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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
National Identities

For a Special Issue on
Nation, Narration, and Nationalism in Indian Popular Bollywood Movies

Abstract deadline
31 July 2022

Manuscript deadline
31 January 2023

Cover image - National Identities

Special Issue Editor(s)

Pippa Catterall, University of Westminster, UK
[email protected]

Goutam Karmakar, Barabazar BTM College, SKB University, India
[email protected]

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Nation, Narration, and Nationalism in Indian Popular Bollywood Movies

Popular Hindi cinema has been an important medium for nation building since India’s independence in August 1947. Bollywood cinema, an important cultural medium, through films such as Mother India (1957) has played a major role in articulating the identity politics and culture of independent India. For instance, in the post-independence era, Bollywood films grounded their plots and sequences in the Nehruvian socialist ideology of modern India to reflect a vision of a growing India. The task of nation-building has been materialised through several songs, reflecting the naya daur (new phase) of India, the young democracy of the 1950s and 1960s. Arguably, this secular and integrationist modernity continued to be expressed in Bollywood films in the marsala movies, such as Amar Akbar Anthony, of the 1970s as well

Shifts in political scenarios are captured by the celluloids over time. One theme reflected cinematically includes the several wars fought between India and Pakistan since their independence. Grounded in the traumatic history of Partition, these neighbouring states have remained arch political rivals, a rivalry dramatized through Bollywood’s presentation of multiple war films with patriotic and (hyper) nationalistic subtexts, displaying an unequivocal image of Pakistan as a violent adversary. This cinematic depiction repeatedly evokes nationalistic sentiments and patriotism. The process of othering Pakistan in these representations of war have also served to give a concrete and monolithic form to the image of Indian nationhood. The cinematic representation of Indo-Pakistan conflict on screens has also extended to the visual depiction of the sensitive subject of the tense Indo-Pakistan diplomatic relations over Kashmir.

Now, with the upsurge of the political ideology related to ‘Hindutva’, upholding the Hindu nationalist sentiment and expressing the need for synthesizing Hindus across the nation, Bollywood has catered to the reimagination of the glorious past and singing the tales of unsung heroes. Reviving the mythic past through popular cinematic culture arguably caters to the politics of swaying public opinion towards the ideology of uniting Hindus against their ‘enemies’ or ‘the dasas’, the intruders and violators of their ‘Holy-land’. The Hero, with his heroic performance and complete devotion to his ‘mitti’ or soil, creates an aura of nationalism, extremely pious, which transmits a message about the importance of nationalism in establishing ‘swaraj’ (rule of one’s own). The cinematic representation of the Carlylian ‘Great Man’ renders tactility to the hero and history. Popular Bollywood films’ ‘cultural industry’ (Horkheimer and Adorno, 2002) reconstructs the ‘glorious’ past to highlight the heroic exploits of the ‘sons of soil’, primarily Hindu kings, pitted against the ‘Muslim’ intruders who are savage, barbaric, and have an eccentric sexual appetite. This cinematic representation of Muslim rulers as the ‘savage other’ arguably aligns with the Hindutva ideology of disowning non-Hindus from the pious Hindu land of ‘Bharat’. Moreover, film critics have also noted the tendency of Bollywood films to promote nationalistic government policies like Swaachh Bharat Abhyan and Atma Nirbhar Bharat, which arguably border on propagandist films and become the mouthpiece of the government.

Thus, this special issue seeks to trace the trends of nationalistic films in Bollywood that aim to consolidate the monolithic identity of India, raise nationalistic sentiments, and create a ‘cultural industry’ to swing public opinion. The proposal aims to show how these films have remained affective and have garnered mass attention over the years, despite several socio-political changes endured by India as a nation. Also, this special issue seeks to challenge the monolithic idea of ‘nation’ and to critique the conventional contrasts between ‘I’ and the ‘other’, often contextualised by religious discrimination. In doing so, the issue also aims to turn the discussion to sports films, which have repeatedly depicted sports as a great equaliser, overshadowing religious and caste prejudices and uniting India as a secular nation.

We are inviting abstracts on the following issues (but are not limited to) contextualised in Popular Bollywood Hindi movies:

Nationalism and Indo-Pak war movies

Hindutva as a political ideology

Bollywood movies as ‘cultural industry’

Portrayal of Muslims as the ‘other’

National identity in marsala movies

Nationalism and Indo-Pak diplomatic relations

Nationalism and Kashmir issues

Hero-worship and patriotism

Sports, nation and nationalism

Bollywood movies and (hyper)nationalism

Gender issues and (homo)nationalism

The changing trends of Bollywood movies in projecting nationalism

Submission Instructions

Abstracts should be around 500 words long (excluding bibliography) and should be sent to both guest editors, Pippa Catterall ([email protected]) and Goutam Karmakar ([email protected]), no later than 31st July 2022. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the guest editors.


Deadline for abstracts: 31st July 2022

Notification of acceptance: 1st September 2022

Submission of full manuscripts: 31st January 2023

Full papers should be 7000 words in length (including abstract and list of works cited).

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article

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