Identifying the earliest examples that document partition in Bombay cinema, this article delves into the relationship between a historic trauma and physical comedy through the star performance of Meena Shorey in a trilogy of romantic comedies, Ek Thi Larki (Once There Was a Girl, 1949), Dholak (Drumbeats, 1951), and Ek Do Teen (One Two Three, 1953). In these films, the female protagonist wrestles men, scales walls, drives tractors, and makes a spectacle of herself, demonstrating a complete disregard for received ideas of femininity. Informed by her multiple marriages, irreverent religious conversions, switches in national location, and a disavowal of the “partition serious,” Meena's image in these comedies served as visual innuendo for the abducted woman. Adapting the trope of a piteous partition figure to explore the possibility of feminine liberation, the Shorey comedies bring about a radical cinematic recovery through the laughter-inducing abandon of their star comedienne.
“Someone to Check Her a Bit”: Feminine Abandon and the Abducted Woman in Shorey Comedies
Salma Siddique is a film historian who specializes in South Asian visual culture, postrevolutionary Iranian cinema, and film archival practices. After completing her doctoral research at the University of Westminster in 2015, she received the DRS-Point postdoctoral fellowship at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, Freie Universität. Currently based in Berlin, she is working on her book project The Evacuee Cinema, which investigates the cinematic output of Bombay and Lahore during the Indian partition.
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Salma Siddique; “Someone to Check Her a Bit”: Feminine Abandon and the Abducted Woman in Shorey Comedies. Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2017; 3 (2): 36–56. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2017.3.2.36
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