Raj Kapoor, Mukesh, and Nostalgia for an Inclusive Nationalism

October 2, 2018

Challia, Awaara, Shree 420 – the singer Mukesh’s soulful voice is found across the soundtracks of films in an early post-colonial India, narrating the vastly different post-partition life on the sub-continent. With Raj Kapoor, an accomplished actor and producer, Mukesh would go on to play an essential role in forming a young India’s national identity … Read More

Bollywood’s Commodification of the Delectable Urban Indian Feminist

July 16, 2018

“My Choice,” the infamous video released by the #VogueEmpower campaign in 2015, creates a narrative arc through visual and auditory spectacle. The two and a half minute film featuring Bollywood darling Deepika Padukone begins with slow shots cutting between a seemingly heterogenous group of ninety nine women. The music is sombre, ominous. The women are … Read More

Naach Girls Is a Glamorous Celebration of Women Performers

June 30, 2018

The dancing woman in Bollywood cinema, an often-portrayed character who performs for a largely male audience within the film while the actress playing her performs for a diverse set of viewers in real life, is a pillar of Bollywood’s appeal. Art director Amad Ilyas watched these films with their varied versions of “naach girls” — … Read More

The Real Story of How Pad Man Became Famous by Selling Shame

February 18, 2018

This post originally appeared on Mythri Speaks. “If we want to give our daughters Sanitary Pads, we’d much rather buy the good quality ones available in the market. What do you think we are…trying to get rid of some cheap stuff by dumping it on our girls?” These words came from angry mothers of girls … Read More

Padmaavat: A Tragedy

February 11, 2018

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period-drama Padmaavat was set up to fail. The sumptuous shots of Rajasthan and the ravishing actors provide just enough cinematic lustre to distract us from its narrative mediocrity, at least for the time we are in the theatre. The story of Queen Padmaavati has stirred emotions of people across India since the … Read More

How Anupam Kher Became the South Asian Diaspora’s Father

December 22, 2017

When The Big Sick opened to American audiences in late June, it unleashed a tidal wave on its viewers–people of all colors gathered in cinemas across the country to watch a hapless Pakistani immigrant fall in love. For many it was a brand new concept: a brown man placed centerstage telling the story of his … Read More

SRK Is Having A Bad Day

August 6, 2016

The King of Bollywood! He’s just like us!! Professional lover boy and blockbuster movie-maker, Shah Rukh Khan is hapless. He took to Facebook yesterday to post about his difficulties in life and Pokémon training. “Feeling extremely inadequate, unattractive & lonely. Been on the road for 45 mins & not one Pokemon has come to me. Not even … Read More

The Suitable Girl: *Cue Musical Number*

March 31, 2016

I am currently suffering through my first debilitating New York allergy season. So while I’ve been laid up in bed I’ve been making full use of Netflix’s amazing Bollywood library. And because all great epiphanies come when you’re weak and your guard’s been lowered, I realized something: cheesy Bollywood movies from the 90s shaped my … Read More

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