Assistant Professor, Department of English, OmDayal Group of Institutions, Howrah, West Bengal, India.
This paper aims to investigate Ray’s portrayal of liminality and the female gaze in Charulata (1964) and Ghare Baire (1984), both of which primarily articulate the stories of two women (Charu and Bimala respectively), entangled within the cobwebs of their seething, unfulfilled sexuality, amidst a newly-globalised urban culture, punctuated with political turmoils and ideological conflicts. Their tempestuous interactions with the societal space, both tangible and intangible, that surround them, and the men in their lives make them dwell in a liminal space, filled with an ambiguous sense of virtue. In Ray’s films, this sexual ambivalence is characterised by the liminality between the scenic and extrascenic spaces, which, in turn, defines the female gaze as the director’s lenses paint a picture of the new wave of socio-political and socio-cultural movements in the early twentieth-century Bengal. Brinda Bose’s essay on ‘Modernity, Globality, Sexuality, and the City: A Reading of Indian Cinema’, analyses the ‘necessary’ process of urbanisation as a marker of ‘moral degeneracy of the nation easily analogous with female sexual transgression/ promiscuity with the nation personified as a woman’, by using the concept of the liminal space, ‘a site of both empowerment through transgression and containment through regulation’. The research paper, however, would focus on the liminal space propagated by Ray through his contrasting depiction of scenic and extrascenic spaces to satiate the equivocal voices in Charu and Bimala, along with their way of ‘gazing’ into an equally dishevelled society – a gaze that helps them transcend the barriers of politics and urbanisation into a state of universal janiformity, symmetrical with their sexual immorality. The first section of the paper would explore Ray’s usage of these theatrical spaces through his character sketches, shots and dialogues, while the second section of the paper would delve into the ‘female gaze’on a newly revolutionised society.
liminality between scenic and extra-scenic spaces: thoughts, words, poetry and speech in charulata and ghare baire.
Bose, Brinda. Modernity, Sexuality, and the City: A Reading of Indian Cinema. The Global South, vol. 2, no. 1, India in a Global Age (Spring, 2008).
Foucalt, Michel and Miskowiee, Jay. Of Other Spaces. Diacritics, vol. 16, no. 1 (Spring, 1986).
Heifetz, Hanz. In Memory of Satyajit Ray. Cinéaste, vol. 19, no. 4 (1993).
Manlove, Clifford T. Visual “Drive” and Cinematic Narrative: Reading Gaze Theory in Lacan, Hitchcock and Mulvey. Cinema Journal, vol. 46, no. 3 (Spring, 2007).
Pagliaro, Harold. Truncated Love in ‘Candida’ and ‘Heartbreak House’. Shaw, vol. 24, DIONYSIAN SHAW (2004).
Ronen, Ruth. Space in Fiction. Poetics Today vol. 7, no. 3, Poetics of Fiction (1986).
Vineverg, Steve. Home and the World: Reflection on Satyajit Ray. The Threepenny Review, no. 43 (Autumn, 1990).
To cite this article
Rajlekha Sil. (2022). Ray’s Use of the Liminal Space and the Female Gaze : A Reading of Oscillating Moralities in ‘Charulata’ and ‘Bimala’. John Foundation Journal of EduSpark, 4(1), 30-39.