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You Don’t Belong: Pasts and Futures of Indian Cinema

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You Don’t Belong: Pasts and Futures of Indian Cinema
Ashish Rajadhyaksha
Shanghai People's Publishing House
Publication Date: 
January, 2012
Book Size: 


India is well known for being the ‘largest filmmaking country’ in the world. Less clear is what this fact signifies for the subcontinent’s social reality.

The present book, You Don’t Belong: Pasts and Futures of Indian Cinema, accompanies a major film package of more than 30 film titles, to provide a kaleidoscope of the experimental face of the Indian cinema. When the technology of cinema was invented in the beginning of the 20th century with the piquant theory of a persistence of vision, there was no evidence of how such a ‘vision’ could make sense in a world beyond the European Renaissance, or why such a technology would make its natural home in Asia.

From the early part of the 20th century, India has had a significantly larger market for its own local cinema than for imports, even though the total budget of the entire Indian cinema may be no more than that of perhaps two Hollywood blockbusters. While it is a huge market, it is also a low-end, dispersed market, best understood culturally rather than economically, in the way the cinema percolates into the very fabric of subcontinental society.

The movie theatre was a major new entity signaling the emergent public domain, and as such it also enshrined many new social rights. But where were these rights to be located, and how were they to be narratively enacted? If in the 1960s, the natural location for the enactment of public rights, enshrined by the Constitution and enacted by a still-alive developmental state, was India’s urban slum, as Ashish Nandy’s iconic essay of 1998 claimed, in the 2000s these rights are being primarily worked out on a digital domain, and the threats facing the Indian state are internet porn and cyber-terrorism, as Nishant Shah showed in 2007.

This volume of essays covers writing on the Indian cinema over the past thirty years, and seeks to capture the way India’s social science theory has sought to understand the cinematic phenomenon.


Introduction: the Pasts and Futures of Indian Cinema – Ashish Rajadhyaksha

Section 1: The State and the Bazaar
1.    Politics and Ideology: The Foundations of Bazaar Realism (1982) – Kumar Shahani
2.    Indian Popular Cinema As A Slum’s Eye View of Politics (1998) – Ashis Nandy (excerpts)
3.    Cultural Creativity in the First Decade: The Example of Satyajit Ray (1993) – Geeta Kapur (excerpts)
4.    The Moment of Disaggregation (1998) – Madhava Prasad
5.    The Developmental Aesthetic (1998) – Madhava Prasad
6.    Shifting Codes, Dissolving Identities: the Hindi Social Film of the 1950s as Popular Culture (2000) – Ravi Vasudevan
7.    A Theory of the Cinema That Can Account for the Indian Cinema (2009) – Ashish Rajadhyaksha

Section 2: Virtual Futures

1.    The ‘Bollywoodization’ of the Indian cinema: cultural nationalism in a global arena (2003) – Ashish Rajadhyaksha
2.    Subject to Technology: Internet Pornography, Cyber-terrorism and the Indian State (2007) – Nishant Shah
3.    Friction, Collision and the Grotesque: The Dystopic Fragments of Bombay Cinema (2010) – Ranjani Majumdar
4.    Changing Scenes (2010) – Moinak Biswas
5.    For The Songs to Tell (2010) – Moinak Biswas
6.    The City in Cinema, and Cinemas in the City: South City Mall and Solace (2010) – Madhuja Mukherjee
7.    Dotting the I: The Politics of Self-less-ness in Indian Documentary Practice (2011) – Paromita Vohra

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