Identifying the earliest examples that document partition in Bombay cinema, this article delves into the relationship between a historic trauma and physical comedy through the star performance of Meena Shorey in a trilogy of romantic comedies, Ek Thi Larki (Once There Was a Girl, 1949), Dholak (Drumbeats, 1951), and Ek Do Teen (One Two Three, 1953). In these films, the female protagonist wrestles men, scales walls, drives tractors, and makes a spectacle of herself, demonstrating a complete disregard for received ideas of femininity. Informed by her multiple marriages, irreverent religious conversions, switches in national location, and a disavowal of the “partition serious,” Meena's image in these comedies served as visual innuendo for the abducted woman. Adapting the trope of a piteous partition figure to explore the possibility of feminine liberation, the Shorey comedies bring about a radical cinematic recovery through the laughter-inducing abandon of their star comedienne.
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