Film Education

“FROM AAN TO LAGAAN AND BEYOND”: An Exclusive Interview with the Author of the Book Moti Gokulsingh by Oorvazi Irani

“From Aan to Lagaan is a unique critical guide to one of the greatest dream-factories in the world. It is the first time that a compilation has avoided the shame of hagiography and the obscurity of pretentious academia.” – Farrukh Dhondy 


From Aan to Lagaan and Beyond : a guide to the study of Indian cinema by K. Moti Gokulsing and Wimal Dissanayake

Published by Trentham Books


Exclusive Email interview with  Moti Gokulsing, Author of the recently published book.

About the Author

K. Moti Gokulsing is Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the University of East London. He co-          edits the journal South Asian Popular Culture and is the author of the acclaimed Indian Popular Cinema, also published by Trentham.

Wimal Dissanayake is Adjunct Fellow at the East-West Centre, Hawaii and founding editor of the East-West Film Journal.

It is an honour and pleasure to be part of this book in my humble efforts involving in the research and my extensive interview with Govind Nihalini which is an integral part of the book – Chapter One ‘From Vision to Screen Reality’

      What is the need for such a book ?

This is a study guide and is aimed at helping the increasing number of students many of whom are of non-Indian origins understand the complex relationship between Indian culture and Indian cinema

2)     What are the concerns the book addresses ?

While Indian cinema is taught in many institutions as part of Media Studies/ World cinema/ South Asian studies, the Study Guide makes a case for it to be taught as part of a Film Studies approach. As such, it introduces students to the variety of concepts andtheories relevant to a Film Studies approach. One its strengths is the interview which Oorvazi Irani conducted with the internationally known filmmaker Govind Nihalani . Having done both Popular and Parallel cinema , he identified some of the reasons why theyare different and why the vast majority of popular films fail at the box office-an issue which has been rarely addressed

3)     Could you share with us your beginnings and background as a writer and academic ?

As an academic teaching in a Department of Teacher Training and Education , my publications focused on teaching and university issues. At a conference at SOAS some years ago, I met Professor Wimal Dissanayake. At that time I wanted to introduce my 2 daughters to Indian cinema and as there was scant literature available , Wimal and I decided to write a book-Indian Popular Cinema-A narrative of cultural change which became a bestseller

4)      What have been the challenges and Joy of writing this book

Coming as I do from Mauritius where success in education was measured by how much French you knew, I had very little knowledge of Indian history and culture. This was a formidable challenge and I still have much to learn

5)   Which are your  favourite Indian films ?

My favourite films relate mainly to early ones such as Garam Hawa andSholay and Rang De Basanti of recent ones

6)    Is there a memory of the first Indian film you saw ?

The first Indian film I saw was Bandhan with Ashok Kumar and Leela Chitnis

7)   Who is your favorite Bollywood actor and  actress   

Favourite actor-the early Amitabh Bachchan  and actress Nargis

8)     Where do you think Indian cinema stands today ?

The much maligned Indian Popular cinema has moved from the periphery to the centre of world cinema. Its choreography and technical innovations are outstanding.

9)      What is the role that Indian cinema plays in the International cinema market today ?

Indian cinema is trying to meet a variety of goals: catering for the indigenous population, the increasing young population as well as the   increasing middle classes

10)   What is the impact of Indian cinema ?

Internationally, the diasporic Indian film makers and the diasporic audience will continue to boost post Bollywood

Indian cinema opens up a window onto the wider world . By watching Indian films and exploring them sensitively, we can attain a deeper understanding of Indian culture and values.

For me one of the most endearing aspects of Indian cinema is its captivating music.

The Book Details:

From Aan to Lagaan and Beyond : a guide to the study of Indian cinema 

This authoritative and accessible guide is written especially to help students understand the complexities and intricacies of Indian cinema. It covers the vast range of the cinemas of India plus the meteoric rise of Bollywood, and discusses the key theoretical approaches to the analysis of films, the cinema audience and audience segmentation.

The book describes how an Indian movie is made and explains the technology entailed. All the major issues are discussed: the relationship between cast and crew, the contributions of playback singers, designers and choreographers. It offers original information on the impact of the corporatisation of the film industry and on censorship, taxation, insurance and advertising.

The fascinating case studies of filmic analysis illuminate the different theoretical approaches and concepts students need for analysing Indian film appropriately. And teachers will find that the comprehensive coverage, extensive bibliography and suggestions for further reading, the discussion of pedagogical issues about the teaching of Indian cinema and the sample questions make it an indispensible resource for teaching Indian cinema.

1. From Vision to Screen Reality
– The film making process
– The role of technology
– How an Indian movie is made
– Cast and crew

2. Theoretical approaches to the study of Indian cinema and its audience
– An introduction to some of the major theoretical approaches to the study of Indian cinema
– Audience/spectator studies and audience segmentation

3. When Bollywood goes to war – Bollywood’s contribution to nation building
– The contributions of Indian cinema to nation building
– An introduction to some of the most important nationalist and patriotic themes in Indian cinema

4. A Passage out of India
– Diasporic Indian filmmakers’ contributions to Indian Cinema

5. Iconic directors, composers, lyricists, playback singers, choreographers and designers
– From Aan to Lagaan and Beyond

6. From Theory to Practice
– Case studies of filmic analysis using some of the theoretical approaches discussed in Chapter 2
– How to study Indian cinema – some pedagogical considerations

7. Exporting filmic culture
– The corporatisation of the film industry/Insurance/the role of advertising and marketing

8. The Price of Globalisation

– The government strikes back: taxation, censorship and film classification