Call CNTV office @ 740-3334 to make an appointment
Thursdays LUC 307, 10-11:50
LUC 207, 12-3:50
TA: Veena Hariharan, email@example.com
Office Hours: 6-7PM, Monday, TA Office
“Indians suffer from a particularly virulent case of movie madness,” Anupama Chopra, King of Bollywood, 5.
“When I moved to America I would watch Hindi movies for nostalgia’s sake; it was the cheapest round-trip ticket home, four bucks at the Eagle Cinema in Jackson Heights. Then, in college and beyond, I stopped, finding them increasingly absurd and pointless,” Suketu Mehta, Maximum City, 352.
Salman’s Rusdhie’s Satanic Verses, the center of many controversies, is as much a satire of the secular as it is a satire of the sacred. Its protagonists Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha are, respectively, a Bollywood star and a voice-over artist. The epic scale of Hindi cinema—more than 800 movies a year!, three hour long films!, temples and elections devoted to stars!, billboards bigger than buildings!, the last cultural dominion against Hollywood!—lends itself easily to accounts that run the gamut from gentle mockery to enthusiastic acclaim of its audience’s religious fervor. This class is an immersive study of Urdu-Hindi language cinema and its history, with a constant (and necessary) meta-critical eye on the terms of its popular and scholarly reception.
At the most basic level, this class offers a history of Hindi language Indian popular cinema. But historical knowledge cannot be a simple affair when narratives about Indian cinema have been marked by great ambivalence on the part of the state, cultural theorists, literate elite, and the West. So our study must be equally an investigation into why (and if) we must take the “popular” seriously, and what vocabularies are suitable to discuss the “popular” in non-Western realms. For instance, how must we account for distinctions or similarities between Hollywood and Indian cinema when we use terms like melodrama, when we discuss gender and sexuality, consider class, assess genre, or encounter the term “Bollywood”?
For this task, we will also need to be self-reflexive about our own practices of spectatorship and taste cultures. In conjunction with our dialogue with course readings, it will be important to evolve a critical vocabulary for how we receive and respond to the film screenings: How do we categorize or evaluate them?; What registers of our pleasure, boredom, distaste, laughter, or appreciation do they awaken? Seminar participants are not expected to have prior knowledge of Indian cinema, but will be expected to do a fair amount of course reading and independent research to orient themselves to current events in Indian politics, society and culture. References to resources are provided in the syllabus and will be updated over the semester.
Primary Course Objectives
- To acquire an overview of Urdu/Hindi language Indian popular cinema and its primary modes of theorization
- To assess non-Eurocentric modes of analyzing popular cinema produced and circulated outside the west
- To formulate a de-centered vision through which we may revisit such apparently place-neutral terms as “subject,” “modernity,” “femininity” and “masculinity” “sexuality,” “democracy” and “pleasure.”
1. Priya Jaikumar. Cinema at the End of Empire. Duke University Press, 2006.
2. Ranjani Mazumdar. Bombay Cinema. University of Minnesota, 2007.
4. M. Madhava Prasad, Ideology of the Hindi Film: A Historical Construction. Oxford University Press, 2000.
5. Course Reader at Magic Machine University Graphics, University Village.
(nb: All films will be discussed the week after the screenings and all readings will be due for the week they are listed. “Secondary Films’ will be on a DVD provided by me, and will be required at-home viewing for the next week’s presenters). Week one. 01/17
Screenings: Excerpts of Silent Indian features: 1. D. G. Phalke Kalia Mardan and Sri Krishna Janma (circa 1918); 2. Excerpt of early comedy, unnamed; 3. Himansu Rai and Franz Osten, The Light of Asia (1925)
Feature Screening: Black Narcissus (English, Powell and Pressburger, UK, 1947)
Assignment: Visit all the websites listed below.
Week two. 01/24
Colonialism, Conflict and Cosmopolitanism
Readings: 1. The Light of Asia entries on Kalia Mardan, Lanka Dahan and Sri Krishna Janma (CR); 2. Suresh Chabria, “Before our eyes: A short history of India’s silent cinema” The Light of Asia (3-24), (CR); 3. Jaikumar, Introduction and Chapters One, Two, Three and Six.
Screening: Phalke, Sant Tukaram (Marathi, 1936); Secondary Film, Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra (silent, 1913).
