Monday, 31 October 2011

Notions of Body Ownership in Cinema

The likes of John Locke and Emmanuel Kant propagated one’s authority over one’s body, the right which is earned by being its first owner and having used it per se. They substantially upheld the owner’s channelization of the body which, they believed, justified one’s monopoly over it. These notions of body ownership, though part of common parlance, have been challenged and deconstructed time and again in Cinema. Multiple films across cultural and temporal barriers have consistently raised an existential question – is my authority over my body really beyond negotiation? Who, for example, owns a prostitute’s body or an infant’s and what would be the yardsticks to determine that ownership?

While on one hand, Chandni Bar (2001) and similar films reflected upon capitalistic arrangements concerning the body through the fabric of a prostitute-client nexus, on the other hand, movies like Being John Malkovich (1999) and Identity (2003) explored one’s body through the manipulation of someone else’s mind. In the former, characters travelled through actor John Malkovich’s (playing himself in the film) mind; in the latter, a single character designed the rest of the characters in the film in his head and manipulated them as per his whims and fancies in parallel with the “unreliable narrator”. More familiar examples in the same vein in the contemporary mainstream context would be The Butterfly Effect or even the Final Destination series where the bodies of the characters submit to an omnipotent unseen force called Death.

What Descartes believed to be the mind-body dualism is then opposed by Freud’s reinforcement of the hidden inner forces of the mind that influence the body. While Descartes preferred to ignore the sub-conscious and consider that the mind and the body are two independent entities which are not related to one another, Freud was inclined towards reinforcing the sub-conscious and stressing on its influence in not just the mind but also in physical attributes of a person. Interestingly, in cinema, these repressed desires have found agency as the faceless heroes or famous anti-heroes, as depicted in the Joker in The Dark Knight (2008) or the dystopian V in V for Vendetta (2006) where both hang in a middle-ground with the dilemma of body-ownership as a periphery.

We call for contributions that would enhance boundaries of explorations in the realm of body ownership. Original and annotated academic papers and/or semi-academic articles and commentaries of not more than 2,500 words respectively are invited by the 24th of December, 2011. Also, from this issue onwards, Literophile will be open to all students wishing to research on our themes regardless of their academic and institutional affiliations. Please mail contributions and queries to

Friday, 19 August 2011

Issue 2, Vol 4: Tales Terrible

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Life presents a Dismal Picture,
Dark and dreary as the tomb,
Father’s got urethral stricture,
Mother’s got a prolapsed womb.
Uncle James has been deported
For a homosexual crime,
Nell, our maid, has just aborted
For the forty-second time...

I came across these lines recently in an eminent literary magazine that was reviewing The Way to Go by Upamanyu Chatterjee and wondered how all that is grievous, putrid, dark and violent invariably provides a good breeding ground for creativity. It then struck me that most of literature, be it poetry, drama or the novel form, follows the same theme and invariably enjoys a tremendous readership.

Does contention, fear, anger, loss really bring about an inspiration to create something that will not only vent out the frustration within but also work as a reformatory social exercise? When we say that the lives and works of artists, critics and society are intricately woven together, we are also saying that social taboos, evils and incidents threatening Apocalypse inevitably do become the fount of creativity. For example, the genre of science fiction can be looked upon as one thriving on the idea of the unknown, an idea which then becomes synonymous for all that is uncharted and forbidden, hence dangerous. The rise of artificially intelligent creations of the human mind against their makers, the fear of death resulting from breaking bonds of conventions and social comfort levels, jealousy, anger, loss...these are all themes that have essentially inspired a number of books, some even winning laurels all over the world.

However, sci-fi is not the only genre that employs some of these themes; contemporary fiction continues to weave ideas of grief, transcendence, ambition, over-reaching, schizophrenic frenzy, terror and mysticism into its fabric. Indian authors – if one may be allowed that momentarily – are known to employ these themes to comment on a variety of issues that plague society. Then again, Russian literature continues to boggle minds with dark characters and sagas of personal and communal grief and trauma.

