Reading the Muslim on Celluloid: Bollywood, Representation and Politics

AUTHOR: Roshni Sengupta

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  • AUTHOR: Roshni Sengupta
  • HB ISBN : 978-93-89850-87-1
  • Year: 2020
  • Extent: 340
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While Bollywood continues to be part of the psyche of Indians and South Asians the world over, the complex question of how religious and sectarian identities are represented has emerged as crucial. The cinematic representation of identities, particularly of the Muslim as a cultural category, also contains within ideas about visualities and their impact. As identities are redefined in the context of extremist ideologies, the advent of religious nationalism aids and abets such redefinitions. The contribution of cinema to ideological milieus is immense. Hindi cinema—through its romantic narratives and culture of myth-making as well as the capital-intensive, industrial nature of production—has tended to be one of the most powerful tools of political communication and propaganda.

This book aims to bring cinematic narratives under the analytical lens and contextualize the representation of the Muslim in popular Hindi cinema. It also argues in favour of a noticeable transformation in the representation of Muslims in films through the 1990s and 2000s, culminating in the emergence of a secularized portrayal which is far from unproblematic. Can one discern an attempt to construct a visual binary where the Muslims can be categorized as ‘good’ and ‘bad’? Does Hindi cinema perceive the Muslim only through a simplified worldview of loyalty and nationalism? This book seeks to answer such questions.

Roshni Sengupta is Assistant Professor, Leiden Institute of Area Studies, Leiden University, the Netherlands. She has earlier been Visiting Professor at the Institute of Middle and Far East Studies, Jagiellonian University, Krakow. She has research interests in South Asian politics and culture and post-colonial studies and is currently finalizing a two-part edited anthology on media and literature in post-Partition South Asia. She has published widely in peer-reviewed journals and is also prolific on popular news and opinion portals such as The Quint and Café Dissensus.

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