Madhuja Mukherjee

The Dogs, the City, and the Stars 

‘7 hours; only 7 hours left’. The classic Bengali science fiction novel Lubdhak (2006), by Nabarun Bhattacharya, opens in this manner. Gradually it becomes clear that there is a plan to banish the street dogs. Random killings take place until a program is launched. The strategy is to deport all strays to ‘Pinjrapole’, an enclosure for aged animals, and then starve them to death. However, can the dogs retaliate? Who can help them? Why is Sirius—the Dog Star—shinning so brightly? Is there a message? Is that the shadow of Anubis? Lubdhak is set in a dystopic world, produced by myopic development and mindless modernization; it’s about Holocaust, concentration camps, political war, state-sponsored violence and particularly about loss of natural life, although it finally imagines a possible world after the anthropocene. I present my on-going project (2017–), the official adaptation of Lubdhak into a graphic-novel, and my collaborative work with the stop-motion animation film (by Avik Mukhopadhyay) of the same text. I discuss processes of research, inter-connectivity with a range of other art/research projects, approaches of doing a graphic-novel on ecological crises and subjects of collaborations, and I emphasize how new media art practices facilitate praxis and ‘speculative narrtives’. 

Madhuja Mukherjee is Professor of film studies, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. She extends her research into art-practice, curatorial-work and filmmaking. Madhuja’s recent publications are: Popular Cinema in Bengal (2020) and Industrial Networks and Cinemas of India (2021). She is the writer of Ekti Tarar Khonje (2010), Qissa (2013), and director of Carnival (2012). She is principal investigator of Foundation Project, Archives and Museums Programme, at India Foundation for the Arts, Bangalore & Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata, 2021–22; and artistic-director of TENT Biennale, Kolkata.