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Mapping A Collective Passion

Abhija Ghosh

Edited by Ziya Us Salam
Spotlight, An Imprint of Om Books International, Noida, 2012, pp. 254, Rs. 395.00

By Anna M.M. Vetticad
Spotlight, An Imprint of Om Books International, Noida, 2012, pp. 234, Rs. 295.00


Housefull: The Golden Age of Hindi Cinema is a compilation of retrospective analysis of selective films from the 1950s to the 60s elaborated by related tales of stardom, film music and anecdotes. As the title of the book suggests, the authors have attempted to reconstruct an era of filmmaking which according to them was one of the most glittering, productive and secular decades of Hindi cinema. This collection has four main contributors, including Ziya Us Salam, the editor, Suresh Kohli, Anuj Kumar and Vijay Lokpally, all of whom have or have had some significant association with film journalism which distinctively reflects in their narration. The Adventures of an Intrepid Film Critic by Anna M.M. Vetticad is a remarkable endeavour by the author to view and review every single film released in the National Capital Region under production, distribution and exhibition bracket of ‘Bollywood’. Vetticad extends the boundaries of contemporary film journalism from just reviews of films to researching, capturing and commenting on the context, desires and survival strategies of people involved in this cinema industry from the mainstream popularity as well as the critical peripheries. At the outset, a book evoking nostalgia and sensibility of Hindi cinema of the fifties and sixties and another archiving the intricate yet elusive web of contemporary mediatized ‘Bollywood’ are separated by generations by the very object of their interest and criticism: Indian cinema. However, when observed to-gether, they point towards a historicity of film production, exhibition and most significantly, film reception in India. This essay will work less through comparison of both books but more by observing the transition in cinematic culture and imagination as elucidated by the authors and their experiences. Moreover, the titles exhibit distinct traditions of Indian film writing and journalism which have influenced and contributed towards choices, opinions and practices of film reception in the country. This review engages with the discursive aspect of film writing and criticism which remains a rarely appreciated endeavour despite their archival value as primary resources of film history.   This compilation begins with the hope of re-acquainting readers with the country’s existing cinematic heritage which was found on secular and plural values. Ziya Us Salam with assistance from his co-authors weaves through these layers of nostalgia, remembrance and bygone era, with much affect and emotion to create a map of Hindi cinema that was rooted in social realism but also engaged with the ...

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