Prof Rosie Thomas

Rosie is a pioneer of the academic study of popular Indian cinema, establishing an international reputation following the publication of her first groundbreaking article on Hindi cinema in Screen in 1985. Since then she has written widely on Indian cinema, contributing to numerous books and journals. She is co-founder and co-editor of the international Sage journal BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, a forum for new research on the history and theory of South Asian film, screen-based arts and new media screen cultures. Her monograph Bombay Before Bollywood: Film City Fantasies was published in 2013 by Orient Blackswan, and republished in 2015 by SUNY Press.

Originally trained as a social anthropologist at the London School of Economics, Rosie did her first fieldwork in the Bombay film industry in the early 1980s. She has also worked as an independent documentary television producer, running her own company, Hindi Picture, in the 1980s and 1990s. Throughout the 1990s Rosie made programmes for UK's Channel Four television on a range of subject matters, from health and mental health issues to South Asian politics, arts and culture. These include current affairs investigations for Dispatches, two series of the innovative discussion programme On the Other Hand with Shekhar Kapur, and documentaries on subjects ranging from self-harming in 'From Despair to Where', to the dark side of Bollywood stardom in 'To Hell and Back'.

Rosie set up CREAM in 2002 and successfully led three RAE/REF exercises (2001; 2008; 2014), stepping down from the CREAM director role in 2017 to focus on her own research. 


  • 2018 AHRC Standard Grant (Co-Investigator)
  • 2005 AHRC Research Leave;
  • 2005 British Academy Small Grants;
  • 2004 AHRB Small Grants.

PhD Supervision

Rosie is currently Director of Studies for three PhD students. Subjects range from community filmmaking in Wales (Anne-Marie Carty, practice-based) to activist documentary in China (Vincent Du, practice-based) and topics in South Asian cinema history (Sarah Niazi). She is joint supervisor on four further PhDs, including practice-based, experimental and documentary film projects.

Completed PhDs she has supervised include theses on cinema in pre-independence Calcutta (Ranita Chatterjee), cinemas of Bombay and Lahore between 1940 and 1960 (Salma Siddique), sound in Indian cinema (Indranil Bhattacharya), South Asian floor-drawing traditions (Aurogeeta Das), Arab Israeli filmmaking (Yael Friedman), Romanian documentary studios (Adina Bradeanu) and first-person filmmaking in China (Tianqi Yu).

Rosie has been external and internal examiner on more than twenty PhDs, including both practice-based and written theses.

Rosie's current research interests include Indian cinema history, with a focus on both the pre-independence era and the early 1980s; the Arabian Nights in early Indian cinema; the history of Indian cinema's global circulation; and South Asian arts and documentary. Her monograph Bombay before Bollywood: Film City Fantasies was published by Orient Blackswan, New Delhi and SUNY Press, USA. 

Rosie also has a special research interest in contemporary documentary practice, which dates back to her earlier career in television. She is Co-I on the AHRC-funded project Documentary of the Imagination with Joshua Oppenheimer.

Rosie was a co-founder and executive board member of the practice-based PhD network, AVPhD, helping to set up the first national support structure for students, supervisors and examiners of practice-based moving image PhDs in the UK. Alongside Rosie's work as co-editor of the Sage journal BioScope: South Asian Screen Studies, she is a peer reviewer for many other journals, publishers and funding councils.

She is co-director, with Prof Jean Seaton, of the Chevening South Asia Journalism Programme, the prestigious Foreign Office fellowship scheme that brings high-flying, mid-career South Asian journalists to London for two months each year. The success of this Track 2 diplomacy project is one example of the impact of Rosie's long-standing research engagement with television practice and South Asian arts and culture. 

  • Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media