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Book Chapter

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Oxford Handbook Of Screendance Studies


Bombay cinema incorporated songs, dances, choreography, staging, and costumes from a variety of traditional forms to mark a modern national identity. The pioneering figure for using dance in films was Uday Shankar in his experimental film Kalpana. Bombay’s spectacular song-and-dance cinema then moves through films such as Chandralekha to contemporary Bollywood and its byproducts such as dance reality shows. The search for aesthetic modernity in India is embodied in the concept of “desire” as it evolved from traditional aesthetics to contemporary culture and new media technology; to uncover its evolution from Bombay cinema to reality show, I first analyze the historically transforming cinematography and content through a few select musicals. Secondly, I trace the emergence of the “Item” numbers in Bollywood and their relationship to music videos; and third, I explore the current expressions of screendance on reality shows in India as expressions of class mobility and democratization of culture


screendance, Bombay, Bollywood, song and dance, music videos, new media technology, reality show, cinematography, modernity

Published By

Oxford University Press


D. Rosenberg


This material was originally published in The Oxford Handbook of Screendance Studies edited by Douglas Rosenberg, and has been reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press. For permission to reuse this material, please visit

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