagination, rather than propaganda. One tends rather to side with M. K. Naik, by no means one of the ‘adverse’ critics of Anand, who concedes that although Anand’s defence is able and spirited, it leaves some questions unanswered, a crucial one among them being whether, after having made his own artistic convictions into generalisations and made them his themes “has he given us in a pure form, an enactment of the body-soul drama of human beings through the imagination, or has his drama been vitiated by the admixture of elements which go against the grain of art.” One agrees with Naik’s answer to his own question: Anand has been able to vindicate his claim only partially. When Anand’s humanitarianism is dominant, he gives us unforgettable scenes such as Bakha’s humiliation for unwillingly touching a caste Hindu, but this is not always the case. Time and again a touch of propagandism enters the novels, such as when he does not let his chief characters develop fully and naturally but makes them, often, his mouthpieces. Cowasjee also endorses this view with the observation that Anand’s disapproval of propaganda is no proof that his writing is free from propaganda.

(5) C. D. Narasimhaiah: Techniques of Characterisation in Coolie

      C.D. Narasimhaiah takes note of some of the techniques employed by Anand in delineating the characters in Coolie. He observes that contrasts, reinforcements and parallel situations are an important part of Anand’s technique in concretising in words the patterns of life which he knows best. The critic cites some convincing instances in support of his observation—the wife of Nathoo Ram has her counterpart in Ganpat, Prabha’s swindling partner even as Prabha and his wife are a happy couple in contrast with the Babu and Bibi for whom Munoo worked earlier, and this contrast is there not only in their treatment of Munoo but in their entire outlook on life, and in their honest, simple almost gullible ways. The pickle factory at Daulatpur has its counterpart in the Textile Mill of Bombay and Prabha Dayal and his wife are paralleled by Hari and Lakshmi. Ganpat has another counterpart in Jimmie Thomas. The opulence of the rich and their spacious residences are contrasted with the poverty of the coolies and the squalor and filth of the slums in which they live. Although there is poverty suffering and starvation everywhere, Bombay has it on a much larger scale. The poor are exploited, ill-treated and starved everywhere, whether it is a village, a small town or a big city. The idyllic rural way of life is contrasted by Anand with the urban, but even the village is not free from exploitation. One agrees whole-heartedly with Narasimhaiah’s premise that these parallelisms and contrasts enrich the formal organisation of Coolie.

(6) Meenakshi Mukherjee: Anand’s Characterisation

      Meenakshi Mukherjee employs for Indo-Anglian fiction in general the designation twice-born fiction. This has a particular appositeness for the character-creations of Anand. She classifies his characters into three categories—the sufferers, the oppressors and the good men. She observes that usually the protagonist is the chief sufferer in Anand’s novels. People with a vested interest in resisting change, such as money-lenders, priests and landlords are placed in the second category. The good characters include an assortment of labour leaders, social workers, poets and idealistic doctors, who are all advocates of the machine and the need for progress and equality Meenakshi Mukherjee gives the example of Iqbal Nath in Untouchable, who advocates mechanising the mode of disposal of garbage which, he maintains, will eradicate caste. (To this one may add the names of Prabha Dayal, Ganpat and Mohan in Coolie). About Anand’s heroes, she observes that they are rugged individuals who suffer because they refuse to conform. Munoo is a labourer, Bakha a sweeper. In spite of the persecution they undergo, however, they remain indomitable in spirit. In this connection she quotes Anand himself:

I am conscious that much of my insistence on the role of man in the universe derives from European Hellenism. For the traditional attitude of India in this regard is essentially non-human, superhuman: This the same in the ant, the same in the goat....the elephant.....the whole universe,’ so says the Bhradaranyak Upanishad.

      But for Anand, the novelist, the atman in each man is something rare and precious. Anand himself confesses in the Preface to his Two Leaves and a Bud:

All these heroes as the other men and women who had emerged in my novels and short stories were dear to me because they were the reflections of the real people I had known during my childhood and youth.....They were flesh of my flesh and blood of my blood.

