"Indian Cinema" poses significant conceptual and practical challenges for discussion and pedagogy. For one, while it is most famously known as Bollywood, there is no one Indian cinema: rather, there are quite a few film industries in India, some producing hundreds of films a year in various languages. Of these, the most well-known, and the one that has been dubbed Bollywood, is the Hindi/Urdu language film industry based in Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), the financial, entertainment, and media capital of India.
In this course, our main focus will be on the Hindi-language film industry. The aim of this course is to give you a sense of the stylistic, historical and ideological diversity of this cinema. Structured for the most part chronologically, we will start with the films of the 1940s and 1950s, with the first decade after independence. (India – and along with it, Pakistan - was established as a nation-state, and achieved sovereignty from centuries of British rule in 1947). This course will introduce you to key popular films, filmmakers and trends from the 1940s to the present. We will also look at "alternative" film-making traditions, such as the parallel and art cinema tradition. More recently, popular Hindi-language cinema itself seems to have diversified into star-driven blockbusters, and more formally adventurous films, often called "multiplex cinema".