Re-Texturing the Past: The Digital Image and the Contemporary Bollywood Historical

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter will explore certain ideological and affective transitions in contemporary Hindu nationalist cinematic imaginings of a glorious past in the era of the digital image. In recent times, the long-dormant historical genre has made an emphatic return to Bollywood cinema. Films like Bajirao Mastani (Sanjay Leela Bhansali, 2015), Mohenjo Daro (Ashutosh Gowariker, 2016), or the recent controversial film Padmaavat (Bhansali, 2018) variously present a new Hindu will to the past. This involves not just the insertion of marketable myths into the field of the historical or the faux-historical; that is, for example, the introduction of the horse and unicorn in the Indus Valley setting of Mohenjo Daro. Other than the monumental canvases and antiquarian mise-en-scènes, what distinguishes this will be a phatic re-texturing of the pictures of the bygone. The phatic-textural is in line with the Lyotardian figure that Christopher Pinney invokes qua politics of popular images in the Indian context. As an assemblage of affectations, this Hindu digital orientalism presents the thrill of two temporal visions – that of a techno-determined future of the nation and the ornaments of a great Hindu forgetting. A technologically emboldened Hindu nation is finally able to birth pictures and an invasive experience of sound that are adequate to the profound nature of Hindu remembrances. Once it was only Hollywood that could plausibly part the Red Sea.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHistoricizing Myths in Contemporary India
Subtitle of host publicationCinematic Representations and Nationalist Agendas in Hindi Cinema
EditorsSwapna Gopinath, Rutuja Deshmukh
PublisherRoutledge India
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781003363149
ISBN (Print)9780367755126, 9781032425214
StatePublished - Feb 3 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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