In this issue, with the theme Tales Terrible: Then, Now and Beyond, we critically analyse much that makes literature sad, dark and deadly. From fanatical ambition to fantastical desire, our contributors delve into a host of motifs and motives that have inspired horror in many across space and time and have thus been the basis of countless articulations, expressions and representations of that fear and terror which – for now at least – we believe to be essentially a foundational premise of human society and interaction. Amongst these, we are especially grateful to Ms. Amrita Singh, research scholar and faculty in the Department of English, Kamala Nehru College, for lending us her interesting and incisive paper on representation of conflict and dissent in Afghanistan through editorial cartoons. In seeking stranger and stranger and yet simultaneously infinitely conventional ways of artistic articulation as well as creative criticism, Literophile is always pleased to support all that challenges our notions of both acceptable and subversive representation and this, in discussing criticism of much that is bone-chillingly macabre and disgusting through a medium apparently totally frivolous and flippant, achieves as much. For this, then, and for everything else that came in, we are grateful and hope that when you, as a reader, engage with the criticism that follows, you will not only respond academically but also imaginatively, uniting the two in a manner that treats the subject as object and vice versa and thus makes our endeavours in bringing this to you fruitful and relevant.
Prashaste Sinha,

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The ‘Forward Wits’ of Doctor Faustus ...3
Ipshita Nath nuances received notions of the transgression(s) and tragedy of Marlowe’s Faustus by juxtaposing the politically charged rhetoric of predestination, free will and sin against the scientific and medical advancements of the European Renaissance.

Misery and Mistress - The Politics of Fantasy in Fairy Tales ...7
Deeptangshu Das critiques a few popular fairy tales from the Grimm canon to examine how femininity and sexuality get transformed under the overarching logic of patriarchal desire to both be commodified and, at the same time, acquire connotations of darkness and danger.

Conflict and Dissent - Editorial Cartoons and the Politics of Afghanistan ...10
Amrita Singh comments upon the “(re)presentation” of the socio-cultural crises in Afghanistan through cartoons, a medium which is at once stark and visibly forceful even as it is replete with a continuing sense of humour and, to an extent, flippancy.

When Machines Take Over the World ...14
Asimov’s Reworking of Science Fiction’s Worst Nightmare
Shreya P. Jindal tweaks conventional notions of sci-fi Armageddon by discussing Asimov’s conception of a different and possibly mutually beneficial robot-human relationship in his I, Robot.

The Gothic in Frankenstein ...17
Venu Bhanot analyses the various dominant literary elements in Mary Shelley’s ever popular Frankenstein to place it as neither Gothic nor Romantic but Gothic Romantic.

Events ...18

Call for Contributions, Issue Three, Volume Four: Courtesans ...20

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The ‘Forward Wits’ of Doctor Faustus

It seems almost superfluous to state that Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus is riddled with perplexing ambiguities. However, the convention is to acknowledge the success of Marlowe’s attempt at baffling his audience. The question, though, is, what was Marlowe’s aim behind writing such an ambivalent play? What exactly did he mean to convey through it?

Marlowe’s eccentric characters owe completely to his enigmatic life – short as it was. He was embroiled in several controversies during his lifetime and not just his life but also his death is a mystery to all. He was apparently killed in a bar-room brawl and today, it is ‘assumed’, merely assumed, that he was murdered – for political reasons, as a result of his dealings with the Elizabethan government.

During Marlowe’s time, England under Elizabeth largely persecuted...

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Misery and Mistress: The Politics of Fantasy in Fairy Tales

“They are fairies; he that speaks to them shall die.
I’ll wink and couch; no man their works must eye.”
-William Shakespeare, in The Merry Wives of Windsor

Childhood is incomplete without the delicious nectar of fantasy, stories, and fairy tales. Childhood is the stage when the boundaries between fantasy and reality, truth and illusion become blurred. And thanks to Walt Disney, the fairy tale characters have become more magnificent through the magic of animation. Generally, fairy tales are seen as a vital source of entertainment, they cater to the child’s imagination and allow him or her to enter a fantastic world of rich palaces, evil monsters and a whole lot of heroic adventures. But the question one might want to raise- are these stories as innocent as the children themselves? In other words, they may look simple on the surface, but analyzed critically, we find that they are indeed skilfully crafted and strongly rooted in gender stereotypes and social prejudices. Under the guise of fantasy, they strongly reinforce...

