India in Film: Imaginations of a Decolonial Nation
- Offered for
- 09:30 am—12:30 pm
Remote via Zoom
- Taught by
- Rochona Majumdar, PhD
Among all film producing countries in the world, India successfully resisted Hollywood's hegemony. Some Hollywood blockbusters made their way to theaters in big Indian cities; some were adapted into Indian languages. Mostly, however, audiences remained loyal to Indian fare. What was the India that was depicted on-screen? To what extent was India produced by these filmic imaginations? To be sure, there was no monolithic India represented in film.
Over the course of the quarter, we will focus on some important films to chart the idea of India they constructed and held up for critique. Most of our films will be selected from the immediate post-independence decades, i.e. the 1950s and 1960s, regarded as the classical period of Indian cinema. Our films will include popular as well as art films. Our goal will to be understand the relationship between films and emergent ideas of nationhood, modernity, and citizenship in a decolonial world.
- Fulfills the Elective - Non-Western requirement
About the Professor
Rochona Majumdar, PhD
Rochona Majumdar is a historian of modern India with a focus on Bengal. Her writings span histories of gender and sexuality, Indian cinema, especially art cinema and film music, and modern Indian intellectual history. Majumdar also writes on postcolonial history and theory.
Majumdar started out as a historian of gender and arranged marriage in colonial and postcolonial Bengal that resulted in her book Marriage and Modernity: Family Values in Colonial Bengal. Her interest in postcoloniality as an intellectual standpoint led to her second work, Writing Postcolonial History, where she analyzed the impact of postcolonial theory on a variety of historical fields. Her interests in the culture and aesthetics of mass democracy led Majumdar to study cinema, in particular Indian cinema. Currently, she is finishing a monograph entitled Art Cinema in India: Aesthetic and Political Histories and The Indian New Cinemas Reader: Texts, Debates, Histories (co-edited) with Ashish Rajadhyaksha and Moinak Biswas.
For several years, Majumdar has been interested in the question of whether certain key concepts can be translated across cultures. She has published a few essays on concepts such as “samaj” (society) and “sabhyata” (civility/civilization). This is a long-term project that will map the emergence of these and other concepts over the long nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in order to write a global history of Indian social thought.
Majumdar’s work has been supported by the American Institute for Indian Studies and the Harry Frank Guggenheim foundation. She has been a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Emotions, Berlin and IWM, Vienna.
Majumdar also writes for The Indian Express, Outlook and Anandabazar Patrika (in Bengali).