Picking up where I left off...
I certainly don't mean to imply that I only read things when I agree with them and their premises. Reading things in opposition is actually a pretty good source of inspiration for me. It's useful to know what different attitudes people have, and sometimes to counter their objections. But I don't need to be unduly influenced by people operating from what I consider misguided premises. I'm generally annoyed when writers assume that I'm bothered by my position vis-a-vis a cultural hegemony, or that I think my taste is somehow invalidated because it's not shared by everyone. Hey, that's what the oppressors think! Fight the power!
(Okay, sorry -- had to shake off the fact that I just used the phrase "cultural hegemony" with more or less a straight face. It's sometimes easier to use the shorthand that exists...)
Anyway. I'm up to page 110 in The Bollywood Reader, and have had various insights which I must share, because this is a blog, after all.
The introduction continued on about other things, and then made a very good point, that "detractors of popular Hindi cinema" are "often invested in social realist narratives." (p. 10) Yes! Exactly! I am NOT invested in social realist narratives, which was clear when I studied literature (well, I still do, but only as a hobby). I'm not opposed to social realism per se, but nor do I see any reason for it to be the standard by which all styles and genres are judged.
On that note, a later essay criticizes much writing on Bollywood for its "insistence of evaluating Hindi cinema in terms of film-making practices which it has itself rejected." (p. 24). Again I say, yes! Exactly! This same scenario plays wherever there is an art form to be critiqued: there's a limited standard of what styles are considered "serious," then some critics judge everything by that standard, even when it's completely irrelevant to the intent of the artist, or the taste of the audience.
My last tidbit for the morning, before I decide what to watch (and after all this thinking, it had better be something ridiculous), comes from an essay called "Indian Popular Cinema as a Slum's Eye View of Politics." The author's premise is that "the right metaphor for the Indian popular cinema...turns out to be the urban slum." (p. 74) I won't get into the details, until this bit: "to return to our metaphor, the urban slum consists of people who are uprooted and partially decultured, people who have moved out of traditions and have been forced to loosen their caste and community ties." (p. 77) I wrote one word in the margin of the book.