Black Pair of Swans

Censorium: Cinema and the Open Edge of Mass Publicity is a new book by William Mazzarella from Orient Blackswan.

In the world of globalized media, provocative images trigger culture wars between traditionalists and cosmopolitans, between censors and defenders of free expression. But are images censored because of what they mean, what they do, or what they might become? And must audiences be protected because of what they understand, what they feel, or what they might imagine?

Censorium is an innovative analysis of Indian film censorship. William Mazzarella argues that we must go beyond understanding the regulation of the cinema in India as a violation of free speech, as a colonial hangover, as a symptom of repressive moralism, or as a struggle between liberals and conservatives. Drawing on extensive archival research and interviews with leading Indian censors, filmmakers, lawyers, journalists, playwrights, and actors, Mazzarella’s study grants the censors the compliment they least expect: to be taken seriously.

Rather than polemicizing against censorship from an external standpoint, Mazzarella rigorously explores the self-contradictory language of censorship from within. Ultimately, he shows us how film censorship is about far more than the movies—it is a key to understanding why political and cultural legitimacy is so unstable in mass-mediated societies. This book will be of interest to general readers concerned with contemporary Indian culture and politics, and of specialist value to students and scholars of media studies, anthropology and sociology, and critical theory.

Rs. 795, in hardback, 296 pages, ISBN: 9788125051268. Sales Restriction: Sale In SAARC Countries Only

Also from Blackswan,  Radical Rabindranath: Nation, Family and Gender in Tagore’s Fiction and Films by Sanjukta Dasgupta, Sudeshna Chakravarti And Mary Mathew.

Much has been said and documented about the multifaceted genius of Rabindranath Tagore. Radical Rabindranath is a post-colonial reading that focuses on areas that have been marginalised because of the more dominant and compelling desire in the West to establish Tagore as a transcendent visionary and poet-philosopher.

The volume breaks new ground as it critiques Tagore’s non-conformism, radical outlook and occasional ambivalence as seen in his novels and short stories. In its re-readings of his works, it meticulously analyses issues such as sexual desire, repression, and jealousy on the one hand, and nation, politics, family and gender on the other. It also shows how, amidst changing social structures, his women protagonists are motivated by promptings of self-discovery and self-realisation, as well as a compulsive need to recreate their identities.

The book includes readings from selected film versions of Tagore’s fiction. These trace the deviations from the original texts to highlight how pre- and post-independence Indian/Bengali film-makers have appropriated Tagore’s literary texts by emphasising gender positions, the politics of the sexualised body and body images.

It also provides details of Tagore’s early years of growing up, his formative influences and also throws light on his intellectual combats with contemporaries like Chandranath Basu and Dijendralal Roy. In an interesting detour, the authors bring forth his relationships with women like Kadambari Devi, Ranu Mukherjee and Victoria Ocampo—encounters that allow a glimpse into a mind that despite being progressive and fearless, was not devoid of contradictions. For students and scholars of comparative literature, and those with a keen interest in Tagore, the man, the poet, and ‘the radical’—an indispensable read, both at home and in the world.

Rs. 695, in paperback, 389 pages, ISBN: 9788125050285