This book combines multiple theoretical approaches to provide a fresh perspective on Bollywood—just as a Bollywood film that transgresses multiple genres—and challenges the homogenizing tendencies in much of the ongoing scholarship in the area. It covers five areas of controversial theorization: the religious frame, the musical frame, the subaltern frame, the (hetero) sexual frame and the ‘crossover’ frame. By deconstructing each of these hegemonic paradigms, it reshapes the understanding of a Bollywood film and restructures its relationships with multiple disciplines including film and theatre studies, postcolonial studies, South Asian studies, queer studies, and transnational studies.
This fusion is also representative of the larger objective of this work, namely, to destabilize Bollywood's position within any one sphere of reference and, instead, to illuminate how several realms of meaning are at play in its construction. The aim in doing so is to demonstrate how a variety of critical methodologies can enable a more comprehensive reading of the films making up this corpus.
Bollywood and its Implied Viewers
Popular Hindi cinema, or Bollywood, is one of the most prolific and widespread cinemas in the world. The theorization of this particular art form, a syncretic blending of a variety of tropes and genres, however, continues to situate it within a primarily theatrical frame, stemming from previous models applied to the study of Indian theatrical performances. Along with suggesting aesthetic distinctions, the application of a theatrical model is based upon, and subsequently reaffirms, a devotional paradigm (also associated with older theatrical models) in which the native/Indian/‘Hindu’ viewer is assigned a primarily religious perspective.
I am concerned in this chapter, then, with both delineating the structures and applications of these theatrical and religious models and examining how they ...