From Teen Kanya to Arshinagar: feminist politics, Bengali high culture and the stardom of Aparna Sen

2017-03-30T10:47:43Z (GMT) by Kaustav Bakshi Rohit Dasgupta
This paper makes an attempt to understand the stardom of the Bengali film-maker and actor Aparna Sen, who has been associated with the industry for 55 years. We argue that Sen’s star persona is based on a polysemic structure, to borrow Richard Dyer’s term, which comes from the multiple roles she has played in her career. Achieving a local stardom through her work as an actor in Bengali popular cinema, she went on to acquire international fame through the films she made. Besides, as the editor of an immensely popular Bengali women’s magazine, Sen became a cultural commentator through her columns and also played an active part, through the magazine, in entering into dialogue with her readers on diverse issues such as communalism and sexuality rights. As a socially conscientious critic who has participated in several humanitarian and political causes, Sen emerged as a figure of trust and reliance for her fans and even her staunchest critics. The paper analyses the construction of her stardom, based on a series of interviews that both authors conducted with Aparna Sen over a period of time, interviews with a cross section of her fans, alongside an analysis of her media presence and finally the films she made and acted in.