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Bombay Cinema’s Islamicate Histories

An engaging account of the history and influence of Muslim cultures on Bombay cinema.

Following Marshal Hodgson, the term “Islamicate” is used to distinguish the cultural forms associated with Islam from the religion itself. The term is especially useful in South Asia where Muslim cultures have commingled with other local cultures over a millennium to form a rich vein of syncretic aesthetic expression. Comprised of fourteen essays written by major scholars, this collection presents an engaging account of the history and influence of cultural Islam on Bombay cinema. The book charts the roots of South Asian Muslim cultures and the precursors of Bombay cinema’s Islamicate idioms in the Urdu Parsi Theatre; the courtesan cultures of Lucknow; the literary, musical, and performance traditions of north India; the traditions of miniature painting; and various modes of Perso-Arabic story-telling. Published at a time of acute crisis in the perception and understanding of Islam, this book demonstrates how Muslim and Hindu cultures in India are inextricably entwined.

440 pages | 5 color plates, 91 halftones | 6 3/4 x 9 1/2

Culture Studies

Film Studies

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Bombay Cinema’s Islamicate Histories, edited by Ira Bhaskar and Richard Allen, highlights the centrality of Islam, Muslims, and ‘Islamicate’ forms and aesthetics in the history of the film industry in Bombay. In doing so, it not only reveals overlooked cinematic pasts, it also effectively demonstrates that modern Indian history is inextricable from the history of Islam. . . . Its novelty is due to the breadth of the contributions and their varied methodological and disciplinary perspectives. The editors seek to tie these contributions together not as a singular narrative, but as a series of intersecting interventions. . . . It is a significant contribution to the scholarship, not only for the ways that it resists contemporary Hindu nationalist narratives, but also because it highlights the potential intersections in multiple contemporary trends in the study of Islam, Muslims, and the Islamicate in South Asian film.”

Journal of Religion & Film

Table of Contents

Introduction: Bombay Cinema’s Islamicate Histories

– Richard Allen & Ira Bhaskar


Part One: Islamicate Histories


Passionate Refrains: The Theatricality of Urdu on the Parsi Stage

Kathryn Hansen


The Persian Masnavi tradition and Bombay Cinema

Sunil Sharma


Reflections from Padmini’s Palace: Women’s Voices of Longing and Lament in the Sufi Romance and Shi?i Elegy

Peter Knapczyk


Situating the ?awa’if : Nostalgia, Urdu Literary Cultures and Vernacular Modernity

Shweta Sachdeva Jha


Mughal Chronicles: Words, Images, and the Gaps Between Them

Kavita Singh


Justice, Love and the Creative Imagination in Mughal India

  Najaf Haider


The ‘Muslim Presence’ in Padmaavat

Hilal Ahmed


Part Two: Cinematic Forms


Ali Baba’s Open Sesame: Unravelling the Islamicate in Oriental Fantasy Films

      Rosie Thomas


The Textual, Musical and Sonic Journey of the Ghazal in Bombay Cinema

  Shikha Jhingan


The Sufi Sacred,the Qawwali and the Songs of Bombay cinema

 Ira Bhaskar


Avoiding Urdu and the ?awa’if: Re-gendering Kathak Dance in Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje

Philip Lutgendorf


The Poetics of Parda

Richard Allen


Transfigurations of the Star Body: Salman Khan and the Spectral Muslim

  Shohini Ghosh


Terrorism, Conspiracy, and Surveillance in Bombay’s Urban Cinema

 Ranjani Mazumdar



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