Untimely Bollywood

Globalization and India’s New Media Assemblage

Untimely Bollywood

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 29 illustrations Published: May 2009

Author: Amit S. Rai

Asian Studies > South Asia, Globalization and Neoliberalism, Media Studies > Film

Known for its elaborate spectacle of music, dance, costumes, and fantastical story lines, Bollywood cinema is a genre that foregrounds narrative rupture, indeterminacy, and bodily sensation. In Untimely Bollywood, Amit S. Rai argues that the fast-paced, multivalent qualities of contemporary Bollywood cinema are emblematic of the changing conditions of media consumption in a globalizing India. Through analyses of contemporary media practices, Rai shifts the emphasis from a representational and linear understanding of the effects of audiovisual media to the multiple, contradictory, and evolving aspects of media events. He uses the Deleuzian concept of assemblage as a model for understanding the complex clustering of technological, historical, and physical processes that give rise to contemporary media practices. Exploring the ramifications of globalized media, he sheds light on how cinema and other popular media organize bodies, populations, and spaces in order to manage the risky excesses of power and sensation and to reinforce a liberalized postcolonial economy.

Rai recounts his experience of attending the first showing of a Bollywood film in a single-screen theater in Bhopal: the sensory experience of the exhibition space, the sound system, the visual style of the film, the crush of the crowd. From that event, he elicits an understanding of cinema as a historically contingent experience of pleasure, a place where the boundaries of identity and social spaces are dissolved and redrawn. He considers media as a form of contagion, endlessly mutating and spreading, connecting human bodies, organizational structures, and energies, thus creating an inextricable bond between affect and capital. Expanding on the notion of media contagion, Rai traces the emerging correlation between the postcolonial media assemblage and capitalist practices, such as viral marketing and the development of multiplexes and malls in India.


“Amit S Rai’s Untimely Bollywood is a provocative new addition to the fields of film, new media, and South Asian popular culture studies. . . . The scholarship is innovative in its emphasis on the sensory experiences under Bollywood’s new assemblage and compelling in its take on the politics and potentialities of the nonlinear.” — Madhavi Mallapragada, Popular Communication

“An excellent study and a look into this slice of the world, this book should be read by all with an interest in the new and old media assemblages of India.” — Badar Shah, South Asia Research

“What Rai presents is a semiotician’s paradise. . . . Rai’s spotlight on ‘controlled consumption’ is bound to resonate with readers who have given thought to similar exhibition in America. The author deftly ties together the creation of the multiplex and the birth of the blockbuster.” — A. Hirsh, Choice

“In bold divergence from representation-based studies of social identity in cinema, Amit S. Rai shifts our attention from the spectator’s encounter with a discrete film text to the media event or assemblage generating an ecology of sensations. Packed with original research, a heterodox range of theoretical influences, and innovative explorations in the idea of nonlinearity, Untimely Bollywood goes well beyond a study of globalization’s impact on India’s Hindi-language cinema. What it offers instead is a provocative thesis on affective and embodied experience under globalization’s new regimes of media consumption in India.” — Priya Jaikumar, author of Cinema at the End of Empire: A Politics of Transition in Britain and India

“Within a rapidly growing body of sophisticated work on Indian cinema, media, and popular culture, Untimely Bollywood stands out not only for its originality but also for its audacity. Its deft coordination of what at first would seem wildly heterogeneous topics is simply dazzling. There are wonderful discussions throughout that involve themselves in surprising but consistently illuminating topics, including art deco theatres, DJ culture, and Dolby sound in India. The movement through these topics is as often fun as it is enlightening.” — Corey K. Creekmur, co-editor of Cinema, Law, and the State in Asia


Availability: In stock
Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Amit S. Rai is Associate Professor of English at Florida State University. He is the author of Rule of Sympathy: Race, Sentiment, and Power, 1750–1860.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments xi

Introduction: India and the New Nonlinear Media Assemblage 1

Part 1. Cinema Becoming New Media

1. “First Day, First Show”: Bollywood Cinemagoing and the New Sensorium 21

2. Contagious Multiplicities and the Nonlinear Life of the New Media 55

Part 2. Toward an Ontology of Media Durations

3. “The Best Quality Cinema Viewing . . . Everywhere. Everytime.”: On the Multipliex Mutagen in India 131

4. "With You Every Moment in Time": On the Emergent Ittafaq (Chance) Assemblage 79

Conclusion: Clinamedia 211

Notes 221

Bibliography 275

Index 289
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4412-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4394-3
Publicity material