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MA2077 Beyond Bollywood

Tutor: Dr Manishita Dass

Teaching: 10 hours lectures, 10 hours seminars

Value: ½ unit

Availability: Autumn 


This course provides a critical overview of the history, aesthetics, and cultural politics of cinema in India (the country that produces the highest number of films in the world), with a special focus on the Hindi cinema produced in Bombay (Mumbai) and consumed around the world under the somewhat reductive label of “Bollywood.”

Throughout its history, Indian cinema has attracted audiences across its borders (in Asia, Africa, the former Soviet bloc, and the Middle East), assimilated a wide range of global cinematic influences and prevented Hollywood from making inroads into its home territory. While taking account of historical developments, we will focus on the interplay between the national and the transnational in the making of Indian film cultures during two crucial periods of transformation:

1) The 1950s (India’s first decade of independence), when Bombay cinema’s rise to national and international prominence was paralleled by the emergence of an alternative Indian cinema with a different kind of international profile

2) The 1990s to the present, when Bombay cinema re-invents itself in an attempt to attract diasporic and international audiences on the one hand, and niche audiences in a rapidly globalizing India on the other.

Our forays into the Indian cinematic landscape of the 1950s and the present will equip students with analytical tools for exploring Bombay cinema’s formal complexities and cross-cultural appeal, its dialogues with other Indian cinemas and “world cinema,” and its crucial role in imagining the Indian nation.



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