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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The influence of Bollywood

Published: October 29, 2010
Section: Arts, Etc.

Professor Corey Creekmur from Iowa University came to Brandeis this Thursday, Oct. 28 as the first speaker in the 2009-2010 Soli Sorabjee Lecture series. This series approaches topics in South Asian studies from artistic and academic perspectives. The South Asian studies program started this series last academic year and it included three lectures, including one from Sorabjee himself. Later this year, there will be two addition guest speakers in the Soli Sorabjee series.

Professor Ulka Anjaria of the English department presented Professor Creekmur to the audience. She spoke highly of his efforts to encourage his readers to “question their prejudices” in regards to realism in film. Viewers assume that realism is the height of cinema, but they should stretch their assumptions. In addition, she listed his academic interests, which include popular literature and film in America and South Asia. He approaches these topics through the lenses of gender, sexuality and race.

At his lecture tonight, Creekmur discussed Hindi cinema. He started by outlining a few of the popular genres in Hindi film, including historical films, mythic films and contemporary films. Each of these types show India in different ways and have had a power influence on shaping how the masses view different political and socio-economic topics. For example, when the British were still in power, they carefully censored early Indian films in an effort to control popular opinion.

In particular, Creekmur focused on how the genre of “the historical” changed in time. Originally, the film industry avoided depicting the years directly before and directly after India became independent. Instead, they depicted ancient or unspecific historical times. In recent years, however, some films have started to approach the difficult topic of Indian Independence. He described these pictures as “post colonial films set in the colonial period.”

One of the overarching themes of the night was how Hindi films