Week three. 01/31
The Mythic and the Social
Readings: 1. Neepa Majumdar on Sant Tukaram, forthcoming in 24 Frames (CR); 2. Contemporary reviews of the film from Bapu Watve, V. Damle and S. Fattelal: A Monograph (CR); 3. Sean Cubitt, "Phalke, Melies, and Special Effects Today", Wide Angle - Volume 21, Number 1, January 1999, pp. 115-130 (CR and Project Muse) (CR); 4. Jaikumar, Chapter Seven, pp. 195-205; 227-238.
Recommended: Ravi Vasudevan, “Devotional Transformation: Miracles, Mechanical Artifice, and Spectatorship in Indian Cinema.” Postscripts 1.2/1.3 (Aug./Nov. 2005): 237-257 (Ask TA if interested).
Readings: 1. Rajadhyaksha and Willeman, Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema, entry on Raj Kapoor (CR); 2. Sumita Chakravarty, “Culture/Nation” in National Identity in Popular Indian Cinema (CR); 3. Rosie Thomas, “Melodrama and the Negotiation of Morality in Mainstream Hindi Film,” in Consuming Modernity (CR); 4. Ravi Vasudevan, “Addressing the spectator of a third world national cinema”, Screen 1995 (CR); 5. Excerpt from Behind the Scenes of Hindi Cinema, ed. By Johans Manschot and Marijke de Vos (Handout)
Readings: 1. Rajadhyaksha and Willeman, entry on Dev Anand (CR); 2. Richard Allen, “To Catch a Jewel Thief: Hitchcock and Indian Modernity” (forthcoming 2008) (CR); 3. Ranjani Majumdar, Bombay Cinema: The Archive of a City, Introduction and Chapter Three, “Desiring Women”; 4. Miriam Hansen “The mass production of the senses: Classical Cinema as Vernacular Modernism” in Reinventing Film Studies (CR); 5. Corey Creekmur, “Picturizing American Cinema: Hindi Film Songs and the last days of genre” from Soundtrack Available (CR).
Readings: 1. Rajadhyaksha and Willeman, entry on Satyajit Ray (CR); 2. Mira Reym Binford, "India's Two Cinemas" in John D.H. Downing (ed.) Film and Politics in the Third World;3. Partha Chatterjee, "The Nation and its Women" from TheNation and its Fragments (CR); 4. Nicholas Dirks, "Home and the World" in Revisioning History (CR); 5. Moinak Biswas, "Introduction" in Apu and After (CR).
Recommended: Ravi Vasudevan, "Nationhood, Authenticity and Realism" in Apu and After (This discusses Charulata; ask TA if interested).
Screening: Guru Dutt, Pyaasa (Hindi/Urdu, 1957); Secondary Film: Guru Dutt, Kaagaz ke Phool (Hindi/Urdu, 1959)
Week seven. 02/28
Neglected Auteurs, Suppressed Discourses Readings: 1. Rajadhyaksha and Willeman, entry on Guru Dutt (CR); 2. Corey Creekmur on Pyaasa (Thirst) in 24 Frames (CR); 3. Nasreen Munni Kabeer, "Pyaasa" in Guru Dutt: A Life in Cinema (CR); 4. “Guru Dutt: Such Sweet Sorrow” Sight and Sound. 16, no. 3, (2006) (CR); 5. Sumita Chakravarty, “Woman and the Burden of Poscoloniality”in National Identity in Popular Indian Cinema (CR); 6. Mukul Kesavan, “The Islamicate” in Forging Identity: Gender, Community and the State in India (CR).
Recommended: Chapter Two “Film Style: Settings and Costume” from Dwyer and Patel, Cinema India: The visual culture of Indian film
Screening: Shyam Benegal, Ankur (Hindi, 1974)
Week eight. 03/06
Subalternity and The New Cinema Movement
No class presentation or meeting as I will be away at SCMS. We will have a scheduled screening. Screening: Sholay (Hindi, 1975); Secondary Film: Deewar (Hindi, 1975).
Week nine. 03/13
Crisis of State in Popular and Alternative Cinema
Readings: 1. Madhava Prasad, Ideology of the Hindi Film, Chapters Two, Five and Six; 2. Koushik Naberjea, “’Fight Club’: Aesthetics, Hybridization and the Construction of Rougue Masculinities in Sholay and Deewar” from Bollyworld (CR); 3. Ranajit Guha, “Prose of Counterinsurgency,” excerpt from Guha ed. Subaltern Studies II (CR; complete essay available on request).
