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‘PK Hamara Hai’: Hindi cinema and the defense of dharm in media counterpublics

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This article problematizes notions in the current landscape of debates over Hindi cinema as one of polarized opposition between violent Hindutva cultural politics and liberal civil society. While acknowledging the centrality of both of these urban Indian publics to recent controversies, my article seeks to illumine an important demographic group in between the two: middle-class supporters of Hindu religious principles in India’s political and social landscape who eschew violent protests but work through media production to counter what they see as the affronts to Hindu dharm posed by recent popular Hindi films. I examine this group’s voice in larger culture debates through a discussion of the plays and other media productions of India’s International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) communities, produced in response to the films OMG (Shukla, 2012), PK (Hirani, 2014) and Padmaavat (Bhansali, 2018) in Mumbai and Pune. I analyse this as a third voice in contemporary debates over the representation and critique of Hindu traditions in India’s public spheres.
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Keywords: Hindu nationalism; ISKCON; bhakti; counterpublic; dharm; saskti

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Pittsburgh

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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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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