Book Review: Debashree Mukherjee’s “Bombay Hustle: Making Movies in a Colonial City” by Amrita Chakravarty

Journal Title: Wide Screen
Vol. 9, No.1, July 2022
ISSN: 1757-3920
URL: http://widescreenjournal.org

The existential crisis of film studies caused by the displacement of cinema as a central cultural force in the twenty first century has fostered disciplinary trajectories that seek to expand the ambit of cinema as a critical category. From media archaeological approaches that connect an expanded definition of cinema to different accounts of its emergence, to new infrastructure studies that explore the co-constitution of media and the everyday. Such theoretical interventions, however, sometimes tend to reinforce the decentering of cinema that originally drove the project to refigure the object of film studies. Indeed, film studies itself has given way to a proliferation of media studies, variously prefixed, that seem to confirm rather than dispute the idea that cinema is no longer an ideal site to think about media in our time. It is against this that Debashree Mukherjee’s new book, Bombay Hustle: Making Movies in a Colonial City,registers a new critical framework to think about cinema and through cinema. Addressing the emergence of the talkie industry in Bombay in the inter-war years, Mukherjee stakes out radical new theoretical terrain through a historical study of production practices.