      Meenakshi Mukherjee draws attention to the singularity of Anand’s characters. She observes that they are lonely misfits, in a way different from the loneliness of the tradition of the modern European protagonist of fiction, because his loneliness is a form of intellectual alienation, whereas Anand’s characters are lonely because they do not arise out of the soil they inhabit, because Anand has stuffed them with his own beliefs. They lack the necessary background, are rootless, and appear somewhat unreal. (Mukherjee is too sweeping in her condemnation of Anand’s characters. The loneliness of Munoo, for example, is part of his situation and is not forced on him by the novelist).

(7) C. D. Narasimhaiah: Criticism of the Simla Episode in Coolie

      C. D. Narasimhaiah is among those critics who consider the Simla episode in Coolie as unnecessary and inartistic. He maintains that the novel virtually ends with the section on the factory life in Bombay which points out most incisively the inhuman side of industrial city life in India. But following this is the section containing the Simla episode of the Anglo-Indian woman, which, he asserts, is not an organic part of the total pattern of the novel and exists apart as it were, an afterthought, an accretion on so well-knit a work of art. The critic wishes Anand would cut it out ruthlessly and restore the health of an otherwise admirable work—a work by which, along with the earlier Untouchable, Anand can command a comfortable standing in Indian fiction without the aid of anything else. He explains that his remark is occasioned by the fact that it comes after that most impressive piece of self-introspection which young Munoo gives himself to when he says: ‘Am I really ominous? My father died when I was born and then my mother and I brought misfortune to Prabha and it seems I brought misfortune to Hari now. If I am ominous why don’t I die?’ — after this the next section is in the nature of an anti-climax and does not contribute significantly to our final assessment of either Munoo or the novel. Having said so, Narasimhaiah concedes, that he must make a single exception for the very last sentence of the novel which speaks of ‘the tide’ of his life having ‘reached back to the deeps’, which, he calls a tribute to Anand’s unconscious spiritual predisposition, in spite of all the conscious protests which he makes to the contrary (Narasimhaiah’s view about the inartisticness of the Simla episode has considerable force, but his eulogy of the last sentence of Coolie is rather over-enthusiastic). Not all critics, however, agree with Narasimhaiah even about the Simla episode. For example, Cowasjee supports the novelist for retrieving his hero from the horrors of Bombay and allowing him to regain some of his identity before he coughs his lungs out pulling a rickshaw for his mistress. Cowasjee considers it a proper finale for the novel—the boy who had come from the hills to work and see the world goes back to the hills. (However, even Cowasjee does not approve of the pillorying of the Anglo-Indian woman in this section of the novel. He is, of course, entirely right in his disapproval).

(8) Mulk Raj Anand: Some Observations on His Own Prose Style

      Mulk Raj Anand has expatiates on Indian English, and on his own style, at length. He does not seem to regard English as altogether a foreign language but a part of the Indian cultural development and interpretative of its most vital character. Anand makes the interesting confession that when writing in English he found, even when he was writing spontaneously, that he was always translating dialogues from the original Punjabi into English. He adds that the way in which his mother said something in a dialect of Central Punjab could not have been expressed in any other way except in an almost literal translation, which might carry over the sound and sense of the original speech. Moreover, Anand confesses, that he also discovered that he was dreaming or brooding about two-thirds of the prose-narrative in Punjabi or in Hindustani, and only one-third in the English language. It was this self-analysis, he confides which enabled him to “consciously introduce translation of Punjabi, Urdu or Hindi words into all my writings.”

(9) Saros Cowasjee: Anand’s Political Foresight in “Coolie”

