Repetitions with Difference: <i>Mother India</i> and her Thousand Sons

Anustup Basu

in Bollywood in the Age of New Media

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780748641024
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651245 | DOI:
Repetitions with Difference: Mother India and her Thousand Sons

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This chapter begins with a few observations and questions about Ashish Rajadhyaksha's theory of the ‘epic melodrama’. The objective is to further complicate the notion of mythic impelling, to historicise some such instances, and to understand how exactly and through what pains the ontological constant of Dharma can be upheld amidst the duress of modernisation or financialisation. Commercial Hindi films periodically recycle old stories. The volatile sphere of religiosity and the concomitant question of a mythography of the self as the cornerstone of the nation and its state undeniably left a lasting imprint on popular culture as a whole and Hindi cinema in particular. This was particularly evident in the cinematic expressions of what is called a Nehruvian sensibility toward secularism and tolerance. The plot that was first witnessed in Mehboob Khan's Aurat (Woman, 1940) has been recycled, in various historical settings, involving a range of cultural formations and social identities, in a body of films across the decades. Two of these films are Mehboob's own 1957 retelling in Mother India and Yash Chopra's Deewar (The Wall, 1975).

Keywords: Mother India; Ashish Rajadhyaksha; epic melodrama; Deewar; Mehboob Khan; Dharma; Hindi cinema; Aurat; secularism; tolerance

Chapter.  14460 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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