A Taste for Indian films Negotiating cultural boundaries in by Sudha Rajagopalan

By Sudha Rajagopalan

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Thus, he emphasized that reception was critical, differentiated, and essential to studying art forms. 3! Until the seventies, the field of film studies in the west was mainly concerned with how the structures of cinema or film texts created subjects; the audience, in much of the work at that time, was still homogeneous and textually derived, rather than empirical. By this yardstick, the audience's reaction to a film was read off the text and the audience's readings were predetermined on the basis of the perceived characteristics of the film text.

27 However, if we study Soviet society by examining foreign imports from places other than the west, the image we are left with is of a society that was already a part of the global cultural system in a significant way during the post-Stalinist period. India was the largest non-communist state with which the Soviet Union had close cultural and trade relations, and it was a meaningful player in Soviet cultural reality. Moreover, Indian cinema's global significance was already growing at the time that Soviet audiences were exposed to it; by the sixties, it had begun to rival Hollywood in its worldwide sphere of influence.

Their readings of a film occur within a particular socio-historical context and they bring to each reading their understanding of the world, of morality, social codes and, of course, perceptions of their own immediate reality. Janice Radway's work on readers of romantic novels was innovative in this regard because she worked 32 John B. Thompson, Ideology and Modern Culture, 104-105. 33 Janet Staiger, Interpreting Films: Studies in the Historical Reception ofAmerican Cinema (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992),71-72.

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