The monsoon crush : rethinking Indian cinema's art-commerce divide in the context of transnationalism, corporatisation and liberalisation

  • Shorna Pal

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


My thesis identifies and establishes the Multiplex Film as a widespread paradigm in contemporary Indian Cinema, by critically examining its emergence from the post-millennium collapse of All-India and Alternative films, often referred to as Indian “art” and “commercial” films, previously well-established and seemingly distinct categories that have historically defined and characterised Indian cinema. I assert that reading pre-millennium Indian films by applying the Rasa analytical method, reveals multiple meeting points between All-India and Alternative Films, which have been obfuscated through a historic misconstruction and mislabelling of these film types; I contend that this interconnectedness expedites their convergence into the Multiplex Film. By tracing the contemporary phenomenon as a product of the Indian government’s economic liberalisation and globalisation policies, and the resultant corporatisation and transnationalism within the 21st century film industries in Mumbai and in other regional filmmaking centres, I present a way of studying Multiplex Films both as Indian Cinema as well as Transnational Cinema, while also contributing to the limited scholarship on the contemporary Indian film industries. My use of rasa in conjunction with generic dramatic principles detailed in the Natyasastra, an ancient Indian treatise on dramaturgy, offers a new Rasa framework that can be used to read any national cinema, as it functions independently of rasa as an aesthetic.

Through a series of forty-five interviews across seven cities with personnel from the Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telegu, Marathi and Assamese film industries, including writers, directors, actors, producers, cinematographers, editors, sound designers, distributors, exhibitors, alongside spectator focus groups in metropolitan and smaller cities, in addition to close textual analysis of a range of Indian films, existing scholarship, official government and film industry reports, I re-examine assumptions about Indian film history and show how the earlier two film types are metamorphosed through contemporary socioeconomic, political and industrial shifts into the Multiplex Film.
Date of Award22 Jun 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorLeshu Elizabeth Frances Torchin (Supervisor)


  • Multiplex film
  • Indian cinema
  • Rasa theory
  • Natyasastra
  • Bollywood
  • Indian film industries
  • Hindi films
  • Transnational cinema
  • Indian film history

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  • 27th February 2025

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