Cinema in India: Nation and Region

Home/ Cinema in India: Nation and Region
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSCC2FS1064

Semester and Year Offered: Winter

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr Rajan Krishnan and team

Email of course coordinator: rajan[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Course Objectives/Description:

This is the second course on Indian cinema in the MA programme that will help students identify the crafting of regional and national identity through film narratives. Further, the course also explores the ideological link between the spectator and the screen.

Course Outcomes:

Enable students to understand historical and theoretical ways of thinking about cinema. Thus, producing disciplinary knowledge of film studies.

Cinemas of India are part of the socio-political-cultural habitation in various regions. In asking students to investigate cinema in the region this course promotes a rigorous investigation of elements of gender, caste, local nuances etcetera. This in turn produces critical thinking, analytical reasoning and awareness of socio-political-cultural histories.

Given that this course engages with cinema in relationship to local, regional and national cinemas, it allows for multicultural competence.

This course allows for an engagement with a variety of regional forms of cinema, prompting discussions of various aesthetic values and an appreciation thereof.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

See reading list below.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • One midterm paper (30%)
  • One Final term paper (40%)
  • Class participation (30%)

Reading List:


Week 1

Benedict Anderson. 1991. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso.

Partha Chatterjee. 1996. “Whose Imagined Community?” in Gopal Balakrishnan ed. Mapping the Nation. London: Verso, pp. 214-225.

Screening: Fandry (Nagraj Manjule, 2013)

Week 2

Valentina Vitali. 2004. Nationalist Hindi Cinema: Questions of Film Analysis and Historiography, Kinema 22: 63-82.

Kaushik Bhaumik. 2008. Querying the “Traditional” Roots of Silent Cinema in Asia, Journal of the Moving Image 7.

Screening: Shaheed (Ramesh Saigal, 1948)

Week 3

Ravi Vasudevan. 2010. Geographies of the Cinematic Public: Notes on Regional, National and Global Histories of Indian Cinema. Journal of the Moving Image 9.

Madhava Prasad. 2011. Genre Mixing as Creative Fabrication, Bioscope: South Asian Screen Studies 2 (1): 69–81

South Asian Popular Culture 4 (2): Indian Cinema Abroad: Historiography of Transnational Cinematic Exchanges. Edited by Dimitris Eleftheriotis and Dina Iordanova.

Screening: Awara (Raj Kapoor, 1951)

Week 4

Mukul Kesawan. 1994. “Urdu, Awadh and the Tawaif: The Islamicate Roots of Hindi Cinema”, in Zoya Hasan ed. Forging Identities: Gender, Communities and the State in India. Kali: Delhi.

Valentina Vitali. 2000. The Families of Hindi Cinema: A Socio Historical Approach to Film Studies, Framework: the Journal of Cinema and Media 42.

Screening: Pakeezah (Kamal Amrohi, 1972)


Week 5: Kerala

Jenson Joseph. 2013. “Regional” Cinema or Products of Bricolage? An Introduction to Malayalam Studio Film of the Early 1950s, Bioscope: South Asian Screen Studies 4 (1).

Ratheesh Radhakrishnan. 2015. Thiruvithamkoor, Malabar, Kerala: Speculations on the Regions in ‘Regional Cinema’. BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies 6 (2).

Screening: Jeevithanauka (K Vembu, 1951)

Week 6: Telugu

S.V. Srinivas. 2013. “The Mythological Speech” in Politics as Performance: A Social History of the Telugu Cinema. Ranikhet: Permanent Black.

M. Madhava Prasad. 2014. “NTR: The Accidental Politician?” in Cine-Politics: Film Stars and Political Existence in South India. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan.

Further Reading: S.V. Srinivas. 2008. Cardboard Monuments: City, Language and 'Nation' in Contemporary Telugu Cinema, Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 29 (1): 87-100.

