This article examines a variety of sardonic interventions into the global flow of mainstream Bollywood's overbearing and complacent self-image. A resurgence of the familiar coinage “new wave” often attends to the urbane crop of film industry mavericks like Anurag Kashyap, Sriram Raghavan, or Dibakar Banerjee, extending to innovative independent ventures associated with figures like Ashim Ahluwalia, Pawan Kumar, or Q. On the one hand, such endeavors often flaunt the influence of contemporary world cinema accessed through new cinephilic networks. On the other hand, they claim to undertake authentic forays into indigenous sociocultural experience through the provocative undermining of established commercial as well as art/parallel film conventions in India. The article traces certain ambiguous stylistic propensities underneath such subversive cinematic aspirations as probable symptoms of a crucial predicament in Indian cinema's bid for alternative expressions in the realm of popular culture and spectatorial customs. Analyses of select films such as Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (2008), Pankh and Gandu (both 2010) draw attention to a certain tendency in contemporary narrative drama that renders cityscapes as symbolic witness to cultural ruin while dispensing with the technique of melodramatic italicization as expressive device. The author's discussion mobilizes an analytical category called “new junk aesthetics” to characterize these disparate urban fables whose narratorial logic seeks to eschew the circulation of value in the domain of mainstream cultural production as well as an alternative imagination.

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