This course is a selected introduction to the cinemas of India. Some of the questions we will ponder together include: how does India’s popular cinema draw on a unique stylistic vocabulary to reflect on love, crime, religion, and injustice? What might the extraordinary global popularity of industries like Bollywood and Nollywood teach us about the postcolonial condition? What other film cultures exist in India besides Bollywood, and how do they participate in transnational networks?
No prior experience or familiarity with Indian cinema is required: all you need to bring to class is an open mind and a willingness to engage with all kinds of films, including the wildly melodramatic! This course is designed as a Junior Research Seminar and will give students hands-on experience with a range of methodological approaches to the study of India’s distinctive film cultures. We will make trips to Van Pelt Library to look through pressbooks, posters and newspaper archives. Key texts will include popular classics, documentaries, as well as works by internationally acclaimed auteurs like Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mani Kaul. Final submissions may be in the form of a scholarly essay of 10-15 pages or a video essay (in consultation with the instructor).