You are cordially invited to a Culture Cafe PresentationCentre for Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Book Release by Nandita Das of the book Fire
(Author: Shohini Ghosh, November 2010, Arsenal Pulp Press, Canada,Consortium/Perseus distribution)
Followed by Shohini Ghosh in conversation with Shilpa Phadke and Shalini Mahajan
And a reading from the bookon Jan 6, 2011 at 5 pm in Room 5, TISS Main Campus
The discussion will be preceded by a screening of the film Fire (104mins) at 3 pm
Fire, one of three new QUEER FILM CLASSICS this fall, delves into thecontroversial 1996 lesbian love story by Indian-born director DeepaMehta. Set in a contemporary middle-class Hindu household in the heartof Delhi, Fire is the story of Radha and Sita, the wives of twobrothers, who fall in love with one another. Crisis overtakes theextended family when a servant discovers the relationship and tellsone of the husbands; overcoming both a literal and allegorical “trialby fire,” the two women leave their marriages to make a life together.The film premiered to great acclaim in 1996, and travelled theinternational circuit before being finally released in India in 1999.The consequences of the film’s Indian premiere were both profound andprovocative: outraged by the film’s explicit depiction of a lesbianrelationship, protestors went on a rampage, tearing down posters,vandalizing cinemas showing the film, and disrupting screenings in theDelhi and Bombay, setting off a maelstrom of public discourse onissues such as homosexuality and freedom of speech in India. DirectorDeepa Mehta and the two leading actresses were targeted for attack andharassment by extremists of the Hindu Right.This book examines the controversy that divided a nation, but whichultimately led to counterprotests among the film’s supporters,resulting in its successful and uninterrupted run in Indian theaters.The book also considers Fire’s scathing attack on both heterosexismand Hindu practices in India that oppress and marginalize women, aswell as its revolutionary treatment of female characters, whosetraditional duties are imbued with an unprecedented sensuality.The QUEER FILM CLASSICS series, begun in 2009, consists of criticalyet populist monographs on classic films of interest to LGBT audienceswritten by esteemed film scholars and critics. The series is edited byauthors Thomas Waugh (Out/Lines, Lust Unearthed) and Matthew Hays (TheView from Here).
Nandita Das is known to world audiences for her critically acclaimedperformances as an actor in films like Fire, Earth, Bawander, Beforethe Rains and many other films. She has acted in over 30 featurefilms, in ten different languages, with directors of internationalrepute like, Deepa Mehta, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Mrinal Sen, ShyamBenegal, Mani Ratnam, and others. She is known never to shy away fromcontroversial issues and unconventional roles and has chosen to bepart of stories which she believes in, and, in her words, that need tobe told. Firaaq was her directorial debut feature film, which had itsworld premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2008 andthen went on to many other festivals across the world. It was releasedin India in March 2009 to critical acclaim and an overwhelmingaudience response.
Shohini Ghosh is Professor at the AJK Mass Communication ResearchCentre, Jamia Millia Islamia, a university in New Delhi. Tales of theNight Fairies, her documentary on the sex workers’ rights movement,made a strong intervention in debates on sex work. She writes oncontemporary media practices and sexuality. She will be Scholar inResidence at The Centre for Media and Cultural Studies in January2011.
Shilpa Phadke is a sociologist and an Assistant Professor at theCentre for Media and Cultural Studies at the Tata Institute of SocialSciences, Mumbai. Her areas of concern include pedagogy; middle classsexuality and the new spaces of consumption; feminist politics amongyoung women; and urban transformations.
Shalini Mahajan is a writer and a queer feminist activist based inBombay. Her academic training has been in Aesthetics, Literature andWriting and she has worked severally as a writer, a teacher, atrainer, an editor, a researcher, and more often than not as anactivist with both funded and non-funded groups and organisations forthe past fifteen years. She is a founder member of the queer feministcollective Lesbians and Bisexuals in Action (LABIA, formerly StreeSangam) which started in 1995 and a member of Forum Against Oppressionof Women, a feminist women’s group in Bombay.–
Anjali Monteiro, Ph.D., Professor and Chair
Centre for Media and Cultural Studies
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Deonar, Bombay 400 088, India
Phone: +91 22 2552 5661(Work)
Fax: +91 22 2552 5050 e-mail: [email protected]