June at Outspoken-ish
Photograph by Balaji Srinivasan via Unsplash
Who’s got the dibs on “real India”? Those who tell stories of rural India? (As if that’s a monolith). Those who turn their noses up at fiction and feverishly seek secrets and untold truths in ______ (Insert Purani Dilli, Kamathipura, what-have-you), as if the cameras used for making documentaries aren’t tools in the hands of flawed human beings with cognitive biases, just like the rest of us?
Do Zoya Akhtar’s upcoming re-imaginings of Archie’s comics rate poorly on the real India check? What about her portrayal of Dharavi in Gully Boy? The fact that it wasn’t Gali still irks me, but the plushness of that 1% wealth she’s got a grip on is some of the most it-happens-only-in-India stuff I’ve ever seen. (After Ketan Mehta’s Mirch Masala, I’d argue, which plays out almost like a fantasy to my now not-so-naive eyes!).
So yes, it’s complicated.
Because for every real India we see on the screen, there is an equal and opposite real India. And even then, both are perhaps ultimately, unreal.
This month’s dispatch of Outspoken-ish, led by T, explores the question via shows such as Panchayat, Anubhav Sinha’s films, and other visual cultures developing around the idea of “real” India.
In your inbox soon.