chapter  7
23 Pages

Gender, Nationalism, and Sound: Outgrowing “Mother India”


Since independence in 1947, India’s popular culture has been dominated by the images and sounds of its locally produced commercial cinemas. Although fi lms have always been produced in a range of languages, those made in Hindi in Mumbai (the industry often referred to as “Bollywood”) have been the most numerous and remain the most widely distributed. Hindi-language fi lms have been received locally and globally as if they represented a national cinema. Furthermore, because Indian commercial fi lms conventionally included four to eight (or more) songs, the songs of Hindi cinema have been the country’s dominant and, often only, widely received popular music. Such songs have been major features of the national soundscape, as constituted through broadcast media and social practice, ranging from wedding processions, to party games, to retail background music.