Bangladesh Cinema and National Identity
In Search of the Modern?
Routledge – 2013 – 240 pages
This book analyses the relationship between cinema and modernity in Bangladesh. It investigates the roles of a non-western ‘national’ film industry in Asia in constructing nationhood and identity within colonial and postcolonial predicaments. The political and economic forces and the cultural institutions that have been active in shaping Bangladesh cinema are presented. The author explores how the conflict among different social groups turned Bangladesh cinema into a site of contesting identities during the twentieth century and beyond. In particular, he illustrates the connections between film production and reception in Bangladesh and a variety of nationalist constructions of Bengali Muslim identity. Drawing on the idea of cinema as public sphere and the postcolonial notion of formation of the ‘Bangladesh’ nation, interactions between cinema and middle-class Bengali Muslims in different social and political matrices are analysed. It is then argued that the development of western-educated Bengali-Muslim middle classes and their search for a distinct cultural identity affected the development of cinema as a cultural institution in postcolonial East Pakistan and Bangladesh.
This book, the first major academic study on this large and vibrant national cinema, demonstrates that Bangladesh national cinema worked as different ‘public spheres’ for different ‘publics’ throughout the twentieth century. It fills a gap in Global Film and Media Studies as well as in South Asian Studies.
1. Methods in Film Historiography 2. National Cinema and Non-Western Modernity: Framework to Study Bangladesh Cinema 3. National Cinema Study and Beginning of/in Bangladesh Film History 4. Cinema and Cultural Modernity in Colonial Bengal 5. Film Industry and Bengali-Muslim Modernity in Postcolonial East Pakistan and Bangladesh 6. Film as Popular Culture in between Nation-state and Market Forces in Contemporary Bangladesh 7. Cultural Modernity and Bangladeshi Art Cinemas in National and Global Stage
Zakir Hossain Raju is Professor and Dean of Social Sciences at Independent University Bangladesh. His research focuses on popular visual culture in Asia, especially the national cinemas in Bangladesh and Malaysia