Andrew W. Mellon Regional Fellow in the Humanities
2008—2009 Forum on Change
Associate Professor, English, Temple University
Nationalism and Public Fantasy in Bollywood Cinema
Nationalism and Public Fantasy in Bollywood Cinema is a book-length study nearing completion that examines post-Independence India's relation to film, one of the most powerful and popular forms of twentieth-century narrative. It analyzes the manner in which blockbusters made in Bombay (or Bollywood as it is often called) in certain turbulent decades helped imagine the nation that is India. I argue that Bollywood's most popular hits symptomize the aspirations and repressions of the newly created national community. Through their narratives of conflict, compensation, and contradiction, popular Hindi films expose the political unconscious of India in striking and contestatory ways, and help illuminate the genealogy of the nation in perhaps a richer and more complex manner than a more formal, discursive history might.