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The Lost Decade of Indian Film History

Hughes, Stephen (2010) 'The Lost Decade of Indian Film History.' Journal of the Moving Image, 9 . pp. 72-93.

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Abstract

The general historiographical privileging of a chronology of film firsts has significantly helped to obscure attention on what can be considered to be the lost decade for film history in India. I say ‘lost’ because the first decade of the 20th century has largely fallen through the cracks of film history somewhere in the large gap between the first film exhibitions of 1896 and the emergence of Phalke as the “father of Indian cinema” in the teens. For the years in between all we have to go on are a few scattered details about some Indian pioneers, vague reminiscences and over generalizations that are all largely unsupported by archival research. Using newspapers as my primary source materials on early film history I will focus this article specifically on Madras during 1902 at which point film shows that were still infrequent visitors to the city. The purpose of this restricted examination is to highlight how the daily flow of press reports can yield a density of detailed information about early film. I contend that this kind of approach, no matter how simple and straightforwardly empirical it may seem, is a necessary starting point for opening up this lost decade of early film in India for a more critical interrogation.

Item Type: Articles
SOAS Departments & Centres: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Anthropology and Sociology
ISSN: 22309160
Depositing User: Stephen Hughes
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2011 08:48
URI: http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/11955

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