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4 - ‘For all we have and are’: The Post-Independence Bourgeoisie in Kanchenjungha and Kapurush

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 November 2023

Devapriya Sanyal
Affiliation:
Mount Carmel College, Bangalore
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Summary

Ray's cinema, as noted before, offers a consistent and perceptive critique of the nation and the citizenry it created. His ‘locatedness’ – in inhabiting the imaginative as well as geographical terrain of the nation – is clearsighted. To either take a position as a critic of the nation – as many leftwing filmmakers did – or embrace it patriotically as many popular films did after 1947 was not an option to him; what was possible and necessary however was to lay claim to it even as it was being spoken for by sectarian economic and cultural interests, not to forget political ones at the time of Independence. Without taking these paths, Ray instead laid claim to Indian history, seeing it unfolding under the first prime minister of India, Pandit Nehru, and then his later successor Indira Gandhi. One recalls here what Edward Said proposed about the role of the intellectual: ‘With regard to the consensus on group or national identity it is the intellectual's task to show how the group is not a natural or god-given entity but is a constructed, manufactured, even in some cases invented object with a history of struggle and conquest behind it, that it is sometimes important to represent.’

Postcolonial ‘masculinities’ have been studied by Mrinalini Sinha, Rosalind O’Hanlon, Sikata Banerjee and Sanjay Srivasatava, but these studies have mostly been studied in conjunction with violence, religiosity et cetera, the most blatant manifestations. In dealing with the Indian male, Ray was not concerned with ‘Indian masculinity’ per se as much as the Indian subject actively interacting with the nation, being created by it and directing its future. In patriarchal societies national subjecthood is usually exemplified by the male citizen. If the male subject's masculinity is problematic, it could be interpreted as a critique of emergent India – which is how I propose to read Ray's films set after 1947.

From the Colonial to the Postcolonial

India and Pakistan became two sovereign states on 14–15 August 1947, which marked the formal transfer of power from the British imperial government to the newly formed governments of India and Pakistan. This moment in Indian history is specially marked by Nehru's historic speech ‘Tryst with destiny’. While there were celebrations on the streets, there were also riots.

Type
Chapter
Information
Failed Masculinities
The Men in Satyajit Ray's Films
, pp. 73 - 88
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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