Understanding Deviant Space: A Study of the Subversion of Power Dynamics in Paharganj
Kazi Ashraf Uddin
Abstract: This paper, preoccupied with intersectionality in spatial criticism and broadly portraying the visual representation of urban space in popular culture (film), critically looks into the lived experiences around the Delhi neighborhood, Paharganj, as illustrated in Rakesh Ranjan Kumar’s 2019 film Paharganj. Theoretically grounding on Henri Lefebvre’s spatial triad and production of space, and on Michel Foucault’s “panopticon” and “heterotopia,” this paper investigates (a) ways in which Paharganj turns into a deviant and dangerous space with its countercultural brooding and camouflaged criminality and how such deviant “lived space” negates or adds dimension to the “conceived space,” and (b) how such subversive space (Paharganj) challenges territorial jurisdiction by creating an alternative and resistant power nexus which sometimes leads to its denomination as the “Republic of Paharganj,” a status as “dangerous” or desired space in the film. As a part of its spatial reading of popular cultural texts, this paper primarily takes on Paharganj. However, to substantiate Paharganj’s spatial representation in popular culture, this paper also secondarily makes reference to two other films: Holy Smoke! (1999) and Dev. D (2009).
Keywords: Spatialization of Counterculture, Spatial Partitioning of Power, “Production of Space,” Deviant Space
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Published in September 2020