Cover reveal – Art Cinema And India’s Forgotten Futures by Rochona Majumdar

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Through careful archival research, the book presents, how art films 

emerged out of a particular relationship between ordinary people and 

the arts.


Rochona Majumdar analyzes the aspirations, films, and writings of a small

 but significant group of passionate cinephiles – Satyajit Ray, Ritwik 

Ghatak, and Mrinal Sen, among them. These filmmakers worked with a new 

medium—films—to craft unique readings of India’s postcolonial history. 

In this, they were pioneers who anticipated many of the themes that 

academic postcolonial, feminist, and other radical historiographies 

developed in later years.





Art cinema and India's forgotten futures

October 2021

Non-fiction | Columbia University Press | 304 Pages | 35 B&W Film Stills Paperback

| INR 699/-

Distributed by Penguin Random House India


  Art films gave Indian cinema international recognition in Cannes, Venice, 

and scores of international festivals.

Art filmmakers were among the first to see the problems with the 

developmental state. The films spoke both thematically and 

cinematographically of the many ills that beset the new nation-state.

Certain such as the “angry young man” arose first in art films before they 

reappeared in Bombay films in the star persona of Amitabh Bachchan.

The novel use of songs, location shooting, melodrama, poster art, graffiti, 

found footage, and sound camera techniques marked unprecedented breaks in



         Why then has the INDIAN ART CINEMA gone into 





        The project of Indian art cinema began in the years following independence

         in 1947, at once evoking the global reach of the term “art film” and 

        speaking to the aspirations of the new nation-state. In this pioneering 

        book, Rochona Majumdar examines key works of Indian art cinema to 

        demonstrate how film emerged as a mode of doing history and that, in so 

        doing, it anticipated some of the most influential insights of postcolonial thought.

         Majumdar details how filmmakers as well as a host of film societies

         and publications sought to foster a new cinematic culture for the new 

        nation, fueled by enthusiasm for a future of progress and development. Good

        films would help make good citizens: art 

        cinema would not only earn global prestige but also shape discerning 

        individuals capable of exercising aesthetic and political judgment. During 

        the 1960s, however, Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, and Ritwik Ghatak―the leading 

        figures of Indian art cinema―became disillusioned with the belief that 

        film was integral to national development. Instead, Majumdar contends, 

        their works captured the unresolvable contradictions of the postcolonial 

        present, which pointed toward possible, yet unrealized futures. Analyzing 

        the films of Ray, Sen, and Ghatak, and working through previously unexplored

        archives of film society publications, Majumdar offers a radical 

        reinterpretation of Indian film history. Art Cinema and India’s Forgotten 

        Futures offers sweeping new insights into film’s relationship with the postcolonial condition

         and its role in decolonial imaginations of the 





        Rochona Majumdar is an associate professor in the Departments of South Asian

        Languages and Civilizations and Cinema and Media Studies at the University 

        of Chicago. She is the author of Marriage and Modernity: Family Values in Colonial Bengal 

        (2009) and Writing Postcolonial History (2010).

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