Editor’s Note: This month, that is November 2019, FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth is Regional Indian Cinema, where we invite various articles on regional films from across the country which have had some impact on you or on the society, in either positive or negative, or in both ways. If you’d like to share your story, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asha Jaoar Majhe (Labour of Love) is a 2015 Bengali film directed by Aditya Vikram Sengupta, starring Basabdatta Chatterjee and Ritwick Chakrobarty. The film revolves around the story of a young Bengali couple living in North Kolkata. Their everyday life is characterised by the monotonous jobs, only punctuated by meal breaks and sleep.
Asha Jaoar Majhe interestingly initiates with the radio news reader informing about the recession that hit the entire state of West Bengal. As a result, 1200 people lost their job in the IT sector. This created a distress among the workers who revolted against the companies with the demand of getting their jobs back. Such a phenomenon suggests that the timeline of the film belonged to the post independence India, when it was struck by severe unemployment crisis. The film certainly tried to give a romantic implication to the Post Fordism work politics by portraying love between the two protagonists. In the above occurrence, love was depicted by the virtue of various routine mundane acts they perform for each other.
The film certainly tried to give a romantic implication to the Post Fordism work politics, by portraying love between the two protagonists. In the above occurrence, love was depicted by the virtue of various routine mundane acts they perform for each other.
The term ‘Post Fordism’ was coined by Charles Sabel and Micheal J.Piore in their book, The Second Industrial Divide: Possibilities For Prospering in 1984. The Post Fordism era saw its evolution with the rapid growth of information technology as a recipe for effective production. This new era not only brought about economic changes but also changes in the life style choices of not only the consumers but also workers. This new era is caged in the advanced capitalism.
The film is characterised by a null exchange of dialogues between the couple. The alluring background score is distinguished by the old classic Bengali songs along with diverse sound effects. Interestingly, these sound effects did not exclude the slogans raised by the dismissed workers against the rising unemployment across the state.
The Post Fordism era witnessed a shift from blue-collar jobs to white-collar ones. As a result of the manufacturing work getting embedded in the technology, there is an expansion of non-manual workers. The film illustrated how the protagonists are unable to encounter each other on an everyday basis, since they are trapped by the work circle of advanced capitalism. Their employment in the opposite shifts make it even more difficult and thus, their only possibility of coming together appears like a dream.
The female protagonist of the film (played by Basabdatta Chatterjee) is employed in an industry where hand bags are produced. Her work sector is functional during day and her task includes data entries. On the other hand, the male lead (played by Ritwick Chakrobarty) works in printing industry which actively operates during the night time. Both their work strongly demonstrate major changes that have been brought about by the Post Fordism era. It exhibits the concept of group production by which the work becomes more and more contractual.
Though the film showcases an egalitarian scenario where house work is shared by both the partners equally, it is also important to point out how the film subtly depicts the gendered division of working hours where the ‘woman’ of the family works in broad daylight and vice-versa in case of the ‘man’ of the family. Thus, even in the Post Fordist era, the sense of work substantially remains gendered.
Asha Jaoar Majhe has also encapsulated how ‘time’ has seized our sphere of work. The film pictured how both the partners wake each other up for their routine monotonous work, with the help of a simple phone call. But, they do not engage in any kind of verbal communication again reflecting how time and space are monitored in the era of Post Fordism. It beautifully illustrates the complexity of how individuals negotiate for their own space of ‘time’ even in the sphere of work where one is clearly not allowed to dispense their time during their work hours.
Asha Jaoar Majhe is a film which strongly delineates how advanced capitalism in Post Fordist era has infringed upon the private domain of the individuals. Though enlightenment and industrial revolution brought about a strong distinction between the private and the public sphere, however it is slowly fading. Thus, in this era of advanced capitalism, the institution of work regulates and dominates even the most personal space of the individuals. The tale of Asha Jaoar Majhe pertinently narrates the story of the advanced capitalist society where ‘labour’ has attained hegemony over ‘love’.
Featured Image Source: IMDb