I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to Madam Namrata Ganneri for such an extensive as well as informative article on Pahalwan masculinity. As a researcher studying masculinities in contemporary South Asian fiction, my work would be surely enriched by it.
Dr Ganneri's work is an exciting area of study that adds a new theme to the social and cultural history of western India, particularly Maharashtra using the analytical tools of gender and visual studies. It casts a historical lense on an under studied subject of indigenous sport (kushti, in this paper), by zooming in on the figure of the Pehelwan and a close reading of the images circulated through the early 20th century vernacular print culture. It relooks at the figure of the wrestler as a cultural symbol, affected by local and national ideals and shaped by many factors that are meticulously mapped. This paper looks at the time when image production and circulation were slow, expensive and limited. Hence their possession at an individual level meant a deeper relationship , an emotional connect and perhaps an education in what constitutes the ideal. I would also like to read more on the relationship between of agrarian society and these forms of sports, which the paper highlights in the beginning. The paper is a must read for anyone interested in popular culture, history and visual studies.
What a fascinating look into the pre-Independence physical culture of Indian wrestling and body building culture. I had not thought much of Parsi masculinity, especially its interest in muscular activities. This is one of only a handful of articles that look with such depth into the Vyayam encyclopedia that did a lot to popularise muscle culture in India. What I most appreciate is the description of how muscle culture developed due to the availability of photography and its inclusion in magazines. As well, the discussion around the legitimation process of these rustic, low-class cultural practices by the urban middle class that was trying to reclaim a sense of tradition and indigenous identity in opposition to the hegemonic standards of the colonial rulers is really quite interesting.