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Towards a theoretical critique of Bombay cinema

Mishra, V. (1985) Towards a theoretical critique of Bombay cinema. Screen, 26 (3-4). pp. 133-146.

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Any discussion of films from a relatively alien culture 'relatively' and 'alien' in Britain at any rate would have very different meanings than, say, in Australia - involves a certain element of redundancy. At the risk of sounding somewhat tedious, I will go over some of the propositions which I develop at some length later. My basic argument is relatively straightforward and requires no major theoretical apparatus for its enunciation. I read Bombay Film (capitalised, 'Film' and 'Cinema' are used interchangeably throughout this paper) as a form which is homologous with the narrative paradigm established over two millennia ago in the Sanskrit epics, namely the Mahabharata and the Ramayana (hereinafter cited collectively as MBh/Rama and individually in full). Bombay films may, therefore, be seen as transformations of the narrative structures which may be discovered in these epics. Their influence, however, is not limited to narrative form alone. Since these epics were also ideological tools for the expansion of structures of belief endorsed by the ruling classes, there is also a significant way in which the Bombay Film legitimates its own existence through are-inscription of its values into those of the MBh/Rama.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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