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A letter to Modi voters: If you had called the PM’s bluff, you could have spared India its agonies

Published @
Your silence gave him confidence, your conformism fed his conceit, your approval gave him wings. (Co-authored with Rajendran Narayanan) Dear affluent voters of the Prime Minister, We sincerely hope this letter finds you all safe. After all, we are all still mourning the deceased. But we were not actually supposed to be in the house of the dead. We were, after all, living our great dream, sequestered in the designer isolation of…

Aesthetic enclosure and insurgent critique in Ray’s fantasy fables

Published @ Café Dissensus
1 Satyajit Ray’s Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha, 1969, hereafter Goopy Gyne)and the follow-up fantasy Hirok Rajar Deshe (In the Land of Diamond King, 1980) are two parts of a trilogy of fabular musicals for children.[1] Or so is what they have been mostly, if not always, remembered as. Ray had often felt that films for children made locally were unable to satisfactorily capture their imagination. More often than not, those films sentimentalized childhood, or treated them as part of a sealed…

A made-in-India shock doctrine

Published @ Monthy Review Online
Photo by Monthaye/Unsplash (Co-authored with Rajendran Narayanan) How can this inequality be maintained if not through jolts of electric shock. Eduardo Galeano, Days and Nights of Love and War In The Shock Doctrine, renowned journalist Naomi Klein presents a searing account of how disasters were used as cover to steamroll market fundamentalism by authoritarian regimes in Chile and Argentina, among others. The title alludes to the practice of psychiatric shock therapy used in the early twentieth century. She calls this disaster…

In Bengal, an impossible choice

Published @ The Indian Express
An installation by Sudipta Das. Photo by author. West Bengal must choose between BJP’s tall claims, Left’s cluelessness and TMC’s governance by gamble. The elections in Bengal seem to have become something of a national pastime. I cannot recall a period when the national media has spent this much time pondering over Bengal’s future. This must surely be an anomaly. The word future in the context of Bengal challenges even the most resolute. The once-mighty Bengal’s perceived fall from grace…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Bengal, Politics | Read More

Game on in Bengal

Published @ The Indian Express
An etching that puns on the Kali figure. There cannot be a three-way election in 2021. That would mean an advantage for BJP, as it will cannibalise on the factionalism in the TMC and on the irrelevance of the CPIM. The dictionary meaning of blunderbuss is two-fold. The more archaic meaning stands for a gun with a short, large barrel, to be fired only at close range. The second meaning refers to an action lacking subtlety and precision. Either…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Bengal, Opinion, Politics | Read More

AAP and the Perils of Politics Beyond Ideology

Published @
Photo by Md Shairaf on Unsplash AAP’s post-ideological vanity is far more damaging when it stands on the face of a gargantuan right-wing machinery at these times. The Aam Aadmi Party’s blitheness about the Delhi riots has tempered the trust of much of India, except perhaps those who thrive in a bloodbath. So has its decision to allow prosecution against JNU students in a four-year-old manufactured case of sedition. In its defence of the first case, the party…

কৌশল সফল, ভয়টা থাকলই (AAP wins Delhi elections but the fear of Hindutwa still prevails)

Published @ Anandabazar Patrika
রাজধানীতে ভোট ঘোষণার পর জানলাম, সরকারি বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ে অধ্যাপনার সূত্রে নির্বাচনে একটি বিশেষ ভূমিকা পালন করতে হবে—একজ়িকিউটিভ ম্যাজিস্ট্রেটের ভূমিকা। এই কাজের সূত্রে রাজনীতি নামক বস্তুটির একটা ‘রিংসাইড ভিউ’ পাওয়ার সুযোগ হল। নির্বাচনের কাজে বেরিয়ে তাই দেখার কৌতূহল হল যে আপ-এর মতো একটা আঞ্চলিক ছোট দল কী ভাবে বিপুল ধনী এবং সর্বশক্তিমান একটি সাম্প্রদায়িক মেশিনের সঙ্গে পাল্লা দিচ্ছে। অরবিন্দ কেজরীবালের স্বচ্ছ ভাবমূর্তি তো ছিলই, সঙ্গে ছিল গত পাঁচ বছরের কাজের খতিয়ান। দিল্লিতে যাঁরা বসবাস করেন তাঁরা একমত হবেনই, আপ শুধু যে বেশ…

The Young Against The New Partition: Why The CAA & NRC Are The Biggest Tests For Independent India

Published @
Protest drawing of a student at Shaheen Bagh, December 2019. Photo by author. The Young Against The New Partition: Why The CAA & NRC Are The Biggest Tests For Independent India Several public intellectuals, commentators and those who contribute to public opinion in India have compared the current political crisis in India as the biggest test facing us since Independence. At the heart of this crisis is the newly-minted Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which proposes to give sanctuary in…

Bollywood’s Propaganda Wheels Have Been Set in Motion

Published @ Economic & Political Weekly (EPW)
A promo still from the film Uri, 2019. Once upon a time in Hollywood, socially conscious cinema would be frowned upon. It was a standing joke in Hollywood that a studio-era executive, on hearing a sober, earnest script with deep substance would swoop down on the table and say: “if you want to send a message, use Western Union.” (Westwell 2013). While the humour drives home the apathy, it also draws attention to the nature of cinema itself. Cinema…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Cinema, Politics | Read More

Modi’s Greatest Trick: Turning Our Deepest Insecurities Into A System of Governance

Published @ Huffington Post - India
Biplab Sarkar, Be Waiting. Watercolor and pen on paper, 2019. Shot by the author at the Art Fair, Delhi, 2020. (co-authored with Rajendran Narayanan) The prime minister has taught people to measure their state exclusively against others’ miseries, tricking them into forgiving his many sins – from demonetisation to jobs to Swachh Bharat. There’s an old folktale that goes like this: to redeem his ills, a man prayed hard and long. His prayers bore fruit when god appeared and granted…