Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Mass Communication and Media Arts
In 1991, India entered the global market as a liberalized economy when, coerced by the International Monetary Fund, it adopted “structural adjustment” policies. The early period of economic liberalization in India engendered a sense of optimism and forward-looking aspiration in the national imaginary and culture. This faith in novelty and change, for the urban middle-classes, was a result of the increase in incomes in white-collar jobs and the availability of greater choices in the commodity market for consumers. Thirty years later, the fantasy of wealth and abundance that was supposed to transform the country into a thriving superpower is visibly cracking. Social reality has not kept up with the promises afforded by economic liberalization. The increasing wealth gap and the dangerous marriage between neoliberalism and right-wing politics has created public culture of everyday violence, divisiveness, and despair. In this dissertation, I examine how recent mainstream Hindi cinema has responded to India's neoliberal turn. My work is based on the premise that the cinema of the past two decades is a record of social history. The major themes I focus on are the pervasiveness of neoliberal values into everyday life and work and the consequent formation of a neoliberal subjectivity. I also focus on how forms of neoliberal selfhood contend with existing social structures of caste, class, sexuality and religious identity in India. Finally, I lay out the interconnections between the recent rise of Hindu fundamentalism in India, popular cinema and neoliberal culture.
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