Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

4 - The Highway, Automobility and New Promises in the 1960s Bombay Cinema

Friday, July 6
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Kadamba, Lower Ground Floor

A fascination for color in the 1960s led to Bombay cinema’s mobilization of the hinterland as the site for a new future. With the development of Indian highways and an increase in automobility, a new map of India now occupied the cinematic imagination. The highways and the automobiles of the 1960s intersected with the new infrastructure of shooting made available by the arrival of lighter cameras, sound equipment, and Eastman color stock. The result is a densely layered image about fantasy and desire. This paper presents two cinematic tendencies to stage the links between the infrastructure of automobile culture, the highway, industrial development outside the city, and 1960s Bombay Cinema. The first shows how the highway was deployed as a repetitive location in narratives that connected us to hill stations, then navigated through the mountains, or through forest regions close to India’s vast villages. This pattern created through repetition allows us to make connections between a developmental imagination associated with India’s highways and its cinematic trace strangely ensconced in the romantic imagery of the decade (Jhuk Gaya Aasman /The Skies have bowed, Shikar/The Hunt, Pyar Ka Mausam/Love is in the Air). In the second tendency (Aadmi Aur Insaan/ Man and Human) we see a connection between a photographic imagination linked to the industrial sublime, prevalent advertising imagery showcasing development, and cinema. Through these two tendencies, the paper foregrounds the subterranean links between infrastructure, materiality, and aesthetics at work in the imagination of the highway and the hinterland in cinema.

Ranjani Mazumdar

Jawaharlal Nehru University, India


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4 - The Highway, Automobility and New Promises in the 1960s Bombay Cinema

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