      In Saros Cowasjee’s view, one of the aspects of Coolie which deserves comment is the charge that it contains Marxist eulogy of the proletariat. He counters that if there is propaganda in this novel, it is, as pointed out by V S. Pritchett, ‘digested completely’, or at its worst, as Peter Burra comments, it is “propaganda only in the sense that any frank statement of such facts is bound to appeal for their correction.” Anand, Cowasjee observes, is a political novelist, who sees his characters and their actions in relation to India, and often in relation to the world outside India. According to this critic, this is the area in which Anand’s strength lies. Unlike most other nationalists who thought that Independence would usher in the golden age, Anand saw and wrote that political freedom without a change of heart, was meaningless, and India’s present predicament seems to Cowasjee to vindicate Anand’s foresight. What Munoo suffers at the hands of his English masters in Bombay is no more than what he suffers at the hands of his Indian masters and even those of his fellow-workers as downtrodden as himself. Anand takes care to show that goodness of heart is not in inverse ratio to the wealth one possesses. No doubt evil predominates in the novel, but the blame is not put squarely on the Whites or Browns. It rests with all of us, not the least with those who suffer most. Anand relieves the lot of men by bestowing dignity on the victims of cruelty. (While Cowasjee is no doubt right about the last observation, it is difficult to agree with him that Anand does not in some way blame the rulers, directly or indirectly about every trouble which afflicts his fellow-countrymen).

(10) Srinivasa Iyengar: Panoramic Quality in “Coolie”

      The noted critic of Indo-Anglian literature, Srinivasa Iyengar, draws attention to the panoramic aspect of Coolie, which is also, he points out, a novel which would fit into Edwin Muir’s classification ‘novel of character’. Iyengar notes that Coolie is twice as long as Untouchable, and its action (unlike that of Untouchable which spans only a single day is spread over some years. The scene also shifts from village to town, from town to city, and thence to Bombay, the Gateway of India, and from Bombay to India’s summer capital at that time, namely, Simla. Iyengar justifies his description of Coolie as a character novel on the plea that it extends primarily in space with the hero, the hill-boy Munoo, we also move and follow his fortunes or rather misfortunes first with his uncle and aunt in his village, Bilaspur. then with the Bank Sub-Accountant’s family at Sham Nagar. where Munoo works as a servant; then with Munoo’s benefactor, Prabha, and his wife in the incredible Cat Killer’s Lane in the old feudal city, Daulatpur; we are presently lost with Munoo in Bombay’s slums and chawls and lastly, with Mrs. Mainwaring at Simla, as her page and rickshaw puller, where he dies of consumption.

      As Iyengar notes the narrative in Coolie moves at a swift pace, with the scenes following each other in quick succession. If Untouchable is the microcosm, Coolie is more like a macrocosm of Indian society. As the critic notes, the two stories are told differently — the concentration of Untouchable gives place to diffusion and comprehension in Coolie, which has several foci of concentration. Iyengar justly designates Coolie as a veritable cross-section of India, which is a mixture of the horrible and the holy, the inhuman and the humane, the sordid and the beautiful. All this, as he observes, results in a panoramic general effect, with good and evil thrown together as in actual life. Because of the swiftness of pace, there is little time for the reader to pause, to think, to judge, for we are constantly shifted, with a new situation engulfing us at every turn, and new absurdities whirling us round. A significant aspect of Coolie to which Iyengar draws attention is the sameness of the human situation in it, in spite of the constant spatial progression, from the village right upto the summer capital of the country. All the time Munoo is a victim of exploitation, in one way or another, by one person or another. One agrees wholeheartedly with Iyengar’s conclusion that Munoo’s fate is typical of millions of his countrymen whose only distinguishing feature is patient suffering.

(11) Saros Cowasjee: Colonial Theme in Coolie

      Saros Cowasjee points attention to an important aspect of the depiction of the colonial theme in Coolie, namely, the degrading effect of the contact of the ruling classes on the Indians, though one must add that the blame does not lie entirely with the rulers. Cowasjee observes that the episode of Mr. W. P. England’s visit illustrates Anand’s conviction that the British government not only exploited the country’s natural resources but debased the characters of those Indians who were in its service. It did this, he elaborates, by creating a body of sycophants, looking up to the English, fawning, cringing and becoming a ready tool of exploitation in the hands of their masters. It is possible that this may have been Anand’s intention, but the depiction of Mr. W P. England does not bear out this thesis. This modest, unspoiled Englishman can in no way be blamed for the meanness and servility which Nathoo Ram displays. Similarly, Cowasjee’s remark that the dehumanisation of Daya Ram also is a result of his being in the service of the English is unfounded. Meanness and cruelty are a part of Daya Ram’s nature, and if he has forgotten the debt of gratitude that he owes to his dead sister-in-law and the human obligation he owes to his orphaned nephew, we must not, in the manner of Cowasjee, or of Anand himself rush to the conclusion that it is the pernicious influence of the ruling classes which has led to such degeneration of character and values. However, one has no hesitation in agreeing with Cowasjee that the phenomenon of the Todar Mals must be attributed largely to the rulers, for this body of sycophants was certainly encouraged and pampered by the colonial rulers to further their own interests.

