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The Vigilante Returns: Extralegal Justice and the Common Man in New Bollywood Cinema

Ulka Anjaria
Professor of English
Brandeis University

Date: Wednesday, October 9, 2019
Time: 5:30 pm
Location: Honors Commons
212 C, Honors College, M.D. Anderson Library 2nd floor

A light reception will follow the talk

Abstract: Bombay cinema of the 1970s is famous for the figure of the vigilante, who acted outside the law to avenge crimes that the police and the courts were unable to regulate. This vigilante was known as the “angry young man” for his expression of masculine, subaltern rage. However, in the last decade we have seen the rise of new kinds of vigilantes in Hindi cinema, who reflect new forms of discontent with government corruption and the state’s inability to deliver justice. Today’s vigilantes are more understated, acting out not personal vendettas but communal injustices on behalf of a new, as-yet unformed political constituency: the aam aadmi (or common man). These vigilantes are at times angry young men, but they are also older men, and often women. What do these new vigilantes tell us about politics and cinema in the new India?

About the Speaker

Ulka Anjaria is a professor in the Department of English at Brandeis University, where she teaches and researches South Asian literatures and film, with a focus on India. Her first book was a study of progressive writing, a movement that became dominant in mid-20th century India. Her second book considers the relationship of contemporary (2000 and beyond) Indian literature and film to new politics in India. She recently published a book on Bollywood cinema titled Reading India Now: Contemporary Formations in Literature and Popular Culture (2019).