Bollywood

Bollywood: Gods, Glamour, and Gossip

KUSH VARIA
Series: Short Cuts
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 144
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/vari666015
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  • Book Info
    Bollywood
    Book Description:

    While we have become familiar with the idea of "Bollywood" here in the West, we know little about the industry's films beyond a certain celebration of kitsch.Bollywood, the latest in Wallflower Press's Short Cuts introductory series, surveys this style of filmmaking from its origins in colonial times to the present, tracing its impact on both the Indian and global imagination. Chapters explore the history and workings of the industry, the narratives and aesthetics of its films, varieties within the genre, the cultural connotations of specific characters, its larger-than-life stars, and its hybrid and surprising fan cultures. Readings of popular and widely available films illustrate the importance of the cinema's conventions, which range from romantic clichés to a constant negotiation between tradition and modernity.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50260-3
    Subjects: Film Studies, History, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION: BOLLYWOOD–WHAT’S ALL THE SONG AND DANCE ABOUT?
    (pp. 1-4)

    Bollywood is one of the world’s leading film industries enjoyed by millions around the world. Fans flock to cinemas to witness its melodramatic narratives, decorated with very particular pleasures including song and dance. While the West has become familiar with the idea of Bollywood, little may be known about the industry and its movies beyond a certain celebration of kitsch. Bollywood is often derided for its sometimes flamboyant conventions, including the infamous cliché of running around trees. The particular pleasures of these devices may be lost on the uninitiated viewer who is at risk of being overwhelmed by the spectacular...

  5. 1 HISTORY AND INDUSTRY
    (pp. 5-30)

    During the late nineteenth century, a series of technological and economic changes, including the introduction of the printing press and the building of the railways, spurred a marked increase in India’s urban populations, particularly within the middle classes (see Stein 1998). This led to a boom in popular entertainment such as the performing arts and leading this was the Parsee theatre, based in Bombay. The Parsees are descendants of Zorastrians who left Persia around one thousand years ago and who largely settled on the western coast of India. The plays performed by the Parsee theatre groups varied from original works...

  6. 2 NARRATIVE AND GENRES
    (pp. 31-56)

    Bollywood films may broadly be described as musical melodramas. Their melodramatic framework is constructed of oppositional binaries, highly emotional scenes and matter-of-fact dialogue executed with what might be seen as ‘over-the-top’ acting. The narrative is interspersed with songs that often break from the regular story and may contain fantastic elements, including changes of locations and costume. This is often done to represent the protagonist’s inner-feelings and simultaneously provide a multitude of attractions for the audience. A subplot will be integrated, usually to provide moments of comic relief. The result is a narrative that strays away from the linear storytelling in...

  7. 3 CHARACTERS AND MORALITY
    (pp. 57-73)

    This chapter discusses some of the major character types that appear in Bollywood films. These characters are by no means set in stone and indeed some, like the vamp, have almost disappeared. Sometimes these characters are stereotypes and caricatures whilst at other times they are more ambiguous. Their presentation is also affected by issues of genre and the historical and social climate in which the films were produced. However, an overview of stock characters allows us to highlight various melodramatic stereotypes, cultural expectations and recurring personality traits.

    The two Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata , have had a...

  8. 4 SETTINGS AND STYLE
    (pp. 74-94)

    Cinema maintains audience interest and steers relationships with characters both through the manipulation of framing and the exchange of looks. The issue of the frontal address anddarshanwas briefly discussed earlier in regards to the adoption of popular calendar art into the religious sphere during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Rajadhyaksha (1987) has demonstrated that this convention was also apparent in the mythological films of Phalke, where the gods appeared centrally framed, bestowing blessings on devotees both within and beyond the frame. These particular studies locate the use ofdarshanin religious or pseudo-religious circumstances, but it...

  9. 5 STARS AND AUDIENCES
    (pp. 95-110)

    In his essay ‘Indian Popular Cinema as a Slum Eye’s View of Politics’, Ashis Nandy draws a parallel between the popular cinema and the slum which he sees as sharing ‘lower-middle-class sensibilities’ (1998: 2). He suggests that the slum is one of the primary results of modernisation in developing countries. Due to the hybrid intensity of the slum, which mixes fractured family units of various castes, ethnicities and religions who have migrated at differing times, the culture of the slum is constantly changing and adapting while trying to maintain a connection to the past through the continuation of tradition. It...

  10. CONCLUSION: BYE-BYE BOLLYWOOD?
    (pp. 111-112)

    This book has aimed to demonstrate that Bollywood has produced a variety of genres, themes, characters and stylistic conventions. Once the basic rationale behind these is understood, the films can be appreciated and understood in full. I have also noted how Bollywood has mutated and shifted through time, as a reaction to technological, socio-political and cultural changes providing an opportunity for Indians and India (as well as those of Indian origin around the world) to negotiate change. As has been seen, Bollywood has been a thriving industry but one which has also had moments of crisis. Today, more than ever,...

  11. FILMOGRAPHY
    (pp. 113-116)
  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 117-121)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 122-126)