Recommended: Neepa Majumdar, “The Embodied Voice: Song Sequences and Stardom in Bombay Cinema” in Soundtrack Available; Anupama Chopra, Sholay: The Making of a Classic.
Screening: Basu Chatterjee, Choti si Baat (Hindi, 1975); Secondary Film: TBA (Abhiman, Rajnigandha or Gharonda).
Week ten. 03/20
Week eleven 03/27
Classed Spheres of Circulation and Aspiration
Readings: 1. Suketu Mehta, Maximum City, Chapters “Personal Geography,” and “Mumbai.” 2. Rajadhyaksha and Willeman on Basu Chatterjee (CR); 3. Rachel Dwyer “The Rise of the Middle Classes of Bombay” and “Shooting Stars: The Film Magazine Stardust” in All You Want is Money, All You Need is Love (CR); 4. Madhava Prasad, Ideology of the Hindi Film, Chapter 7; 5. Manjunath Pendakur, “In The Throes of Change: Exhibition, Production and Distribution,” in Indian Popular Cinema (CR); 6. Jeebesh Bagchi, “Acceleration and Conflicts: Comments on the Cinematic Object in the 1990s and After,” Journal of the Moving Image, no, 5, December 2006 (CR); 7. Lakshmi Srinivas, “The active audience” in Media, Culture and Society (CR).
Readings: 1. Suketu Mehta, Maximum City, “Powertoni”; 2. Sa’adat Hasan Manto, “Toba Tek Singh” from Translating Partition (CR); 3. The Roja Debates from Economic and Political Weekly (Niranjana, Chakravarty, Srinivas and Niranjana) (CR); 4. Nicholas B. Dirks, “The Home and the Nation: Consuming Culture and Politics in Roja,” in Pleasure and the Nation (CR).
Recommended: Ravi Vasudevan, “Voice, Space, Form: Roja (Manirathnam, 1992), Indian Film and National Identity.” in Not on any Map: Essays in Postcoloniality and Cultural Nationalism
Screening: Karan Johar, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (Hindi, 1998); Secondary Film: Farhan Akhtar, Dil Chahta Hai (Hindi, 2001)
Week thirteen. 04/10
Etymologies of Bollywood Cinema Readings: 1. Madhava Prasad, “This Thing Called Bollywood” (CR); 2. Ranjani Majumdar, Bombay Cinema, Chapter Four; 3. Geetanjali Gangoli, “Sexuality, Sensuality and Belonging,” in Bollyworld (CR); 4. Thomas Blom Hansen, “In Search of the Diasporic Self,” in Bollyworld (CR); 5. Brian Larson, “Bandiri Music, Globalization and Urban Experience in Nigeria,” from Bollyworld (CR); 6. Anupama Chopra, Chapters 12, King of Bollywood (CR).
Recommended: Corey Creekmur, “Bombay Boys” in Where the Boys Are on hindi films and masculinity (CR).
Readings: 1. Anupama Chopra, Chapter 14, King of Bollywood (CR); 2. Suketu Meha, Maximum City, “Distilleries of Pleasure” (note: “Black Collar Workers” is also about the underworld, but not required reading); 3. Corey Creekmur, “Bombay Bhai: The Gangsters in / Behind Popular Hindi Cinema” in Cinema, Law and the State in Asia (CR); 4. Ranjani Majumdar, Bombay Cinema, Chapter Five; 5. Jigna Desai, “South Asian Diasporas and Transnational Cultural Studies” from Beyond Bollywood; 6. Nitin Govil, “Something Spatial in the Air” from Media Space (CR); 7. Aparna Sharma, “India’s Experience with the Multiplex” in Seminar (CR).
Screening: My Mother India (Safina Uberoi, 2001). Assignment: Circulate film journals in class.
Week fifteen. 04/24
Documentary in the Transnational Age
Readings: 1. Talal Asad, "Reflections on Laicite and the Public Sphere", Keynote address at the "Beirut Conference on Public Spheres," October 22-24, 2004; 2. Partha Chatterjee, "Fasting for Bin Laden: The Politics of Secularization in Contemporary India" in Powers of the Secular Modern. NO PRESENTATION: Open discussion led by Veena Hariharan.
Screening: In lieu of a screening, you are required to attend any one film of the Indian film festival of Los Angeles at the Arclight Cinema, Hollywood.
Assignment: Turn in film journals to me.
