ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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India’s New Imaginary Spaces

One-Dimensional Cinema

This article addresses the transformation of dissent in Indian cinema over the past decade. In analysing two films by Vishal Bhardwaj and Dibakar Banerjee, the author argues that the incorporation of critical ideas on society and politics into the mainstream cinema reflects the diminishing potential of dissent in India, and is related to the rise of neo-liberalism and consumer culture. The present fascination with rural India and the subaltern figure in films means that the latter is being consumed as a product by the spectators of the films, as opposed to concern with social and political topics in politically committed cinema.

Over the past decade the popular Hindi cinema has included the margins of society – the subaltern often inhabiting spaces that do not belong to the narratives of “rising and shining India”, accentuating topics that earlier belonged squarely to politically committed1 cinema. In short, borrowing Prasad’s (2001) phrase this cinema functioned in “developmental aesthetic”: raised concern about social, political and cultural problems in India, and was a product of a tumultuous post-Nehruvian political age.

Culture, Commodity and Critique

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