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Title: Journeys in and beyond the city : cinema in Calcutta, 1897-1939
Author: Chatterjee, Ranita
Awarding Body: University of Westminster
Current Institution: University of Westminster
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis is a historiography of early cinema in Calcutta and moves away from the received paradigm of ‘national’ cinema to consider the larger transnational framework within which to narrate histories of early cinema. It also positions the city as a critical frame from which early film historiography can be generated. The study maps out the emergence of the Calcutta film industry, from its beginnings in 1897 to the rise of the studios and its stabilisation by the 1930s. In the process the study challenges received film history to reveal a complex, multi-layered and robust film industry in Calcutta that emerged concurrently with Bombay – a narrative that has largely been written out of nationalist discourses of ‘Indian cinema’. The thesis addresses a lacuna in the history of film in South Asia by shifting the focus to Calcutta, from Bombay; by moving away from the film text to focus on institutional history; and by moving from an interrogation of production histories to placing histories of film circulation at the centre of film historiography. This is the first enquiry based on studio records to discuss film history in India in this period. It accesses rare industry documents found in the archives of the Aurora Film Corporation, the oldest surviving film studio in India. The Aurora papers bring to light new evidence on the everyday workings of the film industry in the 1930s, including details of circulation practices and trans-regional networks that inextricably link the three key industries of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras in complex relationships. The Aurora papers also reveal details of transnational circulation amongst the Indian diaspora in the 1930s and broadens the canvas of enquiry into early South Asian cinema. Thereby this study connects the Calcutta industry to other global film production/distribution centres of London and Hollywood, to other film nodes in colonial India – Bombay, Madras, Lahore, Rangoon – and to other film nodes across the Indian Ocean – in Fiji, Singapore, Mombasa and Baghdad.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available