Accepted paper:

Film as infrastructure: information, circulation and exhibition practices in colonial and independent India: 1920s-1950s

Authors:

Ravi Vasudevan

Paper short abstract:

This paper is part of a project to explore the truly remarkable elaboration of film as an infrastructure of information, communication and exhibition in India in the first half of the twentieth century. The aim is to research the policies, technologies, patterns of consumption, and the geographies of circulation and exhibition through which film acquired this presence.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is part of a project to explore the truly remarkable elaboration of film as an infrastructure of information, communication and exhibition in India in the first half of the twentieth century. The aim is to research the policies, technologies, patterns of consumption, and the geographies of circulation and exhibition through which film acquired this presence. Film scholarship on India has focused largely on mainstream cinema, examining the development of a mass audience for industrialized entertainment. The other components of the cinematic package offered in a variety of exhibition spaces, namely, the newsreel, documentary, or the `topical' which covered some spectacular current event, have not elicited much interest. Nor have non-theatrical forms, such as educational, instructional, industrial, training, and promotional films really entered the research agenda of South Asian film studies. To this cluster of un-explored forms we can add the home movie, now being offered as a substantial archival resource by a number of institutions. Films of different sorts were lugged around by itinerant 'bioscopewalahs', or on bullock carts, lorries and trains, and exhibited in personal, educational, makeshift or permanent theatrical circuits. The challenge is to research these forms as an ensemble, and in their distinct niches, circulating in overlapping tracks, and generating an archive of mediatized life. This paper will present a preliminary map of film's dispersion into a differentiated universe of practices, taking salient institutional nodes and patterns of circulation, exhibition and usage to capture the distribution of film experience.

panel P14
Social sense and embodied sensibility at the cinema: towards an aesthetics of film-going