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The popular Hindi film industry is the largest in India and the most conspicuous film industry in the non-Western world. This book analyses the pivotal visual and narrative conventions employed in popular Hindi films through the combined prism of film studies and classical Indian philosophy and ritualism.
The book shows the films outside Western paradigms, as visual manifestations and outcomes of the evolution of classical Hindu notions and esthetic forms. These include notions associated with the Advaita-Vedānta philosophical school and early Buddhist thought, concepts and dynamism stemming from Hindu ritualism, rasa esthetic theories, as well as Brahmanic notions such as dharma (religion, law, order), and mokṣa (liberation). These are all highly abstract notions which the author defines as "the unseen": a cluster of diversified concepts denoting what subsists beyond the phenomenal, what prevails beyond the empirical world of saṁsāra and stands out of this world (alaukika), while simultaneously being embodied and transformed within visual filmic imagery, codes and semiotics that are teased out and analyzed.
A culturally sensitive reading of popular Hindi films, the interpretations put forward are also applicable to the Western context. They enable a fuller understanding of religious phenomena outside the primary religious field, within the vernacular arenas of popular culture and mass communication. The book is of interest to scholars in the fields of Indology, modern Indian studies, film, media and cultural studies.