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Conflict and Dissent: Editorial Cartoons and the Politics of Afghanistan

In the aftermath of September 11, Afghanistan was dug out of the world’s collective forgetful consciousness and splashed across international media to highlight the destructive fundamentalism of its leaders and redress the excesses of civil and human rights violations in the region. The American War on Terror has sought legitimation by focussing on the need to “restore” democracy in what it deems are the world’s terror hubs and conflict-ridden areas. This paper looks at two perspectives of the internal conflict and external war which have plagued Afghanistan particularly during the Taliban regime (1996–2001) and culminated in the Allied strikes beginning November 2001. Kabul-based cartoonist Atiq Shahid and Pulitzer-winner American artist Ann Telnaes both offer in single panel view a comprehensive representation of the modern history of Afghanistan which is one of...

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When Machines Take Over the World
Asimov’s Reworking of Science Fiction’s Worst Nightmare

In this paper, I will examine Isaac Asimov’s science fiction short story collection I, Robot (1950). I will argue that Asimov has a unique take on the threat of man-made scientific creations escaping human control and destroying the world, a cliché in science fiction since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818). I will demonstrate that Asimov takes the stance that the taking over of mankind by robots would actually be a positive outcome for humanity because they are superior to human beings in physical, mental, and moral terms...

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The Gothic in Frankenstein
Tortuous, fragmented narratives relating mysterious incidents, horrible images and life-threatening pursuits predominate in the eighteenth century gothic literature. Spectres, monsters, demons, corpses, skeletons, evil aristocrats, monks and nuns, fainting heroines and bandits populate Gothic landscapes as suggestive figures of imagined and realistic threats. This list grew, in the nineteenth century, with the addition of scientists, fathers, husbands, madmen, criminals and the monstrous double signifying duplicity and evil nature. Gothic landscapes are desolate, alienating and full of menace. In the eighteenth century they were wild and mountainous locations...

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Is anjuman mein aapko…aana hai baar baar

Even as we cast off the imperial age and its romance with the spectacular, modern studies in their quest for truth – which is essentially retrieved from the margins – inevitably stumble upon and get entangled in the very grandeur they seek to critique. Such tales of opulence and performance blur one’s perspective and, therefore, the faculty of judgement, the distinction between the murky and tragic and the tragic bordering on the romantic.

In this issue of Literophile we seek to brave these stories of sexual and erotic (a)normativity and performance and the predicament of the actual lives entangled therein. Understanding the broad scope of such a quest, we deliberately chose an aspect that embodies them in a real persona, a figure at once feminine, tragic, astute, committed to high art and enmeshed in the body politik of the state and of actual lives – the courtesan.

The Tawaiif of Mughalia times, the Geishas whose fortunes were concomitant with Japan’s in the aftermath of the Second World War, the Hetaira of Ancient Athens and all those we generally class as courtesans, these were women steeped in a somewhat shared acumen towards the arts – both performative and literary. In their societies they were the embodiment of manner and courtesy, even appointed to take nobility under their tutelage so as to ensure a rich cultural education to future administrators. Often they found themselves at the centre of a tug of war among jealous elites who longed to reserve their overtures for their own sake against equally placed rivals. Then again, they exercised this intimacy to help affect significant political deals. In this way, the courtesan existed as a woman outside the domain of domesticity and, unlike those bound by it and identified as wives or daughters of men, possessed an identity of her own.

An identity fuelled by the interest of men of significant social standing in their art and bodies. Even as they remained objects of desire, they were paragons of womanhood whom everyone longed to court but not marry (not that marriage implies a salvation of womanhood). This infrastructure of culture was founded in real bodies and even as manners and songs remained a part of their persona their bodies couldn’t support their claim to exemplary womanhood. In such times they took to nurturing potential talent in their tutelage or married insignificant admirers. In that sense, even as these women exemplified beauty and learning they were essentially forbidden to society. Also, even as they exercised significant fiat over the minds and resources of men, experiencing the pinnacle of power up close, they had no real base in society since they operated from the margins.

