Bombay Cinema's Islamicate Histories
Ira Bhaskar and Richard Allen
170 x 230 mm
Year of Publishing
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Orient BlackSwan

Following Marshal Hodgson, the term “Islamicate” is used to distinguish the cultural forms associated with Islam from the religion itself. The term is especially useful in South Asia where Muslim cultures have commingled with other religious and cultural traditions over a millennium to form a rich vein of syncretic aesthetic expression.

Comprising fourteen essays by major scholars, this collection presents an engaging account of the history and influence of cultural Islam on Bombay cinema. The first section, ‘Islamicate Histories’, charts the historical roots of South Asian Muslim cultures and the precursors of Bombay cinema’s Islamicate idioms in the Urdu Parsi Theatre; the courtesan cultures of Lucknow; the traditions of miniature painting; the literary, musical and performance traditions of north India; and various modes of Perso-Arabic story-telling.

The second section, ‘Cinematic Forms’, discusses the ways in which these Islamicate histories have contributed to the distinctive stories, performance traditions, and iconography of Bombay Cinema that persist in Bollywood. It explores ‘Islamicate’ genres like the ‘Oriental’ film and the ‘Muslim Social’, as well as forms of poetry and performance like the ‘ghazal’ and ‘the qawwali’.

At a time of acute crisis in the perception and understanding of Islam, Bombay Cinema’s Islamicate Histories demonstrates how Hindu and Muslim cultures in India are inextricably entwined. This book will be of interest to students and scholars of Film Studies, Media Studies, Cultural Studies, History, Women’s Studies, Visual Studies, Performance Studies and South Asian Area Studies, as well as to journalists and archivists.

Ira Bhaskar is Professor of Cinema Studies at the School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi

Richard Allen is Chair Professor of Film and Media Art and Dean of the School of Creative Media, City University, Hong Kong

List of Illustrations
A Note on Transliteration 

Introduction: Bombay Cinema’s Islamicate Histories
Richard Allen and Ira Bhaskar

1. Passionate Refrains: The Theatricality of Urdu on the Parsi Stage 
Kathryn Hansen

2. The Persian Mas̤navī Tradition and Bombay Cinema 
Sunil Sharma

3. Reflections from Padminī’s Palace: Women’s Voices of Longing and Lament in the Sufi Romance and Shiʿi Elegy
Peter Knapczyk

4. Situating the T̤awāʼif as a Poet: Nostalgia, Urdu Literary Cultures and Vernacular Modernity
Shweta Sachdeva Jha

5. Mughal Chronicles: Words, Images and the Gaps between Them 
Kavita Singh

6. Justice, Love and the Creative Imagination in Mughal India 
Najaf Haider

7. The ‘Muslim Presence’ in Padmaavat
Hilal Ahmed

8. Alibaba’s Open Sesame: Unravelling the Islamicate in Oriental Fantasy Films
Rosie Thomas

9. The Textual, Musical and Sonic Journey of the Ghazal in Bombay Cinema
Shikha Jhingan

10. The Sufi Sacred, the Qawwālī and the Songs of Bombay Cinema
Ira Bhaskar

11. Avoiding Urdu and the T̤awāʼif: Regendering Kathak Dance in Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje
Philip Lutgendorf

12. The Poetics of Pardā
Richard Allen

13. Transfigurations of the Star Body: Salman Khan and the Spectral Muslim
Shohini Ghosh

14. Terrorism, Conspiracy and Surveillance in Bombay’s Urban Cinema
Ranjani Mazumdar

Notes on Contributors

1. Book Review | Published in The Hindustan Times, 23 July, 2022.
2. Why Salman Khan is the most discussed but least-studied stars of Bollywood | The Print, 19 June 2022.
3. Our transcultural cinema | The Tribune, New Delhi, 1 May 2022.
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