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Krispa Ningombam

By Tula Goenka
OM Books International, Noida, 2014, pp. 452, Rs. 395.00


In a quasi-romantic and quasi-realist statement, ‘much to my disappointment, the shelves were full of texts on Hollywood and European filmmakers with nothing substantial on contemporary Indian directors’ (p. 10), Tula Goenka states, clearly, her objective behind writing the book, recovers directorial voices that contribute heavily to the process of filmmaking but still remain unheard. Interestingly, this attempt, to recover unregistered domineering voices, places Goenka in the vicinity of the subaltern studies circle.    The scarcity of texts written on and about the contemporary Indian filmmakers, undoubtedly, handicaps the scholarly pursuits of many who seek to understand contemporary Indian cinema beyond the realm of ‘just Bollywood’.  The book explores the diverse ways of storytelling that contemporary filmmakers adopt which makes them unique and how the differences in storytelling earn the Indian film industry the recognition of being the largest film industry in the world. Tula Goenka, Professor at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University records the interviews of 28 film directors through a series of conversations which are catalogued in five different sections, viz. North, South, East, West and The World. Further, the first section titled ‘North’ is subdivided into 3 parts namely, ‘Bollywood or Popular Hindi Cinema’, ‘Parallel to Middle Cinema’ and ‘Indie or Multiplex Cinema’. The book poses a challenge to the position of Bollywood as the true representative cinema of the nation and ‘explore the entire gamut of Indian cinema, not just Bollywood’ (p. 31). The stereotypical belief that Bollywood with its hypnotic songs and spectacular dances present the real face of Indian cinema has been rooted so deeply in the psyche of the people all over the world that it is difficult to notice the different practices of filmmaking adopted by different filmmakers in India. Goenka aims to underline the multiplicity as well as ingenuity of Indian cinema by interviewing directors not only from Bollywood but also from other regional cinema such as Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali and Marathi. In the course of these interviews she often engaged with the meta-narrative of Bollywood and how it eclipsed the ingenuity of regional films. When asked how regional cinema gets affected Adoor Gopalakrishnan responds, But elsewhere in the country, while offbeat films do get made and written about, they don’t reach the people. The film industry all over is such that it doesn’t allow anything other than what is most conventionally consumed. But things are getting more and ...

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