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They stole the show!: Indian films in coastal Tanzania, 1950s1980s

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Utilizing rare and innovative source materials, including hundreds of interviews and survey responses, as well as box-office receipts and archival sources, this article provides path-breaking insights into the history of audience preferences in Tanzania from the 1950s to the 1980s. It reveals a long-term passion for Indian films amongst Tanzanians of all class, ethnic and gender backgrounds, and explores the nature of movie-going in Tanzania. This article also describes innovative exhibition practices inspired by the overwhelming audience demand for Indian films, such as reeling and a black market trade in cinema tickets. While hinting at the complex reasons why Indian films became so popular among East African audiences, the article adds to the increasingly vocal calls for recognition of the place of both audiences and non-western producers and distributors in our understanding of global media flows.

Keywords: African audiences; African film history; Indian films; Tanzania; Zanzibar; global film distribution; movie-going

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of History, Michigan State University.

Publication date: April 1, 2010

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  • The Journal of African Media Studies (JAMS) is an interdisciplinary journal that provides a forum for debate on the historical and contemporary aspects of media and communication in Africa. 
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