Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Cultural Studies, English and Foreign Languages University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2002
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Columbia University
Modes of Being in Secular Modern India: Religious Cinema and Its Audiences

In this, project, J seek to understand the popularity of religious cinema by placing it within the larger discursive field of religiosity and secularism in modern India. Cinema, being the most popular cultural institution of the 20th century is an important site where the concept of "religion" is articulated and defined. I will trace the history of religious cinema from the 1930's (when sound film began in India) to the late 1990's in the Telugu langauge. Telugu cinema presenta a unique and interesting case for study not only because the majority of religious films in India have been made in Telugu but also because this phenomenon co-exists with the strong influence of leftist and feminist ideologies that highly value the agency of the individual subject and concommitantly "social realism" in art. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, I will combine a detailed textual analysis of key films and a study of the critical discourses that surround their production and reception, with an ethnography of audience groups and their viewing practices.