Muslim ethos in Indian cinema

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Muslim ethos in Indian cinema

Post by silvermani on Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:17 pm

It is the one Indian cultural-industrial structure which has resisted separatism. It’s because of this element that Indian cinema has become over the past 50 years – despite its many distortions and contractions – a major instrument of national consolidation – a true unity in diversity. 

The first dominant note of the Muslim ethos was struck not in any specific Muslim film or by a Muslim director but in the film Devdas directed by PC Barua (1935) based on a novel by Sarat Chandra Chatterji (1917). This tale of two small town lovers torn apart by caste and class has haunted Indian cinema down the decades up to date. There are two elements in Indian cinema well analysed in another context by psychiatrists Sudhir Kakar and John M Ross in Tales of Love, Sex and Danger (OUP 1986) as the Radha-Krishna and Laila-Majnu traditions. Radha and Krishna are the divine lovers in human form in Hindu mythology, and Laila and Majnu are passionate but doomed lovers in Arabic and Persian folklore and literature. 

The Radha-Krishna tradition, say the authors, is an evocation and elaboration of here-and-now passion, an attempt to catch the exciting fleeting moment of the senses, not tragic but tender and ultimately cheerful. In the Laila-Majnu tradition, love is the ‘essential desire of God; earthly love is but a preparation for the heavenly acme; the challenge to rights of older and powerful men to dispose of and control female sexuality; the utter devotion of the women lovers to the man unto death; loving in secrecy and concealment, yet without shame or guilt’. Both the elements are fused in Devdas. The Radha-Krishna element dominates the first half; the Laila-Majnu element the second
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