Journal of Indian Cinema

Vol. 1. Iss. 5.

Film Critics Circle of India

French Spectators of Indian Films — Bias and Curiosity

Vanessa Lien Bianci | May 21

The prevailing misconception in France  remains that mainstream Bollywood /Kollywood constitutes Indian cinema…

… To understand the primary cause of this belief, it is necessary to examine the psychology of a nation. At the beginning of the twenty first century, knowledge of Indian cinema in France was almost zilch, but the term “Bollywood” was widely used as a synonym for films from India that were of an inferior quality–a kind of ‘illiterate and childish cinema’. Though a totally unfortunate and unfair tag, it says a lot about the subconscious refusal of the elitist French to legitimize a film industry that neither belonged to a Western storytelling tradition nor swore allegiance to Western culture supremacy, in particular, in the field of cinema. This denial by the French cultural intellectuals was in line with their tendency to consider their own culture as the torchbearer. It isn’t at all surprising then to read the following words from the write-up on the Hindi film Gangs of Wasseypur, published in the 2012 edition of a French magazine: “le cinéma indien entre dans sa phase adulte et américanisée” (“Indian cinema enters its adult and Americanized phase”).

The subtle contradiction between ‘becoming an adult’ but ‘under the hegemony of American cinema’ expresses the arrogant position from where these words arise—a country proud of fighting American film industry hegemony around the world, and proud of its own ‘cultural exception’. The famous “exception culturelle” (1993), related to French politic in culture undoubtedly has very positive effects, but these effects disguise with difficulty a cultural protectionism towards not only the American film industry but all foreign cultures… The fact is that there is an invisible cultural barrier, and crossing the limit exposes one to a blame for cultural betrayal, and it is taken as a proof of poor taste and a lack of style… I still remember my first presentation at a symposium. At the end of the Q&A, a professor came up to me and asked, anxiously, “My dear, you don’t really watch these films, do you?”

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The Lunchbox

MK Raghavendra | May 21

The Hindi film has transformed radically in the past few years and, more than ever, there is evidence that it does not want to be ‘Hindi cinema’. What there is less evidence of – is what it wants to genuinely be. Hindi films are now for people who speak the English language, people with some higher education. If The Lunchbox had belonged to the history of Hindi cinema, it would have been called ‘Dabba’; its actual title suggests that it is intended for people whose primary medium of communication – at least outside their immediate circles – is English. The Lunchbox also shows us that young filmmakers have finally hit upon the greatest visual resource they possess but which they long ignored – raw India, especially its swarming cities. Their ambition is apparently to produce a ‘real’ cinema dealing with the conditions of life rather than the escapist daydreams consumed by the masses.

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In Defense of the Dramatic

Saurabh Turakhia | May 21

Stories narrated in a dramatic manner attract and engage the masses, especially those from the lower strata whose daily lives are filled with struggle. ‘Masala,’ ‘escapist fare’ offers them nostalgia, inspiration, strength and hope. For, the cinema crafted for them is kinder than their unchanging reality. This causal relationship between income class and preference for movies is rooted in the fundamental human needs.

Thus, in the super-hit Manmohan Desai films of the late 70s and early 80s—Amar Akbar Anthony, Suhaag, Mard, Coolie—Amitabh Bachchan as the ‘angry young man’ /all-powerful protagonist fought against the odds and always emerged the victor. In the era prior to that, the hero’s primary on-screen duty was to practice virtue and stay kind in spite of all the atrocities that he faced. Raj Kapoor therefore won the hearts of his adversaries in Jis Desh Me Ganga Behti Hai with his simplicity and forgiveness.

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Papers Book review Film reviews
Aladdin | Guy Ritchie     Johnson Thomas
Aman | Mohan Kumar     Jai Arjun Singh
Avengers: Endgame | Anthony & Joe Russo     MK Raghavendra
Blank | Behzad Khambata     Deepa Gahlot
Blank | Behzad Khambata     Rahul Desai
Blank | Behzad Khambata     Saibal Chatterjee
Blank | Behzad Khambata     Sukanya Verma
Chhota Bheem Kung Fu Dhamaka | Rajiv Chilaka     Deepa Gahlot
City of Dreams | Nagesh Kukunoor     Rahul Desai
De De Pyaar De | Akiv Ali     Deepa Gahlot
De De Pyaar De | Akiv Ali     Rahul Desai
De De Pyaar De | Akiv Ali     Sukanya Verma
De De Pyaar De | Akiv Ali     Tanul Thakur
Devarattam | Muthiah     Baradwaj Rangan
India's Most Wanted |Raj Kumar Gupta     Deepa Gahlot
India's Most Wanted |Raj Kumar Gupta     Rahul Desai
India's Most Wanted |Raj Kumar Gupta     Sukanya Verma
K-13 | Bharath Neelakandan     Baradwaj Rangan
Monster | Nelson Venkatesan     Baradwaj Rangan
Music Teacher | Sarthak Dasgupta     Rahul Desai
Nakkash | Zaigham Imam     Saibal Chatterjee
NGK | Selvaraghavan     Baradwaj Rangan
Sara Akash | Basu Chatterjee     Jai Arjun Singh
Setters | Ashwini Chaudhary     Saibal Chatterjee
Setters | Ashwini Chaudhary     Sukanya Verma
Shagird | Samir Ganguly     Deepa Gahlot
Shuruaat Ka Twist (anthology by 6 directors)     Rahul Desai
Student of the Year 2 | Punit Malhotra     Baradwaj Rangan
Student of the Year 2 | Punit Malhotra     Deepa Gahlot
Student of the Year 2 | Punit Malhotra     Saumil Gandhi
Student of the Year 2 | Punit Malhotra     Rahul Desai
Student of the Year 2 | Punit Malhotra     Saibal Chatterjee
Student of the Year 2 | Punit Malhotra     Sukanya Verma
Student of the Year 2 | Punit Malhotra     Tanul Thakur
Super Deluxe | Thiagarajan Kumararaja     Jai Arjun Singh
Uyare | Manu Ashokan     CS Venkiteswaran
Yours Truly | Sanjoy Nag     Rahul Desai
Film reviews (docu /short / web series) Features Music notes

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