Sexual Politics in 1960s Pakistani Cinema
Join the Essex South Asian Research Network (ESARN) for an insightful online seminar with Professor Kamran Asdar Ali.
Kamran Asdar Ali is Professor of Anthropology, University of Texas, at Austin. He served as the the Director of the South Asia Institute at the University of Texas, Austin (2011-2017). He is the author of Planning the Family in Egypt: New Bodies, New Selves (UT Press, 2002) and the co-editor of Gendering Urban Space in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa (Palgrave 2008), Comparing Cities: Middle East and South Asia (Oxford 2009) and Gender, Politics, and Performance in South Asia (Oxford 2015). He has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton (1998-99), a senior fellow at ISIM, University of Leiden (2005) and a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg at Berlin (2010-2011)
This seminar will focus on the film Saheli (1961) to open up the question of domestic life and sexuality in Pakistan by turning to an underused archive, cinema. Indeed, by concentrating primarily on women’s lives as depicted in this film, I do not seek to dismiss the importance of other studies, but to make an added and necessary argument. It enables me to make visible and audible those instances that may have historically enabled women (and men) in Pakistan to create emotional fields and varied forms of connections to each other. The argument will help me discuss women’s representation in the popular media in Pakistan in order to create a different archive of cultural and sexual politics and histories.
Following this argument, I seek to further discuss Neela Parbat a 1969 Pakistani Urdu film directed by Ahmad Bashir. The film did not do well at the box office and dealt with the theme of incest and other sexual themes. It was only the second film that received an “Adult Only” certificate (the other being the horror film, Zinda Lash). The paper will lay out the plot and historicise the genre of these two films, while putting forward a discussion on how themes of same sex desire, incest and other “taboo” subjects were brought forward in Pakistani cinema.
This seminar will be chaired by Dr Maitrayee Deka.
This seminar is part of an online open seminar series, hosted by the Essex South Asian Research Network (ESARN).