India is home to Bollywood - the largest film industry in the world. Movie theaters are said to be the "temples of modern India," with Bombay producing nearly 800 films per year that are viewed by roughly 11 million people per day. In Bollywood Cinema, Vijay Mishra argues that Indian film production and reception is shaped by the desire for national community and a pan-Indian popular culture. Seeking to understand Bollywood according to its own narrative and aesthetic principles and in relation to a global film industry, he views Indian cinema through the dual methodologies of postcolonial studies and film theory. Mishra discusses classics such as Mother India (1957) and Devdas (1935) and recent films including Ram Lakhan (1989) and Khalnayak (1993), linking their form and content to broader issues of national identity, epic tradition, popular culture, history, and the implications of diaspora.
Drawing on postcolonial and film theory, Vijay Mishra (The Gothic Sublime), a professor of English and Comparative Literature at Australia's Murdoch University, sees Indian cinema as an effort to cut across the country's numerous communities and achieve a pan-Indian culture. In Bollywood Cinema: Temples of Desire, Mishra explores film from Bombay in light of national and international cultural and aesthetic proclivities, including the prevalence of epics, the relegation of female actors to supporting roles, film representations of the Indian diaspora and sexual subtexts in the Indian gothic. Always sticking close to the countless films themselves (e.g. Mother India, Kismet, Zanjeer) and other texts (fanzines, a Salman Rushdie novel, film reviews), Mishra offers an erudite, scholarly and hip tribute to Indian cinema in all its glory, folly and abundance. 38 b&w photos.