Film history through fragments: the Aurora Archive and the transnational travels of early Indian cinema

Chatterjee, R. 2014. Film history through fragments: the Aurora Archive and the transnational travels of early Indian cinema. Bioscope: South Asian Screen Studies. 5 (1), pp. 29-47. doi:10.1177/0974927614531358

TitleFilm history through fragments: the Aurora Archive and the transnational travels of early Indian cinema
AuthorsChatterjee, R.
Abstract

Transnational circulation of Indian cinema has received considerable academic and media attention over the last decade, mostly focused on the 1950s and after. Historical studies of the global influence of Bombay cinema are, however, still at a nascent stage: to date little material evidence has emerged of the range and extent of this spread in earlier decades. This article examines studio documents found in the offices of Aurora Film Corporation, India’s only surviving film studio from the silent era, to explore transnational flows of Indian cinema from the 1930s. The documents bring to light details of distribution practices and networks of circulation through which early Indian cinema traveled outside the subcontinent. Conducted outside the official archive, this study excavates material hitherto considered marginal to construct a history through fragments—an untold story that complicates received film history in India. It suggests that transnational flows of early Indian cinema did not necessarily originate in Bombay and may have been far more widespread than has been previously understood. The article thereby argues for the need to move beyond Bombay-centric studies of Indian cinema, as well as the national–regional paradigm, by considering the early history of Calcutta cinema not just as a history of Bengali cinema, but rather as a networked cultural practice that intersected in port cities across the Indian Ocean.

JournalBioscope: South Asian Screen Studies
Journal citation5 (1), pp. 29-47
ISSN0974-9276
Year2014
PublisherSage
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1177/0974927614531358
Publication dates
PublishedJan 2014

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