Wanted Cultured Ladies Only! maps out the early culture of cinema stardom in India from its emergence in the silent era to the decade after Indian independence in the mid-20th century. Neepa Majumdar combines readings of specific films and stars with an analysis of the historical and cultural configurations that gave rise to distinctly Indian notions of celebrity. Majumdar argues that discussions of early cinematic stardom in India must be placed in the context of the general legitimising discourse of colonial "improvement" that marked other civic and cultural spheres as well, and that "vernacular modernist" anxieties over the New Woman had limited resonance here. Rather, it was through emphatically nationalist discourses that Indian cinema found its model for modern female identities. Beginning with a history of the idea of stardom in India, Majumdar considers questions of spectatorship, gossip, and popularity as they pertain to two popular stars, Sulochana and Fearless Nadia, who occupied the highbrow and lowbrow ends of the spectrum of stardom in the 1930s. With the breakdown of the studio system in the mid-1940s, new configurations of stardom arose from the establishment of a star-based production system. To examine this "stardom racket," Majumdar analyses the impact of star monopoly on textual and performance conventions through the half-century-long vocal dominance of playback singer Lata Mangeshkar as well as the 1950s actress Nargis.
Wanted Cultured Ladies Only! Female Stardom and Cinema in India, 1930's-1950's
$42.06 Regular Price
PublisherUniversity of Illinois Press