Rochona Majumdar is Associate Professor of South Asian Languages and Civilizations, Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago, and an IWM Guest.
This presentation traces the historical context in which discussions about “art cinema”, already a global cultural category by the late 1930s and early 1940s, found a home in India. Existing writings on Indian “art cinema” regard it as a cultural product of the post-independence (1947) project of Nehruvian modernization. I offer a different and more complex transnational genealogy of the category. Focusing on the efforts of Indian cineastes, policy makers, and the British film “missionary” Marie Seton, I demonstrate that discussions about the “art film” in India, while sharing in certain aspects from discussions in post-War Europe, Britain, and elsewhere also had historical difference built into it. My presentation takes you through these intertwined national and global discourses.