In this essay, I focus on what has been characterized as a perennial problem for the Hindi film industry—the inability to accurately measure commercial outcome. While commentators and industry personnel criticize and lament this inability as an impediment to the rational functioning of the Hindi film industry, I argue that rather than hindering the industry, the lack of accurate information is integral to its functioning. Relying on economic theory's definition of “ambiguity,” which refers to missing information that could be known, I reveal how the Hindi film industry's inability to accurately measure box-office outcome produces an ambiguity about commercial transactions that is actually generative and productive, enabling the industry to function and reproduce itself. In large-scale media industries like Bollywood, I contend, the presence of ambiguity is necessary and actually critical for the long-term existence of such industries.
Tejaswini Ganti; Fuzzy Numbers: The Productive Nature of Ambiguity in the Hindi Film Industry. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 December 2015; 35 (3): 451–465. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-3426301
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