Ethnologist and globalization researcher Arjun Appadurai states that Indian cinema, particularly popular “Bollywood” cinema, is seen by many as an inferior imitation of Hollywood; as an apolitical vehicle of mass entertainment. In contrast, however, he reasons that this cinema should be seen as an emancipatory aesthetic form. Bollywood cinema, according to Appadurai, is one of the main sources of independent, modern Indian imagery. The ideas of family, city or nation are far more strongly influenced by the song, dialog and language of Bollywood than by avant-garde art, literature or politics.
Appadurai’s lecture on “Indian Popular Cinema in the Making of a Decolonized Modernity” was held as the keynote of the conference “Global Modernisms: Contiguities, Infrastructures and Aesthetic Practices” which took place on 5th—7th November 2015 at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. It was organized by the Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Stiftung in cooperation with the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and convened by Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices.