On October 28th, the latest Soli Sorabjee Lecture in South Asian Studies at Brandeis University will deal with a major shift in Indian film and society – the move by Indian filmmakers to tackle the colonial and Independence periods directly. Professor Corey Creekmur, head of Film Studies at the University of Iowa, will use his expertise in international popular cinema in a talk entitled “Experiments with Truth: Confronting Colonial History in Popular Indian Cinema.” The University community and the public are welcome to join the event, which will take place on Thursday, October 28th beginning at 4:30 p.m. with wine and refreshments in the Atrium of the new Mandel Center for the Humanities. The lecture will follow at 5:15 p.m. in lecture hall G03 in the Mandel Center.
The event, organized by Faculty Director Ulka Anjaria (English), is co-sponsored by South Asian Studies, the Mandel Center for the Humanities, and the Brandeis-India Initiative. Students from Brandeis courses “Bollywood: Popular Film, Genre, and Society” and “Introduction to International and Global Studies” will be in attendance.
Established last year, the new Soli Sorabjee Lectures have explored India’s past and present — often through an artistic lens. Harvard’s Sugata Bose used poetry and painting to analyze the country’s “colorful cosmopolitanism.” Paromita Vohra screened her critically-acclaimed documentary films, works that cast a critical but playful gaze on contemporary Indian society. Prof. Creekmur’s work is an ideal fit to this artistic and cultural analysis.
Professor Creekmur will be discussing what he identifies as a new trend in popular Indian cinema. Whereas many earlier films were devoted to recreating much older historical periods (especially the reigns of the great Mughal emperors), more recent films have explored the late colonial period just before and after Independence and the Partition of the subcontinent. The recent treatment of key figures such as M. K. Gandhi, or the Independence movement “martyr” Bhagat Singh, among others, offers examples of a distinctive engagement with history through the formal and narrative conventions of popular Hindi cinema. These “experiments with truth” (in Gandhi’s famous phrase) raise significant questions about the relationships between popular culture, national history, and collective memory in contemporary India.
Professor Creekmur’s teaching and research focus on international popular cinema (especially American and South Asian), cross-cultural film genres, the interactions between film and other media such as music as well as discourses of race, gender and sexuality. He has published articles on the multiple film adaptations of Devdas, music in Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa, and many other topics.
The Soli Sorabjee Lecture Series was named after the Honorable Soli Sorabjee, formal attorney general of India and a friend of Brandeis University. The Series looks to bring speakers to campus who will engage our community in themes of “justice” — broadly defined to include the interrogation of human rights, historical narratives, literary and political representations, gender and social justice, citizenship and democracy, and cross-border connections between the nations of South Asia.
The goal of the series is to expose students at Brandeis (and the larger public) to the scholarship being conducted in the multidisciplinary fields of South Asian Studies, both in the United States and in South Asia itself, as well as to the vast range of South Asian intellectual and artistic traditions. Part of the Brandeis-India Initiative, the series was inaugurated in Fall 2009 with the generous support of the Mody and Sorabjee families.
In April 2010, Mr. Sorabjee made a special visit to Brandeis to help inaugurate the series. He delivered a talk, “Rule of Law: A Moral Imperative for South Asia and the World” to a crowded audience at Rapaporte Treasure Hall. Details of that event can be found at http://www.brandeis.edu/programs/southasianstudies/sorabjee/sorabjee_lecture.html
For more information on past lectures and the Brandeis-India Initiative, please visit http://www.brandeis.edu/programs/southasianstudies/sorabjee/index.html and http://www.brandeis.edu/globalbrandeis/regions/india.html