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Imaging South Asian culture in non-English: Reconstructing popular textual and visual representations Edited by Tasleem Shakur and Katy Highet

SACS Special Issue 2018 SACS (South Asian Cultural Studies): ISSN 1749-6764 southasianculturalstudies.co.uk


Copyright: Tasleem Shakur and Katy Highet

South Asian Cultural Studies Special Issue 2018 SACS (South Asian Cultural Studies)

Published by: SACS (South Asian Cultural Studies)

Cover Image: (Le Tigre du Bengal): © Shahabuddin Cover Design: Andy Butler

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Imaging South Asian culture in nonEnglish: Reconstructing popular textual and visual representations

Editorial 1. Tasleem Shakur and Katy Highet Reconstructing, re-imagining: South Asia through alternative gazes

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Part 1: Re-picturing history: Whose voices are we hearing anyway? 2. Shreyanjana Bhattacherjee The theater called Archeology: The interplay of identity and religion in the understanding of the past

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3. Abdul Matin Socio-religious reform and Sufism in 20th century Bengal: A study of the role of Pir Abu Bakr of Furfura Sharif, India

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4. Prerana Srimaal and L. Lamminthang Simte ‘Timeless Aesthetics’? Rock art studies as ‘sites of contestation’ in the Southern Vindhyan landscapes

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Part II: Bioscope: Seeing through the lenses of South Asian cinema 5. Anakshi Pal and Dev Nath Pathak Cinematic ambivalence on borders: Ifs and buts of popular South Asia

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6. Salman Al-Azami and Tasleem Shakur Saratchandra’s Devdas: A comparison between the original Bengali text and its two Hindi film adaptations

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7. Arpana Awwal Heroes and villains: Masculinities of romance, dominance and violence in Bangladeshi films of 1970s

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Part III: Linguistic Traces: South Asian culture in and through language(s) 8. Katy Highet ‘I am tho speaking English only’: Delineating English and non-English in India

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9. Anthony Grant August Seidel and the first manual of Urdu for speakers of German (1893)

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10. Abu Musa Mohammad Arif Billah Linguistic influence of Persian on South Asian languages: Special reference to Urdu

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Part IV: Emerging voices: Creating textual and visual representations 11. Masrufa Nusrat The discourse on Razakar: Cultural movements, resistance and Bangladeshi nationalism

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12. Sabz Khan Poem: Zubaan ki kadar aye gi/Now you will learn the value of language

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13. Shahabuddin A message of universality

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Reconstructing, re-imagining: South Asia through alternative gazes Tasleem Shakur and Katy Highet !"#$ %&'#()*+, !"#$ -#.#()*+, /0&* 1,2$#$ '& )3 0&* 4#(+,… amay bhasaili re, amay dubaili re. okul doriar bujhi kul nai re At times you've drowned me At times you've drifted me afloat. O unbound river, your encounters seem to be forever limitless1 Jasimuddin (Bengali folklore poet), n.d.

While concluding the editorial of the volume, ‘Picturing south Asian culture in English: Textual and visual representations’ (Shakur, T and D’Souza K: 2003), the editors strongly felt that a homogenised representation of South Asia continued to persist in the West, despite the phenomenal growth of regional culture in post-colonial South Asian nation states. Turning the gaze to the lesser-researched cultural and literary development of diasporic South Asian communities of Britain, America and the African continent also indicated the emergence of more diverse identities. As an off-shoot of this volume (ibid) and these findings, an on-line journal, ‘South Asian Cultural Studies’ (SACS), was launched in 2006, involving a number of South Asian academics from all over the world, with one of the main objectives being to interrogate the impact of traditional cultural practices on the evolution of diasporic communities, including trans-national cultures and their changing relationships within specific and distinct host communities. Some eight years on, as more insightful articles and commentaries started pouring into the journal from South Asia, Africa and non-English speaking regions of Europe, an international ‘South Asian Cultural Studies’ (SACS) workshop was jointly organised in January 2014 with Professor Nuzhat Kazmi of Jamia Millia University, entitled ‘Imaging south Asian culture in non-English: Re-constructing popular textual and visual representations’. This two-day workshop intended to revisit South Asian popular cultural themes by removing the ‘Englishness’. Encompassing a wide range of cultural elements – from history, through archaeology, to cinema and language – the overriding objective of the conference was to explore the representations, and re-representations of South Asia through languages other than English, or indeed, as Pennycook refers to them, languages othered by English (2001: 145). It is worth unpacking precisely what the authors understand by ‘removing’ the Englishness. Here, English is not simply the language in which certain elements of popular culture have been written, but in a larger, metaphorical sense, representative of the colonial gaze that has dominated the ways in which South Asian culture has been framed, analysed and interpreted. Exploring non-English representations is thus an opportunity to provide alternative understandings of an area of the world all too frequently subjected to a homogenizing narrative.

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In other words, the conference sought to explore how the construction and representation of South Asian culture could be imaged differently, when viewed from angles that attempted to reject the colonial gaze. * ‘History is riddled with Eurocentric racialist assumptions’ (Rasheed Araeen, 2002: 334) South Asian English texts may have currency with a section of the South-Asian middle class population, but still have not reached the overwhelming majority living in rural areas, where Vedic, Mughal and other indigenous cultures are still in practice. There, Balmiki, Mahabharata or Akbarnama are still more popular than Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Jungle Book’ or E.M. Forster’s ‘Passage to India’. Certainly, the representations, identity and portrayal of south Asian cultures (through the British Raj and during the post-colonial period) have often been constructed and exoticised through romantic colonial narratives such as those mentioned above, and such literature suffers from a condescending portrayal of South Asian characters both in the colonial and post-colonial periods. Yet, the literature in popular circulation in large parts of South Asia hails from very different roots. Such Non-English texts are often disregarded or unaddressed in Western academia. Tagore and Satyajit Ray may be more popular in the West and urban South Asia, but philosophical/romantic/rebel poets and novelists like Iqbal, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Faiz Ahmed Faiz or Prem Chand may provide more authentic depictions of South Asian people’s popular cultures in Bengali, Urdu and Hindi, for example. Revisiting early 20th century south Asian regional poems, songs, novels and fictions, one can argue that the work of rebel/romantic poet Kazi Nazrul Islam constitutes the notions of ‘hybridity’ and ‘postmodernity’: one is reminded, for example, of his 1920s poem Chakrobak (The Swan: see Kamal, 2013 for a translation). He lived in Calcutta and travelled the mighty rivers of East Bengal but wrote songs in a very different ‘Ghazal’ style. Unfortunately, because markers of ‘hybridity’ or ‘postmodernity’ are often only attributed to situations in which the hybrid itself involves in someway English or European languages, his work goes often unnoticed. Building on this idea, in her abstract for the ‘Imaging south Asian culture in nonEnglish’ Sophie Kelly warns of potential issues that arise when attempting read the chosen poetry through the esoteric and inherently Western lenses of postcolonial theory (Kelly, S: 20: 2014). ‘Postcolonialism as a theoretic [sic.] framework, for its inherently automatic assumptions that to lack an English voice is to lack any sort of autonomy on the global literary stage, is thus made redundant when the success of the south Asian writer need no longer be decided within the spheres of the white, English language in order to attain literary success. And further, how do we define these works which refuse to be reduced to […] theories of Orientalism, Othering, Hybridity or Subaltern studies?

Such a stance certainly raises questions about the Westernised underpinnings of postcolonial critique itself. * This special issue is, in many ways, the natural cumulating point of the discussions first sparked in the 2014 conference. It is, furthermore, particularly timely: in August of last year,

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India and Pakistan celebrated their 70th year of Independence, which prompted a proliferation of output in the UK media, particularly through documentaries and films. The popular British representation of the events of 1947 persistently underemphasises the country’s role in the tragic outcome of partition, and films such as Viceroy’s House (2017), Victoria and Abdul (2017) and Darkest Hour (2018) have been rightly criticised for romanticising and whitewashing British colonialism. Indeed, as Shashi Tharoor writes in his insightful Inglorious Empire: What the British did to India, “[t]hese days there appears to be a return in England to yearning for the Raj…” (2017: 20). He goes on to support Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s calls to “start teaching unromanticised colonial history in British schools” (ibid), lamenting that “the British public is woefully ignorant of the realities of the British empire, and what it meant to its subject peoples”. Of course, the Brexit/Leave rhetoric that surrounded EU referendum was largely shaped by such a lingering imperial nostalgia, one which remembers the British Empire as a benevolent force for good, and something which 59% of respondents to a 2014 YouGov poll cited as “something to be proud of” (Dahlgreen: 2014). One is also reminded of the Telegraph’s 2005 vocal appeal to raise money for Civitas’ republishing of H.E. Marshall’s Our Island Story, and drive to re-launch Our Empire Story two years later – books which present undeniably whitewashed re-tellings of the Battle of Plassey, among many other colonial atrocities. Yet, in the wake of Brexit, such misinformed claims are being more frequently, and more emphatically, challenged. Certainly, there is a dangerously strong right-wing presence that continues to both sway and shape public opinion, but there is also the distinct rumble of dissent on the wind. This was particularly noticeable in the debate surrounding the call to decolonise the English curriculum at Cambridge University, one that the editors of this special issue followed with great interest. It began with an open letter, written by the Cambridge Student Union Women’s Officer, Lola Olufemi, and signed by hundreds of students and academics. In the letter, Olufemi calls on the University’s English department to take an active role in the dismantling of institutional racism by including not only more diversity in terms of authors, but also by incorporating more postcolonial thought. The latter is a crucial part of the drive to decolonise. It is not enough to simply add Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) voices to the debate; the ways in which we read, interpret and interact with texts also needs to be interrogated if we are to truly attempt to decolonise our teaching and readdress power dynamics that linger within, and indeed shape, our institutions. As Priyamvada Gopal writes in her Guardian article on the subject, “decolonisation is not just about bringing in minority texts but also how we read “traditional” texts” (Gopal, 2017: para 11). That is, one must also question the frames and epistemological groundings that impact our reading. Such an endeavour did not, however, escape the inevitable backlash from the right-wing media. Following the publication, Olufemi became the victim of vicious online harassment, with many media outlets distorting the objectives of the open letter. The Telegraph ran the headline, “Student forces Cambridge to drop white authors” on its front page, accompanied by a picture of Olufemi. Yet, the letter itself reiterated that there was no desire to remove any of the authors currently studied on the programme: This is not a call for the exclusion of white men from reading lists, needless to say: it is a call to re-centre the lives of other marginalized writers who have been silenced by the canon. It is a call to not be so arrogant so as to assume civilization began with the writing of white men and so this should be the basis of our learning. (Olufemi, 2017)

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While the Telegraph admittedly published a short correction at a later date, they were not alone in their misinterpretation of the letter’s requests. Such a skewed misunderstanding raises many pertinent questions on how deeply embedded the normalisation of Whiteness is within our institutions. The continued dominance of white men on reading lists has gone largely unchallenged thus far – an implicit acceptance of white (predominantly male) literature as ‘legitimate’. To construe a request to add voices of colour to the syllabus as an attack on the canon, or as an overtly political gesture, is to imply that creating a syllabus based almost only on white (male) literature is somehow a-political, ‘normal’, ‘natural’. Such syllabi are always, already political, but in ways that uphold the status quo and therefore shield themselves precisely by becoming so normalised. It is for this exact reason that a deep introspection of the power dynamics of academia is so overdue yet, simultaneously, so difficult to achieve. This special issue, then, is a humble attempt to offer a contribution to the conversation. It is an attempt to shine light on possible, alternative ways of seeing and representing when we remove English from the picture. It is an attempt to give space to counter-narratives, counterdiscourses, and to offer re-framings of existing understandings. The importance of interrogating such frames of interpretation, as Judith Butler (2009) urges, is not to be overlooked, as this influences whose lives we recognise as being grievable. Situating her argument with reference to the wars waged in the Middle East post-9/11, she writes: The frames though which we apprehend or, indeed, fail to apprehend the lives of others as lost or injured (lose-able or injurable) are politically saturated. They are themselves operations of power (2010: 1)

The context in which Butler writes is one of life and death; her argument could easily be applied to the relative lack of global outcry or action with regard to the Rohingya genocide. While such examples are certainly extreme, they are the inevitable result of political and social constructs that deem certain lives and voices as being more or less legitimate, more or less worthy of a liveable life. In order to push toward more democratic framings, the frames themselves need to be named, and called into question. As a modest nod of the head to Butler’s call to interrogate our frames of understanding, for this issue we have opted for a slight change in the title, replacing “Picturing South Asia in English” with “Imaging South Asia in Non-English”. The editors are of the opinion that, while ‘picturing’ implies a static, finished state, ‘imaging’ allows for more fluidity, and, potentially, encourages a whole new re-imagining, or perpetual reframing, of what has thus far been concretised into homogenous, static representations. And yet, such an attempt is not without its own shortcomings. We are painfully aware of the irony – even hypocrisy – of publishing this volume in English. Yet, it would be naïve to believe that one can eschew the English language in Academia (and, indeed, various other fields) and still hope to gain even a modest readership. The reality is such that publishing this article in Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, would have meant sacrificing the potential for wider dissemination, a difficult choice considering the growing pressure within academe to publish high-impact research, or what Strauss and many others refer to as the “publish or perish mentality” (Strauss, 2017: 27). Consequently, questioning academic practice becomes “very much a side issue”, with the focus remaining on “practical solutions to getting published” (ibid: 27), and, importantly, getting published in high-impact journals – most of which are in English. Publishing this volume in English certainly increases the chances of reaching a wider audience, but this does not make writing in English a ‘neutral’ act. It actively privileges certain academics, disadvantages and burdens others, and perpetuates the unquestioned global dominance of English by misrepresenting it as simple pragmatics. Logistics and workload

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notwithstanding, publishing this volume in the authors’ respective “other(ed)” (Pennycook: 2001: 145) languages could have been feasible. Be that as it may, such an act would have, in all likelihood, proven to be a mere gesture; we would have been pressed to provide an accompanying English translation. We find ourselves thus in somewhat of a double bind: it is imperative to find strategies to challenge English imperialism in Academia, but in doing so, scholars run the risk of penalising both themselves and their research. These are not simply linguistic questions; there are political implications at stake, ones which raise the question of the possibility of dismantling the master’s house with the master’s own tools. In line with this discussion, the editors faced long discussions over the use of certain varieties of English in the issue – discussions that, for the most part, remain open for debate. The vast majority of submissions came from South Asian academics, many of whom use English in ways that diverge from our own uses. As a Bangladeshi living in the UK for over three decades, and an English woman (who lived four and half years in India), it is unsurprising that there were instances where we disagreed over the use of a preposition, or the structure of a particular sentence 2. Yet, for us to impose our preferences on a writer is to re-enact the linguistic hegemony of British English. Thus, we preferred for the editing process to allow for a greater deal of linguistic and stylistic autonomy, but were equally cognisant of the simultaneous pressure to adhere to traditional academic expectations (which are themselves dictated by Western institutions). At each turn of the editing process, we were faced with difficult decisions. As a result, the issue finds itself in somewhat of a state of tension, between conservative institutional expectations, and the progressive drive to undo the power relations from within. As the open letter from Cambridge implored, one cannot attempt to address unequal balance of power without turning a constant, critical eye to who is speaking, how they are speaking, and the epistemological vantage point from which they speak. We make no bold claims about the impact of our volume; we certainly do not claim to have found solutions to unravelling deeply embedded colonial structures. We hope, simply, to contribute to the discussion of how we can seek to create space for alternative representations.

Re-capturing history: Whose voices are we hearing anyway? The first part of this volume raises several questions regarding interpretation, and interrogates the gazes that have been enacted upon South Asian cultures. Encompassing a diverse range of subjects, from Rock Art to the Islamic History of West Bengal, India, these articles each draw attention to the ways in which interpretations are shaped and formed by subjectivities and dominant narratives, and therefore call for spaces that allow for alternative understandings. In the first chapter, Bhattacherjee explores the role of archaeology as a tool in the construction of nationhood, with specific reference to what she terms the exploitation of archaeological artefacts to meet “the aspirations of religious nationalism in India” (p.22). The manipulation of such cultural artefacts, she argues, leads to the crystallisation of representations of certain communities – particularly what we understand as “Hindu” and “Muslim” – much of which was influenced by the archaeological legacy of British colonists. Through a brief study of the archaeology of Hinduism, Bhattacherjee calls for a “much needed flexibility” within the field (p.24), reflection on archaeological praxis itself, and a greater understanding of the role of the archaeologist’s subjectivity in the interpretation of findings and the re-constructions of the past. Abdul Matin’s investigation of ‘Socio-religious reform and Sufism in 20th century Bengal’ provides a fresh insight into the Sufi sub-culture in rural undivided Bengal during the consolidation period of the British Raj in South Asia. Matin’s article, punctuated with Persian

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words and various cultural/religious expressions (which went hand in hand with the prevailing Sufi tradition) illuminates a wonderful Sufi scenario, which attracted both Hindus and Muslims through a new hybridised Bengali Sufi culture. In charting the lifetime achievement of this incredible Pir (spiritual guide), Abu Bakr, during the 19th century Bengal under strong British rule, Matin skilfully explores the Pir’s non-traditional and somewhat radical/reformist Sufi spiritual leadership, as he exerted his influence on education (through madrassas) and, most relevant to this volume, on the vernacularization of Bangla language as the vehicle of expression. This is perhaps because most of his supporters were from rural Bengal, where the dialects were quite different from ‘pure’, urbanised Bangla. What is also noteworthy is the Pir’s denouncement of some prevailing Sufi practices, such as Pir worshipping, Shrine pilgrimages and singing and dancing. To some extent, this may be taken as a reversion to somewhat puritan Islam. Yet, in his exploration of the life and impact of this Pir, Matin offers an alternative narrative to the commonly homogenised understanding of Islam and Muslims. Returning to a similar field as in Chapter 1, Srimaal and Lamminthang Simte call attention to the problematic claims of ‘scientific’ or ‘objective’ constructions of the past in the domain of Rock Art. The authors question the possibility of ‘text-free’ interpretations of such rock art, drawing on examples from the Southern Vindhayan landscapes. Through their exploration of these sites, they highlight the persistent euro-centrism within the field, arguing that “the theoretical framework that has dictated the field of rock art studies in the country stand in need of a serious reappraisal” (p.42). If not, in seeking parallels between contemporary ethnic rituals and ancient art, there is a great risk that certain communities will continue to be perceived as “un-changing and passive” (p. 37). As in the previous two chapters, we see here an emphatic cry for alternative interpretations, ones that seek to diverge from the euro-centric, colonial gaze.

Bioscope: Seeing through the lenses of south Asia The history of South Asian cinema can be traced as far back as the silent film era of the early 20th century, with Dadasaheb Phalke’s (who studied in the University of Bombay’s Art school in the late nineteenth century) classic film Raja Harischandra (1913). Both the pre-colonial Mughal (Persian) and the later English colonial influences continued to persist well into the postcolonial period. Common themes included magical dreams and experience, Hollywood spectacle, Soviet montage, Hindu-Muslim unity and, later, anti-hero, despair, conflict between tradition and modernity and so on. However, since the late 1950s, South Asian cinema (mainly Indian cinema) has presented a somewhat complex cultural space, raising questions about nation and temporal positioning (Molloy and Shakur, 2013:246). Unsurprisingly, Indian film has had an uneasy relationship with state ideologies, with on-going tension between popular culture and nationalism (Rajadhyaksha, 1996: 698). These are reflected in the western-influenced films such as Devdas (1955) or those that appear somewhat hybrid (e.g. the mixing of western tradition and Urdu literary culture in Pyasaa (1959) (Molloy and Shakur, 2012: 246)). Indeed, certain new wave directors such as Satyajit Ray experimented with Bengali/Urdu colonial/rebel writers like Bibhutibhuson Bandyopadhyay (Pather Panchali/Songs of the road: 1929 novel/1955 film) and Premchand (Satranj ki Khilari/The Chess Players 1973). In Satranj ki Khilari/The Chess Players (written in Hindi by Premchand in 1924) and Sadgati/Deliverance (1981 written by Premchand in 1931), Ray discovered two very nationalistic and combative short stories of the eminent Hindi/Urdu writer Munshi Premchand (Cooper, 1994: 174). Premchand was involved during the 1930s with the Progressive Writers

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Association (PWA), which reflected the Eastern traditions, scholarship, culture and humanism through mainly pre-colonial Parsi/Urdu/Hindi literature (see Part III for further exploration of Persian, Hindi and Urdu), while also taking inspiration from international socialism in order to fight against caste exploitation, sexism, imperialism and racial and religious antagonism. Indeed, until the late 1950s, there were not many films that propagated anti-class or anti-caste ideas. South Indian socialist director, and member of the conscientious 1970s ‘New Cinema’ movement, Shyam Benegal, had similar themes that went against the capitalist themes of Bollywood. Having watched various films (Ankur 1974, Nishant 1975, Manthan 1976) directed by Benegal, Guardian critic, Derek Malcolm, commented, ‘Benegal’s films on Indian history, whether cultural or political, are models of their kind, showing that this commitment is not confined to fiction but securely based on fact as well as imagination’ (Malcolm, 2002). Furthemore, these directors of what is labelled as ‘parallel cinema’ were so focused on local issues that it has been argued that if it were not “for Ritwick Ghattak (one of the celebrated left wing film directors from Bengal) Hollywood might not have existed” (Shakur, T: 5:2014). As such, South Asian cinema across its history has always had an investment in the social and the political, and has taken on various forms that go much further than the typical Bollywood genre most associated with the area. In the second part of this issue, we are presented with the varied filmic representations that, to an extent, demonstrate both an aligning with and a breaking away from colonial frames of thought. Since the trauma of partition of the British Raj in 1947, where millions of people were forced to flee their native lands because of their religion, ‘border’ issues have provided a sense of horror, pain, sadness, or even nostalgia in the South Asian psyche. While many South Asian stories, novels and poems contain such painful or nostalgic memories of ‘border crossing’, explorations of the representations in cinema seem limited. Anakshi Pal and Dev Nath Pathak’s scholarly article provides an insightful understanding of the ‘imagined spaces of the borders’. Covering an impressive range of South Asian films, from Ritwick Ghatok’s partition of Bengal based political film, ‘Komol Gandhaar’ (1961), to Nittin Kakar’s fantasy comedy based on the India-Pakistan border, ‘Filmistaan’ (2012), the authors address the diverse ways in which borders are used metaphorically in film, thus demonstrating how borders can be re-imagined as subversive sites, that are not only symbolic of the process of ‘othering’, but can also be redefined and re-imagined as negotiable, flexible spaces. In doing so, they show how certain South Asian films problematize “the grand hegemonic narrative of nation-states and throw light on ‘micro-narratives’ of the everyday that imagine the border differently”. This is particularly interesting given the main focus on the India-Pakistan and India-Bangladesh borders, and their hegemonic relationship to each other within wider global geopolitical settings. The persistence of the Raj was omnipresent in chapter 2 of ‘Picturing south Asian culture in English’ (Shakur and D’Souza, 2003:77-98); ironically, the second article of this chapter seems to reverberate a similar spirit. Salman Al-Azami and Tasleem Shakur’s comparison between the original Bengali text and two Hindi film productions of Devdas during the postcolonial period from 1955 to 2002 demonstrates the impact of the Victorian period well into the 21st century Indian film-making, and its currency with the film-goers. This article, which falls under both ‘cultural theory’ and ‘linguistics’, deals with the analysis of the original Bengali novel ‘Devdas’ (Chottopadhoy, 19173) and its film adaptation in both Bengali and Hindi. It explores how the original Bengali novel, written by an accomplished popular novelist Saratchandra Chottopadhoy in between the Edwardian period and WW1, shows all the

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hallmarks of Victorian literature. Indeed, the authors argue that Devdas exhibits all the characteristics of a Victorian novel’s sentimental love story, pointing out the resemblance of Thomas Hardy’s escapism or the narrative description of Dickens’s ‘Great Expectations’. The second part of the article deals with the novel’s more faithful adaptation in the Bengali film of 1955, contrasting this with the Hindi version of 2002, where the plot is glamourized very much in line with the expectation of Bollywood films, which, along with the comparative differences between Bengali and Hindi language, arguably affects the sensitivity of the characters, and the spirit of the plot. Arpana Awwal’s article ‘Heroes and villains: Masculinities of romance, dominance and violence in Bangladeshi films of 1970s cleverly questions the emerging representations of a set of cultural/sociological variables through two formulaic but popular Dhaka-based cinemas. Through this exploratory essay, Awwal convincingly exposes the filmic victimisation of women through a series of ‘shot by shot’ analyses, under the backdrop of the slow transformation of a traditional patriarchal Muslim society to the modern nation state of Bangladesh. What is intriguing is the clear feminist stance adopted in the article, but the seeming decision to not use such a label to advocate her case. In the first part, Awwal refers to the rise of the model of the ‘Hero’ in the hearts and minds of converted Muslims of Bengal and the related socio-cultural and religious transformations, including the so called ‘masculinity nuances’ that were attributed to Muslim Pirs (leader) or martyrs. This certainly makes for an interesting comparative study alongside Abdul Matin’s article on the role of a Pir in the 20th century Bengal (see Part 1). Within such an intricate transformation of Bengal subculture, Awwal’s case studies of two 1970s pulp fiction type popular films are carefully discussed through the framework of the ‘masculine narrative’. Ultimately, Awwal sheds light on the portrayal through such media of men’s ‘active masculinity’, while women continue to be portrayed as ‘passive prey’; we are reminded, of course, that such a representation is not unique to South Asian cinema, and is equally common in Western films.

Linguistic traces: South Asian culture in and through language(s) The third section of this issue comprises commentary pieces encompassing various linguistic aspects of South Asia, from 16th century to the present day. As such, in exploring the development of several languages across the subcontinent, these articles bring to the forefront the traces of South Asian history that can be identified in the languages used today. From the Moghul rulers, through British colonisation, the use of language across South Asia has reflected, in many ways, the shifting power dynamics as different rulers came and went, thereby influencing the discourses that dictate the prestige (or lack thereof) of certain languages. In this brief introduction to the linguistic history of South Asia, the authors demonstrate the extent to which, contrary to Western perceptions of monolingualism as the norm, language contact, diversity and mixing has always been, and continues to be, the ‘natural’ state of language in South Asia. Highet’s chapter, inspired by observations made during her time spent teaching English and French in India, raises questions on the ability of delineating English and Non-English in such a multilingual setting. Drawing upon anecdotal evidence as well as theories in Applied Linguistics to demonstrate the commonality of translanguaging in India, she problematizes the conceptualization of languages as discrete entities, while also drawing attention to the power dynamics of certain languages, particularly English. Citing data from her research carried out in India, she demonstrates the hybridization of languages – notably of Hindi and English – in informal but equally in more formal, or ‘scripted’ instances, such as television advertisements,

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and emphasizes the inability to fully comprehend or appreciate Indian culture if viewed only through English. Analysing the works of August Seidel during the colonial period, Grant’s article shines light on the orientalist, colonial documentation of languages so common during this time: a prelude, of sorts, to the current day situation as described in the previous chapter. He provides, among others, an interesting observation on the mistranslation of the Hindustani word ‘goraa’ (fair) as ‘pretty’, itself highly revealing of the colonial influence on the construction of beauty standards. With its focus on a German scholar, who was writing at a similar time to Premchand (see Part II), this article indeed deals with a ‘Non-English’ perception of South Asia culture, yet, as a Western European perspective, it a particularly clear example of the colonial gaze as Seidel comments upon “ethnic groups about whose languages he had written but whom he may never have met in the flesh” (this issue, p. 103, our emphasis). The final section is an exploration of the influence of Persian on South Asian languages, literature and culture. Covering phonology, morphology and lexis, Billah poignantly demonstrates how the history of South Asia continues to be reflected in the use of its languages today. Billah provides a vast range of examples, both in terms of vocabulary and structure, of the ways in which Persian roots can be found across various languages of India and Pakistan which, as he argues, is unsurprising given the long history of the economic and political relationships that flourished between Persia and South Asia. As such, these traces are testament to the shifting elite languages over time, from Persian under the Moghul rulers to English during colonization and beyond; one cannot help but remark the continued influence of Persian today on Urdu literature and ghazals.

Emerging voices: Creating textual and visual representations The final part of this volume delves into contemporary visual and textual representations of South Asian Popular Culture, beginning with an analysis of the role of popular culture media, such as literature and film, in the creation of the Razakar discourse in Bangladesh. Laden with visual and textual examples, Nusrat’s paper highlights how these have been used to re-frame the popular Bangladeshi notion of Razakar, from the beginning of their separation from West Pakistan, through independence, up to the present day. The second and third sections of this part are comprised of what one could consider to be less traditional contributions to an academic journal issue, in that we have chosen to showcase textual and visual art emerging from the South Asian diaspora. As we hope to have clearly demonstrated in this editorial, one of our main objectives is to push at the boundaries of both what is and is not included in dominant academic discourses. Sabheena ‘Sabz’ Khan is a British-born Pakistani poet. Her poetry, written in two languages and two scripts, is born of a desire to help second-generation Urdu speakers connect to their heritage language by making her work accessible to those with varying levels of familiarity and ease with the language and the script. In many ways, her multilingual poetry is a reflection of the hybridity of those living in and across multiple cultures. Shahabuddin, a Bengali artist, has lived in France for almost 40 years, and received, in 2014, the ‘Ordre de Chavalerie’ (Order of chivalry) for Art and Literature. His art is inspired by his own personal trajectory, including his contribution to the liberation of Bangladesh and, since, his dual-cultural experience living across Europe and South Asia. In the words of his daughter, Charza Shahabuddin, who provides in this volume a detailed account of her father’s

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work, Shahabuddin is “an ambassador for building a bridge between the West and the East, mixing both cultures, seeking harmony and universality in his work” (p.138). Such hybridity is indeed mirrored in his artwork, as he threads together the influences of traditional Bengali artist Zainul Abedin, and Irish-born post-modernist Francis Bacon. We are delighted to have these additions to our special issue.

Concluding thoughts As a final note, while the collation of this volume has been an enjoyable, if demanding, process, we find ourselves nevertheless lamenting things that we have not been able to include. One will remark the dominance of Western theoretical frameworks and Western (predominantly male) scholars cited throughout the papers – something that the editors themselves are certainly not exempt from. There are references to non-Western scholars and scholars of colour, but they are noticeably on the sidelines. Importantly, where scholars of colour are present, there is often a noticeable lack of voices from those further marginalised by intersecting factors such as gender, class, caste, and so forth. This in itself is entirely unsurprising when we consider the theoretical canons of academia, not only in the West but elsewhere, too. For the sake of avoiding misinterpretation, this is emphatically not a call to reject any theory created by White Men. It is, however, a reminder that decolonising academia, like the Open Letter from Cambridge stated, requires much more than simply diversifying; it is a case of questioning the epistemological groundings that we have so long taken for granted. It is integral to ask which voices are remaining unheard; to ask not only what is being said but also what is left unsaid. On reading the articles that follow – and this is not a problem unique to this journal – one may notice that certain parts of South Asia tend to be overrepresented, while others remain overlooked. Furthermore, there are several important and highly relevant issues that are not part of this volume, not through a conscious decision on the behalf of the editors, but through a lack of submissions. We received many articles regarding the rise of radical Islamic fundamentalism, but relatively few addressing Islamaphobia. Similarly, we received very little on the rise of radical Hindutva, or on the continued social stratification of the caste system and the oppression of Dalit communities. The focus on radical Islam and the relative lack thereof on Hindutva and Islamaphobia is, in itself, highly revealing of dominant global narratives. It is only by questioning what is not being spoken about, that we can attempt to interrogate our ideological framings. Thus, we implore our readers to engage with the volume in this way; we invite you to interact not only with what we have produced, but also, what we could have done. As ever, this volume would not have been possible without the great help of various people. We would like to thank the presenters and attendees of the original conference, many of whom supplied articles for this issue. We express our sincere gratitude to the students of the third-year module “Popular Culture of South Asia” at Edge Hill University, whose discussions have helped shape this issue, and who were responsible for the choice of cover photo. As suggested during a seminar4, the cover image of the Tiger (le Tigre du Bengal), painted by Shahabuddin, is an interesting parallel to Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. For an issue exploring Non-English re-imaginings of South Asian culture, we could not have found a more appropriate picture; our sincere thanks are owed to Shahabuddin for permitting us to use his paintings, both for the cover and in the final article. We would like to dedicate this special volume to two extraordinary women from South Asia, both related to one of the editors. Firstly, Taz Shakur’s late mother Sayma Khatun (daughter of late Khan Shahib Dr Kabir Hossian, eminent Professor of Medicine in Calcutta

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Medical College during the colonial period of the 1940s), who, during the partition of British India in 1947, migrated at the tender age of 16 to East Pakistan with her East Bengal-born, Calcutta Police Officer husband, the late Abdush Shakur, and her newly-born infant daughter, Ruby. Later leaving all her family members in West Bengal, India, she raised six children (who are all now established academics and professionals living in different parts of the world) with her husband in East Pakistan, which later became Bangladesh (1971). Secondly, this volume is dedicated to Taz’s late wife, Yasmin Shakur MBE, a onetime architect, who, like her mother-in-law, migrated with her baby son, Rameen, from Bangladesh to England during the early 1980s to join her husband during his Commonwealth PhD studies in Liverpool. In order to raise her children, she gave up her profession and subsequently joined social services in the North West. Later, she received her MBE from the Queen for her community services in Preston, while both their sons became successful doctors. Yasmin sadly passed away in 2016. This project started with the death of Sayma Khatun in 2014 and halted in 2015 when Yasmin’s health deteriorated; three years later, it has finally been brought to fruition. Finally, Taz Shakur would like to provide his sincere thanks to Katy Highet, doctoral candidate at University College London IOE, who has enthusiastically and voluntarily helped in teaching the South Asian Popular Cultural Studies module on Edge Hill third year Geography programme, while simultaneously taking on the painful (but rewarding!) job of coediting this special issue.

References Araeen, R., (2002). ‘Beyond Postcolonial cultural theory and identity politics’, in Sardar, Araeen and Cubitt (eds) The Third Text Reader: on Art, Culture and Theory, Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd Bandyopadhyay, B., (1929 (2017)). Pather Panchali, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Bangladesh Butler, J., (2009). Frames of War: When is Life Grievable?, Verso, London Cooper, D., (1994). ‘The Representation of Colonialism in Satyajit Ray’s The Chess Players’, in Dissanayake W (ed) Colonialism Nationalism in Asian Cinema, Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis Dahlgreen, W., (2014). ‘The British Empire is ‘something to be proud of’. YouGov, 26 July [Online]. Available at: https://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/07/26/britain-proud-its-empire/ (Accessed: 27 April 2018) Chattopadhyay, S., (2002 (1917)). Devdas, Penguin India Gopal, P., (2017). ‘Yes, we must decolonise: our teaching has to go beyond elite white men’, The Guardian, 27 Oct [Online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/27/decolonise-elite-white-mendecolonising-cambridge-university-english-curriculum-literature (Accessed: 27 April 2018)

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Kamal, N., (2013). Chakrobak –The Swan: Romantic poems of Kazi Nazrul Islam, translated by Nashid Kamal, Dhaka Nazrul Institute, Bangladesh Kelly, S., (2014). ‘Unfamiliar entities: South Asian poetry in translation and a critique of Postcolonial theory’ in South Asian Cultural Studies (SACS), Book of Abstracts on ‘Imaging south Asian Culture in Non-English: Re-constructing popular textual and visual representations’ South Asian Cultural Studies, UK & Jamia Millia University, India in association with Open House Press, U.K. Available at: www.southasianculturalstudies.co.uk Malcolm, D., (2002). ‘Foreword’ in Sangeeta Datta (eds.) World Directors: Shyam Benegal, London, British Film Institute Marshall, H.E., (2006 (1908)). Our Empire Story, Yesterday’s Classics Marshall, H.E., (2007 (1905)). Our Island Story: A History of Britain for Boys and Girls from the Romans to Queen Victoria, Civitas Molloy, C. and Shakur, T., (2013). ‘Cultural rupture or hybridisation? Guru Dutt and Pyasa’ in Theo Damsteegt (ed) Heroes and Heritage: The Protagonist in Indian Literature and Films, CNWS publications, Leiden University Press, The Netherlands. Olufemi, L., (2017). ‘Decolonising the English Faculty: An Open Letter’, FLY Girls of Cambridge, 14 June [Online]. Available at: https://flygirlsofcambridge.com/2017/06/14/decolonising-the-english-faculty-an-open-letter/ (Accessed: 27 April 2018) Pennycook, A., (2001). Critical Applied Linguistics: A Critical Introduction, Routledge Premchand, M., (1924 (2013)). Shatranj-Ki-Khilari, Orient Publishing, India Premchand, M., (1931 (2011)). Sadgati, Prabhat Prakashan, India Rajadhyaksha, A., (1996). ‘India Filming the nation’ in Nowell-Smith G (ed) (1996), The Oxford History of World Cinema, New York, Oxford University Press, pp. 678-689 Shakur, T. and D’Souza, K., (2003). ‘Introduction: Exploring South Asian Culture through Western Representations’, Picturing South Asian Culture in English: Textual and Visual Representations, Open House Press, Liverpool, pp 3-17 Shakur, T., (2014). Key note address: ‘History is riddled with Eurocentric racialist assumptions’ in South Asian Cultural Studies (SACS), Book of Abstracts on ‘Imaging south Asian Culture in Non-English: Re-constructing popular textual and visual representations’ South Asian Cultural Studies, UK & Jamia Millia University, India in association with Open House Press, UK. Available at: www.southasianculturalstudies.co.uk Strauss, P., (2017). ‘“It’s Not the Way We Use English”—Can We Resist the Native Speaker Stranglehold on Academic Publications?’, Publications, 5(4), 27 Tharoor, S., (2016). Inglorious Empire: What the British did to India, C. Hurst & Co., London

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Filmography Ankur (English: The Seedling) (1974). Director: Shyam Benegal Darkest Hour (2017) Director: Joe Wright Devdas (1955) Director: Bimol Roy Komal Gandhar (English: A short note on a sharp scale (1971) Director: Ritwick Ghatak Manthan (English: Churning) (1976) Director: Shyam Benegal Nishant (English: Night’s End) (1975) Director: Shyam Benegai Pather Panchali (English: Song of the road) (1955). Director: Satyajit Ray Pyaasa (English: Thirsty) (1957) Director: Guru Dutt Raja Harischandra (1913) Director: Debasahem Phalke Satranj-Ki-Khilari (English: The Chess Players) (1977). Director: Satyajit Ray Sadgati (English: Deliverance) (1981). Director: Satyajit Ray Viceroy’s House (2017) Director: Gurinder Chadha Victoria and Abdul (2017) Director: Stephen Frears 1

Thanks to Masrufa Nusrat for the translation. One may also find interesting to note that on several occasions the editors also had to learn to navigate their contrasting cultural work preferences, with Tasleem preferring to discuss the project orally, and Katy preferring the written word! 3 We have opted here for his Bengali name, Chattopadhyay, rather than his anglicised “Chaterjee”; however elsewhere in the volume he is referred to as Chaterjee. 4 Thanks to IIIrd year Edge Hill Geography student, Jessie Brooks, for this suggestion 2

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Part I: Re-picturing history: Whose voices are we hearing anyway?

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The theater called Archeology: The interplay of identity and religion in the understanding of the past Shreyanjana Bhattacherjee* Abstract The question of ‘identity’ affects archaeological studies in diverse ways; the identity of the archaeologist, multiple ones at that, dictates, in most cases, his/her interpretations. Interpretation, of any kind, in any area of study, and in our daily lives, for that matter, results from our perceptions of the world we live in. Religion, as an identity-marker, has been at the forefront of academic debates. Archaeological studies are no exception. The study of religion in archaeology has posed many vexing questions: how to define the beliefs of people of past societies, how these people viewed their universe, what were their religious practices, what are the artifacts that point to the practice of rituals, if any, in the material cultural residue being excavated and investigated, and above all, can there truly be an archaeology of religion that will do justice to both the discipline as well as something as abstract, but so important in human lives, as religion? The current work tries to address these issues, through a brief study of the archaeology of Hinduism. Keywords: identity, nationalism, religion, archaeological interpretation Introduction The study of the past, for any society or country of the world, has always carried great meaning, and, in that regard, archaeology, as an investigative tool for the study of our past, assumes immense significance. As a standard definition, the overarching aim of archaeology is to expand and improve our knowledge of the human past left in material culture residues (Huffman 2004: 66). We will do well to remember that any study geared towards the understanding of human society, past or present, is inevitably premised upon, to a great degree, our own sets of beliefs, perceptions and prejudices, and preconceived notions. This argument finds resonance in the work of Carr (1961), who, in his seminal work, What is History, had remarked “…our answer, consciously or unconsciously, reflects our own position in time, and forms part of our answer to the broader question, what view we take of the society we live” (Carr 1961: 5; see also, Shenan 1989). Our worldview shapes our notion of ‘identity’ – identity of the self as well as identity of the society. This, in turn, affects archaeological studies in diverse ways. The identity of the archaeologist – which are multiple, ranging from professional, cultural, religious, national and so on – dictates, in most cases, his/her interpretations, coupled with the problem of ascribing an identity to the material remains uncovered and such like. In the current study, we are concerned with religion as an identity-marker. The study of religion in archaeology has posed many vexing questions to the archaeologist—how to define the beliefs of people of past societies, how these people viewed their universe, what were their religious practices, what are the artifacts that point to the practice of rituals, if any, in the material cultural residue being excavated and investigated, and above all, can there truly be an archaeology of religion that *

Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi: shreyanjana.bhattacherjee@gmail.com

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will do justice to both the discipline as well as something as vague, but so important in human lives, as religion? More often than not, it is seen that archaeological objects that cannot be explained functionally are categorized as ‘religious’ or ‘ritual’. This tendency arises from our perception that religion itself, to a large extent, belongs to the realm of the unexplained. Hence, it is a matter of convenience for excavators to club together all such ‘problematic’ artifacts under the overall category of ‘religious’ objects. Through a case study on the archaeology of ‘Hinduism’, this article will attenmpy to problematize the archaeology of religion, a discipline which has come to be taken for granted. Archaeology of Identities Before delving into the problematic study of religion as an identity-marker and its archaeology, it is essential to discuss how the very concept of ‘identity’ is perceived as well as how its archaeology has evolved. The word ‘identity’, as informed by Rowlands (2007), comes from the Latin root idem, the same, evoking a principle of endurance and continuity, usually in essentialist terms. This sense of ‘continuity’ acts as a bonding force among those who accept and identify with it. The past, a common one at that, goes a long way in bringing people together – into communities, regions, or nations. The identity of being a member of a ‘nation’ or ‘nationalism’, as the concept is more popularly known, is that feeling of loyalty towards one country, one’s nation. Hence, the fostering of nationhood becomes all the more easier if the people feel a common interest and loyalty towards a particular idea (of a nation based along geographical or communal or some such other factors). History helps in bringing about this feeling of ‘common’-ness towards a perceived past, and archaeology, the physical residues of that past, helps to reinforce it. In this way, archaeologists become ‘trustees’ of national cultural property and, hence, are in a position to influence public opinion. In their seminal work on the notion of ‘identity’ and its overbearing presence in the academic diaspora, Brubaker and Cooper despair how the social sciences and humanities have surrendered to the word “identity'' (2000: 1). This rings true for the discipline of archaeology too. No archaeological study is considered complete unless all artifacts collected in the process of discovery is labeled with an ‘identity-marker’. The archaeology of ‘identity’ is an umbrella term under whose ambit may be categorized the archaeology of religion, although this is also dealt with under what is popularly known as ‘cognitive’ archaeology, the latter being a study concerned only with the thoughts and belief systems of past human societies. As a guiding definition of what archaeology of identities stands for, Insoll’s (2007: 14) views can be considered significant here: “The archaeology of identities is essentially concerned with the complex process of attempting to recover an insight into the generation of self at a variety of levels: as an individual, within a community and in public and private contexts.” Thus, we see that identities operate at different levels of our existence, but it is all-pervading and an inescapable truth by way of which we perceive the world around us and vice versa. More often than not one finds that the question of ‘identity’ when dealt with by archaeologists becomes a quest for the search of the historicity of ‘ethnic’ or ‘national’ or ‘religious’ identities. Often, the lines of distinction between the three categories i.e. 'ethnic', ‘national’ and ‘religious’, are blurred and they become synonymous with each other. Early interest in identifying archaeological cultures with ethnic affiliations arose from 19th century ‘romantic nationalism in Europe’ (see, Shenan 1989: 7) which aimed at establishing the long and continuous history of the then emerging nation-states and people, as important political entities in the global context. Unfortunately, these attempts served the needs of the time by creating the kind of past that was desirable and not one which was based on rigorously workedout empirical data. There are many examples from history of archaeology being used in the

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state’s service. An oft-cited one is that of Germany and its manipulation of a ‘Nordic’ or ‘IndoAryan’ past, a past ‘verified’ by the works of Gustaf Kossina and his followers. As Casella and Fowler (2005: 1) have rightly observed, “[a]rtifacts and architectural features alike have been conceptualized as “signatures” or “representations” of specific cultures”. The critical role played by the presence of a ‘historical consciousness’ (Thapar 2000: 123) of the people who are being studied is often neglected when such a framework of views is in place. Thapar (ibid: 123-4) successfully shows how, under different sets of circumstances, this historical consciousness can tend to be used differently. She distinguishes between two distinct forms of history—‘embedded’ and ‘externalized’. The first denotes a situation where historical consciousness “has to be prised out” while the latter “tends to bring embedded consciousness into the open…and to be more aware of its deliberate use of the past…such a deliberate use suggests a changed historical situation.” This distinction can be clearly seen in the case of India where, under changed conditions of polity and economy during the period of colonial rule and in the immediate post-colonial atmosphere, historical consciousness became ‘externalized’. Externalization of historical consciousness can be made permanent through the use of ‘labels’. ‘Labels’ are those tools, made available to us at the behest of our own convenience, that enable ‘identification’ or the planting of identities on something or someone as and when we deem fit as well as necessary. Religion, or the question of personal faith, being as sensitive as it is, adds weightage to these labels, when the two are combined. Relevant to the current work is the seemingly all-encompassing label ‘Hindu’ and its associated ‘-ism’. Labeling of identities can be based on a variety of social phenomena like, speaking strictly in the Indian context, caste1, class, economic background, and, perhaps the most sensitive and contentious of them all, religion. Thapar (1996) has traced the evolution of the identities of the labels, ‘Hindu’2 and ‘Muslim’3 (the latter as the proverbial ‘other’ in Indian society). The evolution of terms like ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ as two distinct monolithic religious communities, most scholars like to believe, has its origins in nineteenth century colonial interpretations of Indian history, where the two communities were not only described as monolithic but bore a different connotation than what we know them today. Thapar (Ibid) also finds that the British colonialists, who held political sway in India for almost two centuries, had an influential role to play in the crystallization of these ‘labels’ in the Indian social consciousness. In her opinion, it was James Mill who is to be squarely held responsible for the segregation of the ‘Hindu’ civilization from the ‘Muslim’, thus giving rise to the periodization of Indian history as that of the Hindu, Muslim and British periods. It can be argued, thus, that social perceptions and historical understanding of a particular community are essential factors in the evolution of these so-called labels along religious lines. Although her theory cannot be accepted in its entirety, in the light of elaborate research on the origins of the two terms, ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’, one has to concede that their most prolific use was indeed during the period of colonial rule. Archaeology of Religion The study of religion in archaeology has posed many vexing questions to the archaeologist: how to define the beliefs of people of past societies; how these people viewed their universe; what were their religious practices; what are the artifacts that point to the practice of rituals, if any, in the material cultural residue being investigated; and above all, can there truly be an archaeology of religion that will do justice to both the discipline as well as something as vague, but so important in human lives, as religion? More often than not, it is seen that archaeological

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objects that cannot be explained functionally are categorized as ‘religious’ or ‘ritual’ (here, the latter only referring to the religious rituals). This tendency arises from our perception that religion itself, to a large extent, belongs to the realm of the unexplained. The outstanding example, in recent history, of archaeology of religion at work, is the case of the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute. Other well-known examples, from the Indian context, are those of the Somanath temple and the Ram Setu and so on. Although forming a major ‘identity-marker’, and hence, comprising a major area of study in the archaeology of identities, the archaeology of religion originally started out as, and still continues to be a foremost theme in what has been described as ‘cognitive archaeology’. The latter covers, as Bahn and Renfrew (2008: 391) have surmised “…the study of past ways of thought from material remains…” Closely related, also, to the study of symbols, this subdiscipline in archaeological studies tries to decipher human thoughts and personal belief systems from a bygone era. At the outset, the concept/term most used in, and unmistakably identified with, the study of religion, viz. ‘ritual’ needs to be explained, and differentiated from ‘religion’. Any customary observance or practice can be described as ‘ritual’ behavior – that is to say a ritual does not necessarily have to be religious in nature. Consider the acts of eating dinner or bathing and such other daily activities – all of them fall under the purview of what is understood as ‘ritual’. Ritual can be both ‘sacred’ as well as ‘secular’ (See, Bahn and Renfrew 2005), as in a religious ritual or a weekly gathering of the local residents of a particular neighborhood in town, respectively. Archaeological records can have varied classifications. Typically, they are grouped according to their functions viz. pottery, tools, weapons, personal ornaments, faunal remains, and so on (See, Neustupný 1993). To this grouping may be added the class of ‘ritual’ objects, religious as well as secular. Why do archaeologists fall into this trap of misrepresenting words or confusing terminologies? In agreement with Fogelin’s view (2007: 56), the reason behind such a practice could be “a widespread archaeological understanding that ritual is a form of human action that leaves material traces, whereas religion is a more abstract symbolic system consisting of beliefs, myths and doctrines.” Therefore, in the hope of retracing and recovering some of that material residue, on the basis of which a picture of the past can be presented, archaeologists tend largely to focus on ritual objects and ritual space, which they might also consider ‘religious’. Religion, undoubtedly, can pose contentious issues, and it has indeed done so, without fail, wherever an opportunity has presented itself. In the case of Hinduism, the controversies are all the more pronounced because unlike other ‘world religions’, it cannot lay claim to a set of divinely revealed scriptures. There is no One God in Hinduism. In fact, the very term Hinduism is a debated one. It is no wonder that the search for the material remains of early Hinduism, at the stage of its inception, is difficult to pursue. The case of Israel also poses similar questions and issues as those pertaining to the archaeology of Hinduism, the only difference being that the matter is more pronounced, hogging more limelight, so to say, in light of the charged atmosphere prevailing in the region as well as the age old contentions of two different faiths/sets of beliefs. This is not to suggest that these are the only two religions which have attracted controversies, but I wish to highlight the contested nature of the issues, and their harmful fallouts which seem to have affected other ‘world’ religions in a much less pronounced manner.

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At the core of the issue that is being looked at, is the problem of ‘interpretation’ undertaken by archaeologists. Interpretation, of any kind, in any area of study, and in our daily lives, for that matter, results from our perceptions of the world we live in—our family, society, our religious affiliations, political inclinations, academic bent of mind, and so on. And, in the present context, it is this ‘world’ that has been kept in mind while using the word ‘theater’ in the title of the paper – the plethora of experiences resulting from natural as well artificial stimuli thrown at us is comparable to the unfolding of a drama, and our lives, as the stage on which it is played out. Archaeological interpretation becomes a critical act in the understanding of this play. How we see ourselves in relation to other people and how we perceive those other people. This also influences the way we see archaeological artifacts as ‘identifiers’ or ‘identity markers’ for a group or groups of people. Religion marks a very important identity for a person. Archaeology of ‘Hinduism’: A Case Study “Why is “Hinduism” so difficult to define?” asks Indologist Heinrich von Stietencron (1991: 11). The complexity of this debate is heightened by the fact that most studies on ‘Hinduism’ view it as one whole religion, neglecting the fact that it is actually a conglomerate term for hundreds of differing faiths and sects who have come together across centuries of evolution and existence to identify themselves under this broad ‘label’. There is an overwhelming urge among Indian archaeologists to associate the Vedas, which are considered to be the root of the religion of the ‘Hindus’, to the pristine position of a truth which is as old as human beings themselves. Writing more than half a century ago, Finegan (1952: 121) had made a significant statement, perhaps not himself fully aware of the connections that could be drawn from it; “The words Hinduism and Hindu as well as India are derived ultimately from the Sanskrit sindhu meaning river, a term which was applied preeminently to the Indus river.” Going over these words, one can now, insightfully, make out from where this urge to trace the Hindu origins of the Indus Valley culture, or the origins of Hinduism in the latter, took root. It is the very association of the two words, ‘Indus’ and its derivative, though corrupted, form viz. ‘Hindu’ that provokes this interest4. In popular perception there is a tendency, which more often than not assumes the form of a norm, to use the terms ‘Hinduism’ and ‘Vedism’ interchangeably (see Smith 2005). This is because, unlike other ‘world religions’, viz. Christianity, Islam, and others, which are guided by their sacred scriptures specifically meant to serve that purpose, Hinduism cannot claim to have risen from any sacred texts. One also needs to recognize the truth that what is referred to as Hinduism has adherents among people belonging to different traditions, sects, classes, and so on, amalgamated together to form this abstract entity. No less than the celebrated discovery of the ‘Indus Valley’ civilization has gone a long way in fostering a false sense of pride in the antiquity of ‘Hinduism’. This is because several attempts have been made to

Figure 1. Proto- Siva seal from Mohenjo-Daro (Finegan 1952: Fig. 49).

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establish ‘continuity’, and sometimes even ‘origin’ of the Vedic religious practices from the belief system prevailing in the society of the Indus Valley people. The desire to be the ‘ancientmost’ nation in the world (See, Lal 2009) was closely linked to the urge to establish Hinduism as the oldest religion in the world, as India is also known as ‘Hindustan’ or the land of the ‘Hindus’. The nationalist school of historians that had its origins in the colonial era in India played a crucial hand in the polarization of Indian communities by taking up the theme of the importance of religion to Indian society (see Thapar 2000). The reason why nationalism has been brought into the ambit of this discussion on archaeology of Hinduism is because, in India, nationalism, more often than not, boils down to religious nationalism, and, more specifically, a brand of nationalism championing the cause of the majority of the population, which happens to be ‘Hindu’5. It will be helpful to furnish a couple of example of the parallels drawn between presentday ‘Hinduism’ and the Harappan belief system in order to further illustrate the zeal with which the roots of ‘Indian culture’ have been sought to be pushed back as far back in time as possible. One of the most controversial archaeological artifacts discovered from Harappa is a seal (Figure 1) representing a seated horned figure surrounded by animals, popularized as a prototype of Śiva-Paśupati, or ‘Śiva, Lord of Beasts’, a later day Vedic deity, who still commands fierce following among the Hindus of the world (see Marshall 1931 [Reprint 2004]; Finegan 1952; Chakrabarti 2001). Largely, the seal mentioned above has been accepted as a proto-Śiva deity by archaeologists. But, there have been other equally fantastic suppositions. In this regard, the conclusion reached by Chatterjee (2005: 299) deserves mention. She tries to make sense of the inscription on top of the seal, drawing the inference that the seal portrays the Vedic god Agni, in his pristine form. Elsewhere Chatterjee (Ibid: 300-301) raises the pertinent question (pertinent in the context of her own work) as to why there is no mention of the word ‘Agni’ in any of the Harappan seals (the reason being different terms were used at different times in different cultures), if we assume that decipherment of the Indus script is a foregone conclusion! Atre (1987: 177) has added another dimension to the study of the religion of Indus people in her seminal work on the same. Her efforts are geared towards establishing the fact that there is not enough quantitative evidence to prove the existence of a cult of the so-called ‘proto-Śiva’ deity. In the course of her detailed “…stylistic study of such figures appearing on various seals and sealings…” she points out the complete absence of such seals at Harappa. Even at Mohenjo Daro, where the purported seal was discovered, only two other such seals have ever been found. This discards Figure 2, Terracotta Figurine from Nausharo (Lal the idea of a ‘ritual’ or ‘cult’ following. 2009: PL II)

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It need not be reiterated here how the Indus script has been like the ‘da Vinci Code’, yet uncracked. Hence, any interpretation of the cultural beliefs and practices of the people belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization, based on this undeciphered script, has to be dismissed as incredible attempts at bringing a sense of familiarity, to the contemporary world, with one of the oldest cultures of the world. The claims made so emphatically by Chakrabarti, and those by the towering figure in whose shadow those claims were molded, viz. John Marshall, have been severely criticized by Shrimali (2001) who labels this whole group of archaeologists as ‘cultural chauvinists’ whose sole purpose is to establish the Harappan origins of Hinduism. Speaking in the same vein as Shrimali, Guha (2005: 399) has also lamented how the discipline of archaeology is increasingly being exploited for meeting the aspirations of religious nationalism in India. The complacency of Indian archaeologists is increasing at an alarming rate. There is no scope for the ‘alternative’. An eminent archaeologist, Lal (2009) in a recent publication, has fallen into the same trap as had most of his predecessors, that of drawing parallels between present day ‘Hindu’ practices with artifacts found from the Indus Valley sites, and even from sites dated earlier than the latter, in a bid to establish the antiquity of Hinduism. One glance at the title of his work, which reads, How Deep are the Roots of Indian Civilization? Archaeology Answers, and the reader gets a sense of what is to come in the following pages of the book. Lal (Ibid: 6) draws the reader’s attention to a terracotta figurine from the site of Nausharo (Figure 2), located in present day Pakistan “but forming a part of India before the 1947 – Partition…The hair of the figurine is painted black so as to depict the color…But more noteworthy is the red paint in the medial partition of the hair, which is similar to the sindūra (vermilion)…These were found by Jarrige6 in levels that have been dated by Carbon-14 method to circa 2800-2600 BCE, i.e. even before what is known as the Harappan civilization (also called the Indus or Indus – Saraswati Civilization). Ponder over the high antiquity of applying sindūra to the mānga. Isn’t that strange? But let me assure you that this is as true as you and I: you the reader and I the writer.” Conclusion Religion is a very complex phenomenon as it forms part of what we think, what we believe. And the society of humans is an ever-changing and complex one – what changes, really, is the way we perceive of this world – fundamental changes come about in our thought process. Thus, to deduce that something as intricate as religion can be broken down and explained on the foundation of an equally dubious notion i.e. assuming a static nature for the human mind is dangerous and wrong. “Religion”, writes Smith (1989: 219), “is an exercise of the creative power of the imagination.” In the same vein, at least to some extent, it can be suggested that archaeology also involves the exercise of this imaginative and creative faculties of the human mind. Added to this, as has already been mentioned before, is the association of an ‘absolution’ to archaeological finds that endows the discipline, rather its practitioners, with certain unrestricted powers. Much has been said about and done to portray archaeological research in various forms, forms which suit the respective presenter. In a situation like this, one often wonders which would be the correct approach to adopt. And, is there, after all, ‘a’ correct approach? This question is of paramount importance to the future of archaeology, and more so in the very sensitive matter of religion because, as we have seen, in the foregoing discussion, religion can be a highly controversial issue and so can its archaeology. The basic problem with both religion and archaeology, and the relationship between the two is that they end up being discourses where “a single society or a single world”

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Bergquest (2001) is trying to grapple with the problem of confronting ‘plural meanings’. Extra care needs to be taken while treading on this road. Politics has a decisive role to play in this as the powers-that-be decide, to a large extent, the fate of archaeological undertakings. There is every reason to be wary of the danger posed by increasing political influence on a country’s education and knowledge discourse, the world over, including India. Religion, when combined with politics, can turn into a potentially explosive combination, a catalyst for disaster. And, this is surely what has been happening in India, for quite some time now. This aspect needs to be looked at too, in light of the discussion in hand. Archaeology, unfortunately, rather the ‘caretakers’ of the discipline in the country, have had a telling role to play in this phenomenon, as archaeological findings are looked upon with a kind of unquestionable reverence. The tendency among archaeologists to brand an artifact as ‘religious/ritual’ can be attributed to the basic human predisposition to seek an answer to everything that s/he sees around him/her. Given the abstractness of religion, it is easy for it to be used as an explanation for the unexplained. That is to say that whenever a scenario presents itself where a certain archaeological context or artifact does not make sense, it is immediately concluded that they must have had some sort of religious connotation attached to them. Archaeology of religion is both possible as well as unattainable at the same time. It is possible as archaeology offers the opportunity to visualize or form images in our minds, in a way, concretize our ideas about past belief systems by way of providing material clues to them. However, it is equally true that it is too slippery a ground to walk on given the abstract nature of religion itself, as well as the latter’s invariable link to polity, economy and other social factors, a link which is, indeed, difficult to break. Archaeological artifacts do not speak for themselves. It is up to the archaeologist to give them voice. The flexibility of archaeological praxis obviously suffers because archaeologists, as human beings, interpret the past through their own understanding of the present. And even in doing so, we choose only those aspects for comparison that we feel are relevant to a particular study(ies). One feels tempted to follow Ucko’s (1994: xiii) formulation of a ‘world’ archaeological approach as a possible alternative to the issues raise in this paper. With its wholesome approach, in theory, a ‘world’ archaeological approach tries to understand not only the changes that have taken place in the journey from past to present, but deals extensively with the ‘why’ of the journey. Questioning long standing claims has been taken up in right earnest, in the light of new breakthroughs in discoveries and analytical models and new interpretations are on the horizon, lending the discipline of archaeology a much needed flexibility coupled with the exercise of reflection. References Atre, S., (1987). The Archetypal Mother: A Systemic Approach to Harappan Religion. Pune: Ravish Publishers. Bergquest, A., (2001). Ethics and the Archaeology of World Religions, in Insoll, Timothy (ed.), Archaeology and World Religion. London: Routledge. Bernhardsson, M. T., (2005). Reclaiming a Plundered Past: Archaeology and Nation Building in Modern Iraq. Austin: University of Texas Press.

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Brubaker, R., and Cooper, F., (2000). ‘Beyond “identity”’, Theory and Society. (29). pp. 1-47. Carr, E.H., (1961). What is History? New York: Vintage Books. Casella, E.C. and Fowler C., (2005). ‘Beyond Identification: An Introduction’, in Eleanor C. Casella and C. Fowler (eds.), The Archaeology of Plural and Changing Identities: Beyond Identification. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers. Chakrabarti, D. K., (2001). ‘The Archaeology of Hinduism’, in Timothy Insoll (ed.), Archaeology and World Religion. London: Routledge, pp. 33-60. Chatterjee, L., (2005). Heritage of Harappa, Volume 2. New Delhi: Global Vision Publishing House. Finegan, J., (1952). The Archaeology of World Religion. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Flood, G., (1996). An Introduction to Hinduism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Fogelin, L (2007), ‘The Archaeology of Religious Ritual’, Annual Review of Anthropology. (36) pp. 55-71. Gupta, S. P., (1995). The Lost Sarasvati and the Indus Civilization. Indian History and Culture Society, Jodhpur: Kusumanjali Prakashan. Huffman, T. N., (2004). ‘The Aim and Practice of Archaeology’, The South African Archaeological Bulletin. (59) 180. pp. 66-69. Insoll, T., (2007). ‘Introduction: Configuring Identities in Archaeology’, in Timothy Insoll (ed.), The Archaeology of Identities: A Reader. London and New York: Routledge. King, R., (1999). ‘Orientalism and the Modern Myth of Hinduism’, Numen. (46) 2. pp. 146185. Lal, B.B., (2009). How Deep are the Roots of Indian Civilization? Archaeology Answers. New Delhi: Aryan Books International. Lorenzen, D.N., (2005). ‘Who Invented Hinduism?’, in J.E. Llewellyn (ed.), Defining Hinduism. London: Equinox. Marshall, J., (1931 [Reprint 2004]). Mohenjo-Daro And The Indus Civilization Being An Account Of Archaeological Excavations At Mohenjo-Daro Carried Out By The Government Of India Between The Years 1922 And 1927, New Delhi and Chennai: Asian Educational Services. Neustupný, E., (1993). Archaeological Method. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Renfrew, Colin and Bahn, Paul (2005), Archaeology: The Key Concepts. London and New York: Routledge.

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Neustupný, E., (2008). Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice. London: Thames and Hudson. Rowlands, M., (2007). ‘The Politics of Identity’, in Timothy Insoll (ed.), The Archaeology of Identities: A Reader. London and New York: Routledge. Shenan, S. J., (ed.) (1989). Archaeological Approaches to Cultural Identity. London and New York: Routledge. Smith, B. K., (2005). ‘Questioning Authority: Constructions and Deconstructions of Hinduism’, in J. E. Llewellyn (ed.), Defining Hinduism. London: Equinox. Thapar, R., (1996). ‘The Tyranny of Labels’, Social Scientist. (24) 9/10. pp. 3-23. Thapar, R., (2000a). ‘Ideology and the Interpretation of Early Indian History’, in Romila Thapar (ed.), Cultural Pasts. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Thapar, R., (2000b). ‘Society and Historical Consciousness: The Itihasa-purana Tradition’, in Romila Thapar (ed.), Cultural Pasts. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Ucko, P., (1994). ‘Foreword’, in David Carmichael, J. Hubert, B. Reeves and A. Schanche (eds.), Sacred Sites, Sacred Places. London and New York: Routledge. Von Stietencron, H., (1991),.‘Hinduism: On the Proper Use of A Deceptive Term’, in Gunther D. Sontheimer H. Kulke (eds.), Hinduism Reconsidered, New Delhi: Manohar Publications 1 “Caste as varna”, points out Thapar (1996: 9), “earlier thought to be a definitive identity is now being recognized as being intersected by identities of language, sect and occupation. Each individual therefore, had varied identities, of which some might over-lap, but which interfered with the consolidation of a single, monolithic religious identity, even in societies prior to the coming of Islam.” 2 “The notion of a Hindu community evolves from a geographic and ethnic description gradually giving way to religious association. The Hindu community is more difficult to define given the diverse nature of belief and worship making it the amorphous “Other” of the Muslim community…[t]he crystallization of this perception occurs when erstwhile Vaisnavas, Saivas, Lingayats and others, begin to refer to themselves as Hindus” (ibid: 4). 3 As far as defining this category goes, Thapar states (ibid: 4), “[t]he definition of the Muslim community extends to all those who claim adherence to Islam and the adherence is said to be demonstrated by a clearly stated belief and form of worship, which through conversion confers membership in a large body of believers, a membership which also assumes the egalitarian basis of the association…a perspective in which the Hindu…was seen as the counterpart.” 4 Finegan (1952:121) informs us, as have several others before and after him that “The corresponding Persian form of the Sanskrit word (sindhu) was Hindu, and the Achaemenian kings designated the area beside the Indus as Hinduka The Greeks used forms based on Persian usage but in borrowing them omitted the h and made such words as Indos and India. While the former was the name of the river, the latter was applied to the whole country.” 5 Finegan (1952) finds resonance of later day Saktism, an offshoot of ‘mainstream’ Hinduism, in the so-called mother goddess cult of the Harappans, the latter itself a subject of much discussion in archaeology. 6 Jean-Francois Jarrige, the excavator at Nausharo.

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Socio-religious reform and Sufism in 20th century Bengal: A study of the role of Pir Abu Bakr of Furfura Sharif, India Abdul Matin* Abstract Sufism played an important role in spreading the message of Islam in the Indian subcontinent in general and in Bengal in particular. Right from the 13th century onwards, different Sufi saints came to Bengal and spread the message of equality, love and harmony. In order to get a grasp of Islam and Muslim societies in Bengal, it is very important to understand the geographical and socio-cultural milieu of Bengali Muslims, which is very much rural and agrarian oriented. As Richard Eaton rightly pointed out, the Islam in Bengal is the ‘Religion of the Plough’. Furfura Sharif is one of the most important and influential Muslim pilgrimage centres in Bengal, situated in the Hooghly district of present West Bengal. Pir Saheb of Furfura Sharif has enormous popularity among the Bengali-speaking, rural, Muslim population in Bengal. In this paper I briefly analyze the role and contributions of Pir Abu Bakr (1859-1939) of Furfura Sharif in the socio-religious reform of Muslims in Bengal. Pir Abu Bakr is popularly known as ‘Mujaddid-e-Zaman’ (Reformer of the Age) Dada Huzur Pir Qebla because of his multi-faceted activities in the field of education, social work and religious reform. Keywords: Pir Abu Bakr Siddique, Furfura Sharif, Sufism, Socio-religious reform, Bengali Muslim Introduction Sufism was one of the most important tools in spreading the message of Islam in the Indian subcontinent in general and in Bengal in particular. Right from the 13th Century onwards, the land of Bengal attracted large numbers of Sufi saints and Islamic scholars such as Hazrat Shah Jalal, Hazrat Shah Poran, Shah Makhdum ,Baba Adam Shahid, Khan Jahan Ali, Noor Mohammad Nijampuri, Rasul-e-Nomah Sufi Fateh Ali Waisi1 (who was also one of the leading Persian poets of Bengal and author of a seminal book ‘Dewan-e-Waisi’) , Maulana Keramat Ali Jaunpuri, Pir Abu Bakr Siddique of Furfura to name a few, came to different parts of Bengal to spread the message of Islam. In order to get a grasp of Islam and Muslim societies in Bengal, it is very important to understand the geographical and socio-cultural milieu of Bengali Muslims and the landscape of Bengal. Unlike other parts of India where Muslims are generally concentrated in urban or semi-urban centers, Bengali Muslims mostly inhabit rural areas, and agrarian activities constitute the major source of livelihood. As Richard Eaton rightly argues, Islam in Bengal is the “Religion of the Plough” (Eaton, 1985:19). Eaton, in his seminal book, ‘The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frointer 1204-1760’ (1997), argues that early arrival of different Sufis in the delta region played an extremely important role in the growth of Islam in Bengal. Eaton writes: “In the country of Bengal, not to speak of the cities, there is no town and no village where holy *

Assistant Professor, Cooch Behar Panchanan Barma University, India: abdulmatinjnu@gmail.com

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saints and Sufis did not come and settle down” (Eaton, 1997:71-72). One of the most distinguishing features of Sufism in Bengal is directly linked to the rural agrarian practices of the local Muslims. Sufism in Bengal is very diverse and heterogeneous, described by noted scholar Asim Roy as ‘Islamic syncretism in Bengal’ (Roy, 1983:65). In this paper I briefly analyze the role and contributions of Pir Abu Bakr (1859-1939) of Furfura Sharif in the socio-religious reform of Muslims in Bengal. Pir Abu Bakr Siddique is popularly known as ‘Mujaddid-e-Zaman’ (Reformer of the Age) because of his multi-faceted activities in the field of education, social work and religious reform. Pir Abu Bakr Siddique of Furfura Sharif is an influential and popular Sufi saint of 19th century undivided Bengal and Furfura Sharif is one of the most popular pilgrimage centers of the Muslims of Bengal. (Neilson, 2011:358). Scholars like Joya Chaterji, Rafiuddin Ahmed, described Pir Abu Bakr of Furfura as ‘Sharia Pir’ who played a vital role in spreading Islam in Bengal and shaping community identity among the Bengali speaking Muslims through Sufism.(Chaterji, 1998:281) Sufism in Bengal Sufism in Bengal had arrived early, from 13th century onwards, and it attracted large numbers of people from the so-called lower strata of the society through its message of equality, egalitarianism and simplicity. Sufism attracted people from different faiths and beliefs, resulting in a culture of respect and tolerance. The Sufis/ Pirs maintain ‘Khanqas’ for the Murids (disciples) to impart Talim (knowledge), Tajkiia-e-Nafs (reformation of self) and Khidmat-e-Khalq (serving the people) irrespective of caste, creeds and differences. The arrival of different Sufis and Pirs at various points in history played a crucial role in spreading the message of peace, harmony, fraternity and equality. The prominent and influential Sufis and Pirs who could win the hearts of millions of people in Bengal came at different points of time such as Shah Jalal of Shyllet (presently in Banglaadesh), Khan Jahan Ali of Bagerhat (presently in the Khulna division of Bangladesh), Baba Adam Shahid of Munshigang near Dhaka, Shah Mohammad Sultan Rumi of Mymensingh (present Bangladesh), Noor Muhammad Nizampuri of Chittagong (present Bangladesh), Makhdum Shah Ghaznavi of Mangolkot in Burdwan district of present West Bengal, Mustafa Madani of Medinipur district in present West Bengal and Pir Abu Bakr of Furfura Sharif in Hooghly district of West Bengal. Apart from the influential Sufis and Pirs, there were hundreds of local and regional Sufi saints throughout Bengal such as Manik pir, Gora Chand etc., who also played a fair role in the development and growth of Sufism in Bengal. Like Muslims, Sufism is also not a homogenous or monolithic identity or concept. Other than Furfura, there are different types or varieties of Sufi practices and Silsilas (chain or order) found in Bengal such as Sureshsari2, Maizbhandari3 ,Chormonai4, Gazipuri, Azangachi, Atrashi, Fultoli and many more (Riaz, 2009:84). Over the course of time, due to lack of proper written documents, and the amalgamation of various local traditions and practices into Sufism, many Sufi orders or sect failed to retain their originality. In the early 19th century onwards in Bengal, the concept of revivalism of Islam in general and Sufism in particular started taking deep root among the Ulemas (Islamic scholars) and Sufis due to various reasons such as the downfall of Muslim dynasties by the British/ Western powers, the changing scenario of global politics (mainly the downfall of Khilafat in Turkey), and the introduction of the Khilafat movement and political instability in India. This led to the development of a sense of politico-religious community identity among the Ulemas. As Tajul-Islam Hashmi argues, during the early 20th century politics of Bengal, Ulemas and 26


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influential pir sahebs issued fatwas or religious decrees favoring particular candidates, so that their muridan (disciples) cast votes in favor of those candidates. Maulana Pir Abu Bakr of Furfura and Maulana Ruhul Amin (who was also the khalifa of Pir Abu Bakr), for instance issued fatwas in favour of Maulvi Ishaque of Bogra of present Bangladesh (Hashmi, 1988, 25:171). Therefore there were many Ulemas and Pirs during the 19th century who were very active, not only in religious and spiritual matters but also with regard to social and political issues. Among these Sufis, Pir Abu Bakr of Furfura is one of the most popular Pirs in Bengal who had a huge influence and following among Bengali Muslims and Ulemas throughout Bengal (Sarkar, 1991:111). Pir Abu Bakr of Furfura Sharif Pir Abu Bakr Siddique was born on 18th March 1859 at the village of Furfura Sharif under the Jangipara Block in the Hooghly district of present West Bengal. According to ‘Shajranama’ (Clan tree), he was the descendant of the First Caliph of Islam, Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique. Pir Abu Bakr lost his father at a very early age. He received his elementary education at the local primary school in the village and later joined Sitapur Endowment Madrasah, and Hooghly Mohsenia Madrasah (one of the oldest madrasahs in Bengal named after the famous philanthropist Haji Mohmmad Mohasin) for higher education where he completed the degree called ‘Jamiet-ul-Ula’. (Siddique, 2013:13-14). Pir Abu Bakr later moved to Calcutta (now Kolkata) and studied, Quran, Hadith, Tafsir, Fiqh and Faraiz from the famous Islamic scholars Maulana Syed Ahmed Shahid and Hafez Maulana Jamaluddin. He even went to Madina (Saudi Arabia) and mastered the knowledge of Hadith (sayings and deeds of the Prophet) from the famous Maulana Syed Ameer Rezwan (Hussain, 2011). Pir Abu Bakr Siddique received the Bateni (spiritual) knowledge from his Pir-o-Murshid (Sufi master) Shah Sufi Syed Fateh Ali Waisi of Maniktala in Kolkata. He mastered the knowledge of four major Sufi orders known as Mujaddedia5, Nakshebandia6, Chistia7, Qaderia8 under the guidance of his spiritual master Shah Sufi Syed Fateh Ali Waisi. Pir Abu Bakr Siddique was a follower of Hanafi9 School of thought, which is one of the most popular schools of thoughts in South Asia, and was the founder of the Silsila-e-Furfura Sharif (order of Furfura Sharif), one of the most influential Sufi religious orders in Bengal. Pir Abu Bakr had five sons who were also very famous among the Muslims of Bengal. They are popularly known as Paanch Pir (five pirs) and had around five hundred and fifty Khalifas (representatives) all over Bengal and abroad, and millions of murids (disciples) throughout Bengal, Assam, Tripura, and present Bangladesh. He established hundreds of Madrasahs, Maktabs, and mosques throughout Bengal (Firdous, 2013:39-40), such as Furfura Fathehia Senior Madrasah (Hooghly), Noakhali Islamic Senior Madrasah, (Noakhali in present Bangladesh), Bagura Mustahiba Title Madrasah (Bagura, Bangladesh), Barishal Darul Sunnat Title Madrasah (Barishal, Bangladesh), Chitagong Darul Uloom Madrasah, (Bangladesh), Netra Madrasah (24 Parganas South, West Bengal), Nilkhamari Senior Madrasah (Bangladesh), Feni Senior Madrasah (Bangladesh), Dok Senior Madrasah (Hooghly, W.B), Pabna Ulat Senior Madrasah (Pabna, Bangladesh) and many more. According to Pirzada Toyeb Siddique, “Pir Abu Bakr Siddique of Furfura Sharif approximately established 2000 madrasahs/masktab, and 4300 mosques in an undivided Bengal which includes West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Odisha and present Bangladesh” (Siddique, 2013:150).

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Pir Abu Bakr Siddique was not only a religious or spiritual Pir but also an educationalist and philanthropist. Moreover, he is known as the great social and religious reformer of 20th century Bengal. He is remembered as “Muzaddid-e-Zaman” (Reformer of the period) “Dada Huzur Pir Qebla” (grandfather like figure) among his murids (disciples). Pir Abu Bakr went beyond the traditional framework of Sufism and Pir-ism where Sufis generally were confined within the religious and spiritual realm and least involved in the economic and political issues. Pir Abu Bakr, on the contrary, was very conscious and active in the social and political situations of the Muslim community. He regularly organized thousands of ‘Waz-Mahfil’ (Islamic conglomeration) and Bahas (religious debates) throughout Bengal, especially in the remote rural areas of Bengal, and made them aware not only about the basic tenets of Islam but also about the contemporary situations of Muslim community. He was a very powerful orator, which had a significant impact on the rural Bengali Muslim society, and this helped in the reformation and revivalism of Sufism in Bengal (Ahmed, 1981:101-102). The Furfura Sharif’s mass appeal is more effective because they use vernacular Bangla as the vehicle of expression. They have attempted to propagate Islam among the masses through their writings and speeches in Bengali. Pir Abu Bakr had a proper understanding of the changing circumstances and in a pragmatic way he patronized religious literature in late nineteenth century and early twentieth century Bengal among the Bengali Muslims (Dey, 2012:1303). So far as the religious idea of Pir Abu Bakr Sidique is concerned, he was vehemently against the idea of Shirk (any act which deems someone/something equivalent to Allah), Pir worshipping, Pir Sujood (prostrating at Pir’s feet), using Chaddar at Mazar or Tomb, Qawalli (musical festival in the sufi shrine), Urs (celebration of Pir’s death anniversary), Mannat, participating in the festivals of singing and dancing, smoking and consuming liquor (Hussain, 2011:11). Pir Abu Bakr’s idea of Sufism is based on the Quran, Hadith, (sayings and deed of the Prophet) Ijma (consensus) and Qiyas (analogical reasoning). He believed in ‘Tassauf’ (spirituality), Tajkiya-e-Nafs (purification of self) though Zikr, Fikr, Moraqaba and Mushahida (meditation). According to Pir Abu Bakr, the role of Sufism should be “Khidmat-e-Khalq” (serving the people) and Tahfooz-e-Deen (preservation of religion). Based on these ideas, he founded Anjuman-e-Waizeen-e-Bangla (Association of Islamic orators) and Jamiet-e-Ulamae Bangla-Assam (Association of Islamic scholars of Bengal and Assam) in the early decade of 20th century Bengal. (Siddique, 2013:62-63). Pir Abu Bakr established hundreds of Madrasahs (both old and new scheme madrasah) throughout Bengal where people could receive both religious as well as secular education. For instance, he built Furfura Fatheia Senior Madrasah at Furfura Sharif in the memory of his Pir, Sufi Syed Fateh Ali Waisi on the eve of the non-cooperation movement against the British imperialism (Sarkar, 1991:114). Pir Abu Bakr of Furfura directly and indirectly patronized more than a dozen Bengali weeklies and socio-religious journals such as Shariet-e-Islam, Islam Darpan, Mihir-o-Sudhakar, The Mussalman, Islam Hithashi, Banganoor etc. All these weeklies and monthly journals used to debate on various social issues such as the problems of dowry, oppression of poor agricultural workers by Zamindars (landlords), female education, importance of the girl child, rights of women in Islam, spreading of modern scientific and technical education, and so on, which played an important role and brought large amount of 28


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reform in the Muslim societies of Bengal (Shariat-e-Islam, vol.8, Bengali year: 1337 pp.169173). Pir Abu Bakr Siddique was vehemently against the idea of worshipping of Pir and Mazar or tomb (which was very much there in rural Bengal) where people go and offer rice, milk, bananas, coconuts, flowers with a belief that Pir would solve all the problems. He was also against the various irrational and unscientific concepts such as Ganak (fortune teller), astronomy, superstitions etc. (Hussain, 2011:13) The leaders of ‘Wahabi’ and Farayijee movements, like Hazi Shariyatullah, Dudu Mia etc., considered this country (British India) as ‘Darul Harb’ (land of infidels) and they forbade performing Jummah (weekly conglomeration prayer in every Friday) and Eid’s prayer because they believed that Jumma and Eid prayers only should be celebrated in “Darul Islam” (land of Islam). As a result Jummah Namaz was stopped in a number of mosques. At first, Maulana Karamat Ali Jonpuri and subsequently Pir Abu Bakar Siddique, under the influence of Maulana Karamat Ali’s conception, vehemently protested against the stopping of Jummah prayer. As a result Jummah Namaz was again re-introduced in the rural village mosques of Bengal (Ruhul Amin, 1347 Bengali calendar). Pir Abu Bakr Siddique neither used to consider India as “Darul-Harb”(land of infidels) nor “Darul-Islam”(land of Islam). Rather he prefered “Darul-Aman” (land of peace), where all communities, religions, languages and races would coexist peacefully without affecting each other rights and faiths (cf. pamphlets issued by Qutubuddin Siddique in Bengali, 2001). Noted historian Mushirul Hasan phrased this as ”living together separately”. Pir Abu Bakr’s understanding of ‘nation’ is quite similar to the idea of ‘Muttahida Qaumiyat’ (composite nationalism) as proposed by Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani of Deoband10 Islamic school. Pir Abu Bakr Siddique was also a great social worker and philanthropist. He successfully organized hundreds of relief camps through Jamit-e-Ulama-Bangla (Association of Islamic scholars of Bengal) for the victims of natural calamities such as floods, earthquake, cyclone etc. The basic idea behind establishing Jamiet-e-Ulama-e-Bangla was “Khidmat-eKhalq” (serving people) and “Tahfuje-e-Deen” (preservation of Islam). Pir Abu Bakr of Furfura played a very crucial role in the anti-imperialist and anti-colonial struggle especially during Non-cooperation and Khilafat movements. He organized hundreds of public meetings, rallies, throughout Bengal in support of Non-cooperation and Khilafat agitation. The Jamiat-Ulama-e-Bangla, at its annual meeting (at Hajigang, Tipperah on February 20-21, 1924) supported Bengal Provincial Khilafat Committee, Calcutta Khilafat Committee in the presence of Pir Abu Bakr Siddique, Maulana Ruhul Amin, Maulana Ashrafuddin Ahmed and other ulemas (The Musalman, 1924:29 February). Anjuman-e-Waizin-e-Bangla (Association of Islamic orators of Bengal), another organization established by Pir Abu Bakr of Furfura, in its gathering at Pabna district (presently in Bangladesh) in the year 1924 adopted a resolution for the strengthening of Khilafat agitation (Islam Darshan, 1924:404-405). Another important contribution of Pir Abu Bakr Siddique was the construction and shaping of the identity of Bengali Muslim community in 19th century Bengal. The idea of the Bengali Muslim is quite complex and generally falls into the category of binaries such as Bengilness versus Muslimness, ashraf (Muslim of foreign ancestry) versus atrap (Muslim of local or regional ancestry), Urdu speaking versus Bengali speaking, urban versus rural etc. The Bengali Muslim is generally considered as rural, atrap, pir-worshipping, low-culture people whereas the Urdu-speaking are seen to be high-cultured, urban-centered, ashraf Muslims 29


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(Chaterji, 1998:266) Pir Abu Bakr was vehemently opposed this concept of Ashraf-ajlaf division ‘Urdu superiority’ over Bengali Muslims through different newspaper, religious debates and ‘Waz-Mahfil (religious conglomeration) which certainly helped in the process of developing the notion of ‘jati’ or ‘community’ among the Bengali Muslims. As Asim Roy argues, traditional waz-mahfil played important role in the nineteenth century and was designed to strengthen the Muslim solidarity, self-confidence and Islamization in Bengal (Roy, 2006:67). Pir Abu Bakr Siddique played an extremely important role in spreading the message of Islam and Sufism through Waz-Mahil (religious conglomeration) in rural Bengal. The oral wazmahfils were the only platform were thousands of common Muslims gathered to listen the ‘nashihat’ (speeches) of Pir and Maulanas regarding the does and don’ts of Islam. There are thousands of villages in undivided Bengal where people came into the fold of Islam and left many practices such as usury, dowry, alcohol, etc. For Instance, the district authority of Atgharia Upo-Zilla in present Bangladesh acknowledged that the arrival of Pir of Furfura Sharif helped the common villagers of Atghoria to follow the principle of Islamic teachings (official website of Atgoria Upo-Zilla in Bangladesh). Pir Abu Bakr Siddique not only established hundreds of Madrasah, and mosques but also built many charitable centers, hospitals, and community centers for the welfare of the common masses. He established a charitable dispensary center at Furfura in 1935 later it expanded by Jamiat-e-Ulama-Bangla and renamed as ‘Pir Maulana Abu Bakr Memorial Charitable Dispensary’ (author’s field work). The multi-faced and versatile personality and activities of Pir Abu Bakr helped him to reach out to the millions of people in rural Bengal. According to Peer Allama Abdullhail Maruf Siddique11 (the grandson of Pir Abu Bakr Siddique): We cannot imagine that one single man had done so many things for the people of Bengal. His (Pir Abu Bakr) contributions towards the development of Muslim community was unimaginable, He had gone and travelled such extent in the 19th and early 20th century that we cannot even imagine this modern age of development. The people of Bengal cannot forget his contribution towards the development and socio-religious reform of Muslim community.

Conclusion Pir Abu Bakr Siddique of Furfura was very different from the other Sufi saints or Pirs who generally remained confined to the mystics folds of Sufism and hardly played any major role in the reformation of society, religion, politics and economy. Pir Abu Bakr was able to use Sufism as tool of socio-religious reform in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Bengal. Pir Abu Bakr extensively used the platform of innumerable Waz-mahfils (religious conglomerations) in different parts of Bengal as well as various cheap vernacular tracts to create awareness among the Bengali Muslim community. Pir Abu Bakr immensely contributed to the development of vernacularization of Islam in Bengal and created the self-confidence among the Bengali Muslims. Pir Abu Bakr’s fight against the imperialism and Zamindari system attracted large numbers of Muslim landless poor peasants in the rural Bengal. Therefore the combination of socio-religious reform and mass movement against Zamindari system made him more popular among the rural Muslim peasantry. The legacy of Pir Abu Bakr of Furfura is still carried on by his great grandsons and khalifas, both for the reformation of Muslim society as well as bargaining with the governments and various political parties to uphold the interests of the community in post-colonial India. 30


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References Ahmed, R., (1981). ‘The Bengali Muslims, 1871-1906: A Quest for Identity’, OUP, New Delhi, Ahmed, S., (1996). “Muslim Community in Bengal 1884-1912”, Dhaka: The University Press, Ali, R., (2009). ‘Interactions of Transnational and Local Islam in Bangladesh’ in the NBR project Report on “Transnational Islam in South and Southeast Asia: Movements, Network and Conflict dynamics” Washington. Chatterji, J., (1998). ‘The Bengali Muslims: A Contradiction in Terms? An overview of the debate on Bengali Muslim Identity’ in Mushirul Hasan (ed.) Islam: Communities and the Nation: Muslim Identities in South Asia and Beyond, Manohar Publication, Delhi. Dey, A., (2012) ‘Bengali Translation of the Quran and the Impact of Print Culture on Muslim Society in the Nineteenth Century’, Societal Studies, 4(4):1299-1315. Eaton, R. M., (1997). ‘Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760’, Oxford University Press, Delhi. Firdous, Md. S., (2011). ‘Icons of Divinity: Sufi Saints of Furfurah Sharif’, S.B Publisher, Kolkata. Hashm, T., (1988). “The Communalisation of class struggle: East Bengal peasantry, 1923-29”, Indian Economic and Social History Review, 25:171. Metcalf, B. D., (1982). ‘Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860-1900’, Princeton University Press. Mirta, J., (N.D). ‘Muslims Politics in Bengal: 1885-1906’, K.P Bagchi and Company, Calcutta. Neilson, K.B. (2011), ‘In Search of Development: Muslims and electoral Politics in an Indian State’ Forum for Development Studies, Vol.38, No. 3, November, pp.345-370 Roy, A., (1983). ‘‘The Islamic Syncretistic Tradition in Bengal’ Princeton University Press. Roy, A., (2006). ‘Islam in History and Politics: Perspectives from South Asia’, Oxford University Press, New Delhi. Sarkar, C., (1991). ‘The Bengali Muslims: The Study on their Politicization 1912-1929’ K.P Bagchi Press, Kolkata. Zaman, M. Q., (2002). ‘The Ulama in Contemporary Islam: Custodian of Change’ Princeton University Press. Books, magazines and articles in Bengali Amin, M. R., (N.D). ‘Furfura Sharifer Itihas o Bonger Aulia Qul: Shah Sufi Maulana Abu Bakr Siddique (rah) Bistarito Jiboni’ 15th Falguna, 1347, Bashirhat. Hasan, R., (N.D), ‘Furfura Sharifer Panch Pir’ Kolkata 31


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Manirul S. K., (2011), ‘Sonkoter mukhomukhi Bangali Musalman’ (In Bengali) published by Pirzada Toyeb Siddique on behalf of Furfura Sharif Minority Development Organisation, Hooghly, West Bengal, January. Siddique, Md. T., (2013). ‘Furfura Sharifer Mojadedde-e-Zaman (R.H) er Jiboni’ published by Centre for Peer Abu Bakkar Siddique Research Studies, Furfura Sharif, Hooghly. Syed, B., (N.D). ‘Banglar Itihase Furfura Sharif’ Syed, B., (N.D). Banglar Srestha Ulamader Jiban o Karma: 100 Bachharer Itihas 1901-2002, Furfura Sharif: Pir Abu Bakr Research Centre. Documents (both print and electronic) Aftab-e-Shariyat, Mahtabe-e-Tarikat, Muaiye-e-Sunnat, Mahiye-e-Bidayat, Mahbubue-eSubhani, Alem-e-Hakkani, Mujaddid-e-Zaman Hazrat Pir Abu Bakr Siddique, Dada Huzur Pir Qebla (rah) Sakkhorito “Wasiyatnama”, Published by Syed Ajmat Hussain, Kanayat Library, Furfura Sharif, Hooghly, India and printed by Azad Printing Press,2011, Pabna, Bangladesh. Speech of Allama Pir Saifuddin Siddique, the grandson of Pir Abu Bakr of Furfura, at the Islamic conglomeration in West Bengal in the year 2002. (Available in the CD form produced by E.R Sound, Chadni chowk, Kolkata). Pamphlets issued by Pir Allama Qutubuddin Siddique on behalf of Mujaddid Mission, Furfura Sharif, regarding the comparative ideological issues of Furfura, Deobandi and Ahle-Hadees, 2011. Periodicals Islam Darshan- ‘National monthly magazine’; jointly edited by Mohammed Abdul Hakim and Nur ahmed; first published in 1920 under the patronage of Pir Maulana Abu Bakr Siddique of Furfura Sharif as the mouthpiece of “Anjuman-e-Waiyezin-e-Bangla”. Shariye-e-Islam, monthly Bengali ‘Hanafi’ religious magazine; edited by Maulana Ahmed Ali Enayatpuri; published form Calcutta in 1924 under the patronage of Pir Abu Bakr of Furfura Sharif. The Musalamans, weekly news magazine; editor: Mohammad Reyajuddin Ahmead, published from Calcutta. Taruner Danda o Islamer Jhanda: weekly news magazine; published from Calcutta in 1930 and patronized by the Pir Abu Bakr of Furfura. Interviews Pir Allama Alhaj Maulana Mohammed Abdullahil Maruf Siddique, ( grandson of Pir Abu Bakr Siddique) at Furfura Sharif on 15th September 2013. Maulana Syed Bahauddin, Secretary, Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Bangla (Furfura Sharif) at Furfura on 16th September 2013.

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Pirzada Maulana Md. Toyeb Siddique, (great-grandson of Pir Abu Bakr) at Furfura on 16th September 2013 1

Rasul-e-Noma Sufi Syed Fateh Ali Waisi was also the Pir or Master of Pir Abu Bakr of Furfura Sharif. His shrine is situated at Munshi Para Lane, Maniktala in present Kolkata, West Bengal. 2 Sureshwari is a Sufi-sect follows the Chistiya order of Sufi practices, mainly found in the central Bangladesh region. The name of the sect identified with the place called Sureshwar in Shariyatpur district of present Bangladesh. The founder of this sect is Sufi Hazrat Syed Ahmed Ali Jan Sharif Shah Sureshwari (1856-1919), whose shrine is situated in the Sureshwar Darbar Sharif itself. This sect attracts hundreds of pilgrimage in the annual Urs festival. 3 Miazbhandari is also quite popular Sufi sect mainly found in Chattogram or Chittagong region of Bangladesh. This Sufi sect was founded by Syed Ahmadullah (1826-1906) in the early nineteenth century Bengal. The tomb of Hazrat Syed Ahmadullah is located at Maizbhandar Darbar Sharif in the Chittagong region of present Bangladesh. 4 Chormonai is also quite important Sufi order based at Chaarmonai in the Barisal region of Bangladesh. This Sufi-sect was influenced by Deobandi movement. The founder of this sect was Maulana Syed Mohammad Fazul Karim (1935-2006). This is one of the most well organized forms of Sufi movement and actively engaged in the politics of Bangladesh. The name of the political party under the direct patronage of the Pir Saheb of Charmonai Darbar Sharif is ‘Bangladesh Islami Andolon’ (Islamic movement of Bangladesh). 5 Mujaddedia is a one of the four major Sufi order named after the famous Sufi master and reformer Mujaddid Alf-e-Shani Ahmad Sirhindi, whose shrine is situated in the state of Punjab in India. 6 Nakshabandia is also a major Sufi order popularly known as Nakshabandiya tariqa. This Sufi order was founded by Hazrat Bahuddin Nakshabandi (1318-1389) in Bukhara at present Uzbekistan. 7 Chistia is one of the most important Sufi orders mainly found in South Asia particularly in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The founder of the Chistia order was Hazrat Khawa Mainuddin Chisti whose shrine is situated in Ajmer district of Rajasthan, India. The shrine of Ajmer is the most popular shrine in South Asian region. 8 Qaderia is also an important Sufi orders in Central Asia also found in Bengal region. The founder of the Qaderia order was Hazrat Abdul Qader Jilani popularly known as Gausal Azam Hazrat Boro Pir Saheb. Whose shrine is situated in Bagdhad,Iraq. 9 Hanafi school of thought is one of the most important and popular school of Islamic jurisprudence among four established school of Islamic jurisprudence. Hanafi school of thought belongs to Imam Abu Hanifa. He is popularly known as Imam-e-Azam means the great Imam. The follower of this school of thought is called Hanafi. Hanafi school of thought is the most popular in Asia particularly in South Asia. The other three school of thoughts are Maliki, Shafi and Hambali. 10 Deoband is one of the biggest Islamic seminaries in South Asia based at Deoband in Uttar Pradesh, India. The Deoband was also the name of the anti-colonial movement and actively took part in the freedom struggle of India. Deoband basically falls under the nationalist school. Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Hind (Association of Islamic scholars in India) was the result of Deoband movement. 11 Peer Allama Abdullahil Maruf Siddique an octogenarian Peer of Furfura Sharif. He is the grandson of Pir Abu Bakr Siqquique and second son Pir Maulana Zulfikar Ali Siddique, popularly known as Choto Huzur Peer Qebla. Peer Abdullahil Maruf Siddique regularly visit rural West Bengal, and Bangladesh to deliver speech at the wazmahfils. Pir Saheb of Furfura Sharif is still strict to the traditional waz-mahfil through out rural Bengal and following the legacy of Pir Abu Bakr of Furfura.

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‘Timeless aesthetics’? Rock art studies as ‘sites of contestation’ in the Southern Vindhyan landscapes Prerana Srimaal* L. Lamminthang Simte** Abstract Rock art research in the country is no stranger to comparative ethnographic data for interpreting rock art. There is a growing realisation among anthropologists/archaeologists of the constraints of reconstructing the past ‘scientifically’, This, it is noted, has persistently resulted in a gross, even wilful, neglect of local situations and has thus prevented a faithful perusal of the demand for appropriate models and theories that these unique trajectories arising out of the different spatio-temporal dynamics place on any inquiry so addressed. We attempt to underline these issues through a review of select rock art sites from Madhya Pradesh. We also examine if these rock paintings are really text-free interpretations/representations, as these images are, after all, ‘texts’ about economy, technology, cultural myths and socio-cultural contexts. Furthermore, we stress the need to seriously reassess the reliability of the use of ethnographic analogy in seeking parallels, which, we contend, serves only to sustain the conventional idea of some cultures as unchanging and passive. Keywords: Rock Art, Southern Vindhyas, Landscape Studies, Socio-Cultural Contexts Introduction With the first documented discovery of rock art in the winter of 1868-69 by Archibald Carllyle in a few shelters near Sohagi Ghat (present Mirzapur district, U.P.) on the northern scarps of the Vindhyas, India is generally credited as the country with the first reported find of rock art, much before what is usually considered as the first instance of rock art in Spain (Pandey 2001, p. 249; Tyagi 2001, p. 303; Wakankar 2001,p. 319). However, his findings and discovery were never published, but remained confined to his personal notes until published later by V.A. Smith in 1906 (Smith 1906, p. 185-195). However, it was in 1883 that the first systematic examination and publication of rock art in the country was undertaken by John Cockburn (Mathpal 2001, p. 207-208). Other early instances of rock art discoveries in the Indian subcontinent - engravings in the Edakal caves (Wayanad District, Kerala) - were similarly reported by F.Fawcett in 1901. In 1916, Robert Bruce Foote – who is often credited with being the one person really responsible for bringing the Indian prehistory into the limelight – reported discoveries in the district of Bellary in Karnataka. Closer to the study area under consideration, it was Manoranjan Ghosh who discovered the paintings of Adamgarh in the year 1922, and undertook pioneering steps to make accurate artistic representations of the paintings at the *

Assistant Professor, Christ University, Bannerghatta Campus, Bangalore: srimaal.prerana@gmail.com ICHR-Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Mohali, Punjab: laminsimte@gmail.com **

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site as well as those at Mirzapur and Raigarh. These were subsequently published in the form of a monograph in the year 1932. The 1930s were also marked by the significant contributions made by Gordon, who undertook explorations and systematic analysis of the rock art of the Mahadeo Hills and established the antiquity of the rock art in this region to be as old as the 10th Century BCE (Pandey 2001, p. 249). By far, the most prolific and authoritative figure on Indian rock art studies undoubtedly would be V.S. Wakankar, who, in the course of his doctoral work, undertook the task of cataloguing the rock art of Central India (Wakankar 2005). Tracing the antecedents of rock art studies and research in India, Mathpal (2001, p. 213-214) identified three distinct phases/periods in the development of the field. The first period (1867-1931) he ascribes to be a period where most of the research was undertaken by “amateur enthusiasts”, by individuals who undertook the study of “well-preserved, prominent-looking and isolated figures”, who mainly employed tracings, free-hand copying and short notes, resulting in the publication of “very few articles”. At this stage of rock art studies, he asserts that there were still some doubts as to the antiquity of the Indian rock art. The second period (1932-1972) to him was a period of well-planned explorations, which resulted in several hundreds of yet undiscovered paintings being reported. They undertook ‘faithful copying’ and followed up with fairly detailed descriptions of the rock art. At this stage of its development, the doubts about the ‘stone-age antiquity’ of rock art in India were increasingly being questioned. The third and final period (1973-present) is characterised by the systematic excavations of rock shelters along with scientific reproductions of rock paintings. The method of research includes exhaustive regional studies, research publications, exhibitions, seminars and lectures on rock art. By this time, the antiquity of Indian rock art to the Mesolithic era and later was established. The aim of the documentation of rock art has, until recently, been the documentation of the actual figures, where technique and motif has been the leading premise. Arguably, the overall standard of documentation has not changed much. Documentation of rock art most often set out to achieve the most accurate reproduction of the figures. Many researchers still apply the conventional documentation methods when dealing with rock art, with satisfactory results. Hence, foremost consideration must be and is always dependent on the research aims in rock art studies. Photography has always been an integral part the process; the advent of new and more manageable cameras made it easier to document rock art using photographs. It is a good documentation method that often brings out aspects not seen by other means of documentation. In the course of our fieldwork, we tried to formulate new ways of observing and documenting the landscape of rock art. Priority was placed on spending time at the rock art site and in the surrounding area to get a better understanding of the landscape context and the location of the rock art sites. It has been evidently demonstrated that the natural features in the rock surface and the elements might be part of the story told in rock art (See Helskog 2004). This has also meant that how we see, what we look for and how we document the rock art has changed. The most accurate documentation of a figure may not longer be of such importance for the rock art story. During the survey and documentation at Saru Maru Buddhist Stupa and Monastic Complex, (Pangoraria Village, Budhni Tehsil, Sehore District), apart from the other material cultural remains, eight painted rock shelters with extensive rock art on them were documented. The purpose of the documentation carried out at the site was two-fold. Firstly, 35


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as the rock paintings at the site were found to be in various stage of degradation, it was necessary to record them systematically for posterity. Secondly, we decided to analyse the different range of motifs at the site and to look at the paintings in context of the landscape – a reflection of what the landscape evoked in the executors of these paintings – instead of looking at them as artistic expression for art’s sake that cater to the ‘presentist’ aesthetic sensibilities. With the ever burgeoning interest in comparative ethnographic data for interpreting rock art, we also observe the increasing awareness of anthropologists/archaeologists of the constraints of reconstructing the past ‘scientifically’, as they, like all other social scientists, are faced with not only the individual subjectivity of their own views and findings, but also the attendant cultural biases that more often than not colour their ‘informed’ opinions. Most pertinent here would be for instance, the charge of Eurocentrism with its attendant “classificatory chronological concepts” (Malik 2012:1) and formulations of a certain ‘evolutionary’ schema for past cultures beginning in the Palaeolithic. This, it is noted, has persistently resulted in a gross, even wilful, neglect of local situations and has thus prevented a faithful perusal of the demand for appropriate models and theories that these unique trajectories arising out of the different spatio-temporal dynamics place on any inquiry so addressed. ‘Art’ has a very limited and restricted connotation in terms of rock art studies. One has to bear in mind that the modern day aesthetics, with their attendant notions of form and beauty, are what they are: a culturally and aesthetically dictated modern day sensibility. Rock art, as art, necessitates the complete inversion of the artistic tropes to peruse these as an exercise of freedom of expression that exist to be appreciated as an act commissioned for its own sake. It has been argued, and widely accepted, that the notion of art as an expression of mere aesthetically pleasing form/beauty is a limited way of seeing. There is a growing realisation that any philosophy and concomitant explanation of art cannot be complete without an adequate consideration of the aesthetic experience. Other cultural, especially non-industrial, communities locate art within many other aspects of life ranging from a sacredness of the world order to the supernatural or the noumenal dimension. Thus, ethnology, myths and beliefs, supplemented with the appropriate academic research vigor, provide an important - and indeed the only - sensible window into the world of rock art. In the study of rock art, there are mainly two methods: the formal methods and the informed methods. Even if this can be recognised in earlier works it was first put in concrete terms by Taçon & Chippindale (1998: 6) and further applied: By informed methods we mean those that depend on some source of insight passed on directly or indirectly from those who made and used the rock-art – through ethnohistory, through the historical record, or through modern understanding known with good cause to perpetuate ancient knowledge; then, one can hope to explore the pictures from the inside, as it were. (Taçon & Chippindale 1998: 6). ... formal methods, those that depend on no inside knowledge, but which work when one comes to the stuff “cold”, as a prehistorian does. The information available is then restricted to that which is immanent in the images themselves, or which we can discern from their relations to each other and to the landscape, or by relation to whatever archaeological context is available.’ (Taçon & Chippindale 1998: 6).

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The concept of formal and informed methods also must be borne in mind when studying both rock art and landscape. Informed methods are important for the interpretation of rock art and landscape. There are very few examples of rock art traditions that continue into the present. However, practically no rock art sites have a direct informed record based on continuity. Yet, the ethnographic record and informed methods need to be applied to get a richer understanding of rock art and landscape even though a direct link cannot be established. One of the crucial problems is, however, on the application of ethnographic record on rock art and landscape with no direct continuous link in ethnography. We need to walk along the fine line of analogy. Even if the informed methods seem to have the upper hand, the ethnographic record also constrains the interpretation of rock art by being part of ‘who’ and ‘when’ the information is gathered. We need to include formal methods when interpreting rock art and landscape. Since ethnographic sources are also considered vital to the understanding of rock art and landscape of hunter-gatherers, we shall elaborate on the ethnography and analogies related to rock art and landscape. According to Buggey (1999), An ethnographic landscape (or aboriginal landscape) is a place valued by an aboriginal group (or groups) because of their long and complex relationship with that land. It expresses their unity with the natural and the spiritual environment. It embodies their traditional knowledge of spirits, places, land uses, and ecology. Material remains of the association may be prominent, but will often be minimal or absent.

This has opened up studies that show that both the natural and cultural features within a landscape are interwoven and that the neglect of the natural environment cannot continue in archaeology. We need to look at the natural landscape as interrelated with the cultural landscape. Instead of renaming it, we have to look upon the landscape as a holistic definition as part of a whole in the world as we live it. Frequently, the ethnographic record from South Africa and Australia are applied as ‘guidelines’ for rock art in vast parts of the world. Rightfully, the short time span between the ethnographic record and the rock art has favoured these geographical areas. There has been a justified application of the ethnographic record on the San rock art (Lewis-Williams 1981). Of course, some of the links between the South African ethnography and the South African rock art is useful elsewhere. However, it has been all too often the case for studies to apply interpretations from here onto the rest of the world. Applying ethnography leaves the same objections as with analogy in general regarding time and space. Hence the need to justify the use of ethnographic parallels. As early on as 1883, John Cockburn had mentioned that “the aborigines of the Kymores were in a stone age as late as the tenth century CE and thus had a very long artistic tradition” (Chakraverty 2003, p. 11). India is one of the rare countries in the world with a continuing ethnological tradition which has manifested itself in a vivid tribal life, even though, in the case of rock art, the memory of its purposes and meanings has long been gone. Though, nowadays, tribal and folk groups apparently do not ‘… associate themselves with such art in their areas (…), except to explain it as the work of evil spirits or epic heroes’ (Chakravarty & Bednarik 1997: 31). A similar opinion has been expressed about the rock art in Orissa, where “the local 37


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people do not attach any special significance to these rock art sites. To them, the works of art in the shelters are the works of the heavenly bodies or that of the ghosts. They even often consider it a taboo to touch such works of art” (Pradhan 2001: 27). Similarly, another illustrative reflection of this specious tradition is that of the exposition on the Pachmarhi hill rock art by Pathak (n.d.) hosted on the web pages of the Bradshaw Foundation. She conceded, condescendingly, that “the compositional elements of these Mesolithic paintings are highly developed” which she posits was representative of “the creative spirit of the early people”. Sufficient proof of their “highly developed creative spirit” is visible in geometric designs and in paintings of the X-ray style. More problematic though, is her account of the depiction of a “urinating cow” which she believes “suggests the awareness of medicinal value of cow urine to the primitives (sic.). As we all know according to Indian Ayurved cow urine is a very good treatment for cancer patients and for other ailments”. Furthermore, she goes on to assert that, The descendants of the original hunters and gatherers and artists of this region are the tribal Korku and Gond who still uphold some of the traditions of their ancestors. In the rock paintings their ancestors are depicted dancing in pairs or in rows and playing musical instruments. They hunted animals and collected honey from the hives of wild bees. Their mode of dress was quite simple. The women carried food and water and looked after the children. The forebearers of the present day tribal people had a variety of ways to express the magic of their beliefs, rituals and taboos. The tribes living in these hills have wooden memorial boards on which the carved horse and its rider is similar to those painted by their predecessors in the past on the walls of their rock shelters. They also decorate the walls of their houses and this activity seems to have its roots in the cave dwelling traditions of their ancestors. Men and horses of geometric construction are randomly spaced across the walls.... and bear a close resemblance to those found in the painted shelters.... Presently, the wall paintings in their houses, as in the great majority of rock paintings, are executed in red and yellow pigments prepared from hematite or other iron oxides.

Some forms of tribal art, however, can be quite misleadingly reminiscent of certain themes and techniques found in the rock art. For example, “in India, (the) tradition of printing hands on the gates of houses, temples, sacred sites at ritualistic ceremonies, auspicious occasions like the birth of a child, marriage ceremony etc., is still continuing” (Kumar 1992, p. 63). However, this does not entail that we unquestioningly and automatically conclude that the hand prints found on numerous sites, such as at Bhimbetka Auditorium Rock have a similar meaning, “because similar patterns may well be the results of different behavioural processes in the past and present”, so that “to read contemporary ethnographic rituals into ancient art may not be quite appropriate in spite of some common trait” (Chakravarty & Bednarik 1997: 87). Another illustrative example is that of the stylized category of rock art which to Pandey (2001: 252) is representative of “rock art with its full fancy”, identified by him. This category is identified to be restricted to human figures and is further sub-divided into those with a linear stick-shaped form, or in ‘dynamic’ S-shaped twisting form, or the square-shaped intricately in-filled female figurines. The preceding forms which are assigned to the Mesolithic age are the ones executed in linear stick-shapes are identified by Pandey (2001: 252) who considers them to be “childish” attempts and lacking the “skill” observed as present and necessary in the animal representations. Consequently, the stickform of painting which was “capable of depicting the different human activities of Mesolithic men” was later found to be insufficient and the S-form “evolved” to “represent the dancing activity.” Based on the encrustations observed on the paintings, he is of the 38


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opinion that they are not only reflective but definitive ‘confirmation’ of the slow process of change and switch from the ‘simple stick shapes to decorated forms’ in the ‘Stone Age’ which took ‘thousands of years.’ In the words of Malik (2012: 5), a million years ago, homo sapiens emerged from various ancestries, however, there is no evidence that intelligence evolved from the ‘primitive’ to the ‘modern’, in art at least; if not in its expression, perhaps in technology, language and economics. Creative impulse is non-hierarchical and non-linear; it is a manifestation and movement of archetypes of invisible realities. The language of art moves beyond conceptual, semantic and syntactic constraints, to cognize reality in silence. In this sense, art signifies a continuity of reality through different spatial and temporal levels. The theoretical framework that has dictated the field of rock art studies in the country stand in need of a serious reappraisal. The conceptual and methodological issues that need urgent redress are the considerable and over-reaching emphasis on style and chronology; the continued reliance and exploitation of comparative ethnographic data in terms of interpretation; and the need for an increased sensitivity and awareness to the constraints of individual and collective cultural subjectivity. These pitfalls in the issue of Euro-centrism in archaeology, when applied to rock-art studies, are duplicated in nonEuropean cultural zones as well. This is further evident when a cursory perusal of local (indigenous) live cultural traditions are seen to be tied into rock art: one can see a common cultural heritage of humankind to approach then projected as a universal creative act instinctive to Homo sapiens. For these, we need to look at current concepts and definitions of art as opposed to the modern ascription of ‘art for its own sake’ maybe even as something functional but which certainly does not look at art for its sacred context which most earlier societies are assumed to link it to. Rock art as an artistic activity is then intrinsically an act of creativity. This understanding requires an integral and holistic approach to creativity that is timeless in this sense as it is always present as intelligence which is inherent in the human species in a non-evolutionary sense. In this way, it is also non-hierarchical as it exists in all human societies, both of the past and the present. Discussions of rock art and landscape have focused on why sites or panels are located at particular places in the landscape (Hood 1988) and on how landscapes and rock art are perceived (Bradley 1994). Location studies were rooted in topography, spatial studies and relations to other cultural remains, like graves and/or settlements etc. Within the perception of rock art and landscape, phenomenology was explored by Tilley (2004) in his perception of rock art and landscape studies. Lately, studies have shown how landscapes might be represented in the panels themselves – real and cosmological (Bradley et al. 2002) where natural features are part of the rock art, acting as the canvas, where the rock surface might even represent topographical features in a miniature landscapes (Helskog 2004). The above-described directions reflect the research history where landscape has moved from being nature to being regarded as culture where natural features are cultural features in the sense that they are embedded with meaning. The rock art record, although selective, reflects local environment, i.e. there are no Whales depicted in Southern Vindhyan rock art, for example. In fact, one of the most salient records left by early societies is the rock art in rock shelters and rock faces. Spread across a wide temporal and spatial span, it is impossible to determine if rock art production 39


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occurred throughout the period or only in abrupt episodic events. Some of the possible shifts in the issues and approaches can be in the methodologies adopted, for example, stylistic approaches, which are often subjective or mere opinions and notions arising from present day ideas about art. We could also question for instance if these rock paintings are really text-free interpretations/representations of the distant past, as these pictorial images are, after all, texts about economics, sustenance, technology, cultural myths, astronomy or night sky, and about the socio-cultural contexts which one can deduce from fragmentary inferential evidence. One needs to seriously reassess the reliability of the use of ethnographic analogy in seeking parallels. We need to consider if our interpretations are evolutionary when chronologies are concerned, and even if so, do these archaeological records reflect an evolutionary sequence for art also. What is our notion of indigenous people? Is it static like it is about ‘prehistoric’ people? Were those people less intelligent than us especially when one calls them ‘primitive’ from our techno-economic viewpoint, ignoring the fact that human intelligence is the same everywhere and beyond time. Did these groups not have better extra-sensory perceptions of other dimensions, which we may have lost in the midst of our so-called progress and onslaught of industrial urbanisation? Whenever one comes into the world of art, there is an absence of ‘fact’ in the sense that they are transfigured forms that have been abstracted from their materiality through transformation into art. In other words, any work of art has an existence and identity apart and independent of its own – a non-factual order of being – in a world beset with irreconcilable dichotomies and hierarchies. It is in the adoption of a non-utilitarian attitude to such artistic expression that an alternative insight to rock art can be attempted. This framework furthermore allows a departure from the objective versus subjective binaries like sacred or secular, literate or non-literate, structural or functional etc. This approach can further lead us on to such questions like one’s relation with the works of art as an observer/ the artist, the nature of creative process, how the meaning and the ontological status of art is then to be determined with works of art. This framework provides us with a standpoint from which rock art can then be addressed independent of the stylistic and chronological concerns that beset rock art studies this far. References Bradley, R., (1994), ‘Symbols and signposts - understanding the prehistoric petroglyphs of the British Isles’, in The ancient mind: Elements of cognitive Archaeology, Colin Renfrew and Ezra B. W. Zubrow, (eds.), pp. 95-106, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Bradley, R., Chippindale, C. and Helsog, K, (2002). ‘Post-Paleolithic Europe’, in Handbook of Rock Art Research, D. S. Whitley, (ed.), pp. 482-530, AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek, California. Buggey, S., (1999), An Approach to Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, http://www.pc.gc.ca/docs/r/pcaacl/images/Aboriginal_Cultural_Landscapes_e.pdf, (accessed January 07, 2014). Chakravarty, K.K. et.al., (1997). Indian Rock Art and its Global Context, Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sanghralaya, Motilal Banarasidass Publications, Delhi and Bhopal. 40


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Chakraverty, S., (2003). Rock Art Studies in India: A Historical Perspective, The Asiatic Society, Kolkata. Helskog, K., (2004). ‘Landscapes in rock-art: rock-carving and ritual in the old European North’, in The Figured Landscapes of Rock-Art: Looking at Pictures in Place, C. Chippindale and G. Nash, (eds.), pp. 265-88, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Hood, B. C., (1988). ‘Sacred Pictures, Sacred Rocks: Ideological and Social Space in the North Norwegian Stone Age.’ Norwegian Archaeological Review, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 6584. Kumar, G., (1992). ‘Rock Art of Upper Chambal Valley. Part II: Some Observations.’ Purakala, Vol. 3, pp. 56-67. Lewis-Williams, J. D., (1981). Believing and Seeing: Symbolic Meanings in Southern San Rock Art, Academic Press, London. Lorblanchet, M., (2001). (ed.), IGNCA Rock Art Series I, Aryan Books International, New Delhi. Malik, S.C., (2012). ‘Rock Art: A Universal Creative Act.’ in Session Papers of the International Conference on Rock Art 'Understanding Rock Art in Context', pp. 1-5, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, New Delhi. Mathpal, Y., (2001). ‘Rock Art Studies in India’, in Rock Art in the Old World, Papers presented in Symposium A of the AURA Congress, Darwin (Australia) 1988, pp.207-214, Michel Lorblanchet, (ed.), IGNCA Rock Art Series I, Aryan Books International, New Delhi. Pathak, M.D., (n.d). Indian Rock Art: Prehistoric Paintings of the Pachmarhi Hills, http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/india/pachmarhi/index.php (accessed January 07, 2014). Pandey, S. K., (2001). ‘Central Indian Rock Art in Rock Art in the Old World, Papers presented in Symposium A of the AURA Congress, Darwin (Australia) 1988, pp.249-272 Pradhan, S., (2001). Rock Art in Orissa, Aryan Books International, New Delhi. Smith, V. A., (1906). ‘Pygmy Flints.’ in The Indian Antiquary, Vol. 35, pp. 185-195. Taçon, P. C. and Chippindale, C., (1998). ‘An Archaeology of Rock-art through informed methods and formal methods.’ In The Archaeology of Rock-Art, C. Chippindale and P. C. Taçon, (eds.), pp. 1-10, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Tilley, C., (2004). The Materiality of Stone: Explorations in Landscape Phenomenology, Berg, Oxford. Tyagi, G. S., (2001). ‘Decorative Intricate Patterns in Indian Rock Art.’ in Rock Art in the Old World, Papers presented in Symposium A of the AURA Congress, Darwin (Australia) 1988, pp.207-214, Michel Lorblanchet, (ed.), pp. 303-318, IGNCA Rock Art Series I, 41


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Aryan Books International, New Delhi. Wakankar V.S., (2001). ‘Rock Painting in India’, in Rock Art in the Old World, Papers presented in Symposium A of the AURA Congress, Darwin (Australia) 1988, pp.207-214, Michel Lorblanchet, (ed.), pp. 319-336, IGNCA Rock Art Series I, Aryan Books International, New Delhi. Wakankar, V.S., (2005). Painted Rock Shelters of India, Directorate of Archaeology, Archives and Museums, Government of Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal

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Part II: Bioscope: Seeing through the lenses of South Asian cinema

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Cinematic ambivalence on borders: Ifs and buts of popular South Asia Anakshi Pal* Dev Nath Pathak** Abstract This paper is an exploration of borders through the lens of cinema to understand how it has been imagined or re-imagined in cinematic narratives. Cinema often echoes nationalist overtones in inscribing imaginations of borders into the popular psyche as cartographic divisions. Using a ‘close-reading’ of cinema as a contextually embedded text, full of ambivalences, this paper suggests that cinema also re-imagines borders as ‘subversive sites’ in juxtaposition to such nationalist narratives of borders as frozen, inviolable lines. It shows how the border might even be imagined as a process of ‘othering’, creating dichotomies and binaries like insiders/outsiders, citizens/foreigners, us/them. Borders are simultaneously interpreted as performative metaphors, whereby its invisibility is transformed into a spectacle making it concrete and invincible. Finally, the border is also read as a metaphor for the rift between nation-states and its peripheral citizens. In doing so, this paper stresses that cinematic imagination of borders can be seen as a categorical device in itself, albeit fraught with ambiguities, to jump over the barbed fence of dominant nation-state narratives and emerge at the idea of a ‘fluid’ border that is negotiated daily through the everyday acts of resistances of the borderland people. Keywords: borders, borderlands, cinema, cinematic borders, subversive sites Introduction ‘It is your last check-in point in this country!’ …soon everything would taste different. The land under our feet continued; divided by a thick iron chain. My sister put her leg across it. ‘Look over here’, she said to us, ‘my right leg is in this country and my left leg in the other.’ The border guards told her off. …Dozens of families waited in the rain. ‘I can inhale home’, some said. …I was five years old; standing by the check-in point; comparing both sides of the border. The autumn soil continued on the other side; with the same colour, the same texture. It rained on both sides of the chain. ~Choman Hardi, 19791 In popular understandings, the border is generally imagined as a cartographic line on a map, that is fixed and frozen in time. Taking this as a point of departure, we argue that this is a unilinear, nation-state-centric approach towards borders. Such common sense understandings stem from a nationalist ideology in which the popular imagination is embedded. It almost outlaws any alternative imagination of borders that does not conform to this picture of a fixed, stable, linear divide. Nation-states inscribe borders into the national psyche as ‘sacred’2 lines that must not be violated. Any threat to the border is thus perceived as a threat to the nation *Doctoral

Candidate, Department of Sociology, South Asian University: anakshipal92@gmail.com **Senior Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, South Asian University: dev@soc.sau.ac.in

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state, qua national sacred. Popular cinema, embedded in the nationalist ideology, often tends to demonstrate borders as war-prone zones or a ‘warzone’3 that is highly militarized and overly securitized. The idea of the border as ‘sacred’ is re-affirmed in these narratives. This paper decodes such hegemonic narratives to show how borders can be differently imagined. This is also much needed with the realization that modernity, thereof institutions, and instruments of communication such as cinema is fraught with ambiguities. The best way to understand this ambiguity is to recall Bauman’s (1990, 1991) famous propositions on it that allows us to see all that is grotesque, betwixt the classificatory binaries of the grand narratives. While professing binaries of sacred and profane, akin to the Durkheimian Sociology, modernity was unravelled as a storehouse of fragmented but equally significant strangers pertaining to micronarratives4. Through a close reading of cinematic narratives pertaining to the Indo-Pakistan and Indo-Bangladesh borders, as a contextual text, we locate ambiguities and argue that borders can be alternatively imagined as ‘sites of subversion’. The borderland people through their everyday acts of transgressions and border crossings in the reel life, create their own narratives of subversion. Such subversive acts transform borders from solid divides into negotiable sites. Simultaneously, we pick at cinematic instances to demonstrate how borders become performative metaphors in these narratives. Borders become sites where the nation-state, spectacularly, demonstrates power and aggressiveness because it is where its power is the weakest and perpetually under threat5. This is what van Schendel (2007) referred to as the ‘Wagah Syndrome’ (p. 44). Insecurities of the nation-state with regard to its control over the peripheral border region become pronounced through the overflowing presence of the symbols of its sovereignty at borders. This finds more emphatic, and somewhat exaggerated articulations in the cinematic reconstructions. The state is thus shown as striving perpetually to maintain its presence/control felt through these performances and symbols. Finally, we propose to see borders as metaphors for the gulf between the nation-state and its people at the periphery. Hence, these become sites where the nation-state’s power is imposed over its people. The Concept and The Content in A Cursory Glance Terms such as ‘frontier’, ‘border’ and ‘boundaries’, are often used interchangeably6. This leads to conceptual confusion as each refers to a notion of inclusion/exclusion, insider/outsider. ‘Frontier’ generally refers to territorial expansions of nation-states into unclaimed areas, while ‘boundary’ refers to socio-cultural divisions 7 . The latter is not restricted to the idea of a physical, material ‘border’ and as such is not synonymous with it (Tatum 2000). Lastly, the term ‘border’ has been defined as political divisions or as physical borders between two continents, nations or between two states within a nation8. Political borders have often been referred to as ‘constructs’ and more so in the context of South Asia, as ‘political constructs’9. It has been argued that borders are political imports to the region of South Asia, brought in by the British from the West. For instance, the drawing of the Durand Line and the McMahon line within a gap of 10 years, were direct results of the British East India Company’s efforts to secure their colonial holdings in the face of the threat imposed by Britain’s rivalry with Russia and China10. These frontiers were transformed into fixed, rigid borders only with the Partition, in order to reaffirm the limits and expanses of the sovereignty of nation-states. Hence, as borders were never innate characteristics of the South Asian political landscape, it is a tragedy that they have come to constitute lines of fixtures between ‘citizens’ and ‘foreigners’, ‘us’ and ‘them’. It is curious then, to understand how borders, as artificial imports to South Asia, came to dominate the general understanding as rigid, frozen divides. The creation of modern borders represents the collective effort by state elites11 to establish a universal system of definite territorial jurisdictions and to cartographically confirm their legal 45


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and political sovereignty. As such, borders are often seen as reflections of the actual power that nation-states exercise over their own societies. Simultaneously, borders also become sites of contestations between the state and its people. In fact, borders are often viewed as the results of worked out negotiations between the centre and the people living on the peripheries of the nation12. The term ‘border’ has been variously used to signify psychological divides13 and to refer to a real or abstract territoriality that neither belongs to one side, nor to the other. In such formulations, ‘borders’ become conceptual devices for understanding the autonomy of certain ideas and spaces14. ‘Borders’ have further been seen as reflections of existing differences that perpetuate more differences by constructing new sets of ‘others’ instead of doing away with them (Newman 2006). In this paper, the term ‘border’ has been used as a fusion of these two accepted definitions- firstly, ‘border’ has been used in the sense of a cartographic divide between two countries; and secondly, with regard to socio-psychological divides between two cultural communities and nation-states. The purpose of this paper, however, is to problematize such definitions and arrive at meanings of borders that challenge these imaginations. It would strive to pitch the idea of borders as markers of unity as much as divisions by engaging with the cinematic constructions. This is essential to de-construct the grand hegemonic narrative of nation-states and throw light on ‘micro-narratives’15 of the everyday that imagine the border differently: “In daily life the border hardly plays a role at all, but there is always a hint of suspense, a slight tinge of uncertainty…a political storm may suddenly engulf this zone and involve it directly in border dynamics” (Baud and van Schendel 1997: 222). Hence, as interactive spaces, borders do not remain restricted to its cartographic definition but come alive through the ways in which it influences the borderland and is influenced by the borderland population16. This is the ambiguous sense in which the term ‘border’ is employed in this paper while rummaging through cinematic texts. The select films chosen for discussion in this paper revolve around the Indo-Pakistan and Indo-Bangladesh borders, since cinema in India seems to have an explicit obsession with them, especially the Indo-Pakistan border. This is due to the history of a bloody Partition that both the countries share, together with the cultural affinities and community ties that go back over generations17. It is also owing to the series of wars that these nations have fought among them and still do, providing ample content for mainstream Hindi cinema to stick to the clichéd understanding of this border as a war prone zone. Conversely, portrayals of the IndoBangladesh border along West Bengal, have been relatively benign. Perhaps this is because the two Bengals were perceived for a long time as a culturally integrated community that shared the trauma of a forced Partition18. The Indo-Bangladesh border is also comparatively porous in nature and cross-border migrations continue on a daily basis in trickles19. As such, films on this border mostly speak on themes such as longings for a lost homeland or ‘desher bari’ (Basu Raychaudhury 2004), the nostalgic narratives and tragic struggles of refugees in West Bengal; or recently, of the Partition atrocities, illegal border crossings, border killings to stop illegal migration and trade across this border into India20. The tales of borders that India shares with its other neighbours have been rarely explored and almost completely ignored. Hence, the selection has been restricted to films on these two specific borders only. As cultural artefacts, films often create notions of a homogenized, unified and coherent national identity, simultaneously strengthening the mythical idea of a nation21. However, as noted previously, they also create spaces for counter narratives to such nationalist imagination on borders. The ambiguity of the cinematic constructions thus assumes significance in this 46


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paper. Although each film belongs to a specific genre, that is significant and might vary, for the purpose of this paper, the selection was restricted to a thematic approach. One set of selected films foreground the border as a sacred cartographic line, a ‘warprone zone’ and ‘warzone’, for example, Border (1997); L.O.C. Kargil (2003). The second set portrays overt or covert challenges to nationalist imaginations of borders as inviolable ‘sacred’ lines through the acts of physical or nostalgic transgressions, transforming borders into ‘subversive sites’. This includes Komol Gandhaar (1961) 22; Little Terrorist (2004); Ramchand Pakistani (2008); Filmistaan (2012); Rajkahini (2015); Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015); Shankhachil (2016)). Third and last entails films which represent borders as ‘performative metaphors’, in which bordering is elucidated as a process of ‘othering’ through spectacular performances and symbolisms of the state and the military. This will have examples from Filmistaan (2012); Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015); Rajkahini (2015). The central argument in this paper is built through methodological ‘close-reading’ (Kain 1998) of the contextually embedded cinematic content of these specified films. The interpretative unravelling of the narrative structure, the dialogues and the symbolisms present in these is central in this paper. Following this, a close scrutiny was made of the narrative and imaginative patterns, repetitions, similarities and differences that could give an idea about the broader imaginative themes surrounding borders in these films. Finally, the observations were interpreted using ‘inductive reasoning’, by arriving at conclusions based on the observations previously recorded. Consequently, certain major cinematic typologies of imaginations on borders in general, and the Indo-Pakistan and Indo-Bangladesh borders in particular, were derived from the observations. It ought to be noted that we are aware of the limitations of reading cinematic texts, for they engender only approximate understandings of a prevalent reality such as borders. The aim of this paper however is to raise a discursive trope fraught with perceptive typologies, to fathom the ‘other’ non-statist narratives of borders in juxtaposition to nation-state centric metanarratives. This is because, as Newman writes, “Borders should be studied not only from a topdown perspective, but also from the bottom up, with a focus on the individual border narratives and experiences, reflecting the ways in which borders impact upon the daily life practices of people living in and around the borderland and transboundary transition zones” ((2006: 143). In what follows, we delve into a deeper analysis of cinema as an ambivalent socio-political text on borders. Cinematic Borders: Hegemony of Nation and Narration To reiterate, states are powerful elite institutions that thrive by exercising hegemony. Following Gramsci (1971), ‘hegemony’ is the power to impose and legitimize dominance, without being challenged23. It is this hegemony that allows nation-states to validate borders as ‘sacred’ lines of division. Thus, borders too are inscribed into the popular psyche as all-powerful and aweinspiring, like the Durkheimian ‘sacred’24. Acts of transgression translate to acts of profanity towards borders/nation-states. Such hegemonic ‘meta-narratives’ 25 naturalize the myth of borders. They succeed because, as Lyotard (1979) had claimed, meta-narratives monopolize history and truth. The alternative ‘mini-narratives’ made up by everyday acts of subversion, hence, get labelled as extra-national and illegal. Violation of the sacred is, then, against the norms of the collective and invites legal sanctions. Cinema, therefore, cannot be read in isolation, nor divorced from the hegemonic nationalist ideology. It is often an interface between the social and the political. Often cinema 47


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mirrors imaginations of the border as a militarized, war-prone zone. However, as Anjali Gera Roy and Chua Beng Huat (2012) point out, this is a one sided reading of cinema in India. As a quintessentially modern cultural artefact, cinema perfectly demonstrates the peculiar ambivalence of its time. It is determined not by order and decisiveness, but by chaos and indeterminacies. One can expect the cinematic engagement with border to bear ambivalence, as it is equally engaged and disengaged from the nation-state, transforming itself into a “freefloating signifier” (Ibid.: xxi). Thus, nationalist narratives of borders as ‘zones of exclusion’ co-exist with narratives of memory and nostalgia. This forbids the complete estrangement of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as foreigners to each other. Therefore, just like it portrays the border as militarized warzones in films such as Border (1997) and L.O.C. Kargil (2003), it also creates spaces for counter narratives that challenge this notion, re-imagining borders as ‘zones of contact’ and negotiated spaces in films like Komol Gandhaar (1961), Little Terrorist (2004), Ramchand Pakistani (2008), Filmistaan (2012) and Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015). As socio-political texts on borders, cinematic narratives are dictated by the nature of bilateral ties between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Indo-Pakistan bilateral ties was sufficiently sour due to previous wars and continued to remain extremely tense, owing to the Kargil War of 1999 and the attack on the Indian Parliament in 200126. Accordingly, and as nationalist sentiments would say, befittingly, the cinematic representations of borders echoed nationalist undertones, rather overtones. Cinema then portrayed the Indo-Pakistan border as a ‘sacred’ line of divide and a militarized, contested ‘warzone’. As if neatly timed, the films as Border (1997) and L.O.C. Kargil (2003) came to uphold the heightened sense of the fear of the ‘other’ across the borders. Simultaneously, demonstrating the ambivalent attitude there were films such as Little Terrorist (2004) and Ramchand Pakistani (2008), which showcased the daily travails of the borderland people who often become victims of such nationalist obsession of borders. However, these narratives of victimhood get transformed into narratives of subversion when people in the reel, the cinematic characters, exercise their agency to violate the sacred border by transgressing it, overtly or covertly. The cinematic play with borders humorously parodies the nationalist imaginary of inviolable divides. Filmistaan (2012) and Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) have further encashed upon the historical and emotional links between India and Pakistan, while concurrently displaying issues such as terrorism, an international concern for India and Pakistan since mid2000s27 with comical overtures. On the other hand, the imagery of the border as a war-prone zone has been noticeably absent in cinematic imaginations of the Indo-Bangladesh border owing to the fact that bi-lateral relations between these two countries have been mostly amicable on the whole28. The major trope through which this border has been imagined is that of the 1947 Partition of the Indian subcontinent and the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh, crises which led to an exodus of refugees coming into India (Luthra 1971). Films such as Komol Gandhar (1961) therefore emerged as narrative documents on the arbitrariness of this border resulting in poignant tragedies. Presently, the Indo-Bangladesh border, identified as one of the most porous borders29, has been heavily inflicted by issues like illegal border crossings and border killings by the military, especially by the Border Security Force (BSF) on the Indian side30. These issues have become central themes in films like Shankhachil (2016). Further, the global scenario, in the wake of the World Refugee Crisis of 201531, has brought back with it traumatic memories of Partition that is alive till date among the people of India and Bangladesh, inspiring such films as Rajkahini (2015) to become one of the most violent, brutal and poignant critiques of this border. 48


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With this generic understanding, the subsequent parts of the paper will unravel a few emergent typologies of cinematic engagement with borders. Within each typology, we deal with the issues flagged thus far. Each typology, we envisage, provides an anchor through the cinematic terrain. Janus-Faced Border: Warzone and Subversion As stated earlier, Border as a warzone demonstrates an over-securitized border along India and Pakistan with a clear military presence, in fact the only presence, and is the common projection in mainstream Hindi films of the nationalistic genre. Barbed wires and fences are common insignias in such films, separating one contentious zone from another. In these films, cinematic silence on the lives of borderland people becomes explicitly pronounced. For example, in Border (1997), a cinematic account of the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War in the border region of Loungewala, in Punjab, glimpses of the borderland people are given only twice: in the first, they are framed under the lens of suspicion and turn out to be Pakistani spies; while in the second, they appear as the victims of a newly broken out war. The entire narrative of these films is centred on the allegorical portrayal of the nation as the ‘motherland’32 and the border as a ‘sacred’ marker of the national territory. Any attempt at profaning this sacred line would meet with the unmerciful vengeance and machoaggressiveness of the Indian Army soldiers, who are shown as fiery protectors of the ‘mother’/Nation. The border then also becomes a ‘zone of exclusion’ and the borderland an ‘alienated borderland’ (Martinez 1994). It is noteworthy to mention that the lives and familial sacrifices of the Indian soldier is a central focus in both these films. It almost feels as if the nation-state of India is bound to respect and harbour nationalist sentiments towards borders out of the guilt it experiences for the deaths of its soldiers who had sacrificed their lives at the border. Such concrete nationalist sentiments lend a sense of corporeality to the nation-state and convert borders into its tangible markers, transforming nation-states from being simply ‘imagined’ communities 33 into phantom realities. The absences of the everyday life narratives of borderland people, in such grand hegemonic narratives of mainstream Hindi films as Border (1997) and L.O.C. Kargil (2003) speak volumes. Acts of negotiating the impinging presence of the border on their everyday lives are muzzled in these films by loud nationalistic overtones. These are portrayed as acts of ‘profanity’ towards the border, which becomes almost synonymous with the entire nation-state as both the concepts collapse into each other. Yet, everyday life activities and performances of the borderland people, which might not make grand headlines, such as a war, are nevertheless “hidden transcripts of ‘everyday resistance’” (Gupta and Sharma 2004: 3013), that is to say, these are not overt challenges to nationalist imagination of the border, but rather, covert resistances to the way it has been constructed by the nation-state. These de-construct borders as merely ‘warzones’ and re-create it as a site for subversion of the nation-state’s authority. As paradoxical terrains, borders do not remain limited as a stable phenomenon. They become equally potent unstable regions, fraught with uncertainties because of the possibilities of (il)legal flow of people, money and goods. This constantly disturbs and disrupts the authority and power of the nation-state at borders, while simultaneously stabilizing it34. Therefore, the border emerges in such contexts of ‘illegal’ border crossings as a ‘zone of transition’ and as a ‘site of subversion’, challenging the authoritative sacredness of the nation-state defined border. The short, and yet sharp, film Little Terrorist (2004) revolves around a Pakistani Muslim boy named Jamal (Julfuqar Ali). While playing cricket in a minefield along the India-Pakistan border, he sneaks beneath the barbed wires to fetch the ball, which had ignorantly landed in 49


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another nation. As he crawls upon the sand and grabs the ball, the alarm sets off and the Indian army showers bullets on him, as though flowers greeting the little guest. The soldiers meanwhile trace an invisible ‘terrorist’. The benign humor continues as the village schoolmaster, a Hindu Brahmin named Bhola (Sushil Sharma), spots the little boy and misleads the Indian soldiers to set them off Jamal’s track. He then comes to his aid and gives him refuge. Jamal tags along with Bhola, realizing that he might be his only hope of being rescued. As an initiation in the act of subversion, the conversation unfolds: Bhola: You must be crazy to cross over during the day Jamal: We were playing cricket… Bhola: Cricket? Under that old scrub tree? Jamal: Yes Bhola: The withered tree, with wickets drawn on it? Jamal: Yes Bhola: That’s amazing- I used to play cricket there with my friends, when all this was one village, before Pakistan was made… These covert acts of subversion are frequently showcased in films, either in the form of nostalgic narratives or as a direct outcry against the futility of such arbitrary borders. These everyday border crossings constitute a routine survival strategy for borderland people, whose “…actions may not explicitly be a critique of the nation but they also do not encompass the nation. As subalterns, they are perhaps 'incapable' of 'imagining' a nation. It may thus be more useful to see these acts as representing an unconcern for state and national anxieties…” (Gupta and Sharma 2004: 3013-3014).

However, romantic imageries of subversive acts are fraught with brutalities suffered by the borderland people of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Reports indicate over a million deaths at the Indo-Pakistan border, identified as one of the most dangerous borders in the world35 coupled with the rising numbers of arbitrary arrests of fisherfolks who become prisoners for casual transgressions of maritime borders between India and Pakistan 36 . Similarly, border killings along the Indo-Bangladesh border in West Bengal have also reached gigantic proportions with over 900 deaths of Bangladeshi citizens in the hand of the BSF till 2010 (Human Rights Watch, December 9, 2010). In contrast to such playful and nostalgic subversions of the border are such conscious ones as portrayed in the Bengali film Shankhachil (2016) or Boundless. In Shankhachil, a joint production by India and Bangladesh, Muntasir Chowdhury Badal (Prasenjit Chatterjee), a Bengali Muslim residing in a borderland village in Bangladesh, comes to Taaki in India to seek medical help for his daughter, Rupsa (Shajbati), who is suffering from a congenital heart defect. As their daughter undergoes treatment, Muntasir and his wife, Laila Chowdhury (Kusum Sikder) take the false aliases of Bengali Hindus. They change their names to Badal Chowdhury and Leela Chowdhury, in order to hide their identities as illegal immigrants into India. Simply by altering their names, Badal and Laila transgress socio-cultural boundaries and become assimilated into the larger cultural society of India. Further, in this film, Rupsa’s fascination for the bird ‘Shankhachil’ becomes a metaphor for the fascination of boundlessness and liberation from borders and state-imposed boundaries. Rupsa does not survive. It is her coffin-bound dead body that leaves India in a boat, marked by the Indian national flag, under the supervision of the same Indian soldier with whom she had struck an unusual friendship. As the boat reaches the maritime border with Bangladesh, 50


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the coffin is handed over to the Bangladeshi Army and crosses the border in another boat marked with the Bangladeshi national flag. The figure of this Indian soldier, who exchanges balloons for pickles with a girl from Bangladesh through barbed fences, symbolizes the interactions between the two communities that are given freedom of flight but always under the omnipresent lens of the states and their security forces. In this sense, Shankhachil (2016) cannot be interpreted simply as a linear narrative of subversion. The opening scenes of the film begin by showing a line of illegal migrants sneaking over the border into India. But this act of subversion has its encounter with the state as the Border Security Force (BSF) guns down a child, leaving his lifeless corpse to hang over the barbed fence. The reel here meets the real, for as previously indicated, atrocities by the military on both sides of the border have continued to strain bi-lateral ties. There are similar instances within the film that reflect the dominating presence of the state and the BSF at the Indo-Bangladesh border. The hegemonic definition of the border as ‘sacred’, which can be transgressed but only at one’s own cost, is a theme that constantly gets reiterated upon the psyche of the audience. For example, Badal and Laila regard their transgression of the sacred boundaries of their religion as a sin, which costs them their daughter’s life. This sentiment is also reflected in the dialogue between Anisur and Hemanta Bagchi (Badal’s neighbour and Principal in the school where he used to work) while they walk behind Rupsa’s coffin, as it is carried to the burial ground: Anisur (in an accusing tone to Hemanta Bagchi): Listen- it all happened because of you and your over-fondness for India! Why don’t you go live in that land?! Hemanta Bagchi (in a tone of resignation): Where should I go leaving behind my own country…

Thus, the commission of subversive acts of transgressing the border and boundaries, as a transition into another culture and community, is portrayed as inviting political, social and religio-cultural sanctions. As such, this film emerges as yet another version where the nationalist ideology behind the cartographic border is reproduced and legitimized despite its allusions to the artificiality of the Indo-Bangladesh border and the idea of boundlessness. In addition to such overt and conscious acts of subversion, there are those unconscious subversions that express their disregard towards the border with as much intensity. This is portrayed in the film Ramchand Pakistani (2008) through the figure of a seven-year-old Pakistani boy named Ramchand (Syed Fazal Hussain), belonging to a Hindu Dalit family, living in the Thar Desert, along the border in Pakistan. Ramchand walks into India just like that, unconsciously, too preoccupied in his childish anger towards his mother, Champa (Nandita Das), to notice such cartographic demarcations. In fact, his innocent unawareness does not register any border as there is no such demarcating line on the land, per se, as on a map. He walks through the stone markers that bear the name of India. Pursuing the trail of his son, who he had seen walking towards the border, an apprehensive Shankar (Rashid Farooqui), also steps across the border into India. They both get arrested and spend five long years in an Indian prison before being released. The film claims to be based on true events and proclaims to be set in January 2002, against the backdrop of the attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, which resulted in the tightening of security along the Indo-Pakistan border. It makes a parody of such over-securitization37 of borders that cannot even disregard a casual trespassing by a little boy from Pakistan into India. Subversive undertones in such films transform borders from war-prone zones or ‘zones of exclusion’, that keep the enemy out, into ‘zones of inclusion’, fraught with ambiguous distinctions between ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’. The border, therefore, equally unites while dividing38. In this context, consider Ritwik Ghatak’s (1961) film, Komol Gandhaar, where the 51


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physical boundary dividing the two Bengals is at once dismissed as superfluous by the contemplative ‘gaze’ 39 of the erstwhile East-Pakistani refugees in West Bengal, Anusuya (Supriya Devi) and Bhrigu (Abanish Bannerjee). Behind their gazes hide their narratives of tragedy, as a border fractured their lives, which are now fraught with nostalgic longings for a lost homeland or ‘desher bari’. Through their gazes, which are covert subversions of a kind, Anusuya and Bhrigu transgress the border to seek out their houses on the other side, foregrounding the tragedy of a displaced people and a divided community. This gives one a sense of the violence associated with the Indo-Bangladesh border owing to the fact that it played havoc with the lives, shared cultures and memories of peoples belonging to one linguistic community. The masterful lens of Ritwik Ghatak captures the borderscape between India and the erstwhile East Pakistan with a railway track running in between, trapped in the tragedy and pathos of a single community split into two. Ghatak’s protagonists, Anusuya and Bhrigu, stand gazing at this borderscape of memories, lamenting how a border that used to unite the two Bengals now divides them instead. Their gaze is hardly an idle, innocent gaze. It is transformed into a subversive gaze that critically debunks the forceful imposition of borders on cultural communities such as theirsAnusuya: …over there is the East... This is Padma… Over there somewhere is my ‘desher bari’ (home)…I feel as if we have become like outsiders, don’t you think so?... Bhrigu: My home is also on the other side. See, those huts that can be seen from here- so close, yet so far away. I will never be able to go back ever again. It is a foreign land now. When you told me your home is somewhere over there...I was also trying to seek out our house. It was there, exactly there! ...It suddenly occurred to me that these old railway tracks were a sign of union. Today they have become a symbol of separation- right at this juncture, the country has been split into two.

These portrayals of conscious and unconscious or overt and covert transgressions of the border, subvert the powerful exclusionary politics of the nation-states. These must be interpreted as acts of resistance against the hegemonic power of the nation-states that penetrate and influence the daily lives of the people living at the peripheries40. The Border as a Performative Metaphor Cinema delivers us a portrayal of border as a process of ‘othering’, and the politics of securing borders in the popular psyche as sacrosanct through performances. This process and thereof props acquire performative significance41. The ‘processes of bordering’ operate through the creation of binaries, separating and uniting ‘us’/‘them’, ‘insiders’/‘outsiders’ and ‘citizens’/‘foreigners’. The process of bordering results in the creation of an ‘other’. This is apparently done through performances and the employment of symbolism by the nation-state and its military at the borders, which is almost spectacular in nature. The mythology of the border, then, gets transformed into a spectacle through decorated and symbolic shows of aggressiveness at borders (Barthes (1957) 2009)42. For instance, the film Rajkahini (2015) begins with the flag hoisting ceremony at the Wagah border in Punjab, between India and Pakistan43. The ceremony is a formal choreographed military performance, full of theatrics laced in bewitching passion as soldiers on both sides put up a show of aggressive pomp aimed at the ‘other’ nation. The spectacular nature of this performance and show of power by the nation-states at a significant site, the Wagah border, transforms the border into an arena of performative spectacle44. It also sends a strong symbolic message to the spectators by raising the state and its institutions above the level of the ordinary and mundane. Therefore, nation52


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states and their borders, because of being extraordinary, become sacred and inviolable, almost like a totem in a primitive worldview. Bordering processes therefore highlight clear lines of separation between binaries, legitimizing one at the cost of disregarding the other. However, everyday performances by borderland people frequently soften such divisions. In Filmistaan (2012), for instance, a passionate Bollywood-buff Sunny (Sharib Hashmi) is mistakenly kidnapped by a Pakistan based terrorist group from the Indo-Pakistan border region in the Thar Desert in Rajasthan. In the house where the kidnappers keep him confined, along the border in Pakistan, Sunny finds his friend and aid in Aftaab (Inaamulhaq). Owing to the passionate fascination for acting and Bollywood45, their friendship overcomes all mental borders and thus they find companions in each other. As an aside, it is mentionable that Aftaab is shown to be a dealer in pirated films. He almost smuggles these films with him every time he crosses the border. This kind of exchange of cultural artefacts in the cultural underworld of sort, Nandy (2005) suggests, disregards national-territorial laws. The cultural smugglers, fortunately, transgress nation-state, the institution of borders and keep the possibility of ‘another South Asia’46 alive. After a couple of failed attempts, they succeed in the end, and the captive protagonist escapes across the border into India amidst gunshots of the abductors as well as the fatal surveillance of the Border Security Force. Curiously, both the legitimate army and illegitimate militia require strict borders to flex their respective muscles. Combatting both the stakeholders at the borders, the two friends muster a comon interest in Bollywood to overcome the divides. The unusual friendship disturbs and disrupts the accepted binaries that popular imaginations of the IndoPakistan border built into the psyche of the masses. Consequently, the border also emerges as a metaphor for a safe place to run to and a refuge. Again, in Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015), Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi (Salman Khan), also known as Bajrangi Bhaijaan, risks his life and crosses the border into Pakistan to bring a lost Pakistani Muslim girl home. Shahida/Munni (Harshaali Malhotra) finds her parents but Bajrangi is held captive by the Pakistani police. In a dramatic turnover in the story, the Senior Pakistani Police Officer, Hamid Khan (Rajesh Sharma), realizes that holding him captive in prison would only bring shame upon Pakistan. As such, he gives a cue to Bajrangi’s friend and aide in Pakistan, a journalist named Chand Nawab (Nawazuddin Siddiqui). By putting a video online, Chand Nawab appeals to the masses of both nations to gather at the Narowal Border Checkpost and ensure that Bajrangi Bhaijaan is allowed to return to his country unhindered. The next day, thousands of people on both sides flock towards the border checkposts. The Pakistani Army initially puts up a show of resistance but in the final twist, they surrender and feign resistance, as they give a cue to the masses to literally break down the checkpost. In the final climactic moment of the film, the gathered crowd literally runs over the border, forcing it open as the armed Pakistani soldiers stand by. This dramatic gesture is a performative subversion that overtly confronts the resistance put up by the actors of the nation-states. As Bajrangi Bhaijaan crosses over into India amidst loud cheers and incessant claps from the people, Shahida, who is portrayed in the film as mute, stands behind the barbed wire trying to call out to him one last time. She miraculously finds her voice and they both run towards each other to meet in the middle of the Indian and Pakistani Checkposts, metaphorically symbolising the border-based performance in unity rather than in separation. Apart from a performative spectacle dictated by nationalist ideologies, the border can also be understood as a metaphor for the gulf between a nation-state, securely placed at the centre and the people at the periphery. It becomes a site for the unequal displays of power by both parties. For instance, in Rajkahini (2015), this rift is portrayed remarkably well. The story 53


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unfolds during a turbulent time in 1946 with India soon to be partitioned by the Radcliffe Line. Against this backdrop is set a brothel, run by the fierce and head-strong Begum Jaan (Rituparna Sengupta), housing eleven women whose lives and bodies are sites of the violent atrocities perpetrated by the patriarchies of two religious communities at war. Subsequently, the Indian Independence Act of 1947 is passed by the British, splitting the country into two. As the task of setting up border checkposts between West Bengal in India and Pakistan commences, the local representatives from the two nations - Prophullo Mohan Sen (Saswata Chatterjee) for India and Mohammad Illias (Koushik Sen) for Pakistan - discover that the Radcliffe Line literally runs through the middle of Begum Jaan’s brothel. The irony of such arbitrary cartographic divides is turned into a joke as Begum Jaan and all the members of her brothel, break out in a laughter of mocking dismissal at the ridiculous idea of the IndiaPakistan border, that literally proposes to cut the brothel house and community into two: Prophullo (to Begum Jaan): …we have come with a Notice of Eviction. Begum Jaan: What Notice? Illias: Let me explain. You all have to empty the house as several border checkposts have to be set up here because through the middle of this house will run the Hindustan-Pakistan border... Begum Jaan: Wait wait wait! So, you are suggesting that the people who are standing on that side of this courtyard…are in Hindustan and on this side…, is Pakistan?! Illias (in a tone of hesitation): Ummm…Yes… (Begum Jaan and all other members of the brothel break out in a long mocking laughter of disbelief at such a ridiculous idea.) Begum Jaan (still laughing): Wow, Badaa Sahib! Your Radcliff Sahib turned out to be quite amazing! When he did butcher the nation into two, couldn’t he have done a better job than this! …our Rahim Chacha butchers a goat better than this… Begum Jaan: The place that you are calling a brothel, is my ‘desh’ (homeland), my Nation. Here, there is no Hindu or Muslim, no upper caste or lower caste. There are only our bodies here to sell, hence, the only wishes here, are also ours…I’ve no idea which Hindustan or Pakistan, you all are talking about…that’s just rubbish for me! Because what someone sitting in Delhi decides, is of no use to me! …Anyone who tries to evict us from here, will have his body (pauses)- what is that word?- partition(ed) by me!

The brothel, here, is also a metaphor for the nation or the community. The border, for Begum Jaan and her brothel is not ‘sacred’, unlike the state representatives. The equation here is reversed: for the people belonging to a community/the brothel, the border is a symbol of profanity, as it threatens to sever communal bonds, friendships and memories. Begum Jaan and the inhabitants of her brothel clearly declare their resistances against the dictates of the two powerful nation-states. Their declaration of resistance is an outcry of protest against the forceful imposition of nation-states and cartographic borders on peoples. Persistent attempts, both legal and illegal, violent and torturous fail to oust Begum Jaan from her brothel for she regards it as her home, her Nation. In the climax, after putting up a fierce and relentless battle, Begum Jaan and the women resign into their beloved home/nation/the brothel, which is set alight. This act of violence, too, does not yield as Begum Jaan, together with the survivors and the dead, submit to their fates inside the burning brothel by shutting the door at the faces of the diktats of the nation-states. Their act of resignation in this moment is transformed metaphorically and symbolically into subaltern act of power, that is more profound in its resistance and submission to violence than that of the nation-states, in their perpetration of it. 54


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The border, thus, becomes a political metaphor for the confrontations of the powers of nation-states and its subalterns. This metaphorical border, as such, creates two nation-states: one that emerges from the grand ideologies of powerful national elites and the other that arises out of the narratives of the subaltern. Thus, it becomes a performative spectacle by both, acts of domination and acts of resistance. Conclusion- Re-Imagining the Border Through the trope of cinema, this paper has tried to bring to the fore the diverse ways in which the Indo-Pakistan and the Indo-Bangladesh borders and borderlands have been imagined. As such, it has arrived at certain perceptive typologies to re-think borders as subversive sites: as a process of ‘othering’; and a performative metaphor. Such re-imaginings become important in a context where the world is witnessing an expansion in state powers. Borders thus increasingly become sites of display of the power of dominant and financially strong nation-states, who fortify their territories by over securitization of borders. The resonance of such an approach was felt particularly strongly when the world encountered a refugee crisis of tumultuous proportions, with over 59.5 million displaced people all over the world during 2015 (The Sunday Times of India, 6 September 2015). Keeping aside the many limitations that this paper might have, we stress that the need of the hour is to re-define and re-imagine borders as it would lead them to be accepted as unstable, flexible markers constantly in the process of being negotiated and de-constructed. References Adams, B., (2011, January 23). India’s Shoot-to-Kill Policy on the Bangladesh Border. The Guardian, [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/libertycentral/2011/jan/23/india-bangladeshborder-shoot-to-kill-policy [Accessed 28 Apr. 2017]. Alcoff, L. M., (2007). Mignolo’s Epistemology of Coloniality. The New Centennial Review, [online] Volume 7(3), pp. 79-101. Anon (2016), Extremism Damaging India, Pak Ties: Pak Foreign Secy (December 2016). Kashmir Observer, [online] Anderson, B., ((1983) 2006). Imagined Community- Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso. Anderson, J. and O’Dowd, L., (1999). Borders, Border Regions and Territoriality: Contradictory Meanings, Changing Significance. Regional Studies, [online] Volume 33(7), pp. 593-604. Appelrouth, S. and Desfor Edles, L., (2011). Sociological Theory in the Contemporary Era. United States of America: Sage, pp. 428-442. Ashcroft, B., (2012). Bollywood, Postcolonial Transformation, and Modernity. In: A. Gera Roy and C. Beng Huat, eds., Travels of Bollywood Cinema. India: Oxford University Press, pp. 1-18. Baeg Im, H., (1991 Spring-Simmer). Hegemony and Counter-Hegemony In Gramsci. Asian Perspective, [online] Volume 15(1), pp. 123-156. 55


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Manto, S. H., (2012). Toba Tek Singh. In: A. Taseer (translator), Manto- Selected Short Stories. India: Random House, pp. 1-10. MaoldĂşin, R. Ă“., (2008). Crossing Borders in the 21st Century. Archaeology Ireland, [online] Volume 22(4), pp. 26-29. Mignolo, W. D., (2007, March 1). Delinking. Cultural Studies, [online] Volume 21(2), pp. 449-514. Mignolo, W. D., (2009). Epistemic Disobedience, Independent Thought and De-Colonial Freedom. Theory, Culture and Society, [online] Volume 26(7-8), pp. 1-23. Mignolo, W. D., (2011). Geopolitics of Sensing and Knowing: On (De)Coloniality, Border Thinking, and Epistemic Disobedience. Transversal, [online]. Murayama, M., (2006). Borders, Migration and Sub-Regional Cooperation in Eastern South Asia. Economic and Political Weekly, pp. 1351-1359. Nandy, A., (2005). The Idea of South Asia: A Personal Note on Post-Bandung Blues. InterAsia Cultural Studies, Volume 6(4), pp. 541-545. Nelson, D., (2009, July 8). Pakistani President Asif Zardari Admits Creating Terrorist Groups. The Telegraph, [online] Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/5779916/Pakistani-president-AsifZardari-admits-creating-terrorist-groups.html [Accessed 30 Apr. 2017]. Oommen, T. K., (1982, March). Foreigners, Refugees and Outsiders in the Indian Context. Sociological Bulletin, [online] Volume 31(1), pp. 41-64. Pande, V., (2017, April 15). Borderlands, Empires and Nations- Himalayan and TransHimalayan Borderlands (c 1815-1930). Economic and Political Weekly, [online] Vol. 52 (15): 69-78 Pathak, D. N. and Perera, S., eds., (2017). Culture and Politics in South Asia: Performative Communication, 1st ed. Delhi: Routledge. Pathak, D. N., ed., (2017). Another South Asia, 1st ed. Delhi: Primus. Perera, S., (2016). Warzone Tourism in Sri Lanka- Tales from Darker Places in Paradise. India: Sage Publications. Pradhan, G., Kumar, A. and Chakravorty, M., (2015). Bordering Tranquility. Economic and Political Weekly, Volume L(51), pp. 92-94. Rajghatta, C., (2015, September 6). New country for refugees?. Sunday Times of India. Samaddar, R., (1999). The Marginal Nation- Transborder Migration from Bangladesh to West Bengal. India: Sage Publications. 58


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Schendel, W. van., (2002, February). Stateless in South Asia: The Making of the IndiaBangladesh Enclaves. The Journal of Asian Studies, [online] Volume 61(1), pp. 115-147. Schendel, W. van., (2007). The Wagah Syndrome: Territorial Roots of Contemporary Violence in South Asia. In: A. Basu and S. Roy, eds., Violence and Democracy in India. Calcutta: Seagull Books, pp. 36-82. Sengupta, A., (2012). Some Stories from the Bengal Borderland: Making and Unmaking of an International Boundary. In: A. Sengupta and H. Chatterjee, Bengal Borders and Travelling Lives. Sevastianov, S. V., Laine J. P. and Kireev, A. A., (2015). Preface. In: S. V. Sevastianov, J. P. Laine and A. A. Kireev, eds., Introduction to Border Studies. Vladivostok: Dalnauka. pp. 511. Shakya, M., (2017, April 15). Reading Parijat and B P Koirala- Belonging and Borders in 20th Century Nepali Novels. Economic and Political Weekly, [online] Volume 52(15), pp. 5360. Subberwal, R., (2009). Hegemony. In: Dictionary of Sociology. New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill. p. H2. Subberwal, R., (2009). Religion and Magic. In: Dictionary of Sociology. New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill. p. R7. Szczepanski, M. S., (1998). Cultural Borderlands in Sociological Perspective (The Case of Upper Silesia). Polish Sociological Review, [online] (121), pp. 69-82. Tatum, C., (2000). On the Border: From the Abstract to the Specific. Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies, [online] Volume 4, pp. 93-103. Walker, P., (2011, June 24). The World’s Most Dangerous Borders. Foreign Policy, [online] Available at: https://foreignpolicy.com/2011/06/24/the-worlds-most-dangerous-borders/ [Accessed 28 Apr. 2017]. Filmography Bajrangi Bhaijaan. (2015) Director: Kabir Khan. Border. (1997) Director: J. P. Dutta. Filmistaan. (2012) Director: Nitin Kakkar. Komol Gandhaar. (1961) Director: Ritwik Ghatak. L.O.C. Kargil. (2003) Director: J. P. Dutta. Little Terrorist. (2014) Director: Ashvin Kumar. Rajkahini. (2015) Director: Srijit Mukherji. Ramchand Pakistani. (2008) Director: Mehreen Jabbar. Shankhachil. (2016) Director: Goutam Ghosh 1

This is a part of the autobiographical poem, At the Border, by Choman Hardi. Set at the border of Iran and Northern Iraq, it is dated 1979- the year Choman Hardi returned with her family to Kurdistan, their homeland. 2 We use the term ‘sacred’ here, in the Durkheimian sense, where it stood for the all-powerful and awe-inspiring, superior in dignity and status to the profane. The sacred and the profane, Durkheim (1912) noted were determined

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by the collective consciousness (Cited in Desfor Edles and Appelrouth 2010: 134-152). In this scheme, everything mundane was trashed as ‘bad sacred’. However, perhaps the mundane cannot be pushed aside if one is keen about a holistic comprehension of modernity. 3 We borrow the term “warzone” from Sasanka Perera’s (2016) work on warzone tourism in Sri Lanka, where it has been used as a category to refer to “a place where war was once active in the recent past and has acutely touched, scarred and impacted the landscape and the populace” (p. 3). 4 Along this line, it is fascinating to engage with Lyotard (1979) and Bauman (1990, 1991) to arrive at the legitimacy of diverse narratives. Needless to say, this is only one line of engagement with the discontents of modernity. The canvas could be much exhaustive if many other strands could be factored in. Suffice to say, this selective engagement serves the purpose of this paper. 5 See, van Schendel 2007. Alternatively, it is paradoxical that the nation-state’s control might be the strongest at the border because of it being located farthest away from the centre (Anderson and O’Dowd 2010). While we acknowledge this paradoxical probability, we seek to argue that borders as symbolic and performative sites, stink of the nation-state’s insecurities about its peripheries. 6 See for instance, Baud and van Schendel 1997; Grassiani and Swinkels 2014. 7 ibid. 8 See, Baud and van Schendel 1997; Newman 2006. 9 See for instance, Baud and van Schendel 1997; Samaddar 1999; Murayama 2006; Banerjee 2010; Cederlof 2012. 10 See Banerjee 2010; Pande 2017. 11 The term ‘elite’ has been used here to refer to those institutions/people who have the means and the power to define what borders should be. They have the capacity to use coercive force and legal sanctions if their definitions are challenged. The nation-state, in this case, is an ‘elite’ institution as it has the power to force its definition of the ‘border’ over its people, especially those residing in the borderlands, even in the face of direct challenges to such political constructions. 12 See Baud and van Schendel 1997; Pande 2017. 13 See, Banerjee 2010; Grassiani and Swinkels 2014; Sevastianov et. al. 2015. 14 Decolonization Theorists, such as Walter D. Mignolo (2007: 478) use the notion of the ‘border’ in the context of ‘border thinking’, to refer to the practice of thinking and theorizing from the exteriority or outside the ‘colonial matrix of power’. Such practice is grounded in the lived experience of those who have been excluded from the process of knowledge production. As such, the idea of ‘border’ implies an exterior created by the interior. 15 See Lyotard 1979; and also, Appelrouth and Desfor Edles 2011: 428-442. 16 See, Samaddar 1999; Gupta and Sharma 2004; Newman 2006; Pande 2017. 17 See, Extremism Damaging India, Pak Ties: Pak Foreign Secy. Kashmir Observer. 2016, December 28; and also, Geelani, G. 2016, October 15. Mangoes and Biriyani Will Replace Bullets and Mortar. Kashmir Observer. 18 See, India and Bangladesh to Boost Bilateral Ties. Bangladesh Live News. 2017, May 1. 19 See, Oommen 1982; Samaddar 1999. 20 See for instance, BSF Chief Promises to Bring Down Border Casualties to Zero. The Hindu. 2016, October 18. 21 See, Gera Roy and Beng Huat 2012. 22 Here, a clarification is required with regard to the selection of the film, Komol Gandhaar (1961) by Ritwik Ghatak in a similar vein as the other films that belong to a different era altogether. The theme of subversion is the commonality among these films which makes their selection under one umbrella possible. This makes the selection of films belonging to very different time periods less problematic and more plausible. 23 Antonio Gramsci in Prison Notebooks (1971) noted that the Revolution predicted by Marx, did not happen in Europe, despite the possibilities being ripe, owing to the ‘hegemony’ of the ruling classes over the subaltern masses. This hegemony involved socializing the masses into their own ideas so that they come to see their dominance as legitimate and justified, without challenging it, thereby reproducing their own domination and exploitation (Cited in, Desfor Edles and Appelrouth 2010: 29-30). See also, Baeg Im 1991; Subberwal 2009: H2. 24 See, Durkheim, Emile. (1912) 1995. The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. The United States of America: Free Press; See also, Subberwal 2009: R7; Desfor Edles and Appelrouth 2010: 134-152. 25 See Lyotard (1979), where he claims that meta-narratives’ or grand narratives, give rize to totalizing knowledge systems, on the basis of which truth claims are made. These fail to recognize the multiplicity of truths arising from micro-narratives. See also, Appelrouth and Desfor Edles 2011: 428-442. In using the concepts of ‘hegemony’ and ‘meta-narrative’, we recognize the theoretical clashes between the two, however, they provide perfect theoretical tools for analysing the imaginative scenario around borders. 26 See, ‘Extremism Damaging India, Pak Ties: Pak Foreign Secy’ Kashmir Observer. 2016, December 28; and also, Geelani, G. (2016, October 15). Mangoes and Biriyani Will Replace Bullets and Mortar. Kashmir Observer. 27 See, Nelson, D. (2009, July 8). Pakistani President Asif Zardari Admits Creating Terrorist Groups. The Telegraph. 28 See, India and Bangladesh to Boost Bilateral Ties. Bangladesh Live News. 2017, May 1. 29 See Oommen 1982; Samaddar 1999; and also, Banerjee 60 2010.


