The Sun in the Belly: Indian Artist-Bureaucrat S.N.S. Sastry
One of the key figures of documentary and short film practice in India, S.N.S. Sastry was a bureaucrat making state-sponsored films for the Indian government’s Films Division. Most government films were considered boring, but Sastry developed a nervous, flashy, and humorous style to catch audience attention, leavening serious topics with humor, self-reflexivity, and irony. Even during the period of the Emergency, when state-sponsored films were heavy-handed propaganda, Sastry used images and sounds in ways that evades fixed meanings—including an eclectic style of montage, dissonant sound, and “remix”—demonstrating the possibilities of subversion against state mandates. Titles include And I Make Short Films (1968), Our Indira (1973), and This Bit of That India (1972).
(India, 1967-1973, 100 min., digital video, courtesy of Films Division of India)
Curated by Ritika Kaushik (CMS) as part of the Film Studies Center’s Graduate Student Curatorial Program.