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6 - Trying Times: Aspiration and Failure in Kanchenjunga, Mahanagar, Pratidwandi and Jana Aranya

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 November 2023

Devapriya Sanyal
Affiliation:
Mount Carmel College, Bangalore
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Summary

This chapter, like the previous one, deals with the decades of the 1960s and 70s through the aspirations and failures of the male characters in Kanchenjunga, Mahanagar, Pratidwandi and Jana Aranya. Success in the previous chapter was only for the few because of the limited opportunities in the decades, leading them to appear self-satisfied; thwarted aspiration was the rule. A characteristic of the films examined in this chapter is that the women are more successful, although the discourse would need interpretation – since it is not a straightforward representation of a prevalent state of affairs.

Hindi cinema recorded the milieu in the 1970s through the ‘Angry Young Man’, the figure made popular by Amitabh Bachchan. The failure of the state to provide solutions at the time was undeniable and several different kinds of crises erupted while Indira Gandhi was in office, but her era also propagated self-reliance as Nehru's had done. The agricultural sector did well later in her regime due to the Green Revolution of the previous decade and there were also populist measures, with party cadres as conduits. But overall, few of the benefits were reaped by the salaried classes. Employment was only in public sector financial institutions like banks and insurance; manufacturing sector employment levels were low.

Unemployment and inflation were high in the 1960s and 70s, and with the death of Nehru in 1964 realpolitik took over. When Indira Gandhi took charge in the mid-1960s India was at its most vulnerable, both economically and politically. The wars of 1962 and 1965, two successive monsoon failures of 1965 and 1966, a fall in agricultural output by 20 per cent and food stocks so low as to threaten famine-like conditions had placed India in an unenviable situation, unprecedented after 1947.

Indira Gandhi was quick to realise that India would not be able to maintain a sovereign independent stance vis-a-vis the advanced countries if her economy remained weak and depended on those countries for food. She pushed the ‘Green Revolution’ strategy vigorously and it yielded results. But while the economic conditions improved on account of these measures, there was dissatisfaction among the middle-classes since the economic boom – in which it could fruitfully participate – was to come only decades later. We could say that Ray's films examined in this chapter represent the flip side to those in the previous one, in that they deal with disaffection.

Type
Chapter
Information
Failed Masculinities
The Men in Satyajit Ray's Films
, pp. 105 - 124
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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