South Asia

Organized Panel Session

4 - Image, Text, and Stars: The Varying Patterns of Song-booklets

Saturday, July 7
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Jacaranda I, First Floor

Research on Indian film industries, especially on the studio-era, has introduced within academic discourses a unique and specific form of publicity material, namely the “song-booklets”. Such works have underscored the variable ways in which audiences associate with films, and in what ways fragments of cinema circulate within the public domain. The song-booklets - comprising short (and sometimes deliberately misleading) plotlines juxtaposed with film stills, along with details of production, and the lyrics of the songs - were cheaply and quickly produced. These booklets were mostly printed by the distributors and traded through local “pan”/“bidi” shops; and, as apparent from individual (pen and ink) inscriptions on some of the booklets, were collected by the viewers against a few “annas”. The booklets bring to light wide range information regarding several lesser-known production houses, highlight the networks and significance of distributing agencies, and show how Hindi film songs circulated as an extra-textual material. A close reading of the song-booklets, thus, throws up many queries, regarding the linkages between Hindi film songs and its mass popularity via radio, as well as point out the shifts within the industry and the growing acceptance of the stars during the 1970s. This paper emphasizes shifts from the 1930s to the 1970s on the varying types of song-booklets and focuses on the categorization of the audiences in Bengal into multiple linguistic groups. It problematizes the idea of “regional” cinema as a definitive framework and its analyses alongside the formation of language based states in India. 

Madhuja Mukherjee

Jadavpur University, India


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4 - Image, Text, and Stars: The Varying Patterns of Song-booklets

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