It is this contradiction that we seek to explore through papers on different aspects of the persona of the courtesan, the ‘courtesan culture’ and its wider implications – political, social and cultural (and especially cultural in view of contemporary society). Papers on the same (or related topics) are invited for issue three, volume four of Literophile. Kindly take note that Literophile is open only to those students and/or scholars of English Literature, Literature in English, Comparative Literature and/or Cultural Studies who are attached with an institute, college and/or university in India and that only original and annotated academic papers and/or semi-academic articles and commentaries are allowed and that these must not exceed 2,500 words. Deadline for submission is 30th September. Papers and queries are welcome at

We would nevertheless like to leave you with a few ideas to munch on:
1. The custom of patronage – the courtesan’s body as the sight of political one-upmanship.
2. Courtesans and modern performance; their impact on contemporary media – music, movies, literature; its manifestations in burlesque, striptease etc.
3. ‘Deewar-o-dar ko gaur se pehchaan leejiye’ – the stage/mehfil as the courtesan’s domain and the identity building thereof.
4. Representation of the courtesan in contemporary media.
5. ‘It’s not flesh we are selling here’ – the case of the courtesan’s mistaken identity.
6. The courtesan as a moving work of art.
7. ‘Agony and beauty for us live side by side’
8. Manners and the business of education.
9. The Machinations of Culture – the courtesans body as the site of its operation.
10. The body politik of the courtesan.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Deadline Extended

The deadline for Issue 2, Volume 4 has been extended to 15th June, 2011. The theme remains the same, viz. Tales Terrible: Then, Now and Beyond. For more details, do refer to this post.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Call for Contributions for Issue 2, Vol 4

Is strife the fount of creativity?

If creativity is a consequence of chaos, then is not the terrible, all that horrifies, unnerves and destabilises, the undeniable inspiration for much of art? To us much of literature reflects as much, the written word carrying more often than not the stamp of more than one subliminal source of inspirational horror. Horror too does not necessarily have to be the obvious, hair-raising prototype of the Gothic and murder thrillers: from the horror of rejection in love to the horror of the terrible loss of hair, horror is varied in ways which would make it redundant to attempt a canonisation…

an independent, unbiased and subscription based student venture
amateur research in Literature in English,
original and annotated academic papers
semi-formal academic articles and commentaries
from students of
English Literature, Literature in English, Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies
for its Issue 2, Volume 4
on the theme
Tales Terrible: Then, Now and Beyond.

A few pointers would be:
a) “Pity the tale of me!” : Misery and Mistress
b) And then there was night: Tales of Terror from the Fundamentalist Fringe
c) Uncle Sam is watching you: The Omniscient Superpower
d) Those Revolutionary (Wo)Men with their Killing Machines: Mobocracy in times of Change
e) Detecting Crime: Defusing Terror through Detection
f) No creature so vile as man: Class paranoia in Neoclassicism
g) “…robot may not harm humanity”: Fear and the Future
h) Man and man: Negotiating Homophobia

Contributions should not exceed a maximum of 2,500 words; papers should be annotated in the MLA style. Last date for submission is 20th April, 2011. Do mail to for more details.

Issue 1, Vol 4: Indian Popular Fiction

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Literature - it’s a touchy subject whenever brought up, or wherever – be it in the Law faculty canteen or at the family dinner table. Throughout the ages that it has existed in the public realm, it has always had its share of critics, forever ready to dismiss it as a paltry area of study for those of a whimsical bent of mind. It has also always had loyalists, those who take pleasure in dissecting the yellowing pages of a text with a variety of theoretical scalpels. Literophile is an effort by the loyalists, returning after a long hiatus.
It was almost half a decade ago, in August of 2005, when two young women decided to chase a daydream, leading to the inception of this beloved journal. Needless to say Amrita Singh and Sumi Saikia, the leading ladies behind this venture, had their fair share of running from pillar to post to make this dream come true. And even with their efforts, the journal wouldn’t have been made possible without the constant support of a dedicated team of students and faculty members from various colleges.

This was the first time in Delhi University that a journal specific to the interests of English Literature enthusiasts came into being. And to add to that, it was one of the few independent initiatives to be run by DU students. It was the first time that innovative literary discourse and debate was given a forum outside the classroom. Literophile gave literature students a medium to express their opinions, or to explore them through well-researched articles. With a new literary theme in each issue, a new line of thought was encouraged to which students always responded positively.

