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”May You Be the Mother of A Hundred Sons!”: Barrenness vs. Motherhood in Bengali Cinema

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Beginning with barrenness as the root cause in the break-up of husband-wife relationships in several films of Satyajit Ray namely Monihara, Devi, Charulata and Ghare-Baire, Somdatta Mandal also examines Punendu Patrea’s Streer Patra, Rituparno Ghosh’s Chokher Bali and Antarmahal (The Inner Chamber) where the director narrates a 19th century tale of a Bengali zamindar whose desperation in begetting a male heir leads to bizarre circumstances. But first with Satyajit Ray’s handling of the theme. Among the different forms of portraiture of women in the films of Satyajit Ray, the married and childless wife reveals herself in different avatars. In most cases, these women become sort of loners, or outcasts, bereft of normal heterosexual behavior. It is more than a coincidence in each case that the woman protagonist turns out to be childless.

Keywords: Bengali cinema; Satyajit Ray; barrenness; motherhood; women

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Visva-Bharati

Publication date: 2011-03-01

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  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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