Cinema is a century old institution in India now. Apart from being one of the most popular sources of entertainment, Cinema in India can also be described as a ‘living archive’ of modern Indian nation-state – its society, culture and politics. A critical examination of the cinematic narratives produced over the last hundred years can help in comprehending the constantly evolving socio-political structures and ideological character of the country. The multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-regional make-up of Indian Cinema not only embodies the pluralistic ‘idea of India’ but also offers diverse ways to approach the same from multiple perspectives and varied subject positions. In fact, the multiplicity of Indian Cinema can be understood as different units forming a whole, coming together to contribute to the larger understanding of the nation.
In the 21st century, an enigmatic idea of India is emerging that is oxymoronically optimistic and pessimistic at the same time. A triumphant account of India jostles alongside its critical counter narratives within the public domain. Developments such as the resurgence of the economy, expansion of mass media, constantly expanding middle class, rising participation of the people, technological advancement and others account for the glorified accounts of the country that are prevalent. On the other side, issues like corruption, crime against women, mounting inequality and poverty and religious fundamentalism have become so rampant and paint a dreary picture of the predicament faced by the country. Such a contradictory, paradoxical and confusing image demands serious attention. Academicians have made profound assessments of the current scenario; however, Cinema as an art form that offers an analysis of the past, a mirror to the present and a vision for the future of India engages with these changes in a noticeably distinct manner.
Over the last decade, Indian cinema has undergone significant changes. It has marked the journey from being a reflective to a participatory medium by describing the socio-political milieu ever more powerfully and insightfully in its perpetuation of prognostic narratives. Through the creative mode of engagement with the society and the penetrating accounts it furnishes, Cinema is at times far more prescient, intuitive and prophetic in its delineation of the contemporary scenario and emerges as a participatory entity by providing insightful solutions to the problems that plague the nation. The constant parallel discourse offered by cinema thus provides alternative understandings of the ensuing changes than the one proposed by mainstream academic scholarship. Its engagement with the changing times is further strengthened by the virtue of its wide outreach.
In the proposed seminar on Indian cinema we wish to engage with the transformations that this institution has undergone that have assisted its emergence as a participatory, active and engaging medium of interrogation affecting, informing and influencing the public imagination in an unprecedented manner in the last couple of decades. This seminar will try to extend beyond the dominant oeuvre of Hindi cinema and aim at gauging the nature of Indian Cinema and its processes of meaning making of the present paradoxical idea of the nation in its multi-lingual and multi-regional complexity. Through the seminar we wish to venture towards newer ways to ascertain the possibilities and parameters of defining the character of ‘Indian Cinema,’ not just the cinema of a particular region. Furthermore, the seminar intends to address the following pertinent questions:
How has Indian Cinema managed to keep pace with the contemporary shifts in the socio-political realm and enriched the changing idea of India in the 21st century by offering multiple perspectives? What are the issues, aspirations and anxieties that are reflected in its narratives, and how is the present political scenario translated onto the screen? How does cinema address the problems, challenges and nuances of contemporary India? In the vast number of territorial variants of Indian Cinema, what kind of relations between the regions and the nation are being portrayed? What are the new ways in which regional zones are interrogating national issues and enhancing the ‘idea of India’? Is it a fragmented idea of India that these variants offer? What are the variations in the character and content of cinematic representations that go on to create a category that can be termed as the 21st century Indian Cinema? How have the resurgent Indian economy and recent technological advancements affected the nature and character of contemporary Indian Cinema? What are the conventions and thematic trends that cut across lingual and regional units of Indian cinema which intend to re-contextualize, subvert and question the ‘idea of India’? What kind of national discourse do these films generate? Does contemporary Indian Cinema offer an alternative aesthetics and politics of cinematic representation that characterize the contours of the socio-cultural and political history of the first decade of the 21st century India? Does contemporary Indian Cinema have any uniquely Indian cinematic idiom to offer?
A limited number of participants will be invited for the seminar. Those interested in participating should send an abstract (500-700 words) of the proposed paper to following Email ID's:-
A limited number of participants will be invited for the Conference. Those interested in participating should send title and an abstract (500-700 words) of the proposed paper along with their C.V. to:-
The last date of submission of title/synopsis of paper along with abstract is 09 February, 2015. The date for short listing of participants is 18 February, 2015. The Institute intends to send an official invitation letters to selected participants by 23 February, 2015. It is the policy of the Institute to publish the proceedings of the seminars it organizes. Therefore, all invited participants will be expected to submit complete papers to the Academic Resource Officer, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla – 171005 by 05 May, 2015.
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