Vernacular masculinity and politics of space in contemporary Bollywood cinema

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A series of popular Hindi films, specifically located in north-Indian small towns, not just depict a new spatiality through realist overtures; they also stage the appearance of a distinct form of masculinity on-screen. This article specifically looks at the representation and construction of masculine subjectivity in contemporary small-town films such as Dabangg (2010), Ishaqzaade (2012) and Gangs of Wasseypur I and II (2012) to analyse how this new spatiality is conjured through the re-configuration of non-urban manhood. Visibly distinctive bodily gestures, unique modes of consumption, often accompanied by localized dispensation, make it possible for these male characters to represent the in-between-ness of the small town. While the device of cinematic excess marks the representation of the vernacular space and its masculine inhabitant, such excess, this article further argues, enables the provincial India to appropriate its own discourses of legality, politics and community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-146
Number of pages15
JournalStudies in South Asian Film and Media
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Bollywood cinema
  • Cinematic excess
  • Masculinity
  • Realism
  • Small town
  • Space


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