Archive for April, 2010

First Malayalam Book on Cultural Politics in Kerala

// April 23rd, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Culture and Ecology

My first book in Malayalam happens to be the first book in my mother tongue dealing directly with the politics of culture in Kerala.  Samskaram, Prathinidhanam, Prathirodham:  Samskara Rashtreeyathilekkulla Kurippukal (Culture, Representation, Resistance: Notes Towards Cultural Politics) is on the politics of writing, film and various forms of culture.

Notes towards Cultural Politics (Malayalam)

There are a few books on cultural studies and cultural criticism in Malayalam but there is hardly any title dealing directly with contesting sights of culture.  There is a broad notion that cultural studies is cultural politics itself.  But the real locations of struggle and fight within the realm of culture/s are always invisible and intangible in the ‘balanced’ academic analyses. The ethical and political questions of exclusion and democracy are often sidelined as something that are outside literature and culture.  So even cultural studies is exclusionary, elitist and hegemonic in Malayalam literary culture.

The counter hegemonic and radical subversive acts against dominant and elitist culture are carried forward by little but deviant epistemological practices.  Challenging and continuously destabilizing and rewriting existing notions of culture, polity and society are part of the democratic cultural politics.  Expressing and marking the difference of historical and social experience and the politics of subject formation are also part of this practice in a society where slavery and extreme forms of brutal marginalization were practiced for many millenniums.

Cultural elitist discourses, transcendental mysticism or dogmas, hegemonic notions or practices of culture are rejected and critiqued.  The themes varies  from literature to film and music to pop culture.  The work is a collection of critical essays and notes written and published in leading journals in Malayalam like Bhashaposhini, Mathrubhumy, Madhyamam, Kalakaumudi, Pachakuthira, Suchakam etc in the last decade.  It is divided into two parts.  The first part includes essays on literature and the second part includes essays dealing with pop film, music, art and visual culture.  The book also contains a foreword by Prof. P P Raveendran.  It is published by Fabian Books, Mavelikara (90INR).

Spinal Cord: Malayalam Theater is Live and Kicking Abroad!

// April 22nd, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Cultural Politics

Spinal Cord is a Malayalam theatrical adaptation of Marquez, the Colombian master of fiction.  Deepan Sivaraman has shown his remarkable directorial and scenographic skills in the experimental production which has already seen a number of stages within Kerala and won laurels abroad.

The whole world is a stage: Intimacy of Sandwich stage

The sandwich stage and participatory tropes are de-centered and democratic.  The trained cast and crew are rising to the occasion.  But unfortunately the B V Bhavan in Ernakulam where I watched the whole drama in the hot and humid evening could not hold the eager audience who were kept out by the small and scorching auditorium.

Sajitha Madathil playing a remarkable role

Though the play was trying to articulate an inclusive gender politics and justice the theater and venue excluded the spectators who thronged into the crowded house from all over Kerala. Though poetic justice was ruling over the stage material justice was denied to the people who came to watch the play.

Obscure object of Desire: personified female chastity

The play interrogates and critically explicates the patriarchal concept of woman’s chastity.  The bloody violence and struggles that follow in order to maintain chastity and family/caste honor are also dramatically visualized with excellent lighting and stage properties.  This new breed of Malayalam theater also uses multimedia support for visual simulation.  Actor Gopalan who played the lead of an old woman did an excellent performance.  It is a meaningful and valid dramatic attempt for representing cultural reality while attacking patriarchy.

Total theater: the polyphony of Audio-visual experience