I have been constantly thinking of the blockbuster movie Om Shanti Om as the televised drama of Sridevi’s life, including lurid details of her family and interpersonal stories, and her death unfolded one after the other, all in public view, since 25th February (late in the night). Just as the fan-protagonist (played by Shahrukh Khan) of Om Shanti Om, who was drawn to be unwittingly a victim of the events and a helpless witness to the life and death of a dream-girl actress ‘Shantipriya’ (she too wore costumes like that of Hema Malini and Sridevi in movies like Dream-girl and Himmatwala), the entire world looked-on with gaping disbelief as frame after frame peeled open in public view. The ‘nation’, as it were, was held in a breathless ransom during those seventy two hours post Sridevi’s death (echoes the name ‘Shantipriya’).
I sometimes wonder if the “father of western philosophy”, French philosopher, René Descartes had any gender complexities in mind, when he was talking about “Cogito Ergo Sum” (“I think, therefore I am”) in 1637 in his Discourse on the Method? Some of my thoughts in this regard emerge from the idea that the history of knowledge and history of creative writing, in essence, has been the canonized history of men as intellectuals and as thinkers. Therefore, when Fundamatics requested me to write an article on what it means to be a woman academic in IITs, the floodgates of emotions were thrown open, bringing me face-to-face once again after several years with the Cartesian notion of Cogito Ergo Sum.
Within 50 kilometres from Odisha’s capital, Bhubaneswar, there is the picturesque village of Raghurajpur. The village is just ten kilometres prior to the temple town of Puri, and within a kilometre from NH-316. It is surrounded by tall coconut trees and richly textured paddy fields.