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Mantras of the Metropole: Geo-televisuality and Contemporary Indian Cinema

Basu, Anustup (2005) Mantras of the Metropole: Geo-televisuality and Contemporary Indian Cinema. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This doctoral work scrutinizes recent popular Indian cinemas (largely Hindi cinema) in the light of three epochal changes in the sub-continental situation since the early nineties: the opening out of the economy, the political rise of the Hindu right, and the inauguration of a new transnational electronic media universe. It is argued here that contemporary Indian films should not be read in terms of a continuing, agonistic conflict between polarities like 'modern' selves and 'traditional' moorings. Instead, the thesis demonstrates how, in popular Indian films of our times, an agrarian paternalistic ideology of Brahminism, or its founding myths can actually enter into assemblages of cinematic spectacle and affect with metropolitan lifestyles, managerial codas of the 'free market', individualism, consumer desire, and neo-liberal imperatives of polity and government. This involves a social transmission of 'cinema effects' across the larger media space, and symbiotic exchanges between long standing epic-mythological attributes of Indian popular cinema and visual idioms of MTV, consumer advertising, the travel film, gadgetry, and images of technology. A discussion of a new age 'cinematic' in the present Indian context thus has to be informed by a general theory of contemporary planetary 'informatics.' The latter however is not a superstructural reflection of economic transformations; it is part of an overall capitalistic production of social life that is happening on a global scale in our times. This dissertation attempts to make two important contributions to the field: it opens out the Eurocentric domain of traditional film studies and suggests ways in which studies of Indian films can enrich a global understanding of the cinematic; it also offers a possible explanation as to how, in the present age, a neo-Hindu patriarchal notion of Dharma (duty, religion) can actually bolster, instead of impeding, a techno-managerial-financial schema of globalization in India.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLandy, Marciamlandy@pitt.eduMLANDY
Committee MemberMacCabe, Colinmaccabe@pitt.eduMACCABE
Committee MemberClarke, Eric Oeclarke@pitt.eduECLARKE
Committee MemberPrasad, M.
Committee MemberBove, Paul Above@pitt.eduBOVE
Date: 3 June 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 13 April 2005
Approval Date: 3 June 2005
Submission Date: 21 April 2005
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Film and Philosophy; Indian Cinema Studies; Mass media and Philosophy; Post-contemporary interventions
Other ID:, etd-04212005-130616
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:40
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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