08. At Home in the World: Imagining the National Family in Bombay Cinema of the 1950s and 1990s
Dr Manishita Dass (Royal Holloway, University of London)
This paper was presented on the panel 'Citizens of Plural Worlds: Family and Nation in the Age of Globalisation' at the SCMS Conference in New Orleans on 12 March 2011.
Juxtaposing privileged family fictions of 1950s and 1990s Bombay cinema, this paper aims to unsettle easy equations of globalization with progress and calls for a political history of changing representations of the family in Bombay cinema, a history that will connect representational shifts to shifting discourses of cultural citizenship and to changes in the Bombay film industry, and will defamiliarize contemporary fictions of the family, thereby loosening their hold on our imagination of Indianness. While recent films have recast the diasporic subject as the authentic Indian who carries “India in the heart” and is firmly anchored in “Indian tradition” through the affective ties of family, conservative social codes and elaborate Hindu rituals, the paradigmatic hero of the 1950s was an impoverished orphan or outsider adrift in a disorienting metropolis, relying more on the kindness of strangers than on the support of kinfolk or the comfort of tradition.
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Filed Under: Citizens of Plural Worlds, SCMS Conference Panel