Understanding Indian Movies: Culture, Cognition, and Cinematic Imagination

Understanding Indian Movies: Culture, Cognition, and Cinematic Imagination

Understanding Indian Movies: Culture, Cognition, and Cinematic Imagination

Understanding Indian Movies: Culture, Cognition, and Cinematic Imagination

Synopsis

Indian movies are among the most popular in the world. However, despite increased availability and study, these films remain misunderstood and underappreciated in much of the English-speaking world, in part for cultural reasons. In this book, Patrick Colm Hogan sets out through close analysis and explication of culturally particular information about Indian history, Hindu metaphysics, Islamic spirituality, Sanskrit aesthetics, and other Indian traditions to provide necessary cultural contexts for understanding Indian films. Hogan analyzes eleven important films, using them as the focus to explore the topics of plot, theme, emotion, sound, and visual style in Indian cinema. These films draw on a wide range of South Asian cultural traditions and are representative of the greater whole of Indian cinema. By learning to interpret these examples with the tools Hogan provides, the reader will be able to take these skills and apply them to other Indian films. But this study is not simply culturalist. Hogan also takes up key principles from cognitive neuroscience to illustrate that all cultures share perceptual, cognitive, and emotional elements that, when properly interpreted, can help to bridge gaps between seemingly disparate societies. Hogan locates the specificity of Indian culture in relation to human universals, and illustrates this cultural-cognitive synthesis through his detailed interpretations of these films. This book will help both scholars and general readers to better understand and appreciate Indian cinema.

Excerpt

For anyone interested in film, the importance of Indian cinema can hardly be overstated. It is the largest film industry in the world, and probably second only to Hollywood in global influence. Vijay Mishra points out that Indian films are seen “by an average of 11 million people each day” (1). Jigna Desai explains that “Indian cinema has a long past and has been an international cinema familiar to viewers from Russia and the Middle East to parts of Asia and Africa for many decades” (40). Kabir notes that “Indian films are unquestionably the most-seen movies in the world” (Bollywood 1).

Yet, as Desai also remarks, Indian cinema has been “unknown to many Westerners” (40). Fortunately, this is changing. The wide availability of DVDs with English subtitles has made Indian movies more accessible in the west. The presence of a growing Indian diaspora has also helped to introduce Indian films to English and American viewers. The expanding interest in Indian movies is evident in the recent publication of many works on Indian cinema, and perhaps even more importantly in the influence of Indian cinema on such popular western movies as Moulin Rouge. The growth of scholarly study on Indian films, along with the increased impact of these films on western directors, shows the degree to which Bollywood . . .

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