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Critical Resources December 3, 2009

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Based on your paper topics, here are some books you might be interested in:

  • Transnational Cinema, The Film Reader, Eds. Elizabeth Ezra and Terry Rowden
  • Film and Nationalism, Ed. Alan Williams
  • An Accented Cinema : Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking, Hamid Naficy
  • Home, Exile, Homeland: Film, Media, and the Politics of Place, Hamid Naficy
  • East Asian Cinemas: Exploring Transnational Connections on Film, Eds. Leon Hunt and Leung Wing-Fai
  • Hong Kong Connections: Transnational Imagination in Action Cinema, Eds. Meaghan Morris, Siu Leung Li, and Stephen Chan Ching-Kiu
  • Remade in Hollywood: The Global Chinese Presence in Transnational Cinemas, Kenneth Chan
  • Bollywood: Sociology Goes to the Movies, Rajinder Dudrah
  • Bollyworld : Popular Indian Cinema Through A Transnational Lens, Eds. Raminder Kaur and Ajay Sinha
  • Global Bollywood, Eds. Anandam Kavoori and Aswin Punathambekar
  • Global Bollywood: Travels of Hindi Song and Dance, Eds. Sangita Gopal and Sujata Moorti
  • Cinema of Interruptions: Action Genres in Contemporary Indian Cinema, Lalitha Gopalan
  • The Cinematic Imagination: Indian Popular Films as Social History, Jyotika Virdi 

Slumdog December 3, 2009

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How should we characterize Slumdog Millionaire? It’s an American film, made by a British filmmaker (Danny Boyle), co-directed by an Indian director (Loveleen Tandan), with British-Indian (Dev Patel) and Indian (Freida Pinto) actors as well as non-actors, set entirely in India. What made this film a worldwide critical and commercial success? What do we even call this hybrid production? What is its relationship with Hollywood? With Bollywood?

Sue November 19, 2009

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In light of our discussions, you might find it interesting that the character of Sue in Bollywood/Hollywood is played by Lisa Ray, a Canadian actress of Indian and Polish descent. She used to be a model, and here’s her big break in the 1990s on the cover of Glad Rags magazine:

Aishwarya Rai on Letterman November 17, 2009

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This is an interesting interview with Aishwarya Rai. Only subtly, but it does get at some of the cultural issues we were talking about today. She walks a fine line between identifying herself as “different” and yet not different at all. She also refers to Bride and Prejudice at the end; the clip choice from the film is rather interesting–it focuses entirely on the East-West conflict, although the film itself unfolds very differently.

DDLJ and Cultural Identity November 12, 2009

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There might be two ways of thinking about cultural identity: either it is fixed and unchanging or it is dynamic, portable, and ready to adapt to historical changes. How does DDLJ represent the notion of Indian cultural identity? At a time when people, goods, and ideas move rapidly across the globe, is the film saying that Indianness resides only in India? Or can it be taken with you, so to speak? What are the implications of thinking about cultural identity as either fixed or fluid for the various characters of DDLJ?

Related question: DDLJ was a huge hit, not only in India but also worldwide. What makes this film so popular with Indian audiences as well as Western audiences?

Bollywood’s Women November 2, 2009

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Let’s begin broadly with a discussion of how women are represented in Bollywood. Are they seen mostly as victims of a patriarchal system, as Dasgupta contends? Are their stories/lives seen as significant in the films we’ve viewed? How are their roles rewritten in remakes of Hollywood films?

Jadoo October 21, 2009

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Let’s start with Jadoo himself. What kind of sci-fi figure is he? As Alessio and Langer suggest, Jadoo seems to be a combination of sci-fi and Hindu mythology.

So, how do we analyze the following equation: E.T. + Krishna + Ganesh = Jadoo?

E.T. (here’s a link to the Spielberg film, if you haven’t seen it):

The Hindu diety Krishna (depicted here, as he often is, as a child; here’s a link to the role Krishna performs in Hindu mythology):

The Hindu diety Ganesh (here’s a link to Ganesh’s role in Hindu mythology:

Bombay October 13, 2009

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Since the setting of Bombay is foregrounded in Ghulam, I thought we could begin our discussion with what the city signifies (in this film and/or in our general understanding). What do you know about this city, which is typically thought of as unique because it is the most multicultural and Westernized place in India?

This is Bombay today:

And this is Bombay too:

What kind of city do you think Bombay is? What kinds of conflicts does it give rise to?

Kaante October 7, 2009

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What kind of remake is Kaante? How do we understand its relationship with Reservoir Dogs and/or with City on Fire? Is it an instance of homage? Or is this just plagiarism? How does Kaante revise the earlier texts? On the other hand, how does it work with the Bollywood formula?

Two or Three Things I Know about Bollywood September 30, 2009

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1) High drama: Bollywood films exaggerate . . . everything. It seems there are no truly low-density moments in a Bollywood film. If something happens, it must be really important and therefore must be highlighted, underlined, italicized, and put in bold. Why? Is it because the filmmakers want to make sure the audience knows about the gravity of each scene? Are they following a more expressive (almost out of silent cinema) aesthetic?

2) Causal logic versus diegetic logic: Most Bollywood films are not conventionally logical. Sometimes the characters’ motivations don’t make sense (you’ll find yourself saying “I’d never do that!” quite often) outside of the diegesis. That’s because the films are not meant to be realistic. The events unfold based on the kind of world the film has created; it’s the internal diegetic logic that the films adhere to rigidly. For instance, is Anjali really in love with Aman or Rahul in the second half of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai? Is she picking Rahul for love or out of familial obligation?

3) Song and dance: Well, you can’t really comment on Bollywood without talking about the song-and-dance sequences. But how are these sequences different from a Hollywood musical? Are they more or less fantastical? Do they add anything to the plot? Or are they merely offering visual spectacle?