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

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From Inquiry to Pedagogy

Twenty-First Century Bollywood by Ajay Gehlawat, London/New York: Routledge, 2015; pp 170, 659.

Popular cinema in India as an object of study has gained enormously since the 1970s when it was still looked upon as a pariah. Film criticism/scholarship at that time conducted itself on the premise that cinema was essentially high art (as exemplified by Satyajit Ray), and anything that deviated was not worthy of critical attention. By the 1990s, Indian students in the humanities had begun to find their way into American universities to do film studies. The new tendency was to look at popular cinema differently, not as failed art but texts to be decoded, after Roland Barthes announced “the death of the author,” meaning that it was no longer relevant to valorise the authorial voice.

Structuralism was the first movement to impact upon film study but while its impact was relatively brief, new ideas from Althusserian Marxism, Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, and Metzian semiotics (after Christian Metz) found their way into film studies to form an amalgam called “theory.” Where before 1970 there were few histories of cinema that could hold their own against histories in literature, this began to change. The earliest histories of cinema were charged with being “empiricist” (that they were mindless assemblages of fact) but new histories of cinema began to “historicise” and “contextualise” filmic texts in the social process.

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Updated On : 10th Oct, 2017

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