This comprehensive volume marks a decisive turn in studies of Bengali language cinema by shifting the focus from auteur and text-based studies to exhaustive readings of the film industry. It covers a wide range of themes and issues, including: generic tropes (like comedy and action); iconic figurations (of the detective and the city); (female) stars such as Kanan Bala, Sadhana Bose and Aparna Sen; intensities of public debates (subjects of high and low cultures, taste, viewership, gender and sexuality); print cultures (including posters, magazines and song-booklets); cinematic spaces; and trans-media and trans-cultural traffic. By locating cinema within the crosscurrents of geo-political transformations, this book highlights the new and persuasive research that has materialised over the last decade. The authors raise pertinent questions regarding “regional” cinema as a category, in relation to “national” cinema models, and trace the non-linear journey of the popular via multiple (media) trajectories. They address subjects of physicality, sexuality and its representations, industrial change, spaces of consumption, and cinema’s meandering directions through global circuits and low-end networks. This book highlights the ever-changing contours of cinema in Bengal in all its popular forms, and proposes a new historiography. The chapters were originally published in the journal South Asian History and Culture.
1. Introduction: A brief introduction to popular cinema in Bengal: genre, stardom, public cultures
Madhuja Mukherjee and Kaustav Bakshi
Part I: Styles, Stars and Popular Forms
2. Rethinking popular cinema in Bengal (1930s–1950s): of literariness, comic mode, mythological and other avatars
3. Kanan Devi: a Bengali star
4. Performing the region: Sadhona Bose and the modern Bengali film dance
5. A postcolonial iconi-city: Re-reading Uttam Kumar’s cinema as metropolar melodrama
6. Filmfare and the question of Bengali cinema (1955–65)
7. From Teen Kanya to Arshinagar: feminist politics, Bengali high culture and the stardom of Aparna Sen
Kaustav Bakshi and Rohit K. Dasgupta
8. The action heroes of Bengali cinema: industrial, technological and aesthetic determinants of popular film culture, 1980s–1990s
Part II: Ray and Felu Mittir, the private detective
9. Feluda on Feluda: a letter to Topshe
10. Reviewing ‘Feluda on Feluda’: Maganlal Meghraj ‘Writes Back’ to Tapesh
11. Negotiating mobility and media: the contemporary digital afterlives of Feluda
Part III: Photo Essays: Public Cultures
12. A booklets sequence
13. Inside a dark hall: space, place, and accounts of some single-theatres in Kolkata
14. Rituparno Ghosh, performance arts and a queer legacy: an abiding stardom
15. A Rendezvous with the Ghosh Brothers: A Sneak Peek into Bengal’s Homegrown Exploitation Cinema
This books series offers a forum that will provide an integrated perspective on the field at large. It brings together research on South Asia in the humanities and social sciences, and provides scholars with a platform covering, but not restricted to, their particular fields of interest and specialization. Such an approach is critical to any expanding field of study, for the development of more informed and broader perspectives, and of more overarching theoretical conceptions.
The idea is to try to achieve a truly multidisciplinary forum for the study of South Asia under the aegis of which the established disciplines (e.g. history, politics, gender studies) and more recent fields (e.g. sport studies, sexuality studies) will enmesh with each other. A focus is also to make available to a broader readership new research on film, media, photography, medicine and the environment, which have to date remained more specialized fields of South Asian studies.
A significant concern for series is to focus across the whole of the region known as South Asia, and not simply on India, as most ‘South Asia' forums inevitably tend to do. The series is most conscious of this gap in South Asian studies and works to bring into focus more scholarship on and from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and other parts of South Asia.