Hindi commercial cinema has been invested in the supernatural since its earliest days. However, only a small segment of these films has been adequately explored in scholarly work. Haunting Bollywood addresses this gap.
From Gothic ghost films of the 1950s to snake films of the 1970s and 1980s to today’s globally influenced zombie and vampire films, Meheli Sen explores what the supernatural is and the questions it raises about film form, history, modernity, and gender in South Asian public cultures. Contrary to the widely held belief that these are uniquely “local” forms, she shows that the supernatural is dispersed among multiple genres and is constantly in conversation with global cinematic conventions; simultaneously, the supernatural is an especially flexible impulse that pushes Hindi films into new formal and stylistic territories.
Sen also argues that gender is a particularly accommodating arena in which the supernatural plays out its most basic compulsions; thus, the interface between gender and genre provides a productive lens into Hindi cinema’s negotiation of the modern and the global. Haunting Bollywood reveals that the supernatural’s unruly energies continually resist being contained, even as they engage with and sometimes subvert Hindi cinema’s most enduring pleasures, from songs and stars, to myth and melodrama.
Haunting Bollywood will be of interest to scholars and students of literary criticism, postcolonial studies, queer theory, history, and cultural studies.
Chapter One. Haunted Havelis and Hapless Heroes:
Gender, Genre, and the Hindi Gothic Film
Chapter Two. The Ramsay Rampage: Horror as
Chapter Three. Ravishing Reptiles: Magic, Masala, and
the Hindi “Snake Film”
Chapter Four. Present Imperfect: Bollywood and the
Ghosts of Neoliberalism
Chapter Five. The Planetary Paranormal: Millennial Mythos
and the Disassembly of the “Hindi Film”
Meheli Sen is Associate Professor in the Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures (AMESALL) and the Cinema Studies Program at Rutgers University.