The moral ethos of the Bengali middle class was strongly shaped by Victorian influences borrowed into Bengal by the founders of the Brahmo-samaj. Among these we count the Tagore family, chief among them was the grandfather of the poet. Tagore the poet was a rebel, as most poets are, and quickly got into romantic dalliances while still a teenager in England and later had a rather fond relationship with his elder sister-in-law, barely older than him in age, Kadambari devi. One can only speculate what happened when Tagore was suddenly married off without much fanfare at age 22, and Kadambari, a talented poet in her own right, committed suicide a few months later. Tagore was devastated but recovered. As Andrew Robinson writes in “Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye', that Ray at the time of researching for Charulata, the film rendition of a story by Tagore entitled Nashtaneer (A Broken Nest), had seen "a very early manuscript of the story by Tagore with marginalia which refer many times to Hecate”, the nickname given by Tagore to Kadambari. Hecate, the Greek goddess, is associated with witchcraft and magic. The magic of the female sexuality as a profound determinant of the life and fate of man is evidently pre-biblical in origin. Tagore, some thirty years later as he chanced upon a long lost portrait of Kadambari, wrote, “Are you only an image, writ on canvas?...Not true, not true…You have been forever in the center of my mind and thus outside of my circle of attention…” (translation by yours truly, terrible, I know!)
The forces that restrained Tagore were hardly constraining for him, yet one does not doubt that they were so for Kadambari. Manik Bandyapadhyay, a youthful novelist of the mid-twentieth century, first described a different class of the society less fettered by the Tagorean norm in his DibArAtri’r KAbya (Poems of Light and Darkness). We see there a more sultry, almost pungent expression of the female sensuality, as a mother past her youth attempts to hang on to her body in a drunken frenzy and competes with as well as protects like a feline mother her daughter who dances through the night on a courtyard suffused with moonlight, while the male protagonist looks on with ambiguous intent.
Another half a century has passed, but I wonder whether the Bengali woman has yet come to terms with her sexuality out in the open, and for a Bengali man to accept that assertion.
[Thanks to Salil-da (Salil_B) for company while we had coffee here in this restaurant. Hope he likes the image]
Critiques | Translate
Furachan (0) 2007-11-04 20:31
Fascinating crop, Animesh. A brave crop, a statement, a punctuation mark... Your low POV pointing upward give the FAN huge importance, and that is as it should be, is it not, in that the FAN, like a hidden microphone, is the silent witness to these women's conversation, their aspirations and their Bengali dreams...
A gutsy departure from any kind of classicism and another triumph from your Bengal series, in my humble view.
bantonbuju (51815) 2007-11-05 0:51
daring crop, indeed...i'm not totaly convinced if it fits my bill...i think i'd go myself for slightly more of the bottom in this image...
anyway, i "feel" this image i believe...it would be interesting to find out how others feel about this image...
Salil_B (737) 2007-11-05 3:15
Of course I remember! That was a frustrating yet fascinating evening. I also remember the irate guy - did he have a ponytail?
You have done a great job in pretty difficult cirumstances, Animesh, I notice more the woman's face than the crop. Fine juxtaposition. The Bangali (Sahitya Akademi calls 'Bengali' 'Bangla') woman IS coming to terms with her sexuality. The young of today is rather over-fond of her new-found liberation and sometimes flaunts her sexuality. The middle-aged women are trying to assert the rights over her own body. As a teacher I have witnessed the hange coming for so long. I think it is a very good thing that is happening. The young women will soon come to terms with freedom ... for the middle-aged it will continue to a compromise, I am afraid ...
Merline (0) 2007-11-05 4:36
I do "feel" also something in the image and I love the poster above the women that to me, enhances the subject you are talking about with its stark sensuality and title!. Without your explanation the fan was not so clear and I probably would prefer to see all of the women's faces:-). Not an easy image, I needed a bit of time, however with a great mood, I enjoy the tilt that gives it a lot of dynamic, the grain and strong contrast. Your note is very interesting and together with your original picture really tells us something about life.
vapours (8264) 2007-11-05 4:36
Excellent image Animesh. When I think about a good artistic photograph its work like this, where everyday objects, and nothing too unusual, are all combined to create something as great as this.
designsoul (21492) 2007-11-05 5:46
Hi Animesh, I keep looking at this shot which simply is inescapable for its brave crop, which did give me a good morning jolt I admit. I first thought it could NOT be, this could NOT be yours, but somehow still there is something in this arrangement that arrests my eyes, in fact captivates them and doesn't let them look away. For this, and for that gorgeous grain, for the dare and the elements of the shot themselves, I salute you. The note is very interesting as well.
sayan (2617) 2007-11-05 6:06
Hello Animesh da,
It is nice to see new posts from you now. I think this photo is "trigger"ed by many things, as Francis pointed out beautifully in his critique, the FAN is one of them. Surely the poster on the wall also add to it, showing the sensuous woman and a bengali girl side by side! A tremandous composition, with one of the most prolific notes that I have read in TE till now! And yes, a daring crop! Definitely helping the composition! It becomes one of my favourites!
bombilla (3406) 2007-11-05 8:28
Tagore. Trigger. The sexual lever always cocked, ready to fire, deadlier for denial, "an image writ on canvas" looms large while the reality of the woman is reduced, half hidden, dissected. Her mouth, instrument of power, of articulation, of sexual assertion, is absent. Very interesting idea. Best, -Hugh
Sanchia (47) 2007-11-05 8:33
Very, very brave framing. I am, on purpose, not reading more than the first couple of lines of your note -- I want the picture to speak for itself and it does so. If she speaks, she speaks outside the frame, in a private space... that is if she speaks at all. If she has a mouth to speak with. In the reality of your picture, she certainly doesn not. And the woman in the poster is yet another truncated woman -- she has only a body that is visible.
michiels (4170) 2007-11-05 8:51
Impressing ! It is a gorgeous shot! the grain, the very special and strong compo. I can't stop looking at it !!!
sayeed_rahman (6459) 2007-11-19 8:30
Well Animesh..this is quite a depiction and the usage of elements to project the subject and leaving it to the viewer to interpret the theme is very thoughtful..a simple composition which invites a reflective mood..
Surely a winner for me..intriguing note too...
[ps..i found one..you wanted a car to project proportions in the wilderness..posted specially for you..do come and ckh it out..am sure you will love it ]
- Copyright: Animesh Ray (AnimeshRay) (9089)
- Genre: People
- Medium: Black & White
- Date Taken: 2007-08-19
- Categories: Daily Life
- Camera: Leica M6, Summicron 50mm/f2.0, Kodak TRI-X 400
- Exposure: f/2, 1/8 seconds
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Date Submitted: 2007-11-04 18:32
- Favorites: 2 [view]