Bollywood in St Andrews

Monday 7 May 2007

Film scholars will recognise the global importance of Indian cinema at a special event charting the rise of Bollywood at the University of St Andrews tomorrow (Wednesday 9th May 2007).

As a leading Bollywood enterprise prepares to become the first Indian film company to float on the London stock exchange, the event recognises the economic as well as cultural impact of Indian film around the World.

Leading experts at the University’s Centre for Film Studies will talk to students about the growing importance of Indian film in studies of transnational cinema and will cover issues related to the teaching of Indian cinema at British universities. The University’s library holds one of the best collections of Indian films in the UK.

Head of Film Studies at St Andrews, Professor Dina Iordanova, said, “India is the world’s largest film producer, with an annual output of between 800 and 900 titles. It is only recently, however, that the economic importance of Indian cinema has been recognised, and there is a growing interest in investing in Indian cinema.”

The Indian study day will cover the history of Indian cinema from early silent films to recent Bollywood blockbusters. The first Indian film, ‘Raja Harishchandra’ was made in 1913 and the film industry’s biggest historical star Dadasaheb Phalke, who made more than ninety films, is considered to be ‘the father of Indian cinema’.

St Andrews’ film scholars claimed in recent research that Raj Kappor’s 1951 film ‘Awara’ (‘Vagabond’) could turn out to be one of the world’s most popular works of cinema. Professor Iordanova continued, “Film is extremely important not just in India but in Indian diasporic communities around the world (North America, Europe, the Arab world, Australasia) where it is very successful and brings great box office revenues. There are also many countries without any significant presence of diasporic Indians where Indian cinema is the most popular form of cinematic entertainment. This is true for a large part of the African continent, and, historically, for countries as diverse as the Soviet Union, Turkey, Greece or Egypt. And in the UK there are currently at least two Bollywood blockbusters per annum which get into the top ten box office charts.”

The day will include illustrated talks on classical director/actor Guru Dutt, on narrative conventions in Indian cinema and on the international distribution and impact of Indian film. Speakers will include academics from Film Studies and the University’s School of History, and Rosie Thomas from the University of Westminster, who is one of the leading international authorities on Indian cinema. She will talk on popular Indian cinema from the 1930s and in particular about a famous film star called ‘fearless Nadia’.


Issued by Press Office, University of St Andrews

Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st-

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