Tagore’s Songs and Expressions of Non-Normative Desire in Bengali Cinema

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 - 12:00pm

Fisher-Bennett Hall, Room 330

3340 Walnut Street

Philadelphia, PA 19104 

 

Come to a Cinema Studies Colloquium about "Tagore’s Songs and Expressions of Non-Normative Desire in Bengali Cinema."

This talk addresses how selected contemporary directors of Bengali cinema adopt Rabindranath Tagore’s song compositions for a unique purpose: to dramatize manifestations of non-normative desire. In the films of these directors, such forms of desire range from the incestuous to the potentially homo-erotic to that expressed by transgendered subjects. Bengali culture, as many others, has normatively been heterosexual, and it is challenging for directors to cinematize alternative forms of desire for majority audiences. Using Tagore’s songs to do so, this talk argues, is no accident, but a well thought out strategy for auteurs of twenty-first century Bengali film, such as Rituparno Ghosh and Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury. As a Modernist polymath whose songs capture the nuances and multi-dimensionality of the Bengali emotional experience, Tagore (1861-1941) occupies a position of unparalleled significance in the Bengali psyche. Contemporary directors draw on this colossus and align his songs, familiar and beloved to a mainstream Bengali audience, with less expected manifestations of desire.

Srimati Mukherjee is Professor of English a Temple University. She taught a range of courses for English, American Studies, and Women’s Studies. Mukherjee is the author of Women and Resistance in Contemporary Bengali Cinema. She has published critical articles and essays nationally and internationally in peer-reviewed anthologies and journals such as the Quarterly Review of Film and VideoJump CutAsiatic; and Scritture Migranti. Her short fiction has been published in the Xavier Review and Feminist Studies.