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CSCS - Centre for Study of Culture & Society


DEMOCRACY AND SPECTATORSHIP IN INDIA: TELUGU POPULAR CINEMA AND HONG KONG ACTION FILM
Researcher : S.V. Srinivas, under a grant from the Sephis Programme for South-South Research.

This project is a historical and formal exploration into the cultural self-definitions of the modern Indian public sphere. It will analyze the makings of the symbolic, performative and contest-ridden history of public-ness by exploring what, after politics itself, is the most culturally visible arena of public activity in some societies: the cinema. The project looks at the cinema’s role as an important site for the exploration and positing of resolutions to contentious issues like nationalism, rights and responsibilities of citizenship, and the politics of representation in the Indian context. The contours of the nation, how they have changed over the years, who is the normative/ideal citizen and who gets to represent the nation and its peoples are questions central to the study.

It is proposed to investigate this problem by making a comparative study of the spectatorship Indian cinema and Hong Kong cinema in India. The conceptual thrust of the research will be to demonstrate the centrality of the audience to the understanding of cinema and other cultural forms.

This study privileges two specific areas. Firstly, it will concentrate on the Telugu cinema, whose relationship to the larger Indian paradigms of cultural nationalism is often curtailed by the prohibitions of a ‘national’ market for ‘regional’ production. Secondly, this project will also privilege a specific period in the history of these cinemas: the 1970s and 1980s, a period when both Telugu and Hong Kong film industries were transformed as a result of political and cultural imperatives.

 

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