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Reframing Bollywood

Reframing Bollywood
Theories of Popular Hindi Cinema

First Edition
  • Ajay Gehlawat - Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, Sonoma State University, USA

Film and TV

August 2016 | 192 pages | SAGE India

This book combines multiple theoretical approaches to provide a fresh perspective on Bollywood—just as a Bollywood film that transgresses multiple genres—and challenges the homogenizing tendencies in much of the ongoing scholarship in the area. It covers five areas of controversial theorization: the religious frame, the musical frame, the subaltern frame, the (hetero) sexual frame and the 'crossover' frame. By deconstructing each of these hegemonic paradigms, it reshapes the understanding of a Bollywood film and restructures its relationships with multiple disciplines including film and theatre studies, postcolonial studies, South Asian studies, queer studies, and transnational studies.

This fusion is also representative of the larger objective of this work, namely, to destabilize Bollywood's position within any one sphere of reference and, instead, to illuminate how several realms of meaning are at play in its construction. The aim in doing so is to demonstrate how a variety of critical methodologies can enable a more comprehensive reading of the films making up this corpus.

Introduction: Reframing Bollywood
Bollywood and its Implied Viewers

The Bollywood Song and Dance, or Making a Culinary Theatre from Dung-cakes and Dust

Can the Bollywood Film Speak to the Subaltern?

Ho Naa Ho: The Emergence of a Homosexual Subtext in Bollywood

Usage Problem: Simulation and Hyper-Assimilation in the (Crossover) Bollywood Film

Conclusion: Traveling Bollywood


"[A] landmark intervention in film studies... Gehlawat's sustained enquiry is about 'the effects of framing Bollywood in the ways that it has been up till now'. The book,  therefore, in a direct assault upon each of these frames,  offers a series of 'oppositional views' to reframe  in a mobile frame a 'hyperkinetic cinema'."

Journal of South Asian Popular Culture

The book represents an interesting and solid attempt to fuse multiple theoretical influences into a coherent defense of the complexities involved in the study of contemporary Hindi cinema. Gehlawat does an admirable job blending the work of a wide range of previous scholars… into a defense of the global and polysemic nature of Bollywood Cinema…. Reframing Bollywood contributes to the current theoretical literature by illuminating the relationship between Hindi cinema`s semiotic complexity and globalized reception, and will definitely be of interest to readers looking for a postmodern angle on contemporary Bollywood.

Asian Journal of Communication

The book is a well-researched addition to the ongoing scholarship on Indian film culture. With each chapter comprising in-depth case studies and references of individual films and directors, cultural and historical contexts as well as selected filmographies, this work no doubt will prove to be valuable resource pack for further research on mainstream Hindi cinema.


[The book] successfully draws attention to all those elements that have been overlooked by previous and continuing theorizations and provides an understanding methodology that looks to transcend and dissolve the very notion of essential otherness...Of immense use to scholars of cinema and students of media studies, this book is an intervention that will definitely benefit the ever-expanding universe of scholarship on popular Hindi cinema.

The Book Review

[This] thought-provoking study succeeds in its declared intentions – to challenge hegemonic paradigms of dominant discourses in the field of Bollywood studies and to offer oppositional views, as well as to view Bollywood from multiple perspectives. Gehlawat’s book…thus compiles a helpful overview for those new to the study of Hindi popular cinema.

Journal of Asian Studies

This book is an important contribution to the field…it is one of the few texts to survey the theorists and frameworks themselves, rather than just proffer textual analyses and reception studies. For a field of research and enquiry which is often criticized for being under theorized, Gehlawat’s ambitious book easily dispels such concerns. It will be of great interest and use to scholars of popular Hindi cinema, who may find encouragement to follow suit and become more receptive to such ‘crossovers’ of disciplinary methodologies and ‘spheres of meaning.

New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film

[The Author] compiles a helpful overview for those new to the study of Hindi popular cinema…. The thought-provoking study succeeds in its declared intentions—to challenge hegemonic paradigms of dominant discourses in the field of Bollywood  studies and to offer oppositional views, as well as to view Bollywood from multiple perspectives.

South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies

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