(12) M. K. Naik: Munoo’s Tragedy

      M. K. Naik makes an interesting point when he discusses Munoo’s life as a tragedy in three acts. Pointing attention to Anand’s recapitulation of Munoo’s early memories in the opening chapter of the novel, Naik observes that the central theme of Coolie is the tragic denial to a simple, landless peasant of the fundamental right to happiness, and the terrible destiny of being a victim of exploitation comes out in the novel as Munoo’s dubious birthright. Before he embarks on his tragic misadventures, Munoo is indeed a sensitive and intelligent boy full of high spirits and a zest for life, but poverty compels him to be apprenticed to life at the age of fourteen. The first act of Munoo’s tragedy (in fact, part of it is tragi-comic rather than tragic) takes place at Sham Nagar, in the house of Nathoo Ram, Sub-Accountant of the Imperial Bank. However, Munoo escapes from Sham Nagar, as Naik rightly observes, with his spirits undamped and his vitality and impetuosity largely intact. Munoo has here learnt the important lesson that the distinction that really matters is not that of caste but that of money—there are, he is sure, only two kinds of people in the world, the rich and the poor.

      The second act in this tragic drama of exploitation, Naik continues, takes place during Munoo’s stint in the cotton factory in Bombay. This exposes Munoo to the full force of the modern capitalistic machine. In Naik’s inimitable words, the factory is a huge octopus, with its numerous tentacles clutching the labourers in its deadly grasp, slowly paralysing and poisoning them. Security of service is non-existent and retrenchments are arbitrary The British Foreman is not only the employer but also a landlord and money-lender, in both which he is more exploitative than even the notorious Pathan money-lenders. The merchant who enjoys the monopoly of trade with the labourers exploits his privilege fully. The third act of Munoo’s tragedy, according to Naik, begins when Mrs. Mainwaring, whose car has knocked Munoo down, takes him with her to Simla, to make him a servant in her household. Munoo, deeply conscious of a feeling of inferiority, also accepts without murmur the exhausting work of pulling the Memsahib’s rickshaw. He suffers from consumption and dies at a very young age. Naik rightly adds that in addition to capitalism and industrialism, communalism also lends a hand in breaking Munoo and others like him.

(13) ML. K. Naik: Relations Between the British and the Indians

      M. K. Naik also considers Anand’s depiction of the cognate theme of the relations between the Indians and the British in pre-Independence India. He maintains that in this relationship the element of exploitation is mixed, with prejudices, misunderstandings and inhibitions on both sides. Among British characters we have Sir. Reginald White, President of the Cotton Mill, Mr. Little, the Manager; and Jimmie Thomas, the Foreman. These are rightly termed by Naik as exploitative, pure and simple. But in Mrs. Mainwaring Anand shows a different aspect of the same relationship. In Naik’s view, being an Anglo-Indian she is a house divided against itself the passionate blood of her Indian grandmother being at perpetual war with the European-Christian horror of the flesh and sex instilled in her by her convent schooling. However, Naik maintains that Mrs. Mainwaring compensates for her strong inferiority complex by trying to appear complex. On the other hand, we have Mr. England, who typifies the average British reaction to the Indian in those days. He is the Chief Cashier of the Imperial Bank of India, and is embarrassed by the obsequiousness of his subordinate, Babu Nathoo Ram. England’s visit to the Babu’s house, Naik believes, turns out to be a disaster, owing to woeful ignorance of each other’s ways on the part of both. (To this one may add that the real reason of the failure of this visit is the fact that while the Englishman regards it only as a polite social call, the Babu has the ulterior motive of ingratiating himself with his boss. Thus the Babu’s responsibility for this fiasco is much greater than that of the sahib). Another instance of an obsequious Indian cited by Naik is Rai Bahadur Todar Mal of Daulatpur, the retired public prosecutor who vainly tries to impress Dr. Edward Marjoribanks, the Public Health Officer. In Bombay we have Mr. Screwwallah, the Indian clerk in the Cotton Mill who cowers before Mr. Little because “he had never felt quite at ease with white men ever since one had kicked him at the corner of Hornby Road for no other crime than the childish curiosity which made him stare with wonder and admiration at the sahib” (In fact this character is the best example of the viewpoint maintained by Naik.)

