ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Hindi, Hindu, Horror

Politics of the Bollywood Horror Cinema

Filming Horror: Hindi Cinema, Ghosts and Ideologies by Meraj Ahmed Mubarki; New Delhi: Sage, 2016; pp 196, 695.

Filming Horror: Hindi Cinema, Ghosts and Ideologies by Meraj Ahmed Mubarki comes at a time of friction. The established Indian film studies, largely concerned with popular films (mostly Bollywood, with niche response towards major alternates—Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi and Bengali), stands refractory with the new European cinema studies, the latter dedicated to the aesthesis of the revival of “art” films in Europe. The first school treats the Indian popular as a “pre cinematic narrative” (Prasad 1998: 69)—cinema as a part of a mutating ideology governed by the political through time. The second treats extant theory as a corollary to the film text—the text not as a tool of larger sociopolitical machinery; its existence warrants its appreciation, not the other way around. Mubarki apparently pledges fealty to the former, takes up a slice of the Indian popular and posits it as axial to a shifting cultural–political modernity, yet his frequent incursions into disparate contexts like aesthetic theory, Anglophone studio horror and a partial refusal to relegate the film text as a stooge of the social narrative entirely—all make the book under review a moderately important addition to the canon of Indian Film Studies.

As a book with clearly academic aspirations, it however faces a greater challenge from within its geo-specificity. Judging the “worth” of this book in scholarly terms can never be separate from mapping its context, since the near-saturation of the Indian popular film scholastics is dependent on an immensely established canon. Any new work is to be judged in retrospect. What is, for example, the popular Hindi canon? How inclusive is it regarding world cinematic elements, or elements from the parallel Indian film industries? Is the popular film genre (action, melodrama, romance, horror) hermetic or overlapping? This book, of about 196 pages spread through five chapters, “seeks to understand the emergence and contemporary articulations of the genre made possible by larger social forces at work” (p 1).

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Updated On : 6th May, 2021
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