FILM IN THE PRINCELY STATE: THE LOTUS FILM COMPANY OF HYDERABAD
Most of the film historiography has originated from the cities like Bombay, Madras, Calcutta and Lahore. The more recent scholarship has looked at cities like Pune and Kolhapur. In all these histories details of film production happening in cities like Hyderabad is a curious absence. This absence could be attributed to a multiplicity of reasons like the prominence of film production in these cities and the availability of archival evidence. Focusing on the film practises in cities like Hyderabad presents the possibility of bringing alternative histories to the fore which enhances the understanding of cinema as a complex network. The city of Hyderabad was distinct in being a princely city under the rule of the Nizam unlike Madras, Calcutta, Bombay and Lahore which were the colonial cities and also in being at the crucial intersection of the transport and communication networks from the north to the south. The city of Hyderabad under the Nizam rule has also been argued to be a modern city embedded in the international networks by scholars like Eric Beverley(2015). The study of early film history in Hyderabad becomes a way to understand the social history of the place itself.
This paper attempts to trace the history of early film production in Hyderabad state by examining the case of Dhirendranath Ganguly. Dhiren Ganguly ran the Lotus Film Company in Hyderabad from 1922 to 1924. The case of Dhiren Ganguly and the Lotus Film Company becomes a site to investigate the patronage networks of princely city of Hyderabad, the industrial networks within which cinema operated and also the politics of film historiography post the linguistic reorganization of states. It is also an avenue to examine Ganguly as an early film artist, his influences and his mobilization of various networks to make cinema. Through the examination of fragmented evidence it tries to understand the different negotiations that were involved film production in the Nizam state in the 1920s and hence on the nature of society under the Nizam.
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