Cover image for Bollywood cinema : temples of desire
Bollywood cinema : temples of desire
Mishra, Vijay.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Routledge, 2002.
Physical Description:
xxiii, 296 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

Format :


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PN1993.5.I8 M46 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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India is home to Bollywood - the largest film industry in the world. Movie theaters are said to be the "temples of modern India," with Bombay producing nearly 800 films per year that are viewed by roughly 11 million people per day. In Bollywood Cinema, Vijay Mishra argues that Indian film production and reception is shaped by the desire for national community and a pan-Indian popular culture. Seeking to understand Bollywood according to its own narrative and aesthetic principles and in relation to a global film industry, he views Indian cinema through the dual methodologies of postcolonial studies and film theory. Mishra discusses classics such as Mother India(1957) and Devdas(1935) and recent films including Ram Lakhan(1989) and Khalnayak(1993), linking their form and content to broader issues of national identity, epic tradition, popular culture, history, and the implications of diaspora.

Author Notes

Vijay Mishra is Professor of English at Murdoch University, Perth, Australia

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Drawing on postcolonial and film theory, Vijay Mishra (The Gothic Sublime), a professor of English and Comparative Literature at Australia's Murdoch University, sees Indian cinema as an effort to cut across the country's numerous communities and achieve a pan-Indian culture. In Bollywood Cinema: Temples of Desire, Mishra explores film from Bombay in light of national and international cultural and aesthetic proclivities, including the prevalence of epics, the relegation of female actors to supporting roles, film representations of the Indian diaspora and sexual subtexts in the Indian gothic. Always sticking close to the countless films themselves (e.g. Mother India, Kismet, Zanjeer) and other texts (fanzines, a Salman Rushdie novel, film reviews), Mishra offers an erudite, scholarly and hip tribute to Indian cinema in all its glory, folly and abundance. 38 b&w photos. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Mishra's study of Bombay cinema is difficult in a way that, however defensible, limits its value to readers outside India. First, the author refers to films (stars, directors, critics) unfamiliar to Americans, and he does not explain the films in ways that elucidate his points. This is important, because he is writing cultural analysis, not history. Second, US readers will not understand the context of the movies (e.g., unexplained customs--untouchables, reincarnation), unidentified names (painters, authors), or much of the vocabulary (Swadeshi stories, Marathi drama, Parsi theater, mumbai-ishstyle, Muslimism, aesthetics of rasa, dharma, karma, "generic Vaishnava temples," and even the concept of "Western techniques"). But these difficulties aside, the book, though laborious to read, rewards the reader with provocative ideas on a dozen topics: anticolonial and postcolonial struggles, melodrama, gender roles, patriarchal power, androgyny, gothic style, diaspora, and of course particular movies (like Mother India) and stars (like Amitabh Bachchan). Most readers would be advised to begin with some of the books in the enormous bibliography, even though many of the best are more than 15 years old and newer ones (e.g., Sumita Chakravarty's National Identity in Indian Cinema, 1947-1987, CH, May'94) cover slightly different ground. Readers who are well advanced in Indian studies will value this book greatly. P. H. Stacy emeritus, University of Hartford

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
A Note on Transliterationp. xxiv
Chapter 1 Inventing Bombay Cinemap. 1
Chapter 2 Melodramatic Stagingp. 35
Chapter 3 The Texts of "Mother India"p. 61
Chapter 4 Auteurship and the Lure of Romancep. 89
Chapter 5 The Actor as Parallel Text: Amitabh Bachchanp. 125
Chapter 6 Segmenting/Analyzing Two Foundational Textsp. 157
Chapter 7 After Ayodhya: The Sublime Object of Fundamentalismp. 203
Chapter 8 Bombay Cinema and Diasporic Desirep. 235
Filmographyp. 271
Bibliographyp. 277
Indexp. 287