Popular Indian cinema is clearly a worldwide phenomenon. But what often gets overlooked in this celebration is this cinema's intricate relationship with global dynamics since its very inception in the 1890s. With contributions from a range of international scholars, this volume analyses the transnational networks of India's popular cinema in terms of its production, narratives and reception.
The first section of the book, Topographies, concentrates on the globalised audio-visual economies within which the technologies and aesthetics of India's commercial cinema developed. Essays here focus on the iconic roles of actors like Devika Rani and Fearless Nadia, film-makers such as D.G. Phalke and Baburao Painter, the film Sant Tukaram, and aspects of early cinematography.
The second section, Trans-Actions, argues that the 'national fantasy' of Indian commercial cinema is an unstable construction. Essays here concentrate on the conversations between Indian action movies of the 1970s and other genres of action and martial arts films; the features of post-liberalisation Indian films designed to meet the needs of an 'imagined' global audience in the 1990s; and the changing metaphor of 'the vamp' as portrayed through desirous women in films with examples of the Anglo-Asian, the westernized Indian woman of 'low character', and the contemporary figure of the 'heroine'.
The final section, Travels, focuses on the overseas reception of Indian cinema with ethnographic case studies from Germany, Guyana, the USA, South Africa, Nigeria and Britain. The contributors highlight various issues concerning modernity, racial/ethnic identity, the gaze of the 'mainstream Other', gender, hybridity, moral universes, and the articulation of desire and disdain.
Overall, this volume provides valuable insights into a subject of immense historical and contemporary importance. It will attract a wide readership among those involved in film/media studies, cultural studies and anthropology.
About the Editors:
Raminder Kaur is Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Sussex.
Ajay J. Sinha is Associate Professor of Art History and Chair of the Film Studies Program at Mount Holyoke College, USA.
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