Thursday, April 20, 2006

"Does Amitabh have a queer body?"


Just one of the many questions posed today, during the opening sessions of the four-day conference hosted by the Department of Cinema Studies at NYU unter the title of The Social and Material Life of Indian Cinema.

Arundhati Roy was seated among the audience during the afternoon and evening sessions, sharing many jokes and passing notes back and forth with Sohini Ghosh, who spoke during the morning on "Fear of the Queer and All Things Erotic: Censorship Debates and Emergent Narratives".

I started out in grad school studying literature, and read a fair amount of theory and criticism, but it's been years since I've heard phrases like "heteronormative structures", "hierarchy of desires" and "aesthetic of social realism", and it all comes back to me why I didn't want to do that PhD after all.

But in spite of some posturing (by some audience members) and unnecessarily bloated vocabulary (by both audience and panellists), Day 1 was interesting and I learned some things:

- In India, 40 seconds of footage was removed from the hetero love-making scene in Brokeback Mountain, whereas the gay love scenes were left untouched.

- American film students have commented to one of today's panellists that the Angry Young Man 1970s movies of Amitabh Bachchan remind them of the blaxploitation movies that were produced in the U.S. in the same decade.

- After his death in 1992, Satyajit Ray's bedding was being sold outside the crematorium before his body was even cremated.

But seriously, this is one reason - inspite of the excess of people with too much money, and the high rents, and the high cost of most things here - that I love New York city: sooner or later (more often sooner), the world (and all its many cultural offerings) will arrive at your doorstep. This conference, which, according to one friend "Has brought together everyone who's anyone in the Indian film studies field", has four days of jam-packed offerings plus breakfast and lunch included, is all entirely free.

And if one had decided to pass on the keynote address by Partha Chatterjee at the Asia Society (and reception) tonight, across town at Lincoln Center, Mira Nair was participating in a screening of Salaam Bombay.

5 Comments:

Blogger SJ Nair said...

In any way Amitab is a great personality and his ability to pull crowd is amazing. Mean time I have ablog on nairs You can see that in my blog on nair that deal with history, nair personalities products and all .Just log to http://naircaste.blogspot.com

1:36 AM  
Blogger SJ Nair said...

In any way Amitab is a great personality and his ability to pull crowd is
amazing. You can see that in my blog
on nair that deal with history, nair personalities products and all .Just log to  http://naircaste.blogspot.com

1:40 AM  
Blogger Olinda said...

Yes, indeed he does loom large, and that was certainly touched on during one of the sessions yesterday.

And thanks for pointing me to your blog.

2:07 PM  
Blogger Anil P said...

Would have loved to read more details of the session for, it certainly sounded interesting.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Olinda said...

Must confess, Anil, that I had kind of had enough after that night's lecture, ins pite of being a huge movie fan.

Am just getting into Guru Dutt now for the first time.

8:16 PM  

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