Beginning with the mid-1990s when a visual opulence saturated in color and light appeared on the Hindi film screen, a battle between visuality and performativity ensued so as to regulate the star-body while retaining its ability to withstand different orders of investable capital. This article argues that the multiplex economy made multiple tiers of stardom possible so as to shift Hindi cinema away from the high-risk industry that revolved around major stars featuring in action melodramas. The animated visuality—a result of cinematographic and editorial intensifications—was then devised to regulate minor stars’ appeal within emerging genre films. Engaging with the resultant configurations of form, style, sovereign representation, and masculinity, this article maps the analytical trajectory of mise-en-scène, performativity, and stardom in Hindi cinema. In the end, it highlights the agitated restlessness of contemporary Hindi film form as a symptom of its inability to find a stable formal dwelling. Instead of doing formal analysis alone, this article then aspires to bring the formal, technological, economic, and political imperatives together in the analytics of Hindi cinema.
Animated Visualities and Competing Sovereignties: The Formal Dwellings of Hindi Cinema
Akshaya Kumar is assistant professor of film studies at Ambedkar University in Delhi. As a recipient of a Screen studentship, he completed his PhD at the University of Glasgow. His essays have appeared in BioScope, Television and New Media, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, and South Asia.