Over the next couple of years, Literophile grew and its presence spread across campuses. Students began to talk about it, teachers recommended it and the team took to promoting it through active distribution, word-of-mouth and print; the journal was also extended beyond DU into the JNU campus. Things were going well for the journal.

Being a student-run publication, funds were usually hard to come by. In spite of this, to keep Literophile affordable, the original team sold the journal at a loss. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds, the journal came to a standstill after the November 2007 issue.

Efforts to revive it had proved futile until a ray of hope appeared in the form of a bright team of students who approached me last year with the intent of reviving this venture. And today, I write to congratulate them for taking the initiative to carry forward this legacy. Having been a part of this journal once, I, amongst others, know how hard it is, to take time out from our schedules and take this forward. I feel great joy and pride for the current team and hope that their hard-work bears fruit.

Now without more ado, I urge you to sit back as this wonderful labour of love takes you on a fantastic flight, replete with literary gems which may well be priceless.

Best Wishes,
Moosa Khan
(Editor; Issue 1; Vol 3)

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...again: contexts...

So here we are again. Beginning, struggling, trying to find an entry into the larger discourse which we ourselves hope to strengthen. But it’s not so much a beginning as a rebirth, a renaissance. An old journal in a new avatar. A new Literophile.
It is a pleasure, gentles, to be introducing the first issue of volume four of Literophile. We are a hoping to achieve new horizons, but keeping in mind the best of what was. Reviving Literophile has been quite the uphill task, but we’ve finally managed and here it is, right where it should be: in your hands, attentive, critical reader.

Let’s contextualise a bit. Literophile, as you must have deduced from the previous note, was started long, long ago as a journal for amateur academic research. It had a long and exciting run, passed hands and patrons, came out in the open and then, like so many other exciting and engaging youth ventures, died. What you have before you is quite literally the phoenix from the ashes – and ashes long cold and scattered too, for this comes after the considerable hiatus of three years or so. The team is made up of young, misguided literature-wallahs who have slogged to make this happen, though we don’t have any connection with the old guard.

No connection except one: literature, criticism. One thing to hold them all, one thing to find them, one thing to bring them all and in literary criticism bind them!

If Literophile is here again, it is more or less this desire which guides us. There is in this university no lack of forums for students to express themselves. The past five years have seen a spurt in the number of both affiliated and independent student ventures in the field of literary production, creative writing as it is generally understood. However, if there has been a spurt there, the opportunities for publication of amateur academic writing – which by some strange quirk isn’t regarded creative – have actually diminished.

Opportunities for publication only, for the incentives for research continue to increase. What with independent magazines and newsletters, commercial offshoots of professional media and institutionalised ventures of various departments at various levels, the literary scene at the university level is more vibrant today than, say, a decade ago. Within this overall structure is a niche for amateur research as well, for now that departments have started democraticising and allowing students a voice, there are greater opportunities for discussion and debate on the academic platform. Again, in this university at least, student seminars have become common enough and there is a growing sense of a distinct, if only mimetic, student space for research and criticism.

That space, however, has yet to manifest as the written word. This is where we come in, to hopefully fill in the lacuna for amateur research and criticism in not just the University of Delhi but the wider, exciting literary scene in this country. Indeed, this is precisely what Literophile is being revived as, as a bimonthly, theme based journal for amateur academic research by any student of English Literature, Literature in English, Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies affiliated to any university or institute in India. In reviving Literophile we hope to generate discourse on a range of issues, theories and ideas and so orient the fledging community of English Literature students – a community whose very increase is cause for some worry – to these same.

This we hope to do through subscriptions. What we mean is that like a majority of journals and magazines, Literophile will be made available through subscriptions; however, unlike others, these alone will be our source for expenditure. By thus remaining free of sponsors, institutes or otherwise, we hope to maintain in the overall social context our freedom to be free. Not just this, for being so, having fellow amateurs directly vested in our continuance and consolidation, we hope also to derive some comfort from the presence of like-minded people at hand: as ever, it is still a solace to the wretched to have companions in woe.

