Accepted paper:

The Materiality of Memory: Digital dispersion and the Bombay film remake


Ramna Walia (Jawaharlal Nehru University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will trace the material displacement and virtual dispersion of the past object through the category of a remake in order to map the complexities of Bombay cinema’s tryst with the technological transition from celluloid to the digital.

Paper long abstract:

The Bombay film remake has, over the last one decade, emerged as a prominent industrial practice within popular cinema. While there is clearly a radical shift in the aesthetics of representation and its interaction with the digital proliferation of images, there is a sense that the past is being recovered. With films like Devdas (2002), Don (2006), Umrao Jaan (2007), Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag (2007), Karzzz (2008), Dev D (2009), and the all-encompassing formula of the 1970s in Om Shanti Om (2007), we have seen how "pastness" has found a significant articulation in contemporary Bombay film culture. Fan clubs, video libraries, satellite broadcasting, revivals and retrospectives in museums, film festivals, archives, biographical legends and video sharing web portals have accentuated a more fragmented dissemination of the film's memory, constructing a public archive that has ensured audience familiarity with dialogues, songs, fashion trends, and the stars of the original. The remake deals with this familiar terrain of knowledge, foregrounding questions related to culture, consumption, and entertainment. The "original" is thus multiplied to circulate in diverse contexts and numerous sites as material evidence, wherein the aura of the original is transported from its temporal frame to enter the contemporary. This paper proposes to engage with the materiality of memory evoked in a remake as it travels from the restricted and potentially obscure enclosed space of the archives back into the domain of public exhibition in order to map the divergent impulses of cinema's celluloid history and its interaction with the contemporary digital culture.

panel P27
Cinema matters: the changing film object in a globalizing world