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'Globalization' and regional(ist) cinema in Western India: public culture, private media, and the reproduction of a Hindu national(ist) hero, 1930s-2000s

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Much has been written on the relations between cinema and nationalism, and the former's crucial role in shaping people's imaginations of the nation. In comparison, the ways in which regional and national cinemas may interact, compete, or conflict with one another have been little documented. This article seeks to fill a gap in studies of media, regionalism, and nationalism by exploring a suggestive example of the making of a locally-based regional cinema with a national(ist) ambition in western India, 1930s-1990s. It focuses on the work of Bhalji Pendharkar and his representation of Shivaji, a seventeenth-century hero-warrior and founder of the Maratha nation. Drawing on spectators' retrospective recollections and impressions of these films and the powerful part they seem to have played in contemporary imaginings, I show how the Marathi film maker's essentialization of 'Maratha/i-ness' served as a 'projected fulfillment' of a nation 'desired and absent', yet in the making. Furthermore, I explore how these cinematographic narratives of the Maratha/Indian nation drew on, and how they resonated with, structures of feeling and sensory configurations relevant to viewers at the time. In tracing the subsequent trajectory of the filmmaker's cinematographic legacy, 1990s-2000s, I explore the attendant anxieties of generations of Marathi-speaking viewers as well as the use to which new technologies are concomitantly being put. Further contextualization of these usages is offered in light of current redeployments of regional and national identifications in the face of technological (and cultural) globalization.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/21984/

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