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During the question and answer session with the cast and director of the film, The Loins of Punjab Presents--a quirky comedy set amongst an Indian-American community in New Jersey--screened at the South Asian International Film Festival held in New York in October 2007--, one of the actors, Darshan Jariwalla, discussed how working in this particular film was such a pleasant departure from working in "Bollywood"--the common globally recognized appellation for the Hindi-language film industry located in Mumbai, India. He drew loud laughter from the full auditorium when he contrasted the director's working style with what he implied were the norms of the Hindi film industry. (1) Stating the whole process was very professional because the film had a "bound script" (completed script) that everyone read together, Jariwalla went on to assert, "There are none in Hindi cinema. Whoever has the nicest handwriting writes the script; whoever comes on the set first directs the scene that day." Sitting in the audience, I found Jariwalla's sarcasm to be a familiar refrain. For years, the Hindi film industry has been a frequent object of mockery, ridicule, and parody for its filmmaking as well as its working style, both by those unfamiliar with the industry as well as industry insiders. (2) One of the more unexpected findings of my fieldwork about the social world and production practices of the Hindi film industry is how filmmakers--a term I am using to refer to producers, directors, actors, screenwriters, and a very common occupational category in the industry, producer-directors--criticize every aspect of the industry, from the working style to the sorts of films being made. Throughout my fieldwork over the last 15 years, I have not met a single filmmaker who represents himself as the norm; (3) nearly everyone in the industry represents himself as harder working, more professional, and more quality-conscious than the "typical" Hindi filmmaker. Rather than dismissing such attitudes as trivial or superfluous, my commitment to an ethnographic approach to the study of media production leads me to examine these sentiments and attitudes, which constitute a significant part of the everyday life of film production in Bombay. While I went to Bombay to conduct fieldwork about the production process of Hindi films, what I observed, in addition to the production of films, was the production of filmmakers--both real and imagined.

Essais et sciences humaines
1 janvier
Institute for Ethnographic Research

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