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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
South Asian History and Culture

For a Special Issue on
Hindi Cinema in the 1980s

Abstract deadline
15 August 2021

Manuscript deadline
30 December 2021

Cover image - South Asian History and Culture

Special Issue Editor(s)

Ajay Gehlawat, Sonoma State University
[email protected]

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Hindi Cinema in the 1980s

The 1980s has generally been an overlooked and underappreciated era of Hindi cinema, particularly compared to the scholarly attention given to the previous and ensuing decades. This relative lacuna in Indian film studies becomes all the more vivid in light of the series of significant events that took place in India during this decade, including the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the near death of Amitabh Bachchan, the publication and subsequent banning of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses, to name but a few. All of these events were, or became, relevant in one way or another to Hindi cinema, including, for instance, Sumita Chakravarty’s subsequent extrapolation of the concept of ‘imperso-nation’ from Rushdie’s text, itself heavily imbued with the spectre of Hindi cinema, as a paradigm for this popular film form. Hindi film scholars have also traced the ensuing decade’s advent of liberalization to policies and programs implemented during the 1980s, particularly by Rajiv Gandhi.

Thirty years later, following liberalization and its ensuing neoliberal effects on Indian culture and society, including what is now called the ‘Bollywoodization’ of Hindi cinema, this special issue seeks to reexamine the state of popular Hindi cinema in the 1980s and reassess the multiple roles this era played with regard to subsequent historical shifts and in terms of prefiguring contemporary paradigms. More broadly, this special issue is concerned with tracing the evolution of a historiography of popular Hindi cinema that is simultaneously contingent upon yet works to efface the traces of this decade. We seek papers that explore the consolidation and erasure of this era in Hindi films and film scholarship and the increasing reappropriation of themes and motifs from this era in and by contemporary Bollywood, often in tandem with parallel alignments and resurgences in the contemporary sociopolitical realm. Possible topics include:

  • the transfiguration of Amitabh Bachchan in the 1980s, from ‘angry young man’ to aspiring (and then scandal-ridden) politician to what has been framed as the nadir point of his career, before reemerging in successful patriarchal roles in the late 1990s. What role did this period play, in retrospect, for Big B’s reconsolidation as a superstar? Can such shifts in Bachchan’s personae be seen as emblematic of the decade itself?
  • the study of any particular actor in 1980s Hindi cinema and how this period played a role in consolidating the actor’s star text and/ or helped shape subsequent acting styles and roles in ensuing decades. Along with Bachchan, possible actors include Mithun Chakraborty, Madhuri Dixit, Rishi Kapoor, Anil Kapoor, Tina Munim, Sanjay Dutt, Shabana Azmi, Smita Patil, Jackie Schroff, Meenakshi Seshadri, Gulshan Grover, Reena Roy, Shakti Kapoor, Sunny Deol, and Sridevi
  • the emergence and (pre-)consolidation of the male dancer in 1980s Hindi cinema and the ensuing reformulation of gender and sexual dynamics, as well as cinematic and choreographic strategies, during this era’s popular films and their song and dance sequences
  • broader shifts in male and female roles during this decade, including transitions from action heroes to comedic personae, whether by Bachchan or others like Amol Palekar, or from ‘avenging women’ to ‘new women’ such as Madhuri Dixit, who arguably consolidated previously disparate roles, e.g., of heroine and vamp
  • the evolution of popular Hindi cinema as both a cinematic form and a burgeoning though not yet fully regulated industry during the 1980s, as well as how this evolution influenced subsequent shifts that emerged in the 1990s following liberalization, including the advent of the non-resident Indian (NRI) figure in Hindi cinema
  • shifts in the production, distribution and exhibition of popular Hindi cinema during the 1980s as well as subsequent effects on film production practices within the industry
  • the evolution of musical and playback singing styles during the 1980s, whether focusing on particular composers, e.g., Laxmikant-Pyarelal, R.D. Burman, Bappi Lahiri; singers, e.g., Abhijeet, Alka Yagnik; lyricists, e.g., Anand Bakshi, Gulzar; or on the broader shifts in sonic arrangements and musicality during this decade
  • retrospective representations of 1980s Indian film and sociopolitical culture in contemporary Hindi films, e.g., The Dirty Picture (2011), Sanju (2018) and Raees (2017)

These are merely some of the many possible topics that would be of interest. If you are interested in contributing to this special issue, please send a 250-word abstract by August 1, 2021 to Ajay Gehlawat at [email protected]. Please include a brief bio with your abstract.

The authors of selected abstracts will be notified by the end of August. Completed papers will be due by December 30, 2021. All papers will then undergo peer review. The anticipated timeline for the publication of the special issue will be approximately one year from the time of submission, i.e., 2022.

For additional details or enquiries, please contact Ajay Gehlawat at [email protected].

Submission Instructions

250-word abstracts and accompanying brief author bios should be submitted as either MS Word docs or as PDFs to [email protected] by Aug. 1. 2021.

Instructions for Authors