South Asia

Organized Panel Session

4 - Melodrama and Post-coloniality : Self Fashioning in Popular Bengali Cinema Between the 1950s-70s

Friday, July 6
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Casuarina, Lower Ground Floor

This paper examines post-colonial modernity in popular Bengali cinema via the tropes of self-fashioning and melodrama through the Uttam Kumar—Suchitra Sen films of the 1950s-70s. This period in Popular Bangla Cinema is also known as the ‘Uttam-Suchitra yug’ (the era of Uttam Kumar [1926-1980] and Suchitra Sen[1931-2014]) as these two stars ruled the industry and were seen as the most successful star couple of the time. My paper attempts to recover traces and sediments of the specific inflections of urban Bengali post-colonial modernity as it emerged in some of their films, which I analyze as key sites where the urban bhadralok/ bhadramahila imaginaries were enacted. The romantic love films of the 1950s ending in couple formation and the later films of 60s and 70s in which the two stars charted their individual stardoms together indicate the contrary pulls of individual desires and communitarian and social strictures articulated through the cinematic star selves of these two icons of popular Bengali cinema. I see my intervention in the current scholarship on Indian cinema and its relation to post-colonial modernity through three main sets of concerns: first, the production, circulation and reception of popular cinema and its participation in the processes of modernization constituted by star texts; second, the manner in which star texts fashion, respond to and participate in  changing historical circumstances; and third, how melodrama and affect function as cinematic modes in the construction of subjectivities.


 

Smita Banerjee

Delhi University, India

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4 - Melodrama and Post-coloniality : Self Fashioning in Popular Bengali Cinema Between the 1950s-70s



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