‘Revisiting Indian Traditionalism in Shabd‘, my first publication for 2014, became available on Amazon a few days ago. It is included in Pennsylvania Literary Journal Volume V, Issue 3, Fall 2013, published by Anaphora Press. I am glad that my paper was accepted for this volume, not only because this isn’t my regular field of research, but also because of all the great contributors to this publication, starting by the editor Anna Faktorovich, Ph.D.
Below is the abstract for ‘Revisiting Indian Traditionalism in Shabd‘:
Bollywood movies are largely influenced by the foundational mythical stories from Indian culture, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the importance of dance and singing intrinsically part of this civilization. They also present aesthetics that could be qualified as ‘spectacular narratives’, a term originally used by Geoff King to discuss postmodern Hollywood cinema, but that he traces down to much earlier forms of entertainment. The traditionalism that runs deep in Bollywood movies thus remains visible even in more contemporary feature films, even more daring ones, such as Shabd, directed by Leena Yadav. Numerous foundational elements of Indian traditionalism are present in that recent Bollywood production, although it actually revisits some of those patterns typical to such cinema. First of all, the concept of Sita, meaning a wife’s God is her husband, is extremely developed in the relationship between Shaukat and Antara. Secondly, both sensuality and seduction are inherent aspects of the movie, between Antara and the two men in her life, and mostly rely on dancing and singing scenes. Thirdly, the aesthetics of dream, allowing going past certain limits imposed in the movie’s ‘reality’ is crucial. Dreams are almost edited as a ‘parallel’ narrative in Shabd.