Bengal’s Post-Partition Imaginary: Lecture by Sayandeb Chowdhury

Compared to parallel cinema, disproportionately low critical attention has been paid to mainstream cinema in Bengal. This lecture would draw attention to how popular cinema had built its own cultural capital through the continual re-imagining of the screen persona of Uttam Kumar, whose transcendental stardom reconstituted the bhadrolok Bengali visual cultural world in the post-Partition decades. However, Uttam Kumar’s stardom not only fulfilled a long desire of screen-mythology but was, in fact, in excess of his cinema’s aesthetic order. This guaranteed that with his untimely death in 1980, not only was the most reliable template of Bengali mainstream cinema exhausted but with it the bhadrolok ‘signifier’ too was emptied of possibility of any further enunciation.

Sayandeb Chowdhury teaches in the School of Letters at Ambedkar University Delhi. His essays have been published in Film International, Journal of South Asian History and Culture, South Asia Review, European Journal of English Studies, and thematic anthologies published by Routledge, Palgrave Macmillan, Routledge/Karnac Books, University of Brussels Press and University of Amsterdam Press. He also contributes to several Indian publications on books, politics, and cinema. His book on the life, cinema and afterlife of Uttam Kumar is to be published in 2020.

Baidik Bhattacharya is an Associate Professor at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.

Friday, 6 March 2020
5 pm, CSDS Seminar Room
29 Rajpur Road, Delhi