Tag Archives: India

Also lost to Covid in 2020: Soumitra Chatterjee

31 Dec

A huge loss for Bengal, Indian film and world cinema.

These photos of Chatterjee are from what I think is his most rivetting and sexy performance, as Amal in Satyajit Ray‘s Charulata. The relationship between an older brother’s bride and the immediate younger brother is traditionally a very intimate one in India; apparently she becomes a kind of a big sister or younger vice-mom to him. Intimate, but of course not that intimate, which makes the whole idea strange to begin with because why should intimacy be encouraged in such a potentially transgressive situation at all. But, well, I guess that’s India: full of totally weird things whose genius takes time to reveal itself. And, weird or not, in this film Amal and his sister-in-law Charulata (the great Madhabi Mukherjee) do become intimate in very, very subtle but ultimately convulsive ways.

So… Soumitra Chatterjee and Madhabi Mukherjee in a Satyajit Ray film based on a novel by Rabindranath Tagore; this film was a veritable Bangla-fest of talent and the arts! And Ray often described it as his favorite of all his films.

Here’s a good discussion of the film: Charulata (The Lonely Wife)

And here’s the whole film. It’s from a beautiful print and it has easy to read subtitles. Watch it with whiskey and some butter-toasted cashews tonight instead of wasting your time and money doing dumb shit. It’s captivating, from the first frame.

The odd κουνιάδο-νύφη relationship, with its tricky boundaries, is also why Janardhan Jakhar “Jordan” (the Ranbir Kapoor character) in Imtiaz Ali‘s 2011 mega-hit film Rockstar, is thrown out of his family home in the story’s opening.

See this beautiful video:

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The Ashta Nayika in Indian painting, some Krishna and Radha thoughts, Linus and Hinduism, and Byz Amb on “safe” sex

30 Dec

“The Ashta-Nayika is a collective name for eight types of nayikas or heroines as classified by Bharata in his Sanskrit treatise on performing artsNatya Shastra. The eight nayikas represent eight different states (avastha) in relationship to her hero or nayaka.[1] As archetypal states of the romantic heroine, it has been used as theme in Indian painting, literature, sculpture as well as Indian classical dance and music.”

Abhisharika-nayika takes an arduous journey on a starry night, in the dark to meet her lover. Mandi Himachal, ca 1815
Abhisarika nayika, “the heroine going to meet her lover”. She turns back to look at a golden anklet, which has just fallen off. There are also snakes below and lightning above
Khandita rebuking her lover
Proshita-patika mourning

The full taxonomy below. Assuming that Krishna and Radha come up very often as models for each of these erotic-psychic states, since their love manifests itself in almost every conceivable amorous form, from the most divine and exalted states of theosis, to the most delightfully petty states of betrayal, jealousy, spite, vengeance, longing and depressed insomnia, especially in the Gita Govinda. See also: Radha-Krishna.

1Vasakasajja Nayikaवासकसज्जा नायिकाOne dressed up for union
2Virahotkanthita Nayikaविरहोत्कंठिता नायिकाOne distressed by separation
3Svadhinabhartruka Nayikaस्वाधीनभर्तृका नायिकाOne having her husband in subjection
4Kalahantarita Nayikaकलहांतरिता नायिकाOne separated by quarrel
5Khandita Nayikaखंडिता नायिकाOne enraged with her lover
6Vipralabdha Nayikaविप्रलब्धा नायिकाOne deceived by her lover
7Proshitabhartruka Nayikaप्रोषितभर्तृका नायिकाOne with a sojourning husband
8Abhisarika Nayikaअभिसारिका नायिकाOne going to meet her lover

