This essay arises from anthropological fieldwork on the making of south Indian popular cinema. Ethnographic attention is lent to a series of cinematic situations to further relay the intertwining of cinematic and anthropological imagination. The essay is composed as a montage of successive scenes of encounter, where the observer is present as one character among others. This uneven approach to shifting grounds of the yet unseen and unthought is meant to mirror the course of anthropological inquiry as imaginative pursuit. Nothing here is only as it would appear to be; everything invites further slants of perspective. The essay does not seek to distinguish reality from image, world from screen, the tangible from what is otherwise elusive. Instead, the essay seeks fidelity to the kind of experience into which cinema often leads: the sense of a life beyond or between oneself and others that is so often yet another film, unraveling in a world that is already cinema, the kind of world in which we keep finding ourselves.
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Anand Pandian; Imagination: Cinematic, Anthropological. Social Text 1 December 2012; 30 (4 (113)): 127–141. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-1725829
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