Offering a radical reinterpretation of film history, a new book on Indian art cinema gives readers fresh insights into the relationship of a film with the postcolonial condition.
The book, “Art Cinema And India’s Forgotten Futures: Film And History in the PostColony”, written by film historian Rochona Majumdar, will hit the stands in late September, announced publishing house Columbia University Press on Wednesday.
The book examines key works of Indian art cinema to demonstrate “how film emerged as a mode of doing history and that, in so doing, it anticipated some of the most influential insights of postcolonial thought”.
The book analyses films by the legendary filmmaker triumvirate — Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak — as a “unique readings of India’s historical situation in the 1960s and 1970s”.
“Even 75 years after the Independence, there are multiple and contesting ideas of India. As a film historian, I turn to the archives of art films and film societies to excavate in them the aesthetic and political imaginations of different, unrealized futures of the nation,” Majumdar, an associate professor in the Departments of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, told PTI.
“At the heart of my story is the filmmaking and activism of three pioneers, Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, and Mrinal Sen. On their hundredth anniversaries, we need to recall their achievements for Indian cinema,” she added.
According to the publishers, through careful archival research, the book presents, “how art films emerged out of a particular relationship between ordinary people and the arts”.
“Majumdar details how filmmakers as well as a host of film societies and publications sought to foster a new cinematic culture for the new nation, fueled by enthusiasm for a future of progress and development,” Columbia University Press said in a statement.
Majumdar previously authored books including “Marriage and Modernity: Family Values in Colonial Bengal” (2009) and “Writing Postcolonial History” (2010)