The prestigious Film Society of Lincoln Centre in New York is presenting a new film series focusing on Indian cinema from May 19 to 27 highlighting classic films showcasing Muslim themes, performance idioms and lyric traditions. Called Social Dramas and Shimmering Spectacles: Muslim Cultures of Bombay Cinema, the first film series of its kind in New York will feature Jodhaa Akbar on the opening night along with more than a dozen other films like Mughal-e-Azam, Pakeezah, Umrao Jaan. Presented in collaboration with the Indo-American Arts Council and the Indian consulate, the series curated by Richard Allen and Ira Bhaskar, displays the extraordinary richness of Hindi cinema.
Spanning films from the 1930s to the present day, the series features historical spectacles that celebrate the justice and tolerance of the Mughal imperium as an antidote to the colonial rule. Presented are films of aching beauty that focus upon the figure of the courtesan, at once alluring, romantic and tragic, and stories of Muslim social life that dramatise the changing social roles of a society.
Film-makers who may attend include Ashutosh Gowariker and Khalid Mohamed. “These rich and vibrant films from Mumbai are a captivating addition to the many world cinemas we present at the Film Society,” says Mara Manus, executive director of the society. “This beautifully curated series offers a fresh and fascinating perspective into that treasure chest that is the Mumbai cinema,” says Richard Peña, programme director.
“Exploring the many ways that cinema has depicted India’s Muslim minority, Richard Allen and Ira Bhaskar add to and deepen a discussion that has relevance not only for India, but for America as well.”
The films “celebrate the richness of aesthetic and narrational forms that while being distinctively Indian, are also universal,” says Bhaskar, associate professor of Cinema Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.