Historicizing Myths in Contemporary India: Cinematic Representations and Nationalist / Fascist Agendas
Call for papers for a book approved for publication by Routledge, on Bollywood cinema, expected to fall within the interdisciplinary spaces of Cultural Studies, Film Studies and Postcolonial Studies.
Even as the air in Delhi grows increasingly toxic and poisonous, a fearful, dreaded specter is haunting the subcontinent today, just as toxic as the poisonous air. The rise and rise of Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism or political Hindu agenda that has engulfed India has also initiated the favorite pursuit of right wing of invoking the ‘glorious past’. This ‘glorious past is primarily being invoked by a surge of historical(s) in Bollywood.
Indian Popular Cinema has evolved through various genres and has successfully and consistently borrowed plots from History to create classics like Mughal-e-Azam (1960) and Meera (1979). As a technology, able to picture and embody the temporality of the past, cinema has become central to the mediation of collective memory through History. While past in representational terms has been figured in variations of Historical film- the costume drama, heritage picture or historical biopic from early cinema have come to surround the culture of the film.
Bollywood cinema as a popular cultural practice negotiates the socioeconomic and political discourses that define the social structures, the dialectical nature of this relationship creating a political dimension to the cultural processes at any given point in time. Contemporary India, at a critical juncture, opens up spaces for discussions and deliberations on the fast-paced social changes and a study of the politics of representations seems the need of the hour. Cinema responds in manifest ways and one genre, typically representative of the age of re-readings and re-writings of history, is the historical films. Historical films getting released in the last few years have been increasing in numbers and are often accompanied by controversies and debates on the veracity of these representations. Questions asked on the authenticity of these representations urge researchers to probe deeper into these works of art, as well as these questions being asked. The histories chosen, the protagonists selected, the narrative strategies employed, the target audience as well as the critics – all these multifarious aspects demand close reading and the proposed text seeks to explore them.
The progression of cinema as a political tool and cultural medium is rooted in the wider society; cinema has reacted to and in turn shaped the changing political, social and economic conditions of the times. The projection of past in a popular medium depends on various perceptions of history that has been in circulation in the popular culture. Till date cinema has borrowed representations of historicity from both academic and non-academic association with history.
Looking at History and its representation as a specific framework, we invite papers for proposed book chapters on Contemporary Cinema and Construction of History.
The book aims to blend academic papers and film screenings providing a platform to discuss cinematic historical interventions and transformations in India. Papers are expected to address but are not limited to:
- Construction of memory and identity
- Precision of digital and tactile past
- Aesthetic conception of propaganda
- Gender and depiction of historical moments
- Egomania and servitude in the depiction of historical battles
- The politics of reception and production
- The hero and the protagonist and the public imagination
- Imagining a past and its cinematic representation
The last date for submitting abstracts is March 15, 2020. Please mail your abstract of 500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org
Suggested Reading List
Landy, Marcia (1986) Fascism in Film: The Italian Commercial Cinema 1930-1943, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Kapur, Geeta (1987) ‘Mythic Material in Indian Cinema’, Journal of Arts and Ideas, vols 14-15, pp. 211-27
Laine, J. W. (2003) Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Jaffrelot, C. (1996) The Hindu Nationalists Movement and Indian Politics: 1925 to the 1990s, New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Hobsbawm, E. (1983) ‘Introduction: Inventing Traditions’, in E. Hobsbawm and T. Ranger, eds, The Invention of Tradition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sontag, S. (1981) Under the Sign of Saturn, US, Random House, Inc. New York.
Benjamin, W. (1936) ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, in Marxists.org, https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm