Bollywood’s Regional Turn: Investigating Hindi Cinema’s Shift to Non-urbanity

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Bollywood’s Regional Turn: Investigating Hindi Cinema’s Shift to Non-urbanity
Stream: Cinema Studies/Film
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Rudrani Gangopadhyay, Rutgers University, United States (organizer, presenter, chair)
Souraj Dutta, University of St. Andrews, United Kingdom (presenter)
Niyati, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India (presenter)


Since India’s economic liberalization in 1991, Bollywood films have predominantly been set in metropolitan centers around the country or in foreign locations in Europe or North America. However, a study of Hindi cinema in the last decade would reveal filmmakers have been looking to move away from these settings. Of particular interest in the current sociopolitical conditions of India is the trend of setting films in the proverbial ‘small towns’ in the Hindi heartland of North India. Much of recent scholarship identifies the release of Dabangg (Dir. Abhinav Kashyap, 2010) as a crucial moment for this shift away from urban modernity. The trend of setting films in ‘the region’ has only grown more popular since then. A quick look at the films released from 2016 until now would reveal that Bollywood has clearly found a formula that works in the ‘region’ film, and are seemingly not going to give the forma up any time soon. This panel attempts to investigate this crossroads moment for Hindi cinema from different approaches in order to understand the impulse behind as well as the impact of such a paradigmatic shift. Papers in the panel investigate the socioeconomic causes for this regional turn, as well the ways in which these new negotiations with cinematic space it has altered the subjectivities represented within the cinematic frame, ultimate drawing connections with the changing politics of the nation.