Celluloid Cinephilia: Film Society Cultures in India


 This paper intends to narrate the unexplored history of the film society movement in India. It is an attempt to revisit a moment of organized cinephilia that was primarily centered on the appreciation of International and Indian art cinemas as well as the Indian New Wave movement. The period from the early 1960s through the 1970s is referred to as the high moment of such cultural activity marked by debates on the art and craft of cinema, institutional support from the government combined with increasing success in terms of screenings and memberships, which eventually waned out by the mid 1980s.  By examining the inception histories of significant film societies of the movement, specifically from Calcutta, Delhi, Bombay, Patna and Bangalore, this paper will map the collaborations and networks through which films were accessed, circulated and viewed as an alternative to the prevalent mainstream cinemas. Looking at stories and memories of film society members, this paper argues that the circulation of the celluloid film object and peoples’ experiences around it were as crucial to the momentum of the film society movement as the content of the alternative cinemas that was preferred. Therefore, this paper uses the prism of cinephilia to generate the variant film cultures engendered by film societies as they endeavored to make meaning of cinema and its relationship to modern society.

Abhija Ghosh, Research Scholar, Cinema Studies, SAA, JNU

Venue:  Committee Room, JNU Central Library

Date and Time: 22nd March 2013 (Friday), 4:30 pm