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Release: Immediate

UI hosts symposium on Indian popular film April 17-18

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Fans of Indian movies have long transcended Indian borders. They are in the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union and the South Asian Diaspora. However, European and American film scholars often disregard the world's biggest film industry.

Not so at the University of Iowa. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of several departments and international programs, the UI will host a two-day symposium on Indian popular film that will bring scholars in anthropology, film and cultural studies to Iowa City to share their findings in this emerging research area.

"Bollywood (Un)Limited: Global Responses to Indian Popular Cinema" is Friday and Saturday, April 17-18 in the UI International Center. Scholars from India, England, and the United States will present recent and unpublished research on Hindi film. A public screening of the musical comedy, "Dil to Pagal Hai," (Crazy at Heart) will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 17 in Room 101 Becker Communication Studies Building. All events are free and open to the public.

"There hasn't been much work done in the field," said Philip Lutgendorf, co-chairman of the UI South Asian Studies Program and one of the primary organizers of the symposium. "We thought it would be interesting to focus on a very important cultural flow, in which popular cinema, the biggest cinema in the world, located in a developing country, circulates around the globe."

Among the senior presenters are Sumita Chakravarty, professor of communication studies at New School for Social Research, New York City, and author of the influential 1993 book, National Identity in Indian Popular Cinema; and Ashish Rajadhyaksha, co-author of the Encyclopedia of Indian Cinema and a visiting professor at the UI department of communication studies. Other UI participants include Rick Altman, professor of communication studies; Corey Creekmur, professor of English; Ashley Dawson, professor of English; Kathleen Newman, professor of Spanish and Portuguese; Jael Silliman, professor of women's studies; Aaron Park, Ph.D. candidate in film studies; and Ned Bertz, graduate student in history. Also attending the symposium and presenting their research will be professors from New York University, Rutgers University, University of California at Berkeley, University of California at San Diego, University of Colorado at Boulder, and University of Minnesota.

Indian film, often considered an alternative to Euro-American mass genres, has its specific stylistic and thematic features and is a rich source of study material. Lutgendorf said the melodramatic Hindi movies are almost entirely musicals, typically last three hours, have a less linear plot structure than Western films and reflect different cultural values.

The symposium is sponsored by the Ford Foundation, UI International Programs, the College of Liberal Arts, the Office of the Vice President for Research, the Project on Rhetoric of Inquiry, the South Asian Studies Program, the African Studies Program, and the Institute for Cinema and Culture.

For more information, contact Lutgendorf, at 335-2157, or send email to