“I Am Trying” to Perform Like an Ideal Boy

The Construction of Boyhood through Corporal Punishment and Educational Discipline in Taare Zameen Par

in Boyhood Studies
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ABSTRACT

In this article I examine boyhood as presented through the figure of an eight-year-old boy, Ishaan, in the Hindi film Taare Zameen Par (2007). In the current era of India’s globalization, how does the particular politics of hegemonic masculinity inform the very foundations underlying the family and school as punitive structures? By positing the analytical perspectives of childhood studies and the performativity of identity against Foucauldian inflected terminology, I argue that Ishaan enacts the dual role of both victim and agent in a film that mediates between two forms of harsh regulatory practices—corporal punishment and educational discipline. The climactic reorientation of an ideal boyhood gradually unfolds against the backdrop of the performances of other contrasting masculinities installed through the figures of the boy’s father, brother, fellow-students, and school-teachers. By drawing such interconnections, I see the film as contesting the ways in which domestic and academic institutions affect contemporary masculine subject formation.

Contributor Notes

Natasha Anand is a doctoral candidate in English literature at the Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi, where she is engaged in research on the intersection of Victorian men, masculinities and the Brontëan sisterhood. She holds an MPhil in English literature from Himachal Pradesh University, and an MA and a BA in English literature from the University of Delhi. In the past, she has taught across various colleges at the University of Delhi including Hans Raj College, Jesus and Mary College, St. Stephen’s College and Shri Ram College of Commerce. She has contributed articles on masculinity published by Authorspress India and the Rupkatha Journal, and has also presented papers on masculinity at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU, New Delhi), the University of Delhi, and the University of Kalyani (West Bengal). Her areas of academic and research interest include Masculinity Studies, Advertisements and Popular Culture, Nineteenth Century British Literature, Feminist Theory, and Film Studies. Email: emailing.natasha@gmail.com

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