Gender, Genre, and the Supernatural in Hindi Commercial Cinema
264 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
Sales Date: March 1, 2017
Haunting Bollywood is a pioneering, interdisciplinary inquiry into the supernatural in Hindi cinema that draws from literary criticism, postcolonial studies, queer theory, history, and cultural studies. Hindi commercial cinema has been invested in the supernatural since its earliest days, but only a small segment of these films have been adequately explored in scholarly work; this book addresses this gap by focusing on some of Hindi cinema’s least explored genres.
From Gothic ghost films of the 1950s to snake films of the 1970s and 1980s to today’s globally influenced zombie and vampire films, Meheli Sen delves into what the supernatural is and the varied modalities through which it raises questions of film form, history, modernity, and gender in South Asian public cultures. Arguing that the supernatural is dispersed among multiple genres and constantly in conversation with global cinematic forms, she demonstrates that it is an especially malleable impulse that routinely pushes Hindi film into new formal and stylistic territories. Sen also argues that gender is a particularly accommodating stage on which the supernatural rehearses its most basic compulsions; thus, the interface between gender and genre provides an exceptionally productive lens into Hindi cinema’s negotiation of the modern and the global. Haunting Bollywood reveals that the supernatural’s unruly energies continually resist containment, even as they partake of and sometimes subvert Hindi cinema’s most enduring pleasures, from songs and stars to myth and melodrama.
Haunting Bollywood is an insightful volume that makes several important contributions to Indian cinema scholarship, including the consolidation of seemingly disparate bodies of films. . . . [It] is a welcome addition to scholarship on Indian cinema and an essential read for its students.~Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
Grounded in excellent scholarship and analysis, this book is beautifully written, interesting, and full of stimulating and surprising insights. It will stand out in the field as one of the more imaginative and rigorous interventions of recent years.~Rosie Thomas, University of Westminster, author of Bombay Before Bollywood: Film City Fantasies
A very rich and rigorously informed study that will have a wide readership. The historical arc of Sen’s concerns is impressive and convincingly important.~Amit S. Rai, Queen Mary, University of London, author of Untimely Bollywood: Globalization and India’s New Media Assemblage
- 1. Haunted Havelis and Hapless Heroes: Gender, Genre, and the Hindi Gothic Film
- 2. The Ramsay Rampage: Horror as Emergency Cinema
- 3. Ravishing Reptiles: Magic, Masala, and the Hindi “Snake Film”
- 4. Present Imperfect: Bollywood and the Ghosts of Neoliberalism
- 5. The Planetary Paranormal: Millennial Mythos and the Disassembly of the “Hindi Film”