This study of popular Indian cinema in an age of globalization, new media, and metropolitan Hindu fundamentalism focuses on the period from 1991 to 2004. Popular Hindi cinema took a certain spectacular turn from the early 1990s as a signature Bollywood style evolved in the wake of liberalization and the inauguration of a global media ecology in India. Films increasingly featured transformed bodies, fashions, life-styles, commodities, gadgets, and spaces, often in non-linear, window-shopping ways, without any primary obligation to the narrative. Flows of desires, affects, and aspirations frequently crossed the bounds of stories and determined milieus. Basu theorizes this overall cinematic-cultural ecology here as an informational geo-televisual aesthetic.
Bollywood in the Age of New Media connects this filmic geo-televisual style to an ongoing story of the uneven globalizing process in India. It explains how the irreverent energies of the new can actually be tied to conservative Brahminical imaginations of class, caste, or gender hierarchies. Using a wide-ranging methodological approach that converses with theoretical domains of post-structuralism, post-colonialism, and film and media studies, this book presents a complex account of an India of the present caught between brave new silicon valleys and farmer suicides.
The geo-televisual aesthetic will prove useful not just for scholars of Indian cinema and media, but also for those of Indian political and cultural modernity at large, from visual anthropologists to political scientists. The book is as much about the new globalized imaginary of a national elite as it is about film.