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A Modernist Public: The Double-Take of Modernism in the Work of Satyajit Ray

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The Melodramatic Public
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Abstract

Running against the thematic focus in this book, this chapter will look at a different dimension of the institution of the cinema in post-Independence India through the work of Satyajit Ray. It continues, however, the engagement with the critical discourses that surround the popular cinema after Independence, of which Ray’s writings and work were a key constituent, and also articulates my concern with the idea of the cinema as a vehicle of public address, if one very different from that of popular form. His work of course highlights the question of realism, psychological characterization, and narrative integration. Realism was the pre-eminent feature of the critical discourse instituted by art cinema critics and practices. The criticism appears to emerge from evaluating the status of the narrative form through which the real would be articulated—through what means of representation, styles of acting, aesthetic strategies the real would be invoked. As I have argued in chapter 2, the popular compendium—studio shooting, melodramatic, externalized forms for the representation of character psychology, non- or intermittently continuous forms of cutting, diversionary story lines, performance sequences—was not acceptable within the emergent artistic canon, for they undermined plausibility and a desirable regime of verisimilitude.

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References

  1. Geeta Kapur, ‘Sovereign Subject: Ray’s Apu’, in Geeta Kapur, When was Modernism: Essays in Contemporary Cultural Practice in India, Delhi, Tulika Books, 2000, 201–33.

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© 2011 Ravi Vasudevan

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Vasudevan, R. (2011). A Modernist Public: The Double-Take of Modernism in the Work of Satyajit Ray. In: The Melodramatic Public. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-230-11812-6_7

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