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Between the Godfather and the Mafia: Situating Right-Wing Interventions in the Bombay Film Industry (19922002)

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Drawing primarily on trade press discourse, this article interrogates right-wing interventions in the Bombay film industry in the 1990s. It argues that there were unprecedented levels of investment by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena, both material and ideological, in Hindi cinema. It examines the changing dynamics between the State and Hindi cinema leading to industry status in 1998 and its implications: the influential role of Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray as mediator of industrial disputes; the nexus between stars and politicians; underworld film financing; the use of the cinematic apparatus and exhibition sites for right-wing propaganda and electoral campaigning, and controversies over growing instances of partisan tax exemptions and national film awards. What is also suggested is that there were industrial shifts towards corporatisation in order to reinvent the Bombay film industry as a global player for diasporic consumption and investment, assisted by BJP-led State fiscal policies, incentives and conventions.
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Keywords: Bal Thackeray; Bharatiya Janata Party; Bombay film industry; Industry status; Right-wing interventions; Shiv Sena

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Nottingham.

Publication date: 2009-05-01

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  • Studies in South Asian Film and Media (SAFM) is the most promising new journal in the field. This peer-reviewed publication is committed to looking at the media and cinemas of the Indian subcontinent in their social, political, economic, historical, and increasingly globalized and diasporic contexts. The journal will evaluate these topics in relation to class, caste, gender, race, sexuality, and ideology.
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