Talk on To the Box-Office and Back: Rundown Theaters, YouTube and the Stage Performances in Bhojpuri Popular Culture

Organizer: UCLA- CISA Speaker Series

About the Session

  • When: May 2 10 AM Pacific Time
  • Free Session
  • Platform: Zoom

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Session By: Akshaya Kumar

This talk will present a biography of Bhojpuri popular culture from the advent of audiocassettes to the widespread emergence of a box-office economy built around rundown single-screen theatres, in which the stage performances continue to hold the centerstage. By discussing how the shifting landscape of media technologies have shaped cultural entrepreneurship in a region bereft of stable avenues for social mobility, the talk will assess the cultural metabolism at the intersections of old and new media, in which stage performances, YouTube videos and film exhibition at rundown film theatres continue to play a vital role, even as they wrestle for more control over the economy. The research object of Bhojpuri popular culture, then, alerts us to the vagaries of entertainment sub-cultures that are quick to avail of new media avenues, but continue to consolidate around modalities of direct engagement serviced by the prevailing forms of mediation.


Akshaya Kumar received his PhD in Film and Television Studies from the University of Glasgow, before joining IIT Indore as an Assistant Professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. His essays have appeared in leading international journals including Social Text, Postmodern Culture, Media Industries and Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Akshaya is also author of the recently published Provincializing Bollywood: Bhojpuri Cinema in a Comparative Media Crucible (Oxford University Press, 2021

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