Bollywood: a guidebook to popular Hindi cinema

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  • This article was downloaded by: [New York University]On: 09 November 2014, At: 17:04Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Contemporary South AsiaPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ccsa20

    Bollywood: a guidebook to popularHindi cinemaIla Nagaraa The Ohio State University, USAPublished online: 14 Apr 2014.

    To cite this article: Ila Nagar (2014) Bollywood: a guidebook to popular Hindi cinema,Contemporary South Asia, 22:2, 210-211, DOI: 10.1080/09584935.2014.902662

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09584935.2014.902662

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  • and more importantly its conceptualization of empire, hegemony and leadership will pavethe way for further research.

    Vikash ChandraJawaharlal Nehru University, India

    vikash06chandra@gmail.com 2014, Vikash Chandra

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09584935.2014.902661

    Bollywood: a guidebook to popular Hindi cinema, by Tejaswini Ganti, London andNew York, Routledge, 2013, x + 266 pp., ISBN 978-0-415-58384-8

    This book, based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Mumbai, provides the uninitiatedreader with a thorough introduction to the world of Bollywood cinema. The book providesan in-depth description of Bollywood, the process of filmmaking, and the development ofstorylines, narratives, and genres that are uniquely Bollywood. It is essential reading foranyone who wants a quick introduction to the world of Hindi cinema. The strength ofthis text lies in Gantis elaboration of the significance of broader social, cultural, and his-torical events in explaining how Hindi cinema has grown into its current form since itsinception in the nineteenth century. The importance of family values, law versus justice,differences in genre, contributions of the Natyashastra in how genre should be understoodin the context of Bollywood cinema, and verbal commitments in matters of business standas the key themes and concepts that Ganti lays forth to the readers as fundamental for under-standing not just the cinema itself but also what happens behind the scenes in Bollywood.

    The book is divided into five chapters. Chapter 1 outlines the history of Bollywoodcinema. Ganti discusses people, events, technological, linguistic and political develop-ments, and the numerous social currents that shape present-day Bollywood. Chapters 2and 3 outline aspects of the Hindi film industry that are unique to Bollywood. These chap-ters are based on an understanding of Bollywoods culture as pan-Indian. Chapter 2 dis-cusses the relevance of verbal agreements, the relatively recent corporatization of Hindicinema and the impact of industry status (or lack thereof) on Hindi cinema, whilechapter 3 elaborates Bollywood narrative style with a focus on three specific areas of nar-rative tension in Bollywood cinema: right versus wrong, law versus justice, and duty versusdesire. Each of these is discussed in reference to a particular film that employs the givenstyle. On several occasions in both these chapters Ganti underlines the differencesbetween how Bollywood and Hollywood work. She argues that criticisms to the effectthat Bollywood suffers from a lack of genre or storyline are consequent on commentatorsrefusal to engage with Bollywood on its own terms and the application of non-Bollywoodstandards to it. Indeed Bollywood defies adherence to a single genre or storyline. Chapter 4outlines three genres that are specific to Bollywood. In the discussion of these genres, Gantiuses examples from three films that can be described as exemplifying the particular genreunder discussion. The strength of this chapter is Gantis argument that, within these genres,the values of family and justice versus law that she establishes in chapter 3 remain highlyrelevant because they are unique to Bollywood. Chapter 5 provides reflections of film-makers, actors, etc. on different aspects of Bollywood cinema.

    Despite its many strengths, the book has some weaknesses. Ganti acknowledges the roleof patriarchy in Bollywood several times in the text but does not explore the issue any

    208 Book reviews

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  • further. The same can be said about Gantis treatment of nepotism in Bollywood. An over-whelming majority of interviews in chapter 5 are from 1996 and provide little value to theoverall structure of the book. By Gantis own admission, much has changed in Bollywoodsince the mid-2000s. Since the interviews touch on social issues like the role of women inHindi cinema the outlook of the current generation of actors, directors, and producers hasmost likely changed in the last 14 years.

    Ila NagarThe Ohio State University, USA

    nagar.5@osu.edu 2014, Ila Nagar

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09584935.2014.902662

    Markin dolile Mujib hottakando [Mujibs killing as depicted in American documents],by Mizanur Rahman Khan, Dhaka, Prothoma Publications, 2013, 376pp, ISBN: 978 984902 5474

    Investigative journalist Mizanur Rahman KhansMarkin Dolile Mujib Hottakando is essen-tial reading for those interested in the political history of Bangladesh. Written in Bengali,the book complements authoritative studies by Lawrence Lifschultz (Bangladesh: TheUnfinished Revolution, London: Zed Press, 1979) and Anthony Mascarenhas (Bangladesh:A Legacy of Blood, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1986) on the brutal murder ofBangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Mujib was a charismatic leader, who led thepro-independence movement of Bangladesh that resulted in the secession of the easternwing of Pakistan in 1971. The author stresses that the killing of Mujib along with mostof his family members in a bloody military coup on 15 August 1975, was a tragic incidentof epic historical proportions requiring close scrutiny (911).

    While previous works on Mujibs killing have relied on media reports, interviews, andwidespread speculations about various actors and their motivations, Markin Dolile MujibHottakando is unique for at least one reason: it draws on de-classified archival materialsfrom the USA. Information generated from diplomatic cables and intelligence reportswere analyzed by the author and verified by close witnesses and expert opinions on relevantissues.

    The book explores the extent to which the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) wasinvolved in the conspiracy to kill Mujib. The author claims that the question of theCIAs possible involvement in the Mujib killing received sustained attention in theIndian media and left-wing political parties, which blamed the CIA station chief inDhaka Philip Cherry for conspiring with a few civilian and military officials to deposethe Mujib regime (146150). Elsewhere the author analyzes the central role played bythe US President Richard Nixons national security adviser Henry Kissinger in conspiringagainst Mujib (3032). The book shows that prior to Mujibs killing, Kissinger had whole-heartedly tried to resist the partition of Pakistan in 1971, and may have continued to con-spire against Mujib even after the independence of Bangladesh.

    Although the author refers to published materials on the dubious role played by the USofficials in Dhaka in staging a coup against Mujib, he fails to provide any independentlygenerated evidence to support the claim that the CIA was involved in the Mujib killing.Instead of presenting such evidence, he merely reproduces what Lifschultz wrote and

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