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Subaltern Gazing:Some Pointers to its Origin

Recently I posted my thoughts on how India missed the photography revolution in my other blog on photography and visual culture.

I think this missed opportunity had its effect on the ways visual cultural practices of Indians and India developed (or did not develop). As generations of ordinary Indians could not see through their own view finders during a good part of last century, compared to their counterparts in the developed world, I think their fields of views were mostly operationalised through the view finders (not just the optical ones, but the ideological and cultural ones as well) of Indian cinemas. I think in this view lies a potential to get to the roots of the origin of subaltern gazing in India. I think the absence of photography revolution had a telling effect on the evolution of Indian cinemas’ ethos as well. In my opinion, the mindboggling verbosity of Indian film narratives, irrespective of their time periods, stand testimony to such a view. In another sense, the time tested orality only had a good opportunity to enrich itself more through film verbosity in the absence of a visual culture rooted in a photography revolution that belonged to all.

1 comment

1 Kishore Budha { 06.05.07 at 4:23 am }

hmmm. very interesting point indeed! i wonder what ashish rajadhyaksha and co would say to that? in fact, their view is that the visual culture was shaped through a wierd mixture of parsi dramaturgy, ravi varma’s “realism”, and frontality. the verbosity and frontality in our visual culture — the latter is well captured in photographs as well as moving images — is a legacy of this, alongwith ideological formations that saw a perfect use for such strategies.

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