Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Mass Communication and Media Arts
In this dissertation, I trace the contours of state control and capital in India, starting from the 1970s and see how the state’s increasingly centralizing tendencies and authoritarianism, in the service of capital, creates cultures of violence, fatalism, desperation, and ultimately, even more desire for authoritarianism. I study male stardom in Bombay cinema, beginning withAmitabh Bachchan (who was the reigning star in the 1970s and 80s), and following up with Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan (who have been successful stars from the early 90s), to understand how changing subjectivities, responding to changing socio-economic reality, were formulated and expressed through these star texts by the film industry. Through the study of these stars, I try to understand how dominant ideas of masculinities were being formulated and how misogyny came to be a prominent aspect of those formulations, because of social structures of caste and patriarchy as well as neoliberal precarity. I also study the cultures of fascist violence that have emerged in India under the rightwing Hindu nationalist BJP government in the light of increased individualization and self-commodification under neoliberalism. I contend that the socio-political system that enhances individualization and self-commodification and thus, gives rise to a heightened celebrity culture, is also responsible for the limits on the agency of the stars and celebrities through the formation of a totalitarian state. I study Indian prime minister Narendra Modi as the ultimate celebrity commodity text to understand the future of stardom itself in India.
This dissertation is Open Access and may be downloaded by anyone.