Eschewing the conventional focus on Indian cinema’s socials and mythologicals, this lecture will explore the ‘magic and fighting films’—the fantasy and stunt genres—of the B- and C-circuits in the decades before and immediately after India’s independence. Drawing on archival traces—from film fragments, shooting scripts and newspaper advertisements, to memoirs, posters and publicity stills—the lecture will argue that it is time to acknowledge the influence of globally-circulating popular stories on the development of India’s many forms of cinema, past and present. The transcultural fantastical tales of the Arabian Nights inspired not only an Indian film version of Ali Baba in 1903, but also a stream of fantasy or jadoo (magic) films set in quasi-Islamicate, enchanted ‘other’ worlds. Similarly, the iconic figure of Tarzan, the half wild man of ‘civilised’ origins, was adapted for Indian audiences in a series of stunt capers that made Tarzan a household name, from the 1930s onwards. The lecture will remind us that, alongside nationalist orthodoxies, a significant stream of Bombay cinema has always revelled in cultural hybridity, borrowing voraciously from global popular culture and engaging with transcultural flows of cosmopolitan modernity and postmodernity, largely beneath the radar of the Indian nationalist elite.
Nov 23, 2016 | 06:00 PM - 08:00 PM
Freie Universität Berlin