Screening: Sardar Paparayudu (Dasari Narayana Rao, 1980)

Week 7: Tamil

MSS Pandian. 2000. ‘Parasakthi: Life and Times of a DMK Film’, Reprinted in Ravi Vasudevan (ed.), Making Meaning in Indian Cinema. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Rajan Krishnan. 2008. “Imaginary Geographies: The Makings of ‘South’ in Contemporary Tamil Cinema”, in Selvaraj Velayutham ed. Tamil Cinema: The Cultural Politics of India's Other Film Industry. London: Routledge.

Screening: Parasakthi (R Krishnan & S Panju, 1952)

Week 8: Karnataka

M. Madhava Prasad. 2014. “Rajkumar, the Uncrowned King” in Cine-Politics: Film Stars and Political Existence in South India. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan.

M. Madhava Prasad. 2010. “Cinema as a site of Nationalist Identity Politics in Karnataka” in Sowmya Dechamma CC and Elavarthi Sathya Prakash (eds) Cinemas of South India: Culture, Resistance, Ideology. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Tharakeshwar V.B. 2010. “Visualizing Kannada in the Context of Postmodernity and Postcoloniality” in Sowmya Dechamma CC and Elavarthi Sathya Prakash (eds) Cinemas of South India: Culture, Resistance, Ideology. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Screening: Bangarada Hoovu (1967)

Week 9: Punjabi

Srijana Mitra Das. 2006. Partition and Punjabiyat in Bombay cinema: the cinematic perspectives of Yash Chopra and others, Contemporary South Asia 15 (4): 453-471.

Harjant S Gill. 2012. Masculinity, Mobility and Transformation in Punjabi Cinema: From Putt Jattan De to Munde UK De, South Asian Popular Culture 10 (2): 109-122.

Screening: Jutt and Juliet (Anurag Singh, 2012)

Week 10: Bengali

Sharmistha Gooptu. 2010. “Bengal and a National Cinema: New Theatres Ltd.” & “The Transition to a Regional Cinema” in Bengali Cinema: An Other Nation. New Delhi: Roli Books.

Bhaskar Sarkar. 2010. “Bengali Cinema: A Spectral Subnationality” in Mourning the Nation: Indian Cinema in the Wake of Partition. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan.

Screening: Agnipareeksha (Agradoot, 1954)

Week 11: Bhojpuri

Akshaya Kumar. Forthcoming. Bhojpuri Consolidations in the Hindi Territory: Infrastructure, Aesthetics and Competing Masculinities in North India. BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, 7 (2).

Ratnakar Tripathy. 2007. Bhojpuri Cinema: Regional Resonances in the Hindi Heartland, South Asian Popular Culture 5(2).

Further Reading: Akshaya Kumar. 2016. Bhojpuri cinema and the "rearguard": Gendered leisure, gendered promises, Quarterly Review of Film and Video 33(2): 151-175.

Screening: Jaan Tere Naam (Ramakant Prasad, 2013)


Week 12: The Region in Parallel Cinema & The Provincialising North

M. Madhava Prasad. 1998. “The Developmental Aesthetic” in Ideology of the Hindi Film: A Historical Construction. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Akshaya Kumar. 2013. Provincialising Bollywood? Cultural economy of north-Indian small-town nostalgia in the Indian multiplex, South Asian Popular Culture 11 (1): 61-74.

Screening: Haasil (Tigmanshu Dhulia, 2003)

Week 13:

S. V. Srinivas. 2013. Rajnikant in Japan: Indian “superstardom” and low value markets, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 14 (4): 615-634.

Akshaya Kumar. Forthcoming. “Consolidating Bollywood: Spectacularity Without Stardom”, in Sharon Heijin Lee, Monika Mehta, and Robert Ji-Song Ku (eds) From Bollywood to Hallyuwood: Mapping Power and Pleasure Across Pop Empires. University of Hawaii Press.

Screening: Baahubali (SS Rajamouli, 2015)