Showing posts with label postcolonial studies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label postcolonial studies. Show all posts

Wednesday 4 August 2021

Postcolonial Studies: An Introduction

Postcolonial Studies and Criticism - An Introduction

1. Watch video resources
2. Read study material
3. Future of Postcolonial Studies

1. Watch Video Resources

3. Future of Postcolonial Studies

4. Online Test

Friday 2 July 2021

Postcolonial Studies and Bollywood

 Postcolonial Theory and Bollywood Films

Lagaan: Lagaan (transl. Agricultural tax), released internationally as Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, is a 2001 Indian Hindi-language epic musical sports film written and directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, and produced by and starring Aamir Khan, along with debutant Gracy Singh and British actors Rachel Shelley and Paul Blackthorne in supporting rolesThe film is set in 1893, during the late Victorian period of India's colonial British Raj. The story revolves around a small village in Central India, whose inhabitants, burdened by high taxes, and several years of drought, find themselves in an extraordinary situation as an arrogant British army officer challenges them to a game of cricket, as a wager to avoid paying the taxes they owe. The narrative spins around this situation as the villagers face the arduous task of learning a game that is alien to them and playing for a result that will change their village's destiny.

Reading resource on 'Lagaan'

1. Subaltern Studies, Bollywood and "Lagaan" 

Using 'Lagaan' as a case in point, this paper argues that popular Bollywood films with their appeal to the mass audience of uprooted peasants, factory workers, the unemployed, uneducated and poor can decolonise the imagination of the Indian masses. It points out that "Lagaan's" efforts at indigenisation and interrogation of prescribed discourses of modernity and history deserve credit for making possible the creation of public debates within a culture where the majority of the population is non-literate, and is unable to partake in elite discussions of culture and modernity.
Chandrima Chakraborty. “Subaltern Studies, Bollywood and ‘Lagaan.’” Economic and Political Weekly, vol. 38, no. 19, 2003, pp. 1879–1884. JSTOR, Accessed 2 July 2021. 

2. Reading cricket fiction in the times of Hindu nationalism and farmer suicides
This paper will critique postcolonial theory's attempt to read the cricket nationalism portrayed in the Oscar-nominated Bollywood film Lagaan as one that subverts the civilizing mission of British colonialism and also restores the agency of the subaltern classes. Instead, it will argue that this cricket nationalism replicates Indian bourgeois nationalism, which has no place for the subaltern in its imaginary. It will also argue that the postcolonial thesis of decolonization and indigenization of cricket supposedly achieved by Lagaan is marked by a culturalism that does not take into account structural factors such as capital, class and caste that dominate the institution of cricket in India. Finally, against postcolonial theory's tendency to read a text in isolation from the context, it will be contended that the cricket nationalism of the film can only be understood by locating it in relation to the present socio-historic conjuncture wherein forces of capital and nationalism are hegemonic.
Nissim Mannathukkaren (2007) Reading cricket fiction in the times of Hindu nationalism and farmer suicides: Fallacies of textual interpretation, The International Journal of the History of Sport, 24:9, 1200-1225, DOI: 10.1080/09523360701448349 

Using the movie Lagaan as a case in point, the paper examines the post-colonial and political resistance in the 19th century. Lagaan is a Bollywood movie released in 2001 and is directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. The fictional story is set in a village in India and it explores the struggles faced by the citizens to earn their rights. Taking in account of the movie, the paper analyses the socio-political scenario of the country.

5. Subaltern Studies, Bollywood and "Lagaan" - Chandrima Chakraborty
6. Real and Imagined Audiences: "Lagaan" and the Hindi Film after the 1990s - Rachel Dwyer

7. What's so Great about Lagaan? - Sudhanva Deshpande

8. Leadership Lessons from Lagaan

Watch film 'Lagaan'

Rang De Basanti:

Rang De Basanti (transl. Paint it saffron) is a 2006 Indian Hindi-language drama film written, produced and directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, and co-written by Rensil D'Silva.
The film follows a British film student traveling to India to document the story of five freedom fighters of the Indian revolutionary movement. She befriends and casts five young men in the film, which inspires them to fight against the corruption of their own government. It features an ensemble cast consisting of Aamir Khan, Siddharth, Atul Kulkarni, Soha Ali Khan, Sharman Joshi, Kunal Kapoor and British actress Alice Patten.

A major point of criticism the film faced was regarding the possibility of the Indian Army attacking students in a radio station. When Rakeysh was questioned about the same in a scriptwriter's conference conducted by the Film Writers Association in the year 2008, he said the following, "So, in 2005, in Allahabad, a bunch of 4 students took the TV station there, and they were shot dead. Everything I did, it was kind of borrowed, as I said right here. Obviously, what I am also learning is the way I tell a story is not real; you can term it as a-real. For maximum impact, for the message to go through, I felt—since the story was against the establishment—let the establishment do it. After all, the establishment did hang Bhagat Singh. After all, the establishment did come down on the innocent, innocent students in Mandal Commission. After all the establishment did come down on Tiananmen Square. After all the establishment did come down when the whole concept of Flower Power emerged in America. So it's all there. It's borrowed, maybe not as realistically, but it is definitely there in the society. During emergency, there are horror stories. If we have to go back to Kriplani and his movement in Bihar, the stories are absolutely horrific."

Reading resources on Rang De Basanti
The central objective of this thesis is to explore whether the consumption of RDB stimulated citizenship among young audiences and caused an expansion of the public sphere in India.
This essay sets out to explore the relationship between violence, patriotism and the national-popular within the medium of film by examining the Indian film-maker Rakeysh Mehra’s recent Bollywood hit, Rang de Basanti (Paint It Saffron, 2006). The film can be seen to form part of a body of work that constructs and represents violence as integral to the emergence of a national identity, or rather, its recuperation. Rang de Basanti is significant in contemporary Indian film production for the enormous resonance it had among South Asian middle-class youth, both in India and in the diaspora. It rewrites, or rather restages, Indian nationalist history not in the customary pacifist Gandhian vein, but in the mode of martyrdom and armed struggle. It represents a more ‘masculine’ version of the nationalist narrative for its contemporary audiences, by retelling the story of the Punjabi revolutionary Bhagat Singh as an Indian hero and as an example for today’s generation. This essay argues that its recuperation of a violent anti-colonial history is, in fact, integral to the middle-class ethos of the film, presenting the viewers with a bourgeois nationalism of immediate and timely appeal, coupled with an accessible (and politically acceptable) social activism. As the sociologist Ranjini Majumdar noted, ‘the film successfully fuels the middle-class fantasy of corruption being the only problem of the country’.
 Watch film 'Rang de Basanti'

Reading Resource:

Postcolonial theory has hardly been a defining paradigm in the field of film studies. Postcolonial theory originally emerged from comparative literature departments and film from film and media studies departments, and despite the many intersections postcolonial theory has not been explicitly foregrounded. However, there are more similarities and natural points of intersections between the two areas than it would at first appear. For example, both postcolonial theory and film studies emerged at the end of the 1970s with the development of semiotic theory and poststructuralist thought. Both areas engage intensively with the field of representation, implying the ways in which a language, be it cinematic or otherwise, manages to convey reality as “mediated” and “discursive,” and therefore influenced by power relations.

In her article "The Anti-Colonial Revolutionary in Contemporary Bollywood Cinema" Vidhu Aggarwal discusses several contemporary films including Rakesh Omprakash Mehra's Rang de Basanti with focus on the figure of the revolutionary hero. The Bollywood film is a cultural form that combines several aesthetic styles, from within India and from the outside. With its formal heterogeneity and as a product of one of India's largest cities, Mumbai Bollywood has had an ongoing fascination with "arrival," that is, with India's status as a contemporary nation-state. While some Bollywood films seem to celebrate fantasy scenarios of India's arrival on the global scene, at the same time they express anxiety about affective possibilities within a new Bollywood of higher production values and larger global reach, an India of mobile borders and attenuated historical context. Aggarwal examines the way the contemporaneity of Bollywood — both in terms of acting style and aesthetics — is negotiated through reenactments of the colonial period and compares Bollywood cinema with aspects of the British film Slumdog Millionaire, directed by Danny Boyle.

Monday 10 September 2018

Shashi Tharoor and Dark Era of Inglorious Empire

Speech at Oxford Union:

Looking Back at the British Raj in India: The University of Edinburgh

Exclusive Interview By Karan Thapar On His Book 'An Era Of Darkness'

About British Colonialism In India In His New Book 'An Era Of Darkness'

The Black Prince 

is a 2017 international historical drama film directed by Kavi Raz and featuring the acting debut of Satinder Sartaaj. It tells the story of Duleep Singh, the last Maharajah of the Sikh Empire and the Punjab area, and his relationship with Queen Victoria.

The story revolves around the young prince as he attempts both to regain his throne and reconcile himself with the two cultures of his Indian birth and British education. (Wikipedia)

Victoria & Abdul 

is a 2017 British biographical drama film directed by Stephen Frears and written by Lee Hall. The film is based on the book of same name by Shrabani Basu, about the real-life relationship between Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and her Indian Muslim servant Abdul Karim. It stars Judi Dench, Ali Fazal, Michael Gambon, Eddie Izzard, Tim Pigott-Smith and Adeel Akhtar.

The arguments presented by Shashi Tharoor are based in real research and facts. They are not concocted from hearsay talks or tea-stall gossips.

Listen to Dr. Shidhanshu Trivedi. Even though he is doctorate degree holder in Mechanical Engineering, all his arguments are based on hearsay talks and not based on hard facts. This speech is one of the best example of misplaced postcolonial argument. One should be proud of one's cultural identity. However, our perception of our culture shall be based on real life lived experience. The difference in Shashi Tharoor's highly academic post colonial argument and that of Dr. Shidhanshu Trivedi's fake rhetorics is very clear.
The popular resistance of post colonial subject results in reply words, like tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing.

Points to ponder:

Saturday 25 August 2018

Talks by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie born on 15 September 1977) is a Nigerian novelist, writer of short stories, and nonfiction.[3] She has written the novels Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), and Americanah (2013), the short story collection The Thing Around Your Neck (2009), and the book-length essay We Should All Be Feminists (2014).
In 2008, Adichie was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant. She was described in The Times Literary Supplement as "the most prominent" of a "procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [who] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature".[4] Her most recent book, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, was published in March 2017.[5] (Wikipedia).
Read more about the author in Encyclopedia Britannica
Official Website of Chimamanda.
She is an excellent speaker.
Listening her is an amazing experience.

1) Talk on importance of Story / Literature

In this talk - Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

2) We Should All Be Feminist

3) Talk on importance of Truth in Post-Truth Era

Thursday 21 September 2017

Postcolonialism and Ecology

Postcolonial reading of Ecology

One of the most persistent and controversial topics of contemporary politics is the issue of the environment. Global warming has demonstrated the devastating effects of the industrial revolution and the unfettered pursuit of capital expansion. The environment, and attendant topics such as ecofeminism, ecological imperialism, environmentalism,speciesism have all taken an increasingly prominent place in post-colonial thought because it has become clear that there is a direct connection between colonialist treatment of indigenous flora and fauna and treatment of colonized and otherwise dominated subjects and societies.The devastation of colonized place (and potentially of the planet) paved the way for the devastation of societies.Until now the destruction of the physical and human environments have become the same thing. (Introduction to the Second Edition: POST-COLONIAL STUDIES: The Key Concepts by Bill Ashcroft,Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin. Routledge. 2007.)

This animation by Steve Cutts explains in nutshell the encroachment and thus colonization of Ecology by Human Beings. The deconstructive hermeneutics of  helps us in developing the perspective necessary for both, the ecocriticism as well as postcolonial reading of relation between human and environment.


Friday 15 September 2017

Postcolonial Perspective and Shashi Tharoor

Postcolonial Perspective and Shashi Tharoor

As India celebrates 70 years of its independence from colonial rule, this session debates colonialism’s claims of benefit and development despite evidence of its fundamental nature. The panelists discuss if this period — from the time of Vasco da Gama's arrival to the final emergence of the English as the principal colonisers of the Indian subcontinent — was one of acquiring as much and as many of India's riches as each European power could lay their hands on. Session co-hosted by the South Asia Centre, LSE and The British Library, as part of the series ‘Colony as Empire: Histories from Whitehall’

Shashi Tharoor was present on the Q & A Australian show. Here are his highlights.

