By M. Madhava Prasad

Seminal publication in Indian movie stories.

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Extra info for Ideology of the Hindi Film: A Historical Construction

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Kala Pani thus revolves around the distinction between honour (which has to be maintained by secrecy, by suppression of the unpalatable) and conscience (which requires the uncovering of truth, the coincidence of word and reality). ust be freed from the control of the feudal class. In a revealing scene, the Dewan suggests to his lawyer that they eliminate the intruding hero, who is digging up the past, whereupon the lawyer reminds him that the aristocratic order does not exist anymore. The murder took place in 1943, linking the aristocratic order with the era of British rule.

Thus we must posit a break between early melodrama, with its aristocratic themes, and the middle-class melodrama, in which we encounter a form that has made a compromise with the dominant realist aesthetic. Of the crime films of the fifties, Kala Pani (Raj Khosla 1958)12 also employed a broad democracy versus feudalism approach, in its organization of the detection plot. The detective story is one of the popular forms that teaches the cultural values of the new capitalist hegemony. In his cultural writings Gramsci referred to the absence of a detective story tradition indigenous to Italy, and the consequent popularity of serialized detective stories from other countries, which is viewed as a symptom of the failure to constitute a new national 12See Vasudevan (1993) on the significance of the Indian crime film of the 1950s, tt # i 68 • Ideology of fhe Hindi Film III culture (Cultural WritinRs 1985: 254-5; 359-62; 369-74)13.

In a discussion of Hollywood cinema, MacCabe reminds us that by the Bazinian definition, these films are not realistic. e considerations of a qualitative kind centred on 'any narrative procedure which tends to make more reality appear on the screen' (Bazin). Although by making visible the productive role of the camera and the suppression of contradiction in the realism of the Italian school, MacCabe makes a case for the fundamental unity of neorealism and Hollywood realism, there is a secondary axis of difference between these two modes which the essay comes close to denying but eventually leaves open.

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