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Rushdie and Bollywood Cinema

Mishra, V.ORCID: 0000-0002-0193-9736 (2013) Rushdie and Bollywood Cinema. In: Humanities Seminar Series. University of the South Pacific, 28 August 2013, Suva, Fiji.


In Midnight’s Children there is a sentence, now very well-known and in Rushdie criticism repeated often enough, which reads, ‘nobody from Bombay should be without a basic film vocabulary.’ Film has been one of the great art forms for Rushdie, an art form to which he has returned in all his works. Often great films – Pather Panchali (about which Rushdie said in a recent interview [Emory Quadrangle, Fall 2010, p. 13] ‘Pather Panchali [Song of the Little Road] is the film that I would choose when asked for the greatest film ever made … Citizen Kane would probably come second’), Alphaville (Godard), 8½ (Fellini), The Leopard (Visconti) and so on – are invoked to collapse the aesthetic boundaries of the literary and the filmic (here film functions as an alternative but equally powerful representational system). But more importantly in the context of this paper, when it comes to Rushdie’s own corpus often it is Bollywood which provides him with another structural principle of creative organization and ideological otherness. This paper returns to an earlier essay on Salman Rushdie and Bollywood Cinema (2007) and expands that essay with reference to material located in the Salman Rushdie Archive deposited in the Manuscript Archives and Rare Books Library, Emory University. It explores Bollywood references in Rushdie’s unpublished novels and other writings (including peripheral works and marginalia) in the archive as well as in works beyond The Moor’s Last Sigh not discussed in the earlier essay. For an avowed elitist when it comes to cinema, what is it about Bollywood which fascinates Rushdie and what is it about this ‘raddled old tart’ that one of Rushdie’s early novels, Madame Rama (ms 1975-76; mercifully unpublished), used Bollywood cinema as its key theme and energizing principle?

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
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