Bangalore International Centre, had arranged a Book Reading of “Politics as Performance : A Social History of the Telugu Cinema” by Dr. S V Srinivas, Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society and Visiting Professor, Centre for Contemporary Studies, IIS Bangalore on 17th September, 2013 at 6.30 PM. Dr.RamachandraGuha, eminent Historian chaired and moderated the discussion.
In a fascinating presentation, interspersed with film clips, Dr.Srinivasoutlined the deep connection between cinema and politics in India. He provided a picture of the Telugu cinema, as both industry and cultural form, over fifty formative years and stressed that films are directly related both to the rise of an elite which dominates Andhra Pradesh and other parts of India, and to the emergence of a new idiom of mass politics. Looking in particular at the career of Andhra Pradesh’s best-known film star NandamuriTaraka Rama Rao (NTR), Dr.Srinivasoutlined how the Telugu cinema redefined ideas of linguistic identity and community feeling within a non-literate public in South India. Dissecting NTR’s remarkable election campaign of 1982–83, he showed processes of political transformation and electoral mobilization via film, newspapers, and audio cassettes. He uncovers the complicated ways in which Indian politics can be linked with movie-going and, more broadly, cultural consumption. In his erudite observatins, Dr.RamachandraGuha pointed out the need to do specific research to explore the areas dealt with by Dr.Srinivas in his book and stressed that this has got particular relevance to India.
During the lively interactive session, which followed after the Book Reading it was generally agreed that it is not easy for Indians to forget the cinematic and political performance of Andhra Padesh. Dr.RamachandraGuhamoderated the discussion with aplomb and his customary wit. The event was very well attended