ARCHITECTURES OF MEMORY: RETROFITTED THEATERS AND FILM REMAKES IN POST LIBERALIZATION INDIA

Debjani Mukherjee

Abstract


The multiplex as a cinematic exhibition space first appeared in India in 1997. Since then, they have proliferated across the urban Indian landscape, overrunning traditional single screen theaters, and engendering thematic and aesthetic shifts in popular cinema. Indian multiplexes, as an architectural expression of modernity, express a specific spatial aesthetic. By relocating a middle-class audience to this exclusionary space, multiplexes have attached the film experience to a particular audience demographic and organized a new production-distribution-exhibition logic, thus linking exhibition space to economic power and social status and connecting cinema-going to a specific social identity. As multiplexes expand, single screen theaters are rapidly shutting down, with some getting acquired and retrofitted by multiplex chains to turn into multiplexes or high-end cineplexes. Meanwhile, remakes of old hits are being made for the multiplex screen and circulated in new networks of production and distribution. This article considers the film remake as a concurrent formation alongside the remaking of single screen theaters. Film and architecture exist within the same experiential paradigms, from the potential fluidity of their essence to the nature of their spatial and imaginative traversal. While the remodeled structures of retrofitted theaters like PVR Plaza and PVR Priya present a spatial layout that expresses a multiplex aesthetic but also activates an intensification of past linkages to their spaces, a study of two contemporary Bollywood remakes, Don: The Chase Begins Again (2006) and Khoobsurat/Beautiful (2015), reveals how audience memory of the original is used as a strategic tool to rethink and reprise the original. Memory itself is spatial, stemming from an experience of site, and this article argues that memory mediates and calibrates the affect of the film remake and the retrofitted theater, shaping the reconfiguration of these sites in the contemporary imagination by forging a simultaneous awareness of the past and the present, inducing a parallel cognizance of what has been erased and made anew at the same time.


Keywords


movie theaters, delhi, remakes, khoobsurat, don, don the chase begins again, amitabh bachchan, shah rukh khan, kareena kapoor, helen, priyanka chopra, rekha, sonam kapoor, regal cinema

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