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[ecrea] CFP Indian Studio Era Special Issue of Wide Screen

Wed Feb 22 14:56:33 GMT 2017

    Call for Papers: Wide Screen 8.1

    Interrogating the Indian Studio Era: Histories, Networks, Spaces

Guest Editor: Hrishikesh Ingle

Film production in pre-independence India was defined by important studios located across geographies, in cities like Bombay, Calcutta, Kolhapur, Pune, Lahore and Madras. Apart from exercising a certain industrial regimentation, the studios were spaces that shaped the Indian film form. The period between 1920s-1950s was marked by the active interconnection of studio personnel, artists, and technologies across regional, linguistic or religious divisions. Studios like New Theatres, Prabhat Film Company, Bombay Talkies, Imperial Film Company, Huns Studios, Sagar Movietone, etc. not only produced important and landmark films, but were instrumental for artists like V Shantaram, Devika Rani, Himanshu Rai, Durga Khote, Guru Dutt, etc. to become influential figures of the film industry. The histories of Indian studios, and studio filmmaking have either been the subject of anecdotal recollections, or researched to exemplify a certain cultural/historical tendency. Scholarship often attributes the emergence of sound in the 1930s for the industrial re-alignment of Indian studios thus comparing them to the Hollywood studio system. However, recent research points to the complex interconnections of the Indian studios, that can be conceptualized as a wider socio-cultural network marking not just filmmaking, and film genres, but also the spatial spread of the cinema as a modern cultural practice. Such a formulation can be explored to pose crucial questions for Indian film historiography: What were the implications of studio personnel transitioning from various artistic traditions into the nascent film industry? How did technological exchanges contribute to the artistic achievements of certain studios? What specific filmmaking practices strengthen or collapse social, gender, or feudal hierarchies? What is the role of capital and economics that inform the industrial formation of Indian cinema in this period? Through such an interrogation, the studio era assumes a wider significance than being a proto-formation for a national film culture. With the adoption of digital archival research and the growing importance of ethnographic methods of discovering nuances of Indian cinema, the studio era seems poised for renewed historical inquiry. It especially needs a thorough understanding beyond the constructs of national, regional, or linguistic alignments, and more in terms of the then prevalent practices of filmmaking, film exhibition, production details, social spaces and the role of studios in shaping Indian cinema.

This special issue of Wide Screen, calls for original research papers that focus on unexplored areas of the Indian Studio Era (1920s – 1950s). We are particularly interested in research that considers the networks arising from intra and inter studio exchanges, such as: technologies, aesthetic strategies, filmmaking practices, artists, personnel, and distribution and exhibition of films. Apart from this, we are also interested in new archival research that studies studio economics, the geo-social spaces of particular studios, and the roles of specific personnel in shaping the filmmaking trajectory. Researchers are also encouraged to problematize and argue the assimilation and emergence of a sound-culture after the arrival of the talkie. The overlap of silent and talkie films produced by the studios can be of potential significance for historical inquiries. We are thus interested in research that goes beyond textual analysis or generic tendencies of representative films. The aim of this issue is to bring together studies of the Indian studio era presented from the vantage point of current developments in film historical research. Some of the potential themes for full length papers are listed below. However, more topics are welcome:

 1. Studio filmmaking and personnel
 2. Studio space and regional, local aesthetic forms
 3. Exchanges between studios
 4. Role of technology in shaping studio productions
 5. Film exhibition and the studio system
 6. Internal studio economics
 7. Publicity and markets of studio films
 8. International and transnational exchanges
 9. Film studios and social spaces
10. Provincial connections of studio personnel
11. Studios and stardom
12. Female stars of studios
13. The courtesan and the respectable in studio spaces
14. Multilingual films to regional cinema
15. Artisanal culture of studios
16. Film studio as the intermediary of the /bazaar/
17. Music, aurality and the singing actors
18. Imbricated talkie: silent films after sound
19. Vernacular modernism and Indian film studios
20. Studios and the shaping of cinema culture
21. Post-independence studios
22. Closure of studios: continuities and discontinuities
23. Studio system and the cinematic network

600 word abstracts are due by April 30, 2017. Send them to: (widescreenjournal /at/ <mailto:(widescreenjournal /at/>

Wide Screen

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