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.
Can the Bollywood Film Speak to the Subaltern?
Go and see a Hindu film … and see ten of them while you are about it, so as to make no mistake. Here, the still water begins to move, and you will see everything. Henri Michaux (1986: 59)
In Chapter 2, we saw how media ethnographers such as Justine Hardy invoke ‘the people in the dust’ as comprising the ‘core’ Bollywood audience. This invocation is subsequently used to relegate the Bollywood film's implied viewers to an antediluvian frame and, by implication, the Bollywood film itself. In this chapter, I would like to delve further into this ‘locating’ of the implied viewers of Bollywood within a subaltern frame as a way ...