Accepted paper:

The unruly indies and nationalistic Bollywood


Marijana Janjić (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences)
Lana Oresic (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

The paper will review the nature of political ideas expressed in mainstream Bollywood films and co called 'indie' films. The purpose is to look for the political ideology behind the camera.

Paper long abstract:

The non-main stream cinema in India has always looked for a way to express political ideas. It suffices to look at some of the Ritwik Ghosh's or Shyam Benegal's films. The contemporary so called 'indie' film industry is thus no different in its desire to film political ideas. The difference is perhaps in its reach to audience and its presence in main-stream cinema halls. On the other hand, the main stream Bollywood production has been often described as 'escapist' cinema, cinema of hallucinations and dreams. After year 2000 things have however started to change. Shah Rukh Khan's films like Swades, Main hoon na, etc. have smuggled into a romantic narrative political ideas of nationalism and patriotism that a general viewer in India will probably welcome as natural and satisfactory. Yet, there appears to be a limit to what can be shown and debated in mainstream cinema, as can be seen from the example of 'Slumdog Millionaire'. Although popular among mainstream goers, it had also started a complex debate among them, as they changed their opinions on the film, depending on the views expressed about the film by society's celebrities, politicians and influential people among their own communities. Thus the film screen becomes the place of public debate, asking difficult questions on gender, sexuality, corruption, white-collar crime, workers rights, etc. The offer of calm, everlasting happy nationalistic India, defended by heroic sacrifices of police, soldiers etc. appears not to appease all viewers.

panel P03
Arts of the political in contemporary South Asian literature and film