Thoughts on (selected) Bollywood Geet
In the current debates on literary criticism, and its intersection with cultural theory and criticism, a hybrid oeuvre of ‘contrapuntal reading’ has emerged that adopts a confrontational attitude to canon, and by extension erodes the distinctions between conventional and accepted subjects of critical inquiry, and non-conventional or taboo subjects. The Bollywood musical is one such domain that has traditionally not found favour with literary inquiry. The advent of Film studies, of course, has gone a long way in establishing the ‘legitimacy’ of this tilt. This expansion in critical gaze, however, has not reaped rich rewards for Bollywood which is still considered a pariah especially in college and university curriculum as it is deemed to be a ‘corrupting influence’ despite its ubiquity. This paper sets out to examine one aspect of the typical Bollywood musical – the romantic geet and buddy songs, and examine whether it can be understood as a repository of ideological traces, whether any meaningful connections between text and world can be traced. The analysis can by no means be considered exhaustive, and neither does the paper intend to draw metanarratives from an inventory of songs. Rather the paper only offers a symptomatic framework, at best, of hetero-patriarchal codes that determine our society. The selection of songs is purely arbitrary, and are at best metaphoric representations of their class and era. However, the songs were consciously picked from different time periods to observe whether any continuity or shared linkages could be traced, so as to offer some comment on the perpetuation of hetero-patriarchal structures and spatial configurations they articulated. The arbitrariness calls into question the process of selection that necessarily entails omissions. No matter how carefully, objectively or exhaustive these processes are, there always remains an unresolved residue. These processes call into question the question of canon making – the privileging of certain objects and making some opaque. This is a fundamental issue that confronts any analysis since it must necessarily privilege in order to arrive at some definitive comparison. Therefore, the paper refrains from considering the paper as imposing or tracing a hegemonic opinion or pattern that will directly fit the category of songs and resolve all contradictions. The very nature of dialectical inquiry checks this totalitarian assertion. So, this paper proceeds with the assumption that the reader will view it as one among many perspectives through which the songs can be observed.
key words : literary criticism film studies film literature Bollywood films
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