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J Lesbian Stud. 2018 Jan 2;22(1):116-125. doi: 10.1080/10894160.2017.1310540. Epub 2017 Apr 11.

Conning the conmen: Intelligence and female desire in Dedh Ishqiya.

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a Department of English , Jamia Millia Islamia , New Delhi , India.


This article investigates the ostensibly paradoxical relationship that exists between the theme of excessive love, as suggested by the title of Abhishek Chaubey's film Dedh Ishqiya (2014), and the actual representation of it in the movie, which is not only restrained and disproportionate, but is also looked at with suspicion and contempt. It examines the logic of this seeming contradiction through the other two related themes that Chaubey's chef-d'œuvre foregrounds, namely that of intelligence and female desire. The quest for financial autonomy that the female protagonists of the movie are involved in-a necessary pre-condition for leading independent lives-is so inextricably intertwined with manipulation, dexterity, and subterfuge, that any overt expression of homoerotic female desire can only jeopardize their existing possibilities of self-aggrandizement. The heteronormative arrangements of Begum Para's palace thus constitute the elaborate mise en scène, behind which female desire is enacted through a politics of intelligence, resourcefulness, discretion, and anonymity. Through this strategic negotiation, which is also a tactical necessity, the female protagonists are not only able to con the con men in the movie, but also imagine alternative subject positions that recognize the need for both pragmatism and expediency as well as deconstructing heteropatriarchal economies of desire.


Bollywood; Dedh Ishqiya; Fire; female desire; homoeroticism; lesbian love

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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