Date of Degree

6-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Leah Anderst

Subject Categories

Film and Media Studies | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | South and Southeast Asian Languages and Societies

Keywords

Bollywood, code-switching, Westernization, Section 377, post-Independence India

Abstract

In this thesis, I study four recent Hindi-language Indian films for what I see as their queering of the English language, and, in turn, putting the Indian entity at a distance from both language and sexual orientation. The nation-making project of the Hindu political right in India today seeks an identity in distance from the English language: closer to the age-old conception of India as Hindustan (place of the Hindus). In Part I, I explore how such a resistance to English allows for the “Indian” within male protagonists of Rajat Kapoor’s Ankhon Dekhi (2013) and Aanand L. Rai’s Raanjhanaa (2013) to emerge, at a distance from queerness. The threat is not to the language, but to that in which it ends up being embodied, that which it others: gay men. In Part II, I explore how seduction of this queering language in Konkona Sensharma’s A Death in the Gunj (2016) and Shakun Batra’s Kapoor & Sons (Since 1921) (2016) allows a queer blooming in its male protagonists. My in(queer)ies––as I refer to them––center on accommodating the phenomenon of English-language-identity in contemporary Indian (Hindi) film. The crucial goal is to imagine a postcolonial India that incorporates the queer, rather than rejecting it in the name of resisting the colonizer’s language/legacy.

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