The Emotional Politics of Bombay Cinema and the British Asian Imaginary

Jha, Meeta Rani. 2006. The Emotional Politics of Bombay Cinema and the British Asian Imaginary. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (The Emotional Politics of Bombay Cinema and the British Asian Imaginary)
SOC_thesis_jha_2006.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (18MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

This thesis interrogates the ways in which British South Asians engage with Bombay cinema (known commonly as Bollywood) and assesses the cinematic texts in the context of diasporic cultural affects and identifications. The study analyses the uneven geopolitical power relations between the British South Asian Diaspora and the Bombay cinema industry by deploying a plural trans-national 'circuit of culture' methodological approach; combining an empirical study with cinematic textual, historical and production analysis. Semi-structured interviews with participants in London and Manchester (audiences) as well as in Bombay (producers) provide the empirical focus of the thesis. These accounts are used to examine the ways in which research participants interpret both the cinematic content and the contexts in which the films are watched and enjoyed. The consumption of Bombay cinema offers the symbolic means of expression, or the textual framework, through which ideas about the politics of gendered, classed, sexual, national and religious identities are explored and sometimes challenged. The research focuses on the respondents' interpretation of Bombay cinema discourse as a significant aspect of the British Asian decolonising and anti-racist struggle. The key argument of the thesis is that Bombay cinema is a cultural mechanism through which shared affective emotional experiences are facilitated.

The thesis interrogates the interviews and argues that the interviewees weave fictional and imaginative narratives with real life experiences to create self-narratives of pleasure and pain. The differences between the real and the fantasy become irrelevant in 'cinema talk' as symbolic struggles of the 'reality of emotions' associated with alienation, recognition, nostalgia and survival are narrated and underscore the migratory journey. The thesis argues that the Bombay cinematic discourse produces a contested site of post-colonialism where many rejected and shamed cultural memories are reconfigured to claim public spaces in contemporary Britain. The cinematic visual and sonic spaces are converted into public and urban spaces as well as psychic and sublime spaces of sustenance for migrant identity. Moreover, this study illuminates the deployment of these narratives by the interviewees as a tool to mediate different power relations in the context of their private and public lives in order to subvert and transform dominant meanings in contemporary Britain. In this sense the cinema screen becomes a popular imaginary upon which memories are projected and identifications are made but also where values and traditional customs are opened up to critical scrutiny and assessment.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


British South Asians, Bombay Cinema, Bollywood

Departments, Centres and Research Units:




Item ID:


Date Deposited:

29 Jun 2020 15:42

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:45


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)