From Chudail to Devi: Analysing Death, Evil, and Monstrous Femininity in Bulbbul
Throughout India, particularly northern India, the chudail or the demon-woman is a dominant figure in popular mythical imagination. Depicted as a woman with scruffy long hair and backwards-turned feet, the chudail is the archetypal femme fatale. She is the ‘monstrous-feminine’, to borrow Barbara Creed’s (2007) term, the embodiment of death and evil. Opposed to popular belief, however, the construction of the chudail in Anvita Dutt’s movie Bulbbul (2020) permits the existence of ‘good’ chudails. Dutt’s movie, while adapting the chudail myth for a contemporary audience, explores the manner in which the female body becomes a site of patriarchal oppression. With close reference to the movie, this paper explores how death becomes the medium through which the oppressed woman finds a way to regain her social agency. The paper claims that the chudail’s act of inflicting death on its prey functions as a folkloric system of justice whereby evil is punished and the destitute offered divine sanctuary. The study will undertake an in-depth analysis of the death scenes in Bulbbul to show how the event of death translates into a metaphor for the consumption of evil.
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