Dr Vipin Kumar, former student of the Department of English, Payyanur College, addressing the students of the department in connection with the film festival Monsoon Mania.
Dr. Vipin Kumar spoke on 13.06.2011. (Report by SHYMA P, Department of English, Payyanur College)
Discussed about the discipline of film studies in the canon of English literature. Film studies tend to provide a regional perspective of looking at things through a critical viewing of regional popular films. Such a sociological study was bought about in the 90s with the study of Tamil cinema by critics like MSS Pandian. Pandian, M. Madhava Prasad, SV Srinivas bought about a perspective reading of the Tamil, Kannada and Telugu film industries respectively. The role of Bollywood as ‘the’ film industry got critiqued through these studies. Meanwhile, Bollywood itself has been undergoing changes with respect to its global entourages. Films representing NRI lives, diaspora, migrations etc have become a trend in Bollywood which also flags off with English titles like Singh is King, Love Aaj Kal, Jab We Met etc. The use of Hindi and English instead of Urdu, suggestive romantic scenes etc become a part of these narratives which probably could not be imagined in a traditional Bollywood scenario. It is suggestive of a shift towards a global reality, which is quite absent in Malayalam cinema, for instance, which is still based on a feudal nativisation.
Discussed the tendencies that make Fire so “popular,” in a country like India or for that matter Kerala. Marketed as a lesbian film, it in fact discusses the insecurities and despairs of lives in a traditional family structure, with almost all its members “deviating” from the norm of a heterosexual marriage set up in one way or other. It critiques the very structure of a family structure and thereby could be de-canonised as a melodramatic romance. Desire and body, that are often denigrated as part of a Descartian discourse of enlightenment are represented as being a natural part of life, with the heroine emphatically saying that to be without desire is to be dead. Probably it is the way in which the film naturalizes and accommodates all “deviations” like same sex, masturbation, extra marital relationship, pornography etc as a part of the family epic that made it a national offence.
N.V. Sujith Kumar [15.06.2011]
Discussed the problematic involved in a city/village dichotomy that gets represented in Malayalam cinema, with respect to the films of Blessy. Village is often represented as nostalgic in Blessy’s films, suggestive of everything good and divine, while the city is the centre of all evil. There are several reasons for rustic nostalgia which has been created in the cultural political sphere of India, the most important of them being the destruction of feudalism, which has created an anxiety in the upper caste Hindu as well as urbanization. Rural nostalgia and the casteism that it puts forward hide a suggestive politics in its subject and visuals and tries to normatise the ‘naturalness’ of the rural beauty of the village. Nostalgia is generally a solution when one is unable to represent one’s desires. Blessy films may be seen to be neatly compartmentalized into the village and the city. Through the village-city dichotomy, Blessy tries to idealize the village by situating it against the city. This alternative identity is always the city or its representatives. While in Kazhcha, it is covert, it becomes more obvious as we reach Palunku. Thanmathra and Calcutta News obliquely suggest the same. Even in Brahmaram, the chorus of ‘the innocence of the country side’ gets repeated. The country side in Blessy’s films appears not merely as a canvas of natural beauty. It is an embodiment of everything that is good and that which is on the verge of extinction. It is suggestive of the upper caste, middle class based politics of Malayalam cinema.
Some more snaps
A C Sreehari introducing Sujith and Kavya reading out the award-won article