Producing Bollywood

Inside the Contemporary Hindi Film Industry

Producing Bollywood

Book Pages: 440 Illustrations: 28 photographs, 6 tables, 2 maps Published: March 2012

Author: Tejaswini Ganti

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Asian Studies > South Asia, Media Studies > Film

Producing Bollywood offers an unprecedented look inside the social and professional worlds of the Mumbai-based Hindi film industry and explains how it became "Bollywood," the global film phenomenon and potent symbol of India as a rising economic powerhouse. In this rich and entertaining ethnography Tejaswini Ganti examines the changes in Hindi film production from the 1990s until 2010, locating them in Hindi filmmakers' efforts to accrue symbolic capital, social respectability, and professional distinction, and to manage the commercial uncertainties of filmmaking. These efforts have been enabled by the neoliberal restructuring of the Indian state and economy since 1991. This restructuring has dramatically altered the country's media landscape, which quickly expanded to include satellite television and multiplex theaters. Ganti contends that the Hindi film industry's metamorphosis into Bollywood would not have been possible without the rise of neoliberal economic ideals in India. By describing dramatic transformations in the Hindi film industry's production culture, daily practices, and filmmaking ideologies during a decade of tremendous social and economic change in India, Ganti offers valuable new insights into the effects of neoliberalism on cultural production in a postcolonial setting.


“In Producing Bollywood, the first truly comprehensive ethnographic account of the Mumbai-based film industry, Tejaswini Ganti crafts an ode to an India in deep transition, via the multifaceted lenses of a glamorized and iconic subsection of its Hindi-language filmmakers and actors. . . . [A] landmark study.” — Ritesh Mehta, International Journal of Communication

“The book invites the reader to delve into the politics, finance, and cultural logics that shape the production of Bollywood. As a result, the book can potentially bridge the gap between filmmakers and academicians. Both methodologically and theoretically, Ganti’s work is a seminal contribution in the area of academic studies of Bollywood. . . . Ganti’s exhaustive ethnography would be a great source of first hand information for anyone
interested in knowing the shifting terrain of the Hindi film industry.” — Nadira Khatun, eDhvani

Producing Bollywood is a lucidly written and thoroughly researched ethnography of a film industry whose products are deeply interwoven in the ordinary life and politics of hundreds of millions of people.” — Jonathan Shapiro Anjaria, American Ethnologist

“[O]ffers extraordinary insight into the production processes of the late 1990s…. [T]he thoroughness and comprehensive review of trends in this book must be highly commended.” — Rodney Jensen, Media International Australia

“The book is rich in anthropological and historical data, theoretically astute, accessible, and great fun to read. It is a must for anyone interested in Bollywood or other film industries, and for scholars interested in the effects of neoliberalism and globalization in India. Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers.” — L. M. Proctor, Choice

“Producing Bollywood is a riveting read. It draws carefully thought out connections between cultural formations, changing discourses of legitimacy and nation building. It is to Ganti’s credit that she is able to bring rigorous ethnographic tools to bear upon fieldwork materials put together over a decade and more.... Overall, this is a timely and much needed insight into the intersections of the political economy of production, consumption and legitimization of mass cultural products. It should interest readers and students of Mass Media, Film Studies, Culture Studies, South Asia, Anthropology and Ethnography.” — Sushmita Banerji, Studies in South Asian Film & Media

“The result is a readable, widely accessible text that students, specialists and even fans will enjoy.” — Katherine Martineau, Asian Studies Review

“The book may be useful to anyone interested in sociology, anthropology, cinema, media, communication, cultural studies, development studies and other interdisciplinary ?elds. The book is indispensable for those who still use the terms Hindi cinema and Bollywood interchangeably and ?nd it unproblematic.” — K. V. Nagesh, Economic and Political Weekly

“Tejaswini Ganti’s Producing Bollywood is perhaps the most comprehensive and in-depth account of the Hindi film industry to date...Despite being 440 pages in length, Ganti’s accessible writing style makes this ethnography a joy to read.”  — Harjant S. Gill, Visual Anthropology Review

“Filled with first-hand accounts of the inner workings of the vast Mumbai-based Bollywood film industry collected through numerous interviews and extraordinarily extensive fieldwork undertaken over the course of more than a decade of research, Producing Bollywood meets a previously unfilled need on the part of those engaged in studying Indian cinema and culture by letting a large part of this varied and diverse industry speak, as it were, for itself.” — Gabriel Shapiro, Contemporary South Asia

“Ganti’s book is a commendable pioneering initiative. It will be useful for students, researchers, and those interested in South Asian film studies.” — Sanjukta Dasgupta, American Anthropologist

Producing Bollywood is an illustration of the excellent film and media scholarship now being generated within the field of anthropology…. Dare I say I look forward to the author’s next offering, one examining where this powerful film industry goes from here?” — Lyell Davies, Journal of Film and Video

"Tejaswini Ganti mines her extensive contacts in an industry generally closed-off to outsiders to provide us with in-depth analyses of the sensibilities, compulsions, and desires of important figures in the film industry, as well as the social practices of film production. Producing Bollywood provides unique insights into the forces that shape the production of films in one of the largest film industries in the world. By going beyond the hype surrounding 'Bollywood' and eschewing simplistic dismissals about escapism and the profit-making drive of Bollywood filmmakers, this book enables us to understand the cultural logics that shape the production of Bollywood film. Based on more than a decade of ethnographic fieldwork in multiple sites of film production, Producing Bollywood is truly a trailblazing work." — Purnima Mankekar, author of Screening Culture, Viewing Politics

"This is the first book on Bollywood to combine a deep knowledge of the dynamics of script, song, stars, and style in this cinematic world with an equally keen sense of the unique nature of the politics, finance, and cultural prejudices of the film industry. It will be an indispensable benchmark for all future studies of Bollywood and of similar cinematic industries worldwide, and it will interest media scholars, anthropologists, sociologists of culture, and the curious general reader." — Arjun Appadurai, New York University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Tejaswini Ganti is Associate Professor of Anthropology at New York University. She is the author of Bollywood: A Guidebook to Popular Hindi Cinema.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction. How the Hindi Film Industry Became "Bollywood" 1

Part 1. The Social Status of Films and Filmmakers

1. From Vice to Virtue: The State and Filmmaking in India 41

2. From Slumdogs to Millionaires: The Gentrification of Hindi Cinema 77

3. Casting Respectability 119

Part 2. The Practices and Processes of Film Production

4. A Day in the Life of a Hindi Film Set 155

5. The Structure, Organization, and Social Relations of the Hindi Film Industry 175

6. Sentiments of Disdain and Practices of Distinction: The Work Culture of the Hindi Film Industry 215

7. Risky Business: Managing Uncertainty in the Hindi Film Industry 243

Part 3. Discourses and Practices of Audience-Making

8. Pleasing Both Aunties and Servants: The Hindi Film Industry and Its Audience Imaginaries 281

9. The Fear of Large Numbers: The Gentrification of Audience Imaginaries 315

Epilogue: My Name Is Bollywood 359

Notes 367

Bibliography 401

Index 419
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Named a 2012 Choice Outstanding Academic Titles (American Library Association)

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5213-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5202-0
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