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23 AUGUST 2005

Indian Documentary: representing the collective

"Traditionally Indian documentary has emphasised the collective rather than the individual and thus has eschewed personal perspectives. As Tom Waugh has characterised it, the Indian documentary tradition overwhelmingly favoured the didactic social documentary in the Griersonian mode; such a documentary approach was prevalent during the first four decades after independence in 1947.[1] In the 80s, Indian documentarists moved towards the direct cinema style prevalent in the West in the 60s, adopting its realist aesthetic and reliance on interviews while continuing to retain Greirsonian voice–over narration. However, as Waugh points out, in contrast to Western documentaries – emphasis on individual protagonists, Indian films relied on the collective in representing its subject, including the collective interview. In place of the private home was the street. Waugh contextualises this formal aspect of documentary in the cultural, political, and economic imperatives of a post colonial society. Within this social formation and political orientation, the group rather than the individual and public spaces rather than private ones become the primary sites of political discourse and cultural expression."
(Jyotsna Kapur)

Kapur, J. (2003). 'Why the personal is still political – some lessons from contemporary Indian documentary.'Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media 23.



Amar Kanwar • collectivecollectivismcommunityconfessiondirect cinemadocumentaryIndiainterviewJohn Grierson • Pankaj Rishi Kumar • politicsrepresentation • social ideology • Tom Waugh • traditionWestern

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