[Reader-list] Repenting and Re-painting (Shohini Ghosh)

Naeem Mohaiemen naeem.mohaiemen at gmail.com
Sun Aug 19 21:59:08 IST 2007

Shohini Ghosh had the following follow-up thoughts on Bangla film
thread.  As she can't post on sarai, she asked me to send on her
behalf (can she be added to the list? i think that wld allow her to
post and reply directly).

If replying, pls cc her, so she can see replies as well....

from		Shohini Ghosh <shohini at vsnl.com> 		
to		Naeem Mohaiemen <naeem.mohaiemen at gmail.com>	
date		Aug 19, 2007 8:27 PM	
subject		Repenting and Re-painting	

Dear Naeem:

My original note was meant for Yousuf and hence the careless classification
of films and the misspelling of Nina Kabir's name. You are right about
Teardrops of Karnaphuli as  not being about  the crisis of communalism but
about displacement, ethnicity, etc. For me, it raises important issues
around  nationhood and belonging the discourse of which in the case of CHT
is also inflected by religious among other identities.

However,  I am more curious about something you say at the very end
regarding your own film Muslims and Heretics. You write: "I pulled this
version of the film from circulation after experiencing extreme discomfort
over how the film was being hijacked by precisely  these kinds of "crisis of
communalism" equations (even though there are bootlegs).  The newer version
"Muslims or Heretics: My Camera Can Lie."  This raises many interesting
issues for me.

First, do you really think that a filmmaker can or ought to control
spectatorial responses to his/her film?  For instance, I have often referred
to Muslims and Heretics (I own a bootleg copy) as addressing a certain
crises of secularism at the present moment. You may or may not agree. But
for me, the authorial intention behind any text is not the sole guiding
principle for reading and interpreting this work. So while rataining my
right to read as I wish to, I am curious to learn what precisely is the
nature of discomfort that you feel and how you are seeking to address it in
the new version.

Second and more important, does the filmmaker /author have the right to
withdraw his or her work once it has become part of the public domain?

Of course, it is vitally important that practitioners and artists reflect,
rework and even re-write their texts. But should it be to replace and
supplant ? Or should the attempt be to re-pain inthe spirit of Pentimento?
As Lillian Hellman writes in her introduction to Pentimento, scratching the
surface of the "re-paint" would reveal the earlier painting thereby
testifying that   the artist had indeed "repented."

I would like to have your thoughts on this and others are of course, welcome
to join in. Since I cannot post on the Sarai list, I am requesting you to
please post this for me.

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