Popular Cinema in Bengal: Genre, Stars, Public Cultures, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Popular Cinema in Bengal

Genre, Stars, Public Cultures, 1st Edition

Edited by Madhuja Mukherjee, Kaustav Bakshi


248 pages

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Hardback: 9780367330828
pub: 2019-11-01
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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.

Table of Contents

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

Madhuja Mukherjee

3. Kanan Devi: a Bengali star

Sharmistha Gooptu

4. Performing the region: Sadhona Bose and the modern Bengali film dance

Pritha Chakrabarti

5. A postcolonial iconi-city: Re-reading Uttam Kumar’s cinema as metropolar melodrama

Sayandeb Chowdhury

6. Filmfare and the question of Bengali cinema (1955–65)

Anustup Basu

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

Spandan Bhattacharya

Part II: Ray and Felu Mittir, the private detective

9. Feluda on Feluda: a letter to Topshe

Rochona Majumdar

10. Reviewing ‘Feluda on Feluda’: Maganlal Meghraj ‘Writes Back’ to Tapesh

Kaushik Bhaumik

11. Negotiating mobility and media: the contemporary digital afterlives of Feluda

Pujita Guha

Part III: Photo Essays: Public Cultures

12. A booklets sequence

Moinak Biswas

13. Inside a dark hall: space, place, and accounts of some single-theatres in Kolkata

Madhuja Mukherjee

14. Rituparno Ghosh, performance arts and a queer legacy: an abiding stardom

Kaustav Bakshi

15. A Rendezvous with the Ghosh Brothers: A Sneak Peek into Bengal’s Homegrown Exploitation Cinema

Subhajit Chatterjee

About the Editors

Madhuja Mukherjee is Associate Professor of Film Studies at Jadavpur University, India. Her publications include New Theatres Ltd.: The Emblem of Art, The Picture of Success (2009), Aural Films, Oral Cultures (2012), and the award-winning anthology Voices of the Talking Stars (2017). She is co-editor of Industrial Networks and Cinemas of India. Kaustav Bakshi is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Jadavpur University, India. A Charles Wallace Fellow, he has worked on Anglophone Sri Lankan Literature for his doctoral thesis. His published books include Anxieties, Influences and After: Critical Responses to Postcolonialism and Neocolonialism (2009) and Rituparno Ghosh: Cinema, Gender, and Art (2017).

About the Series

Routledge South Asian History and Culture Series

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.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies