The elusive nature of cultural identity and the complexities of life in the Indian diaspora are among the abiding themes of Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, whose acclaimed books such as Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake are some of the most intimate depictions of the immigrant experience in contemporary American fiction. The latest episode in the Criterion Channel series Adventures in Moviegoing features Lahiri speaking with Rome Film Festival artistic director Antonio Monda about how the subjects that she explores in her work connect with her lifelong fascination with cinema. She traces her passion for movies back to her childhood spent in a household where the relative merits of Bengali masters Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak were regularly debated and the sounds of Bollywood musicals were ever-present. In the excerpt below, she explains how images of India—both in the work of the country’s most internationally renowned auteurs and in British films like Gandhi and A Passage to India—helped her to develop a sense of her heritage while growing up in the United States. Head over to the Criterion Channel to watch the full episode along with Lahiri’s selection of films, which share the same fine-grained attention to the natural world that distinguishes her writing. Also, check out the six previous installments in the series, including spotlights on writers Jonathan Lethem and Mary Karr.
Consuming the Cat: Brenda Lien Calls Out an Internet Fetish
In a short film now featured on the Criterion Channel, the German filmmaker interrogates our insatiable appetite for feline memes and what it says about our consumerist culture.
The Art of Lighting a Comedic Thriller
In the latest episode of Observations on Film Art, Professor Kristin Thompson explores how Ernst Lubitsch’s satirical masterpiece To Be or Not to Be employs a venerable cinematographic technique: three-point lighting.