In all of this, Literophile will assume a position as neutral and unbiased to the range of opinion submitted to it as can possibly be. As long as actual genocide or hostility is not advocated, we will not discriminate on the basis of the ideological import of the contributions submitted to us by members of the student community at large. Nor, indeed, will we be responsible for the veracity of this research. Debate and dissent have for long been the premise for the much nuanced and complex tradition of criticism and theory and we would not like being committed to only a particular point of view to deny ourselves the opportunity of being part of this.

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And now it’s time to introduce our theme for this issue: Indian Popular Fiction.

Problematic? Undoubtedly. Much has been said in recent times on the nature of categories, on the ills of categorisation as a whole and on the dangers of being sans categories in these post-everything times. These three words, Indian Popular Fiction, are embedded deep in these scholarly disputes and by themselves reflect some of the major literary concerns of the day. Nationality has effectively been deconstructed and is quite often dismissed; popularity is increasingly the only driver to the cultural dynamics of the day and fiction has come to represent literature in a way that is the appealing to the most. If we are indeed Indian nationals, then what from the host of our literary production is popular and fictitious is a question that merits deep and prolonged consideration.

Much is a matter of perspective. The way many of us in universities and colleges look at it, authors self-confessedly post-colonial are much more worthwhile, followed and, in that sense, popular than those otherwise. Like always, this hierarchising is interesting in itself, for in considering it so we embody it with an otherness that purposely, whether or not sensibly, differentiate between canons of taste and style, canons of popular literary tastes and canons of popular mass tastes. This sort of fetishisation is, of course, good for our own use, but at some level it engenders yet more deeply the divide between popular academic literary studies and popular literary tastes.

Indeed, for why must there still be such a divide?...

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Of canons and Canons  ...5
Or Some Observations on Canonicity and Post-Colonialism
Anubhav Pradhan examines the meaning of the term “Indian Popular Fiction in English” and draws attention to the lack of critical attention by literary scholars which the genre as a whole suffers from by questioning the elitism of the literary ‘canon.’

Events  ...6

Anything for You, Readers   ...7
An Examination of Indian Campus Novels
Sankalp Khandelwal explores the public demolition of images of happy college life through a critique of the emergent genre of the Indian Campus Novel, noting in the process forces which contribute to the consolidation of the same as one the most publicly visible literary genres in India.

The Secularisation of the Indian Epic    ...9
Anhiti Patnaik examines the production of the Indian epic for mass consumption through the Amar Chitra Katha series of ‘comic books’, showing how it evades strict categorisation because of the way it straddles the traditional binaries of the canonical and the popular.

Popular Culture and its Populist Fiction    ...11
The Myth of Devdas
Ananya Borgohain closely examines two film adaptations of Saratchandra Chatterjee’s Devdas (1917), showing the way the two different takes on the same story reflects change in popular tastes and ideology over the years with regard to the representation and perception of women, sexuality, and love.

Litter       ...12

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Of canons and Canons
Or some Observations on Canonicity and Post-Colonialism

It’s difficult to believe, but these are the facts as they stand and we must embrace them sooner or later: no one reads Indian Popular Fiction in English.

Well, okay, not no one: no, by no one I mean people like us, people in literature and criticism as, well, scholars and critics. When I say no one seems to have read or be inclined towards reading Indian Popular Fiction in English, I mean very, very few people from the many from our literary ilk I have talked to seem to have bothered with this, um, genre.

Yeah well, genre. Indian Popular Fiction in English. Ahmed or not, it has to be a genre, right? I know it’s problematic and nuanced and so on and I know a thousand post-colonial culture-wallahs can spend a thousand years debating what exactly this phrase means so I’m going to spare you that. The genre of Indian Popular Fiction in English merits critical consideration, which has it has not been getting, though hopefully this journal will change that.

Which is why I’m going back on my word and doing a little analysis of the term “Indian Popular Fiction in English” and what kind of literature it implies. Don’tworry, only a little.

First, the term ‘Indian’. This raises numerous questions. What’s ‘Indian’ and what’s not? Is the the modern nation...

