In 1939, at the height of her stardom, the actress Shanta Apte (pron. Aap-tay) went on a spectacular hunger strike in protest against her employers at Prabhat Studios, India. The following year, Apte wrote a harsh polemic against the extractive nature of the Bombay film industry. In Should I Join the Movies? (1940), Apte highlighted the durational depletion of the body that is specific to acting work; a steady withering away of human capacities due to temporally accruing over-exertion on one hand, and under-use on the other.
In this talk, Debashree Mukherjee interrogates these two unprecedented cultural events – a strike and a book – and positions them as theory from the South that can help us rethink the meanings of gender, embodiment, labor, inequality, and human-machine relations in cinema. Thinking with Apte, we are compelled to acknowledge the materiality of the offscreen world of cine-work and to consider embodiment as the grounds for resistance.
Read more about Debashree Mukherjee.