0:00 - Shashi Tharoor on Loots of the British Empire and how that affected India
10:08 - Shashi Tharoor on Homosexuality and Trans-gender rights in India
7:56 - Shashi Tharoor on rise of the Right and the backlash against Liberlism
11:50 - Shashi Tharoor on North Korea and Kim Jon Un

The article on this video

The motion: This house believes Britain owes reparations to her former colonies.

ABOUT THE OXFORD UNION SOCIETY: The Union is the world's most prestigious debating society, with an unparalleled reputation for bringing international guests and speakers to Oxford. It has been established for 189 years, aiming to promote debate and discussion not just in Oxford University, but across the globe.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Postcolonial Studies: Film Screening: Midnight's Children and The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Screening films related to the themes of Postcolonial studies with a task to review these films

1) Midnight's Children: 

From one of the most acclaimed novel Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, emerges this drama Midnight's Children 2013 film highlighting the lives of two individuals born at the stroke of midnight when India achieved its independence from the British. The legendary yet dramatic Midnight's Children movie features a great story that marks it as an epic saga of the decade. This movie takes us through all the ages beginning from the grandparents to the grandchildren. Switched at the time of birth by a nurse at a Bombay hospital, the lives of the two individuals are mysteriously intertwined. As fate would have it, one (Saleem) is a son of a beggar woman whereas the other child (Shiva) becomes the destined son of a wealthy couple. Over a period of time, their fate makes them face each other on the field of rivalry, politics, romance and class.
The Midnight Children film is a controversial potboiler that has tragedy, romance and comedy. A journey of two individuals through the tragic disasters, trials and triumphs gives you an incomparable experience of watching India in the early years of Independence. It offers an astute view of the divide when the rich become poor and poor rise to power. Brilliantly directed and compiled by Oscar nominated director Deepa Mehta, the movie features some unforgettable moments that make your heart bleed and then there are those that bring a smile to your face. Midnight's Children English movie has a dramatic and mysterious touch that gets you an entire picture of India's journey through all its trials. Offering some fodder for thought and complete visual delight, this Midnight's Children DVD is a story that touches your soul. (This blurb is taken from Amazon product details)

The problem is that some - in fact a good many - of the events of Midnight's Children actually happened. it is not a historical novel in the conventional sense, but what Timothy Brennan has called "patches of straight history" are woven into the extravagant, nonlinear, fictional narrative of the novel's hero, Saleem Sinai. This "baggy monster of a book", as Rushdie has described it using Henry James's phrase, contains a detailed, chronological survey of the major events in India from the Amritsar massacre of 1919 to the end of the Emergency in 1977. In fact, Rushdie himself has said on several occasions that the novel is actually 'about' history and the way in which memory recovers and recreates the past. Not many critics, however, have chosen to pursue this approach to the book.

Rather than explore the novel's relation to history, the Academy has discussed it as a 'postmodern epic', a work of magic realism (or not), and a hybrid text that crosses elements of the Indian oral tradition with a critique of earlier British writers such as E. M. Forster and Paul Scott. 
From - Katherine Frank's  'Mr. Rushdie and Mrs. Gandhi' (


2) The Reluctant Fundamentalist: 

A young Pakistani man is chasing corporate success on Wall Street where he finds himself embroiled in a conflict between his American Dream, a hostage crisis, and the enduring call of his family s homeland.  It is a 2012 political thriller drama film based on the 2007 novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist byMohsin Hamid, directed by Mira Nair, starring Riz Ahmed and Kate Hudson in lead.[4] The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a post-9/11film, a movie about the impact on one man of the Al Qaida attacks and the American reaction to them. (Wikipedia)

3) The Black Prince:

The last King of Punjab, Maharajah Duleep Singh's kingdom was one of the most powerful and prosperous kingdoms of the 19th century before it was annexed by Britain. Placed on the throne at the age of five, he was robbed of his legacy by treason at the hands of trusted courtiers. He was then torn away from his mother and taken to England by the British at the age of fifteen. While in England, he was introduced to Queen Victoria, who took an immediate liking to him, calling him The Black Prince. Meeting his mother again after thirteen years, the Maharajah is awakened to the realities of his former life in Punjab. He then begins the arduous journey to regain all that was lost, and re-embrace the faith of his birth, Sikhism. As the character of Maharajah Duleep Singh evolves, is torn between two contrasting cultures - his royal ancestry from the Kingdom of Punjab as its last King, set against his upbringing in the UK as he embarks in a new journey of exile, away from his mother. Duleep Singh's lifelong journey to regain his identity, dignity, and Kingdom took him across the world but his struggle was not met with success. He never won the chance to set foot again in his own land of Punjab.(CBFC/DIL/2/62/2017-MUM)

