Stardom, Industry, Commerce

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSCC2FS1074

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

No pre-requisites.

Course Objectives/Description:

The course tries to understand the phenomenon of stardom from the film studies and sociological points of view. It uses a range of theoretical literature discussing the phenomenon. This stardom course has been designed keeping in mind that students are in their dissertation writing semester and will be able to use readings from the course as their initiation into issues of research methodology in cinema studies. The course is divided into film theory, analytical and reflective readings along with excerpts from film magazines, news pieces and digital media. The idea is not only to discuss issues concerning the phenomenal presence of star texts in mainstream cinema but also to critically examine the impact of star images in national and global cinematic imaginations. While film theory understands the star as an imaginary around which several socio-cultural and political issues emerge, the reading components on film industries delve into how star constructions are negotiated for inventing and re-inventing industrial discourses and practices. The arc of the course begins with the emergence of star image in the studio era, articulation of female stardom, shifts in the materialities of cinema, mapping "Bollywood" and "Tollywood" and closes with fandom and digital practices.

Course Outcomes:

  • Enable students to understand historical and theoretical ways of thinking about cinema. Thus, producing disciplinary knowledge of film studies.
  • Cinemas are part of the socio-political-cultural habitation in various regions. In asking students to investigate cinematic stardom, 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 cinematic stardom in relationship to local, regional and national cinemas, it allows for multicultural competence.
  • This course focuses on the star with a particular bent towards research methods for film studies, promoting research-related skills.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

See reading list below.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Class Participation: 20%
  • Presentation: 30%
  • Mid Term Paper: 20%
  • End Term Paper: 30%

Reading List:

Week 1.1- Introduction

Edgar Morin, “Gods and Goddesses” in The Stars: An Account of the Star System in Cinema, 1957. *

Martin Shingler, “Star Quality: In Search of the Prerequisites of Stardom” in Star Studies: A Critical Guide, London: British Film Institute, 2013.

Week 1.2- Star and Materiality

Ranjani Mazumdar, “The Bombay Film Poster”, Seminar 525: Unsettling Cinema, May 2003, 33-41.

Ranjani Mazumdar, Film stardom after Liveness”, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 833-844. 2012*

Week 3-4 Stardom: Issues and Debates

Richard Dyer, “Stars as Social Phenomenon”, “Stars as Images” in The Stars, London: British Film Institute, 1998, 1-47.*

Christine Geraghty, “Re-examining Stardom: Questions of texts, Bodies and Performances” in Christine Gledhill and Linda Williams ed. Reinventing Film Studies. Arnold Publishers: 2000, 183-201.

Film Screening: My Week with Marilyn (2011) Dir. Simon Curtis

Week: 5 Negotiating the Industry

Excerpts from Indian Cinema: Contemporary Perceptions from the Thirties. Edited. Samik Bandyopadhyay. Celluloid Chapter. 1993

Niranjan Pal, “India and the Film Industry” in Filmland, May 1931.

Sultan Mirza, “Overflow from the Pen of a Sufferer” in Filmland, February 1931.

A Lady Artiste, “Should Respectable Ladies Join Films” in Filmland, September 1931.

Sabita Devi, “Why Shouldn’t Respectable Ladies Join the Films” in Filmland, September 1931.

Week 6 Negotiating the Industry: Studio Era

Debashree Mukherjee, “Notes on the Scandal: Writing Women’s Film History Against an Absent Archive”, Bioscope: South Asian Screen Studies, June 2013 4: 9-30.*

Recommended Reading:

Neepa Majumdar, Excerpts from Wanted Cultured Ladies Only!: Female Stardom and Cinema in India 1930s-1950s, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009

Week 7: Star, Industry and Film History

Robert C.Allen and Douglas Gomery, “Social Film History: The Role of a Star in Film History” in Film History: Theory & Practice: New York: Mc Graw Hill, Inc., 1985, 173-189.

Danae Clark, “The Actor’s (Absent) Role in Film Studies” in Negotiating Hollywood: The Cultural Politics of Actor’s Labor. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1-17.

Week 8.1: Star and Performance

Shohini Ghosh, “The Importance of Being Madhuri” in Zee Premiere, December 2000, 165-169. *

Usha Iyer, “Stardom Ke Peeche Kya Hai: Madhuri Dixit, the Production Number and the Construction of the Female Star Text in 1990s Hindi Cinema” in Camera Obscura 90, Vol 30, No. 3, Duke University Press, 2015.

Week 8.2 Film Screening: Filmistaan (2012) Dir. Nitin Kakkar

Week 9: Stardom, Media and Industry: Shifting Sites I

Tejaswini Ganti, “How the Hindi Film Industry Became “Bollywood”” in Producing Bollywood: Inside the Contemporary Hindi Film Industry, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2012.

Aswin Punathambekar, “Introduction” in from Bombay to Bollywood: The Making of a Global Media Industry, New York and London: New York University Press, 2013, 1-24. *

Week 10: Heralding the Digital: Fandom, Memory and the Star

Mahesh Bhatt, Rajesh Khanna: The Star Who Died Twice” in The Times of India: The Crest Edition, July 21, 2012.

Abhija Ghosh, Afterlife of the Nineties in the Virtual Public Sphere,, 2015.

Week 10.2 :Politics of the Star Image: The Case of Fan

Tanul Thakur, “The Fan: Has Shah Rukh Khan copied a Shah Rukh Khan Lookalike” in The Caravan, May 2016. (

Week 11 : Stardom, Media and Industry: Shifting Sites II

Shanti Kumar, “Mapping Tollywood: The Cultural Geography of “Ramoji Film City” in Hyderabad” in Quarterly Review of Film and Video, 2009, 129-138. *

S.V. Srinivas, “Rajnikant in Japan: Indian “Superstardom” and “Low Value Markets”, Inter Asia Cultural Studies. Volume 14, Number 4, 615-634*

Week 12: Politics of the Star Text: The Case of Kabali

Kartikeyan Damodaran, “Kabali Destabilizes the Established Idioms of Tamil Cinema” in The Wire, July 2016 (

Karthick Ram Manoharan, “The Missing Periyar and the Curious Tamil Nationalism of Kabali” Economic and Political Weekly, Vol 51, Issue 33, August 2016.

Film Screening: Pa. Ranjith Kabali (2016)