Bollywood's India

Bollywood's India

Hindi Cinema as A Guide to Contemporary India

Book - 2014
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"Bollywood movies have long been known for their colorful song-and-dance numbers and knack for combining drama, comedy, action-adventure, and music. But these exciting and often amusing films rarely reflect the reality of life on the Indian subcontinent. Exploring the nature of mainstream Hindi cinema, the strikingly illustrated Bollywood's India examines its nonrealistic depictions of everyday life in India and what it reveals about Indian society. Showing how escapism and entertainment function in Bollywood cinema, Rachel Dwyer argues that Hindi cinema's interpretations of India over the last two decades are a reliable guide to understanding the nation's changing hopes and dreams. She looks at the ways Bollywood has imagined and portrayed the unity and diversity of the country--what it believes and feels, as well as life at home and in public. Using Dwyer's two decades spent working with filmmakers and discussing movies with critics and moviegoers, Bollywood's India is an illuminating look at Hindi cinema"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: London : Reaktion Books, 2014
ISBN: 9781780232638
1780232632
Characteristics: 295 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm

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manoush Nov 20, 2014

What a disappointing book. It's a very surface, shallow discussion of some banal and obvious things about contemporary Hindi cinema. The author's main point, stretched out over an entire book, is that cinema is part of the "social imaginary," a buzzword that she repeats over and over again. It basically just means that Hindi cinema imagines everyday life in particular ways, instead of being a faithful rendition of real life. But that's always been what most large national film industries do, so this isn't a particularly insightful thing to point out. The book's chapters are thematically organized, on topics such as how cinema imagines national unity, class, caste and religion, gender, etc. I turned to her description of the movies to see if the value of the book lay there. But the discussion of films is nothing more than capsule plot summaries, the kind found on Wikipedia. The summaries are discussed in a list-like way, with little interpretation and analysis beyond the repeated point that cinema creates a dreamworld of everyday life. I don't think these summaries will be helpful to even readers unfamiliar with Hindi films, since there's no proper contextualization or background information, and very little actual interpretation of the films and what they're trying to do/say. The book reads to me like a hastily put together laundry list, a pretty shallow treatment of a fascinating subject.

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