Bombay cinema or the now more popularly known “Bollywood” is a global media industry which finds itself thoroughly entangled with prevalent lifestyles, prescribed gender roles, and censorship practices in India and the world at large. We begin by studying the origins of Indian cinema in the silent era, but soon enough, focus on the Bollywood films produced since the 1950s. The course interrogates Bollywood’s relationship to Indian national history and national identity. We will also be exploring the frictions and generative linkages between Bollywood and the Indian regional cinema and art-house cinema.
Through close analysis of a number of landmark films, the course offers an opportunity to appreciate the narrative, aesthetic, and political aspects of Bollywood cinema: Why are there so many song-and-dance sequences in these films? What roles does melodrama play in Bollywood cinema? What shifting political contexts have shaped the ideological representations in the films? Can these distinguishing features of Bollywood help us think anew the standard notions of film theory and history? Later in the course, we adopt an intermedial approach to examine how musical reality shows, radio FM channels, mobile phone ringtones, and YouTube parody videos help Bollywood build and reimagine its local, national, and transnational audiences, including the diaspora."