Bollywood’s Drinking Problems: On-Screen Alcohol Consumption and the Politics of Social Liberalism in Indian Film Music
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AbstractNot so long ago, a single sip of wine would normally send a Bollywood film character into a drunken rampage, or a whirling song-and-dance number. In such scenarios, alcohol served as a facile filmic device, borrowed from Sufi musico-poetic conventions about love and the divine, that frequently enabled commentary on the moral compass of the social and/or ethnic Other. Protagonists seem to have developed a higher tolerance today, as the depiction of alcohol consumption in Indian cinema is more commonplace, and such tropes are sometimes completely abandoned, reflecting significant changes in contemporary society that include the rise of the middle class and greater cosmopolitanism connected to the urban and the global/Western. This increased liberalism, nevertheless, is being hotly contested in Indian politics and in the media, including in films themselves. Focusing on song picturizations and the music in critical scenes from such films as Bobby (1973), Satya (1998), and Ra.One (2011), this paper traces the history of alcohol consumption (and other “vices” like sex and drug use) in Bollywood in order to better grasp the intricate debates currently raging around cultural change, neoliberalism, and Hindu nationalism. It also draws contextual insights from a survey of India’s complicated drinking laws and ethnographic work into contemporary drinking cultures on the subcontinent. The social, cinematic, and musical findings presented in the paper ultimately uncork a heady mix of politics that also involves shifting attitudes about gender, class/caste, and ethnicity.
All Author(s) ListVictor Amaro Vicente
Name of ConferenceInternational Association for the Study of Popular Music - Australia New Zealand 2017 Conference
Start Date of Conference04/12/2017
End Date of Conference06/12/2017
Place of ConferenceMassey University
Country/Region of ConferenceNew Zealand
Year2017
LanguagesEnglish-United States

Last updated on 2018-26-10 at 15:40