Dedh Ishqiya : obscuring the female-bond
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Through his Bollywood film, Dedh Ishqiya, Abhishek Chaubey addresses matters of comfort and discomfort through the use of typically heteronormative conventions in film. The Bollywood film Dedh Ishqiya, tells the story of a wealthy widow’s search for a new poet husband in the setting of an Urdu poetry gathering (mushaira). She is accompanied and supported by her female friend and handmaiden, Munniya. Their two supposed lovers, Khalujaan and Baban, are thieves, out to steal the love and wealth of these women. However, unbeknownst to these men, the women are lovers themselves and they too are out to steal the love and wealth of a suitor so that they may run away together. Director and co-writer, Abhishek Chaubey, uses conventions drawn from the Sufi, Urdu, and bhakti poetic and literary aesthetic worlds. He builds up an aura of comfort through the use of these conventions. But, he focuses on the complex, but platonic female (sakhi) -bond. Chaubey uses the sakhi bond, as well as other conventions, to draw the viewer into a seemingly heteronormative and conventional (therefore, comfortable) film. But this viewer is then brutally let down when the film subverts those conventional tropes in favor of a non-heteronormative romance. Chaubey does this by referencing Ismat Chughtai’s short story, Lihaaf, and Ridley Scott’s film, Thelma and Louise in his film. Both story and film take the female-bond and complicate it in a way that forces the viewer to examine their own conceptions of comfort, especially those related to sexuality and romance. This thesis focuses on the process of building up comfort through a heteronormative-use of conventions, and then the breaking down of that comfort by referencing Lihaaf and Thelma and Louise.