This book interrogates the vocabulary used in theorizing about Indian cinema to reach into the deeper cultural meanings of philosophies and traditions from which it derives its influences. It re-examines terms and concepts used in film criticism and contextualizes them within the aesthetics, poetics and politics of Indian cinema.
The book looks at terms and concepts borrowed from the scholarship on American and world cinema and explores their use and relevance in describing the characteristics and evolution of cinema in India. It highlights how realism, romance and melodrama in the context of India appear in a culturally singular way and how the aggregation of constituent elements – like songs, action, comedy – in Indian film can be traced to classical theatre and other diverse religious and philosophical influences. These influences have characterized popular film and drama in India which present all aspects of life for a diverse nation. The author explores concepts like ‘fantasy’, ‘family’ and ‘patriotism’ by using various examples from films in India and outside, as well as practices in the other arts. He identifies the fundamental logic behind the choices made by film-makers in India and discusses concepts which allow for a fresh theorizing on Indian cinema’s characteristics.
This book will be of great interest to students and researchers of film studies, media studies, cultural studies, literature, cultural history and South Asian studies. It will also be useful for general readers who are interested in learning more about Indian cinema, its forms, origins and influences.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Realism and Reality 2. Content, Interpretation and Meaning 3. Causality 4. Genealogy and Family 5. Romance and Marriage 6. Melodrama 7. Faith and Devotion 8. Fantasy 9. Station and Hierarchy 10. Humour or Comedy 11. Character and Individuality 12. Genres 13. National Cinema 14. Regional or Local Cinema 15. Orality and Literacy 16. Film Music 17. Film Art and the Avant-garde 18. Stardom 19. Place and Time 20. Ethics and Morality 21. Gender 22. Radicalism or Activism 23. Marginalization, Oppression and Disadvantage 24. Patriotism A Conclusion. Bibliography. Index.
MK Raghavendra is a film scholar and critic. He received the National Award for Best Film Critic in 1997 and was awarded a Homi Bhabha Fellowship in 2000–2001. He has authored four volumes of academic film scholarship criticism – Seduced by the Familiar: Narration and Meaning in Indian Popular Cinema , Bipolar Identity: Region, Nation and the Kannada Language Film , The Politics of Hindi Cinema in the New Millennium: Bollywood and the Anglophone Indian Nation , and Locating World Cinema: Interpretations of Film as Culture . He has also written two books on cinema for the general reader: 50 Indian Film Classics and Director’s Cut: 50 Film-makers of the Modern Era . His essays on Indian cinema find a place in Indian and international anthologies. He has also published extensively in Indian newspapers, periodicals and journals like The Indian Review of Books , Caravan , Economic and Political Weekly , Frontline, The Book Review and Biblio: A Review of Books . His writing has been translated into French, Polish and Russian. He has edited an anthology of writing on South Indian cinema, Beyond Bollywood : The Cinemas of South India , published in 2017. His book The Oxford India Short Introduction to Bollywood was published in 2016. He is the founder-editor of the online journal Phalanx, which is dedicated to debate.