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Doing Women's Film HistoryReframing Cinemas, Past and Future$
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Julia Knight and Christine Gledhill

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039683

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039683.001.0001

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Gossip, Labor, and Female Stardom in Pre-Independence Indian Cinema

Gossip, Labor, and Female Stardom in Pre-Independence Indian Cinema

The Case of Shanta Apte

(p.181) Chapter 12 Gossip, Labor, and Female Stardom in Pre-Independence Indian Cinema
Doing Women's Film History

Neepa Majumdar

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines Shanta Apte's tactical use of the hunger strike to protest Prabhat Film Company's withholding pay for the days in June that she had not come to work. Beginning on the evening of July 17, 1939, Apte, a singing star, sat and remained on the bench a bench outside Prabhat studios in Pune—dressed in men's clothing—for two nights and one day and drank only salted water. Eventually her doctor and her brother succeeded in persuading her to return home. Apte's hunger strike is one of those small events out of which the vaster network of women's film history is constituted. This chapter first considers some tentative details pertaining to the major players in Apte's story, as drawn from various sources, before analyzing her hunger strike in the context of gossip, labor, and female stardom in pre-independence Indian cinema. It shows how labor and work become a breach of etiquette with precisely the moral labor of decorum that seemed to be violated when Apte went on hunger strike.

Keywords:   hunger strike, Shanta Apte, Prabhat Film Company, women's film history, gossip, labor, stardom, Indian cinema, etiquette

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