Week sixteen. 05/01
Graduate Presentations on Final Papers as Works in Progress
Assignments and Expectations
1. Class Presentation (30%): This seminar is constructed around your participation, and that will be a core requirement. Every week, one (or two) people will lead discussion on the film screened in class, with reference to the readings. The secondary film extends the presenter’s range, and can be brought in for clips if so desired. Your discussion can be framed around central aspects of the film, and how the readings allow you to address them; or what is confusing about the readings and needs further elaboration; and what questions you want to raise in class about the film and readings. You will have class comments to guide you regarding the screenings (see #2 below), though you are not required to incorporate all the comments of your colleagues.
2. Film Comment (10%): In addition to participating in weekly discussions, you will be required to email to the presenter, the professor (me), and your TA brief comments on the films screened. EACH PERSON WILL DO THIS FOR SIX WEEKS. Based on the roster, the class will be divided into two, alphabetically. The first half will comment on every alternate screening starting with Week One, and the second half on every alternate screening starting with Week Two (skipping Week Eight).
Please keep your comments to the point (no more than one page of email maximum; less is okay; can be bullet point comments; a linear argument is not necessary, but productive thinking is, e.g: “I found the use of space in this film interesting, and think it can be linked to the readings on devotional settings like temples. E.g, in the scene on...etc). You can refer to any aspect of the screening you want the presenter/class to discuss. It is not necessary to have completed all the readings at the time you send this, and you should email it no later than Tuesday evening (for that Thursday’s class).
3. Journal (20%): You will get an “A” on this assignment irrespective of what you write, as long as you write / create it, so make it meaningful to yourself. This will be a personal document (which you will submit to me on Week Fourteen). It can be in any form: notebook, handwritten, typed, webpage, scrapbook, but I want you to write (academic language not required) your experience of any aspects of the screenings and readings in or outside of class, related to Indian cinema. If you are thinking of some other Asian cinema, and how it fits with the rubrics discussed/ films screened, that is fine too. This is an account of your self-reflexivity in class.
4. Final paper (40%): A final, research paper, of approximately 15-17 pages, with a detailed bibliography, on any aspect of Indian cinema in its national, local or global context. This may also be a comparative paper on Indian cinema in relation to any other cinema that is the focus of your dissertation; or a theoretical, methodological paper. Central criteria is that it should be based on original research and thinking on issues related to broader course themes. Work in progress will be presented on the final week of class.
During the course of this term, please visit the following websites and keep in touch with news on India and Indian cinema regularly:
http://www.india-seminar.com/ (look up the content page of a few issues; especially http://www.india-seminar.com/2003/525.htm)
http://www.sarai.net (look at the range of activities, including publication and types of essays).
www.screenindia.com (film trade news and gossip)
http://www.upperstall.com/home.html (look up some entries)
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/ (check headlines)
http://www.indianexpress.com/ (check headlines)
For DVD purchases: www.indiaplaza.com; www.eros.com; www.nehaflix.com
(a) If you have any diagnosed learning or other disability, please let your TA or me know early in the semester so that we can work towards accommodating the classroom and tests to your needs. You are required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester, and turn in their verification to me or to your TA. DSP is at STU301, hrs: 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m., M-F, ph# (213)740-0776. If you do not register with DSP, we will not be able to address your needs, so it is imperative that you do so.
(b) Work should be turned in on time. This is a graduate seminar, so I expect perfect attendance. If you cannot make it for any reason, please let the seminar group know ahead of time.
(c) Please make sure you proof read all the papers you hand in for grammatical or typographical errors, because a poorly written paper distracts from the best argument. If you are ever unclear about the requirements of an assignment, please ask me or your TA.
(d) Academic Integrity: We will expect the highest level of integrity from the students in this class. Plagiarism (including copying from a website without citation), the use of the same paper for more than one class, or the submission of a paper authored by someone other than you will result in a failing grade and a report to the Office of Student Conduct. Jaikumar
CTCS 510: INDIAN CINEMA
Extended Bibliography for your Reference
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Bhaskar, I. Myth and ritual: Ghatak’s meghe dhaka tara. ‘Journal of Arts and Ideas’: April-June 1983: 43-50. Another version of this essay, Mother goddess ascendant, in K. Bhasin and B. Agarwal (eds) Women and media: analysis, alternatives and action. New Delhi: Kali for Women in collaboration with Isis International, Rome, 1984.
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