Reading List, February 2023
Updated: Mar 1
Our monthly stories are productions looking to connect people to the magic of stories.
We create supplementary reading lists as a way to give you an insight into the inspirations and thinking behind our monthly stories. These reading lists take you behind the story, revealing the process of its making.
Rasa → Hāsyam (हास्यं): Laughter, mirth, comedy. Presiding deity: Shiva. Colour: white Śṛṅgāraḥ (शृङ्गारः): Romance, Love, attractiveness. Presiding deity: Vishnu. Colour: light green
Archetype → Rebel
“The will to stand against the currents, to go against the grain; to speak what no one wants to say; to break the mould; to challenge the norm; to break the known world open with revolt…”
Among the archetypes presented in Carl Jung’s theory of psychoanalysis, the rebel is the one fearlessly heralding change. Also known as the revolutionary, the reformer, the misfit, the maverick and the free spirit, the light side of the rebel archetype is at the frontlines of all historic movements that broke open social boundaries. The rebel archetype is inspiring—moving mountains, facing hard truths head-on and leading to changes that benefit generations. But, in its shadow, this archetype can be frustrating as troublemakers, provocateurs, and rule-breakers.
A rasa that is very conducive to the rebel archetype and its unceremonious attitude towards social norms, is the hāsyam rasa (humour). We created Shali’s tale mixing hāsyam rasa with slight undertones of sringāra mood (sensuality), weaving a micro story of a bisexual woman; it’s part of our story series exploring human desire.
This reading list will take you through the ideas, incidents, people, films, music and research that inspired us through the making of this story, and explore the storytelling archetypes and moods used in our creative process.
Below is a list of art, literature, research and knowledge that inspired us in the making of this story;
One of the most memorable South Asian movie characters that embodied the feminine rebel was Janice in the movie Hare Rama Hare Krishna 1971. The movie came out at a time when the idea of a South Asian woman contradicting her traditional identity was at a delicate balance. With growing foreign influences at the start of globalization, it was only a matter of time; but, who would dare? Enter Janice, played by Zeenat Aman. The movie script itself was not groundbreaking, following a story arc of a rebellious woman realizing her mistakes all too late. But, outshining this story and its tragic end of the rebel, the character Janice was cemented in the South Asian psyche of the time with her culture-defying outfits, smoke in hand, and a to-hell-with-the-world attitude. In the true spirit of the rebel, it was an instance when a character outshone the story and the plight it had decided for her.
2016, I’m your Janice, Dev. Romancing With Life, Dev Anand, Penguin India: The real story behind the unforgettable movie character, inspired by a chance encounter with a rebellious young woman at the heart of the social scene of the counterculture movement unravelling in Kathmandu, Nepal in the 1970s.
1971, Hare Rama Hare Krishna. Dev Anand. Mumbai, India.
(Wiki) ‘Rebel Girl’ is one of the best known compositions by the American punk band Bikini Kill, and was performed in concert as early as 1991. Songwriting credit is given to all four band members. The lyrics are attributed to Hanna, and were reportedly inspired by the influential feminist artist Juliana Luecking. The song's theme and lyrics overturn the traditional heterosexual tropes of pop music. Giving voice to an unconcealed queer perspective, it is a frank and explicit "tribute to, and love song for, another woman". In a larger sense, it is viewed as an ode to feminist solidarity.
It is considered to be Bikini Kill's signature song, but it has an equally enduring affiliation with the feminist movement known as riot grrrl. From their start, Bikini Kill was inextricably linked to riot grrrl and, more than any other song, ‘Rebel Girl’ was that movement's most widely recognized musical expression, its ‘one definitive anthem’.
