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The Nehru Memorial Museum & Library


‘Language, Cinema, Radio: A triangular history’ , 22nd July, 2014


Following up on the leads provided by David Lelyveld's historical distinction between 'Akashvani Hindi' and 'Filmi Hindi', and joining in the conversation set up by certain emergent and ongoing researches on the popular print practices, film appreciation, and listening in South Asia, the paper will demonstrate that like Parsi theatre, both commercially-run cinema and publicly-run radio came under scrutiny from the nationalist language activists of all hues. A debate that had started in the print public sphere in the 19th century thus threatened to consume these 'new' media forms in a new century. A convergence of classicist and purist impulses led to a series of 'bans' by colonial and post-colonial establishments: on harmonium (for several decades), Hindustani (for good) and Hindi film songs (for five years) on All India Radio. Yet, all these bans were undone in one way or the other, and the sheer momentum of persistent popular 'listening to cinema' was one important instrument for this undoing. So how deep this love for listening go, how was its architecture designed and sustained, and what is the language story here? The paper will try answering these related inter-media questions with audio-visual aids.


Mr. Ravikant is a bilingual historian, writer and translator based in CSDS, Delhi. His collaboratively edited books include Translating Partition (with Tarun Saint), Deewan-e-Sarai01: Media Vimarsh://Hindi Janpad, and Deewan-e-Sarai02: Shahernama (with Sanjay Sharma). His recent essays, mostly in Hindi, may be found in Deep Bhav, Naya Path,Kathadesh and Pratiman, and online at Gadyakosh, Kafila, Janki Pul, Rachnakar and Sarai's Deewan mailing list, which he manages.

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