Accepted paper:

Moner Manush: Travelling of Faqir Lalon Shah in the wrold of Hindu saints and the imagination of Bangali nation


Abdullah Mamun (University of Rajshahi)

Paper short abstract:

This paper deals misconceptions of Faquir Lalon grounding on the politics of 'Bangali nation' through interrogating Gautam Ghosh's latest film Moner Manush (2010), which bagged the Golden Peacock award at IFFI, Goa and Best Film on 'National Integration' at the 58th Indian National Awards.

Paper long abstract:

Lalon Faqir, a politico-philosophical figure of the nineteenth century Bangla, is commonly regarded as the Baul of Bauls. His poetry, articulated in songs, are considered classics of the Bangla language. Nationalism, humanism or any messianic teleological notions of human emancipation were never his cup of tea. He had always been vehemently opposed to all forms of identity politics and for that he left no trace of his birth or his 'origin' and remained silent about his past, fearing that he would be cast into class, caste or communal identities by a fragmented and hierarchical society. The details of Lalon's early life are made controversial mainly by urban-educated scholars representing communal tendencies among both Hindu and Muslim writers in their contestation of identity politics of a nation. The highly acclaimed film Moner Manush, based on a novel by Shunil Ganguly, takes part in this identity politics and constructs such an image of Faqir Lalon that appropriate Lalon as a saint of Hindu tradition and deploys him as a figure for the Bangali national integration. Though secular Bangali Muslims of Bangladesh, who never tried to construct secularity from their own ground and always depended on the west Bengal for their secular imagination, applauded this film as a great art work that helps spread 'humanism' of Lalon around the globe, they fail to notice the shrewd cultural communalism that framed the film and the Novel. This paper challenges this communal construct and deployment of Faqir Lalon in this opaque secular national imagination.

panel P35
Imagining Bangladesh and forty years of its aesthetic trajectory