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Anything for You, Readers
An Examination of Indian Campus Novels

In popular imagination, college campuses are these really rocking hubs of incessant excitement, youthful vigour, perennial action, interesting characters, with a smattering of academics and extra-curricular activities thrown in. While for those who are yet to or who never make it to a college, this imaginative picture persists until personal experience strikes. For those who do get to go to a college, this rosy picture all botched and bungled once the nervous initial weeks come to an abrupt end.

The aforementioned campus picture of endless excitement is produced and directed in popular imagination by various channels of mass media such as television, cinema, newspapers, radio etc. These channels, with rare exceptions, propagate a thrilling image of campus life- an image which is prejudiced, incomplete and incomprehensive. The campus reality for the majority is actually a lot different.

The public demolition of such images should make for great art. In India, since movies, television and newspapers have largely refused to undertake this enterprise, the ever-dependable literature seems to have come to the rescue. This deconstructionist exercise was weakly initiated by Five Point Someone, Chetan Bhagat’s 2004 debut novel that still features on the best-seller popular fiction section of all bookstores.

Since the incredible success of Five Point Someone, a number of writers have trodden in Bhagat's footsteps, such that an entire sub-genre of campus novels has come into existence under the wide gambit of ‘Indian Popular Fiction’. It is pertinent to analyze how this deconstructionist exercise has been ushered in and where it is headed.

The Writers

Almost all Indian campus novels to date have been authored by young 20-something writers, many of whom did not have an “arts background”. Many of these novelists were also first-time novel writers—their campus novel being their debut work.

So, this sub-genre has largely been dominated by amateur reader-turned-writers...

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The Secularisation of the Indian Epic

The Amar Chitra Katha as literature is perhaps a prime example of a complex genre that evades categorization. Is it a graphic novel or comic book, children’s literature, alternative reality or the Indian classical religious epic, biography or historiography? Nevertheless, its contribution to the corpus of Indian Literature is visible and immense, especially at a time in the sixties, when the nation came into being and was in the process of becoming a metropolitan bourgeois identity. The Amar Chitra Katha straddles binary opposites in Indian Literature- the Canonical and the Popular. This is not a new idea in art. Quoting Raja Ravi Verma, “I think we cannot do better than classical subjects to appeal to the popular”. Nandini Chandra’s book The Classic Popular; Amar Chitra Katha 1967-2007 asks two important questions as regards the epic-

1. How are we to read the consolidated image from a mythic structure when it enters a national and secular frame?

2. How is the rational-scientific approach to be reconciled with the religious paradigm as a frame of reference?

To answer these questions, we must explore the beginnings of the Amar Chitra Katha in 1967...

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Populist Culture and its Popular Fiction: The myth of Devdas

Popular fiction in India is a recent phenomenon which has been widely disseminated through various agencies of mass communication. Some of the novels belonging to the genre have been vibrant and exuberantly creative and have also marked a crucial shift from the more ‘serious’ types of Indian Literature in English to something more light-hearted. It has been a gradual segregation from the presumably accepted state of being and is moving towards a new, populist ideology.

In India, popular culture began to appear in novels towards the end of the 20th century with the spread of Industrialization and the consequent mobilization of different forms of economy. With the passage of time, the bourgeoisie as well as the working class now have access to differing forms of Literature and Mass media, and these agencies with their ability to reach a mass audience have been making their impact time and again. In this respect, Indian Popular fiction becomes a vital representative figure which addresses the pressing concerns of people in the existing times. As time passes, appropriate changes have been made in the genre of Indian Popular Fiction to fit into the changing tastes of people, as is always the case with popular forms of entertainment.

However, one can still not discard certain literary conventions that continue to preside over the genre. This paper shall take into account the case of the classic novel Devdas by Saratchandra Chatterjee (1917) and explore the divorce between the aesthetic and the populist that its adaptations have constructed to suit the fancies of audiences. In doing so, the objective of the paper would be to examine the emergence of Indian Popular Fiction as a genre in its own right, and to substantiate the same, this paper shall refer to two films in particular, namely, Devdas(1955) by Bimal Roy and DevD (2009) by Anurag Kashyap.

Bimal Roy’s Devdas is undoubtedly included in the most famous tragedies produced in Hindi cinema. Hindi films may not always have happy...