The Cinematic Imagination: Indian Popular Films as Social History

The Cinematic Imagination: Indian Popular Films as Social History

The Cinematic Imagination: Indian Popular Films as Social History

The Cinematic Imagination: Indian Popular Films as Social History

Synopsis

India produces more films than any other country and these works are consumed by non-Western cultures in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and by Indian communities across the world. This text focuses on how such a dominant media configures the 'nation' in post-Independence Hindi cinema.

Excerpt

A scandal in cinema studies of the last few decades has been the lack of attention paid to Indian popular cinema, the world's largest film industry. At a recent Society for Cinema Studies' plenary a panelist's speculations about the vanishing 1970s' style energy in film studies initiated an animated debate. The discussion failed to acknowledge that underlying this stagnation is the field's saturation with Hollywood and western cinema—that film studies stands at the brink of a sea change if we “unthink” Eurocentricism, decenter Hollywood/western cinema, and explore nonwestern film cultures, and that multicultural comparative film studies curricula will provide the sorely needed disciplinary reinvigoration. Though attention to national cinema is an index of growing interest in “other” cinema literatures, it is still light years from dislodging Hollywood's centrality in film studies.

It is therefore appropriate to caution against the current rush to declare the internationalization of cultural studies still under Euro-Anglian hegemony. Such premature proclamations at best signal a desire to include diverse cultural economies in media studies. However, demanding an international approach to cultural studies and a place for Indian national cinema is not meant to invoke a simple-minded nationalimperial opposition, indict the west's homogenizing influence, or valorize a national claim to cultural sovereignty.

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