Visual entanglements in Bengali film: landscapes, moments and contemporary motifs

Roshni Sengupta's picture
Call for Papers
November 30, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Communication, Cultural History / Studies, Film and Film History, Humanities, South Asian History / Studies

Much like cinema worldwide, Bengali language cinema has evolved through periods of artistic highs and scarred by moments of decay and decapitation. From the euphoria of the cinematic masterclass brought to life by Satyajit Ray, showcased in the Apu Trilogy (Pather Panchali [1955], Aparajito [1956] and Apur Sansar [1959])  to the intensely political canvas of Mrinal Sen’s Padatik (1973) and Ek Din Pratidin (1979) the visuality of entire spectrum of Bengal’s social classes – bhadralok to the unseen refugees of Partition – emerge as moments of intense visual engagement. The searing aftermath of Partition and Ritwik Ghatak’s astoundingly emotive imagination of the upper-caste Hindu refugee in Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960) and the guttural force of Subarnarekha (1965) could be marked as yet another moment of cinematic praxis in Bengali cinema. The manner in which both Ray (Pratidwandi [1970], Seemabaddho [1971] and Jana Aranya [1976]) and Sen (Interview [1971, Calcutta [1972] and Padatik [1973]) made the cityscape of Calcutta their visual landscape while telling stories of mammoth urban decay, pernicious squalor and abandonment in the Calcutta Trilogies, presenting a penetrating gaze at the myths of capitalist growth and purported development.

The proposed edited volume is based on the premise of visual entanglements and praxis in Bengali cinema – from its genesis until present times – and seeks to provide a platform for scholars of visual cultures to explore myriad elements of these entanglements such as the transformation of the visual subject in Bengali cinema, impact of the seminal break that came with Partition, communal and gender violence and the subsequent periods of visual silence, the attraction of the cityscape and its predicaments, the inherently political canvas of filmmakers like Ray, Sen and Ghatak and those who followed, the engagement with the unknown in the popular detective fiction film and contemporary motifs in the form of a transforming mediascape. Interventions in the form of original long-form essays – literary and visual – are sought on but are not restricted to the following themes:

  • Engagements with gender in Bengali film
  • Allure of the city in the Calcutta Trilogies
  • Engaging with the Bengali underclass
  • Detective fiction in Bengali cinema
  • Politics and praxis in cinematic visuality
  • HinduMuslim violence in Bengali cinema
  • The politics of the Bengali ‘thriller’
  • Meaningmaking in Bengali film
  • The ‘comedic’ and the ‘political’

The articles should not exceed 7000 words (including references). To start with, please send an abstract (300 words and a proposed title of the essay) and a brief bio to on or before 30 November, 2019. The book will be proposed to publishers such as Permanent Black, Oxford University Press and Primus.

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