Rebel Girl was used in the film Ghost World: (Wiki) A 2001 black comedy film directed by Terry Zwigoff and starring Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Renfro, Illeana Douglas and Steve Buscemi. Based on the 1993–97 comic book of the same name by Daniel Clowes, with a screenplay co-written by Clowes and Zwigoff, the story focuses on the lives of Enid (Birch) and Rebecca (Johansson), two teenage outsiders in an unnamed American city. They face a rift in their relationship as Enid takes interest in an older man named Seymour (Buscemi), and becomes determined to help his romantic life.
Riot grrrl: (Wiki) Riot grrrl is an underground feminist punk movement that began during the early 1990s within the United States in Olympia, Washington and the greater Pacific Northwest and has expanded to at least 26 other countries. Riot grrrl is a subcultural movement that combines feminism, punk music, and politics. It’s seen as a movement in which women could express anger, rage, and frustration, emotions considered socially acceptable for male songwriters but less common for women.
2019, NoLogo. Naomi Klein: (Youtube) No Logo, based on the best-selling book by Canadian journalist and activist Naomi Klein, this story reveals the reasons behind the backlash against the increasing economic and cultural reach of multinational companies. Analyzing how brands like Nike, The Gap, and Tommy Hilfiger became revered symbols worldwide, Klein argues that globalization is a process whereby corporations discovered that profits lay not in making products (outsourced to low-wage workers in developing countries), but in creating branded identities people adopt in their lifestyles.
2006, The Modern Amazons; warrior women on screen. Dominique Mainon and James Ursini. Limelight books: This interesting, but poorly presented, book documents the evolution of the female action hero in cinema, television and pop-culture. From Barbarella to Barb Wire, the book surveys the public's interest with the warrior-woman and amazon archetype in media, giving access to some key insights about feminine characters that are counterculture, rebellious and defying the accepted role of the woman.
A story that captured the conflict between the rebel and authority with a classic narrative of a rich father and his disenchanted son came in Yugānthaya by Martin Wickremesinghe. The book is considered a classic in Sinhala literature, and its movie adaptation by Lester James Pieris was also a major success.
Simon Kabalana (played by Gamini Fonseka in the movie) is a powerful and ruthless capitalist who uses terror to keep his workers under control. His son Malin Kabalana (played by Richard De Zoysa) is the complete opposite, coming back from England idolizing Marx and Lenin, confronts his father’s views and decides to join the socialist movement in Sri Lanka.
Richard de Zoysa was a profoundly talented actor, poet and playwright. His alleged affiliation with Sri Lanka’s socialist movement in the late 1980s and his charismatic role as the rebel Malin Kabalana in Yugānthaya is thought to have led to his horrific murder by a government death squad. Richard’s death became one of the most widely recorded and evidenced cases against government death squads in Sri Lanka.
1972, Walk On The Wild Side. Lou Reed, Transformer. RCA: This hit song by Lou Reed from his second solo album, was produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson. Known as a counterculture anthem, the song received wide radio coverage and became Reed's biggest hit and signature song while touching on topics considered taboo at the time, such as transgender people, drugs, male prostitution, and oral sex. In 2013, The New York Times described it as a ballad of misfits and oddballs that "became an unlikely cultural anthem, a siren song luring generations of people...to a New York so long forgotten as to seem imaginary".
1957, On the Road, Jack Kerouac. An unabridged recording of the entire book read by Tom Parker: The book is based on the travels of Kerouac and his friends across the United States. It is considered a defining work of the postwar Beat and counterculture generations, with its protagonists living life against a backdrop of jazz, poetry, and drug use.
1969, William Buckley television programme. Interview with Jack Kerouac: (Youtube) In this video, conservative columnist William Buckley attempts to understand the hippies by interviewing Jack Kerouac, completely drunk while on the air. The hippies were, and if you look at the comments on my videos, still are very controversial. The worst elements of their culture seemed disgusting to many – staying clean – overuse of drugs – coming from rich families where they did not need to make a living, etc. But the philosophical ideas some hippies expressed as expressed in this program, were and are appealing to many and most people don't realize the hippies stood behind any values at all.
>> Read the previous reading list