Volume 28, Issue 5 / May 2024

The Cinema of India

Over the years Offscreen has published the odd article or essay on Indian cinema, but for this issue the cinema of India takes center stage with four articles. Tanya Maheshwari offers a sociological reading of Govind Nihalani’s (according to the author) often overlooked film Aghaat. Maheshwari contextualizes it within the labor policies of India's then Prime Minister Indira Ghandi (who was assassinated a year before the film's release) and likens it as "a response to her Congress Party’s version of “socialism” in general, and her anti-working class policies in  particular...[and] reads it as as an astute and nuanced film about the working class."  Though focused on the film's social and political subtext Maheshwari does not overlook Nihalani's style (framing, narrative structure, camera movement). Visual style is an important consideration in N. Malavika Mohad's analysis of the gendering of color in the Malayalam language film Ishq (Anuraj Manohar, 2019). To quote Mohad, "The film’s director manipulates the mise-en-scène, in particular through the use of pinks and blues and the framing of specific scenes, in order to reflect and comment on patriarchal structures in India and the binary gendered roles they insist on." Divy Tripathi treats the controversial topic of rape in Indian film and begins with the understanding that the appearance of rape in films starting from the late 1970s onwards was "informed by the morality of old Bollywood." Also concerned with controversial content in Indian cinema is writer Vani Krishnan treatment of homosexuality in Ka Bodyscapes. Krishnan writes, "In a time and place where a sexual orientation that deviates from what is perceived as “straight” or heteronormative itself raises eyebrows, Ka Bodyscapes (Jayan K Cherian, 2016) sets the touchy subject of queerness within religious and patriarchal frameworks....[and] the film is bold in its portrayal of gay love between two young men: Harris, a painter, and Vishnu, a kabaddi player." The final, non-Indian centered article by George Kowalik looks at three American films with Korean or Korean-American central characters, Columbus (Kogonada, 2017), Driveways (Andrew Ahn, 2019) and Minari (Lee Isaac Chung, 2020). Kowalik sees these three films as being bound by "a collective thematic interest in the difference between displacement and dislocation." (Donato Totaro, David Hanley, ed.)

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