Summer 2009

HUMS 616
Bollywood and Beyond


06/29/2009 - 07/16/2009
Monday-Thursday 06:00 PM - 09:00 PM

India has long had a love affair with the movies--it produces the largest number of movies in the world, and Indians of all classes are passionate devotees. Indian movies, conceived of as screen extravaganzas filled with songs, dances, and costume changes, have recently come into vogue in the West, and are referred to affectionately as Bollywood: Bombay-Hollywood. However, the art cinema of India, which has as long a history as the popular cinema, is not as well known here. This course will look at three of India's cinematic traditions: popular or Bollywood movies, art cinema, and the more recent films coming out of the South Asian Diaspora in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.

While Bollywood, art, and diasporic films differ in their use of music, dance, and cinematic technique, they share many of their concerns. For instance, they often draw on religious and mythological themes as subject matter, or to reflect idealized constructions of masculinity and femininity. Such movies as the 1959 Sujata and Satyajit Ray's Devi explore the issues of caste, romantic love, religion, and womanhood. From very early in India's movie history, nationalism and the construction of a national ethos out of India's enormous diversity have been reflected in the social issues pictured in the movies. We will see films such as Lagaan, which is a modern reconstruction of the British Raj and Indian pre-nationalist resistance on the cricket field. Other films with social emphases are Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, which considers the historic tension between Hindus and Muslims, and Bandit Queen, a true story about a woman outlaw who is currently an elected member of the Indian government. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge turns its attention to the question of the "Indian-ness" of the South Asian diapora, in a story about arranged marriage and romantic love. We will end with a selection of movies drawn from the diaspora: Gurinder Chadha's Bhaji on the Beach, Hanif Kureishi's Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, Deepa Mehta's Water and Fire, and Mira Nair's Mississippi Masala and Monsoon Wedding.

We will of course watch, discuss, and analyze movies, using the basic terms of film analysis. In addition, we will supplement these discussions with historical, social, and political materials as useful.

Sources for this course include the following films: Sujata, 1959; Apu, from the Pather Panchali trilogy of Satyajit Ray; Devi, Satyajit Ray; Lagaan, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, Bandit Queen, Bhaji on the Beach, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, Water, Fire,Mississippi Masala, and Monsoon Wedding. Texts for the course will include Bollywood: Sociology Goes to the Movies, Rajinder Kumar Dudrah; National Identity in Popular Cinema 1947-1987, Sumita S. Chakravarty; All You Want Is Money, All You Need Is Love, Rachel Dwyer; Bollywood Cinema Temples of Desire, Vijay Mishra; and The Secret Politics of Our Desires, Asish Nandy.

Course tuition: $2022

Indira Karamcheti B.A., M.A., Ph.D. University of California, Santa Barbara) is associate professor of English and American Studies. Her teaching and research interests include postcolonial literature and theory, the literature of the South Asian diaspora, and the writing of ethnic and racial minorities in the U.S. She has written on such authors as Salman Rushdie, Anita Desai, Simone Schwarz-Bart, and Aime Cesaire. Click here for more information about Indira Karamcheti and click here for more information about her work.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:

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