An interview with new CSI Faculty member, Rakesh Sengupta

September 6, 2022 by Denise Ing

Rakesh Sengupta recently joined the Cinema Studies Institute. In 2022/23, he will be teaching undergraduate courses out of Scarborough Campus such as ENGC56H3 - Page to Screen and ENGC84H3 - Cinema and Migration. We asked him to tell us a bit about himself. 

What is your background in cinema? What are your areas of specialization, and what drew you to those areas?

Growing up in India inadvertently integrates cinema within one’s cultural diet but I have also had the privilege of academic training in film studies to translate my cinephilia into an intellectual vocation over the years. My undergraduate and postgraduate training in English Literature introduced me to the critical and intermedial study of cinema. My areas of specialization would include film history, media archaeology, postcolonial theory, decoloniality and South Asian cinemas. For my doctoral research, I focused on screenwriting as an alternative site of knowledge production from the Global South that bridges the disciplines of film and literary studies, the heuristics of theory and practice, and the methodologies of historiography and ethnography. I’m currently working on it as a book project.

What are your top three favourite films of all time? Why?

This is a difficult one to answer! Off the top of my head, the three films that have perhaps made the greatest impression on me would be Guru Dutt’s Pyaasa, Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Touki Bouki and Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake. Both Pyaasa and Touki Bouki are strikingly inventive in exploring deeply emotional responses to postcolonial disenchantment, which is a theme that fascinates me both personally and intellectually. I, Daniel Blake is perhaps the most powerfully empathetic working-class film I have ever watched.

What films are you looking forward to seeing in the future?

There are quite a few of them. I hope to catch Joyland, How to Blow a Pipeline, Tora’s Husband and A Gaza Weekend at TIFF this year. Also, I’m still looking for a way to watch the widely acclaimed Indian documentary All That Breathes.

Which is your favourite film festival?

I have not attended TIFF yet, so this answer might change soon! I have very fond memories of watching lots of films as a teenager at the Calcutta Film Festival and later working at the London Film Festival.

Tell us about your courses in 2022/23.

I’m looking forward to teaching two courses at UTSC English in the winter term of 2023 – Cinema and Migration (ENGC84H3) and From Page to Screen (ENGC56H3). In Cinema and Migration, we will explore cinema as a diasporic, itinerant and transnational medium with a focus on films by and about immigrants, refugees and exiles. From Page to Screen will introduce students to the global histories, aesthetics and politics of film adaptation.