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Dramatizing Democracy through Cinematic Counterdiscourse: A Comparative Analysis of Govind Nihalani’s Aakrosh (1980) and Kundan Shah’s Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983)

Bageshree TRIVEDI


This paper analyses parallel cinema from the post-Emergency period in India, that dramatizes the politics of discourse and counterdiscourse in the ‘democratic’ nation, using Louis Althusser’s framework of ideology and ideological state apparatuses. Aakrosh (1980) and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (1983) mark a crucial period in the nation’s consciousness. As the propensity of ‘democracy’ to collapse into an autocracy and the precarity of ideas like ‘equality’ and ‘justice’ were laid bare by the twenty-one months of state-imposed Emergency, despair, suspicion, and angst underscored the veneer of a stable political leadership in the country. Using two different modes of realism and satire respectively, these two films question structures of authority and power  persisting in a seemingly egalitarian political structure—questions with abiding relevance in contemporary global politics. This paper analyses these two movies to examine the constitution of hegemony, the silence and self-estrangement of the margins, and ‘hegemonic closure,’ i.e., the nature of the state as an absolute Subject that functions to preclude a space for counter-voices. It, further, discusses the subversive employment of prevalent cinematic conventions to argue that the cinematic medium itself possesses the potential to transform into a potent medium for a variety of (counter)discourses.

Keywords: Indian cinema, counterdiscourse, ideology, democracy, Althusser

DOI: 10.24193/ekphrasis.25.7