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30

See Adams, B. (2011, January 23). India’s Shoot-to-Kill Policy on the Bangladesh Border. The Guardian. See Rajghatta, C. (2015, September 6) New country for refugees?. Sunday Times of India. 32 See for instance, Gabriel (1998) for a detailed discussion on the gendered symbolisms in Border (1997); and Carroll (2006) for a reading on allegorical representations of borders. 33 Benedict Anderson ((1983) 2006) has suggested that nation-states are “imagined political communities” (p. 6) as its citizens, in the absence of direct face-to-face contact, imagine the existence of a larger national community or the nation. Nationalism then becomes the process of inventing nations, which are conceived as formations of “deep, horizontal comradeships” (p. 7). This sense of fraternity is what makes it possible to sacrifice one’s own life for nations. 34 See Samaddar 1999; and also, Newman 2006. 35 See, Walker, P. (24 June 2011). The World’s Most Dangerous Borders. Foreign Policy. 36 See Gupta and Sharma (2004) for a detailed study on the arbitrary imprisonments and travails of fisherfolks along the Indo-Pakistan border. 37 For a detailed analysis on the over-securitization of borders, see Cunningham 2009. 38 See for instance, Baud and van Schendel 1997; Samaddar 1999; Gupta and Sharma 2004; Banerjee 2010. 39 The notion of the ‘gaze’ is used by Sasanka Perera (2016) with reference to John Urry’s (2002) work on the tourist’s gaze, to highlight the discursive significance of the sight with which the southern Sinhala tourists contemplated a war ravaged North, in Sri Lanka. 40 For instance, see Gupta and Sharma 2004. 41 As to how cinematic materials, as well as other mediated cultural expressions, acquire performative significance, is elucidated in Pathak and Perera (2017). 42 We draw here from Roland Barthes’ fascinating essay, ‘The World of Wrestling’ ((1957) 2009), where he rereads wrestling as a spectacle and the performance of the wrestlers as spectacular. 43 Since November 2013, a Wagah Border-like ceremony, called the Joint Retreat Ceremony, is also being held at Petrapole-Benapole Border between India and Bangladesh. It however lacks the show of aggressiveness present in the Wagah Border ceremony (The Hindu, November 6, 2013). 44 See, van Schendel 2007; and, Jacobs, F. 2012, July 3. ‘Peacocks at Sunset’ The New York Times. 45 The term “Bollywood” has been defined by Anjali Gera Roy and Chua Beng Huat (2012) as, “…a portmanteau of Bombay and Hollywood, coined by the English language media in India to define ‘India’s popular film industry based in Mumbai- a blend of Bombay…and Hollywood’…” (p. ix). Bollywood has become a universally accepted term, although the Bombay film industry has expressed its objection towards its use on the grounds that the Bombay cinema has developed independently of the American popular film and is greatly different from it. To avoid this terminological war, we have used the term “Hindi cinema” throughout this paper. Only in this place, we use “Bollywood” as it is also used in the film (Filmistaan (2012)). 46 For an elaborate discussion on ‘Another South Asia’, see Pathak (2017). 31

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Saratchandra’s Devdas: A comparison between the original Bengali text and its two Hindi film adaptations Salman Al-Azami* Tasleem Shakur** Abstract Saratchandra Chatterjee’s Devdas is one of the most famous novels in Bangla literature, one which has become the symbol of a tragic love story in the whole of South Asia. There have been many film versions of the story in various languages. Saratchandra’s storytelling, characterization, and dialogues in the original text made it a popular story for film adaptations. This paper uses theories of narratives in fictions and films in order to compare between the narrative styles of the original Bangla text and its two famous Hindi film adaptations by Bimol Roy (1955), and Sanjay Leela Bhansali (2002). It also analyses how Sarat’s characterization was influenced by Victorian novels, and compares the dialogues of the original text with those in its two Hindi film adaptations. Keywords: narrative style, film adaptation, Victorian influence, film dialogue, song sequence

Introduction Saratchandra Chatterjee’s Devdas became a reader’s delight right after its first publication in 1917. Since then, its protagonist Devdas has been the tragic hero in the hearts of millions of readers. Naturally, it is no surprise that Devdas became a film many times in the sub-continent. The Devdas narrative was first adapted into a silent film in 1928 by Naresh Mitra. Filmmaker P C Barua made three versions of this novel: in 1935, he directed a Bengali version, in which he himself acted as Devdas; in 1936, he made the legendary Hindi version with Kundan Lal Saigal as Devdas; in 1937 he made an Assamese version with Phani Sharma as Devdas, Zubeida as Paro and Mohini as Chandramukhi. In 1953, its Tamil and Telugu versions were produced. In 1955, Bimal Roy made the second famous Hindi version with Dilip Kumar as Devdas, Suchitra Sen as Paro and Vaijayantimala as Chandramukhi. Along with Kundan Lal Saigal's Devdas, this film is acclaimed as amongst the all-time great classics in Hindi cinema. In more recent times, Sanjay Leela Bansali made this film in 2002 with Shah Rukh Khan as Devdas and Aishwarya Rai as Paro. Made in the era of India's economic rise, even though this film raked in more money than the earlier films, it was not well appreciated by the critics. In 2009, a postmodern version, entitled Dev D, was made by Anurag Kashyap. Very few stories have been filmed so many times in the history of film making. Saratchandra wrote 30 novels and 22 of them have been successfully picturised. Why have filmmakers been so keen in adapting his novels? Hutcheon (2006) highlights several reasons why people produce adaptations: to make money, to extend the drawing power of a franchise, to borrow the cultural capital of a more prestigious text or genre, or for political or personal motives. A classic novel, Devdas had all the ingredients of a successful film, particularly in a South Asian context. The Bengali novel was a masterpiece for its theme, *

Senior Lecturer in English Language, Liverpool Hope University, UK: alazams@hope.ac.uk Editor, South Asian Cultural Studies (SACS), Edge Hill University, UK: shakurt@edgehill.ac.uk

**

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characterization and depiction of conflict both externally and internally among the characters. Saratchandra’s narrative style has the ‘impression of reality’, which according to Metz (1974:4), has the power to draw crowds. Mishra (2002) lists six ‘orders’ in Devdas that pushed the themes in the story to ‘ambiguous extremes’: the order of marriage; the order of social decorum; the order of patriarchal power; the order of pleasure in the kotha (brothel); the order of symbolic violation; and the order of the promise to return (p.27). It is these ‘ambiguous extremes’ that have always been important characteristics of South Asian films, which led Devdas to be such a popular story for film adaptation. Hutcheon (2006) considers both financial and culturally enriching motivations as reasons for adaptation, which seems to be the case with this classic novel. However, there is a difference between a film's commercial success and its acclaim from the aesthetic angle, at least in South Asia. Every commercially successful film is not necessarily highly acclaimed by the South Asian connoisseurs, and vice versa. Thus, Bhansali's 2002 Devdas was a major commercial success and also won some national awards, but it was not well-received by those who had seen the earlier two Hindi films. They preferred the earlier Hindi versions, especially Bimal Roy's version, to this new version. In contrast, the young audience and the press were dazzled by the grandeur of sets and the forceful women in the film. Most of them had not seen the earlier versions. This study discusses the narrative style of the original Bengali novel looking at the depiction of a sentimental love story. It also analyses how Sarat’s characterization was influenced by Victorian novels. Finally, it compares the dialogues of the original text with those in its two Hindi film adaptations – the earlier one directed by Bimal Roy (a renowned Bengali director in the 1950s) which provides a more literal translation of the original Bengali novel, and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 2002 blockbuster, which has a number of deviations from the original text. The reason for choosing these two versions is to show the contrast in storytelling between the two directors. Bimal Roy’s version is chosen for its true representation of the original story along with its characterization that received critical acclaim. Bhansali’s version is chosen to show how contemporary style in Bollywood cinema can convert a classic tale of tragedy into a glamorous Bollywood blockbuster by changing the whole sensitivity of the original story. The Story Devdas is a tragic story of a man called Devdas who loved but never got his lover. The protagonist Devdas shared a magnetic childhood with his lovely playmate Parvati (popularly known as Paro), and the supreme love matured in Paro’s heart much before Devdas could realize. As the two playmates became youths, the love intensified in Parvati so much so that she was ready to do anything to get Devdas. But, unfortunately, Devdas failed to understand Paro’s passionate love towards him and his whimsical ‘no’ at a very critical time created a permanent wall of separation between him and his beloved Paro. When he did realize how much his heart felt for Paro, it was too late, as the heartbroken Paro became the wife of another man. This completely shattered Devdas. He was unable to bear the agony of a life without Paro. The absence of his beloved Paro in his life made alcohol his constant companion, but that could not make him forget the piercing pain. Even the unconditional love and devotion of a beautiful courtesan, Chandramukhi, could not ease the pain of losing Paro. The pain ultimately 63


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brought his untimely death as he breathed his last at Paro's doorstep to keep his earlier promise that he would meet her at least once before his death. Narrative Style of Devdas Genette (1980:161-62) discusses three functions of narrative discourse, the second of which is ‘mood’. He writes: The narrative can furnish the reader with more or fewer details, and in a more or less direct way, and can thus seem (to adopt a common and convenient spatial metaphor, which is not to be taken literally) to keep a greater or lesser distance from what it tells.

Gunning (1984:460) looks at this theory from the perspective of the narrator’s involvement in the story, which may correspond to the viewpoint of a particular character in the story. Gunning concludes that “the narrative adopts the character’s point of view”. The narrator in Saratchandra’s Devdas is an omniscient third person narrator who goes through the minds of the major characters like Devdas, Parvati and Chandramukhi. Most of the time, the narrator informs the readers about the inner conflicts in the protagonist Devdas. For example, after posting a letter to Parvati saying that he cannot marry her, Devdas’ state of mind is described by the narrator in this way: /pOtrokhana jOtokkhon debdaS DakghOre nikkhep kOre nai, tOtokkhon Ek kOtha bhabiyachilo; kintu rOwna koribar pOrmuhurto hoitei onno kOtha bhabite lagilo. hater Dhil churia dia Ek drishTite Sei dike chahiya rohilo. EkTa OnirdiSTo SOnka tahar moner majhe krome krome jORo hoitechilo. Se bhabitechilo, e DhilTa tahar mathay kibhabe poRibe. khub lagibeki? bacibeto?/ ‘Until Devdas posted the letter, he thought in one dimension; but once he sent it, he started to feel differently. It is as if he had thrown a stone and then kept on staring at the direction of it. Gradually, an uncertain fear seemed to grasp his mind. He thought, how will this stone fall on her head? Will it hurt? Will she survive?’

In contrast, during the earlier part of the story when the protagonists were in their childhood, the narrator had a different perspective of Devdas’ mental condition: /parbotir jOnoni konnake ritimOto prohar koriya ghOre aboddho koria rakhilen. debdaSer kOtha Thik janina; kEnona eSob kahini Se kichutei prokaS kOrena/ Parvati’s mother beat her daughter and locked her inside the house. I don’t exactly know what happened to Devdas, because he never discloses these matters to anyone.

In most situations, the narrator seems to know everything about Devdas, but in that particular context, the ‘mood’ of the narrator is completely different, which supports Genette’s (1980) narrative discourse theory. However, at the very end of the novel, the narrator becomes more personal, and also very emotional – quite unusual for an omniscient narrator. The final paragraph of the story is as follows: /Ekhon Etodine parbotir ki hoiyache, kemon ache janina. SONbad loiteo iccha kOrena. Sudhu debdaSer jonno bORo kOSTo hOy. tomra je keho e kahini poribe, hOyto amaderi moto dukkho paibe. tobu jodi kOkhono debdaSer mOto emon hOtobhaggo, OshoNjomi papiSTher shohit porichoy ghOte, tahar jonno ektu prarthona korio. prarthona korio, ar jahai hok, jEno tahar moto emon koria kaharo mrittu na ghOte. MOrone khoti nai, kintu Se shomoye jEno ekTi

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snehokOrospOrSo tahar lolaTe pouche – jEno ekTio korunadro snehomOy mukh dekhite dekhite e jiboner Onto hoy. moribar shomoy jEno kaharo Ek fota cokher jOl dekhiya Se morite pare./ I don’t know what happened to Parvati all these days; I don’t know how she is and I even don’t want to know. I only feel pain for Devdas. Those of you who will read this story will probably feel the same as us. Yet, if you happen to come across an unfortunate, unrestrained sinner like Devdas, then please do pray for him. Pray so that, come what may, no one dies a death like this. There is no harm in death. But pray so that at the time of death, he receives a loving touch of someone – pray so that he dies looking at a loving affectionate face beside him. Pray so that he witnesses a drop of affectionate tear before he dies.

The narrator uses the same pattern about the mental state of Parvati, which had been used earlier about Devdas’ mental condition. The narrator’s emotional involvement with Devdas’ tragic end led to the refusal to know (or describe) what happened with Parvati. The narrator’s personal involvement with the characters is also found in the expression /amader mOto/ ‘like us’, though it is interesting to note the use of first person plural form in this situation. Sentimental Love Story Devdas is a love story par excellence, though the two lovers do not unite. Mishra (2002) argues that the cinematic depiction of Devdas established the concept of ‘sentimental lover’ in Indian cinema. Parvati and Devdas’ love for each other before marriage grows even stronger after their separation. It is revealed when they meet on the occasion of the death of Devdas’ father. Parvati asks Devdas to come to her place so that she can look after him. Devdas says: /amake jOtno korle jodi – tomar dukkho ghoce – ami jabo. morbar ageo amar e kOtha SOron thakbe/ ‘If your sorrows are relieved by looking after me – then I will go. I will remember this until I die.’ And Devdas keeps his promise. He dies right at the door of Parvati’s house.

With the Devdas-Parvati love story so prominent, Chandramukhi, the courtesan’s, one way love affair towards Devdas is often overlooked, though Devdas realises it at the final stage of the story when he makes a comparison between his two lovers as contrasting characters while talking to Chandramukhi: /tomader dujone kOto omil, abar kOto mil. Ekjon obhimani, uddhOto, ar Ekjon kOto Santo, kOto SONjoto. Se kichui Soite parena, ar tomar kOto Sojjo! tar kOto jOS, kOto Sunam, ar tomar kOto kOloNko! Sobai take kOto bhalobaSe, ar keu tomake bhalobaSena./ You two are so different, yet so similar. One is so sensitive, so arrogant; the other is so quiet, so patient. She can’t tolerate anything, but you have so much tolerance! She has such fame, such reputation, but you have such scandal! Everyone loves her so much, but no one loves you.

But Sarat did not want Chandramukhi’s love to go in vain. So Devdas finally expresses his love towards her though he is not ready to accept her in this life. He says: /pap-punner bicarkOrta tomar ki bicar korben janine; kintu mrittur pOr jodi abar milon hOy, ami kOkhono toma hote dure thakte parbona./ I don’t know what the decider between good and evil decides about you; but if we meet after death, I will never be able to stay away from you.

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Victorian Influence Saratchandra was greatly influenced by late Victorian literature. The depression of Devdas is an influence of Thomas Hardy’s characters; particularly, Devdas’ escapism was likely influenced by ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’. His syntactic pattern has a deep Victorian touch. Like Charles Dickens’‘Great Expectations’, the story of Devdas begins with a noticeably long sentence: /Thik shei shomOyTite mukhujjoder debdaS paThSala-ghOrer Ek kone chera madurer upor boSiya, sleT hate loiya, chokkhu chahiya, bujiya, pa chORaiya, hai tuliya, OboSeSe hOThat khub chintashil hoiya uThilo; eboN nimishe sthir koria felilo je, ei pOrom rOmoniyo SomoyTite maThe maThe ghuRi uRaiya bERanor poribOrte paThSalay aboddho thakaTa kichu noy./ At that very time, Devdas of the Mukherjees was sitting on a torn mat in the corner of the schoolroom, keeping a slate in his hand, opening his eyes, then again closing them, stretching his legs, yawning, and finally becoming very philosophical and suddenly deciding that it is useless wasting this romantic time locked in school instead of flying kites.

Another Victorian influence is found in his characterisation, particularly the manner in which his female protagonists speak. While Chandramukhi represents the Bengali women of that time – quiet, enduring, yet philosophical – Parvati is made a woman of substance, similar to the women protagonists of Jane Austen’s novels (for example, Elizabeth of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ or Emma Woodhouse of ‘Emma’). Butler (1975:199) talks about the incredible amount of independence Elizabeth Bennett showed in Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, in a society where women were dependent on their husbands and families, calling her “fearless and independent”. A woman of substance would be even more unthinkable in a Bengali Hindu society at Sarat’s time, but his characterisation of Parvati has colossal similarities with Elizabeth Bennett. The manner in which Parvati refuses Devdas’ offer of marriage after her marriage is fixed reminds us the way Elizabeth refused Mr. Darcy’s marriage proposal – there is similar strength in personality and self-pride, which is highly unexpected of a Hindu Bengali woman in the early 20th century. The unconventional characterisation of Parvati is clearly evident in the dialogue of Parvati and Monoroma regarding Parvati proposing marriage to Devdas. Monoroma becomes utterly surprised that Parvati would propose to Devdas. She says: /ami memanush – tor Soi, kintu Se je puruSmanuS paro./ I am a woman – your friend, but he is a man, Paro. /ebar parboti haSia uThilo; kohilo,tumi Soi, tumi apnar – kintu tini ki pOr? je kOtha tomake bolte pari, Se kOtha ki take bOla jayna?/ Parvati smiles and says, you are my friend, very close – but is he a stranger? Can’t I tell him what I can tell you?

It was quite unconventional for a woman at that time to propose marriage to a man. Even today, it is not that common in sub-continental societies. Yet, Saratchandra makes his heroine express this, an indication of his western influence. Another seemingly Victorian influence is the epistolary role in the development of the plot. In ‘Pride and prejudice’ Elizabeth’s sister Jane writes to her informing some important events that happen in her absence. In Devdas, this role is played by Parvati’s friend Monoroma who writes to inform Parvati about the gradual downfall of Devdas. 66


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Comparing Dialogues Sarat’s Devdas versus Bimal Roy’s Adaptation Before the latest version of Bhansali, as many as nine movies had been made on Devdas in different languages. But the moment one talked about Devdas, people thought of Bimal Roy's Devdas, starring Dilip Kumar in the lead. Bimal Roy, the celebrated director of the 50s, had earlier been a cameraman in P C Barua’s film version in 1935. Roy’s film adaptation of this famous novel was not a super hit, but received huge appreciation from the critics. It is still considered one of the best-directed Hindi movies. Dialogue in film theory is a largely ignored area in Film Studies. According to Devereaux (1986), there is a stubborn idea in film studies that film is fundamentally a visual art form. She writes: “If the sound film is a marriage of word and image, then no adequate film criticism can ignore one half of that symbiosis (p 44)”. Furthermore, Baumgarten (2004:2029) discusses four aspects of the nature of language in films, the third being the audience’s perspective: “The elements of a film that viewers most readily appropriate are the words, phrases and the manner of speaking of the characters on-screen”. Kozloff (2000) divided dialogue analysis in films into two broad categories: how words communicate narrative and how dialogue is used. Kozloff emphasized that beyond the linguistic usage, there are three elements that film dialogues are closely associated with – aesthetic significance, ideological persuasion, and commercial conditions. Bimal Roy’s 1955 version successfully implemented at least two of these elements. His dialogues were aesthetically significant as well as persuasive. However, the dialogues in the original Bengali novel are so strong that many dialogues in the film retained them. Nabendhu Ghosh, the scriptwriter, literally translated these dialogues from Bengali to Hindi. For example, the original story begins with the following sentence: /Ekdin boiSakheyo diprohorer roudrero Onto chilona, uttapero Sima chilona./ One day, there was no end to the sunshine at mid-noon of a Baisakh day, nor was there any limit of scorching heat.

The film starts with the same sentence in Hindi through a background voice: /ek din baisakh ke dopeher me dhup ka ant na tha, aur garmi ki bhi had nehi thi/

The Bimal Roy version starts with a ‘storytelling’ style to substitute the narrator in the original text. Gunning (1984:474) uses the term ‘narrativization’, which “… binds narrative discourse to story and rules the narrator’s address to the spectator”. However, the film fails to maintain this style, as this type of storytelling does not occur any more in the film. In a later part, the inner conflict in Devdas is narrated through the inner voice of the protagonist Devdas (Dilip Kumar) who curses himself for refusing the marriage proposal of the female protagonist Parvati (Suchitra Sen). Like the main novel, all the three main protagonists of Bimal Roy’s film (the third one is Chandramukhi, the courtesan) are consumed by their total and devoted love for each other, but their desires remain unfulfilled. While Parvati and Chandramukhi sublimate their grief in seva or service, Devdas consoles himself with the bottle. In one instance of the film, the 67


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scriptwriter even surpasses the novelist’s aestheticism when he makes Dilip Kumar (Devdas) say: /Koun kambakht hoS hone ke liye peeta hEi. hum to peete hEin ki zinda rah sake/ Which idiot drinks to remain in sense? I drink so that I remain alive.

The more he drinks the more forcefully he remembers his lost love, Parvati, thus actualising his ideal of 'living to love' rather than 'loving to live'. This is not exactly what Sarat wrote. The scriptwriter keeps the basic dialogue but makes some changes to suit the scene. The original dialogue in the novel was: /Sojjo korbo bole mOd khaine. ekhane thakbo bole Sudhu mOd khai/ ‘I don’t drink to endure, I drink so that I can stay here.’

The whole Bimal Roy movie dialogues are almost literal translations of Saratchandra’s Bengali dialogues in the original text, apart from one or two such dialogues. Unlike Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s version, this version is a classic representation of a classic novel. Sarat’s Devdas versus Bhansali’s Adaptation Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s 2002 version converts a classic Bengali novel into a Bollywood blockbuster with all its ingredients. The whole storytelling of this modern film version is a major departure from the original novel. Bhansali himself justified its modernity before its release: Even though it (Devdas) will be a period piece set in the ‘30s, we will have to add a contemporary flavour to it. [Devdas] is a love story – great one at that. Amanush, Muqaddar ka Sikander and so many others have been versions of Devdas and were immensely successful. Quality literature is always relevant, never time bound. (Hindustan Times, 2000 cited in Mishra, 2002: 30)

The structure of a typical Hindi film, according to Mishra (2002: 4), is “designed to accommodate deep fantasies belonging to an extraordinarily varied group of people, from illiterate workers to sophisticated urbanites”. Bhansali’s Devdas is full of ‘fantasies’ that captured the imagination of all sections of Bollywood audience and beyond – an aspect that made it a huge box office success, unlike Bimal Roy’s classic version. In doing so, Bhansali makes so many departures from the original text that it seems almost a different story altogether. Beginning from the very opening of Bhansali's Devdas, which completely avoids the childhood scenes – an integral part of the novel to understand the personalities of both Devdas and Parvati – to the contrived meeting between Paro and Chandramukhi, the film has just the basic theme of the original novel with a completely new plot. Creekmur (2007) uses the terms ‘operatic’ and ‘overblown’ while describing Bhansali’s film, which seems to ‘render the historical past as a museum-like display’: Bhansali’s film at first seems defensive, obscuring the story’s emotional core by plastering the surface of the film with gorgeous yet distracting details to create an opulent, extravagant spectacle filled to the brim with vast sets and stunning costumes, often shot with breathless, rushing handheld (or steadicam) shots of swirling action and blinding color.” (Creekmur, p.186)

Saratchandra’s text was rich in dialogues. Bhansali’s film version is also full of highly philosophical dialogues. One intriguing aspect of Bhansali’s Devdas is the use of repetition. 68


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John Fawell (cited in Kazloff, 2000: 85) says that rhythms and repetitions have aesthetic functions in films. According to him, the most memorable lines in a film: … are simple ones that are repeated, as a line of poetry might be, or a phrase in a musical score, and which through this repetition achieve a dramatic resonance that is central to the meaning of the film.

In one such innovative scene (which does not appear in the original text) in Bhansali’s version, we see Devdas repeating the phrase ‘chor do’ (leave) several times when his mother asks him to leave the house. He says: /babuji ne kaha ghar chor do. sabne kaha paro ko chor do. paro ne kaha Sarab chor do. aj tumne kaha ye haveli chor do. ek din ayega jab wo kahega duniya chor do/ Father said, leave the house. Everyone said, leave Paro. Paro said, leave drinking. Today, you are saying leave this area. A day will come when He (God) will say, leave this world.

Another interesting innovation in this film is the use of a series of words beginning with the same letter, which is a characteristic style of Chunilal, Devdas’ friend in Calcutta who introduces him to Chandramukhi. We find Chunilal giving the following dialogue in the very first scene of his appearance in the film: /ye da baRa peci hEy. da se dilbhi hota hEy, da se dard bhi hota hEy. da se duniya bhi, da se daulat bhi, da se dastuur bhi, da se doa bhi, da se dost bhi, da se diwana bhi. ab da se ye diwanapan choRo dost. yaha da se mera dam DhukRa ja raha hEy./ This da is a very complicated thing. You have dil ‘heart’ with da, and also have dard ‘pain’ with da. You have duniya ‘world’ with da, daulat ‘wealth’ with da, dastoor ‘custom’ with da, doa ‘prayer’ with da, dost ‘friend’ with da, diwana ‘passionate’ with da. Now please let go this da for diwanapan ‘passion’ my friend! My da for dum ‘breath’ is getting stuck here.

Bhansali does keep some scenes and dialogues similar to the original text, but unlike Bimal Roy’s film, the dialogues are not exactly the same. For example, in one of the most famous scenes of the story when Parvati goes to see Devdas late at night, we find Parvati asking some rhetorical questions to Devdas when she justifies her arrival to the latter’s room late at night: /nadi sagar ki taraf kiu jati hEy? surajmukhi suraj ki taraf kiu dekhti hEy? Or ye paro apni swabhiman, apni kulki man-maryada sab kuch choRke ratke is waqt apni devki caranme jaga maNne kiu ati hEy?/ ‘Why do rivers flow towards oceans? Why does the sunflower look at the sun? And why has this Paro come at this time of night to demand a place at her Dev’s feet leaving all her vanity and family status at this time of night?’

Song Sequence Although Bimal Roy’s version has song sequences, Bhansali’s version gives it a complete commercial Bollywood film flavour through glamorous clothing, long song sequences, and contemporary music and dance. Song and dance scenes are one of the most common aspects of a commercial Hindi film. Manuel (1988, p.174-5) finds song and dance sequence as ‘gratuitously inserted’ into the plot of a film, but Booth (2000) contests Manuel’s argument 69


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and sees them as “carefully framed components of much larger narrative structures”. He continues: … while some may appear as gratuitous insertions, careful examination and application of a range of Indian culture and convention-based understandings both suggest that truly gratuitous music scenes are many fewer than one might initially suspect (p 126)

Bhansali’s film follows this pattern where the story progresses through songs. The song sequences are carefully structured, and several songs lead to climax scenes. At the beginning of the film, Parvati’s mother sings and dances before proposing her daughter’s marriage to Devdas, which creates strong negative reaction from Devdas’ mother. A heated exchange of words leads to Parvati’s mother announcing that she will marry her daughter to someone wealthier within a week. Before another climactic scene, Parvati and Chandramukhi dance together at the former’s in-law’s house after which, Parvati’s step son-in-law discloses Chandramukhi’s background to humiliate Parvati for befriending a courtesan. Incidentally, both these scenes are complete innovations of Bhansali, as nothing such happen in the original story. The most glamorous song and dance scenes in the film are unsuprisingly at Chandramukhi’s kotha (brothel). The presence and influence of tawaif (courtesan) is enormous in Indian popular culture, and their “sexual and personal pasts and futures are sources of narrative tension” (Booth, 2007:4). Booth terms them as “traditional conceptualization of female identity” understood by the society as cursed women. In Bhansali’s version Devdas himself defines Chandramukkhi: “a woman is a mother, a sister, a wife, or a friend; and when she is nothing, she is a tawaif.” Conclusion Devdas, a hundred-year-old love story, is hugely adored and has never been forgotten (Creekmur, 2007:174). It is a ‘timeless’ story of a tragic hero that is admired even today in spite of its traditional melodramatic narrative. For over more than 70 years, the story has been told and re-told through several film adaptations in different languages. Some filmmakers (Bimal Roy) made a classic version of a classic novel, while others (Sanjay Leela Bhansali) modernized it to adapt to the present day film audience. However, the central theme of all the films remained the same: a rich upper caste man falls in love with a lower caste woman, but fails to transgress due to patriarchal influence, later regretting his decision, only to find brothels his destination, and alcohol his constant companion, leading to his untimely death. It is this unfulfilled love that has made this story so appealing. Indeed, as the famous English romantic poet Percy Shelley says, “our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought”. It has been remarked by the fans of Bhansali's Devdas that instead of showing the tragedy of love, he attempted to show the weakness of Devdas as a person who wouldn't take a strong stand against the social hierarchies of his times and hence, was responsible for his own fate. Bhansali's outspoken women pose a contrast to the “weak” character of his Devdas. This angle is thought to have touched a chord in the hearts of the 21st century young audience of Bhansali's film. On the other hand, those who were familiar with the earlier versions of the film felt that Bhansali’s version lacked the depth and sensitivity of Bimal Roy’s version.

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References Baumgarten, N., (2004). "Shaken and Stirred: Language in Film in a Cross-Cultural Perspective". In: Baumgarten, Nicole, Claudia Böttger, Markus Motz & Julia Probst (eds) Übersetzen, Interkulturelle Kommunikation, Spracherwerb und Sprachvermittlung - Das Leben mit mehreren Sprachen: Festschrift für Juliane House zum 60. Geburtstag. Bochum: AKS-Verlag, 20-29 Booth, D. G., (2007). Making a Woman from a Tawaif: Courtesans as Heroes in Hindi Cinema in “New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies”, 9, 2 (December, 2007): 1-26. Booth, D. G., (2000). Religion, Gossip, Narrative Conventions and the Construction of Meaning in Hindi Film Songs in “Popular Music”, Vol. 19, No. 2. 125-145. Butler, M., (1975). Jane Austen and the War of Ideas. Oxford : Clarendon Press. Chattaerjee, S., (2002 (1917)). Devdas. Penguin India. Creekmur, C.K., (2007). Remerbering, Repating, and Working through Devdas in Pauwels, H.R.M. (Ed.) “Indian Literature and Popular Cinema: Recasting Classics”. Routledge. Devereaux, M., (1986). “Of ‘Talk and Brown Furniture’: The Aesthetics of Film Dialogue,” Post Script, 6.1, Fall, p.44 Genette, G., (1980). Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method (trans. Jane E. Lewin). Cornell University Press, Ithaca, USA. Gunning, T., (2004). Narrative Discourse and the Narrative Theory in Simpson, P., Utterson, A. and Shepherdson, K.J. (Eds) “Film Theory: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies”. Routledge. Hutcheon, L., (2006). A Theory of Adaptation. Routledge. Kozloff, S., (2000). Overhearing Film Dialogue, University of California Press, Berkeley & Los Angeles, pp.33-63 Manuel, P., (1988). Popular Musics of the Non-Western World (New York) Metz, C., (1974). Film Language: A Semiotics of the Cinema. The University of Chicago Press. Mishra, V., (2002). Bollywood Cinema: Temples of Desire. Routledge. Filmography Devdas (1928) Director: Naresh Mitra [Silent film] Devdas (1935) Director: P.C. Barua [Bengali] Devdas (1955) Director: Bimol Roy [Hindi] Devdas (2002) Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali [Hindi] Dev D (2009) Director: Anurag Kashyap [Hindi}

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Heroes and Villains: Masculinities of Romance, Dominance and Violence in Bangladeshi Films of 1970s Arpana Awwal* Abstract This paper explores some of the performative templates of masculinity of heroes and villains in Bangladeshi cinema through the study of two film texts, Noyon Moni (1976, dir. Amjad Hossain) and Rongbaj (1973, dir. Zohirul Haq). Touching on “patriarchy’s scopic regime” (Ranjan, 2006, 1102) of the social and political situation in which the films were produced, the paper aims to critically examine the representation of the relationship between the heroes/ villains and the heroines /female characters of the popular Bangla cinema of the 1970’s. The turbulent times of the 70s in Bangladesh were crucial to the film industry, as it was in others sectors of the newly formed Bangladesh, in respect to re-envisioning a new form of expression that reflected the ideologies unique from the nation’s past relation with India and Pakistan. The first register, Noyon Moni (1976) belongs to the social familial genre that depicts the conflict between old and new networks of social relationships. It questions superstition, religious debauchery and patriarchal values where ‘tradition’ and ‘modernity’ play out their continuous confrontations and negotiations with each other. Rongbaj (1973) marks a change in the genre map of Bangladeshi cinema as the first action film. The paper looks at a new form of masculinity gaining rapid popularity and making certain gendered notions of violence and compliance normative. Keywords: Bangladeshi cinema, 1970s, masculinity, social film, action film Introduction The unrealistic and spectacular image of Ananta Jalil holding his torn-out heart from his bleeding chest as a gesture of love in Nisshartho Bhalobasha (What is Love?) (2013, dir. Ananta Jalil) leaves no doubt in the audience’s mind about how far the heroes of Bangladeshi cinema have come. His six-packed body, an image not unfamiliar in Western or Eastern cinema, is a recent addition to the Dhaliwood1 spectacle of the hero. The trajectory of the heroes of Bangladeshi cinema to the more contemporary image of Anata Jalil reveals a nuanced understanding of how these images are products of social, cultural, political, and most importantly economic conditions, which also shape notions of romance, dominance and violence of predominant male characters in relation to female characters on the celluloid screen in Bangladesh. This paper explores some of the performative templates of masculinity of heroes and villains in Bangladeshi cinema through the study of two film texts, Noyon Moni (1976, dir. Amjad Hossain) and Rongbaj (1973, dir. Zohirul Haq). Touching on “patriarchy’s scopic regime” (Ranjan, 2006, 1102) of the social and political situation in which the films were produced the paper aims to critically examine the representation of the relationship between *

Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Bangladesh, arpanaawwal@gmail.com

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the heroes/ villains and the heroines /female characters of the popular Bangla cinema of the 1970’s. The turbulent times of the 70s in Bangladesh were crucial to the film industry, as it was in others sectors of the newly formed Bangladesh, in respect to re-envisioning a new form of expression that reflected the ideologies unique from the nation’s past relation with India and Pakistan. The first register, Noyon Moni (1976) belongs to the social familial genre that depicts the conflict between old and new networks of social relationships. It questions superstition, religious debauchery and patriarchal values, where ‘tradition’ and ‘modernity’ play out their continuous confrontations and negotiations with each other. Rongbaj (1973) marks a change in the genre map of Bangladeshi cinema as the first action film. The paper looks at a new form of masculinity gaining rapid popularity and making certain gendered notions of violence and compliance normative. According to Lindsay Harlan’s definitions, the concepts of heroes and heroines in South Asia are informed by the diverse religions of the region. The term hero and heroine encompass many types of human and superhuman beings in South Asian cultures, including some who are admired, some who are venerated and perhaps approached for help or intercession, and some who are literally worshiped as deities. … In the Hindu context, the Sanskrit word vira (Hindi , vir), which means “hero” and also “man”, conveys the idea that the hero is a paradigmatic or perfect man. (Harlan, 2003, p. 282)

It is worth noting here that the use of the word vira to mean both hero and man makes being a man synonymous with heroism. Unlike vir, a word encoded with bravery, the female counterpart in Hindu ideology was more popularly referred to as sati, not virangana, sati being a word associated with fidelity, submission and sacrifice: “Women who fought in battle and who subsequently died on their husband’s pyres are worshiped as ancestral satis rather than as heroines (viranganas).” (Ibid, p.282). The Mughal invasion of the Indian subcontinent had a colossal effect on the popular imagination of a hero for the converted Muslims in Bengal. The socio-cultural changes of the populace through religious conversions and cultural adaptations nuanced how masculinity was understood in Bengal. According to Harlan, for the Muslim the hero was a martyr or a pir (teacher) or both. A new form of vir or hero became necessary for the group of converted different from their old religious beliefs. Ahmed Sofa notes that for the newly converted Bengali Muslims heroes came in the guise of varied versions of Muslim religious personas like Hazrat Muhammed, Hazret Ali, Bibi Fatima, Hasan- Hossain, Rustam. Since the local scribes had little or no knowledge of Arabic or Persian, their versions of puthi (religious manuscript) relied largely on hearsay and imagination. Thus, the new hero was a combination of the existing cultural notions of masculinity and historical Islamic heroes (Sofa, 2009, p. 17). During the English colonization of the Indian subcontinent a new class of masculinity was found desirable with the emergence of the Hindu Bengali middle class. The new Bhadralok2 masculinity was defined by modernity, education and breaking away from older structures. Bengali Muslim identity, on the other hand, has been etched out in detail in different discourses on the origin of Islam in Bengal (Roy, 1983; Eaton, 1996). The syncretic nature of the identity within the sociocultural and economic pattern of Bengal became the point of contestation about its validity. The nineteenth-century Bhadralok of Bengal questioned the conjunction of Islam with Bengali identity, for the Bengali identity was understood synonymously with the larger Hindu identity. Curiously though, the Muslims of Bengal who considered themselves Ashraf3 did not imagine the Muslim identity of Bengal on the same line. By separating themselves on the question of foreign lineage, following similar arguments as 73


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the Bhadralok, they questioned the very Muslim-ness of Atrafs (Chatterji, 2014). Out of many other denominators, Ashraf and Bhadralok masculinities took formative shape around the abject agrarian village-based Bengali Muslim masculinity and the politically invisible identity of Bengali Muslim women. On the face of the educated Bhadralok and Ashraf’s disavowal, a political identity of the Bengali Muslim began to take shape. The dichotomous relation between the educated Bhadralok masculinity versus the laboring lower class Bengali Muslim masculinity, or the elite Ashraf masculinity versus the laboring lower class Atraf masculinity, was disrupted by a new masculinity that took shape by the early twentieth century. The emergence of the new masculinity in East Bengal was characterized as educated, politically aware and engaged, and deeply rooted in its relation to laboring agrarian rural society. The point of interest here is how the identity came into being through particular utterance, in this instance through bio-political discourses. In the introduction of Excitable Speech (1997) Judith Butler, in a very sophisticated argument, puts forth the idea that an identity comes into existence through speech act, which means that only when there is an available vocabulary or discourse that can give a figurative shape to an identity it begins to exist. At the same time the abject, which is “the liminal state that hovers on the threshold of the body and body politics” (McClintock, 1995, p. 72), became a point of the emergence of the Bengali Muslim masculinity in negation to what the Muslims considered un-Islamic and bhadralok considered non-Bengali. From these two negations, the struggle to form a distinctive Bengali Muslim masculinity began to emerge as a political marker (Chatterji, 2014). Gradually, by the early twentieth century this new brand of masculinity began to refute both the Bengali-Hindu cultural modernity that recognized the Bengalis as Hindus and the proArab pan-Indian Muslim identity that undermined the cultural and linguistic identities of this group. They felt affinity with their cultural root, their Bengali-ness, principally and visibly expressed through Bangla language, as well as with their religious affiliation that is indigenized Islam. In this way, by the beginning of the twentieth century a category called Bengali Muslim came under discussion (Raju, 2008, p. 128). Following Butler’s argument on constitutive processes of an identity, it is possible to argue that the formation of new Bengali-Muslim identity raises interesting questions regarding popular understandings of identity as fixed and unyielding. What this identity does in its effort to legitimize itself is that it poses a paradoxical question to the essential nature of any geocultural or historical identity as static, and reveals the performative nature of any form of identity. The geographical separation of the two wings of Pakistan symbolically presented the racial segregation of the Bengalis in the east and dominant Punjabis in the west. The feminization of Bengali Muslims resurfaced in the political debates on the question of language in the newly formed two winged Pakistan (Uddin, 2006). The new debate brought to the fore old predilections in new vocabulary. General Ayub Khan’s observation about the Bengalis of East Pakistan revealed a racist conviction when he claimed: “East Bengalis…probably belong to the very original Indian races, … they have been and still are under considerable Hindu culture and linguistic influence…They have all the inhibitions of downtrodden races…Their popular complexes, exclusiveness, suspicion and …defensive aggression…emerge from this historical background.” (Jahan, 2005, p. 70).

During these conflicts of culture, economy and language divide, the crisis that all these melted down to was of identity, which found its expression in the War of Liberation in 1971. The west versus the east or more specifically modern customs versus traditional norms became major signifiers during these times. On the celluloid screen we can see that this binary became a major trope in Bangla cinema during the 60s. 74


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The plot and characters of the 70s corresponded very much with those in the 60s. In a time of monumental uprising against social inequality, we can see that the heroes of the celluloid screens of the 60s were vested with moral and traditional virtues as opposed to uncertain western ways. Heroes were the epitomes of what was culturally thought of as ethical and virtuous. He would represent the morals and simple sincere ways of a good village boy who was intelligent and brilliant in studies and looking for a decent occupation. In short, this chivalric character was the personification of the village-based spectator’s imagination of desirable masculinity: educated, moral, self-esteemed and rooted to his traditions. Chiefly this masculinity was the fantasy formation derived from the heroic morality of the social activists and freedom fighters of the national revolutions of the 60s and 70s. Manas Kumar Chowdhury contends that the transition of Bangladeshi familial hero of the 1960s to a hero with a social consciousness and increasingly violent in nature in the later decades can be traced to the ninemonth bloody liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971. In the following sections in the film texts one can see the nuanced versions of the above-discussed tropes of Bengali Muslim masculinities played out. Noyon Moni (1976): Masculinities as Modes of Oppression and Subversion The plot of Noyon Moni (1976, dir. Amjad Hossain) centers on the ways religion and superstitions have been apparatuses of control and oppression of the common by the dominating class. Just after Noyon’s birth, his father threw him out with his mother. His birth was considered ominous as it coincided with their house catching fire and his father being arrested for black marketeering food rations meant for free distribution amongst the poor. Noyon returns to his village as a young man with the aim to liberate the village from the grips of superstitious beliefs and religious oppression. The film frames his actions within a masculine narrative where his lover Moni becomes the cause of his revolutionary acts. In Noyon Moni the central antagonist is Morol (village head) who represents oppression, debauchery, social evils, superstitions and subjugation of norms through religious manipulation. Morol also stands for all the oppressive social classes like Talukdar (landlords like zamindars), Matbor (village leader), Majutdar (hoarders/ black marketeers) who use every means of what Louise Althusser refers to as Ideological State Apparatus and Repressive State Apparatus to exercise power. The film was produced at a time when the Liberation War of ’71 was still a recent history. In questioning the power of Morol, the film questions the rational of religion to annex diverse cultures and disparate geographies under the national boundary of Pakistan. By disavowing the Morol, the film attempts to purge the new nation from any traces of its religio-colonial memory. An example of the manipulation of Islam is shown through Morol’s justification of practicing polygamy. Morol preaches the sanction of polygamy in Islam while omitting the historical context and specific conditions that allowed such practice. He further pursues a fourth marriage with the village belle Moni. Through this instance the film problematizes the issue of patriarchal polygamy exercised especially in rural Bangladesh where the practice was an indicator of the social standing of a man. His Muslim masculinity was projected as his ability to provide for many wives and children. The film deploys Morol’s character as a referent of some of the common stereotypes of post-independent Bangladesh. By having a Baul4 providing shelter to the newborn Noyon and his mother, the film proposes a return to the more syncretic nature of religion of the erstwhile East Bengal. Noyon’s masculinity can be read as an agential extension of the Baul’s humanist social approach. In stark opposition to Morol, the film positions Noyon as the new generation of liberal and rational thinking citizen. Morol calls Noyon and his friends ‘comunist’ (communist) by which the 75


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prevalent notion of communism associated with anti-religion, anti-tradition and agitation is reflected. His criticism of Noyon and his friends’ Jatra5-group as non-Islamic and the call to reject it stand for his fear of their power to question his authority. Morol’s scorn of communism is an important point of reference in Bangladesh’s post-independence politics. Rounaq Jahan notes that despite his charisma, Sheikh Mujib’s government did not enjoy unanimous support of all political groups in Bangladesh. The leadership of Mukti Bahini (freedom fighter) was the first to question the Bangladesh Awami League government’s legitimacy in power as most of its political leaders were in exile during the nine months’ war. The second set of opposition came from the different factions of leftist political parties that criticized the government for the economic devaluation and perpetual rise of price of daily goods. It is important to note here that many of the leftists were part of the Mukti Bahini as well. Finally, the third opposition came from the right-wing groups who opposed the new secular mode of Bangladesh governance. The League government dealt with these oppositions by marking them as state enemies. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman branded the right-wing groups as Razakar (collaborators with the Pakistani forces), while the leftist groups and leaders of Mukti Bahini were branded as Naxalites or communist terrorists (2005). In the film, the right-wing oppression is visualized through the Morol and the potential to question its legitimacy is represented through the ‘comunists’. The symbolic battle between good and evil – Morol and Noyon – is visualized through two signifiers: an ancient tree that is believed to be the abode of a powerful djinn and Moni who is supposedly possessed by the Figure 1: A scene from the film Noyon Moni where djiin. By cutting the tree Noyon Morol is shown hitting Moni to prevent her from symbolically uproots all local superstitions revealing that he drugs her to coerce her into and fallacies. Simultaneously, Noyon marriage. uproots Morol and replaces his own masculinity in the position of power. At the end, by rescuing Moni he seals his manhood as her protector and legitimate suitor. While the film preaches a certain modernity for a newly formed nation, it contradicts its own agenda by naturalizing other forms of oppression. Noyon’s relation to women is paradoxical. While he is a benevolent son to his mother, his relationship with Moni is clearly one of abusive power and control. There is a similarity between both of Monis’s suitors – Noyon and Morol. Both Noyon and Morol use violence on her body as a means of taming or submitting her to their will. The film establishes two forms of violence played out on the female body. Romantic films celebrate violence on women by distinguishing it from bad violence exercised by antagonists. ‘Good violence’ is normalized through the hero’s action that is to tame the heroin into social norms and femininity, or simply to ‘bring her to her senses’. Srividya Ramasubramaniam and Beth Oliver refer to S. Derne’s work to suggest that “these films conveyed the notion that force and physical aggression were legitimate means of expressing love” (2006, 212). While the authors focus on physical violence, it is also the psychological or emotional violence, which is portrayed as normal and anticipated in a romantic relationship, as expressions of love and with good intentions. There is a manner in which the women are 76


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infantilized by enforcing the idea that women at large fail to understand their own good until violence is used. Most often these forms of violence in normative heterosexual romantic relationships are not only normalized but idealized as well. This is evident in one of the song sequences in which Noyon is seen awaiting Moni. When Moni finally arrives Noyon pulls her by the hair in anger. In the next shot Moni turns towards Noyon with a romantic and appeasing smile. The song sequence establishes violence in romantic relationship as acceptable expression of love and concern. Moni’s reaction to the violence prescribes an expected reaction. By this it can be said that it is the women whose act of accepting one form of violence in opposition to another distinguishes between good and bad violence. Active masculinity and passive femininity Moni is shown bearing the guilt of Noyon’s exile and as an attempt of redemption plays along with the myth of the djinn (or genie) and madness as means of keeping suitors at bay. In a way, the madwoman image empowers Moni by not burdening her with social expectations that any village girl would otherwise be. Fearing the djinn that has supposedly possessed her, nobody questions her actions or whereabouts. Thus, her ‘djinned’ state or madness becomes her instrument of practicing freedom and her refuge from social role. The djinned state of the body, I contend, is the form that resists what Butler terms gender performance. Hence, the use of the djinn metaphor then becomes a means of debunking myths of femininity and “female hysteria” which is commonly Figure 2: A scene from the film Noyon Moni where Noyon associated with djinn. By showing is shown hitting Moni to prevent her from leaving the Morol using drug and violence over village. a long period of time in the name of curing Moni from the possession to actually coerce her into marrying him, the film frames Moni’s hysteria within a visual rhetoric that allows for the audience to interrogate the credibility of such gender centric illness. The final episode of the film is the abduction and rescue of Moni. The constant threat of bodily horror impending on Moni finally resurfaces when Morol abducts her. The episode is a stunning exhibition of feminine passivity in contrast to masculine agency. While Moni screams and whines and cries during the entire episode, the whole flock of village men comes together to rescue the village belle. This patriarchal discourse establishes the female body as a vulnerable site. The subject boundary of the female body is in constant threat of being violated through physical and sexual violence. Such constructions always risk the spectator’s identification and recognition with the narrative’s male agency, which categorizes the female body as susceptible. By this, I do not suggest that any linear or eventual form reaction from the spectator, but such representations always a risk enforcing stereotyped notions around the female body. This is a repeated trope in films that I discuss further in the next section. 77


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Noyon Moni is a representative of the social familial films in its final phase. Noyon represents the communal affiliation very close to the one formed during the Language Movement in the 50s and 60s leading to the War of Liberation in 1971. By setting the film diegetic in a society where institutions of law and justice are corrupt, the film calls for social changes through communal brotherhood. With the shift of popularity from social films to action films, especially in the ’80s, one can notice a marked shift from this communal hero towards a masculinity that was sought in the physical strength of a singular protagonist. Violent action scenes motivated by personal revenge narratives controlled the action genre. Another way male masculinity is rationalized concerns its contrarian relationship with female insanity. While Moni is the hapless ‘insane’ possessed woman, Noyon is the rational man. In Bangladesh, most often women’s madness is culturally connected with being possessed by the supernatural being, djinn. Here as well the womb as a gender marker is active in framing this assumption. Common superstitions6 reveal how the woman’s body is tied to prohibitions that act as social regulatory system for conservative Bengali Muslim women. In a way, Moni symbolizes the nation. Ridding the village of the tree which abodes the djjin, Noyon also releases Moni aka the nation from the power of superstitions exercised and imposed by with a group of people. Rongbaj (1973): Toxic Masculinities Rongbaj (1973) is an important marker in the history of Bangladeshi cinema. The first of its kind, the action film gained vast popularity and paved the way for action film genre in Bangladesh. Unlike its contemporaries, or predecessors, the film’s hero is a good example of how a new form of masculinity was being brought into the fore and made popular. The word ‘rongbaj’ refers to a person of lower class with traits of fraudulence, immorality and violence, a local goon. And rongbaji is understood as the immoral activities of a rongbaj. What is significant for this paper is how such traits are popularized and justified through the heroes’ action. Raja, the protagonist and rongbaj in the film, is a contradictory mix of positive and negative masculinity. Raja’s larger than life infamy is established at the very beginning of the film before he appears on screen. He is introduced through the terror and hatred expressed by the slum dwellers. The first scene of the film introduces the major theme of the film, masculinity’s relation with power, control and violence. The way the first action scene shows Raja fighting another goon who is trying to take control of an area gives an impression that the fight symbolizes good against bad, where in fact Raja is no better than the other goons in the film. Raja lives by picking pockets on the roads. On one occasion Raja steals a wallet from Jahed who is already going through monetary crisis. Raja finds a letter in the wallet that informs him about Jahed’s financial crisis. While he feels sorry for the man, his friend makes him realize the reality of their everyday activities that may have similar consequences. By showing Raja’s guilt the film tries to project Raja in a positive light that separates him other characters in negative roles. Later in the film he is shown explaining to his girlfriend Chini how he was left an orphan at a very young age by the death of his parents. The film provides a background for the justification of Raja’s misconducts by explaining that Raja had no guardian to teach him right from wrong. He is shown as a victim and product of the social depravity. As the story unfolds, Raja realizes that he is the cause of Jahed and Shireen’s misery. Jahed’s distress at losing his wallet results in mistakes in his work that costs him his job. His wife Shireen becomes a part of the narrative when Raja takes refuge in her house after being chased by a crowd who catch him stealing. At one point in the film’s narrative Raja is hired by Jahed’s 78


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landlord to throw Jahed and Shireen out because they are unable to pay rent. In the rest of the film Raja is shown trying to help Jahed and Shireen out of their misery. Problematic masculinities Similar to Brenda Coopers analysis of Boys’ Don’t Cry, Rongbaj “raises serious questions regarding the assumptions of naturalness and virtue inherent in traditional definitions of heterosexual manhood and its privileges” (Cooper, 2002, p. 51). Raja’s masculinity is not only unnatural, strange and lacking in virtue, but a serious threat to society. Raja’s tendency to engage in fights everywhere is shown as unproblematic through the narrative’s natural flow. When a businessman commissions Raja to deal with another goon who tries to extort money from him because he owns an illegal business, Raja agrees to take care of the situation. While the film is trying to promote a Robin Hood-like character, the character itself is contradictory. The irony lies in the fact that Raja is trying to stop the goons from rongbaji in exchange for a payment. In addition, he is saving a man engaged in illegal business. What Raja’s character tries to portray is a masculinity that takes over power and control codified with men. This is contrasted with Jahed’s masculinity that is portrayed as wanting. Out of job, he is forced to sell his wife’s jewelries. His masculinity is further questioned when his wife laments being childless. Not being able to live up to a desired masculinity, Jahed leaves home, only to return after his waning masculinity is restored in finding a job. Jahed is responsible, moral and kind. However, throughout the film he is characterized as weak, helpless and not in control of his situation. In opposition to Raja, his masculinity is portrayed as undesirable and his humane weaknesses as unmanly. Woman and masculinity A critical look at the protagonist reveals a problematic concept of hero that was taking shape through injections of patriarchal values and gender bigotry. Raja’s love affair with Chini sheds more light on the problematic masculinity promoted by Raja’s character. While Chini is portrayed as independent and strong, her masculinity falls short in the presence of Raja. During an episode where men and women of the slum wait in queue for their turn to collect water from a communal tap, Chini forces her way to the front of the line threatening anyone who tries to stop her. When Raja arrives in the scene and finds Chini at fault he asks her to leave and she does so without any protest. When promoting the masculinity of men in the film, the film’s diegetic is an interesting example of Judith Halberstam’s suggestion that “suppression of female masculinities allows for male masculinity to stand unchallenged as the bearer of gender stability and gender deviance” (Cooper B. , 2002, p. 45). Furthermore, “Tomboyism generally describes an extended childhood period of female masculinity” (Halberstam, 1998, p. 5). Since Chini’s masculinity fails in front of Raja’s she could be understood as in a state of tomboyism. Chini’s tomboyism can be “associated with a “natural” desire for the greater freedoms and motilities enjoyed by boys. Very often it is read as a sign of independence and self-motivation,” (p. 6). Chini’s tomboyism is shown as peculiar and undesirable but rationalized when the viewers come to realize the absence of a mother who could have “remodeled (her) into compliant forms of femininity” (p. 6). Halberstam continues that “even a cursory survey of popular cinema confirms, the image of the tomboy can be tolerated only within a narrative of blossoming womanhood,” Chini’s passage to womanhood is shown through her love affair with Raja in which she tries to make him a better man and herself a woman. 79


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The ability to provide for family is essentially linked to masculinity. While Jahed is looking for a job, Raja requests Chini to quit her work. Chini’s initial outright refusal gradually leads to the suggestion of marriage. She says she will happily give up the work that pays for her ailing father’s medication if Raja is willing to take the responsibility. Chini’s ability to provide partially for her family is not highlighted in the film, nor it is shown as a crisis moment like Jahed’s when Raja asks her to quit. Instead the film shows women’s willingness to succumb to a submissive role, while men take the lead. Raja’s relation with Shireen takes a turn out of guilt for Shireen’s misery. Raja begins to consider her a sister and a maternal figure. This relationship serves the purpose of satisfying Shireen’s desire for motherhood and Raja’s desire for a mother. While Radha Chakravarty suggests that surrogate motherhood has the power to become “the site for the articulation of the female desire to determine one's own identity, in confrontation with traditional inscriptions of the mother's body as a means of controlling female subjectivity” (Chakravarty, 1998, p. 77), in the film, Shireen’s motherhood is reduced to loving and caring, lacking in any form of agency. On the contrary, when her husband abandons her she begs Raja to take her in. While Raja becomes her savior, it is at the expense of Shireen’s dependent role. Towards the end of the film, Shireen’s landlord tries to rape Chini as a revenge act on Raja. The constant attempt of rape necessitates that Raja come to the rescue and full fill the role of a hero at the expense of Chini’s vulnerability. Similar to Moni in the film Noyon Moni, Chini’s body is shown vulnerable to sexual harassment and violence. Modeling women as weak and in constant threat of being defiled, the films promote the male masculine figure as the rescuer. Thereby films normalize the idea that women are not only unable to defend themselves or other women, they need and desire men to keep them safe. The enemy The villains of the 60s and 70s were everything opposed to the hero. He was immoral, businessman, rich, alcoholic, licentious and indecent. A simplistic relation between money and immorality through the characterization of villains was established in these films (Nasreen, p. 118). In Rongbaj there is no central antagonist; rather, men in different social positions are villains who exploit the lower class and women. To Chini’s suggestion of marriage, Raja exclaims that he will become one of the richest men. Chini responds in a sad tone, pleading Raja not to be a rich man but to be a gentleman. A relationship is drawn between richness and corruption and in binary to gentlemanliness. This could probably be traced to the once prevalent landownership system or Zamindar system in the subcontinent. The strong and distinct divide between the bourgeoisie and proletariat can be traced as the reason behind the strong aversion towards the rich. Though officially the Zamindar system was aborted in the 1951, the semiotic relationship between richness and its repressive ownership remained prevalent in the later cinemas (Ahmed, p. 24). In Rongbaj the rich, immoral, alcoholic and licentious villain is Sohel, employer of Chini’s father. He fits the role by attempting sexual assault on Chini. Raja’s reacts with a couple of punches and a few kicks. As the film promotes such form of masculine boldness it fails to question the validity of such short-term resolution. Thus, these films do not promote any constructive solution to rapid growing social crises, but rather are replete in destructive tendencies. At the end of the film Jahed is united with his wife and Chini waits till Raja’s release from prison. Raja’s imprisonment acts on different signifying levels. It unites Shireen with her husband. For the time being it gives control to Jahed who becomes Chini’s guardian in Raja’s absence. As a result it restores patriarchal hold over both the women. Secondly, its purges the 80


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protagonist of all previous accountabilities to come to an acceptable terms with the viewer’s perception of a hero. And finally, and most importantly, it purges the pleasure of visual violence the viewers have enjoyed in the film. Rongbaj as the first attempt to substitute the foreign action films illegally imported during the 70s was a huge commercial success. Steave Neal’s comment on Melville’s Le Samurai is equally true for Rongbaj “The film is by no means a critique of the male image it draws upon. On the contrary it very much identifies (invites us to identify) with Delon” (1993, p. 7) who is a lone gangster, a hitman. Conclusion The film industry’s heroes and Figure 3. A scene from Rongbaj showing Raja hitting Chini on the face for questioning his relationship with Shireen villains have gone through many changes through the industry’s journey that began in 1957. Heroes of 60’s and 70’s were imaged as traditional simplistic middle-class men whose strict principals stood in a binary relation to the snob, arrogant elite villains. But what has not changed in the basic diegetic of Dhaliwood cinema is John Berger’s assertion that “men act, women appear” (1972, 47). Daliwood films have played on the basic tropes of masculinity: as sexually active, as provider of the wife and offspring and protector of lover, family and the nation. These premises of masculinity unquestionably equate masculinity to the male body. Since cinema narratives thrive on the polarized stereotypes, which means for the diegetic flow it is necessary to produce the women as sexually passive, helpless, and victims to reinstate the patriarchal uneven symbiotic relation. In both the films, Rongbaj and Noyon Moni, the romantic scenes are covert and suggestive rather than revealing. The camera pans away from the lovers once the lovers engage intimately or even in a kiss. In contrast, the scenes of sexual assaults or attempted rape are not covert. The absence of romantically intimate scenes confer to society’s taboo of such relationship out of marriage, or even in the case of married couples, the scenes are absent as private acts. On the other hand, the presence of violent acts on the women’s body is overtly eroticized. Bangladesh’s history is replete with mass rape on Bangladeshi women, which became such a huge concern that it became a part of every liberation war film narrative. Kaberi Gayan comments that though the first few film war narratives wanted to portray a sympathetic image of victims of rape, they failed to portray women as anything other than passive preys. Consequently rape scenes in later films were used for distorted visual pleasure in the name of history telling (2013). I argue elsewhere that women are constantly made to fear ‘losing’ their virginity as a means to confine them within patriarchal norms and control their mobility and actions. The concept of “virginity as a tool of gender politics that is less physiological and more cultural and political in the function of dominating the female gender” (Awwal, 2013, p. 28) is best projected in these films. If the repetitive trope of women as docile bodies whose boundaries can easily be penetrated or bent is meant to be read as narrative texts for mass consumption, we can easily see why it is of social concern. When women on-screen do not protest to aggression perpetuated by the heroes in films, for example like Noyon on Moni and Raja on Chini, it naturalizes these forms of abuses as part of 81


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the relationship. Ramasubramaniam and Oliver’s comment on how different forms of sexual violence perpetuated by the heroes are made to be acceptable is worth mentioning: “Heroes and villain differed in the types of sexual violence that they perpetrated. Heroes were more likely to perpetrate moderate crimes such as eve-teasing, sexual harassment, and domestic violence, whereas villains were more likely to perpetrate severe crimes including rape and eroticized murder… … furthermore, moderate sexual violence is often depicted in the context of fun and happiness, whereas severe sexual crimes are depicted as serious and dramatic. This pairing of fun with moderate sexual violence implies that such crimes are not bad but enjoyable for all involved.” (2006, p. 222)

To contest such naturalizing notions of masculinity and its relationship with women we need to strive for representations beyond dichotomy.

References Ahmed, T. (n.d.). Shat Doshok: amader praglogner cholochitro. Montage , pp. 20-43. Awwal, A. (2013). Is Virginity Over-rated?: Representation of Sexuality in Two Post Independent Novels of Bangladesh. South Asian Cultural Studies , 4 (2), 15-31. Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. (2006). Critical Readings: Violence and the Media. In C. K. Weaver, & C. Carter (Eds.). maidenhead and New York: Open University Press. Chakravarty, R. (1998, April). Figuring the Maternal: "Freedom" and "Responsibility" in Anita Desai's Novels. ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature , 75-92. Cooper, B. (2002). Boys Don't Cry and Female Masculinity: Reclaiming a Life & Dismantling the Politics of Normative Heterosexuality. Critical Studies in Media Communication , 19 (1), 44-63. Ellis, J. (1982). Visible Fictions: Cinema, Television, Video, Routledge Gayan, K. (2013). muktijuddher Cholochtre Naree Nirman. Dhaka: Bengal Publications Limited. Gitiara Nasreen, F. H. (2008). Bagladesher Chalochchitra Shilpo: Sangkote Janosangskriti. Dhaka: Srabon Prokashoni. Halberstam, J. (1998). Female Masculinity. Duke University Press. Harlan, L. (2003). South Asian Folklore, An Encyclopedia. (P. J. Margaret A. Mills, Ed.) New York: Routledge. Hoek, L. (2010). Cut-Pieces as Stag Film: Bangladeshi Pornography in Action Cinema. Third Text , 24 (1), 135-148. Hoek, L. (2006). The Mysterious Whereabouts: Dodging the Film Censors. 18 (42), pp. 1-6. 82


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Islam, A. A. (2008). The Motion Picture of Bangladesh: Socio Economic Background. Dhaka: Bangla Academy. Kabir, A. (1979). Film in Bangladesh. Dacca: Bangla Academy. Margaret A. Mills, P. J. (Ed.). (2003). South Asian Folklore, An Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge. Nasreen, G. (n.d.). Bhabprobon theke Unmad: Rupali porda-nayoker biborton. Drishshoroop , pp. 115-133. Ramasubramaniam, S., & Oliver, B. (2006). Portrayals of Sexual Violence in Popular Hindi Films. In C. K. Weaver, & S. Carter (Eds.), Critical Readings: Violence and the Media (pp. 210-225). Maidenhead and New York: Open University Press. Safa, A. (2009). Bengali Musolman er Mon. In A. Safa, & M. S. Hasan (Ed.), Selected Essays of Ahmed Safa (pp. 13-33). Dhaka: Mowla Brothers. Sofa, A. (2009). Bengali Musolman er Mon. In M. S. Hasan (Ed.), Selected Essays of Ahmed Sofa (pp. 13-33). Dhaka: Mowla Brothers. UNICEF. (2014). Hidden in Plain Sight: A statistical analysis of violence against childrem. UNICEF. Virdi, J. (2003). The Cinematic Imagination: Indian Popular Films as Social History. London: Rutgers University Press. Filmography Noyon Moni (1976) Director: Amjad Hossain Rongbaj (1973) Director: Zohirul Haq 1

Dhaliwood- Dhaka based film industry in Bangladesh John Broomfield first coined the title bhadralok in the 1960s to recognize a group of Hindu Bengalis who were had acquired western manners, ways of thought and education. These bhadralok belonged from landowning families who did not labor, but lived on tax and produces from the land. Earlier in Bengal this class of nonlaboring, landowning class was known as babu, babu also noted Hindu affiliation. Later the term babu also meant the bhadralok who had adapted to western way of life and taste in art, music and literature. For more read Joya Chatterji, Bangla bhag holo: Hindu shamprodayikota o desh bibhag, 1931- 1947 (Dhaka: UPL 2014). 3 Ashraf of undivided Bengal traced their lineage to Arab regions to mark a difference within the Muslim community, from the Bengali Muslims who were called Atraf. Joya Chatterji notes that the distinction between Ashraf and Atraf was not a very clear one, as many affluent Bengali Muslims took up the title later. Joya Chatterji, Bangla bhag holo: Hindu shamprodayikota o desh bibhag, 1931- 1947 (Dhaka: UPL 2014). 4 A heterogeneous group of mystic minstrel of Bengal. 5 Jatra, meaning procession, is a form of regional theatre in the rural areas of Bengal and among the Bengali speaking neighboring areas. It is said to have come to existence as part of the Vaishnava devotional movement in the 16th century. Though originally meant for religious and moral teaching, that attracted the audience through songs, plays and dances; Jatra is also a performance of folk stories. (Brandon 2002) 6 Multiple other assumptions with female gender and superstitions have existed traditionally in Bangladesh. Even during the ’90s menstruating women were especially discouraged from going outside the house particularly after sunset as local believes held that such physical condition makes the body vulnerable to djinn’s 2

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possession. Speaking from experience some of the many common prohibitions a woman in Bangladesh especially conservative middle-class, urban or rural grew up hearing was not to go outside the house during the evening maghrib azan (call from the mosque for Muslims for evening prayers) as it was supposed to be a time when djinns are usually mobile, or not to leave one’s hair open as it would attract djinn.

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Part III: Linguistic Traces: South Asian culture in and through language(s)

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‘I am tho speaking English only’: Delineating English and Non-English in India Katy Highet* S: What’s your first language? T: Well, Dad is from Punjab, and I speak with him in Punjabi. Or sometimes English S: Ok, so would you say Punjabi was your first language? T: But Mum is Marathi, and Dadi [Grandma] speaks with me in Marathi too. S: So maybe Marathi and Punjabi? T: Yes but I’m more comfortable with my friends in Gujarati. S: So that’s three first languages! T: Yeah, so maybe I have three (pause). Wait! English bhi hai [English is there too!] Introduction In 2012 I moved to Gujarat, India, with the intention of teaching for a year. Last September, almost five years after I had first set foot in the country, I finally moved back to the UK. The reasons I stayed are numerous – occasionally bordering on cliché – but from the first few weeks of my job teaching English and French, I was fascinated by the ways in which my students and colleagues negotiated the various languages they spoke. The linguistic make-up of the country, and even the individual speakers I interacted with on a daily basis, fascinated me so much that it became the subject of my Master’s dissertations, and my current PhD research area grew from questions that still remained unanswered. Having grown up monolingual (until my late teens) in a small village outside Liverpool, where the vast majority of my schoolmates were also monolingual, seeing students in the school in India as young as four years old navigate three or four languages, sometimes in a single breath, was utterly astounding. The conversation above, cited from memory, is a retelling of an exchange I had with a young multilingual student, for whom - like many others – the question of ‘first language’ was all but easy to answer. In the prestigious international school in which I worked, the main language of study and communication was English. It is common for such schools to implement stringent rules that forbid the use of languages other than English in the classroom, and often even at all times on campus (with the obvious exception of other language classes). In reality, the practice is difficult to fully implement, as students and teachers interact with support staff who often do not speak English, offer Sanskrit prayers during festival assemblies, sing Bollywood hits in the playground or share jokes from home that just cannot be translated. On paper, in the school timetable, and through exams, each language is a clearly demarcated entity. On the playground, language boundaries are blurred as the students draw upon their wide linguistic repertoires, not through a lack of ‘competency’ in a particular language, but for a multitude of stylistic and domain-specific reasons that are so familiar to any bi- or multi-lingual speaker. English to Non-English Spectrum *

Doctoral Candidate, Department of Culture, Communication and Media, University College London Institute of Education (University of London); k.highet@ucl.ac.uk

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There are areas where the neat categorization of the languages is evident, notably through the education system. As numerous scholars have pointed out, the English-medium and vernacular-medium divide is one that polarizes the country, and reinforces class boundaries as access to English education is usually accompanied by a hefty price tag (see e.g. Ramanathan, 2005). While India gained independence 70 years ago, the hegemony of English instilled through colonialism still lives on in this era of neo-colonialism, and the demand for English (for social as much as economic reasons) is ever-growing, with many remarking on the mushrooming of private English-medium schools – of varying quality – over the last few decades. And yet, while the role that English plays in the social stratification of speakers in India is not to be dismissed, the English-vernacular dichotomy also depicts a misleading image of how languages are used in India. That is, it creates an image of separate, distinct languages, rather than representing the reality that speakers have a habit of letting their languages spill over their respective borders. The ‘fuzziness’ of the division between languages raises important questions related to the theme of this special issue of SACS. Of course, in numerous situations, one language is used uniquely. But on many, many occasions, such as those previously mentioned, individuals weave their speech from various language strands simultaneously and often unconsciously. In a multilingual situation, where does English stop, and non-English begin? When does English stop being English? When does Hindi stop being Hindi? The phenomenon of Hinglish, a hybrid, non-codified mix of English and Hindi, and similar variations based on the mixing of English with other vernacular languages, is one that has come to the attention of many researchers over the last few decades (See e.g. Trivedi, 2011). However, it is important to be wary of falling once again in the trap of categorization, and visualizing Hinglish (or whichever hybrid language is in question) as a third category that sits neatly halfway between English and Hindi. Hinglish itself is an umbrella term that covers a myriad of bi- and multi-lingual strategies. It cannot be defined with simple statements such as ‘English structures with Hindi words’ or ‘Hindi structures with English words’, because it is a non-static, ever-changing entity that evades stable definitions. Hinglish can be used to describe how a speaker draws upon English and Hindi – in some cases, there may even be a third or fourth language present – to communicate with other speakers who are familiar with those languages. Thus, we can see that, even with the addition of the notion of Hinglish, our original question still stands: when does English become Hinglish? Is the use of a term that resists easy translation – prasad, darshan, dharma – within an otherwise ‘English’ sentence automatically Hinglish? At what point does Hinglish become Indian English? Since the 1970s, scholars such as Braj B. Kachru (Kachru, 1985) have consistently argued for the establishment of ‘Indian English’ as a socio-culturally relevant and appropriated variety of English, alongside a score of other post-colonial varieties. Today, while the influence of Kachru’s work is most definitely acknowledged, the debates have evolved to question the utility of nation-based articulations of language varieties (see e.g. Rubdy et al., 2008; Saraceni, 2015). Such debates call into question the possibility of delineating languages – by geographical boundaries or otherwise – and the conceptualization of languages, or language varieties, as discrete entities. It is becoming increasingly important to acknowledge how languages, or language varieties, bleed into one another. In other words, to ask how the English/non-English debate may be, in certain contexts, less of a dichotomy, and more of a spectrum. Language mixing: Some examples from Gujarat 87


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In my first year teaching in Gujarat, one of the senior classes joined together to make a request to the teaching staff. Under a great deal of stress from their upcoming IGCSE exams and, as they explained, exhausted from speaking, writing, debating, analyzing in English for up to eight hours a day, six days a week, they requested that the English-only rules on campus be relaxed in the mornings. This, they argued, would give them crucial time before class to relax, chat and joke in Gujarati, the Mother Tongue of the majority of the students, or Hindi, the country’s official language and the dominant language of popular culture. What this implied, then, was that they were not able – or not willing – to relax, chat and joke in English. Now, it should be noted here that these students were highly competent speakers of English; they would all go on to pass every IGCSE exam, with a great deal of them scoring A and A* grades across the board, including in the Humanities, First Language English and English Literature papers. Nevertheless, the teaching staff complied, and the students were granted permission to use nonEnglish languages in the informal period before classes started in the morning. And yet, when observing the students during the allocated time, one could not help but notice that, despite their diplomatically crafted appeal to the teachers, they weren’t speaking in Gujarati after all. That is, they were not speaking only in Gujarati. During this informal period each morning, their classrooms were filled with creative mixes of Gujarati, Hindi and English. It would have been utterly impossible to pinpoint where English stopped, and Hindi or Gujarati began. It was not that the students were unable to say or express things in English that they could in Gujarati or Hindi, or vice versa. Granted, they were certainly more adept at writing essays in English due to their English-medium education, and possibly more suited to discussing home-related activities in Gujarati due to the predominant use of the language at home. But this was emphatically not a question of competency, or lack thereof. As already mentioned, these same students scored highly in their English exams, marked by examiners from the Cambridge IGCSE board. These same students communicated fluently with me in English when I arrived, before I had time to learn Hindi. These same students lived and communicated with Gujarati-speaking relatives and friends and deftly translated English for them. These same students enjoyed Hindi cinema, TV series and music. They were absolutely not lacking in ability in these languages. Rather, they switched between Hindi, Gujarati and English because, one could argue, their most comfortable linguistic mode of being was when they had the freedom to pick and choose from their full linguistic repertoire. To force them to speak one language – for whatever justifiable or non-justifiable reason – was not to put them in a position of incapacity, but rather to put an artificial strain on what is an entirely normal practice for multilingual speakers. Such practices are widely discussed in the domain of Linguistics. The term ‘code-switching’ denotes the seamless switching from one language or variety to another, but in doing so, “assumes that the two languages of bilinguals are two separate monolingual codes that could be used without reference to each other” (García, 2012: 1). Yet, more recent research has moved towards the concept of translanguaging, which “posits that bilinguals have one linguistic repertoire from which they select features strategically to communicate effectively” (ibid). Understood in this way, then, the borders between languages are entirely blurred, and wholly unidentifiable.

‘Scripted’ Hinglish The example above, taken from my students in a school in Gujarat, is not a practice unique to them, nor is it confined to the domain of conversation. The hybridization of languages is ubiquitous in India, from advertisements to films, television and music. And, importantly, it is 88


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not a new phenomenon, as demonstrates this extract from a ghazal written by Ayodhya Prasad Khatri in 1887, in which he expresses his anger against British rule: Rent law ka gham karen ya Bill of Income Tax ka? Kya karen apna nahiin hai sense right now-a-days. … Darkness chhaaya hua hai Hind mein chaaro taraf Naam ki bhi hai nahiin baaqi na light now-a-days. (cited by Trivedi, 2011, xii)

One is not short of contemporary examples, either. A brief glance at recent Bollywood movie titles illustrates how common this phenomenon is: Jab We Met (When we met), Ek Tha Tiger (There Once Was a Tiger), and Dangerous Ishhq (Dangerous Love – ‘ishhq’ being, in fact, an Urdu word of Persian origin, very commonly used in Hindi). Within the films, the dialogues themselves are clear examples of scripted Hinglish, although Hindi tends to be the more dominant language Figures 1+2: Domino’s and Pepsi throughout. Advertisements also often draw upon advertisements in Hinglish (copyright Hinglish, as we can see in the Pepsi and Domino’s Domino’s and Pepsi) adverts in Figures 1 and 2. In 2015, interested by this ‘scripted’ (that is, the planned and non-spontaneous) use of Hinglish, I recorded a short section of television adverts on two Hindi and two English channels – a prominent entertainment channel and a news channel from each – and observed the ratio of English to Hindi advertisements as part of my Master’s research. As would be expected, the results showed a larger percentage of Hindi advertisements than English ones on the Hindi channels, and vice versa (Table 1). However, for three of the four channels, the majority of the adverts used some kind of mixture, be it spoken Hindi combined with English writing, spoken Hinglish, Hindi written in Roman script, and so on.

Star Plus (Hindi Entertainment) Aaj Tak (Hindi News) Star World (English Entertainment) Times Now (English News)

Percentage of adverts in only English

Percentage of adverts in only Hindi

0

15

Percentage of adverts mixing Hindi and English 85

43

0

57

34

0

66

57

0

43

Table 1: Percentage of English and Hindi used in adverts on Hindi and English channels (from Highet, 2015. ‘A “New English”? Indian English: Practices, Representations and Implications for Teaching (Master’s dissertation, unpublished)

Of course, this was a very small-scale study that would require further research in order to draw empirical conclusions (see e.g. Kathpalia et al., 2015 for further elaboration of Hindi-English mixing in Indian billboards). There are, equally, many other interesting observations to comment upon, such as the near-total lack of Hindi-only adverts across the board, and the use of English in the name of the Hindi Entertainment channel, both of which are testament to the power, or symbolic capital (Bourdieu, 1992) of English, which channels and advertisers 89


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capitalize on to attract viewers and sell certain kinds of products. It also raises the question of which languages are giving over more ‘space’ upon contact with others: here, at least, the dominance of English is evident. The findings are certainly interesting, if only in that they highlight directions for further research. But they definitely also provide evidence of the argument that languages as they are used in India do not stay in their own lanes. Perhaps, however, for reasons of historically established power dynamics that continue today, some are able to force others more easily off the road. Conclusion: Where to draw the line? The title of this paper is taken from a young student who I overheard talking with a teacher in 2016. After being scolded for not speaking English during the class, he retorted: “I am tho speaking English only!” With the lexical borrowing of ‘tho’ from Hindi, and the calque of the discourse marker ‘only’ (from the Hindi ‘hi’), this sentence is an excellent example of how difficult the question of categorizing languages becomes. How do we define this sentence? Is it Hinglish? Or is it Indian English? Alternatively: do we need to categorize it? What I have hopefully illustrated in this short commentary is the difficulty of drawing the line between languages in a multilingual situation such as India. Such divisions can arguably be seen in theory, but, in practice, boundaries crumble in the mouths of multilingual speakers. Understanding this also helps shed light on the heterogeneity of language usage across India: languages are not used or mixed in uniform ways across a single geographically defined place. In a country that has only been geographically delineated as such for seventy years, and in which almost 1.3 billion people speak hundreds of languages, it is hardly surprising that language use differs vastly. And yet, as Shakur and D’souza (2003) wrote in the editorial to the previous special issue of SACS, “it is evident that the potent idea of an homogenized identity of south Asia still prevails very much in the west, despite the phenomenal growth of regional art and cultural development in post-colonial nation states” (p.14). Despite the fact that referring to ‘Indian English’ (and, by extension, ‘Hinglish’ or ‘Banglish’ or ‘Gujlish’ or ‘Punjablish’, and so on) as a static, homogenous entity is as absurd as referring to ‘European English’ in the same way, the myth still persists. Languages as they are used in India do not conform to Western conceptualizations of language: one language, one nation is, by far, not the norm – and nor did it used to be in Western Europe, either. Multilingualism, language contact, translanguaging are the norm. Of course, some languages are embroiled in linguistic hegemonies, some find themselves more heavily associated with certain domains of life, and bi- or multi-lingual speakers are not necessarily equally competent in all areas in each of their languages. But, in multilingual communities, speakers weave their language threads in ways that cannot always be predicted or contained easily within one label. So, where is the line between English and Non-English in India? I would argue that such a question is not only impossible to answer but also futile. In his 2010 book, Language as a Local Practice, Pennycook implores his reader to question the conceptualization of languages as distinct entities. As I hope my examples have shown, to pry languages apart in India is to lose an important aspect of multilingual communication. If I had known only English, I would have denied myself the opportunity to appreciate additional layers of communication with my Indian friends. I learnt Hindi not only to communicate with non-English speakers, but also to fully appreciate the code-switching or translanguaging that was so common among my friends and colleagues. Of course, these friends were fully capable of speaking uniquely in English, or translating the Hinglish parts for me. But, as a foreigner, to speak English with no understanding of vernacular languages was to miss out on an important part of meaningmaking in a multilingual community. Thus, the line between English and non-English cannot 90


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so easily be drawn and, I would argue, need not be drawn. Rather than categorizing languages, what is needed is an interrogation of what we understand languages to be – and discussion of what this would mean for language education, not only in Gujarat, but also internationally. References Bourdieu, P., (1992). Language and symbolic power. Polity, Polity Press in association with Basil Blackwell, Polity Press, Cambridge. García, O., (2012). Theorizing translanguaging for educators, in: Celic, C., Seltzer, K. (Eds.), Translanguaging: A CUNY-NYSIEB Guide for Educators. pp. 1–6. Kachru, B.B., (1985). Standards, codification and sociolinguistic realism: the English language in the outer circle, in: Quirk, R., Widdowson, H.G., Cantù, Y., British Council (Eds.), English in the World: Teaching and Learning the Language and Literatures. Cambridge University Press for the British Council, Cambridge ; New York, pp. 11–30. Kathpalia, S.S., Ong, W., Keng, K., (2015). The Use of Code-Mixing in Indian Billboard Advertising. World Englishes. Vol 34:4, pp. 557-575 Pennycook, A., (2010). Language as a local practice, 1st ed. ed. Routledge, Milton Park, Abingdon ; New York. Ramanathan, V., (2005). The English-vernacular divide: postcolonial language politics and practice. Multilingual Matters, Clevedon ; Buffalo. Rubdy, R., Mckay, S.L., Alsagoff, L., Bokhorst-Heng, W.D., (2008). Enacting English language ownership in the Outer Circle: a study of Singaporean Indians’ orientations to English norms. World Englishes 27, 40–67. Saraceni, M., (2015). World Englishes: a critical analysis. Bloomsbury Academic, An imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Inc, London ; New York. Shakur, T., D’Souza, K. (Eds.), (2003). Picturing South Asian Culture in English: Textual and Visual Representations. Liverpool: Open House Press. Trivedi, H., (2011). Foreword, in: Kothari, R., Snell, R. (Eds.), Chutnefying English: The Phenomenon of Hinglish. Penguin Books India, pp. vii–xxvi.

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August Seidel and the first manual of Urdu for speakers of German (1893) Anthony Grant*

Introduction In the late nineteenth century, important linguistic work was being done in Germany by a large number of scholars. Most of this (e.g. the diachronic work by Hermann Paul and the Wellentheorie of Johannes Schmidt) concentrated on historical linguistics rather than descriptive linguistics. But, we should recall that the International Phonetic Association, founded in 1886 in Paris, also had important German members from the very beginning, such as Wilhelm Viëtor, who led the Reform Movement in modern language teaching. At this time, Germany led the world in advances in linguistic science, as in many other fields. Even Americans, such as the notorious J P Harrington, known equally for the scope and precision of his fieldnotes on moribund Native American languages and his anti-Semitic opposition to most of the leaders of descriptive linguistics in early 20th century America, came to Germany to perfect their linguistic scientific education. Indeed, a semester or a year spent in a German university was a sine qua non of American PhD training until the beginning of World War I. Much of German linguistic science was wrapped up in an interest in so-called Völkerpsychologie, an earlier version of modern social anthropology. This movement is associated with Wilhelm Wundt and Moritz Lazarus, though descriptive linguists such as Heymann Steinthal also partook of it. Steinthal’s 1875 chapter in a scientific manual for explorers (von Neumayer 1875) presented a phonetic alphabet and long lists of words and phrases to be translated into the local languages which the explorers encountered, in order to provide material for subsequent analysis and as an aid to learning the language. This approach informed much of the linguistic work of scholars, such as the descriptivist linguist and typologist Franz Nikolaus Finck (1867-1910), but many of his descriptive writings can be read with some detachment from this theory. German linguistics was also under the shadow (or was refreshed by the sunbeams) of the Humboldt brothers and also the Gabelentzes, father and son. Wilhelm von Humboldt and the Gabelentzes (especially the son, Georg von der Gabelentz) were themselves sharply aware descriptive linguists; the younger Gabelentz even assembled a book intended for the collection of linguistic data in the German colonies (Gabelentz 1892). The German Colonial period in the strict sense stretches from 1884-1914, and Germany lost all its colonies after the Treaty of Versailles, most of them being given to France or the United Kingdom. At its height, the German colonial empire outside Europe covered Togo, Cameroon, Tanganyika (the mainland part of Tanzania), Southwest Africa (now Namibia), Kiautschou, Samoa, NE New Guinea, and much of Micronesia (except for Guam and the Gilbert Islands, now Kiribati). Despite the highly racialistic attitudes expressed in parts of these works (especially the introductions) it is gratifying that a new generation of linguists, led by *

I would like to thank Johann-Mattis List for his assistance. Professor of Historical Linguistics and Language, Department of English and History, Edge Hill University; granta@edgehill.ac.uk

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Thomas Stolz at the University of Bremen and fully aware of (but not supporting) the ideological positions of these texts, is looking at some of these works. Scholars such as Barbara Dewein and Susanne Schuster are paying more attention to such work. Language in the colonies: the role of August Seidel A pivotal figure in this work was August Seidel. As Utz Maas, himself a descriptive linguist of note in addition to a historiographer of linguistics observes, biographical details on Seidel are sparse (Maas 2016: 264). But it is known that Seidel was born in the city of Helmstedt in 1863 and died in 1916. In terms of research interests, he was an Orientalist, and as someone who clearly embraced the colonial ideology of Kaiser Wilhelm II, he was able to pursue his interests freely in documenting a wide number of languages and cultures as General secretary of the Deutsche Kolonialgesellschaft. The indefatigable Seidel also edited "Zeitschrift für afrikanische, ozeanische und ostasiatische Sprachen” from 1895 to 1903 and in 1898 helped set up the journal Bibliothek der Länderkunde. In this position he compiled works for learning several languages of the then German colonies: Samoan, Afrikaans, Otjiherero, Oshindonga, Nama, Swahili, Ewhe, Hausa, and Duala, in addition to work on Farsi, Urdu, Japanese, Malay, English, French, Arabic (Syrian and Egyptian varieties) and Vietnamese. Many of these were published by the house of Adolph Hartleben in Berlin, Pest and Vienna, whose Bibliothek der Sprachekunde ran from 1886 to 1950; of the 137 volumes in that series which it ultimately comprised, 128 were published by 1915. I have no positive evidence that Seidel collected any of this material ‘in the field’, though some of it may have been elicited from speakers of these languages resident in Germany, and certainly his Nama material shows careful attention to lexical tone and the recording of ‘clicks’ which suggests a sharp phonetic ear. Seidel was a pioneer of the ‘systematischer Wortschatz’ or systematic vocabulary, in which the lexicon of the language is presented in sets of semantic domains (including more than merely nouns) with following translations. During his career, Seidel carried out a massive amount of work, popularising the linguistic work of others in addition to adding to the field himself. Other scholars, such as Hugo Raddatz, followed in his footsteps. Careful use of Seidel’s books permitted the diligent student to acquire a good working knowledge of a language, with a command of 2-3000 words. Some of the volumes are now available on archive.org or other websites or can be found in large university libraries, and they include works which were firsthand descriptions of languages which had barely been examined before, and therefore are first-order contributions to descriptive linguistics, even if they have subsequently been supeseded. The linguistic quality of these works is variable but the least good are not dreadful and the best of the books are excellent. Seidel’s work on Hindustani Seidel’s book contributed in a small way to a more modern view of German knowledge of India and its cultures. The German and indeed the non-anglophone North European contribution to Indology in the nineteenth century and before was not negligible. Scholars well into the twentieth century still used the Swabian Pietist missionary Hermann Gundert’s works on the Dravidian Malayalam language of Kerala, notably Gundert (1872). Hermann Gundert, incidentally, was the grandfather of the mystical novelist and Nobel prizewinner Hermann Hesse, to whom he bequeathed his fascination with India if not his Pietism. There was also a Danish colony in Tamil-speaking Tharangambadi (Tranquebar) from 1620 to 1845, and Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg produced the first translation of the Bible into Tamil there in 1714. 93


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We may also mention the Dutch loans in Bangla which refer to the suits of playing cards, and these are the relic of earlier Indian-Dutch trading relations. The Schlegel work on Sanskrit language and Hindu beliefs (Schlegel. 1808) brought a great deal of interest in India on the part of intellectuals, and the major 19th century dictionary of Sanskrit, The St-Petersburg Wörterbuch, was glossed in German by the renowned descriptive linguists Otto Böhtlingk and Rudolph Roth (1855-1875). In the 1780s, the scholar Johann Rüdiger used grammatical and lexical data from a Hindustani grammar in order to prove (as he was the first to do) that Romani was an Indic language, taking Sinti (German Romani) data from a Sinti consultant, Barbara Makelin, and comparing it with data from Hindustani (Haarmann 1990, Matras 1999). But neither Germany nor its constituent states and kingdoms ever colonized any part of India. Seidel’s book was not the first grammar of Hindustani written by a German. The criminal turned senior merchant of the East India Company (from Elbing, East Prussia, now Elbląg, Poland) Joan Josua Ketelaar takes the palm for this. Ketelaar’s 1698 grammar of Hindustani, written in Dutch and recently digitised, is the first grammar of Urdu or Hindi to be written in a European language. Seidel (1893) is a rare volume, with only a handful of copies in British university library. I have worked from a digitised version on the website of the Biblioteca de la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional, The book is undated, although the COPAC online catalogue indicates that it was published in 1893; the edition which I have used bears the autograph of one Friedrich Veit. The one-page Introduction points out the relative degree of interest in India on the part of German-speakers, and recognises the usefulness of the book for Germans working in German East Africa (now part of Tanzania) who would frequently encounter Urdu-speakers (as would the numerous Germans living and working in the eastern parts of what is now South Africa). Seidel’s linguistic approach The approach of the book to teaching Urdu is of the grammar-translation type. The Roman transcription (introduced on pp. 1-8) is taken from Forbes (1866) and Platts (1884) very greatly, and well represents the phonology of Urdu, including the contrasts between dental and retroflex stops and between the two voiced and voiceless series of aspirated and uinaspirated stops. There are some concessions to German orthography, for instance <j> where Fofrbes would use <y>, and <dschh> for Forbes’ <jh>. As such it is a vast improvement on the transcription used by John Borthwick Gilchrist (Gilchrist 1796, 1798, see also Steadman-Jones 2007).1 The book also uses vocalised but increasingly unvocalised Urdu script. Morphology (“Formenlehre”) in its various forms is exemplified on pp. 8-31, and the treatment is divided up into Urdu (rather than German or Latin) parts of speech, while syntax, including word order, is dealt with on pp. 31-45. On p. 39 we find a discussion of one of the most complex features of Urdu grammar, and one which gave European learners of Urdu much pause, namely the ‘passive’ nature of the perfect aspect sentence in Urdu and the use of the postposition ne with the agent to express the subject of the perfect aspect sentence. From pp. 45-116 the reader is presented with reading exercises with which to improve their knowledge of the language. A transcription into the Forbes-style spelling accompanies the first eleven sets of readings (which are mostly actually disjoined sentences), and which are also furnished with German translations. Thereafter only vocalised and then later increasingly unvocalised Urdu script is given, culminating (from p. 106) in material which is completely unvocalised. These readings are accompanied by structural notes which are intended to expand 94


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the reader’s understanding of morphology and syntax. There is no use in the book of Devanagari, as not even a sample alphabetical chart is given of it. Nonetheless all this material is also provided with a German translation. At any rate, much of the account of grammar is spread throughout a series of reading lessons (Lektionen), moving from simple to more complex structures. The reader is supposed to make efforts to learn and use the language. This is not a phrasebook in the conventional sense and there are no lists of useful German phrases translated into Urdu given. The kind of colonialist horrors listed in Constantine (2013) for phrasebooks of African languages are mostly not available here, largely because the context is different as a grammar rather than as an instrument for giving directions to subalterns (although there a plenty of orders listed on p. 55, which is in a section devoted to the structure and formation of imperatives). Nonetheless Seidel makes it clear that he has ensured that every utterance in in the book is taken from other sources, rather than him relying on his own knowledge of the language and on his ability to construct grammatically correct new sentences in Hindustani. Pages 117-194 comprise a German-unvocalised Urdu-Urdu vocabulary organised into some 39 semantic domains, and these contain not just nouns but also verbs and adjectives all under the relevant semantic heading. The gender of nouns is taken to be masculine unless they are marked with (f.) for English feminine (rather than with (w.) for weiblich). Numbered footnotes provide comments and some extra vocabulary. The vocabulary, which largely supplements the shorter vocabularies which are provided with each reading lesson, contains about 2300 items, including idiomatic phrases, and with some further items provided in footnotes. The language described in the book is clearly Urdu as can be seen from the lexical choices, which incorporate a large number of words from Persian and Arabic (the latter have been filtered through Persian) which would be replaced by words of Sanskrit origin in Hindi. (Even so, on pp. 138-139 both Muslim and Hindu month names are provided.) Some lexical items in the collection deserve more comment. We are struck by the role of word goraa to mean ‘pretty’ rather than the traditional Persian word xubsuurat (let alone the Sanskritism sundar) being used to express this. Goraa customarily means ‘pale’ in Hindi-Urdu and is also the term used to refer to the skin colour of White people (gore log). In addition to Persian, Arabic and Portuguese words, there are also a very few elements of English origin in the lexicon of the book.

Conclusion Much progress was made in descriptive linguistics in the Wilhelmine era. Many languages were recorded in grammars and dictionaries (some of which were very large indeed). Approaches to linguistic analysis and data collection were put forward which could have benefited the task of describing unwritten languages very greatly, and much practical work was carried out. Seidel’s work should be seen in this context. That this period of German linguistics did not influence general linguistics more deeply than it could have can be understood through the prism of non-linguistic matters (for in any case, German was widely read among people interested in linguistics and it would not have proved to be an obstacle to the successful transmission of new ideas to audiences whose first language was not German). Ideological issues raise their heads – a large degree of anglophone opposition to (and lack of knowledge of) works by Germans (and this opposition flowed in the 95


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converse direction too), and the ideological blind alley of antisemitism (which drove many German linguists abroad) meant that the possibility of progress was curtailed. It is a sad irony of history that antisemitism had been given a specious legitimacy by the rise of Völkerpsychologie, one of whose founders, Moritz Lazarus, was himself Jewish. Despite Seidel’s ethnocentric attitudes and his colonialist concerns, his work was not popular with the Nazis, and indeed his posthumous work, a comparative ethnographic study of sex and morality (Seidel 1925), was banned and burnt by the Nazis. Seidel’s book is an intelligent but second-hand work. He made it clear that he had adapted material from (unnamed) sources in his quest for grammatical correctness. So the colonial attitudes which the work embodies are the fruit of the works from which he drew, as much as of his own attitudes towards ethnic groups about whose languages he had written but whom he may never have met in the flesh. References Bhattacharya, T., (2001). “Bangla.” Facts about the world’s languages, edited by Jane Garry, 65-71. New York and Dublin: H.W. Wilson. Böhtlingk, O, and R. (1855-1875). Sanskrit-Wörterbuch. St Petersburg: Russian Academy of Sciences. Constantine, S., (2013). “Phrasebooks and the shaping of conduct in Central Africa.” The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 46: 2, 305-328 Forbes, D., (1866). A dictionary, Hindustani and English. London: W. H. Allen. Gabelentz, Georg von der. 1892. Handbuch zur Aufnahme fremder Sprachen. Berlin: E.S. Mittler. Gilchrist, J.B., (1796). A Grammar of the Hindoostanee Language, or Part Third of Volume First, of a System of Hindoostanee Philology. Calcutta: Chronicle Press. Gilchrist, J.B., (1798). Preface [to Gilchrist, John Borthwick. 1787-90. A Dictionary English and Hindoostanee.] Calcutta Gundert, H., (1872). A Malayalam-English Dictionary. Bangalore: C. Stolz. Haarmann, H., (1990). Einleitung (i-xxviii) (Introduction to a new edition of Rüdiger, Johann Christian Christoph. 1782 [1990]. Von der Sprache und Herkunft der Zigeuner aus Indien. Reprint from: Neuester Zuwachs der teutsche, fremden und allgemeinen Sprachkunde in eigenen Aufsätzen, 1, 37-84. Hamburg: Buske. Maas, U., (2016). Sprachforschung in der Zeit der Nationnalsozialismus. Berlin: de Gruyter. Matras, Yaron. 1999. Johann Rüdiger and the study of Romani in 18th century Germany. Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, fifth series, 9: 89-116. von Neumayer, G., ed. (1875). Anleitung wissenschaftlichen Beobachtungen auf Reisen mit besonderer Rücksicht auf die Bedürfnisse der kaiserlichen Marine. Berlin: Oppenheim. Paul, H., (1898). Prinzipien der Sprachgeschichte. Halle: Niemeyer. 96


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Platts, J.T., (1884). A dictionary of Urdu, Classical Hindi, and English. Oxford: Clarendon. Safadi, A., (2012). The colonial construction of Hindustani 1800-1947. Unpublished PhD thesis, Goldsmiths’ College, University of London. Schlegel, F., (1808). Über die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier. Mohr und Zimmer, Heidelberg, Seidel, A., (1893). Theoretisch-Praktische Grammatik der Hindustani-Sprache mit zahlreichen Uebungsstücken in arabischer Schrift, mit Transkription und Uebersetzung sowie einem systematischen deutsch-hindustani Wörterbuche (Die Kunst der Polyglottie, 40), Wien, Pest und Leipzig: Hartleben. Retrieved from http://bibliotecadigital.aecid.es/bibliodig/i18n/consulta/registro.cmd?id=1648 on 1 December 2017. Seidel, A., (1925). Geschlecht und Sitte im Leben der Völker. Berlin-Pankow: Linser. Steadman-Jones, R., (2007). Colonialism and Grammatical Representation: John Gilchrist and the Analysis of the ‘Hindustani’ Language in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries (Publications of the Philological Society 41), Oxford: Blackwell. Steinthal, H., (1875). “Linguistik”. In: von Neumayer 1875, 551-570 1 Another

relevant and extremely interesting work in understanding the historiography of Hindustani is Safadi (2012), a doctoral thesis on the colonialization of Hindustani, the use and propagation of “Roman Urdu” in the British military in India, and the declining competence in the language among the British “sahibs” in the course of the nineteenth century.

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Linguistic influence of Persian on South Asian languages: Special reference to Urdu Abu Musa Mohammad Arif Billah*

Abstract Iran has a rich linguistic and cultural heritage. The history of the development of Iranian languages from Old Persian to Avesta, Pahlavi and finally Persian goes back to time immemorial. Over this vast period, Iranian languages contributed a significant influence on South Asian languages. Lexicographic affinities and thematic likeness between the Avesta and the Rig-Veda suggest a prolonged cultural and literary relationship between Iran and the subcontinent. The constant traveling of the port cities in South Asia by the Iranian merchants and Sufis through sea-routes paved the way for development of the Persian language in the land since millennium BC. After the establishment of Muslim rule in Delhi, the Persian language begun to flourish in the region and gradually spread throughout the subcontinent. Urdu language developed mainly based on Persian. Bengal fell to Muslims in 1203 AD, which resulted in the replacement of the court language from Sanskrit to Persian. Muslim courts became a meeting place for both local and Iranian poets and intelligentsias during this period. The practice of Persian, Bengali, as well as Arabic as a religious language, begun to thrive promptly in the land. Many Sufis such as Nur Qutb-e Alam, Shaikh Sharafuddin Abu Tawwama contributed a lot in this process of development: the Bengali language and literature now received the full assistance of the Muslim rulers. The presence of more than 10000 Persian words in Bengali suggests a clear linguistic influence of Persian on the language. The proposed paper will attempt to elucidate the sequential developments of Persian language in the subcontinent and its impact on local vernacular languages. Keywords: Linguistic influence, Persian, Bengali, South Asia, Bengal, Avesta, Rig-Veda Introduction South Asia, especially the subcontinent, has been in close contact with Iran for millennia. Over this period, both the lands have been influencing each other in many fields. Persian influences on South Asian languages and literature is an obvious phenomenon, which is evident in literary specimens related to ancient, medieval and modern periods. A number of Persian elements are present in most of the contemporary languages of South Asia, especially of the subcontinent, as a consequence of the prolonged cultivation of Persian with Medieval Indo-Muslim culture. Indeed, Safavi writes: “Mughal kings patronized Iranian poets and scholars and the impact of Persian culture and language is discernable on all aspects of intellectual and socio-cultural life of India. Indian officers and nobles employed at the court, wore Iranian dresses, spoke Persian language and enjoyed Persian poetry” (Safavi, 2006: ix). She continues: “From the East to West this synthesis of two cultures can be observed in architecture, painting, music, and poetry. Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, the Deccani mosques and mausoleums, Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s forts, many Gurdwaras, Akbar’s tomb at Sikandra and *

Associate Professor, Department of Persian Language and Literature, University of Dhaka: ammarif_billah@hotmail.com

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of course the Tāj Maḥal are eye-catching examples of the Persian influence”(Ibid.). Jawharlal Nehru, regarding this historical and cultural relationship observes: Among the many people races who have come in contact with and influenced India’s life and culture, the oldest and more persistent have been the Iranians. Indeed the relationship precedes even the beginning of Indo-Aryan civilization, for it was out of some common stock that the Indo-Aryans and the ancient Iranians diverged and took their different ways (Nehru, 1947: 112; cited in Billah, 2014: 25).

Lexicographic affinities and thematic likeness between the Avesta and the Rig-Veda as well as thematic and linguistic influences of Persian language and literature on South Asian languages and literature (such as Sanskrit, Prakrit, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali,) suggest an existence of a prolonged historical relations between Iran and South Asia. Persian not only helped the evolution and development of local vernacular languages, but also helped many literary traditions of South Asia, especially the romantic tradition, which got its form and shape either on the basis of the thematic influence of Persian literary sources or on the basis of the translation of Persian origins. This issue will be discussed in more detail in the following sections. Shaping language, literature and culture Language1, literature and culture shape the identity of the people of a particular region or locality. Generally speaking, the legacy of the development of a language is based on multiple processes of linguistic evolution throughout the history of the development of human civilization. A process of construction and deconstruction has always been taking place over this course of evolution (Billah, 2014: 56). Thus, we find many reminiscent elements or forms – pictorial (Egyptian hieroglyph), Cuneiform (Farsi Bastan), Avesta and Pahlavi in Iran, Vedic and Devanagari as well as Sanskrit, Prakrit and Apabhramshas (corrupt languages) in India. Daily life communication, wit, desire, love, affection, emotion, and finally, relations among the people of a community actually procured the evolution process of dialects and languages and finally of literatures which has also been nurturing the identical culture of relevant groups of people or societies. This process was affected by experiences of the influx of people from varied destinations. People, since the initiation of human civilization, have been inherently migrating from one place to another on varied interests: a) travelling for better livelihood, b) for businesses, c) for invasion etc. All these factors had influences on linguistic development. In addition, transmigration is another very significant feature in the course of development and shifting from one paradigm to another. The emergence and development of language, literature and culture were not beyond this progression of metamorphosis. Persian: Linguistic affiliation Persian is one of the most influential languages of the West Iranian languages group, which includes those closely associated to the Persian languages of Dari and Tajik, the narrowly related languages of Luri, Bakhtiari, and Kumzari, and the non-Persian dialects available in Fars Province. The languages more remotely related to this group include: Kurdish, spoken in Iraq, Turkey, and Iran; and Baluchi, spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Yet more vaguely related languages of the East Iranian group include: Yaghnobi, spoken in Tajikistan, Pushto, spoken in Afghanistan; Ossete, spoken in North Ossetian, South Ossetian, and Caucasus. Other Iranian languages of note are Old Persian and Avestan, the sacred language of the Zoroastrians related to the Indo-European family of languages. Indo-Iranian languages are spoken in a widespread region, extending from parts of eastern Turkey and eastern Iraq to western India. The Indo-Aryan languages are the other main division of Indo-Iranian, in 99


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addition to Iranian, which included many languages of South Asia. This includes Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Guajarati, Punjabi, Assamese, Oriya, and Sindhi. Gleason (1961) regarding the extent and intensity of Indo-European Language family observes: Indo-European is the largest and most important language family, from the point of view of both the social importance of the major language in the group, and their interest to linguists. The term Indo- European is applied to the family of languages that spread initially throughout Europe and several parts of south Asia and that are in modern times used in every part of the world. This family is divided into several sub-families or branches or groups, each of which comprises several languages "(cited in Varshney, 1998: 403).

Persian, as one of the branches of Indo-European languages, has had a major linguistic and literary influence on South Asian Languages. Safavi remarks: “all Indian languages like Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujarati, Telugu, and Hindi etc. contain a great number of Persian words and phrases for which they have no synonym” (Safavi, 2006:ix). This paper, with a brief background of the origin and development of Persian Language and literature in Iran and South Asia, elucidates the linguistic impact of Persian on the languages of South Asia as well as of Bengal, exemplifying salient elements from both Persian and vernacular languages. Development of Persian language and literature in Iran We can initiate the present discussion through a statement on linguistic unity, delivered by William Jones during his historic lecture in 1786 AD, “The linguistic unity between Asia and Europe indicates that the speakers of these languages descended from common ancestors. The primitive unity of speech points to the primitive unity of race (Aryan and Aryan, 1998: 27).” Yet, I personally believe that this unity was developed more on the basis of a reciprocal principle that sometimes people of various lands or places come close to each other through struggle and conflict, or personal interests, as tourists or merchants. People got settled in the new land and on the basis of the requirement of their everyday lives they are mixing with locals over the ages, which resulted in the appearance of alien words in the languages of that locality. In addition, the influence of nature was also very active in this process. Very often the natural objects were being used by people as stimuli which made a confluence of adjustment and reconstruction, contesting the sublime challenges between the notion of the new settlers and the indigenous ambiance. In my view, this process gave impetus to develop language, culture and society; and it is the real cause behind the linguistic unity. Therefore, it is hard to establish that the languages are being tracked back to one common ancestor as marked by William Jones. It is possible that there might have been multiple sources behind the development of the languages throughout the development process. However, there is a necessity of substantial research to reach a conclusion on the issue. The cases of Iranian Aryans also signify this reality. After their arrival on the plateau, they came across and at least partly displaced or absorbed local populations like Elamites, Kassites, and others, but the only local language about which we have abundant information is Elamite. So it is not unlikely that Elamite elements were incorporated in the Iranian Languages spoken on the plateau, especially that of the Persians, who took over administrative centres of the Elamites i.e., Anzan and Susa. But the number of these elements is very few. A number of Mesopotamian "culture words" are recognizable foreign words in Old Persian, like dipi , an inscription from Sumerian via Elamite, tuppi and mashkā- "inflated cow's hide” (used for 100


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ferrying) from Aramaic. Non-Iranian elements in Iranian languages hence shed little light on the migrations and contacts of the early Iranians (Erdosy, 1997:157). However, there was an affirmative change in culture and language on the basis of coexistence among the new settlers: the Aryans and the local Iranian people. Consequently, a new language and new culture took shape in Iran. The process of the development of Persian language was basically based on the following four phases: (1) Avesta language (2) Old Persian (3) Middle Persian (4) Modern Persian. Avesta language: Avesta received the status of a religious language since Zoroaster, the ancient religious Master and founder of the doctrine of Zoroastrianism2, who composed his book “Kitāb-e-Avestā” in this very language. This language originated in Media region of North Iran. According to historians, the monarchs of “Mad” community, ruled in Media area during the Pishdadi and Kiani eras, 3 were used to using this language (Nisary, 1328 HS: 1). Avesta contains various religious issues such as hymns dedicated to the God “Ahura Mazda”, worship of the creator, positive reception for good deeds, condemnation of bad deeds and so on (Tarikhe Adabiate Iran, 1349 HS: 13 –16). Old Persian: This was a cuneiform system of writing. This language was in use and practice during the period of the Achaemenid kings around 550 BC. It was only for royal inscriptions; few people could read it. These are contained in the cuneiform inscriptions engraved on the rocks of Bisotun and Naqsh-i-Rustam, and on the walls and the massive columns of Persepolis. It is highly inflectional, and possesses most of the grammatical peculiarities of the Avesta, Sanskrit, and other ancient languages of the Indo-European family (Nisary, 1328 HS: 28). Middle Persian: Pahlavi originated in Iran during Parthian (Ashkanide) era (249-226 BC). Basically, it was the simplified form of Avesta and Old Persian. So it has also been introduced as Middle Persian. Later, during the reign of Sassanid (226 BC-652AD) remarkable developments took place in pronunciation and form of this language. Innumerable lyrical compositions, diary, short stories, poems, songs and finally many epics of the kings and so on were available in Pahlavi, some eminent ones of which were later rendered into poetical composition in Persian by a group of Persian poets. Pieces worth mentioning of these kinds are Khusrau va Shīrīn, Iskandarnāmah, Bahramnāmah, Rustamnāmah, and Haāar Dastān, a collection of a thousand stories of Sassanid era (Nisary, 1328 HS: 8). Modern Persian: History reveals that after the fall of the reign of last Sassanid emperor Yazdgard III (634-652 AD), the Sassanid-introduced Pahlavi language, under the influence of Arabic, began to transform gradually into Persian. People’s fascination towards Pahlavi language was reduced since it lacked Islamic spirits and beliefs. Hence, at that time many books of Pahlavi literature were abolished and by this way gradually, Pahlavi language became obsolete (Shafaq, 1974: 14, 105). The Arab Philologists, finally, tried to preserve the Pahlavi literary heritage and they took the initiative to replace the Pahlavi letters by Arabic alphabet. Due to the lack of some alphabetical substitutes to the Pahlavi alphabet, they made the later “Pe” (‫ )پ‬by adding another two dots with “Be”(‫ )ب‬and the letter “Che” (‫ )چ‬by adding another two dots with “Zim”(‫ )ج‬and the letter “Jhe”(‫ )ژ‬by adding another two dots with “Je” (‫)ز‬. Likewise, the letter “Gaf” (‫ )گ‬by using another strait mark on “kaf”( ‫) ک‬. In this way, the Pahlavi alphabet was abolished and the Persian alphabet as well as Modern Persian language and literature were born. 101


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Modern Persian: As language of common people It is noteworthy that Pahlavi was not the language of the common people; the priest and the ruling classes mostly used it. But Persian became a language for common people within a very short period of time and spread over the land by the initiative of Arab and Persian poets, writers and linguists. That is why a revolutionary development of Persian literature took place within a few centuries of emergence of Islam in this land. In this regards Adriano V. Rossi observes: Persian has acted as a superstratum for other Iranian languages on at least three occasions: during the Sasanian expansion, 3rd-4th century A.D.; at the time of the establishment of AraboPersian bureaucracy, 7th-9th century A.D.; during the introduction of a pan-Islamic scientific prose by Arabo-Persian bilingual scholars in the 10th-12th century A.D. (Rossi, 2013).

Persian was used as language of communication in the Middle Eastern regions, and South Asian countries approximately from 1000 AD to 1850 AD. Modern Persian: As one of the languages of South Asia Persian Language and literature entered into South Asia primarily through the sea-route: through the vessels and ships of the merchants who had been a regular contact from Bengal to Persia. Along with businessmen, Sufis and Dervishes, mendicants also used to come to the region to preach Islam centering Khānqāh, i.e. the seat of a Dervish, Dargāh, i.e. meeting palace of Sufi. Their daily lives, contacts with local people and their murīdān strongly influenced the spread of the language in the localities. In addition, the Sufis and Muslim intelligentsia, over the period of more than a millennium (since the introduction of Muslim rule in Sind by Muhammad bin Qasem in 711 AD) wrote countless literary texts, many of which are being preserved in the libraries across South Asia as well as in many important libraries of the world, as a huge treasure in the form of letters, autobiographies, books, dictionaries, learning texts, historical as well as geographical documents, Arts and calligraphies etc. Shaikh Sayyed Ali ibn Usman Hujwiry (R), Khawaja Muinuddin Chishti (R), Shaikh Bahauddin Zakarya Multani (R), Sayyed Ashraf Jahangir Simnani (R), Ami Sayyed Ali Hamadani (R), Shaikh Jalauddin Tabrizi (R) etc. were among the most celebrated religious, spiritual and literary contributors to South Asian regions of the period. The first specimen of Persian text written in the region is Kashful Mahjub by Ali Ibn Usman Hujwiry who came to Lahore after 1040 AD and wrote the book (Billah, 1993: 186). Shaikh Ahmad Sarhindi (R), renowned as Mujaddid-i Alfe Thani, Shah Wali Ullah Muhaddith Dehlavi (R), Abdul Haq Dehlavi (R), Abdul Aziz Muhaddith Dehlavi (R), Qasem Nantavi (R), Rashid Ahmad Ganguhi (R), Hedayatullah Sahrampuri (R), were among the personalities who wrote their various texts in Persian which had a remarkable influence on the Sufis and intellectuals throughout the subcontinent (Billah, 1993: 187; Mīrath-i Jāvīdān, Vol, I, 1370 HS: 12). It is worth mentioning that Shaikh Ahmad Sarhindi (Mujaddid-i Alfe Thānī) used to maintain contact with his followers as well as intellectuals all over the South Asia, which later appeared as a printed book completely in Persian with the title of Maktūbāte Rabbānī (Islāmī Vishvakosh (Encyclopedia of Islam), 1986, Vol. I: 478; Vol. II: 238). Secondly, after the fall of the Subcontinent and finally of South Asia to Muslim rulers, Persians reached the region and flourished gradually over the land which led to the development of Persian literature (Billah, 1993: 187-198). During the period of Mughal rule in the subcontinent, the culture and education of land was remarkably influenced by the Persian language. During this period, more or less all local languages of the region have been influenced by Persian in both Indian literature and the speech of the common people. Hence, 102


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South Asia appeared to be the cradle of Persian language and culture in one hand, and it also became influential on the vernacular languages and literature on the other. In 1837, Persian was replaced by English by enacting a degree by the then British rulers. Until 1837 AD, Persian was a spoken language for the people from Sind to Bengal. In addition, it was used among the regional people as the common language among them, while the local languages differed from group to group and the people had various dialects throughout the South Asia. This issue will be addressed in later sections of this paper. Persian and South Asian languages South Asia, the vast region of the Indian subcontinent, is characterized by great linguistic diversity. The diversity of indigenous spoken languages has, however, always been welladjusted by the corresponding use of trans-regional standard languages in religious and secular as well as literature royal administration. During the initial period of Indic civilization, the standard language was Sanskrit, conserved by the Brahminical elite as an erudite classical language, a task which it continues to preserve in the religious perspective of traditional Hinduism (Shackle, 2012). Persian language, with its spiritual might and literary slender, mesmerized and enthralled the people of South Asia even, as it has been mentioned above, since long before the establishment of Muslim rule over the land. Yet, the initiation of Muslim rule in the region changed the entire course of history such that, from then on, Persian became the court language by replacing Sanskrit. As a court language, Persian appeared to be the most influential language and Sanskrit gradually lost its glory. People from various communities, including the Hindus, had begun to learn Persian to maintain social and official status. Persian, for the first time, appeared as the major language of administrative, literary and cultural traditions in the Ghaznavid dynasty in Lahore. The presence of thousands of Iranians in Ghaznavid army brought the Persian language, culture and custom to this land, which resulted in the strengthening of the existing historical relations between the people of Iran and South Asia. During this period, Lahore became renowned as the Centre for knowledge, Literature, Arts and Gnosticism (Billah, 1993: 187). The victory of Sultan Shahabuddin Ghori over the Indian King Prithviraj Chauhan at the battle of Tarain in 1192 AD brought the Persian language from Lahore to Delhi. The commanders of Ghorid Dynasty extended their victories up to Bengal. During this period onwards, Persian language, literature and Muslim culture became influential over the most important parts of South Asia through the continuing immigration of Muslims from Central Asia and the larger Persian world of Iran. This trend was continued by the periods of succeeding Khalji (1290-1330 AD), Tughlaq (1330-1414AD), Ludhi (1489-1517AD), and Mughal (1526 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 1857AD) dynasties (Billah, 1993: 178-194). The main position of Persian in the Mughal Indian education system confirmed its extensive diffusion as a pan-Indian standard language amongst the native elite and court officials and other service classes, including significant groups of Hindus along with Muslims. Mughal Persian was somewhat distinguished from the Persian of Iran both by the influence of Indian languages, and by its greater conservatism. This Indo-Persian influence remained culturally dominant until the consolidation of British rule in the 19th century, which led to its substantial replacement by English, the transnational elite language of all the countries of modern South Asia (Shackle, 2012). The natural feature and linguistic survey suggests a noticeable presence of Persian elements in the various languages of the South Asia. Linguistic interactions have obviously been greatest between Persian and the Indo-Aryan languages (Ibid.; see also Cardona and Jain, 103


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2003) of the northern plains which are linguistically associated with Iranian language, chiefly the languages of the northwestern regions like Panjabi and Sindhi; these languages are included in the Indo-Iranian Linguistic group (Shackle, 2012). On the whole, the exchange of Persian elements reduces with progressive distance from that border, whether towards the south, where Persian elements are markedly less prominent in Marathi than in Gujarati, or towards Bengali at the eastern end of the vast Indo-Aryan area. Persian elements are unsurprisingly much less well represented in the Dravidian languages spoken in Indian Peninsula. As mentioned earlier, during the earliest centuries of Muslim rule in South Asia, Persian language and culture became most influential. People from varied interests had begun to learn Persian language as well, as to become familiar with Persian arts and cultures. Hence, a Lingua franca thrived, amalgamating Persian elements with an Indian linguistic base, which has been recognized as a combination deriving from the indigenous dialects of the Lahore-Delhi region. In this regards Christopher Shackle observes: This mixed lingua franca is conveniently given the traditional label “Hindustani,” in distinction from “Urdu” (q.v.), defined as the highly Persianized language of the elite which evolved from it as a literary language written in the Persian script, first in Hyderabad and the Muslim kingdoms of the Deccan and then in Delhi, Lucknow, and other centers of Muslim courtly culture in northern India (Shackle, 2012).

Persian is most prominent in formal Urdu, remarkably present in the North and West Indian languages such as Sindhi or Gujarati or Punjabi, especially by the Muslim speakers. Hindustani has itself acted as a medium for the transmission of Persian loan words into other Indo-Aryan languages (Steever, 1998: 237). Except for Telegu, Persian elements are, however, rather thin in other Dravidian languages, although Brahui is an exception (cf. Rossi, 1979): Around two third Brahui speakers are bilaterally bilingual in Brahui and Baluchi, Brahui developed getting elements from several South Asian languages. As per the conservative estimate, roughly 35 percent is of Persian/Arabic origin, chiefly through Indo-Aryan or Baluchi (Elfenbein, 1989).

However, Persian, along with English, still provides the Indo-Aryan languages with their most significant set of non-Indian elements. Persian elements in South Asian languages Following the overall contextual discussion above it will be befitting to address the issues related to the Persian influence on the phonology and the morphology and syntax of South Asian languages, before concluding with a study of the major Persian impact on vocabulary. Phonology: Phonological similarities have enhanced the assimilation of Persian loans into South Asian languages. In terms of the 10 vowel system, Indo-Persia, like Indo-Aryan, is phonologically conservative. It also retains the majhūl vowels ē and ō. While Indo-Aryan vowels are a ā e i ī u ū ē ai ō au the modern Persian vowels are a ā e i o e [i] ey [u] ow). In terms of word phonology, also, modern Indo-Aryan shares the Persian preference for simple patterns of the CVCVC form. In the case of consonantal account, fricatives are less well represented in Indo-Aryan than in Iranian. It is the effect of Persian which predominantly accounts for the existence in contemporary South Asian languages of z, sh, f (for which j, s, ph normally substitutes everyday speech). Unlike the recognitions kh, g, k characteristics of 104


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common speech, Persian phonemes ḵ, ḡ, q is a mark of exclusive speech in Urdu and other languages (Shackle, 2012). Morphology and syntax: Like Persian, the Indo-Aryan languages are of the same subject-object-verb (SOV) type, with the verb placed at the end of the sentence. Indo-Aryan has, however, the order modifier-noun-postposition within the construction of the noun phrase while the Persian order preposition-noun-modifier, with elements typically linked by the eżāfe. Hence, Urdu mazīd imdād kē ṭaur par “by way of additional assistance” versus Indo-Persian ba-ṭaur-i imdād-i mazīd. The Persian type noun phrases are quite generously used in Modern Urdu. Persian khwāneh barā-ē farūsh, translating English “house for sale,” or sāzemān-ē malal "United Nations” versus Hindi samyukt rāšṯr, with preceding adjective. The use of inflected Persian nominal forms, e.g., noun plurals in -ān or (less commonly) –hā or superlative adjectives in -tarīn is typically restricted to phrases of this type. But, Persian comparative tar and superlative tarīn are being used more frequently in Urdu (see Shackle, 2012). Regarding the characteristics of more elaborate syntax, Shackle remarks: The use over many centuries of Indo-Persian as a formal standard language characterized by a more elaborate syntax than the typical parataxis of Indo-Aryan is reflected in the ubiquitous borrowing of Indo-Persian ki “that” to introduce reported speech, as well as in numerous other conjunctions, illustrated by such Urdu examples as lēkin “but,” bā īn hama “nevertheless,” čūnki “because,” bā-wujūdē-ki “in spite of the fact that,” for all of which Sanskritic substitutions are plentifully represented in other languages (Shackle, 2012).

As seen above, Urdu language, in comparison to other languages of South Asia, has been influenced more by the Persian language. Many Persian books such as Laylī va Majnūn, Shīrīn va Farhād, and Yūsuf va Zulaikhā, Gūlstān, Bustān, Mathnavī, etc. have been translated into Urdu language. Many Urdu poets such as Mirza Ghalib, Wali,Mir, Sauda and Insha used the Persian vocabularies extensively in their poems. Many Urdu infinitives (‫ )ﻣﺼﺪر‬are formed using Persian infinitives (‫ – )ﻣﺼﺪر‬by replacing the Persian verb marker dan (‫ )دن‬into nā (‫)ﻧﺎ‬. For example: Persian kardān (‫ )ﮐﺮدن‬is formed as karnā (‫)ﮐﺮﻧﺎ‬. Accordingly, many Urdu compound verbs formed using Persian compound verbs – simply by replacing the Persian verb marker dan (‫ )دن‬into nā (‫) ﻧﺎ‬. For example: Persian Safar karndān Negāh kardān Salam kardān Qabūl kardān Raham kardān Shak kardān Maḥrūm kardān

Urdu ‫ﺳﻔﺮ ﮐﺮﻧﺎ‬ ‫ﻧﮕﺎه ﮐﺮﻧﺎ‬ ‫ﺳﻼم ﮐﺮﻧﺎ‬ ‫ﻗﺒﻮل ﮐﺮﻧﺎ‬ ‫رﺣﻢ ﮐﺮﻧﺎ‬ ‫ﺷﮏ ﮐﺮﻧﺎ‬ ‫ﻣﺤﺮوم ﮐﺮﻧﺎ‬

(‫)ﺳﻔﺮ ﮐﺮدن‬ (‫)ﻧﮕﺎه ﮐﺮدن‬ (‫)ﺳﻼم ﮐﺮدن‬ (‫)ﻗﺒﻮل ﮐﺮدن‬ (‫)رﺣﻢ ﮐﺮدن‬ (‫)ﺷﮏ ﮐﺮدن‬ (‫)ﻣﺤﺮوم ﮐﺮدن‬

English to travel to look to say salam to accept to compassionate to suspect to deprive

It is worth mentioning that many of these types of verbs or compound verbs are being used in Hindi with the Hindi script. Urdu language is written in a modified script following PersoArabic scripts, whereas Hindi is written in the Devanagari script. The main difference between Hindi and Urdu is Urdu usage of Perso-Arabic elements while Hindi, on the other hand, in many respects those from Sanskrit, or the Apabhramsha derived from Sanskrit. Bahri notes that “the most important influence of Persian on Hindi, it has been recognized, was the growth and development of Urdu language and literature (Bahri, 1960:9).” Like Urdu, significant numbers 105


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of Persian words are available in Hindi language used among the people in South Asian society as well as in other parts of the world In addition, many other Indian languages such as Gujarati, Telugu, and Punjabi have been influenced by Persian language during the period of Muslim rule in the subcontinent. Many Iranian texts and books have been translated into Gujarati, Telugu, and Punjabi languages. Today, the impact of Persian language can be seen in written and spoken languages and Persian words still exist in Bengali, Gujarati, Telugu, and Punjabi etc. A selection of corresponding words as well as word-phrases will be enumerated in the following sections. Vocabulary: Thousands of vocabularies as loanwords are unequivocally found in South Asian languages. These naturally include Persian as well as Arabic and Turkish words borrowed through Persian and words of Persian etymological origin. Some common vocabularies used in Urdu (many of such words are also used in Hindi, Bengali, and Assamese etc.) will be listed categorically as per their usages in in different occasions below: Words related to – a. religion – Islam like like namāz “prayer,” masjid (> popular masīt) “mosque,” pīr "Sufi master,” b. distinctive Muslim practices like the eating of meat, as in gōsht “meat,” qaṣāī (probably ) “butcher,” c. the preference for tailored clothes, e.g., qamīż (< qamīṣ) “shirt,” pājāma “trousers,” qainčī “scissors,” darzī “tailor.” d. the urban orientation like shahr “city,” bāzār (> popular bazār) “market,” e. education by words like kāḡaḏ “paper,” qalam “pen,” siyāhī “ink.” f. administration, e.g., bādshāh “king,” żilaʿ “district,” qānūn “law,” fauj “army, g. to form nominal compounds with simple formants like karnā “to do” for transitives and hōnā “to be” for intransitives, e.g., Urdu shurūʿ karnā “to begin (trans.),” shuruʿ hōnā “to begin (intrans.)” h. in the choice of marker, e.g., Urdu khānā “to eat” in shikast khānā “to be defeated,” reflecting Persian shekast ḵordan, i. in honorific formations as Urdu far-māiyē “please say” or tashrif rakhiyē “please sit down,” which keep to characterize the role of Persian in South Asia as the linguistic symbol of the modification related to the courteous traditions of Indo-Muslim culture (see Shackle, 2012). Some more Iranian words which are commonly used in Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi, Hindi, Bengali, Assamese etc. are as follows: a. Words relating to the name of the male and female names: Hushang, Kaiqubad, Nur Zahan, Khan Bahadur. b. Some names of Hindu People are also found completely in Persian like’ Chaman Lal, Sher Bahadur, Lal Bahadur, Rawshan Lal. c. Some names of Shikh people are following the same process such as: Gulab Sing, Iqbal Sing, Khushwant Sing, etc. d. Words relating to the body-organs: jegar, pahlū, badan e. Words relating to relatives: dāmad, shādī, hamzulf, shawhar. f. Words relating to name of the foods: sabjī, kofteh, biryānī. g. Words relating to the garments: ackān, Jobbā, chādor, poshāk. h. Words relating to place: Aḥmedābād, Ḥaidarābād, Punjāb, Habigānj, Rāmpūr. i. Words relating to arts and crafts: takht, tāk, kursī, dalān. j. Words relating to kitchen: tasht, sīnī, dīgh. 106


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Words relating to fruits: sharīfe, ānār, angūr, sīb. Name of the flowers: zafrān, gulāb, chenār, henā. Words relating to behaviour and custom: bī ḥayā, aḥmaq, baddhāt. Words relating to inspiration: khushāmdīd, zindāhbād.

Apart from this, some Persian Proverbs are also used in Indian languages like: be salāmat rave O bāj auye, himmate mardān madade Khudā, jāyi ustād khālī ast, gurbe kushtan rūzī awwal, dīvar ham gūsh dārad, yak anār va !ad bimār. [Translation: Go with a good health, and come back, the will/efforts of men is the help of God, the place of the Professor is empty. Kill the cat in the first day, the wall has also ear. One diner and a hundred patients.] Conclusion This study has demonstrated that there is a clear linguistic influence of Persian on South Asian languages. The historical and cultural as well as political relations between the two great lands constitute this influence, which was started primarily by the traders and Sufis and finally by the initiation of Muslim rule in South Asia. The official influence of Persian was started with the establishment of Muslim Rule in Delhi and ended with the fall of the Muslims to the British. For over eight centuries, Persian played an influential role in south Asia. Over this vast period, Persian had an impact on many languages and literatures such as Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali, Guajarati, and various cultures of South Asia. Bengali language flourished within the domain of Persian-influenced Islamic culture. We find in the above-cited examples that Persian and Bengali are very close to each other, and their affinities are very apparent in both formation of words and making sentences. Bengali language, nowadays, has reached the modern period. Yet, we can still observe the usage of thousands of Persian words in Bengali and many other South Asian languages like Punjabi, Gujarati, Urdu, Assamese, Sindhi etc. language and literature. The copies of translated books from Persian into local languages as well as thousands of manuscripts written in Persian in South Asia are being preserved in regional libraries and many other libraries throughout the world. This study concurs with the historical point of one of the most renowned South Asian scholars, Jawharlal Nehru: The Persian language, like French in Europe, became the languages of cultured people across wide stretches of Asia. Iranian art and culture spread from Constantinople in the west right up to the edge of Gobi Desert (Nehru, 1947: 113).

References Anissuzzaman, Ed., (1987). Bānglā Sāhityer Etihās, Dhaka: Bangla Academy Aryan, K. C. and Aryan, S, (1998). The Aryans History of Vedic period, New Delhi: Rekha prakashan, India. Bahri, H., (1960). Persian Influence on Hindi. Bharati Press Publications, Allahabad: India. 107


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Billah, A.M., (1993). Khedamāt-i Dāneshmandān-i Shibh-i Qārreh be Zabān va Adābiyāt-i Fārsī in Articles of the first Regional Seminar on the the Cultural Relations between Iran and Sub-Continent, Vol. II, Islamabad: Iran-Pakistan Institute of Persian Studies, and Tehran: Centre International Cultural Studies. Billah, A.M., (2014). Influence of Persian literature on Shah Muhammad Sagir’s Yūsuf Zulaikhā and Alaol’s Padmāvatī, Dhaka: Abu Rayhan Biruni Foundation. Cardona, G. and Jain, D (2003). The Indo-Aryan Languages, London and New York. Dehkhoda, A.A., (1956-1979). Lugatnāmeh-i Dehkhuda, Vol. I., Tehran: University of Tehran. Dutt, C., (1970). ‘Contribution of Bengal to Arabic and Persian Literature in the Turko-Afghan Period (1203-1538 A.D.)’, in Iran Society Silver Jubilee Souvenir, Kolkata: Iran Society. Elfenbein, J., (1989). “Brahui” http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/brahui accessed on 29/09/2015. Erdosy, G. [Ed.], (1997). The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Aisa: Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd. Gleason,H.A. (1961). Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics, Holt, Rinehart , Winston: New York. Halhed, N.B., (1980). A Grammar of the Bengali Language: Unabridged Facsimile Edition, Kolkata: Ananda Publishers. Islami Vishvakosh (Encyclopedia of Islam), (1986). Vol. I. and Vol. II. Islamic Foundation of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Karim, A., (1985). Social History of the Muslims of Bengal, 2nd edition, Chittagong. Latif, A. S., (1993). The Muslim Mystic Movement in Bengal 1301-1550, Kolkata: KP Bagchi & Company. Mīrāth-i Jāvīdān, (1370 HS). Vol. I, Preface, Islamabad: Office of the Cultural Canceller of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamabad, Pakistan. Mirza, W. Md., (1935). The Life and Works of Amir Khasrau, Kolkata. Nehru, J., (1947.) The Discovery of India, London: Meridian Books Limited. Nisary, S., (1328 Solar year, 1948 AD). Tārīk-i ādābiā-i īrān, Tehran Rossi, A.V., (2013). “The Etymological-Comparative Dictionary of the Balochi Language: Progress Report of an International Project,” [Paper read at the Balochi Academy Golden Jubilee, Quetta, August 2013 (to be printed in the Proceedings of the Conference)] Rossi, A.V., (1979). Iranian Lexical Elements in Brāhūī, Naples: Istituto universitario orientale.

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Safavi, A.D. (2006). Introduction. International Seminar on Impact of Persian Language and Culture on India, Department of Persian, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh: India. Shackle, C., (2012). “Persian Elements in In Indian languages” Available at: http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/india-xviii-persian-elements-in-indian-languages [accessed on 22 September 2015]. Shafaq, R., (1974). Tarikhe Adabiate Iran, Tehran: Ministry of Culture. Steever, S. B. (Ed.), (1998). The Dravidian Languages, London and New York: Routledge. Tarikhe Adabiate Iran, (1349 solar year (1970AD). Tehran: Education Ministry of Iran. The World Book Encyclopaedia, (1990) Vol. 12, U.S.A.: World Book Inc. The World Book Encyclopaedia, (1990) Vol. 9, USA: World Book Inc. Varshney, R.L., (1998). An Introductory Text Book of Linguistics and Phonetics. Student Store: Rampur Bagh, BAREILLY-243001. 1

Language is human speech, either spoken or written. It comes from Latin word lingua, meaning tongue. And a language still is often called a tongue [The World Book Encyclopaedia, 1990, vol. 12: 64]. The makeup of language includes (1) a sound-pattern, (2) words, and (3) grammatical structure. The makeup of a language does not remain the same over long period of time. Grammar and vocabulary as well as sound – patterns all change with usage over the period. Most scholars believe that language developed very slowly from sounds, such as: grunts, barks, and hoots, made by pre-human creatures. The first real evidence of language is writing. But scholars believe that writing did not appear until thousands of years after the origin of spoken language. The earliest known written records are Sumerian word – pictures made about 3500 B.C. and Egyptian hieroglyphics [The World Book Encyclopaedia, Vol. 9: 227] that date from about 3000 B.C. Written Chinese dates from perhaps 1500 B.C., Greek from about 1400 B.C. and Latin from about 500 B.C [The World Book Encyclopaedia, 1990, Vol. 12: 65-66]. And Persian from about 660-1500 B.C. [Dehkhoda, 1956-1979, Vol. I: 27-28] and Bengali from about 975-1026 A.D. [Anissuzzaman, 1987: 393]. 2 Zoroastrianism is a religion founded between 1400-1000 B.C. by a Persian Prophet named Zoroaster. Zoroaster is the Greek form of the Persian name Zartosht or Zardosht. He is also known as Zarathustra, which means Golden Star or Golden Light. Zoroastrianism teaches a belief in one God, Ahura Mazda, who created all things. Devout people must seek and obey Ahura Mazda, who will judge everyone at the end of worldly time after their bodies have been resurrected. (The World Book Encyclopedia, op.cit, Vol. 21, P. P. 619-621) 3 Pishdadi era-Monarchs worth mentioning were: Kiumars, Zamshed and Zohak; Kiani era- Monarchs worth mentioning were: Kaikaus, Kaikobad, Kaikhasraw and great valiant hero Rostam. It is mentionable that the appropriate time period of the above mentioned two eras and correct details of events could not be determined properly and, as such, historians provided only some serialized narrations. Basically, historical evaluations are available from Hakhamanshi (Achaemenid) era (from 550 BC).

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The Razakar Discourse: Cultural Movement, Resistance and Bangladeshi Nationalism Masrufa Nusrat* Abstract The word razakar is not just a word referring to war criminals in the nationalist discours, but also a symbol of cruelty set against two positive ideas associated with muktijodhha (freedomfighters) and birangona (the brave woman of war). From ‘betrayer’ it has become synonymous with ‘evil forces’, religious bigotry, and even fanaticism, which are opposed to the ‘spirit of freedom’. The paper illustrates how anti-razakar movements, which demanded punishment of war criminals, stirred-up an interesting discourse on razakar and shaped the nationalist consciousness of the moderate Bangladeshi ideology. It explores how the razakar discourse was produced in popular cultures, such as graffiti, cartoon, pop-music, recitation, theatre, choreography, tele-films, children’s fiction, rhymes, popular fiction, festivals and cultural institutes that resisted religious extremism as active agents. Through a brief historical overview, this paper analyzes how the iniquitous idea of razakar is connected to identity and the spirit of Bangladeshi nationalism, which is also problematic for its ideological diversities. Keywords: Razakar, Bangladeshi nationalism, cultural movement, resistance, ideology, identity, cultural hegemony Introduction The identity of a Bangladeshi is a myriad combination of ideologies; it was never complete, unified or permanent and has been at times quite contradictory. According to Hall, there is no coherent identity, instead as the systems of meaning and cultural representation multiply, there will be fleeting multiplicity of possible identities and individuals will be able to identify with at least one, that too, temporarily (2003:277). The identity of a Bangladeshi is no different to Hall’s explanation. It was only during the liberation war that Bangladeshi ideology achieved a collective identity among all classes of people. A minor group of opportunists who did not support the liberation of Bangladesh were known as the razakars who supported Pakistan, a nationalism that was based on religion. The identity a Bangladeshi generally adheres to is a nationalism based on Bengali culture and the spirit of liberation and the identity of a Bangladeshi is as complicated as it can be. According to Althusser, identity is constructed by various ideologies (2001:1489). The Bangladeshi identity during the liberation war was primarily based on race and culture. After independence, Bangladeshi ideology inevitably included religion and other factors too. So, on one hand the Bangladeshi ideology supports the spirit of independence and also embraces religion since the majority of the population of the country is Muslim. Consequently, the Bangladeshis turned out as a moderate Muslim people. The tolerant identity of Bangladeshis can be understood from the cultural movements like the language movement in 1952, liberation war in 1971, and anti-razakar movements in the 90s and 2013. Besides this, festivals and different art forms practiced by cultural *

Assistant Professor, Department of English, East West University: manusrat@ewubd.edu

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organizations have been playing an active role in shaping the Bangladeshi ideology. Bangladesh has been, historically and geographically, a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multilingual region down the centuries. This paper analyzes the idea of razakar in relation to cultural identity and ideological formation of Bangladeshi nationalism and how the razakar discourse worked as a cultural resistance in developing the quintessential ideology of Bangladeshi nationalism as a unique nation in South Asia. It tries to see how a cultural hegemony against razakar has been created in the popular culture of Bangladesh. The Liberation War and the Origin of Razakar Ideology The historian Mamoon referred to the original Persian word rezakar, which was used to name a group formed by the Nizam of Hyderabad to protect his kingdom because he was unwilling to join greater India during partition in 1947 (2009:16). In Urdu, razakar means ‘to volunteer’: a notion formed during the independence war of Bangladesh, but which became a derogatory word in Bangla due to the razakar’s infamous actions. The razakars were supporters of Muslim Leagues during the partition of India and Pakistan and believed in a nation based on Islamic rules and regulations. Mamoon also defines razakar as members of the paramilitary force created by the Pakistani Army General Niazi to assist them in the genocide of Bangladesh (2009:11). The razakar force consisted of both Biharis (Urdu-speaking immigrants from India during partition of 1947, a minority in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, who were refused to be taken by both Pakistan and India) and pro-Pakistani Bengalis. The notorious story of Mir Zafar’s betrayal, due to whom the last Nawab of Bengal, Siraz ud-Daula, lost his throne in 1757 to the British colonial power, is well known to the Bengalis. Razakar became a new name of treachery in another context during the struggle of liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. So, the concept of razakar was particularly borne out of the ideology of the liberation war, although the idea was there way before. The Pakistani General, Tikka Khan gave orders to form a razakar para-military troop in July, 1971. Some other terms similar to razakar were Al-badar and Al-shams, but razakars were slightly different from them. The razakars had military training and had arms and took part in killing, looting and raping women, however, some razakars were victims of the war and were compelled to become razakars to save their own lives, whereas the ideology of the Al-badar was fixed and extremely brutal in their belief. The ultimate mission of Al-shams was to annihilate all those who believed in the ideology of Bangladesh (Mamoon, 2009:12-13). In war narratives and nationalist discourse, razakar is a villain that stands against the spirit of freedom represented by muktijodhha (freedom fighters) and birangona (brave woman of war). Razakar carries a baggage of vices like – treachery, greed, lasciviousness and brutality, anti- liberalism, and the concept is aligned with Islamic fundamentalism because politically the razakars are backed by extremist groups, who have attempted numerous terrorist attacks against the execution of razakars. The scope and meaning of the word razakar underwent enormous change in the last four decades of independence as well. It has now become increasingly monstrous and despicable in its compass. The division between razakars and muktijodhha (freedom fighters)/biranganas (brave woman of war) in Bangladeshi nationalism is a binary opposition, generalized, and stereotyped – good and evil, black and white, liberation and anti-liberation, nationalism and antinationalism, which is uncomplicated and simplistic by nature. For example, the character of razakar has always been represented as outrageously an evil person, in art, literature and cinema. Bangladeshi ideology is very much like Barthes’s idea of ideology and popular culture (1998:114-117). In his essay, “Myth Today”, Barthes outlines a semiological model for reading 112


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popular culture. He claims the meaning of myth is produced at the secondary level of connotation. By myth he means ideology understood by the dominant group in a society. So, in the Bangladesh context, at the primary level the signifier razakar produces the meaning of the signified razakar: betrayer of liberation war; at the secondary level it becomes the signified razakar: an evil being. The razakar ideology turns into a binary relationship of connotations, which reproduces newer connotations of the meaning of razakar. Razakar is now even used for cursing, showing extreme contempt or hatred. There is no middle position in Bangladeshi nationalism. By sympathizing with a razakar one would only turn into a neo-razakar and align oneself on the same level of a betrayer of the country. The Rise of Bangladeshi Nationalism: Anti-razakar Movement of the 70s and 80s According to Gramsci, social change can be brought if a cultural hegemony can be created through a nexus of political, social and moral ideas. Ideological state apparatus may be hailed through mutual consent and interpellation by the media and popular culture (1998:210). During the struggle of Bangladesh liberation, the educated middle class and the working class people of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) were able to make a social union of “historic bloc” under the leadership of an “organic intellectual”, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the nation, to fight against the Pakistan Government for an independent country, Bangladesh. The struggle for Bangladeshi nationalism emerged soon after partition in 1947, when East Pakistan was formed and suffered all kinds of exploitations by the Pakistani Government that favoured West Pakistan (Sheren, 2003: 347). A number of Dhaka University students were killed who protested against the Pakistan Government for imposing Urdu as the national language of East Pakistan, mostly populated by Bengalis, on 21st February in 1952 and this cultural struggle culminated in 1971 with the independence of Bangladesh. According to Althusser, ideology is unconscious and inescapable, and realized in actions and behaviour. In his concept of interpellation, ideology is “called out” to a group and offered an identity (2001: 1483-1509). During the struggle of language movement and the liberation war, the Pakistan Government tried to use the police force and military (Repressive State Apparatus) and function through repressing the East Pakistani Bengalis. However, institutions such as families, radio, art schools, cultural practices, teachers and other entities (the Ideological State Apparatus) reinforced a counter hegemonic rule of the dominant class (in the case of the cultural movement of East Pakistan, the middle class Bengalis supported an independent country based on race and culture). The media played a significant active role in constructing a collective identity of Bengali nationalism, particularly during the war. The famous independence speech by Sheikhh Mujibur Rahman of 7th March in 1971 aired from the radio inspired all the Bengalis to prepare for the liberation war. The Swadhin Bangla Betar (Free Bangla Radio Centre) aired especially written patriotic songs, poetry, drama and other vocal renditions to inspire cultural resistance against the Pakistani government. A cultural troupe of young men and women travelling around the country during the war inspired freedom fighters and people in the refugee camps to keep struggling for a new country. Simon Firth spoke of identity and music as a social experience: “music like identity is both a performance and a story describing the social in the individual and the individual in the social” (1996:109). Patriotic music during the struggle of Bangladesh liberation war forged the identity of a new nation. After the liberation war these songs were preserved to continue glorifying the war of Bangladesh and create the Bangladeshi 113


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consciousness. Catherine Masud and Tareq Masud (late) made a documentary “Muktir Gan” (Song for Freedom) out of the clippings of their music troupe taped during the war. Along with patriotic music, art, particularly cartoons, posters and drawings, have always served as an important cultural resistance. During the liberation war, artist Quamrul Hassan’s famous monstrous rendition of Yahya Khan, the Pakistani Army General with the caption – “We Must Annihilate these Demons” sparked the spirit for freedom in the freedom fighters. The faces of razakars resemble this face of monstrosity, later also drawn by other artists in other occasions and much later in the anti-razakar movements. Another important artwork Quamrul Hassan made was before his death, mocking the then dictator, General Hossain Mohammad Ershad, in a sketch titled – “Desh Aj Bissho Behayar Khoppore” (our country is now at the hands of the champion of shamelessness). During Ershad’s regime, razakars were beginning to get the upper hand in politics and trying to make their way into politics. After a few years of independence, Bangladesh eventually became a Muslim state. Although the Mujib government wanted a secular state, it did not happen to be so subsequently. The war crime tribunal of 1973 was brushed aside after Mujib’s assassination in 1975 in a military coup by successive governments, such as of Lieutenant General Ziaur Rahman, General Hossain Mohammad Ershad, and BNP (Bangladesh National Party) under Begum Khaleda Zia. Even the Awami League government under Sheikh Hasina (1996-2001, 2008- ongoing) could not effectively prevent the country from remaining non-secular.

Figure 1: The face of the Pakistani Army General, Yahya Khan, poster drawn by Quamrul Hassan during the liberation war (in Huq: 2003)

Shishir Bhattacharjee came into recognition in the ‘80s for his paintings, political cartoons and scrolls with a strong social message. He began drawing political cartoons during the same dictatorial government. His series of paintings – “Khela Dhekhe Jan Babu” (come see the game) and “Dag Tamasha” (mocking lines) made him popular. During 2013-2014 he drew series of political cartoon titled – “Tui razakar” (you are a razakar) which were regularly published in national dailies, are bold and courageous expressions against razakars. He also drew large scrolls of hateful razakars for the Bangla New Year celebration.

At the heart of Dhaka University campus and other important points of the country there are a number of memorials and sculptures because it bears the scars of the war. The Pakistani Army initiated their atrocity in Dhaka University and other universities with the assistance of razakars and took part in the genocide, the mass killing of the intelligentsia, students and teachers. The Sculpture Garden, Shoparjito Shadhinota, Oporajeyo Bangla, and the Mujibnagar sculptures depict figures of freedom fighters, birangonas and mothers who sacrificed their sons at war. 114

Figure 2: Figure 2: Scroll painting of the war criminals and razakars by Shishir Battacharjee (in Amin: 2012)


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February is a month long celebration for poetry recitation, music, theatre, literary festivals and book fairs. The walls around Shahid Minar (mausoleum for the language martyrs at Dhaka University campus) are illustrated with the glorious history of the Bangladesh, from 1952-71. Along with these paintings of the language martyrs, freedom fighters, birangonas, decomposed corpses, heinous portraits of razakars and the brutal Pakistani Army are also drawn to heighten the extent of cruelty and destruction of the war. During the Bangla New Year, on 14 April, important streets of the city are painted with alpana (traditional white patterns) and colourful rallies and festoons are displayed in Mongol Shobha Jatra (the auspicious procession). In 2013 razakars were symbolically represented as a huge snake against a white pigeon. Huge monstrous papier-mâché figures of razakars were also sculpted with other symbolical objects associated with the war and freedom seekers. The Bengali New Year celebrated in 2013 had arranged the largest Figure 3: In 2013 Graffiti of razakars procession against razakar, as it was influenced became the main theme of Bangla New by the anti-razakar movement of the Shahbag Year (source unknown) Protest that took place in the same year. The vision of Mongol Shobha Jatra of that year was to have the nation cleansed of razakars to build a peaceful nation, free of evil spirit and corruption. The Bangla New Year is mainly celebrated by performing traditional Tagore, Nazrul, folk, pop and instrumental music. Musical institutes like Chhayanaut, Shurer Dhara, Rishijo Shilpigosthi, Shilpakala Academy, Nazrul Academy, Shishu Academy, Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts (BAFA) and numerous other institutes organize daylong cultural programs. The music soiree of Chhayanaut was founded in 1961 and has been organizing new years’ music from dawn under a huge banyan tree. In 2001, Chhayanaut suffered a suicidal terrorist bomb attack leaving ten people spot-dead and fifty others injured. Shurer Dhara organizes night long open-air music performance on the night before the Bangla New Year.

Figure 4: Razakar Installations by the students of Fine Arts Institutes (Amin: 2013)*

To Althusser, ideology is not simple a body of ideas but material practice of a community and how it is encountered in the practices of everyday life (2001: 1483-1509). The late popular 115


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writer Humayun Ahmed was greatly acclaimed for turning his novel Bohubrihi (one who has many heads) into a popular TV-soap during the autocrat government in 1988-189, where he dared to use “tui razakar” (you are a razakar/traitor) to curse in public for the first time after the liberation of Bangladesh. The writer was able to show how the ideology of liberation war was able to make a collective abhorrence against razakars. Bohubrihi ends hilariously with one character named Farid, a domestic helper training his parrots to say “tui razakar” with the goal of tormenting the razakars for the rest of their lives for their criminal activities during the war. The topic of liberation war has been most successfully represented in the media, particularly in Tele-films and daily soaps and popularized among all groups of people after the liberation war of Bangladesh. A cultural hegemony has been created on the ideology of liberation war and its opposing force, razakar, not through any coercion but by mutual consent of people from all classes. The abhorrence of the razakars of the society is projected in films like Aguner Poroshmoni (the magic touch of fire), Shaymal Chhaya (the green shade), Ekattorer Jishu (the Jesus of ’71). Itihash Konnya (war child), Shilalipi (words written on stone) and Matir Moina (the clay bird) have gained international recognition. Razakar at times can be represented as caricatures and twisted to appear as laughing stocks. Other films that have also represented the typical evil, treacherous and conspirator’s character of a razakar are– Joy Jatra (victory procession), Megher Pore Megh (layers of cloud), Guerilla, Amar Bondu Rashed (my friend Rashed). The birth of Bangladesh brought remarkable changes in the form, style and content of Bangladeshi mainstream fiction. In Shawkat Osman’s Nekre Orronyo (the forest of wolves) there is a razakar named Hazi Makhdum Mridha who collaborates with the Pakistani army out of self-interest. Ekatorrer Dukkha Gantha (the sorrowful narrative of ’71) by Anwar Ali is about how the Bengali youths went to war indiscriminately and kept on struggling with poverty in a newly liberated country whereas the razakars went on accumulating wealth through their treachery and knavery. The Committee for Resisting the Collaborators of Bangladesh Liberation War: Antirazakar Movement of the 90s Some razakars got political asylum abroad and international support for taking part in politics in Bangladesh despite being against the liberation war of the country. The razakars were returning and forming coalition government during 2001-2007. The execution of war crime tribunals of ’73 faced immense obstacles as Bangladesh struggled to get international cooperation. Seeking international justice for genocide perpetrated by the Pakistani Army became more than impossible, because the prosecution seemed out of date, the witness hearing appeared problematic and because capital punishment was not approved by some foreign countries. So Bangladesh focused on punishing its home-grown razakars and Islamist terrorists who supported the razakars. Consequently, the injustice spurred on massive protest against razakars, to ban their involvement in mainstream politics, such as the Jamati-e-Islam. The demand for capital punishment of razakars by Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee (Committee for Resisting Killers and Collaborators of Bangladesh Liberation War of 71) in 1992 was led by Jahanara Imam. The committee arranged mock trials known as Gono Adalot (Court of the People) to sentence the war criminals or razakars. Shahriar Kabir is the current President of the committee who helped to set up the International War Crime Tribunal in 2009 that paved the way to the execution of the razakars that began from 2013.

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The liberation war inspired a lot of memorable poetry that is recited during national occasions like the Victory Day on 16 December, International Mother Language Day on 21st February and National Independence Day on 26th March by the educated Bangladeshi middle class. Kanthashilon is well known for institutionalizing recitation and teaching accurate Bengali pronunciation. They perform ekok abritti (solo recitation) and brindo abritti (choral recitation) with background music. Poems that are popular for addressing the razakar theme are — “Tumi Bangla chharo” (leave Bangladesh), “Ami kingbodontir kotha bolchhi” (I speak of a legend to come) and “Bidrohi” (the rebel). Recitation organizations helped develop the nationalist ideology and disseminate the idea among children and young adults. Bangladesh Udichi Shilpigosthi has performed plays on the theme of liberation war where a razakar has a vital appearance. Narak Gulzar (celebration in hell), Michhil (procession), Abhisapta Nagari (the cursed city) and Shubhra Timir (the white night) are some of their best performances. They also perform street plays – Aro Manush Chai (we need more people), Din Badaler Pala (time to change), Raja Raja Khela (playing the games of rulers) and Razakarer Pachali (a narrative of a razakar). Like Chhayanaut, Bangladesh Udichi Shilpigasthi had also been a victim of terrorist bomb blast in Jessore in 1999 which killed ten and wounded around 100 people. Other well-known theatre organizations are Nagarik Natya Sampraday, Natyachakra, Aranyak Natyadal, Dhaka Theatre, and Arindam. Apart from the classical dance forms (Kathakali and Bharatnatyam of South Asia) other folk and indigenous (e.g. Munipuri) forms of dance are taught in various institutes across the country. Chhayanaut, BAFA, Nazrul Academy, Kolpotaru, and Shadhona are some of the best known institutes. Choreography, particularly for the national programs, is based on national themes, such as the language movement, liberation war, and rural life, in the form of dance. Razakar, the evil force, is vividly portrayed in such compositions as to appear as a destructive force to the peace loving people of villages. Mahfuzur Rahman’s Bodi Mia Razakarer Dairy (Razakar Bodi Mia’s diary) is a unique fiction of a life of razakar in the first person narrative. Through the protagonist, Bodi Mia, the razakar’s perspective and ideology is depicted for the new generation in the aim of narrating how the freedom fighters had to risk their lives in order to achieve liberation for the country. Historian Muntasir Mamun began writing profusely on razakar, and this profound discussion on razakar sensibility and other related topics created a huge nationwide discourse on razakar. He compiled all his razakar articles in three volumes— The Razakar Volume (Razakar Somogro) and two more volumes on Razakarer Mon (The psychology of a Razakar). The Shahbag Protest: Revival of the Anti-razakar Movement of 2013 The Gonojagoron Moncho (Stage of Mass Awareness) of the Shahbag Protest in 2013 stirred up another massive cultural protest against razakars, extremism and communalism against minorities. Their demand was not just war-crime punishment of razakars but also to ban their right to take part in politics, business and investments in banks. Based on this war crime act, which was supposed to be carried out in 1973, Bangladesh was finally able to prosecute six razakars for the first time from 2013 to 2016 (BBC News: 2016). However, by carrying out the prosecution of razakars after four decades of independence, Bangladesh was not received unfavorably by the international community. To Bangladeshis, razakars are not just war criminals but have affinity with religious extremism and terrorism; and by executing razakars Bangladesh not only proves to be a moderate Muslim state but also justifies the prosecution in the present context of Bangladesh by trying to put an end to terrorism and fulfilling the people’s right to war crime justice. When the first instance of the razakar execution took place in Dhaka, 117


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the War Crime Tribunal was receiving threats from Pakistan-Talebans to blow up the Bangladeshi Embassy in Islamabad (Khan: 2014). Keeping in connection with the theme of anti-razakar movement, Bangla New Year 2013 all over the country was Razakar-mukto Bangladesh (razakar-free Bangladesh). Effigies of razakars were hanged like the previous mock trials of Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee at the Gono Adalot (Court of the People) in the Gono Jagoron Moncho (Stage for the People’s Awareness). There were also instances of demonstration of spitting on the razakar effigies and thrusting garlands made of shoes and even real instances of stoning down residents of razakars on other separate occasions. There were various kinds of shocking and burlesque demonstrations, along with other mockery exhibitions of abominating the razakars. The protest turned out to be carnivalesque at times, as pointed out by Bakhtin (1998: 250-260), a trend to be found in capitalistic modern literary tradition and popular culture, exhibiting strong resistance against war criminals in the streets of Dhaka. The effigies and paintings of razakars in the protest were stereotypical— bearded men clad in traditional attire – panjabi-payjama. Although, in real life, not all razakars dress this way, but rather dress in modern Western clothes. Apart from this, those who do not support the spirit of independence are finger pointed as neo-razakars and identified in parallel with razakars, self-centered opportunists and betrayers of the country. Protesters of Shahbag Protest were mainly urban youths who made interesting animations of razakars and posted them digitally, on youtube and social networks. There was enormous sharing of these razakar animation and razakar discourse by bloggers, twitters and other social media. This online activism of Bangladeshi youths has been compared to the Arab Spring movement by some ambitious political analysts (Sajen, 2014).

Figure 5: Protesters at Shahbag Square all through the night, The Guardian (Ahad: 2013) During the Shahbag Protest, pop singer Haider Hussain’s song, “Ekattorer razakar” (the razakars of ’71), “Tui razakar” (you are a razakar) by Chirkut Band, “Razakarer talika 118


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chai” (we want a list of the razakars) by Azizul Choudhury, “Tui razakar fashite jhol” (you are a razakar and you must hang) by Leemon, “Bolchhi toke, tui razakar” (I am calling you a razakar) by Ajpagol Band, along with many others, aroused consciousness of the anti-razakar Bangladeshi nationalism. Young voices from all around the country sang songs for the punishment of razakars, as a means to make the country free of razakars, corruption and immorality. Many poets composed poetry, rhymes, songs and slogans that were chanted by all and shared online with Bangladeshis living abroad. Children’s literature— fiction, poetry, and rhyme have also been inspired by the nationalist ideology. Rhymes such as – “Dhwar Razakar” (catch the razakar) and “Nobbo Razakar” (the neo-razakar) became very popular during the Shahbag Protest. School going children were seen demonstrating with their faces or chests painted, bandana tied around their heads, chanting anti-razakar slogans with drum beats and waving the national flag trying to feel the spirit of liberation war they never had the chance to experience. Popular writer Humayun Ahmed has a number novels and short stories in which he brings in the character of a razakar. However, the razakar in his Jotsyna O Jononir Golpo (of moonlit night and mother) is a somewhat humanized portrayal, one who is not completely evil or dark but portrayed sympathetically. The razakar here is like the Shakespearean evil character – Shylock or Macbeth. However, this unusual characterization goes against the staunch Bangladeshi nationalist ideology which polarizes the spirit of independence between anti-liberation (razakar) and pro-liberation (mukti joddha and birangona). Consequently he has been heavily criticized for portraying an unusual and humanized version of a razakar, who is a combination of both good and evil. Nasreen Jahan’s Sei Sap Janto (those snakes are still alive) is a narrative of post war trauma of those who believed in the freedom of Bangladesh and are still chased by the razakars. Writer Shahnaz Munni also powerfully captures the razakar concept in her novella— Hridoyghorer Baranday (at the veranda of my heart). This is a story of a portrait-artist, who is commissioned to paint the client’s father, who is later found out to have been a razakar during the liberation war. The artist was thrust into a dilemma of whether to take up this task or not since he was badly in need of the money for the treatment of his beloved. Eventually, he completes the portrait but with the utter dismay of the client that the portrait bore the quintessential cruelty of a razakar’s feature. The Problems of Bangladeshi Ideology and Anti-razakar Movement To counter the progressive and leftist youths of the Shahbag demanding capital punishments of razakars, a non-political group Hefazot-e-Islam, under the umbrella of Jamat-e-Islam, came up with a thirteen-point demand for punishment of the Shahbag organizers, accusing them of writing blasphemous blogs. The Islamist political parties of the country mobilized them to counter-protest the Shahbag protesters. Students and teachers from hundreds of madrasa (Islamic schools) across the country took part in a massive confrontation with the Shahbag Protesters. However, this showdown of Hefajot-e-Islam during Shahbag Protest could not represent an Islamic nationalism; this group was just one of the many divided groups and sects of Islamic political and non-political ideologies, each of which deems to be the torch bearers of Islamic nationalism in Bangladesh (Shahed: 2013). It is also problematic to homogenize the Hefazot-e-Islam as just fundamentalists when they are actually non-political groups of various religious organizations (Sabur: 2013). So, neither religious fundamentalism nor secularism can define a Bangladeshi ideology. 119


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Unlike 1971, where all walks of people, working class, middle-class and even elites had unanimous consent for a free nation, the Shahbag Protest could not bring about a radical change because this protest was limited within an educated class of youths. Iqbal, in his SALA (South Asian Literary Association) conference presentation, pointed out that apart from stirring up hatred towards razakar, provoking xenophobic slogans, and turning moderate nationalism to jingoism, the movement could not succeed any further. The Bangladeshi nationalism is a site for conflicting ideologies; and they are Muslim and Bengali at the same time. Bangladesh also has a long history of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and many indigenous cultures that influenced its people to become religiously moderate. One of the principal dangers of nationalism, according to Fanon, is that there is always a chance for it to take over hegemonic control, replicating the conditions it rose to combat and sometimes develop xenophobic view of identity and coercive view of national commitment (1997:156). This was perhaps why the Shahbag Protest did not gain momentum as it promised it would. Gramsci spoke of how political ideology is central to capitalistic society that may use both force and content to challenge the working class to create an organic intellectual (1998: 212-214). In the case of the Shahbag Protest, the city dwellers could not come up with an organic intellectual that would pioneer the working class.

Figure 6: Effigy of Motiur Rahman Nizami, Dhaka Tribune, (Anon: 2014) Chaterjee also expressed his anxiety about nationalism (1997: 164-166), in alignment with Gramsci. It seems the Bangladeshi nationalism in this respect is reduced to a constellation of ideologies that represent the interests of a dominant class of the middle class educated Bangladeshis who do not support the razakars. So, the Shahbag protest remains a terrain of struggle. In his book, Nationalist Thought in the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse, Chaterjee reflects that nationalism might be replicating its Imperialist systems and only benefiting the middle class elite. Bangladesh has become independent with great expectations but is faced with continuous struggle against the forces of independence, like the razakars and extremism. Chaterjee thus cautioned the third world countries about the problems of nationalism. This trend is also detectable in the progress and development of Bangladeshi nationalism. Conclusion Bangladeshi nationhood is, inevitably, an amalgamation of contradictory but coexisting ideologies, not annihilating oppositions but incorporating various aspects of nationalism into the dominant ideology of nationalism. The anti-razakar movements in the vein of nationalism 120


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often collide against radical Islamist ideology. These alternative identities cannot be excluded or even negotiated and the identity of Bangladeshi nationalism becomes diversified and remains also somewhat unresolved. Interestingly, apart from religion, two other significant elements may be integrated in the ideology Bangladeshi nationalism. One is the Bangladeshi cricket team, which has hugely stirred nationalism in a new capacity in the international sphere, as has the new cyber culture of digital Bangladesh. Though the Shahbag Protest failed in achieving cultural hegemony, the educated Bangladeshi youths did have an ideological struggle in the streets and also in the cyber space across continents, in the Bangladeshi Diaspora community by demanding punishment of the razakars. The first generation of Bangladeshi youths lived the direct experience of war, the next two relived its spirit and protested the revival of razakars and the most recent generation claimed capital punishment of razakars and celebrated their execution. The anti-razakar movement and cultural practices of its people have played a gigantic role in resisting against the anti-liberation force and created a cultural hegemony to fight fundamentalism and terrorism in the country. References Ahad, A.M., (2013) ‘A rally marking the execution of opposition Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah’, in Pilger.J., ‘The Prison that is Bangladesh’, The Guardian [online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/15/prison-bangladesh-moududahmed [Accessed 1 May 2018] Althusser, L., (2001). Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses. In: V. B. Leitch, ed. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., pp 1483-1509. Amin, S. N., (2012). (with)in/out, a null-hypothesis. Depart. 10/11th http://www.departmag.com/index.php/en/detail/214/andwithandinandoutand-a-nullhypothesisand

issue.

Amin, A.R., (2018). Citizen of an Idiocracy, wordpress blog [online]. Available at: https://adnanramin.wordpress.com/ [Accessed 1 May 2018] Anon, (2014). Untitled image, in ‘Gonojagoron Mancho demands speedy trial of war criminals’, Dhaka Tribune [online]. Available at: https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2014/07/26/gonojagoron-mancho-demandsspeedy-trial-of-war-criminals/ Bakhtin, M., (1998). Carnival and Carnivalesque. In: J. Storey, ed. Cultural Theory and Popular Culture. 2nd ed. Essex: Pearson Education Limited, pp 250-260. Barthes, R., (1998). Myth Today. In: J. Storey, ed. Cultural Theory and Popular Culture. 2nd ed. Essex: Pearson Education Limited, pp 109-118. Chaterjee, P., (1997)). Nationalism as a Problem. In: B. Ashcroft, G. Griffiths and H. Tiffin, ed. The Post-colonial Studies Readers, 2nd ed. London and New York: Routledge. pp 164-166. 121


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Fanon, F., (1997). National Culture. In: Ashcroft. B. ed. Post-colonial Studies Reader. 2nd. ed. New York: Routledge, pp 153-157. Firth, S., (2003). Music and Identity. In S. Hall ed. Questions of Cultural Identity. 8th ed. London: Sage Publications Ltd. pp 108-127. Gramsci, A., ( 1998). Hegemony, Intellectuals and the State. In: J. Storey, ed. Cultural Theory and Popular Culture. 2nd ed. Essex: Pearson Education Limited, pp 210-216. Huq, A., (2003) Weekly Joy Bangla, 2 July 1971, Art of Bangladesh Series 3: Quamrul Hassan, Dhaka: Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. Iqbal, A., (2014).Clashing Nationalism and Corrupting Co-existence: An Analysis of the Shahbag/ Hefazat Frenzy in Bangladesh. Paper read at the SALA Conference. Khan, M. H., (2014). International War Crimes Tribunal: A Performance Review. The Daily Star [online]. Available at: http://www.thedailystar.net/international-war-crimes-tribunal-aperformance-review-4679 [Accessed 15 April 2015]. Hall, S., (2003). The Question of Cultural Identity. In: S. Hall and P. Gay. Questions of Cultural Identity. 8th ed. London: Sage Publications Ltd., pp276-280. Huq, A., (2003). Art of Bangladesh Series 3: Quamrul Hassan, Dhaka: Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. Mamoon, M., (2009). Bhumika (Introduction). Rajakar Shomogro (The Razakar Anthology). Dhaka: Anonya, pp 11-21. Sabur, S., (2013).Your Enemy of My Enemy is my Friend: On Farida Akhterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hefazat Article. AlaloDulal.org. [online]. Available at: https://alalodulal.org/2013/05/02/farida-akhter/ [Accessed 10 December 2016]. Sajen, S., (2014). Shahbag Protest: Spirit, Identity and Justice. Bangladesh- Audacity of Hope [online]. Available at: https://mygoldenbengal.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/shahbagh-protestspirit-identity-and-justice/ [Accessed 18 April 2015]. Shahed, F.H., (2013). Revisiting Bangladeshi Nationhood: Walking Along Global, Glocal and Local Path. The Journal of Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. 58(2), pp 239-262. Sheren, S.M., (2003). War of Liberation. In: S. Islam and S. Miah, ed. Banglapedia, 1st ed. Dhaka: Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. pp 347-353.

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Zubaan ki kadar aye gi/Now you will learn the value of language Sabz Khan*

Kindly reprinted with permission from Rahein/ The Way, Sabz Khan 2015.

About the author Growing up in the UK as a British Pakistani, Sabeena 'Sabz' Khan grew acutely aware of the challenges and issues associated with the learning, maintaining and embracing of her native language, Urdu. Considering this experience as one she shared with many other British Asians, she set about to highlight the issue in an attempt to combat what she felt to be declining skills in these languages, faced with the more dominant use of English. Her entry onto the literary scene as a British Pakistani poet has been warmly welcomed. This poem, written in two languages and two scripts, was one of her first, published in 2015 in her book, Rahein/ The Way. Alongside her poetry, Sabz has raised four wonderful children with her partner, has published 7 books, continues research and media reporting, and broadcasts her own radio show, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Desi Fusionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;.

*

Writer, poet, lecturer, Manchester, UK: sabz.khan@hotmail.co.uk

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A Message of Universality Ahmed Shahabuddin* About the artist written by Charza Shahabuddin** About the artist Ahmed Shahabuddin was born in 1950 in Dhaka, Bangladesh and has been settled in France since 1974. Since childhood, he always wanted to become an artist. Indeed, he received the Best Child Artist Award in 1967 given by the former president of Pakistan, Ayub Khan. He joined the Charukala Academy of Fine Arts in Dhaka in 1967 before receiving a scholarship to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In 1992, he was nominated as one of the “50 Masters Painters of Contemporary Art” at the Olympiad of Arts in Barcelona. In 2000, he received the Swadhinata Padak, the highest civilian award in Bangladesh. In 2014, he received the knight in the order of Art & Literature in Paris. Victory 1, oil on canvas (2009)

He contributed highly to the liberation of Bangladesh, as a freedom fighter during the independence war in 1971. Those nine months, during which he struggled for the right for Bengali people to live with their own cultural and political identity, shaped him as a man as well as an artist. The struggle, the cruelty, the doubts and the hopes that emanated during this era have unquestionably marked his work and the subjects he chooses to paint. The human being is at the heart of his paintings: women, men, groups of people, and portraits of prominent figures such as Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Sheik Mujibur Rahman, *

Bangladeshi/French Artist, Paris, France: annabangla@hotmail.com Research associate at the Center for South Asian Studies (CEIAS) of EHESS (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales), Paris, France: charza.shahabuddin@gmail.com, **

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or Chaplin. His other source of inspiration is the impetus provoked by the running of animals such as the tiger or the horse. The message delivered by the artist through the choice of the subject he paints is a message of universality. The human being and the common people, all of us, have the strength to fight and to move ahead in order to surpass oneself. When you first look at a painting of the artist, from far, you will see the physical body; a run, a cry, a face, a seated body. However, the second after, while you approach the canvas, you will see this body moving, its momentum, you will imagine it coming out of its frame. In fact, he handles with perfection the technique of impasto, playing with the texture, and marking the seal of the movement of his brush, which makes our eyes see the subject in three dimensions. Rayerbazar, oil on canvas (2015)

The artist, using touches of white colours, with a vibrant movement of his brush, always manages to bring the light in his painting, always around the body, somehow showing the subject the path. The choice of the colourful range always varies between very cool tones to warm tones; yet the movement of the brush creates a colour gradient around the subject, with the choice of an opposite colour for the landscape. On the one hand, grey, blue, white colours are dominant; on the other, red, green and yellow are the favourite colours of the artist. In his paintings, chromatism flavours harmonic structure of the entire painting. He darkens the body of the subject here and there in order to make precise the movement of the figure. The movement in his painting is vibrant: it has speed, it has force and it has power. The movement is always ahead, none of his paintings are rotated inwards. He stiffens by himself 128


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the canvas and makes his own wooden frames. He doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t care so much about giving titles because to him what matters is the universal message driven in his painting. Shahabuddin is a painter of freedom, love, power and struggle. He is also seeking truth and universality. His canvas is all about finding the perfect harmony between what life gives us: struggle and victory. As an artist, the work of Shahabuddin is the contact point between physical strength and inner mental powers. Over the years, he managed to find the perfect balance between strength, elegance and techniques. As a Bengali artist living in France for almost 50 years, educated in both the French and Bengali best school of arts, his influence comes from both cultures. He has been mostly inspired by the masterpieces of Goya, Delacroix, Michel Ange, Velasquez and Rembrandt, the whole impressionist movement and Francis Bacon, as well as by Jainul Abedin, the founding father of the Fine Arts in Dhaka. The painter is an ambassador for building a bridge between the West and the East, mixing both cultures, seeking harmony and universality in his work. Angry Bull, oil on canvas (2009)

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Gandhi II, oil on canvas (2017)

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Imaging South Asian culture in non-English: Reconstructing popular textual and visual representations Edited by Tasleem Shakur and Katy Highet

This volume of South Asian Cultural Studies edited by Tasleem Shakur and Katy Highet presents an exciting collection of contributions which each in their own way make a unique intervention in highlighting non-English imaginaries of South Asia through text and visual culture. In an era when decolonial thinking has come to the fore in an ongoing critique of Orientalism and the persistence of coloniality within the present, this makes an important and timely intervention.

The volume editors have brought together an eclectic yet coherently aligned set of articles which outline a challenge to the European gaze towards South Asia. The homogenising representations of South Asia, as they argue, continue to require critique and unpacking, despite the established Saidian frame with which to understand the perils of Orientalismâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s broad brush strokes.

In their introduction, the editors argue for re-representations in order to unsettle the Eurocentric Western gaze by turning the looking glass back or, in other words, re-centring, re-imagining, and reframing the terms upon which South Asia and South Asian cultural production is narrated. The volume presents the case for a decolonised view of South Asian cultural production, something which is not only timely but long overdue in contemporary debates around â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;post'-coloniality. Through disciplinary engagements with archaeology, literature, theatre, film, poetry and visual art, the volume provides not only one counter-narrative but many, highlighting how vibrant the terrain of South Asian popular culture is and can be when viewed through a critical, de-centred lens. Dr. Navtej Purewal Deputy Director, South Asia Institute Reader in Political Sociology and Development Studies SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) University of London

Contributors: Tasleem Shakur, Katy Highet, Shreyanjana Bhattacherjee, Abdul Matin, Prerana Srimaal, L. Lamminthang Simte, Anakshi Pal, Dev Nath Pathak, Salman Al-Azami, Arpana Awwal, Anthony Grant, Abu Musa Mohammad Arif Billah, Masrufa Nusrat, Sabz Khan, Shahabuddin and Charza Shahabuddin

SACS (South Asian Cultural Studies) southasianculturalstudies.co.uk

SACS Special Issue 2018 SACS (South Asian Cultural Studies): ISSN 1749-6764 southasianculturalstudies.co.uk

Imaging South Asian culture in non-English  

Imaging South Asian culture in non-English: Reconstructing popular textual and visual representations Edited by Tasleem Shakur and Katy Hi...

Imaging South Asian culture in non-English  

Imaging South Asian culture in non-English: Reconstructing popular textual and visual representations Edited by Tasleem Shakur and Katy Hi...