Religion as 'Commodity images': Securing a Hindu Rashtra

Document Type

Journal Article


South Asian Studies Association of Australia


School of Communications and Multimedia




Originally published as: Shoesmith, B.P., & Mecklai, N. (2002). Religion as 'Commodity images': Securing a Hindu Rashtra. South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies. 25(3), 265 - 279. Original article available here


The cinema provides an alternative space for 'the reshaping of the public domain'.1 In considering the role of Hindi popular films in articulating the Hindu Right-wing agenda, we will argue that, while popular cinema has increasingly employed a militant version of Hindu nationalism over the last two decades, it has always contained the seeds of this agenda, especially in the mythological genre. In so doing, we note how film's impact is felt through its abundance of imagery, in a place which is both public and private, a shared viewing space in the darkness of a theatre. We also note how this cinema feeds into television. Our approach is to look at two films, one made before and one after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the political arm of the Hindu Right, came to power at the Centre as the leader of coalition governments. The purpose of our efforts is to add to the discussion initiated by Arvind Rajagopal regarding television, and of the BJP's co-option of the prevailing religious ideology circulating within popular culture to support its particular nationalist agenda, to secure government and to alienate the Muslim minority.




Link to publisher version (DOI)