Cover for Mehta: Unruly Cinema: History, Politics, and Bollywood. Click for larger image

Unruly Cinema

History, Politics, and Bollywood

A course-ready study of the crises that shaped Indian film

Between 1931 and 2000, India's popular cinema steadily overcame Hollywood domination. Bollywood, the film industry centered in Mumbai, became nothing less than a global cultural juggernaut. But Bollywood is merely one part of the country's prolific, multilingual cinema. Unruly Cinema looks at the complex series of events that allowed the entire Indian film industry to defy attempts to control, reform, and refine it in the twentieth century and beyond.

Rini Bhattacharya Mehta considers four aspects of Indian cinema's complicated history. She begins with the industry's surprising, market-driven triumph over imports from Hollywood and elsewhere in the 1930s. From there she explores how the nationalist social melodrama outwitted the government with its 1950s cinematic lyrical manifestoes. In the 1970s, an action cinema centered on the angry young male co-opted the voice of the oppressed. Finally, Mehta examines Indian film's discovery of the global neoliberal aesthetic that encouraged the emergence of Bollywood.

"A rigorous and monumental historical study of Bombay-produced Hindi cinema, which addresses the paradoxes of Bollywood's histories in highly engaging as well as truly enlightening ways. This is an essential study of Indian popular cinema and its indomitability."--Catherine Grant, coauthor of The Videographic Essay: Criticism in Sound and Image

"The longue durée of Bollywood is the subject of Unruly Cinema. A lively and textured account of the contradictory development of mainstream Hindi cinema as an industrial product, on the one hand, and an art form, on the other, this book is a must read for students of South Asian film, the culture industry, and discourses of globalization."--Keya Ganguly, author of Cinema, Emergence, and the Films of Satyajit Ray


Rini Bhattacharya Mehta is an assistant professor of comparative and world literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a coeditor of Bollywood and Globalization: Indian Popular Cinema, Nation, and Diaspora.

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