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The Mission of Popular Film: The Use of Tradition and Its Implication in a Tamil Movie

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Thriving in the vicinity of normative social spheres, the slum in India constitutes a form of “intimate other” with a distinct place in her political culture. According to Ashish Nandy (1998) it is a source of idioms for the construction of popular imagery. It provides movie goers with a shared reference to a lower-middle class view of society, and offers a narrative metaphor for popular cinema which, when looked at through the lens of this domain, comes to reveal some of the definitive tructural shifts in political power in the last two decades. Discussing the generative aspect of the slum-like world of cinema where global culture is invariably incorporated into uniquely Indian forms of hybridity, Nandy holds that this blend of heterogeneous elements results in a stylized mannerism which resonates the pervasive aesthetics of contemporary political culture. As such, it exemplifies a way in which seemingly innocuous popular entertainment takes on a potent instrumentality for construction of a hegemonic order.In this article an attempt is made to situate Nandy’s argument in a linguistically and politically different context and examine how his metaphor applies to cinema in that region.

Keywords: class structure; globalization; political culture; slum; traditional value

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2004

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  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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