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Reading Contemporary India Through the Cinematic Lens

Thursday 11 February 2016 - Friday 12 February 2016
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
Room 228


Popular culture has been the site of representation of the social and the political for decades. However, it is only recently that popular culture has received adequate attention in the academic sphere, one major manifestation of this being cotemporary Hindi cinema or Bollywood cinema. As the avant garde of Hindi cinema collapses into the mainstream, a New Wave has emerged to portray the mundane and the trivial, the politics of societal and communal relations, breaking carefully constructed stereotypes of caste, gender, and sexuality. Some recent films have also addressed the deeper continuum of a polarized and divided society and engaged with conflicts, both political as well as personal, at a fundamental level.

These engagements  as well as the mammoth popularity of popular Hindi films in South Asia as well as among the South Asian diaspora across the world have prompted the academic sphere to begin to engage with cinema and cinematic narratives as historical material which could be read not as unimportant sites of entertainment and visual titillation, but curiously significant documents chronicling contemporary transformations in South Asia. 

The two-day seminar – in collaboration with AMT and Modern South Asia Seminar – proposes to expose a few such works of cinematic art to a discerning audience. The highlight of the event is a round-table panel discussion on “Reading Contemporary India Through the Cinematic Lens” which proposes to bring together leading film scholars to discuss and debate the changing nature of Bollywood cinema.

The seminar is organized by Roshni Sengupta and funded within the AMT Research Funding scheme.


Time Event

11 February 2016



Film screening (in collaboration with Modern South Asia Seminar)

12 February 2016



Film screening

17:00–18:45 hrs

Panel discussion “Reading Contemporary India Through the Cinematic Lens”

The following films will be screened:
PK, directed by: Rajkumar Hirani

Ram-Leela, directed by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

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