Celluloid Deities: The Visual Culture of Cinema and Politics in South India

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Lexington Books, Oct 23, 2008 - Art - 318 pages
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Towering billboards featuring photorealistic portraits of popular cinema stars and political leaders dominated the cityscape of Chennai, in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Studying the manufacture and reception of these billboards_known locally as banners and cutouts_within the context of the entwined histories of the cinema industry and political parties in Tamil Nadu, Preminda Jacob reveals the broader significance of these fragments of visual culture beyond their immediate function as pretty pieces of advertising. Jacob analyzes the juxtaposition of cinematic and political imagery in the extra-cinematic terrain of Chennai's city streets and how this placement was pivotal to the elevation of regional celebrities to cult status. When interpreting these images and discussing their political and cultural resonance within the Tamil Nadu community, Jacob draws upon multiple perspectives to give appropriate context to this fascinating form of visual media.
 

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Contents

Of Painters Politicians and Film Stars
1
Artists and their Methods
19
Financiers Artists and their Audiences
53
History Celebrities Genres
81
The Semiotics of Chennais Cinema Banners
117
Ch05 The Coalescence of Tamil Nationalism and the Cinema Industry
153
Celebrity and Cult in Tamil Nadu
185
Ch07 Darshan and Cinematic Spectatorship
223
The Future of Chennais Visual Culture
257
Bibliography
281
Index
291
About the Author
305
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Preminda Jacob is associate professor of art history and theory in the department of visual arts at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

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