What do women--who live in a deeply patriarchal society like India–want in their intimate relationships? Attention, respect, devotion, kisses on the neck, partners who share kitchen chores? Where the men in their lives fail miserably, Shah Rukh Khan shines. For the pre-Netflix-Amazon Prime generation, Shah Rukh was everything they wanted but could never get. From elite Delhi pubs to chalis in Ahmedabad, from cabin crew to accountants, Shah Rukh drew women across insurmountable class differences into new possibilities, new selves. And Shrayana Bhattacharya brilliantly captures this story of female desire--not just for romantic love but also for independence, self-worth and respectful familial relationships--in her recently published book Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh. What does this story of female desire tell us about masculinity and patriarchy in India? Is the breadth and depth of SRK fandom what "social change" looks like? And for the Netflix-Amazon Prime generation, is Kdrama and KPop Shah Rukh in a new idiom?
Shrayana Bhattacharya trained in development economics at Delhi University and at Harvard University. She works with the World Bank’s Social Protection and Labour unit for South Asia. Prior to joining the World Bank, she has worked with SEWA, the Institute of Social Studies Trust, ILO, and the Centre for Policy Research on a range of issues in the areas of urban bureaucracy, social protection and informality. Her writing has appeared in the Indian Express, EPW, Indian Quarterly and The Caravan. Shrayana Bhattacharya will be in conversation with Leya Mathew, Assistant Professor, at the School of Arts and Sciences. Leya’s research examines gender, youth aspirations and work.