What changes in our understanding of Indian films when we treat the song sequence as a separate medium situated both within and outside the film text? I argue for treating the song text as operating simultaneously on multiple levels, both within the film and in its afterlife. Through a close reading of select song sequences from both popular and art cinema, I demonstrate how they may be read as allegories of temporal sensibilities at odds with the temporality presented in the main narrative of the film. Songs condense a heterogeneous variety of pasts and possible futures into a singular experience of the present, doing so by way of multiple registers of affect. This work is found not only in popular film songs but also in those of Indian art films; the anxieties over a transition to modernity is common to both varieties of filmmaking in the post‐independence moment.

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