(14) M. K. Naik: Anand’s Strong-Point

      On the basis of Anand’s depiction of various themes in Coolie, M. K. Naik rightly concludes that Anand is at his best when he observes keenly describes realistically and with unflinching honesty what he observes, and maintains his balance even when his compassion and indignation clamour for expression. One instance of this is the depiction of the dirt and squalor in which the factory workers live, and M. K. Naik is right in his assertion that this is done with unsparing detail. Perhaps the finest touch, he believes, is the scene where Munoo and Hari, along with the latter’s family seek shelter on the crowded pavements of Bombay Finding, to their surprise, that there is some vacant space by the door-step of a shop which has not been claimed by anyone, though every other available shelter on all sides of this place has already been occupied, they learn from a half-naked wailing woman that a man—her husband—had died there last night. Hari’s response has been described by Naik as typical of his situation, for he exclaims, “He has attained the release.” He adds (perhaps without realising the deeper significance of his words): “We will rest in his place.” (Naik is here attaching excessive importance to a commonplace remark).

(15) M. K. Naik: Contrast Between Village and City

      M. K. Naik also takes note of the theme of the contrast between life in the rural world and the urban one, which is one of the major themes in Coolie. The first chapter, in addition to depicting the rural world, also brings out the fact that the people living in villages harbour romantic notions about life in the city. Reality however, Naik notes, is much grimmer. When Daya Ram leaves Munoo behind at the house of Babu Nathoo Ram, Munoo realizes the tragedy of his situation. He becomes acquainted with the urban world of bogus sophistication when he relieves himself against the wall of the Babu’s house. The Bibiji evidently regards Munoo’s action as a grave misdeed and his humiliation at her hands gives Munoo some idea of the difference between the village and the town. Another implied point of difference is the fact that the evidently hungry boy is given nothing to eat by his mistress but is straightaway set to work. It is only late at night (by rural standards) that the boy is given something to eat. The village custom of entertaining a guest with good food at whatever time of the day he happens to arrive is not observed in the town—or the servant is excluded from its operation. Munoo cannot help thinking: “Perhaps the customs in the town are different.” (Naik brings out the contrast between the two worlds.

(16) Naik: Artistic Moderation in Coolie

      With exploitation and misery go hand in hand the moments of joy and happiness, though short. The treatment given to Munoo by Seth Prabha Dayal and his saintly wife, the kind-hearted friendship with Hari and the delightful moments spent with Hari’s wife, a Sunday evening with Piari Jan which is a delightful idyll full of dance, drink and music, the kind treatment given to Munoo by Mrs. Mainwaring when he is ill are the silver linings in the dark clouds of his life. (M. K. Naik’s assumption that if Anand had depicted Munoo’s life as entirely unhappy, it would have carried less conviction, is valid).

      Naik also takes note of Anand’s artistic moderation in Coolie. Although the theme of the exploitation of the underprivileged is presented in depth and drawn with vividness, on the whole, the temptation to lay on the colours too thick (i.e. to violate the canons of artistic modesty) is successfully avoided. Naik also draws attention to the epic quality in Coolie, with its scene shifting from the Kangra hills down to the plains of Bombay and back to the Punjab hills; with its crowded canvas covering all the classes of society from the landless peasant to the aristocratic Anglo-Indian and British, with its varied spectacle of human nature ranging from the malevolent to the saintly.

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