One of the most fun moment in the Gita Govinda is when Radha, suffering from Krishna’s sleep-around indiscretions with the gopis, the cow girls of Vrindavan, finds the strength to blow off Krishna, and immediately gets “hand” in the relationship, as we used to say, leaving the young prince-god stressed out, depressed and insomnia-plagued. Who hasn’t known the sweet pleasure of successfully turning the tables on somebody you’re involved with like that? I care nothing for your sufferings. as Heathcliff (or is it Catherine?) says in Wuthering Heights; or at least I’ll pretend that I don’t care. Then they reconcile and engage in some raunch-lite love, complete with bloody scratch marks on backs and bights and sloppy kisses… Great stuff, especially when we remember that this handsome young lover with a lover in his arms who’s salivating on his already sweaty, saffron-smeared chest is a manifestation of God himself, or, as the other …Gita tells us, the Very Principle of Existence Itself: “I am the taste of water.”

“And that, Charlie Brown, is what [Hindusim] is all about.”

‘Krishna and the Gopis on the Bank of the Yamuna River’; miniature painting from the ‘Tehri Garwhal’ Gita Govinda, circa 1775–1780
Krishna, Sleepless in Vrindavan. Manaku, 1730.
Henry Hopwood Phillips, @byzantinepower

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Photo: Mughal painting of Christ and the Virgin Mary

24 Dec

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Photo: Madhuri Dixit aging splendidly

22 Nov

More beautiful Diwali images

14 Nov

I love the way fireworks are rendered in Indian painting.

Date or provenance unknown
Rajasthan 18th c.
Date or provenance unknown

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Diwali photos from the Guardian (re-post)

13 Nov

Many are gorgeous; these two were real knockouts though.  See all of them in full size:

A woman places earthen lamps, or diyas, on the threshold of her home on the eve of Diwali in Hyderabad, India  Photograph: Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images

A devotee lights oil lamps at a religious ceremony in Colombo, Sri Lanka Photograph: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

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Shubh Diwali folks

13 Nov

Faiz Ahmed Faiz: Tum mere bas raho

12 Nov

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Abul Kalam Azad: “Our languages, our poetry, our literature, our culture, our art, our dress, our manners and customs, the innumerable happenings of our daily life…”

5 Feb

A more extended piece off the beautiful Abul Kalam Azad speech that Mahua Moitra uses in previous post in “Seven Signs of Fascism.” (watch her; she’s amazing) — a passage all of us in the Balkans should memorize too.

It was India’s historic destiny that many human races and cultures and religious faiths should flow to her, that many beliefs take root in her fertile soil, and that many a caravan should find rest here.  One of the last of these caravans was that of the followers of Islam.  We brought our treasures with us, and India too was full of the riches of her own precious heritage.  Full eleven centuries have passed by since then.  Islam has now as great a claim on the soil of India as Hinduism.  If Hinduism has been the religion of the people here for several thousand years, Islam has also been their religion for a thousand years.  Just as a Hindu can say with pride that he is an Indian and follows Hinduism, so also we can say that we are Indians and follow Islam.  I shall enlarge this orbit still further.  The Indian Christian is equally entitled to say with pride that he is an Indian and is following a religion of India, namely Christianity.

Eleven hundred years of common history have enriched India with our common achievement.  Our languages, our poetry, our literature, our culture, our art, our dress, our manners and customs, the innumerable happenings of our daily life, everything bears the stamp of our joint endeavor.  There is indeed no aspect of our life which has escaped this stamp.

The joint wealth is the heritage of common nationality and we do not want to leave it and go to the times when this joint life had not begun.

* From Abul Kalam Azad’s speech, as the president of the Indian National Congress, in 1940

India’s first Prime Minister of Education of India, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad

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NYTimes: This is foul: Gandhi’s Killer Evokes Admiration as Never Before

5 Feb

Gandhi’s Killer Evokes Admiration as Never Before

A statue for Nathuram Vinayak Godse, who assassinated Mohandas K. Gandhi, at the office of Hindu Mahasabha, a group that espouses militant Hindu nationalism, in Meerut, India, last week on the anniversary of Gandhi’s death. Credit…Smita Sharma for The New York Times

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