Why Indian films? Why Bollywood? Why this blog?
I am wanting to explore what it means for a film to be Indian. I have often felt very fractured in my own cultural identity, born in India, raised in Texas, now a Canadian. I am a chimera of culture. In examining the films of India & Bollywood we’ll be exploring how a nation sees itself, how it defines its own politics and culture.
Who gets represented, who has a voice and how is this expressed are all ideas that are deeply important when it comes to engaging with film criticism. I look forward to pulling at these threads and unravelling the complexities of India. It is a nation filled with so much, it bursts with multiple languages, religions, politics. It is a nation that has a long history, one filled with beauty and with horror (looking at you British Colonialism).
I am excited to be on this journey with my partner Lauren. Lauren is schooled in a bit more film criticism than I, but I think this will make for some very engaging conversations. Let’s begin this journey together. We’ll see where this road takes us.
I’m a world cinema buff with an admitted knowledge deficit of Indian cinema. Of course, Indian cinema is not a monolith. Perhaps that’s why I’m comfortable admitting I don’t know nearly as much as I should. There’s too much to know.
When I do watch Indian cinema, it’s rarely Bollywood. It’s much more likely to be India’s Parallel Cinema movement –“a film movement in Indian cinema that originated in the state of West Bengal in the 1950s as an alternative to the mainstream commercial Indian cinema, represented especially by popular Hindi cinema, known today as Bollywood” [wiki]. Bollywood is popular, yes. But that’s not why I’m eschewing it. These parallel films, with their relative absence of musical interludes and choreographed storytelling, are their own frontier.
This blog won’t be limited to just the Parallel Cinema. That’s just where we begin. It’s a journey I’m taking with Gaurav for many reasons. To learn and grow in my relationship with him; to intensify my cinephilia and develop my cinematic discourse; to better understand the cultural and historical complexities of India and how that relates to the world we know.