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Art Cinema and India’s Forgotten Futures

India, in the 20th century, saw the emergence of Indian art cinema. Taking inspiration from the film movement, ‘Italian Neorealism’, this new form of cinema was dominated by Bengali cinema.

In her pioneering book, Art Cinema and India’s Forgotten Futures, author Rochona 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.

Here’s the recording of our LIVE session with Rochona Majumdar.