Closeted desires and open secrets : Raincoat and Noukadubi

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

View graph of relations



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-488
Journal / PublicationSouth Asian History and Culture
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


This article argues that key films of Indian director Rituparno Ghosh - Raincoat (2004) and Noukadubi (Boatwreck, 2011) - anatomize a condition of unrealized desire that is created by the social expectations and constraints of arranged marriage. This desire exists at a level of open secrecy, that is, it is at once acknowledged and disavowed. Specifically, through close analysis, it is demonstrated that Ghoshs films evoke the metaphor of the closet to characterize the mortifying ways in which desire is confined and denied within arranged marriage. By deploying the metaphor of the closet, these films also invite us to consider, albeit in a manner that is itself closeted or disguised, an analogy between the closet created by compulsory heterosexuality for those who are incipiently homosexual, and the rejection of love based on desire created by conditions of what is termed compulsory arrangement. This article thus explores the multifaceted ways that Ghosh anatomizes arranged marriage in terms of closeted desires and open secrets in a manner that articulates the particular saliency and cultural specificity of the closet in a society traditionally governed by rigorous social restraint upon the expression of desire. It proposes that Ghoshs work offers a specific genealogy of the closet in which closeted desires and the open secrets they engender emerge with their own distinctive history within the context of India and, arguably, South Asia more generally.

Research Area(s)

  • Arranged marriage, Closet, Compulsory heterosexuality, Desire, Queer