Films do not exist in a vacuum: they are almost always conceived produced, distributed and consumed within specific economic and social contexts. Film is now an integral part of our culture. What is it about films that attract us so much? Why do we enjoy films so much? Why indeed should we study films? It is not only fascinating to look at how films are made or even constructed but how they affect us is also a seminal question. What becomes equally important is what they tell us about our society, our understanding of the world around us and how this differs from one nation to another. Cinema brings traditional forms of cultural memory (novels, short stories, plays) to life in an audio-visual medium that transcends barriers of language, space, and time which makes it such an invaluable tool of entertainment.
Since this book is about Bengali cinema an integral part of Indian cinema one cannot begin the discussion without reference to Bollywood as it is popularly known across the world. It is one of the important film industries in the world in terms of the sheer number of films it produces, Hollywood being the other. The first Indian film was Raja Harishchandra (1913) by Dadsaheb Phalke, which was but made via primitive equipment compared to the technology the film directors now have at their disposal. The distribution patterns too have alternated considerably as well with most films now getting digital releases.
However, what is interesting is that cinemas in Indian languages other than Hindi, such as Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Kananda, Malayalam, Oriya, Marathi, and Punjabi, to name a few, have an impressive following both among general audiences and scholars. However, lesser academic discourse exists on these films since they are known as regional films. Bollywood film technologies, including their funding sources, star capital, production budgets, and distribution circuits in India and abroad, have made Bollywood more accessible internationally and therefore prompted academic study from Film Studies and Media Studies perspectives. However, regional cinemas have invited serious critical work such as Tamil Cinema: The Cultural Politics of India’s Other Film Industry (2008) and Bengali Cinema: ‘An Other Nation’ (2011) Bipolar Identity: Region, Nation and the Kannada Language Film (2011) and Beyond Bollywood: The Cinemas of South India (2017).
This book, wishes to draw critical attention to Bengali cinema of the twenty-first century. In 2001, ‘Calcutta’ became ‘Kolkata’, almost three decades after Satyajit Ray’ and Mrinal Sen’s Calcutta trilogies depicted the city’s angst and hopes, shattered dreams and desires, and widespread unemployment and social mobility. The six films have rightfully become a critical study of the tumultuous times that defined the Calcuttan as well.
This book engages with the new generation of Bengali filmmakers such as Srijit Mukherjee, Anjan Dutt, Kaushik Ganguly, Nandita Roy & Siboprasad Mukherjee, Atanu Ghosh, Kamaleswar Mukherjee (Khawto), Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Suman Mukherjee, Mainak Bhaumik, Bappaditya Bandopadhyay, Anik Dutta, Churni Ganguly, Subrata Sen, Q, Anindya Chatterjee, Sudeshna Ray and Abhijit. This book will attempt to address a gap in the study of contemporary Bengali cinema, beyond the spotlight on Satyajit Ray-Ritwik Ghatak-Mrinal Sen and Aparna Sen-Rituporno Ghosh.
Scholars are invited to examine different aspects of post-2001 Bengali cinema and its relationship with Kolkata. Topics may include the following but are not limited to the same:
- The ‘Urban Turn’ in post-2001 films
- Globalisation and Bengali cinema
- The city of Calcutta
- ‘Star’, stardom, star culture and social media
- Engagement with sexuality in these films and how it depicts the cultural scene of the city
- The Kolkatan depicted in these films
- The kind of audience these films are addressing
- Multiplexes and OTT vis-à-vis single screen theaters
These are some areas which various papers can engage with but authors are free to write on any topic which they find relevant and which seriously engage with the theme of the book. The edited collection will be published by a reputed international publisher and abstracts of 300-500 words are invited. Queries/submissions on the same may be addressed to Devapriya Sanyal at firstname.lastname@example.org.