SOAS University of London

South Asia Department

Indian Cinema: Its History and Social Context

Module Code:
Taught in:
Term 1

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

This course is designed to give a coherent overview of the development of popular cinema within India, with an emphasis on Hindi films produced in Bombay. The objective is to contextualise this cinema and to study closely particular films so students will be able to analyse critically key films for the study of Indian film and to understand the historical development of this cinema in the context of Indian society.


A total of 11 weeks teaching with 2/3 hours classroom contact per week and a film viewing (3 hours) as well as preparation for classroom discussions.

Scope and syllabus

Nine weeks will trace the development of cinema in India, beginning with an introduction to the study of Indian cinema, examining the silent era, the studio period, the ‘Golden Age’, the so-called ‘segmentation’ of cinema, the action cinema, and cinema in the recent media transformation. Two lectures look more closely at the work of two major directors who transformed the Indian cinema.

Films to be viewed include:

  • Devdas
  • Kaagaz ke phool
  • Junglee
  • Bobby
  • Awaara
  • Dilwale dulhaniya le jayenge
  • Rang de basanti
  • Shri 420
  • Pyaasa
  • Andaaz

Method of assessment

One 4,500 word essay to be submitted on Monday of Week 10, Term 1 (70%); 5 analyses of films (500-700 words) where the best 3 contribute to the final grade (10% each), one due by Friday of Week 2, one by Friday of of Week 4, one by Friday of Week 6, one by Friday of Week 8 and one by Friday of Week 10, Term 1.

Suggested reading

The reading list is put on Blackboard before the course begins, along with a course outline which indicates weekly readings.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules