Art, Resources, Training Trust (ART) on 12th July, 2009 screened Girish Kasarvalli’s Gulabi Talkies at the Badami House located near NR Circle. Renowned scholars from the field of Film- Studies and Literature took part in the discussion that followed the screening. This was ART’s second event.
Although Sunday morning 10 AM did not see many Bengalureans at the screening, the regulars did not miss it: film-makers, artists and students. The event brought together scholars belonging to different institutions as well as Kasaravalli. Mamata Sagara, Kannada poet and faculty at Central University, Hyderabad, began the discussion by suggesting that Kasarvalli was a film-maker who responds to contemporary society and that we should understand Gulabi Talkies as his latest response. She said that the film cannot be considered singly, independent of Kasarvalli’s other films.
N Manu Chakravarthy, Professor at NMKRV College for Women, scholar, author and editor of several books, said that he saw a marked movement from Haseena (another film by Kasarvalli) to Gulabi Talkies. He said that while Haseena represented a time when crises in identity could be resolved organically from within a minority community’s resources such as texts and practices, Gulabi Talkies represented a time when such a resolution had become impossible. Tejaswini Niranjana, founder scholar of Centre for the Study of Culture and Society (CSCS), author and importantly translator and editor of the book, Gulabi Talkies, a collection of Vaidehi’s stories translated into English, was also a discussant. She said that the film was very different from Vaidehi’s story and demanded independent consideration. She also noted that the film captured the less investigated after-life of cinema within television.
In the discussion that followed, some opined that the film threw around categories such as globalization and communalism too easily, while others insisted that they would value the film for its humour and the human spirit it represented. Kasaravalli responded to questions and talked about the research that had gone into the film, from the Kargil war of 1999 to the rise of communal hatred along the fishing shores of Karnataka. The reinterpretation of Gulabi, a prostitute in Vaidehi’s story to the cinema-crazy Muslim midwife Gulnabi in Gulabi Talkies was discussed, bringing to the fore the interlinkings between the politics practiced and artistic choices made in the film.
ART intends to organize more such events every month. Hopefully Bengalureans will get a good share of scholarly discussions through them! ART also has a growing library of over 2500 books, 100 journals, CDs, DVDs and an image archive. Its library can be used for a charge of Rs. 25 per day for students and Rs. 50 for scholars and professionals.