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Film genre, exhibition and audiences in colonial south India

Hughes, Stephen (2011) 'Film genre, exhibition and audiences in colonial south India.' In: Maltby, Richard and Biltereyst, Daniel and Meers, Philippe, (eds.), Explorations in New Cinema History: Approaches and Case Studies. London: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 295-309.

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Abstract

This paper explores how genre matters for the history of cinema audiences in south India. I focus on the development silent film genre categories in south India during the 1920s as they were used according to the local conditions to help imagine, define and cultivate cinema audiences. I argue that from the late-1910s film genre classifications helped exhibitors and film critics to conceive, calculate and socially differentiate the steadily growing audiences for cinema. Using material from archival sources and newspapers- advertisements, reviews and film criticism, this essay documents how the emergence of film genre categories and their subsequent refinement through the 1920s addressed and articulated a stereotyped sociology of local film audiences in Madras. At the beginning of the 1920s there were three main classifications of films recognized in the local cinema market of Madras- serials, short dramas and Indian films. For almost a decade these three categories broadly covered the range of films available in Madras. Local exhibitors and film critics saw each type of film as part of a changing system of complementary and contrasting entertainment alternatives, which corresponded to definitive kinds of local audiences. As there are few sources and little scholarship, which can help deal with early film audiences, the history of film genres offers unique insight into how those in Madras imagined the always indeterminant social reality of film audiences.

Item Type: Book Chapters
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Anthropology and Sociology
ISBN: 9781405199490
Depositing User: Stephen Hughes
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2011 08:47
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/11954

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