Capturing fractured realities: Representation of Youth Culture in Radical Bengali films of Sixties and Seventies

Calcutta witnessed a considerable transformation in its social composition, demography, and political organisation in the decades post independence and partition. With changed borders, a population explosion, continued industrial crisis, and government inefficiency, there emerged a distinct streak of radical left-wing politics with which the youth of that time are often associated with. Moving away from this stereotypical notion of the politicised youth and historicising their engagement with the society however leads to the many subjectivites, identities and contexts. The paper tries to problematise the idea of a homogeneous youth culture through the lens of the visual culture of that time. The varied ways of portrayal of the youth in Bengali films in the two decades of sixties and seventies helps one in understanding the causalities of their distinct reactions towards similar events. With the question of identity in such representations central to the argument, the paper further problematises the notion of what is to be understood by the term ‘youth’ itself, in relation to the debates that are taking place globally since the 1960s. An inter-disciplinary approach is adopted by engaging with film theory to better understand the complexities of cinema and the way it represents individuals and societies. The paper largely moves from one case study to the other, taking up films which were primarily based on three fundamental axes and their inter-connectedness – the city of Calcutta, a concern with the contemporary socio-political scenario, and the youth. Finally, the paper also addresses the implications of the subjectivities of the filmmakers, which made a certain kind of representation possible. The filmmakers themselves were part of a vibrant youth culture whose treatment of cinema changed the artform itself.
   Speaker: Titas De Sarkar
 Research Scholar, Jadavpur University
Venue:  Committee Room, Central Library, JNU
Date and Time: 11th September 2014 (Thursday), 4:00 pm