How to Analyze a Film:

Points to remember while reviewing a film:

  • A film review should have a number of purposes:
  • To inform. The review needs to tell people who is in the film, who it is by and where or when readers can see it.
  • To describe. The review should describe the story, characters and some of the action - without spoiling the plot or giving too much away!
  • To analyse. A good review gives an opinion on whether the film is good or not and why.
  • To advise. Finally, the review should tell the reader whether or not to go and see the film.. .  Read BBC link from the below given links for further study.
  • A good movie review should entertain, persuade and inform, providing an original opinion without giving away too much of the plot. A great movie review can be a work of art in its own right. Read on to learn how to analyze a movie, come up with an interesting thesis and write a review as entertaining as your source material.
  • Method 1 of 3: Studying Your Source Material
  • 1. Gather basic facts about the movie
2. Take notes on the movie as you watch it.
3. Analyze the mechanics of the movie
Method 2 of 3: Composing Your Review

1. Create an original thesis based on your analysis.
2. Follow your thesis paragraph with a short plot summary.
3. Move into your analysis of the movie.
4. Use plenty of examples to back up your points.
5. Give it some personality.
6. Wrap up your review with a conclusion
Method 3 of 3: Polishing Your Piece
1. Edit your review.
2. Proofread your review.
3. Publish or share your review (in form of COMMENT under this blog and also on your personal blog) . . . read more on wikihow link given below.

Some examples of reviews:

  1. To do cinematic justice to Salman Rushdie’s novel “Midnight’s Children,” it would take a razzle-dazzle entertainer with Bollywood flair and a literary bent, someone equally at home with comedy and allegory, ghosts and little snot-nosed boys, Indian history and Indian myth. (
  2. Though a bit literal for a film that traffics in magical realism, Deepa Mehta'sMidnight's Children is both dreamy and dramatic, a fascinating view of Indian history seen through the prism of a personal -- and occasionally twinned -- story. (
  3. The film, directed by Deepa Mehta (“Water”), is stunning to watch. Between the colorful textiles and the lush landscapes, the elephants on parade and the stilt walkers, “Midnight’s Children” is a visual treat. (
  4. As a result, Midnight’s Children has neither the magic nor the realism of the magic realist narrative it regurgitates into soft, digestible pablum for a Western audience it clearly expects little but cooing approval from. (

Some examples of reviews of 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist':

  1. Relations between east and west, and the experience of the subcontinent diaspora in Britain and North America, have been the predominant concern ofMira Nair. Her perceptive, generous, inquiring films have pursued issues that the older, more reserved, less politically engaged Merchant-Ivory-Jhabvala team held back from. Based on a well-regarded novel by Mohsin Hamid, this schematic film interweaves two narratives in 2011 Lahore. (
  2. In his slim 2007 novel, “The Reluctant Fundamentalist,” the Pakistan-born writer Mohsin Hamid takes these two words and rubs them together until they throw off intellectual sparks. Written as a monologue, it is a somewhat claustrophobic blurt of a book that, given world events, continues to feel eerily timely. (
  3. The story is recounted in flashback by Changez, now an academic back in Lahore, to an American journalist (Liev Schreiber) on the trail of a kidnapped professor. How deeply is this reluctant fundamentalist implicated in anti-American insurgency? Nair, adapting from the 2007 novel by Mohsin Hamid, draws a terrific performance from Ahmed as the divided hero, mild-mannered then warier by degrees. (
  4. But Khan's challenge comes less from without and more from within. He questions his identity, while his conscience struggles with his ethical choices. He is a Third World man rising to the heights of an imperialist nation. As an American, he benefits from our foreign interventions exploiting his "own people." Further, he contributes to the problem: In arranging mergers and acquisitions, he himself drives thousands of people into unemployment. (

A few Reviews of The Black Prince:


Reading resources on 'How to review film?'